Friday, December 29, 2006

Things I wish would happen in 2007...but won't (Pt. 1)

Sex workers get respect
Sure, maybe it's in the papers, but frankly that happens once a year or so. When will Canada stop being so schizophrenic about what could be a victimless "crime" (not to mention increasing the safety and accountability of workers and their patrons), and accept that the oldest profession is also likely to be the longest-lived profession. Prostitution is not going away. Maybe it shouldn't.

Somalia stops being a synonym for ninth ring of Hell
The fanatic-but-effective Islamic courts are out and the legal-but-useless transitional government is back in: at least as of this morning. Well...that's um...good? The Guardian gives three possible outcomes, and only one is positive. It's entirely possible that, on top of the pre-existing clan warfare, Somalia will become a staging ground for external Arab/Muslim and Christian nations to pursue their conflicts. Then it will get conflated into a religious war, like so many wars are (Balkans, anyone?).

...On the upside, if Africa becomes the new "clash of civilizations"* battleground, perhaps people will start paying attention to Africa?

People will star paying attention to Africa
'Nuff said.

*Personally I think the whole "clash of civlizations" thing is sheer bunk...but its invoked so often that it's become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Israeli Supreme Court Said It First...

So back here I reference the "ticking time bomb" scenario versus the "defense of necessity" model, vis-a-vis torture. Well, as it turns out, the Israeli Supreme Court said it first, aaaaalllll the way back in 1999, in it's incredibly important judgement on the legality of torture, which, grace au the court itself, you can read here.

Particularly on point:
35. Indeed, we are prepared to accept that, in the appropriate circumstances, GSS investigators may avail themselves of the “necessity defense” if criminally indicted. This, however, is not the issue before this Court. We are not dealing with the criminal liability of a GSS investigator who employed physical interrogation methods under circumstances of “necessity.” Nor are we addressing the issue of the admissibility or probative value of evidence obtained as a result of a GSS investigator’s application of physical means against a suspect. We are dealing with a different question. The question before us is whether it is possible, ex ante, to establish permanent directives setting out the physical interrogation means that may be used under conditions of “necessity.” Moreover, we must decide whether the “necessity defense” can constitute a basis for the authority of a GSS investigator to investigate, in the performance of his duty. According to the state, it is possible to imply from the “necessity defense”—available post factum to an investigator indicted of a criminal offence—the ex ante legal authorization to allow the investigator to use physical interrogation methods. Is this position correct?

36. In the Court’s opinion, the authority to establish directives respecting the use of physical means during the course of a GSS interrogation cannot be implied from the “necessity defense.” The “necessity defense” does not constitute a source of authority, which would allow GSS investigators to make use physical means during the course of interrogations. The reasoning underlying our position is anchored in the nature of the “necessity defense.” The defense deals with cases involving an individual reacting to a given set of facts. It is an improvised reaction to an unpredictable event. Thus, the very nature of the defense does not allow it to serve as the source of authorization. ...

37. ...Granting GSS investigators the authority to apply physical force during the interrogation of suspects suspected of involvement in hostile terrorist activities, thereby harming the suspect's dignity and liberty, raises basic questions of law and society, of ethics and policy, and of the rule of law and security. ...
-- President A. Barak (for the court, more or less)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Thank you, Stephen Harper?

So I meant to post about this yesterday, but had a total brain fart...

Anyway, the Globe has a piece on the closure of the same-sex marriage debate.

To which I say: What debate? We have a Constitution, it's protected by the Constitution, and amending the Constitution would practically require Jesus of Nazareth and Pierre Trudeau to descend from heaven (or where-ever) into the House of Commons and demand it.

The only disingenuous thing, really, is that the first sentence is:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declared the contentious issue of same-sex marriage to be permanently closed.
And some papers are actually using that as they headline. As though the man woke up Thursday morning and said to himself: You know? I think I've been wrong about same-sex couples...they deserve the same rights as everyone else. No, no, no. They tried to re-open the debate (see above, re: what debate?) and the House told them to drop it. They lost.

Face it, fiscal-cons, Harper and a good number of the neo-cons are now and will always be soc-cons, but I will credit him with an admirable respect for reality when he admitted defeat and said they were dropping the question. And since I don't really think he can attack access to abortion, I feel the weight mantle of militant opposition lift from my shoulders...I am now free to nit-pick the government's social spending and applaud their pro-military stance and attempts to secure human rights for Canadians imprisoned abroad.

This did make me laugh:

"I am afraid that the Conservative Party feels that they can take social
conservatives for granted in this country," said Joseph Ben Ami, executive director of the Institute for Canadian Values.

"Mr. Harper and the Conservatives are going to have to explain, I think, what people in our constituency are going to perceive as a certain lack of leadership surrounding this question in the last few days."

Social conservatives are not likely to turn to the Liberals, said Mr. Ben Ami, but they can stay home on voting day.

Haha...oooh, scary. What if the fundies stay at home?! Why we might even get...a Liberal government!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Irony is my favourite -y

Oh Dan Savage, I so totally heart you...

For those of you who don't follow the personal lives of American politician's families, V-P Dick Cheney's daughter Mary is pregnant...and a lesbian! Both at the same time! [/Elvira Kurt]

Which of course causes all sorts of problems, 'cause Republicans, generally speaking, enjoy neither lesbians nor unwed mothers. As per usual, Dan Savage has a perfectly sharp, topical response to the issue.

*fangirls Savage*

Monday, December 04, 2006

News Roundup

Chile's Pinochet Fighting for His Life (Washington Post)

Not that I enjoy watching a decrepit old man suffer (even if it is karma for the murder of thousands and torture of God-only-knows-how-many) but I'm a little creeped out by the hordes of admirers waving banners in support of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Chile deems it impolitic to try him for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and that strikes me as cowardly but reasonable. At least they have him under house arrest. However, the fact that a significant number of Chileans still believe he "saved them from communism" is freakin' weird. I hope its Stockholm Syndrome, I really do.

Lebanese army increases forces in tense Beirut (Reuters UK)

To whoever suggested that invading Lebanon would increase Middle East stability or security, all I can say is: I told you so, idiots. Does no one remember the 80s? Did no one see Delta Force or Navy Seals?