Tim Hortons Posts for January 2012
January 31, 2012 The Threat of Social Media
In the 21 Century, the greatest threats Facebook, Twitter, other social media and blog sites present, is not the invasion of the privacy of individuals using those sites, but as a tool to 'out' the efforts of governments and giant corporations attempting to keep their dubious dealings secret and, in the worst case, of dictators trying to control entire populations. This was no better demonstrated than in the events surrounding the Arab Spring which, to this day, continues to build across the Middle East.
Social media presents an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to co-ordinate and communicate their concerns about abuses by government and corporations that once held information tightly in the vaults of secretive government agencies and in the board rooms of corporations. Insider information and leaks today can be broadcast around the world in a matter of seconds. Wikileads is a good example.
Over the coming months and years you will see governments and corporations around the world working hand in hand to pass laws that control information they consider proprietary to their vested interests. The recent attempt to close down social media sites because information was passed along that was considered proprietary, is a perfect example. It did not take long before the US Government backed off once the backlash began.
Also, you likely watched as governments around the world become apoplectic during after the most recent WikiLeaks release. They are still pursuing Julian Assange with a vengence and arranged to have several organizations cut off Wikileaks services. Yesterday seveal hackers turned the tables on some spy agencies and hacked into some very sensitive conversations about those very hackers.
Worry not about what you post (other than that which may come back to haunt you at some future date) being accessed by some inept individual or pervert or even a government, worry about your ability to freely communicate your idea’s with others. Except to fight against network posts or internet displays that cross the bounds of common decency or are clearly racist, fight censorship at every turn.
January 31, 2012 Hackers, Snoopers and Peepers
Protecting your Privacy on Facebook. The following message in various forms has been doing the rounds for some time: "With the new FB timeline on its way this week for EVERYONE, please do both of us a favor. Hover over my name above. In a... few seconds you'll see a box that says : "Subscribed". Hover over that..."
My research shows this advice is wrong. For details read the Sohos Naked Security Post. If you still have concerns about your Facebook privacy, I suggest the following simple steps be taken:
Do not subscribe to Facebook or post on any other social media site;
Do not use an email service;
Do not complete any contest forms that require a name, address or phone number;
Do not subscribe to a telephone and, heaven forbide, do not get a cell phone.
Do not get a credit card, health care card, drivers licence, passport or do any travelling;
Do not register a vehicle or any item that needs to be licenced;
Do not file any income tax, census or other government forms;
Do not commit a crime for which you may be photographed and fingerprinted;
If you go to a mall or walk in many other public locations, it is a good idea to cover you face as video surveillance has become the norm;
Finally, if your are still concerned about your privacy, sell your home and move to an unknown location on Haida Gwaii or some other wilderness area.
If you decide to keep your home, for goodness sakes, do not install one of them new fangled 'Smart Meters' BC Hydro is passing around. I have been told they can track every movement, and I mean every movement, right to the last flush, in your home.
Once you have completed steps 1-9 and possibly 10, information about you will become far more limited and you can sleep easy every night without fear that someone is watching you or hacking their way into your life, although bears, cougars and various other carnivors out on the prowl for a quick meal, may develope an interest in your hermit-like existence.
Of the above points, those listed as #4, #5, #6, #7, and #8 are by far the most frequent 'invasions of privacy' (by both legal and illegal means). I was a policeman for thirty years and, believe me, the information on file about you, even 20, 30, or 40 years ago, was far more pervasive and of far more value than all the Facebook or Twitter Posts you might ever make in your lifetime.
January 30, 2012 How is your Mandarin? The Pipeline to Beijing
In April, 2011, in a satirical article titled Pax Canadiana, I sketched out a path Canada might take toward becoming a world superpower. A portion of that article discussed moving more of our rescources to the Asia-Pacific markets as a means to diversify export income away from the United States. Given our new-found interest in China and as China gains a major position in some of our resource industries, it seems we may be further along the path than I had thought.
Cartoon: Northern Gateway progresses across British Columbia (Montreal Gazette)
The challenge for Canada over the next decade will not be fending off a US takeover of our industry and resources, but defending our soverien interests against the incrasingly powerful Chinese whose Communist government controls most aspects of life in China and appears to be more than willing to bully and buy their way into Canada.
Perhaps the more important issue for Canadians and the environmental movement, is not what route the Northern Gateway Project may take across British Columbia, but whether Canada (or Alberta) will even have a say in oilsands development as China buys control of more and more projects. If we insist upon selling off raw materials such as our Alberta bitumen and our raw logs from British Columbia, we shall remain "tillers of the soil, hewers of wood and drawers of water" as other countries strip us of our unprocessed natural rescources.
