Friday, January 21, 2005

The USA Patriot Act vs. Blog Comment Spam

I never thought I'd have anything good to say about the USA Patriot Act. I was wrong.


In a comment to my previous post on fighting comment spam, Doug Alder (Doug's Dynamic Drivel) outlined a method to strike back at the scum who regularly post links to sites promoting online gambling and various prescription remedies. Now, Doug has posted a revised version of his tactic on his own blog. See Fighting the “C” spammers.


Doug makes a good point when he says that many of the technical methods employed to block comment spam hurt the innocent along with the guilty. When spammers use trojans, zombies or bots to post comments, banning the IP is banning another victim's IP - not the guilty one. The new rel=nofollow tactic is going to hurt the crosslinking network that gives good bloggers credibility. Read what Doug has to say on this.


After following Doug's advice a couple days ago, comment spam disappeared from my site - temporarily. As might have been expected, it came back but a new set of URLs was being hyped and they are hosted at a new hosting company. It didn't take long for me to track down the new host. Here is a copy of the email I sent them:



Hello,


One of your clients is defacing my website. It appears they are using an automated instrument to place ads on my site without my permission. This is hacking and that contravenes the USA PATRIOT ACT. Now that you have been informed, should they continue, you are culpable and I will report you to the FBI.


These defacements appear to originate from multiple IP's, indicating the use of a backdoor zombie technique. That constitutes an even greater contravention of the Patriot Act. The use of trojan backdoors on zombie computers to hide one's identity while breaking into servers is a technique used by TERRORISTS.


They are violating CAN-SPAM. Again, now you know. You are equally responsible.


It is well known that virtually all sites that promote online gambling are run by the RUSSIAN MOB. The US Treasury Department and the FBI will be very interested in who's doing what on your servers.


I have pasted a copy of the illegal material that your client used to deface my website below.


Please take immediate action or face investigation and prosecution by the appropriate law enforcement agencies.


Jim Elve
www.blogscanada.ca
jim@blogscanada.ca


I added a copy of the comment spam email notification I found in my mailbox this morning. I'm not going to reproduce that here or name the host. If I see more spam from this source, however, I will name the host and I will follow through with my threat to notify law enforcement agencies.


I encourage other victims to copy my letter and to adapt it to the specifics of your own situation.


I like Doug's attitude: hit 'em where it hurts. As he puts it:



Will this work in every case? Of course not, but it will work in a lot of cases. Further, the more bloggers that use this technique the more complaints an ISP will get about a client and the more likely that customer will be told to move on. Now you’ve hurt the spammer. Don’t you feel better? A little revenge goes a long way to easing the annoyance of deleting all those attempts every morning doesn’t it!


Thanks again, Doug, for taking the time to create yet another tool in the anti-spam toolbox.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Latest E-Group Posts

