Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's amazing what can be learned from a YouTube!

Hunt is on for for ISIS terrorist: Video yields clues to identity of American journalist's left-handed excutioner

Gordon Rayner
Alister Beach
Martin Evans
Philip Sherwell

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
James Foley in Aleppo, Syria in September 2012. In a horrifying act of revenge for United States airstrikes in Northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham extremist group have beheaded Foley - and are threatening to kill another hostage U S. officials say. (AP Photo/freejamesfoley.org/Manu Brabo)

James Foley's ISIS executioner has British accent

The British killer who beheaded journalist James Foley was being hunted last night as U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the Islamic terrorists behind the murder as a “cancer” that had massacred innocents.

“From governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread,” he said.

There has to be a clear rejection of this nihilistic ideology

“There has to be a clear rejection of this kind of nihilistic ideology.”

American and British intelligence agents believe clues contained in the video of Mr. Foley’s murder will reveal both the killer’s identity and location.

Despite being deliberately filmed in a barren, featureless landscape, with the man wearing a hood, the four-minute film has a wealth of information, including his voice, height and the fact he is left-handed, a trait shared by only 10% of people.



The sophisticated video, uploaded to YouTube by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS), was shot using high-quality equipment, which will also play into investigators’ hands because of the clarity of the image and the killer’s voice.

Elizabeth McClelland, a forensic voice and speech analyst who is regularly called as an expert witness in British courts, said the knifeman appeared to have a South London accent and spoke English as his first language, with the possible influence of Farsi, which could suggest a family link to Afghanistan.

“The MI5 experts may use a computer program to narrow down their search, comparing the voice in the video to voices they already have on file. But a computer can’t pick out an exact match, that still relies on the trained human ear, because there is no such thing as a unique ’voice print,’ ” she said.

“The analysts will listen to the tone or timbre of the voice, the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables, the duration of each syllable as well as the accent and use of grammar.”

In this June 17, 2011 photo, journalist James Foley receives applause from students at the Christa McAuliffe Regional Charter Public School in Framington, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/MetroWest Daily News/Ken McGagh)

Security sources warned it was possible the voice was dubbed onto the video, which could mean the man heard speaking is not the man seen in the video.

Using 40-year-old victim’s known height as a guide, the experts will be able to work out his killer’s height. His slim body shape and the colour of his skin — which suggests he is black or of Asian origin — will further help to narrow their search.

Even his beige desert boots may enhance their knowledge of where he has been.

Weapons experts will be asked to identify the distinctive commando knife and the gun he holds in a leather holster over his left shoulder to work out where they were bought. Other analysts will use the topography of the landscape in the video to try to identify the location.

Intelligence agents on both sides of the Atlantic are also following up reports the killer is “John” from London, ringleader of a group of British jihadis who specialize in hostage taking.

Based in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, “John” is described as well-educated, intelligent and highly committed. Because he works closely with two other British-born militants, fellow jihadists have nicknamed them “The Beatles.”

Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after talking with U S President Barack Obama Wednesday, August 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, New Hampshire. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U S had launched airstrikes in Northern Iraq. (AP photo/Jim Cole)

In his speech, Mr. Obama did not go into specifics on military strategy or mention the group’s threat to behead a second American journalist if U.S. air strikes targeting ISIS in Iraq continued.

But he sounded at times as if the U.S. was already at war.

“The United States will continue to do what we must do to protect our people,” he said. “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.”

The U.S. president said he had spoken to Mr. Foley’s family and told them “we are all heartbroken at their loss and join them in honouring Jim and all that he did.”

James Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire, a freelance contributor for Global Post, in Benghazi, Libya, in a horrifying act of revenge for U S air strikes in Northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley - and are threatening to kill another hostage, U S offiicals say. (GlobalPost)

He contrasted Mr. Foley’s life as a journalist who “courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings” with killers and their “bankrupt” ideology.

“They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practise a different religion …

“They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbours and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision.”

The Pentagon said U.S. aircraft had conducted another 14 strikes near the Mosul Dam against ISIS targets. It is also weighing a request from the State Department to send up to 300 more troops to Iraq.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Britain you should be afraid you should be very afraid! And Canada?


Good Day Readers:

The unspeakable murder of James Foley is deeply troubling for reasons that go far beyond its sheer brutality.

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham) has vowed revenge on any country that assists its enemies in Iraq and Syria this from a terrorist group even El-Qaeda considers too violent. The Canadian government and other nations have been assisting the Kurds in Iraq. Intelligence analysts estimate there are at least 500 foreign ISIS jihadists in Iraq-Syria mostly from Europe but a small number of Americans, as well as, an even smaller number from Canada. You may have noted a few days ago there was a report one from the United States and another from Canada had been killed.

The latest expert analysis of the YouTube video (more about that in a subsequent posting) strongly suggests Mr. Foley's murderer was raised and grew up in South London. While the American media, especially CNN, has been totally preoccupied with the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, a potentially much more dangerous killer has been stalking Americans.