Updae: Feb 1, 2012. Back in 2005, now immigration Minister Jason Kenny stood in Bejing and called China a: "totalitarian one-party state.... it continues to have forced labour camps. It continues to deny freedom of religion and freedom of expression." What a difference a few years make.
Note: See footnote #12, in Chapter 6 of Pax Canadiana.
January 28, 2012 A Little Help Please!
I think most would agree the political spectrum in Canada, from the left leaning to right leaning, runs: Green, NDP, Liberal, Conservative. Although there is a good deal of overlap between the groups, the Conservatives are reported to be the most "fiscally" conservative to a greater or lesser degree and the NDP are frequently described as having "socialist" leanings. The Liberals seem to occupy more of the middle ground between the two.
My confusion comes when a fiscally conservative government struggling to control a $30 - $40 billion dollar deficit (this year alone) that has accumulated on their watch, is, on the one hand, willing to commit $30 - $40 billion (a very 'conservative' estimate) to jets, crime supression, drug control, jails, enhanced security, etc. and, on the other, is warning Canadians to get their burgeoning personal debt under control. Somehow this does not seem to square with being 'fiscally conservative'.
Consider this, if a future NDP government spent an equivalent amount on social programs in a time of budget deficit's, they would tagged as profligate spenders propelling our country toward financial disaster. My thirty years of policing suggested that, at least in the area of street crime, $1.00 spent on prevention was worth $10.00 spent on enforcement and incarceration.
Did I get this all wrong? Perhaps you can tell me how the Conservatives justify their position on this spending?
January 28, 2012. Prime Minister’s Office Tries to Silence Pipeline Critics; Labels Environmental Group“Enemy of the Government of Canada” and “Enemy of the people of Canada.”
I have followed other stories on the explicit and implicit threats the government has made against "enemies of the state'. The post of January 10 (below) by the Minister of Rescources makes the governments position very clear. The above link makes the government position vis a vis those who oppose their initiatives, even more clear.
January 27, 2012 Pension Cutbacks - Thank You Prime Minister for helping Lynn and I sort out our 'Wants' and 'Needs'.
All news outlets covered your statements to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this morning. We agree that with the aging population and dwindling workforce, pension changes are necessary. We had hoped you would start with the MP and Senators pensions but, we suppose, that would not be very popular with your colleagues.
We also understand your desire to "make better economic choices now so we are better prepared in Canada for the demographic pressures the economy will face.”
Increasing the Old Age Pension age and making changes to our Health Care System (likely privatizing many items) will really help the government save money needed for other priority programs (listed below).
We fully understand your concern that "if these changes are not made there will be threats to social programs and services that Canadians cherish." hmmmm
Cartoon: Stephen works at justifying the cost of those new fighter jets.
We suppose some of the things that Canadians cherish and have told you loud and clear that we must have or do, include:
Purchase state of the art jet fighters for the Canadian Forces in order to help protect our Arctic sovereignty. I have loved fast airplanes every since my time with the US Air Force back in the sixties. At a measly few billion or many billion dollars, we must have those jets.
Expand the war on crime and drugs as outlined in Bill C10; A dream that I have cherished.
Building more jails in order to better serve what will certainly be a growing segment of our population after implementation of Bill C10. We suppose this must be part of the 'demographic' change to which you refer;
Expand the war on terror and make improvements to airport security;
Removing our country from the Kyoto Protocol. That should save us many billions dollars. We can just let future generations look after themselves just as we have looked after ourselves;
Ensure sustainability of that gold plated MP and Senator pension plan into the forseeable future;
Lynn and I have discussed your proposals in depth and think we can assist by following your lead:
Lynn and our younger friends in the middle income and lower bracket will plan on delaying retirement and deferring OAP benefits for several years (perhaps indefinitely). This will help to insure MP's and Senators can keep their pensions and the government can purchase the jets and implement other reforms we all 'cherish';
We will take out a second mortgage as well as increase the line of credit on our home in order to make more purchases;
Expand our use of our credit card for short term needs (movies, dinning out, presents, etc);
With all the extra money we generate, we will:
Buy a new BMW Convertible for Lynn and a Mercedes Benz for Harold. If I can't have a jet I should be able to have a nice car; Perhaps I can't have a jet but a nice sporty car will do.
