Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mohawk Warriors and the terrorists

The latest big flap in the ongoing aboriginal saga in Canada is the Mohawks getting upset that the Canadian Department of National Defense has just put together a new counterinsurgency manual for the army that mentions the Mohawk Warriors as potential terrorists. See here.

Hmmm. Now why would the defense department do a thing like that? Could it be because the Indians marched in the "support Hezbollah" rally last year in Toronto? Might it have something to do with them flying the Palestinian flag at the entrance to the Caledonia land site that they illegally invaded and continue to occupy? See here.

Could it have something to do with this statement by a Six Nations spokesperson?

"The Aims of Hezbollah are akin to the radical warriors. Hezbollah like Hamas does not recognize the state of Israel and would like the Jews to leave.", states Hazel Hill , spokesperson for Six Nations. "Our position has never changed. We the Title Holders as recalled by Wampum 44 of our constitution, the Kaianereh'ko:wa, retain jurisdiction over our land. As set out in the Haldimand Proclamation, the British promised to respect this. Canada's would-be colonizers pretend that land held in trust is "Crown" land. This is an old hoax which is enforced at gunpoint. The British Crown has no legal jurisdiction over our land or over us. We were here first. We never agreed to join Canada. So what are you colonists doing here? Go home. "

If you are going to identify with terrorist organizations, don't be surprised or outraged if the government starts planning counterterrorist measures to deal with you. In fact, they would be delinquent if they did not.

A child's view of retirement in a mobile home park

What follows is humourous piece from a publication called Senior Life, dated April, 1988. It was recently passed on to me and I thought it deserved to be preserved on the Internet.

After a holiday break, the teacher asked her small pupils how they spent their holidays. One little boy's reply went like this:

"We always spend our holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick house, but Grandpa got retarded and they moved to Florida. Now they live in tin huts. They ride big three-wheeled tricycles. They go to a big building they call a wrecked hall, but if it was wrecked, it's fixed now.

They play games there and do exercises, but they don't do them very well. There is a swimming pool and if they go into it, they just stand there in the water with their hats on. I guess they don't remember how to swim.

My Grandma used to bake cookies and stuff, but I guess she forgot how. Nobody cooks there. They all go somewhere to eat something they call an 'early bird.'

When you come into their park, there is a doll-house with a man sitting in it. He watches all day so they can't get out without him seeing them. They wear badges with their names on them. I guess they don't know who they are.

My Grandma said that Grandpa worked all his life and earned his retardment. I wish they would move back home, but I guess the man in the doll-house won't let them out."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Finally, a face to face debate on climate change

In New York City, on March 14, scientific climate skeptics got to debate face to face with scientific climate crisis promoters. Go to this site to access the transcript of the debate in pdf format.

For a long time crisis promoters have been trying to shut down the skeptics and pretending that they don't need to debate them because there is nothing to debate or simply refusing to do so (Al Gore).

This debate was broadcast on public radio and the voting results were interesting, to say the least:

Before the debate, 57% of the live audience thought climate change is a crisis, 30% thought not, and 13% were undecided. After the debate, only 42% considered it a crisis, 46% thought not, and 12% were undecided. There was also an on-line poll after the debate and it broke down as follows: Again 42% thought there was a crisis, but 57% thought not, and only 3% were undecided.

I doubt you will see very many "chicken little industry" voices going out to debate the skeptics head to head after this one. They would be putting all their juicy grants in jeopardy and facing unemployment.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Secular Islam Summit - a beginning

In early March there was a conference held in St. Petersburg, Florida, billed as the Secular Islamic Summit. It attracted the top names in reform-minded Muslims. These are Muslims or ex-Muslims who believe the time has come to rethink Islam in much the same way Christianity went through a period known as the Reformation. The Reformation led directly to the Enlightment era that became the crucible in which modern secular liberal democracy formed. In a word, these Muslim critics want to bring Islam out of the 7th century into the 21st.