Why Britain should be very concerned

British intelligence sources estimate there are a couple hundred or more ISIS jihadists from the U K. Within the past few days two major newspapers (The Telegraph/Daily Mail) reported on the results of a detailed study of the country's border security system. Seven years ago the eBorder System was introduced by the then Labour government designed to track every person entering or leaving the country. The findings:

(1) Each year 20 million people (1 in 5) arrive or leave without proper checks against terror and criminal watchlists. Therefore, only approximately 80% of trips are being logged by the System

(2) 6 million people arrive each year by train who do not undergo advance checks

(3) 10 million sea and 4 million air passengers are not fully checked

The System is unable to accurately count every person arriving or leaving Britain. A returning ISIS jihadist has a 1 in 5 chance of making it back into the country.

Should Canada be concerned?

Back in December of  2012 American security guru Bruce Schneier did a walk around of Pearson International Airport only to discover several very serious lapses: doors that should have been locked not locked; unauthorized individuals in restricted areas (e.g. baggage handling); a perimeter airport fence easily breached; etc., etc., etc. Hopefully, these have subsequently been corrected.

If you take the British numbers and prorate them to Canada they're still very alarming. Of the thousands and thousands and thousands of containerized shipping units that are unloaded at all Canadian ports how many are not adequately checked? Terrorists would like nothing better than to smuggle some low grade radioactive material to make a dirty bomb.

How closely are passenger lists of trains arriving from the United States checked? The potential for breaches go on and on and on. Unfortunately, you'll never know because that's the kind of information the Canadian Boarder Security Agency will never release. Perhaps it's best you don't know then you'd really be scared.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the authorities (assuming they're not doing so already) put together lists of known terrorists then see how many individuals assuming these identities were able to enter Canada undetected.

Recruitment

Canada has been extremely fortunate up until now because any terrorist plots have been prevented before implementation. But ISIS is a new threat the likes of which the world has not previously seen. As the death of James Foley has shown it will stop an nothing to achieve its objectives.

Its social media savvy is being used to globally recruit young, impressionable, naive new members. The handful of Canadians it has managed to attract so far have departed the country for combat zones but what about those who may be radicalized here - the home grown terrorist - who never leave Canada. Yes Canada you too should be very, very worried.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk

Jeezus lady and you thought Thomas Mulcair was too pro-Israel!

Good Day Readers:

Upon reading this next story maybe just maybe Ms Hassinia should take a long hard look at her performance as a Member of Parliament.or perhaps more correctly lack thereof.

On the subject of Thomas Mulcair being too pro-Israel Sana Hassinia might wish to listen to the following speech Stephen Harper gave to the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) during his January 2014 trip. Be sure to count the number of times he criticizes the Israelis in their dispute with the Palestinians.

So Ms Hassainia at any point did you hear one criticism of the Jewish state or did it sound more like a love in? In over 65 years of armed struggle with the Palestinians surely all the fault does not reside with them. one!
From about minute 15-16 he comes perilously close to suggesting to criticize the Israelis today is tantamount to being a new wave anti-Semite? What?
But it gets even better. After a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a Canadian reporter asked Mr. Harper whether the two discussed the highly contentious issue of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land. His reply, "I'm not here to criticize Israel." Said reporter next asked Mr. Netanyahu. "Mr. Harper and I discussed the matter and disagreed." Thank you "Homer" for being so candid with taxpayers.

BTW, the cost of the January 2014 love in trip for the 208 person delegation cost you $2.1 million. Now, Sana Hassainia do you still feel Thomas Mulcair is too pro-Israel?

The real problem into which you're running is trying to be a parliamentarian (full time job if done properly) plus raise two young children a second full time job. As the situation currently exists, the three political parties have not come together to agree upon a set of special considerations that should be extended to people in your situation. They can't seem to agree on anything these days.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
New Democrat MP quits party, complains that Mulcair is too pro-Israel

Joan Bryden
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
NDP MP Sana Hassainin walks out of the House of Commons with her baby Skander-Jack as she makes her way to meet reporters on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 8, 2012. The New Democratic MP has quit the party over what she deems leader Thomas Mulcair's excessively pro-Israel stance regarding the conflict in Gaza. Sana Hassaninin, who represents the Montreal-area riding of Vercheres-Les Patriotes, has told Montreal's La Presse she can't accept Mulcair's position and will now sit as an Independent. (The Canadian Press/Fred Chartrand)

OTTAWA - A New Democrat MP has quit the caucus over what she felt was an excessively pro-Israel stance on the current conflict in Gaza and demeaning party demands to toe the line.

Sana Hassainia, who represents the Montreal-area riding of Vercheres-Les Patriotes, was specifically critical of NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in a blog post that appeared online Wednesday.

Hassainia alleged that she was "punished" for supporting Mulcair rival Brian Topp for the party leadership, including losing her position on the Commons committee on the status of women. She also said she was forced to stay quiet over her views on the Middle East and accept a position that didn't align with her values.

"For me, a party leader should be loved like (former leader) Jack Layton and not feared," wrote Hassainia, who is originally from Tunisia.

"Today, I have the courage to make a significant gesture, to take a weight off my shoulders and stand by my convictions."