Friday, October 29, 2004

New BlogsCanada E-Group Posts

E-Group Posts
The Lies Roll On
Harper's Press Gallery Dinner Speech
John Fewings has had a cartoon included in The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader by Michael Moore. John's cartoon, aptly titled Fahrenheit 911, takes up a full page in Moore's companion volume to the film. The Official Fahrenheit 9/11 Reader is a powerful and informative book that includes the complete screenplay of the most provocative film of the year. The book also includes extensive sources that back up all facts in the film, as well as articles, letters, photos, and cartoons about the most influential documentary of all time. (Amazon)" href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=5436bba7-fd4d-4a64-996f-cd5def4c7cac" target=_self>E-Group Cartoonist Fewings Featured in Michael Moore Book
Stephen Harper on Quebec
Chicago Sun-Times endorses Kerry, it does raise one's eyebrows. Though not as influential as the big city papers, Crawford, Texas's The Lone Star Iconoclast stirred things up a few days ago by endorsing Kerry over hometown favourite, George W. Bush.Now, conservative editor, columnist and blogger Andrew Sullivan has officially endorsed John Kerry. Sullivan describes why he cannot support Bush..." href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=2b53c3d5-08bf-4a73-97a0-50a0dca3493a" target=_self>Kerry Gets Conservative Endorsements
Campbell Webster's Guardian Article
STV in BC
Canada2 Official multiculturalism has been a success, but not in ways usually appreciated. Official multiculturalism proved to be the death nail of an Anglo Canadian identity based on god, the Monarchy and country. As it stood Anglo Canadian values were not woven together by prominent national myths as in the United States and without official state sanction such an identity simply dissolved as Canada opened its borders to more and immigrants. Only trace elements remain. ' href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=585806c6-93b6-406a-bbcb-318245a72aa3" target=_self>Official Multiculturalism
Republicans Deploy WMD: Weapons of Mass Disenfranchisement
Not Paul's Baby
The cartoon on my left is by John Ditchburn at INKCINCT, an Australian cartoonist, and is used by permission, according to the copyright procedures listed on his website. During the free trade election of 1988, the debate over free trade between Canada and the United States was summed up by a political cartoon in the Toronto Star. Two cars, one a rich Mercedes, the other a patched-up jalopy, each bore a rear bumper-sticker. On the patched-up jalopy: “The minimum wage in Georgia is $1.25. OPPOSE FREE TRADE!” On the rich Mercedes: “The minimum wage in Georgia is $1.25. SUPPORT FREE TRADE!” Evidence that the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement hurt Canada can be found in the village of Weston, in the old City of York, and on Lakeshore Boulevard through the old village of New Toronto. These areas used to be strong working-class neighbourhoods fueled by factories susceptible to free trade competition from cheaper factories and non-union workforces south of the border. When the trade barriers fell, the factories shut down, the low-skill workers were left unemployed, and the working class neighbourhoods of Toronto developed into ghettos. All of this was predicted. What was also predicted, by proponents of free trade, was the growth of innovative industries, fed by Canada’s highly educated workforce. It would take longer for these innovative industries to replace the jobs vacated by the low skill factories, but the jobs would come. Niagara’s wineries, which greatly feared Free Trade, are now producing wines that are the envy of the world. Waterloo and Ottawa battle for the title of Silicon Valley North. Even as the tech-bubble burst in 1999, many of Canadian high-tech companies survived on the strength of their innovative products. RIM’s Blackberries are the prized possesions of U.S. Congressmen. So, perhaps history has proven Brian Mulroney right." href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=df4ac0a6-94b1-4d73-aeaa-5208f4e397e9" target=_self>Canada's Surprising Prosperity IV: Did Free Trade Work?
All things Canadian.... Need a break from serious topics and heavy thinking? Here's a review of the new book The Little Book of Canadian Political Wisdom. " href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=4fc806c8-de7b-406f-99e3-8e0a57083a96" target=_self>"A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof..."
interesting poll from the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes: Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points. Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions." href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=2623b94f-7a07-4f76-8529-66b380b6fdd3" target=_self>Bush supporters still believe Iraq had WMD, supported al-Qaeda
an article that reminds us of an important upcoming anniversary. Bill C36, the Anti-Terrorism Act, received Royal Assent on Dec. 18, 2001. As a result of criticism of the initial draft of the legislation, the bill as finally passed included the stipulation that it would be reviewed by Parliament in three years, which would mean that review will take place in the current session. That assumes, of course, that the government doesn't fall before we get to that point. " href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=9ed80567-f362-41e0-81a4-6c27a1a5b754" target=_self>Bill C36 to be reviewed
Kinsella's Game of Blog
Apathy and Outrage in New York