These are very brave people. Many of them face death for speaking out in this manner, and some of them are only known by aliases they have adopted. Some travel constantly and never reveal where their homes or families might be. Others, for whom it is too late to disguise their true identities, must maintain bodyguards. It is no small thing that they came together in one place for this conference.

Naturally, CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) which claims to be the main voice of American Muslims condemned this conference and held a counter session nearby. Some of CAIR's leaders have been accused of abetting terrorism, and CAIR's main contribution to the debate of the future of Islam in the west has been to accuse anybody who wants to question or challenge Islam as being "Islamophobic".

The secular summit produced a document known as the St. Petersburg Declaration. I have reproduced it below. Let us hope that the word of reform spreads amongst Muslims and picks up a head of steam. Perhaps the summit will become an annual event.

Released by the delegates to the Secular Islam Summit, St. Petersburg, Florida on March 5, 2007
We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.

We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called “Islamaphobia” in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.

We call on the governments of the world to

reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostacy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;

eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;

protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;

reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;

and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.

We demand the release of Islam from its captivity to the totalitarian ambitions of power-hungry men and the rigid strictures of orthodoxy.

We enjoin academics and thinkers everywhere to embark on a fearless examination of the origins and sources of Islam, and to promulgate the ideals of free scientific and spiritual inquiry through cross-cultural translation, publishing, and the mass media.

We say to Muslim believers: there is a noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine;

to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Baha’is, and all members of non-Muslim faith communities: we stand with you as free and equal citizens;

and to nonbelievers: we defend your unqualified liberty to question and dissent.

Before any of us is a member of the Umma, the Body of Christ, or the Chosen People, we are all members of the community of conscience, the people who must chose for themselves.

Endorsed by:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Magdi Allam
Mithal Al-Alusi
Shaker Al-Nabulsi
Nonie Darwish
Afhin Ellian
Tawfik Hamid
Shahriar Kabir
Hasan Mahmud
Wafa Sultan
Amir Taheri
Ibn Warraq
Manda Zand Ervin
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

To endorse the St. Petersburg Declaration, send an email.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Canada's ambivalence to 5th columnist Islamism

A couple of days ago, I opened up the on-line version of a mainstream Toronto newspaper and the imagery couldn't have been more jarring.

The top picture showed a Muslim woman all decked out in black with the nijab (head and face covering), exposing only her eyes. She was celebrating, with her 6 children, the release from prison after a 5 year stay, under strict conditions, of her 44 year old husband, Egyptian Mahmoud Jaballah, courtesy of Canada's federal court.

Jaballah is an immigrant who, along with a handful of others who have also been released under conditions, was being held under a "security warrant." This is a draconian legal device to hold somebody deemed dangerous to national security without having to formerly charge them and bring them to trial. Canada's answer to Guantanamo.

The court has already ruled that he cannot stay in Canada, but it is unclear where they will send him, since it is likely if he were deported to Egypt he would be tortured and/or killed (he fled Egypt to Canada in the first place). We don't know the details of the evidence against him because it is still considered a state secret, but I am betting that he wasn't picked up by our authorities for selling Bibles door to door, or that he was chased out of Egypt for the same thing ( a death sentence there). The only thing we do know is that he was associated with Ahmed Saad Khadr, the now deceased -- died in a gun battle with Pakistani troops -- patriarch of the odious and poisonous Khadr clan in Toronto (dubbed by Dr. Daniel Pipes as Canada's first family of terror).

That wasn't so much disturbing to me (disturbing as it was) as the juxtapostion with the picture immediately under that story. It was a picture of the boy next door, the fresh-faced, apple pie eating, 25 year old Nova Scotian, Cpl. Kevin Megeney. He reportedly was killed in his tent in Afghanistan by a single bullet, apparently fired by accident by some fellow soldier. The matter is being investigated and the military is silent on the details.

But this single front page says so much about Canada's ambivalence about Islamism. We are sending our soldiers into battle with Islamists to protect another bunch of Muslims who run their country under the law of the Sharia (but a less strict version -- still allowing the death penalty for converting to Christianity, mind you).