However, NDP sources said Hassainia has never before voiced concern over Mulcair's position on Israel and accused her of simply looking for an excuse to cover the fact that she rarely shows up for work.

Mulcair, speaking at a news conference in Toronto, said the party has never made a secret of its position on the Middle East.

"The NDP has a long-standing position in favour of the two state solution in the Middle East — a safe, secure state within negotiated borders for Israelis and a safe, secure state within negotiated borders for Palestinians," he said.

"Sana in her note made it clear she doesn't agree with that. That's been our position for many years, it was Jack's position, it's mine, and so she's decided that she doesn't want to sit with us. That's her choice."

So far this year, Hassainia has the worst voting record of all MPs, showing up for only 8.7 per cent of votes in the House of Commons.

Since winning election in 2011 as part of the so-called "orange wave" that swept Quebec, the 39-year-old has given birth to two children.

A source close to Mulcair said the party bent over backwards trying to accommodate Hassainia's need to be with her young children, even letting her use the leader's office to breastfeed. But still the party's whip, Nycole Turmel, was frustrated in her efforts to get Hassainia to show up for votes and perform other parliamentary duties.

Hassainia had been preparing to announce next week that she would not seek re-election.

In a draft of that announcement, prepared last month and obtained by The Canadian Press, Hassainia cites the need to spend more time with her young family as the sole reason for her decision. And she says she intends to remain an active and proud member of the NDP.

In a brief July 25 email to an NDP staffer who was helping craft the announcement, Hassainia says she wants to make "some small changes" to the document. She gives no hint that the changes involve disavowing the party or taking issue with Mulcair's stand on Israel.

Mulcair has been more unequivocal in his support for Israel than previous NDP leaders but he's walked a fine line on the conflict in Gaza.

He has supported Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas missile attacks but has simultaneously pushed the federal government to help Palestinian children injured by Israeli missiles.

With files from Jennifer Ditchburn

Sniffer dogs? Brilliant Kevin Lamoureux brilliant!

Good Day Readers:

Kevin Lamoureux's idea is very good save for it doesn't go nearly far enough given some of the beyond asinine comment coming out of the House of Commons these days. Leads you to wonder what certain parliamentarians have been smoking?

Here's what's needed. Rather than simply giving the House per se the sniff test prior to the start of a session, there should be 3 dogs at the ready one for each Party to administer a full body sniffing (including their "junk" just like at the airport) to each of its Members.
"Justin" the Liberal sniffer dog

Chronically misbehaving "Homer" for the Conservatives'

The NDP's "Thomas"

To maximize taxpayer return, they'd also be trained to sit in a designated location on the floor of the House to observe their members. If they spotted one sleeping or not paying attention (e.g. texting) they'd run over to bite them in the ass then return to their corner. They could also be used in the Senate where they'd be very busy.

The sniffings could be televised as part of the House of Commons debates so you could watch your Member getting sniffed and rejected. If nothing else it wold get more Canadians to tune in.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Liberal MP urges House administration to add a sniffer dog to enhance House security

By Abbas Rana
Monday, August 18, 2014
House security personnel have told Liberal Lamoureux that the security checks they do right now in the House Chamber are 'questionable at best' and they need a sniffer dog to be more confident about their daily security sweeps. (The Hill Times photo by Jake Wright)

A Liberal MP is urging the House of Commons administration to consider upgrading its security apparatus by adding a sniffer security dog as the current checks in the House “are questionable at best.”

In an interview with The Hill Times, Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Man.) said that two House security officials who undertake a daily security sweep of the Chamber approached him before the House adjourned and told him that the daily security sweeps are “seriously deficient” and a sniffer dog could prove to be very helpful in doing their job properly.

“One security individual in particular commented on the fact that the security check that they do right now is questionable at best, and if they really wanted to do it right that there should be a security dog that’s able to sniff. Not having that is in his opinion a serious deficiency,” Mr. Lamoureux said.

He said that his discussions with the House security staff were informal and therefore he did not want to mention any names.

When the House is in session, Mr. Lamoureux said he’s usually the first MP in the Chamber before the daily Parliamentary proceedings start so he sees the security staff do its sweep, checking MPs’ desks and looking under their chairs. On two occasions, he said, security staff members told him that they would feel more confident about their work if they had a sniffer dog who could help them with a second check to ensure that there’s potentially no dangerous item in the Chamber.

Mr. Lamoureux didn’t want to say specifically what the dogs would be used to detect.

These days, because almost every MP uses a laptop or an iPad and a variety of mobile communications devices, Mr. Lamoureux said that there are always a lot of wires on the House floor plugged into the electrical outlets. Also, before the start of the daily Parliamentary proceedings, MPs frequently bring their constituents to the floor of the House and visitors in Parliamentary tours have an opportunity to take an up-close look at the House Chamber. This creates the possibility that someone could slip in some dangerous item, which makes the security staff nervous, Mr. Lamoureux said.

“So, my perspective, listening to what some staff were telling me, I think there’s some merit [for] the Board of Internal Economy or the Speaker’s office to look at modernizing the security of the House of Commons and the floor. There’s been significant technological changes,” he said.