Warren Kinsella has a number of posts up about a speech Stephen Harper gave in Quebec recently, in which he appeared to endorse several things that make me twitchy, such as a massive plan to reorganize the country along linguistic lines, giving Quebec it's own Constitution and a new name, etc. It's mentioned as being part of the plan developed by the ADQ, but a scan through their English platform provided no information on exactly what is being discussed. I read the speech itself, and I didn't find it nearly as scary as Kinsella made it out to be, although I would want to have a very clear idea of what is on the table before endorsing this. For one thing, it's not clear that Harper is endorsing whatever the ADQ position is. So, does anyone know where I can find a statement of the ADQ position that isn't as weasel-worded as the English version of their platform? " href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=dce98360-85fc-4f0d-961d-901d917b9072" target=_self>Blegging on Harper and Quebec
As I started posting this series, Jay Currie wrote in the comments of BlogsCanada: I suspect the GST may well have something to do with what you are describing. What the GST does is move to taxing consumption rather than taxing earnings. In many ways this changes the incentives in a society and rewards savings. I am reluctant to give full credit to this theory because I have a collectivist streak in me. A part of me strongly believes that individuals are better off within the protection of society. They can achieve more with their liberties working with other individuals than they can in a wild anarchy. A part of me believes that most individuals benefit from being in a society, and rich individuals benefit more than most. As they make more use of the security that society provides, and the tools that society gives to help forge their wealth, they of course should pay more into the maintenance and development of that society. But income tax has a dirty not-so-secret: to legally avoid paying income taxes, one avoids making an income. If enough individuals do this, it suppresses economic activity, and reduces the lot of individuals everywhere.' href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=cab62206-83e8-4531-bec0-a04fa9011b38" target=_self>Canada's Surprising Prosperity III: Is Taxing Consumption Key?
The Observer, thinks that GWB has lost it. Stephen contends that American voters face what would seem to be an obvious choice. It is whether they re-elect a man who, it is now clear, has become palpably unstable. (Full article) ' href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=c25e0e3c-5845-4c5b-a151-6c28ca44e968" target=_self>This Presidency Thing Can Drive You Nuts
BBC) " href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=d079563b-a592-4a2f-bbf5-bc3289625e2f" target=_self>Iraq Kidnap Victim Saved by... Google
Warren Kinsella and the Gomery Inquiry
The Greatest Canadian' has started and listed the top ten up for consideration. Here's my preliminary ranking of them... Terry FoxWayne GretzkySir John A. MacdonaldLester B. PearsonPierre Elliott TrudeauTommy DouglasAlexander Graham BellDavid SuzukiFrederick BantingDon Cherry " href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=653cd869-16d3-45b1-9cd5-8db6ffac813d" target=_self>Greatest Canadian
Introduction Canada’s economy has been doing well since the recession ended in the early nineties. The crazy thing is, it shouldn’t be. Our neighbour to the south, upon whom a fair chunk of our economy depends, has not been doing well. The United States has added a trillion dollars to its federal debt, and since 2001 has seen more job losses in any time since the onset of the Great Depression. It is counterintuitive to say that Canada’s high tax economy is responsible for Canada’s surprisingly good performance compared to the United States, so what is responsible? Today, we look at the first of a number of theories that may explain the secret of Canada’s success' href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=525495ac-2dd1-4d26-be61-c48e598d1285" target=_self>Canada's Surprising Prosperity II: Are Balanced Budgets More Important than Tax Cuts?
How Blogging is Supposed to Work
Bow. James Bow. It’s a fact that George W. Bush loves his tax cuts. When he campaigned to become president, the United States was in an enviable fiscal position. Record surpluses raised the possibility of paying off the national debt by 2010. Bush felt that surpluses were the right time for tax cuts, since they were a sign that the government was taking too much out of the pockets of Americans. With the economy performing so well, the government could afford to share that wealth with the people who provided it. For various reasons, the fiscal picture of the United States reversed soon after Bush’s tax rebate. The United States entered into a recession, and for Bush the solution was clear: more tax cuts. Cutting the revenue the government received from taxpayers would put more money in taxpayers’ pockets, allowing them to spend their way out of recession. Even now, as the United States struggles through a lackidaisical recovery, Bush points to his tax cuts as the reason why the recession wasn’t as severe as it could have been. I’ve already made my attempt to debunk the correlation between tax cuts and increased economic activity. Bush is holding onto his belief that tax cuts always generate jobs in a 1:1 ratio out of a dogmatic stubbornness akin to his belief that there’s nothing wrong with his foreign policy. Counter-evidence to Bush’s claim that tax cuts spared America from a worse recession can be found north of the border.' href="http://www.blogscanada.ca/egroup/PermaLink.aspx?guid=0413fecf-e163-4b6f-81db-407f960955d7" target=_self>Canada's Surprising Prosperity: What's Our Secret?

