Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Preverts of the World, Untie!

Canada is in the throes of trying to enact some legislation to allow the music and film industry to stop getting their stuff stolen by people who won't go to the cinema or buy/rent their 'prawducts' from a commercial enterprise.Canada's  version of 'SOPA' and 'PIPA' is called "Bill C-11". But yesterday it was pettifogged by being dealt with, along with a 'new' Bill 30 - an "Act to enact the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and to amend the Criminal Code and other acts". It's on its way through the Tory parliament, again. After having failed a number of times before, it resurrected. It will give those 'investigating, or injured, parties' the right to acquire the personal information of internet users by requiring service providers to track usage and turn over pertenant details, upon request by law enforcement, or security services  -  anybody suspecting 'piracy' of a  copywrite would be included. But it's been smoke-screened by a furor over 'kiddie porn'.

To sweeten the pot of debate, to-day, "Public Safety Minister" Vic (Mortimer Snerd) Toews, claimed that anybody opposed to the Bill would be "enabling child pornographers"! He offered Canadians the choice of being 'with us' or 'with the kiddie-diddlers'.  That's certainly putting an edge on things.

Except that he's dead wrong. Just two weeks ago, most of the police brass in the Province of Ontario called a press conference to announce they'd 'taken down' a 'kiddie porn' ring of thousands. They'd saved  a number of children from sexually-exploitive circumstances and they festooned a map of the province with, what they claimed, were the ISP addresses of those who were involved. All done with the 'old' law and the 'old' technology. But I'd guess that wasn't good enough to nab all the other pervs they couldn't take down. For it seems kiddie porn might be as popular as guns.

The two issues are related. It's all about law enforcement and public safety, you see. Toew's party is just coming off dismantling the Canadian Gun Registry. A billion-dollar boondoggle that succeeded in identifying Canadians who obeyed the law and 'registered' their guns. Its signal failings were not being able to register all guns, which left criminals using illegal, stolen, and/or unregistered guns; making gun owners more widely responsible for their firearms, and leaving the Police not knowing who really had a firearm, except legal owners, and, so, having to treat every call as a potential 'hi-risk' situation. Needless to say, the Tories will be 'doing away' with all this, leaving gun licensing, acquistion and the'old' registry data in the hands of the RCMP.

Our local MP, one Larry Miller Esq, was foolish enough to point out in parliament,  that Adolf Hiler registered all  the guns in Germany, which eased his way into power and helped him create a police state. He was greeted with a toofay salute, even from among his own party, and demands for an apology.

It isn't a hard stretch to see how Bill C11 isn't going to do much the same thing, even if you are a gun owner. What they describe as 'lawful access' legislation, will allow police and security, disgruntled copywrite owners and probably some other organizations, to acquire personal information about internet users, essentially, on request. It will require ISP's to maintain records of internet use, including links to other users, and provide access to these, by warrant. Courts can require long-term storage of data and communications. The costs, of course, will become part of the fees charged for internent service. As in the gun law, however, the achilles heel is the same; the fact that 'criminals' are not required to use an open internet.

Even now 'hard core' users of the internet use  high-level encryption and proxy software to access the internet in ways that are almost impossible to trace. This legislation will do little, or nothing, to address that problem. But it just might drive some ordinary people to become 'hard core' users, just as the old 'gun law' created a whole new class of, now unnecessary, criminals.

Will the law be equitably applied? 'If you're innocent you have nothing to worry about', is never a great reassurance. We have only to look at the 'gun law'. Having a registry gave Police the power to 'inspect' firearms for safety and storage compliance.  That was, no doubt, the basis for a number of 'search warrants'. And it also resulted in a large number of charges resulting from 'police business' carried out in other circumstances. Just this last week a court case was in the news,

One Leroy Smickle (I'm not making this up),  a 30-something from Toronto,  was charged with a gun offence, careless use of  a firearm, requiring a mandatory sentence of  3 years, when he was caught 'playing' with a loaded pistol while entertaining himself on an internet chat ( a future 'double-whammy'?). The police had raided his home on a search warrant for another man. An Ottawa judge refused to put him in jail for being stupid and getting caight by accident,  I'd guess. You'll note that the law didn't leave the police much leeway in just walking away from the situation they'd happened upon unintendedly, Leroy was getting charged - even though he'd dropped both his pistol, and his laptop, when the raiders burst in. Of course the focus of the story was on the necessity of giving him 3 years in jail, not the necessity of charging him under the gun law..