Mr. Lamoureux said he’s not suggesting that the general public’s access should be restricted to the House Chamber or that MPs should not have access to their electronic equipment. He said the solution is to equip the House security staff with what they need to do their job.

Mr. Lamoureux said he personally supports the idea of allowing the House security staff to get a sniffer dog and is sharing this with the media to start a discussion on the subject.

“Whether we like it or not, the House of Commons always has the potential to be a target for people for a wide variety of reasons. [The security staffers’] concern was, I believe, that we’re just not keeping up with the potential threat,” he said.

Conservative Whip John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, B.C.), a spokesman for the House Board of Internal Economy, said in an emailed response to an interview request from The Hill Times that he hadn’t seen Mr. Lamoureux’s proposal and therefore couldn’t comment on it.

“I support efforts to ensure that security forces on the Hill can continue to provide a high standard of safety for Members, staff and the public,” he said in the email.

Heather Bradley, director of communications to the Speaker who also handles communications for the House administration, declined to comment, citing security reasons.

Conservative MP Peter Goldring (Edmonton East, Alta.) told The Hill Times last week that he supports equipping the House security staff with a sniffer dog.

“A sniffer dog certainly would provide an increased level of confidence. It’s probably a good idea. I would feel more confident,” Mr. Goldring said.

NDP MP Philip Toone (Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Que.) in an email to The Hill Timessaid that he would be able offer a reaction only after receiving expert advice on this issue.

“The House of Commons has very competent security personnel, and I have every confidence that they evaluate the security needs of Hill MPs and staff, and take appropriate measures. As a member of the Board of Internal Economy, I look forward to hearing from a professional in this matter,” Mr. Toone wrote in his email.

arana@hilltimes.com

Who gives a ....?

Good Day Readers:

Does it matter the Trivago Guy isn't wearing a belt or may be unshaven? What's of more concern is how you cannot escape him as you surf from channel to channel. Ever wonder how many times that ad has run? If he's being paid by royalty he must have earned a very large pee pot full of money by now!

You should only be concerned if his pants fall down in the middle of a commercial.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Trivago Guy to get much needed makeover

The Trivago Guy, the dishevelled pitchman for the hotel booking website and Internet sensations, is getting a makeover.

by Bruce DeMara/Entertainment
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Tim Williams a.k.a. Trivago Guy is getting a makeover thanks to internet reaction to his beltless and too casual appearance in ads for the hotel search website.

When it comes to the Trivago Guy, everyone’s a critic.
Why isn’t the pitch man for the world’s largest hotel search website wearing a belt? Why doesn’t he shave? Why does he look so dishevelled?
The ads featuring 48-year-old American actor/musician Tim Williams have created a burgeoning Internet buzz since they began appearing on television last year. It reached a crescendo this summer when the ads began appearing on major sports events like the World Cup, with everyone from Rolling Stone Magazine to the Wall Street Journal weighing in.
At last the company, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, has announced a Trivago Guy makeover contest, with the winner receiving a five-day trip to Berlin and a chance to watch the next commercial featuring the new and improved Williams.
People are invited to post a photo of what outfit they’d like to see Williams wearing on its Facebook contest page or via Twitter or Instagram, using the hashtag #trivagoGuy. The deadline is Aug. 24. Voting will begin on Aug. 28 on Facebook.
Charlotte Jenkins, operations manager at Gotstyle, a Toronto menswear emporium, has some fashion suggestions for Trivago Guy.
“I understand what they (Trivago) are trying to do here, they’re trying to make him (Williams) casual and very approachable because the site is geared toward budget-conscious people. If you put him in a three-piece tuxedo, it’s not going to appeal to the demographic that they’re going after,” Jenkins said.
“That being said, (Williams) is a hot mess,” Jenkins said, noting his shirt looks like he slept in it and is at least two sizes too big.
“What would improve him is obviously finding clothes that fit his body type. He’s a good-looking guy, he’s in a good shape. With clothing that fits him, he would be more polished and put together,” Jenkins said.
“I don’t think it would hurt to put on a sports coat, a nice blazer or sports coat with a dark denim jean and a belt would be great. I would love to see him in a buttoned-down shirt, something a little more crisp, with a nice stiff collar. I don’t think a tie is necessary but a crisp shirt, whether it’s white or blue, whether it’s a nice, toned-down checker pattern, with a blazer would be impeccable,” she said.
“The black jeans are a little aged rock-and-roller. I think (Williams) would do much better in a nice, dark rinse denim jean, a dark blue like an indigo blue, with a brown belt,” Jenkins added.
Williams himself is more than game for the fashion shakeup.
“Why not? I think it’s fun and I would definitely like to have somebody else’s opinion on my outfits,” Williams said in an interview with CNN.
“Do I need a makeover? No. Do I want one? Kind of, yeah,” he added.
The Houston-born Williams has just completed a stint playing an American rock star on the German soap opera Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (Good times, Bad times). In the U.S., he has had minor roles on The Cosby Show and Law and Order.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Conservative style All in the Family - friends looking after friends .....

