Posted by: Nathan M. | November 2, 2011

Obama to make decision on controversial oil pipeline

Obama to make decision on controversial oil pipeline – http://pulse.me/s/2Ki6D
I don’t understand how environmentalists can get so worked up about things like this without weighing the alternatives. If there is no pipeline, the oil will still make it’s way down, but through much less environmentally friendly methods, such as trucks and oil tankers. And to those who would have us shut down the whole thing, would they prefer tankers going all across the ocean, buying oil from significantly less environmentally responsible nations, such as Saudia Arabia?  Not to mention significantly less caring about human rights. Comparing the oil sands to an imaginary perfect energy supply is unfair and unrealistic. America will get their oil from somewhere. Better us than most other oil rich nations.

Posted by: Nathan M. | November 1, 2011

What Happened to the Poppy?

As I was standing at the bus stop today waiting for my bus to come, I noticed a poppy lying on thePoppy in the Mudground. That reminded me that Remembrance Day was fast approaching, and I should probably be wearing a poppy, especially since I am in a political science MA program, and it is highly likely that the majority of my colleagues would have already donned theirs. Not wanting to be the one who seemed unpatriotic and supportive of those who gave their lives for various causes throughout Canadian history, I discretely picked up the poppy and pinned it to my jacket. The bus arrived, and I proudly mounted the stairs with the knowledge that I would not be seen as forgetting the important time of remembrance (and yes, I do note the irony). As I moved to a seat, I noticed that I need not have worried about my immediate vicinity, since I could not see a single other individual with the red symbol pinned on their attire. Still, I assumed that I would see more of the red flowers upon arriving at my University, and still more among my political science colleagues. However, as I walked to my class after arriving at the institution, I noticed that I could not see ANY poppies. In fact, I was not able to find a single poppy aside from my own. I still held out hope however, that I would see some among those who are dedicated to studying the institutions that were being defended by those that we remember. I arrived in class and was relieved to see another poppy pinned onto a coat. Then I realized that it was the only poppy in sight, aside from my own.

The entire day I only saw two poppies, one of which had somehow found its way onto the ground. This has gotten me thinking about Remembrance Day a great deal. Do we remember? I remember when I was younger, many of my teachers could recall experiencing some of the calamities, or at the very least the fear that came with WWII and the Cold War. Every student could be seen proudly wearing the poppy as a result, trying to imagine in their childish mentality what it must have been like to sacrifice one’s own life for the greater good. I must admit, I was never very good at this activity-I could not really conceive of a world that was rife with instability. Now I wonder if I was not alone in this failing. I wonder if many of my childhood friends and acquaintances never learned how to remember that which they had never experienced themselves. Can we remember? I think we should if it is at all possible, but how much plausibility is there in it? How long before Remembrance Day becomes a holiday, and simply that?

Posted by: Nathan M. | June 15, 2011

Prostitution

I have extracted an article from the Montreal Gazette and made a few modifications to it, to put things in perspective. The original article can be found here.

Some thieves came to believe their only recourse was to fight against a legal system that put them at heightened risk.

In Canada, exchange of items for free is legal, but not communicating for the purpose of taking is illegal, as is conducting business in a gang and living off the avails of thievery. Thus many thieves are legally constrained to work in frighteningly vulnerable conditions: alone and in a dark corner, away from prying eyes.

One person who was unwilling to ignore the dangers of the thief trade was Justice Susan Himel of the Ontario Superior Court. Last fall, Himel ruled that current thief laws can create dangers that violate thieves’ right to security of the person under the Charter of Rights. The communicating law forces a thief to obtain an item swiftly, without being able to take stock of the area. Thieves cannot turn to the safety of a residence, for fear of being charged running away. Nor can they hire a security guard or a driver, since they also could be open to charges of living off the avails of thievery. As Ontario Court of Appeal Justice David Doherty said Monday, Canada’s current laws force thieves to “take much greater risks than anybody else.”

My point? Of course prostitution is dangerous, just like any other crime. We are not responsible for protecting criminals while they execute their crimes, that’s simply ridiculous. Making the argument that prostitutes are in danger because of the present laws is completely pointless, because that would entail striking down almost every criminal law that we have.

Furthermore, I do not believe that this country is ready for the legalization of prostitution, since the public is still outraged whenever a politician is caught making use of a prostitute. If the country truly accepted this “profession”, as they’re trying to call it now, as morally acceptable, than there truly would be no stigma, and people would not be upset about the use of prostitutes by our esteemed leaders-that is simply not the case. In other words, the Supreme Court argument against the illegalization of prostitution acts is simply not there, nor is the political will to legalize prostitution. This is an example of the Supreme Court getting too big for it’s britches.