Monday, October 25, 2004

E Group Blog - Multi-partisan Political Punditry

October 24, 2004

Crossposted from Andrew Spicer's Weblog

No, it's not a health warning. British Columbia may be about to switch to a new voting system for its provincial legislature.

Continue reading: STV in BC

By Koby, cross posted at Canada2


Official multiculturalism has been a success, but not in ways usually appreciated. Official multiculturalism proved to be the death nail of an Anglo Canadian identity based on god, the Monarchy and country. As it stood Anglo Canadian values were not woven together by prominent national myths as in the United States and without official state sanction such an identity simply dissolved as Canada opened its borders to more and immigrants. Only trace elements remain.





October 22, 2004




When the going gets tough, the tough guys play dirty. As the US election draws nearer, more and more reports of voter suppression are coming out. A pattern is emerging that suggests the Republican National Committee is involved in funding voter registration drives that are attempting to systematically deny the right to vote to likely Democratic Party supporters.


This sort of trampling on the most basic of democratic freedoms is not new. Cases of voter suppression have been documented as far back as the Reconstruction era following the 1860-1865 Civil War. Then, as now, it was black citizens who were denied their voice at the ballot box. Various pieces of legislation were adopted to prevent such injustice, culminating with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Today, however, it appears that a concerted effort has been mounted to silence African-Americans and other Democrats. The method that's being exposed is less sophisticated than the discriminatory property-ownership and literacy requirements that were written into 19th century statutes. Physical intimidation, it would seem, plays less apart today than in the past but, at least in Florida, intimidation by law enforcement officials is among the tactics being used in 2004.




Cross-posted to CalgaryGrit


This is gonna be a fun book to read, eh? Sheila Copps has come out swinging with a series of accusations against the current Prime Minister and her favourite Liberal: He wanted to scrap the Canada Health Act, privatize the CBC and send our troops to Iraq.


The thing is...none of this should surprise us.




October 21, 2004


Crossposted to Bow. James Bow.


Free Trade Cartoon


The cartoon on my left is by John Ditchburn at INKCINCT, an Australian cartoonist, and is used by permission, according to the copyright procedures listed on his website.


During the free trade election of 1988, the debate over free trade between Canada and the United States was summed up by a political cartoon in the Toronto Star. Two cars, one a rich Mercedes, the other a patched-up jalopy, each bore a rear bumper-sticker.


On the patched-up jalopy: “The minimum wage in Georgia is $1.25. OPPOSE FREE TRADE!”


On the rich Mercedes: “The minimum wage in Georgia is $1.25. SUPPORT FREE TRADE!”


Evidence that the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement hurt Canada can be found in the village of Weston, in the old City of York, and on Lakeshore Boulevard through the old village of New Toronto. These areas used to be strong working-class neighbourhoods fueled by factories susceptible to free trade competition from cheaper factories and non-union workforces south of the border. When the trade barriers fell, the factories shut down, the low-skill workers were left unemployed, and the working class neighbourhoods of Toronto developed into ghettos. All of this was predicted.


What was also predicted, by proponents of free trade, was the growth of innovative industries, fed by Canada’s highly educated workforce. It would take longer for these innovative industries to replace the jobs vacated by the low skill factories, but the jobs would come. Niagara’s wineries, which greatly feared Free Trade, are now producing wines that are the envy of the world. Waterloo and Ottawa battle for the title of Silicon Valley North. Even as the tech-bubble burst in 1999, many of Canadian high-tech companies survived on the strength of their innovative products. RIM’s Blackberries are the prized possesions of U.S. Congressmen.


So, perhaps history has proven Brian Mulroney right.




By Don at All things Canadian....


Need a break from serious topics and heavy thinking? Here's a review of the new book The Little Book of Canadian Political Wisdom.





by Russil Wvong


An interesting poll from the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes:


Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.


Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.




October 20, 2004


By pogge


The latest issue of Maclean's includes an article that reminds us of an important upcoming anniversary. Bill C36, the Anti-Terrorism Act, received Royal Assent on Dec. 18, 2001. As a result of criticism of the initial draft of the legislation, the bill as finally passed included the stipulation that it would be reviewed by Parliament in three years, which would mean that review will take place in the current session. That assumes, of course, that the government doesn't fall before we get to that point.





Posted by Theresa
Like it or not, Warren Kinsella won his recent spat with the Canadian blogosphere. Now, if you're reading this and you're a blogger, read through to the end before you become completely apoplectic. The simple fact is, Kinsella won, although he took some enormous risks and could have made some serious errors in strategy. In the end, however, we're all still talking about him and that constitutes a win in the media -- even in the blogosphere -- by any spinner's standards, and he knows it. Even this article scores points for him.