Feds give $10 million to conference led by former Peter MacKay staffer

Brett Bundale/Staff Reporter
Tuesday, August 19, 2012
Peter Van Praagh, President of the Halifax International Security Froum, takes the stage, left, with Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, centre, and Justice Minister Peter MacKay, right, at the Forum's closing news conference in Nobember 2013. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Questions are swirling about a multimillion-dollar federal grant awarded to a Halifax security conference organized by a former Peter MacKay staffer.

New documents uncovered Tuesday by a taxpayers group show the nearly $10-million grant for the annual event benefited the minister’s past adviser.

The $9.96-million, four-year contract said Peter Van Praagh, a former senior policy adviser in Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada who attended meetings with MacKay around the world in 2006 and 2007, would be project manager of the Halifax conference.

“In as much as Peter Van Praagh is considered critical to the success of this initiative and whose participation will yield proper file management and achievement of desired outcomes,” the 2010 contract said, “the recipient shall maintain Peter Van Praagh as project manager for the duration of the control period unless otherwise agreed to.”

The documents were obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a non-profit group dedicated to lower taxes and accountable government, through the Access to Information and Privacy Act.

“Taxpayers deserve the answer to a very simple question,” Kevin Lacey, Atlantic director of the taxpayers group, said Tuesday. “Why did the government give an almost $10-million grant that would personally benefit a former staffer to the minister?”

However, the Halifax International Security Forum said in a statement Tuesday that Van Praagh’s leadership was “a decision by a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank who first held the contract and not by any government of Canada representative.”

Indeed, the conference was originally overseen by the charity German Marshall Fund of the United States. The Halifax International Security Forum was part of the German Marshall Fund and not fully independent until 2011.

But the original contract between the Canadian government and the German Marshall Fund clearly required Van Praagh’s leadership, Lacey said.

Documents from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service obtained by the taxpayers group show that Van Praagh, president of the Halifax International Security Forum based in Washington, D.C., earned $228,134 in 2012. The non-profit group also paid its vice-president $223,140 in 2012 and its finance officer $115,134 the same year.

However, the forum said the salaries of its president and vice-president are paid by private donors.

In the end, taxpayers paid about $8,300 for each participant to attend the conference. The forum picks up travel costs, delegate fees and some meals for most of the participants.

A briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay in 2010 said the conference was supposed to be self-sufficient by the end of the 2013 conference.

Yet despite the failure to deliver on those conditions, the federal government committed another $9.8 million to the forum in 2013 through the Defence Department and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

“How did the D.C.-based conference planner get rewarded with a second grant of close to $10 million when he failed to deliver on the conditions of the first grant?” Lacey said. “The minister should be trying to get the best deal for taxpayers instead of the best deal for his former staffer.”

The forum said its goal is to be “entirely funded by private donors in the coming years.”

Yet Lacey also questioned the federal government’s decision to award such large contracts to an organization based in the United States, especially given that the event is held in Halifax.

However, the organization said its Washington, D.C., headquarters positions it “to attract leading decision-makers from the United States, including a large congressional delegation, and from around the world to these annual discussions.”

The organization added that the conference every November “infuses the local hotel and service industry with business at the end of their tourist season.”

About the Author
BRETT BUNDALE STAFF REPORTER

E-Mail: bbundale@herald.ca
Twitter: @CH_bbundale

Time to get cracking "Sleepy Danny!"

Good Day Readers:

Back in early June long time Winnipeg City Councillor "Dapper Dan The Man No Scandal Vandal" ("Sleepy Danny") won the Liberal nomination for the Saint Boniface, Manitoba Riding home of Shelly "Wikipedia" Glover.
Since then not a peep from him. One can only assume he's asleep at the switch or is putting together the Mother of all campaign teams capable of knocking the socks pantyhose off "Wikipedia." If he's not careful he could find himself standing around with his pants down and "thing" (campaign agenda) hanging out wondering what happened. For her part, "Wikipedia" has been flooding the riding with your taxpayer financed political mailers.

An early election call is a distinct possibility unless the Conservatives would like all those corruption trials - Duffy, Harb, Brazeau, Carson, possibly "Hurricane" Pam Wallin, possibly Nigel Wright et.al. - underway in the midst of a general vote.

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk


Liberals are preparing for possible early vote in 2015

Liberals are preparing for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to call an election next spring, well ahead of the vote scheduled for October 2015, Justin Trudeau says.

By Susan Delacourt
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says the Liberals have a lot of work to do to earn the trust of voters, regardless of the party's buoyant poll numbers. (Jason Jackson/The Canadian Press)