Posted by: Nathan M. | June 13, 2011

Geek vs. The World

(Reuters) – Governments, multinational corporations and global institutions are losing the battle against computer hackers and must combine their resources if they are to lock out cyber intruders, experts say.

The International Monetary Fund has joined Sony and Google on a growing list of hacking victims but it is hard to identify the culprits who consistently manage to keep one technological step ahead of their pursuers.

From here.

I can’t help but laugh when I read these articles. I mean, picture the most powerful organizations and bodies in the world, with their massive buildings, weapons, financial backing, etc. Now, picture a frizzy-haired guy in a basement who’s annoyed with the system, or just has it out for stupid people doing stupid things with their security-who wins in this epic battle? Yeah…

 

Posted by: Nathan M. | June 13, 2011

Vote Subsidies

I must admit, this makes me a little fearful of the future of our political system. The elimination of the vote subsidies is essentially a significant step towards making the Canadian democratic system into a type of oligarchic democracy, where the important factor in the amount of power that a party can gain is not in accordance with how good their ideas are, according to the Canadian populace, but rather how rich their supporters are. In a society that has become increasingly effective at marketing and advertising, where many people make their choices not based on an educated and well-thought out process, but rather through their gut feeling, or assumptions, marketing is everything-especially in the realm of politics. And, with marketing, comes the primacy of money. You would have to be an extreme optimist to deny that the rich have different interests then the poor, so when you have a system where parties that are supported by the rich receive more money than the poor, that means that the rich are much better represented. This is much more of an issue than many believe-the repercussions of this action that Harper is moving towards will be seen in many elections to come. A political party should never have as its goal the eternal rule of a nation-that is not democracy, and that is not a love of one’s country or people.

Posted by: Nathan M. | June 13, 2011

Libya and Apathy

I doubt that I am alone in my complete lack of enthusiasm for what is going on in Libya right now. It is difficult to sustain a sense of hope and optimism in such situations, since it is almost inevitable that such situations become long, drawn-out, and messy. We of the west have never fully become used to messy wars. It is alright if two sides kill each-other, but they should do it quickly, establish a new government, and then move on…right? Well, maybe things aren’t quite as simple as we would like them to be, and further-maybe it’s not that surprising. After all, the west has not always had a set of coherent and established nation-states that kept wars as clean as they could. It took centuries of dictators who controlled their territory largely out of a desire for power, prestige, and wealth, for western nations to become truly consolidated. Some argue that the United States and Canada are exceptions, proving that the process is not necessary, but that is a gross misinterpretation of the historical development of the two nations (and I suppose I should add Australia, South Africa, and perhaps some others to this list). Gaddafi: "Should I be worried?"

Those nations that were established on the basis of a constitution before they had a dictator to bring them together had, without exception, already been forged into a fairly united and homogeneous people by the nation that they had departed from as colonists.

I am not calling for an acceptance of dictators in these many nations that are beginning to fight for their rights. However, I am suggesting a bucket of caution when approaching the issues that are at stake. It is not simply a case of giving democracy to wayward nations. Democracy, contrary to Adam Smith, is not the be-all solution for the world’s problems. The “cure for the ills of democracy” is NOT “more democracy”. There must be a strong government in place for a nation to truly become a nation-state, with modern organizational and institutional capabilities. Such a strong government is very difficult to attain through democracy, as we in Canada have been infinitely aware of in the last 10 years, and America has been aware of for the duration of their history, as their governments have often been so confused and mired in the politics of pork-barrelling that very little has been accomplished during certain eras of their political history.

What makes this whole thing frustrating is that it seems to pain a very bleak picture, that makes it difficult for westerners to continually support and help nations that are still developing their political structure and culture. How do we support them, when we will at times need to accept measures of disorganization and messiness, not to mention some actions that are much too extreme for our own stomaches, in order to see the growth of nations? Often, the only real answer seems to be: patience, love, mercy.

Posted by: Nathan M. | March 28, 2011

Prevention of Damage by Rabbits

It just goes to show you how long the arm of the state can be sometimes! ; )

Posted by: Nathan M. | March 28, 2011

Orthodoxy

This morning, two friends and I went to a Ukranian Eastern Orthodoxy service, held in English. I must say, I found it very stimulating, as we had the opportunity to worship in ways that are not ordinarily used within the protestant tradition. I heard the Priest tell somebody after the service that Orthodoxy is all about worship-and I really found that to be true. The, what we protestants would call, message of the service was very short, and was simply a call to action-an insistence on re-evaluation of our lives constantly. The service itself was full of singing and chant-a great deal of chant. What I found particularly entrancing, however, was the involvement of the congregation in the service. I understand that, in a usual service, there are much more people, so involvement is not quite as elevated. However, in this service we were invited to join in the service, holding candles in a line as a prayer was given for the departed, as well as the Lord’s prayer, and a number of other liturgies.