I wonder if Cpl. Megeney was a Christian.

At the same time we have, by polling estimates, about 10% of our domestic Muslim population (that 10% translates into approximately 50,000 in aggregate numbers) who support the supplanting of our liberal democracy with an Islamic state, perhaps run by theocracy like Iran. That poll number, by the way, corresponds to international estimates of Islamists amongst the greater Muslim population, which translates into a staggering 120,000,000 such people.

In World War Two, our fathers and mothers did not have any qualms about quashing 5th columnists. The Japanese were rounded up, along with some Germans and Italians. Of course, it was the worst kind of racial profiling and some very unpleasant things were done to the Japanese in particular. It was possible to do this in Canada because it was about 74% English and 22% French -- there was no ethnic mosaic, no political correctness (they used to openly talk about the yellow peril in Parliamentary debates), no consideration of moral relevancy, no multiculturalism imperatives, and no charter of rights.

We can't do that kind of thing anymore, even if circumstances might suggest it. Nor would I advocate such a thing. But, it is clear to me that Canada is at war with Islamism -- or what the hell is our army doing in Afghanistan -- and that being said, these Islamists in this country are 5th columnists. We need to stop coddling them and start considering what action we can take if they are undermining our war efforts by sapping our political morale.

Or, we need to cease being at war with Islamism in Afghanistan.

Either way, we need to stop sacrificing the Cpl. Megeney's for nothing.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The truth about inconvient evidence

What follows is actually about the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”), and a very simple fact about it that I have never seen discussed in any of the voluminous commentary about this organization. I say this because when you start reading this you will think I am on about crime and detection. I am simply drawing a parallel to a common human weakness that infects both worlds.

Suppose you walked out your door one day and were greeted by the sight of a crowd, police cars, news media, and yellow police tape, around your neighbour’s house, a few doors down the street. You hustle down in time to hear the chief of police giving a statement.

He tells the assembly that your neighbour, Mrs. Smith, has been discovered by a cleaning lady, slashed to death in her bedroom. Her husband’s whereabouts are unknown and the police are seeking him. At this very moment criminal investigators are examining the evidence in the house. Any help that the neighbours can give that will shed light on this horrible crime would be greatly appreciated. He then states that there will be a solid police effort to hunt down and prosecute Mr. Smith for this murder.

His last statement leaves you shaking your head. Surely, he is prejudging the outcome of the investigation! Mrs. Smith might have been killed by the cleaning lady, another relative, a jealous lover, an intruder, a co-worker, a contract killer, almost anybody. There might have been more than one person complicit in her death, even if her husband was somehow involved.

What worries you, because you know this happens more often than it should, is that the police and the prosecutors will look only for and at evidence that implicates Mr. Smith and will ignore exculpatory evidence or evidence that points to another perpetrator if they have decided at the outset that he is the only one worth pursuing.

Several years ago in Toronto, the police and the prosecutor concentrated all their investigative and prosecutorial efforts to bring to justice a nurse, Susan Nelles, for her alleged murder of several babies at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. The reason they focused their efforts on her was because Ms. Nelles said she wanted to contact a lawyer before she spoke to the police.

As it turned out, nurse Nelles was not in the hospital when a couple of the children died. But, so determined were police and the prosecutors to nail Nelles, they ignored the evidence that eventually a judge said exonerated her.

Best-selling novelist, John Grisham, has recently published his first non-fiction book, An Innocent Man, about just such an event in Oklahoma with more sinister results.

Do you ever watch Law and Order? How many times have you seen the police and prosecutors on that show wake up to the fact that they are going after the wrong suspect halfway or three-quarters of the way through the episode.

At least on this show, the cops and the assistant district attorneys know enough to shift gears. It is common when mistakes are made and criticism appears for authorities to stubbornly cling to their first wrong conclusions and vehemently deny that they could have made a mistake. Grisham’s book is chilling insight into that kind of behaviour and its horrible consequences.