EDMONTON—Federal Liberals are preparing for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to call an election next spring, well ahead of the vote scheduled for October 2015, Justin Trudeau says.
“Mr. Harper has not once followed his own fixed-election-date law in the setting of elections, so I think it’s only prudent to try and make sure that we’re going to be ready,” Trudeau told reporters after caucus and party officials huddled in Edmonton to gear up for the coming year.
Trudeau says the Liberals have a lot of work to do to earn the trust of voters — regardless of the party’s buoyant poll numbers — and to overcome a general cynicism in the country about politics in general.
“We’re only sitting at 37 seats in the House of Commons and the momentum we see across the country right now is very much a reflection of how much we’ve rolled up our sleeves and focused on working on the ground in ridings across the country,” Trudeau said.
“We also know we have an awful lot of work to do. We’re not going to put the cart before the horse.
“There’s certainly an openness that I take, but the openness is just about seeing what we’re actually going to do and deliver and I’m serious about continuing the hard work we need to do.”
Alberta is not generally seen as Liberal-friendly territory, and much of the antipathy to the party is traced back to Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, and his National Energy Program of the early 1980s.
But Trudeau said on Tuesday that the NEP is more a fixation of journalists or partisan rivals, and not of the Albertans he meets.
“For all Mr. Harper’s talk about the economy and natural resources, he’s been all hat and no cattle on pipelines. We are no closer to getting the two pipelines he’s been pushing, Keystone XL and Northern Gateway, past where we were on the very first day he was in office,” Trudeau said. “We’re further.”
Meanwhile, Trudeau was saying little about the weekend break-in at his house in Ottawa, even though it has been a big topic of discussion in the corridors at the Edmonton meetings. MPs are hoping that Trudeau will be receiving a boost in security after an intruder crept into the home while Trudeau’s wife and two children were sleeping, leaving a threatening note beside knives in the kitchen.
In terms of security, however, the Liberal leader appears to be counting on the RCMP to provide some added assurance of safety to his family.
“I am looking forward to hearing recommendations that the RCMP makes around my security, my family’s security and I look forward to having conversations with them about what it will look like,” Trudeau said.
“I’m certainly not going to second-guess the RCMP’s expertise and I look forward to the results of their investigation.”
The RCMP is doing a risk assessment for the Trudeaus and that procedure generally takes a couple of weeks.

Is "Homer" Harper still eavesdropping on you?

Good Day Readers:

Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled no more free disclosure for internet and telecommunications system providers. If the government wants your personal information they must now produce a warrant. That's the subject of the first article. But what about Cell Site Location Information (CSLI) data used, for example, by the police to verify a suspect's alibi as to where they were when the dastardly deed was committed?

Canadian legislation in this area seems to parallel that of the United States. Currently, an interesting debate is emerging because the government there is arguing it does not need a warrant to access CSLI data. But what about Canada? Don't know not Philadelphia lawyers here anyone know?

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
Supreme Court to personal data plunderers: Get a warrant

Ruling strikes blow against warrantless disclosures of web and telecom subscriber information

By Michael Geist
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that voluntary disclosures of internet and telecom subscriber information to law enforcement amount to illegal searchers.

Canadian internet and telecom providers have, for many years, disclosed basic subscriber information, including identifiers such as name, address, and IP address, to law enforcement without a warrant. The government has not only supported the practice, but actively encouraged it with legislative proposals designed to grant full civil and criminal immunity for voluntary disclosures of personal information.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada struck a blow against warrantless disclosure of subscriber information, ruling that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in that information and that voluntary disclosures therefore amount to illegal searches.

The decision left little doubt that internet and telecom providers would need to change their disclosure policies. Last week, Rogers, the country's largest cable provider, publicly altered its procedures for responding to law enforcement requests by announcing that it will now require a court order or warrant for the disclosure of basic subscriber information to law enforcement in all instances except for life-threatening emergencies (warrantless disclosures may still occur where legislation provides the lawful authority to do so). Telus advised that it has adopted a similar approach.

The change in policy, which should ultimately be mirrored by all Canadian providers, will have a massive impact on how law enforcement operates and on the privacy of millions of Canadians. Simply put, the number of government requests for subscriber information has been staggering, most of which occur without court oversight.

Million-plus disclosures every year

A 2011 document supplied to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada advised of 1.2 million requests for subscriber information affecting roughly 750,000 account holders. While that revelation garnered media headlines across the country, a little-noticed 2013 document from Public Safety Canada released under the Access to Information Act indicates that in excess of a million requests annually has been standard for years.

The document states that ITAC members (the Information Technology Association of Canada that counts major telecom providers among its members) "handled 1,130,000 basic subscriber information requests annually from 2006 to 2008."

As Canadian telecom and internet providers race to comply with the law by reversing longstanding practices, law enforcement and the government must also catch up. Law enforcement will rarely seek voluntary disclosure (except in exigent circumstances) since it is likely to be treated as an illegal search and the resulting information will be inadmissible in court.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Peter MacKay faces an important decision. With law enforcement not seeking voluntary disclosure of personal information and providers requiring a warrant, the government's proposed immunity provision in Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, now seems inoperable since it is contingent on a lawful voluntary disclosure, of which customer name and address information is not.

The Canadian government could adopt the "bury our heads in the sand approach" by leaving the provision unchanged, knowing that it will be unused or subject to challenge. That would run counter to the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling, however, and do nothing to assist law enforcement.

A new kind of warrant

If the government is serious about providing law enforcement with the tools they need to address online harms, it will drop the voluntary disclosure immunity provision in Bill C-13 and its companion proposal in Industry Minister James Moore's Bill S-4, which seeks to expand voluntary disclosure in non-law enforcement cases.