Make several renovations to our home including putting in a swimming pool, installing a hot tub (you will understand the need for the hot tub when you get older);
Contract a security service to install alarms and do driveby patrols in order to insure our safety in our crime ridden, drug infested, terrorist prone city. Over the past few years, the Harper Conservatives have convinced me that Canada and, indeed, the world, is a very dangerous place. As you state "a dollar spent on locking people up is a dollar spent making our "streets and communities" more safe. And, as you know we live in Victoria, BC, one of the crime captials of Canada;
Plan on at least two major trips each year to get away from all the stress. Defense Minister McKay has given us a number of tips of how to travel inexpensively. Our travels will also allow us to make better use of the new and improved airport security systems such as full body scans, etc.;
With this long-term plan, Lynn and I will make "the transformations necessary to sustain the long-term economic health of our family as well as help with job creation and prosperity now and for future generations."
Thank you Stephen. Lynn and I have always had difficulty sorting our WANTS from our NEEDS but you have shown us just how easily that can be accomplished.
January 26, 2012 Obama is right: Inequality is a threat to capitalism.
Not often do you see the National Post print articles that tend to support the "socialist" policies of the Obama administration but this article by Jonthan Kay in today's edition, does just that.
While Mitt Romney works to downplay his past tax returns, the cartoon on right better exemplifies his attitude as he heads to the Florida primary after collecting an advance on his tax 2011 tax refund. There is nothing like money to keeping your campaign on track when your shifting policy positions are sinking your life boat.
Although Newt Gingrich seems to have paid his fair share of taxes, he "wants a 0% capital-gains tax rate." Do you think either of these men would bring forth policy and tax reforms that will stablize the US economy that has been torn apart by Corporate greed that was no better demonstrated than during the Wall Street meltdown? Link to the article and have a read.
January 28. Update. I watched the Republican candidates debate in the lead-up to the Florida primary. I rather suspect even diehard Republicans must be embarrassed. An the money these guys are spending, it will be the most expensive primary ever. My bet is the rank and file will be searching for some other candidate. Right now Ron Paul is the best of a poor lot and it is not likely he will make it.
January 26, 2012 Vancouver "dropped the ball" in Pickton case: witness
Kim Rossmo continued to drop bomb shells at the inguiry when speaking about Vancouver Detective Inspector Fred Biddlecombe who, after a "hissy-fit", kiboshed the idea of a serial killer stalking women in the downtown east side. An excellent review of the ex-Vancouver policemans efforts to bring these matter to the attention of police brass is contained in the book "On the Farm' (pages 106 - 113, along with several other references).
Just how solidly the Vancouver Police and RCMP are resisting this inquiry is evidenced by the fact that 18 lawyers have been retained (at public expense) to represent the Vancouver PD and RCMP as well as current and former members of those forces. The 19th was added today when retired Inspector Biddlecombe was given approval to add his lawyer. I wonder who will pay for that lawyer?
As I am given to understand, the 25 families of the murdered woman are represented by a single lawyer, Cameron Ward. No wonder many of the friends and relatives of the victims think the inquiry will be stonewalled into oblivion as those 19 lawyers seek to delay the process at every turn.
January 27, 2012 The apology again today by the RCMP for 'dropping the ball' in the Pickton case strikes me as a little self serving given that a number of RCMP officers are about to take the stand over the next few days. I rather expect that, given the opportunity, there will be more than a few officers who will take a shot at the restrictive structure of the RCMP that sought to protect the reputation of the force 'at all costs'.
Also, reference National Post Article: Serial Killers not taken seriously
Further references below in the January 22 post on Whistleblowers.
January 25, 2012 Colwood and View Royal opt for fire dispatch service from Saanich
The above headline and article appears on page A3 of the Times Colonist this morning. On Facebook this morning, Mayor Frank Leonard (Saanich), in response to the headline, stated:
"If you build it, they will come' - We invested in first class technology, building and people - then put out the welcome mat - we don't threaten our neighbours with takeovers - we simply offer first class service to our customers."
I fully support the Mayor. This is a much acceptable approach to integrating services within the CRD and leads to cooperation and problem solving rather than conflict as does rattling sabres and making threats of take-over as so often emanate from our good neighbor Victoria. An article on the the subject is posted in McNeill Life Stories under the title: Amalgamation in Greater Victoria
January 22, 2012 New police policy aims to shield whistleblowers
Tim Colonist (Front Page) While the Victoria Police may have taken a step in the right direction, by developing a policy that states a member, particularly a rank and file member, will be shielded when bringing an internal complaint directly to the Police Board about a senior member of the Department, stretches the bounds of credibility. One must remember the police are still very much para-military organizations and the rank structure is