Aug. 24, 2005 - Issue #514: Mysterious Skin
Man, I don’t know what’s more surprising: that Canadian warships were ordered to set course for the Arctic earlier this week to establish our claim over the frozen wastelands therein, or the fact that Canada actually has, like, warships. Huh.
Anyhow, according to a story run in the Monday edition of London’s Daily Telegraph, Ottawa has apparently decided that gunboat diplomacy is the way to go on this whole “who controls the Arctic” thing, and as such has launched a series of sovereignty patrols to assert our territorial claims and fend off rivals Denmark, Norway, Russia and the States.
Thanks to the grim spectre of global warming threatening to melt the polar ice caps and potentially exposing untapped mineral and oil deposits, as well as opening up an Arctic shipping lane linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, control over Canada’s north has become a really big deal of late, recently causing federal defense minister Bill Graham to lay claim on the disputed Hans Island off the coast of Greenland, much to the chagrin of Denmark, who say ownership of the tiny frozen rock was never officially settled between the two countries. Canada also finds itself at odds with the United States over ownership of the Northwest passage and resource-rich Beaufort Sea, and is mired in disputes with Russia regarding overlapping claims on parts of the Arctic continental shelf.
“This is a demonstration of Canada’s will to exercise sovereignty over our own backyard,” Commodore Bob Blakely of the Royal Canadian Navy told the Telegraph. “The sea is a highway that is open to everyone. We will allow everybody passage as long as they ask for out consent and comply with our rules: ‘use our resources wisely and don’t pollute the fragile northern ecosystem.’”
And please—don’t make fun of our seacraft.
In a move that no doubt caused more than a few personal freedom and privacy advocates to spend their weekend racked with fits of incredulous sputtering, federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler announced on Friday that legislation will be introduced this fall which will give police and national security agencies authority to eavesdrop on cellphone calls and monitor the Internet activities on Canadians.
According to a report from the Canadian Press, the news came after a speech to an Ottawa police association, with Cotler confirming that his government will soon bring “lawful access” legislation to cabinet for final approval before running it by the House of Commons. The bill would allow police to demand internet service providers hand over any and all information about the surfing habits of targeted individuals—powers which Cotler says are needed to replace outdated surveillance laws written before the advent of such crazy future technologies like mobile phones and e-mail.
“We will put law-enforcement people on the same level playing field as criminals and terrorists in the matter of using technology and accessing technology,” Cotler told the CP. “At the same time we will protect the civil libertarian concerns that are involved such as privacy and information surveillance.”
Police groups maintain that they’re not asking for new powers, but rather simply the ability to continue the same investigative activities in this age of digital things. But this does little to ease the concerns of critics involved in the private consultations with the government who feel that the legislation goes too far, and could ultimately be used to nab Canadians engaging in “relatively minor” illegal offences such as downloading music, movies and software.
Really? Those are the critics primary concerns, huh? Not, like, the loss of personal privacy in general? Alright, I guess.
PAT ROBERTSON: CRAZY!
Well, if there was anyone among us who had somehow managed to forget that the religious right in the States are completely insane, Pat Robertson, former presidential candidate and leader of the two-million-strong Christian Coalition of America, was more than happy to remind them Monday by publicly suggesting that American agents assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.” (Yeah, haven’t you heard? Communism is totally still a threat. Get with it, pinkos.)
“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” said Robertson of the outspoken Bush opponent during a Monday television broadcast of Christian talk show The 700 Club. “We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot cheaper than fighting a war, and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.”
You know, I don’t think Jesus could have put it any better himself. Still, as chilling as it is, it’s far from the best crazy statement that Robertson’s ever made on behalf of God; that honour still belongs to his criticism of feminism, which he once said encourages women to “kill their children, practice witchcraft and become lesbians.”
Oh, America. V
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