In their place, a new subscriber information warrant could be developed that ensures court oversight, an appropriate evidentiary standard given the Supreme Court's finding of the privacy import of such information, and a system to allow law enforcement to apply for a subscriber information warrant expeditiously.

While government MPs were unmoved during committee hearings by repeated expression concerns from experts about the voluntary disclosure provisions, the Supreme Court decision effectively reshaped Canadian privacy law and has forced everyone to rethink longstanding practices. As internet and telecom providers change their approach, the big question is whether the government is prepared to do the same.

Read more: Politics, Science + Tech

Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can reached at mgeist@uottawa.ca or online at
wwww.michaelgeist.ca.
Cellphones need a warrant, but cell site location? Appellants challenge government's assertions

By Tim Cushing
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Supreme Court's recent finding that warrantless cell phone searches are unconstitutional is already generating some pretty interesting arguments in ongoing cases. The government obviously wishes to mitigate the "damage" done by this decision by still doggedly pursuing data through warrantless methods.

In this particular case, the government is arguing that it has every right to access cell site location information (CSLI) without a warrant, claiming that the Riley decision solely pertains to the contents of cell phones.

Obtaining CSLI without a warrant is still Constitutionally-dubious, however. One state court and a federal court have held that this information should only be obtained with a warrant. In the prior case, it was found that the state's Constitution provided more protection than the US Constitution and in the latter, the finding was very narrowly tailored to the case at hand, making it very difficult to apply to others cases, even under the same jurisdiction.

While the government makes the usual claims about third party data and warrant requirements being an undue burden, the appellant's reply takes those arguments apart.

The government is quite candid in its brief that it wishes to use cell phone location data to conduct dragnet surveillance without any individualized suspicion, or even a belief that a crime has occurred. It claims that CSLI is a simple building block at the beginning of an investigation that is the equivalent of chatting with bystanders. Riley refused to countenance this warrantless practice when it explained that location data qualifies as one of the “privacies of life” that the Fourth Amendment protects.

The appellant's reply further disassembles the government's assertion that grabbing cell location info is like "chatting with bystanders" in order to help "build an investigation." In one footnote, it asks why the government feels it shouldn't need a warrant for the cell location data when it obviously found a warrant necessary elsewhere, belying its "building an investigation" claim.

Here, this argument is demonstrably false. Appellants had already been arrested and indicted–and multiple search warrants had already been issued–before the government first sought the 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d) orders. In fact, some of the warrants were to search the cell phones.

In another, it attacks the ridiculousness of the Third Party Doctrine, which the government claims gives it the "right" to grab records without warrants and, in essence, turns the cell provider into nothing more than an impartial witness/bystander.

Contrary to the government’s assertion, nobody at Sprint witnessed Appellants’ movements, let alone any criminal activity. The government required Sprint to record his movements, using Sprint as the custodian. The technology itself needs only ephemeral and anonymous detection of location. Using this artefact of the technology as a retrospective homing beacon does not transform Sprint into a witness. Without the government’s action, no person would have ever known or seen the Appellants’ every move over the course of seven months.

If there's anything the court should pay particular attention to, it's this footnote. The government has successfully argued for years that so-called "business records" carry no expectation of privacy while hiding the fact that many of these records are maintained to meet government regulations. The government compels the production of records and then claims it should have broad, warrantless access to them because cell phone owners "voluntarily" generated these by using their phones. It ignores the fact that there's no way for customers to opt out of these collections, short of not using a phone. This ties into the Riley decision, in which the Supreme Court noted that having a cell phone isn't some sort of luxury enjoyed by a small percentage of the population but a necessity of modern life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Used to be it was only the police you had to worry about now it's also judges!

Toronto lawyer calls for action on concerns of bias by Justice John Richie

James Lockyer of the Association in  Defence of the Wrongly Convicted says there is 'legitimate concern" about whether innocent people are being convicted.

By Rachel Mendleson/News Reporter
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Lawyer James Lockyer says he has concerns "about whether people are being convicted of crimes they didn't commit" because a judge appears to be biased. (Lucas Oleniuk/Toronto Star)