What struck me about the service was the emphasis on action. In most protestant traditions, the focus is on learning, but there was a real call to action within the service. Members of the congregation could not simply allow the people at the front to do the work in the service-constant involvement and response was required. The greatness of God was emphasized, while His closeness was continually inscribed on our hearts by the making of the sign of the cross. I believe we can learn a great deal from the Orthodox.

 

Posted by: Nathan M. | October 2, 2010

U.S. apologizes for Guatemala STD experiments

By Robert Bazell Chief science and health correspondent

NBC News NBC News
updated 10/1/2010 7:19:05 PM ET

U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.

Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.

“The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical,” according to the joint statement from Clinton and Sebelius. “Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices.”

Secretary Clinton called Guatemalan president Alvara Cabellaros Thursday night to reaffirm the importance of the U.S. relationship with the Latin American country. President Barack Obama called Cabellaros Friday afternoon, according to a statement from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

“The people of Guatemala are our close friends and neighbors in the Americas,” the government statement says. “As we move forward to better understand this appalling event, we reaffirm the importance of our relationship with Guatemala, and our respect for the Guatemalan people, as well as our commitment to the highest standards of ethics in medical research.”

During a conference call Friday with National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela, officials noted that there were no formalized regulations regarding protection of human studies during the 1940s.

In addition to the apology, the U.S. is setting up commissions to ensure that human medical research conducted around the globe meets “rigorous ethical standards.” U.S. officials are also launching investigations to uncover exactly what happened during the experiments.

Read More…

Posted by: Nathan M. | September 28, 2010

PM highlights Canada’s role on the world stage

September 23, 2010
New York, New York

Thank you very much. Mr Chairman, Mr Secretary-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

It has now been more than 65 years since the nations of the world, exhausted and in some cases devastated by years of war, established the United Nations.

Canada was one of those nations. One of the many in fact, whose fresh experience of conflict had persuaded its people that the possibility of a better world, one in which nations resolved their differences peacefully, was an objective worthy of their every effort.

Today, the Canadian people continue to believe in this purpose and continue to strive to live by the principles that would make it possible.

Such principles are enshrined in the charter of this organization: that same UN Charter endorsed with happiness and hope by a former Canadian government, on that auspicious June day in San Francisco in 1945.

These foundational beliefs recognize the sovereign equality of countries. They remind us of the obligation to settle disputes peacefully. And, they demand we seek justice and uphold the human rights of all people.

These are values that Canadians hold dear. And, as the universal membership of this body implies, so do peoples the world over. This widespread consensus
continues to convince the idealist in all of us that so much more is possible
in this world of ours. At the same time, it makes the gap between aspiration and achievement so disappointing.

It calls us onward to do more, as successive Canadian governments have worked diligently to do for almost a lifetime. These ideals, as well as an acute awareness of the broad concerns of the international community, especially those of the developing countries continue to animate the Government of Canada, the government that I lead today. And these ideals have the willing, enthusiastic support of the Canadian people.

And, I do not foresee any day or any circumstance in which we shall cease in our endeavours. The question, as always, is how this is to be done. Our preference is to take meaningful action. Action that produces real results. Action that helps real people in their struggle with oppression, with disaster and with poverty. Let me just run through some of those actions.

As a founding member of the UN, and the seventh-largest contributor to its finances, Canada has been a consistently reliable and responsible participant in UN initiatives around the world, this was so in the earliest days of the UN. It was so during the difficult days of the Cold War, of de-colonization and of the struggle against apartheid.

It is so today. Canada continues to pay, for instance, a heavy price to fulfill our UN obligation to support the lawful government of Afghanistan. We pay it with
the resources of Canadian taxpayers, but more profoundly with sorrow, in the priceless lives of our young men and women who serve there in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as, sadly, civilians who have also given their sweat and their lives in the service of both our country, and of the people of Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, our military efforts have gone hand-in-hand with our reconstruction and development programs there. In particular, Canada supports those, such as the Dhala Dam, which will have enduring economic benefit. And we have also invested heavily in others which will improve the lives of that country’s most vulnerable citizens, and we will continue to do so.

Our international engagement is by no means restricted to Afghanistan. In fact, elsewhere in the world, we have also expanded our efforts. We pledged to double our aid to Africa, making Canada a leader in the G-8 by fulfilling this commitment. And we are on track to double our overall development assistance by March of next year.

Further, we have untied food aid, and all Canadian aid will be untied by 2013. Such measures significantly extend the purchasing power of Canadian aid funds.

Canada was also among the first last year at l’Aquila, to double support for agricultural development.

And during the economic crisis, we have acted, in concert with G-20 partners, to increase the lending capacity of development organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank and the African Development Bank.

Read More…

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