If you're at all concerned that by this time next week your 'browsing habits' might have to change, a lot; you might want to tell your MPP how you feel. He doesn't give a shit what you think.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Will They, or Won't They?

The musical question this week is 'will, or won't' the Israelis, driven to desperation by the thought of a nuclear-armed Ayetolleh, unleash its 'luftwaffe' and reduce the 'atomic centers' of Natanz, Bushehr, Arak and a number of other sites,  to irradiated rubble. Although opinion is split on whether or not an atomic weapon is in the cards, or only in somebody's dreams, or even less distinct - that doesn't seem to be getting in the way of Israeli government sources whose 'chitchat' indicated the bunkerbusters were already being slung under those Strike Eagles.

President Obama is reported to have said, 'Nay!' to a greenlight for the 'raid'. His personal representative - the US Chief of Staff - showed up (in 'class A rig') to tell the IDF general staff, (in shirtsleeve order), that the President 'meant it'. Then the President went on TV, before the Superbowl, to let every sport fan know that he understood why Israel would want to bomb Iran, that he was "lockstep" with them but that he didn't know, for sure, what they were going to do. Was that a green light?

The 'evil' that is Iran has been described so often that it is taken as fact by an awful lot of  North Americans  - it must be the Disney effect,  for all critical reasoning seems suspended when they hear the word "Iran" and the reaction is at the visceral level. It's even worse in the land of the Hebrews where spittle foam, once reserved for Al Fatah suicide bombers,  is a standard reaction.

Let's take another quick look at the history of Atomic energy in Iran.

The Iranians got interested in developing atomic energy in the fifties at a time when many countries were taking a look at atomic generation of electricity. The nascent atomic power industry, particularly in America, was actively selling the US design around the world. The Shah signed-on with the Americans to develop and produce atomic energy. He also went on to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regarding atomic weaponry. Iran remains, suprisingly, a signatory to that pact - her main accusors the USA and Israel, aren't.

The first stage of this nuclear development saw the US supplying Iran with fissile materials and the necessary equipment to do ground-level studies and development work. This assistance was  further extended by France and Germany in terms of  both fissile materials, expertise and equipment. This continued apace until the Shah was overthrown.

Obviously the first change came in regard to America, which withdrew all its support. Pressure was then applied to France, which reneged on a 1 billion dollar deal with Iran, and kept the money (resulting in a string we are told,  of Hezbolleh money-recovery hostage takings). Germany withdrew as well. The IAEA , then offering technical assistance to Iran, was pressured by the US to desist.

Russia and China stepped into the breach to assist with nuclear power development and the Americans claimed that Pakistanis were assisting the Iranians to produce an A weapon. This was all some 25 years ago. So it's understandible how fairytales of such long-standing become almost divine writ, rather than just common folklore.

The Russians helped build the only nuclear generating plant at Bushehr, which came on-line for the first time - using Russian supplied fuel rods -  in Summer 2011. The Chinese were pressured to 'butt out' during the 90's but may be one their way back in, now. The IAEA has remained a variable influence,  controlled as it appears to be, by US and European interests viz: the most recent report on Iran by the IAEA was NOT released to the public, or the UN, but to a meeting of the Group P5+1 - which promptly labelled their work 'unacceptable' and the USA and EU members increased trade and financial sanctions sanctions on Iran. While the Iranians, at least thus far, have maintained a basic level of cooperation with IAEA under their NNPT obligations, there seems to be the notion that some visiting 'inspectors' may be gathering intelligence for military targetting.

The latest in all this is the claim that the Iranians are 'hardening' some, or all, nuclear operations by moving them underground. The latest Israeli jeremiad on the topic is the 'zone of invulnerability' - ie that point at which Iran's nuclear ambitions will be impervious to attack - at which time, accordimg to Israel, they will abrogate NNPT and develop, at least, the 4 nuclear bombs with which they intend to wipe Israel off the map, threaten their neighbors into giving them control of the world's oil and imperil civilization as we know it. The Israelis claim this to be the absolute limit by which time they will 'need' to attack Iran.

The Americans are afraid this might trigger an arms race in the middle east, like their recent spate of weapons deals isn't. And threaten world peace and endanger the region and wipe Israel off the map and stop the little Iranian girls going to school.

According to Benny Netanyahu the 'officials', me included, now just need to "shut up".