This past weekend, I spoke on the phone to an American relative. "Bill" is a self-employed tradesman, married, no children, non-veteran, white, homeowner, 53 years old; not exactly everyman but representative of a segment of the voting public. We talked briefly about the US election.


As close as I can recall, his words were:



"I don't believe anything Kerry says. I believe what Bush says but I don't like what he says or most of what he does. Kerry will win New York ("Bill's" state, je) and get all the electoral college votes. I'm not voting."




By Kevin Brennan.


Warren Kinsella has a number of posts up about a speech Stephen Harper gave in Quebec recently, in which he appeared to endorse several things that make me twitchy, such as a massive plan to reorganize the country along linguistic lines, giving Quebec it's own Constitution and a new name, etc. It's mentioned as being part of the plan developed by the ADQ, but a scan through their English platform provided no information on exactly what is being discussed.


I read the speech itself, and I didn't find it nearly as scary as Kinsella made it out to be, although I would want to have a very clear idea of what is on the table before endorsing this. For one thing, it's not clear that Harper is endorsing whatever the ADQ position is. So, does anyone know where I can find a statement of the ADQ position that isn't as weasel-worded as the English version of their platform?





October 19, 2004


taxform.gif


As I started posting this series, Jay Currie wrote in the comments of BlogsCanada:



I suspect the GST may well have something to do with what you are describing. What the GST does is move to taxing consumption rather than taxing earnings. In many ways this changes the incentives in a society and rewards savings.



I am reluctant to give full credit to this theory because I have a collectivist streak in me. A part of me strongly believes that individuals are better off within the protection of society. They can achieve more with their liberties working with other individuals than they can in a wild anarchy. A part of me believes that most individuals benefit from being in a society, and rich individuals benefit more than most. As they make more use of the security that society provides, and the tools that society gives to help forge their wealth, they of course should pay more into the maintenance and development of that society.


But income tax has a dirty not-so-secret: to legally avoid paying income taxes, one avoids making an income. If enough individuals do this, it suppresses economic activity, and reduces the lot of individuals everywhere.





George W. BushAndrew Stephen, writing in The Observer, thinks that GWB has lost it. Stephen contends that American voters face what would seem to be an obvious choice.



It is whether they re-elect a man who, it is now clear, has become palpably unstable. (Full article)






Businesspeople, bloggers and other website publishers know the vital importance of being indexed and ranked by Google. What we didn't know was that being listed on Google might actually make a life or death difference.



An Australian journalist kidnapped in Iraq was freed after his captors checked the popular internet search engine Google to confirm his identity.
...
"They Googled him and then went onto a web site - either his own or his book publisher's web site, I don't know which one - and saw that he was who he was, and that was instrumental in letting him go, I think, or swinging their decision," (BBC)




October 18, 2004


By Don at All things Canadian....


Warren Kinsella posted some thoughts today that tipped me over the edge.


He knows that his audience is much, much larger than the bloggers at issue or the conversations that have taken place since his threats. He can misrepresent those bloggers and very few people will know.
He can write sanctimoniously about the blogosphere all he wants but those that are willing to do a little bit of reading on the issues and have actually read others blogs know how much water his statements hold.


Updated at the bottom.




By Don at All things Canadian....


CBC's 'The Greatest Canadian' has started and listed the top ten up for consideration. Here's my preliminary ranking of them...


Terry Fox
Wayne Gretzky
Sir John A. Macdonald
Lester B. Pearson
Pierre Elliott Trudeau
Tommy Douglas
Alexander Graham Bell
David Suzuki
Frederick Banting
Don Cherry






October 17, 2004


Crossposted to Bow. James Bow.


Previous Article: Introduction


Canada’s economy has been doing well since the recession ended in the early nineties. The crazy thing is, it shouldn’t be. Our neighbour to the south, upon whom a fair chunk of our economy depends, has not been doing well. The United States has added a trillion dollars to its federal debt, and since 2001 has seen more job losses in any time since the onset of the Great Depression.