We expect investigators of crimes to keep an open mind and look at all the evidence, even if they have early suspicions about the identity of the perpetrators. We expect them to draw their conclusions only after the evidence overwhelming leads in one direction.

Although science plays an increasingly important role in criminal prosecutions, as any fan of the TV show, CSI, knows, it is not without its flaws as well.

Currently, in Canada, we are being treated to the umpteenth legal review of the conviction for murder of now 61 year old Steven Truscott. He was 14 years old when he was accused of raping and killing 12 year old Lynn Harper in 1959. His prosecution was based solely on circumstantial evidence and one of the key pieces of evidence was the conclusion of the pathologist about the time of Harper’s death based on 1959 knowledge about the rate of digestion and the examination of the contents of Harper’s stomach. Science has moved on and that evidence is now highly suspect.

Likewise, in The Innocent Man, Grisham refers to the problems with matching hair samples found at crime scenes. Prior to DNA becoming the mainstay of forensic science in the 1990s, this kind of evidence had a questionable history in criminal prosecutions. So much so, that Grisham recounts a U.S. nationwide test in 1978 involving 240 of the best crime labs in the country. A majority of the labs proved to be wrong 4 out of 5 times. In another test, accuracy increased when the tester had no idea which sample was the one of interest to the police, and correspondingly declined when the prime suspect was known to the tester.

Author Michael Crichton, in testimony before the U.S. Senate on the issue of climate change, referred to the “double-blind method testing of drugs”. This is a formal process carried out in the medical field to eliminate any possibility of a drug’s efficacy being influenced by the knowledge of those taking the drug and those actually administering it. It is the gold standard in the scientific field. It prevents the kinds of errors Grisham outlined in the hair testing in the crime labs.

One of the reasons why criminal investigations must be done so thoroughly is that the standard of proof to obtain a conviction is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. In some legal jurisdictions in the United States it is sometimes enough to introduce reasonable doubt by being able to construct an alternative theory of the crime pointing to another suspect. Elsewhere, the interpretation of that standard is very high hurdle for the prosecution to meet.

Notwithstanding that, since Truscott’s conviction, Canada abolished the death penalty years ago, simply because it was known that, despite all the money and effort expended by the state to meet the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard, mistakes are still made and innocent people are convicted.

Contrast that social norm or social expectation we demand from our system of criminal justice with the situation we find ourselves in after nearly 30 years of environmental climate change advocacy.

Here is the mandate of the International Panel on Climate Change (“IPCC”) taken directly from its website:

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

Note that it does not say “understanding climate change”. It says specifically “human-induced climate change”. In other words, the husband, Mr. Smith, was already pre-determined to be the perpetrator of the climate crime and that fact has been communicated to the science labs around the globe. Is it any wonder that they produce results that fit the pre-ordained conclusions and dismiss any exculpatory evidence or evidence pointing to another culprit?

This has been the underlying bias of the global climate change industry since the first international climate change conference in 1979, which led directly to the formation of the IPCC. Is it any wonder, that having climbed out on a limb to claim that humans induce climate change the authorities running this show have dug in their heels and stubbornly defended their turf despite a growing chorus of dissent?

The basis of science is scepticism, not consensus. Scientists look at data and formulate a hypothesis about the implications of the data. They publish the hypothesis in scientific journals or other credible publications. By doing so they invite other scientists to examine and test the hypothesis and prove them wrong or inadequate. If repeated challenges tend to support the hypothesis then it gravitates to the level of a theory, which means it becomes the conventional scientific wisdom on that subject. But that does not elevate it to the status of truth. All theories are only tentative. With advancing knowledge they can be disproved at any time.

The problem with climate science is that it has been taken over by environmental activists who don’t want alternative hypotheses raised or examined.

When advancing knowledge is ignored or deliberately sidelined because of ideological forces, then science is no longer science. The scientific community has failed to protect its integrity by forgetting its basic principles. And we will all pay a price for that.