The judiciary must do more to address the “legitimate concern” that a Toronto judge repeatedly upbraided for the appearance of bias and boilerplate decisions is convicting innocent people, says the founding director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.
Toronto lawyer James Lockyer is calling for action in response to the longstanding disquiet surrounding Justice John Ritchie’s court.
“We have a legitimate concern about whether people are being convicted of crimes they didn’t commit,” Lockyer said. “It is a problem that is being confronted on a regular basis in a number of jurisdictions in the U.S. by the innocence projects.”
As the Star reported last month, the Ontario Judicial Council investigated and disposed of a complaint against Ritchie in secret.
Ritchie declined a request for an interview for this story. Speaking to the Star in July, he confirmed he was the subject of a complaint by the Criminal Lawyers’ Association about two years ago and, as a result, attended a refresher course on how to write good judgments.
He said the judicial council, which was created by the province to probe complaints against judges, did not question the substance of his decisions. He also denied he has a propensity to convict.
“I only convict somebody when the Crown proves the case beyond a reasonable doubt,” he told the Star in July.
Although Lockyer has never appeared before Ritchie, he told the Star he has worried for years about the reputation Ritchie has among the city’s defence lawyers and Crown attorneys as being a judge who rarely acquits.
“When you have a judge that is, from what everyone says, virtually always convicting people who have trials before him, you have to start worrying,” Lockyer said. “You have to worry that innocent people are being convicted. If they are, and if the criminal justice system knows that through common sense, then it has to find a way of doing something about it.”
Toronto criminal lawyer Frank Addario said that because of the desire to protect judicial independence, there is no sufficient means to step in if a judge routinely commits legal errors.
“You worry when a judge has to be repeatedly schooled about the importance of basic concepts, but under our current rules there is no remedy available unless the judge discloses his or her incorrect thinking out loud,” he told the Star in an email. “Appeals are a partial but incomplete solution to this problem.”
Lockyer said he is particularly concerned about the implication of a pattern of reasons for conviction that Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy identified in 2004 in five of Ritchie’s decisions as “boilerplate.”
“The problem of writing judgments by rote is that you are potentially convicting by rote as well,” Lockyer said. “That’s the real issue.
“I am unable to say that Justice Ritchie may have convicted an innocent person, but I can say that, in light of what has been said, it is a legitimate concern and something that should be investigated.”
In the interview with the Star in July, Ritchie said he has learned from Superior Court judges.
“When we are appealed, and there are decisions that give us guidance and help, obviously we pay attention to them,” he said. “Of course I take it to heart, and of course I do something about it, as do all judges.”
Ritchie took a more defensive approach to the issue when it was raised in his court in April 2010.
According to a transcript of the proceeding obtained by the Star earlier this month, the defence lawyer made an application for Ritchie to recuse himself from the drunk driving case, and referred to several of the scathing appellate court decisions, including Molloy’s 2004 assessment.
“I’m aware of no such judgments,” Ritchie said, according to the transcript, noting that 2004 was “a very long time ago.”
“I don’t remember the case. Maybe I did err. I say, so what. What’s that got to do with today?” Ritchie said. “Nothing.”
Ritchie promised “a fair trial,” and denied the application to have the case heard before another judge. The defendant was ultimately convicted.
Both Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur’s office and the office of Chief Justice Annemarie Bonkalo have declined multiple requests for an interview to discuss the concerns about Ritchie.
In response to questions for this story, Ontario Judicial Council registrar Marilyn King told the Star in an email that the council’s jurisdiction under provincial law “is to receive, investigate and render dispositions on complaints about the conduct of provincially-appointed judges.”
No one appears to keep statistics on the conviction rates of provincially appointed judges in Ontario. King said the council “does not maintain statistics on the decisions made by judges.” Neither does the Ministry of the Attorney General, according to spokesman Brendan Crawley. Bonkalo’s spokeswoman, Jane Warwick, said the court “does not release data about individual judges’ decisions.”
The lack of data is part of the problem, according to Lockyer.
“It’s impossible to establish empirical data on a particular judge’s decisions unless you sit in his or her courtroom day after day,” he said. “No one can afford that time.”
Correspondence relating to the Criminal Lawyers’ Association’s complaint to the judicial council against Ritchie was delivered to the Star in a manila envelope by an unknown source in July. According to the judicial council, Ontario law prohibits anyone from publishing any “information or documents” relating to the investigation of complaints that don’t result in a public hearing.
The Star has made an application to have the documents unsealed. In a brief letter, dated July 30, council registrar King said, “The request will be considered by the judicial council.”
It is not yet clear what the outcome of the Star’s request will be, exactly how a decision will be reached or whether that process will be public.
Meilleur has since defended the judicial council’s investigations process as “a very independent and fair system.”
However, both NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson have called on the province to lift the veil.
Several legal experts told the Star that legislation that apparently allows the judicial council to keep secret the vast majority of complaints against judges may violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Confidentiality provisions in the legislation state that the judicial council “may order” that information and documents relating to complaints against judges that don’t result in a public hearing remain secret.
King has previously told the Star that there is “a general order to reflect the legislative provisions and framework that governs the Council, not an order specific to a case,” which “reflects the practice of the Judicial Council since its inception.”
In another letter earlier this month, King said the council “will also be considering the (Star’s) request for a copy of the general order and information on the circumstances in which it was made” and will consider the requests “in a manner as timely as possible.”
Only six public hearings into complaints against provincially appointed judges have been concluded by the council in the past decade. In a report to the Attorney General each year, the council publishes summaries of complaints that don’t result in a public hearing. Those summaries don’t identify the judges involved or the complainant.
In circumstances where a judge’s overall fairness is called into question, Lockyer said recommending a refresher course is not a satisfactory outcome.
He said there should be a system of monitoring in place to assess “whether there is a pattern that could lead to miscarriages of justice.”
Those who are wrongfully convicted, even of minor offences, can be deprived of their liberty, livelihoods and reputations, he said.
“We should all be thinking about what to do in a situation like this, not necessarily in the context of Ritchie himself, but in the broader context,” Lockyer said. “Everyone seems to know what’s wrong, but no one can do anything about it.”