It is counterintuitive to say that Canada’s high tax economy is responsible for Canada’s surprisingly good performance compared to the United States, so what is responsible? Today, we look at the first of a number of theories that may explain the secret of Canada’s success




October 16, 2004


By Jay Currie


Sean at Polspy has been publically very active in the Kinsella controversy...He has now reached a compromise with Kinsella,this is from Polspy


"Kinsella makes the first move…


Last night before heading to bed, I found this post on Ben Sharma’s site indicating that Mr. Kinsella had made the change that I requested to his Web site. A quick glance at the page properties indicates that Mr. Kinsella uploaded the change to his site at 5:12 PM yesterday afternoon. I am uncertain as to what time zone his Web server sits in or how accurate its clock is, so there may be a discrepancy between the time I noted and the time Mr. Kinsella actually uploaded the file.






Crossposted to Bow. James Bow.


It’s a fact that George W. Bush loves his tax cuts. When he campaigned to become president, the United States was in an enviable fiscal position. Record surpluses raised the possibility of paying off the national debt by 2010. Bush felt that surpluses were the right time for tax cuts, since they were a sign that the government was taking too much out of the pockets of Americans. With the economy performing so well, the government could afford to share that wealth with the people who provided it.


For various reasons, the fiscal picture of the United States reversed soon after Bush’s tax rebate. The United States entered into a recession, and for Bush the solution was clear: more tax cuts. Cutting the revenue the government received from taxpayers would put more money in taxpayers’ pockets, allowing them to spend their way out of recession. Even now, as the United States struggles through a lackidaisical recovery, Bush points to his tax cuts as the reason why the recession wasn’t as severe as it could have been.


I’ve already made my attempt to debunk the correlation between tax cuts and increased economic activity. Bush is holding onto his belief that tax cuts always generate jobs in a 1:1 ratio out of a dogmatic stubbornness akin to his belief that there’s nothing wrong with his foreign policy. Counter-evidence to Bush’s claim that tax cuts spared America from a worse recession can be found north of the border.




October 15, 2004


Can o' Worms - The E-Group Open Thread




Politics is the topic. Have your say. Try to hold back on the libel and slander.



Just click the image to the left, here or the "Comments" link below and jump right in.





(By sean incognito)


Pigs are good. Pigs are useful. I for one am getting tired of using pigs as a metaphor for politicians. Pigs may, by our standards, have questionable dining habits and iffy hygiene but - unlike some of our political representatives - they are not greedy, duplicitous money-grubbers.





October 14, 2004


hcms_victoria.jpg

Crossposted to Bow. James Bow.


The picture on my left is copyright SPG Media and is courtesy of this website. This post is crossposted to the BlogsCanada eGroup


Mentioning my facetious response on what we should do with our unexpected surplus riches (buying a few good subs), my father disagreed, raising an interesting question:


Why subs, exactly?




Monday, September 06, 2004

Sudan: The Invisible Atrocity

By Jim Elve
Crossposted to Officially Unofficial and the E-Group


Humanitarian crisis in SudanAddressing the Darfur Emergency Summit at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, noted author, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel said:



Sudan has become today’s world capital of human pain, suffering and agony. There, one part of the population has been – and still is – subjected by another part, the dominating part, to humiliation, hunger and death. For a while, the so-called civilized world knew about it and preferred to look away. Now people know. And so they have no excuse for their passivity bordering on indifference.(Full text of Wiesel's speech)


Wiesel delivered those remarks on July 14, nearly two months ago. Since then, little has changed with the exception that more innocent civilians have been killed, raped and displaced from their villages.


The West, particularly North America, continues to play dumb. Although an estimated 20,000 civilians have been murdered and 1.2 million have been driven from their homes, the situation rarely comes up on US or Canadian network news. The Democratic and Republican conventions made big news, even though the candidates had already been chosen before the conventions began. Whether or not John Kerry deserved medals he was awarded more than 30 years ago was imminently newsworthy. And then there were those hurricanes...


One US newspaper, The Indianapolis Star, did devote some space to the crisis in it's op-ed section today. Incredibly, the editorial writer, Rishawn Biddle, suggested that the West should do nothing at all. Eventually, he says, the free market system will straighten out this whole African problem.



There is a tendency to look at tragedies such as Darfur and Africa's AIDS pandemic and demand that something be done. Sometimes, though, the best solution is to sit back. And do nothing.


Catastrophes are often more complicated than they appear. Thus quick solutions won't work.


As the Sudanese government and its Janjaweed allies have helped slaughter 30,000 innocents in Darfur, so have rebels such as the Sudan Liberation Army, who perceive their Gimr tribe rivals as government allies.


And while medicine and condoms would help the infected and retard the spread of AIDS in Africa in the short run, the long-term cure is free markets. Slowly and painstakenly, free markets foster middle-class society, which brings monogamy and the sexual empowerment of women. (That's the whole piece! j.e.)


Thankfully, the BBC and some other major news organizations have not allowed the world to completely ignore the Sudanese atrocities. BBC Television's Hardtalk program has interviewed Sudanese government figures on at least two occasions that I have seen. BBC reporters on the scene have talked to refugees, government officials, UN monitors and members of the tiny African Union force that is protecting the monitors.


The picture we get is one of abject fear on the part of the refugees who are unanimous in their assertion that their persecutors are backed and aided by the government. Government officials continue to hold with the line that conditions are nothing like what the refugees claim despite photographic evidence that supports the villagers' accusations. Again and again, we see Sudanese government spokesmen look straight into the camera and lie through their teeth.


On July 30, the UN set a deadline of 30 days for the Government of Sudan(GOS) to disarm and prosecute the Janjaweed, the Arab thugs and rapists who have been at the heart of the slaughter and terrorism, first in the Darfur villages and now in the refugee camps to which their helpless victims have fled. That deadline has come and gone and both the UN and the African Union(AU) have stated categorically that the GOS has failed to do as it had promised.


Just last Thursday, Gethin Chamberlain, writing in The Scotsman (probably the best mainstream source of information of the Darfur crisis), said:



Attacks against civilians continued throughout August despite a United Nations resolution calling on the government of Sudan to disarm the Janjaweed militia and bring its leaders to justice.

Last week the Washington office of Human Rights Watch told The Scotsman that it had evidence of a catalogue of incidents which had taken place after the UN resolution, including rapes, attacks on villages and the involvement of government troops.

Monitors from the African Union are investigating reports that Sudanese helicopter gunships bombed the village of Um Hashab last Thursday.(Full Scotsman story)


Apparently, Tony Blair was prepared to send up to 5,000 UK troops into the region. Recently, however, that commitment was withdrawn. Serious allegations are being made that the British have been supplying the Sudanese with arms and raw materials for chemical weapons manufacture. Perhaps, this is the type of free trade that the Indianapolis Star was thinking of.


Maybe, as some commenters on this site have suggested, Canada is unable to act militarily to ease the suffering in Sudan. Maybe not. As far as I know, the question has not even come up in the corridors of power in Ottawa. Those in a position to know what we can or cannot do have not been looking into the possibilities. Or, if they have, they've been very low key about it.


What can we do?


For one thing, as bloggers, we can help keep the issue on the radar screen. As citizens, we can write to the Prime Minister and to our MP's. As well-fed and secure Canadians, we can contribute money for humanitarian aid.


Songs for SudanMusic lovers can even buy a new downloadable CD . The benefit compilation includes18 songs by Ash, REM, Jet and David Gray, Badly Drawn Boy, Faithless and others. £5 (about $10Cdn) from the £7.99 price goes to Oxfam for Darfur relief.




Here are some links to blogs and news sites that are following the humanitarian disaster in Darfur.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Canadian Inferiority Complex

Crossposted to Officially Unofficial and the E-Group

At the PJNet conference a couple of weeks ago, Iranian-Canadian power blogger Hossein Derakshan (Hoder) posed an interesting question. In an informal Q & A session after dinner, Hoder asked why blogging is not as popular in Canada as it is in other places like the US and Iran. My answer to the question was that maybe it only seems like blogging is not as popular here in Canada due to our smaller population. More on that idea later.

Hoder posted an item on his blog about the conference and he brought up the issue of Canadian blog popularity again. One explanation that he’s offered is that mainstream journalists in Canada have not yet recognized blogs for what they are.

As I said last night and David Akin confirmed it, blogs are not as known -- never mind popular -- in Canada as they are in the States and part of it could be because the majority of mainstream Canadian journalists have not been able to understand this new medium and how they can use it for their own journalistic purposes. Therefore they see it as an unreliable, teenage-oriented hobby, same as chat rooms, instant messenger, etc. (Hoder’s English blog, Editor: Myself )

Hoder suggested some ways to make blogging more well-known.

We Canadian bloggers should think of creative ways to talk more about blogs and its socio-political implications, so the public could gradually understand why blogs are important and how they can use them for their own purposes.

One of the greatest ways to start, I think, is to quote from Canadian blogs -- and also introduce them this way -- in hip weekly magazines such as Now and Eye. Now, for example, has a technology page every week which could be great starting point for such thing.

I don’t disagree that blogging is less well-known in Canada or that these are good ideas for raising public awareness.

While I still contend that Canada, with roughly 10% of the US’s population, may look less aware than it really is, I’ve been thinking about the question of Canadian blog popularity a bit further and I’ve come up with some other factors that I think play a significant part. I’ve commented on this at Hoder’s blog.

Political opinion in the US is much more polarized than here in Canada with bloggers on each end of the political spectrum more strident and less willing to listen to the other side's point of view. This could indicate a level of frustration that is exemplified in more opinionated blogging. I think that more Canadians than Americans are relatively satisfied with their government and the status quo and consequently aren't publishing as many angry blog posts.

I suspect that for Iranians who are very dissatisfied with their government and have fewer other means of expressing their frustration, blogs are necessary for free speech. Canadians do not feel that they have the same problem as far as freedom of speech is concerned. The US Patriot Act has stifled free speech even in the "land of the free" and blogs are speaking up in reaction to that.

As we've all seen, the busiest blogs and comments sections are those where an argument of some sort is taking place. Canadians like to think of themselves as civil, level-headed and non-argumentative - peacekeepers rather than warriors. I suppose it might just be that happy, peace-loving Canadian blogs don't stir the pot as much as those from other parts of the world where the population is less content with their political situation. (From my comment at Editor: Myself; paragraph breaks added and a couple of spelling errors fixed here. )

Another Iranian-Canadian blogger, WhoMan, added his agreement.

In my blogging experience I have found out that even American readers are far more likely to leave comments than their Canadian counterparts. It is because there are more opinionated people among them. Americans are more expressive than Canadians too, and they feel comfortable about it. As Jim mentions, you can tell that from their bumper-stickers, T-shirt decals, front-lawn signs and flags. No wonder that this culture produces more bloggers! Don't forget ego and being opinionated can easily end up in self-publication.

I want to play devil's advocate here too. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there are fewer blogs (proportionally) in Canada than the United States, but I haven't seen any statistics indicating Americans have more bloggers (proportional to the population) than Canadians. the majority of mainstream Canadian journalists have not been able to understand this new medium and how they can use it for their own journalistic purposes. (Are) there some numbers to back this argument up? I know of quite a few Canadian journalists who follow Canadian blogs and some even keep their own blogs. (From WhoMan’s comment at Editor: Myself; paragraph break added and a typo fixed here.)

This next part is a bit off the blogging topic but relates nicely to the argument that the smaller Canadian population can make for skewed expectations. A corollary to this isuue came up yesterday in Darren Barefoot’s blog . Darren suggested that Canadian’s don’t do too well when it comes to winning Olympic medals. That certainly seems to be the case. But is it really true?

In a follow-up to some comments to Darren’s post, some interesting statistics emerged. Darren produced a list of several countries along with figures representing medals per million in population (MPM). Using this yardstick, Canada does worse than the top performers but we actually do better than the Olympic powerhouse USA.

Here’s Darren’s list:

Country MPM
Australia 2.95
Norway 2.2
Netherlands 1.56
Sweden 1.35
Greece 1.3
Germany 0.7
France 0.63
Italy 0.6
Britain 0.47
Canada 0.45
USA 0.33
Spain 0.3

There’s some good discussion happening in Darren’s comments section and he’s talked about the validity of the above list and also posted a link to an analysis of the cost per medal and the per capita cost for each medal at the Sydney Olympics.

So how about it. Do Canadians have an inferiority complex when we compare ourselves as bloggers or as athletes to our superpower neighbour? Or are we really inferior? Proudly inferior, maybe?


Post your comments at the E-Group.


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