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Annoying Americans think Canada owes them right of entry

Code Pink co-founder barred from entering Canada

SAN FRANCISCO – Here in the United States, Canada has long had a reputation as a shelter for American political protesters. But in this post 9-1-1 world, with a member of the Conservative Party as Canada’s prime minister, Canada has apparently had a change of heart, says the disgruntled Bay Area co-founder of CODEPINK, a national organization opposed to the war in Iraq.

Medea Benjamin says she was headed to Toronto to attend a peace conference, along with ret. U.S. Army Col. Ann Wright (retired). They were stopped at the Canadian port of entry at Niagara Falls, NY.

— Bill Brand, “Local activist barred from Canada“.  Inside Bay Area, October 22nd, 2007.

Yes, clearly it’s all Stephen Harper’s fault.  Stephen Harper rules by omniscience and divine right.  He personally approves or denies all civilian border crossings.  They are not governed by the laws of this country or international treaties governing border customs.  It’s all up to Fickle Steve.

“We were called aside for secondary screening and when they came back, they had printed out our records from this file called, a NCIC (U.S. National Crime Information Center) data base. In my case there were three arrests, one for protesting outside the White House, one for a protest in Congress and one in New York City when we tried to deliver petitions from ‘women saying no to war’ to the United Nations.”

Ah, so Ms. Benjamin and Col. (Ret.) Wright have arrests and summary convictions, enough to be present in NCIC.  Given that Code Pink’s usual modus operandi is to show up, make a fuss, then refuse to leave, my bet is for squatting or trespassing.  Maybe they should have checked with their consular services first.  Here’s the relevant section on “special circumstances” for Americans entering Canada:

CRIMINAL RECORD:

Anyone with a criminal record (including a drunk driving conviction) may be excluded from Canada. A waiver of exclusion may be issued but several weeks are required and a processing fee must be paid. Contact the Canadian Embassy or a Canadian Consulate in the U.S. or use the link below for more information.

The “link below” referred to is actually a slightly stale-dated link to a page appropriately titled “Rehabilitation for Persons Who are Inadmissible to Canada Because of Past Criminal Activity“.  Go figure.  And the relevant section of that page is here:

A. Convictions/Offences outside Canada

If you were convicted of or committed a criminal offence outside Canada, you may overcome this criminal inadmissibility

  • by applying for rehabilitation, or
  • you may be deemed to have been rehabilitated if at least ten years have passed since you completed the sentence imposed upon you, or since you committed the offence, if the offence is one that would, in Canada, be an indictable offence punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of less than ten years.

If the offence is one that would, in Canada, be prosecuted summarily and if you were convicted for two (2) or more such offences, that period is at least five (5) years after the sentences imposed were served or to be served.

I believe the line about multiple summary offences is the relevant one.  I don’t know exactly when Ms. Benjamin racked up these arrests but a brief look at Code Pink‘s Wikipedia page may provide some insight.  Members have been to Congress twice this year, and I believe the abortive UN attempt happened last winter.  So it seems that five years from 2007 is still quite a ways away.

Nonetheless, Ms. Benjamin and Ms. Wright are testing the mettle of our Canada Border Services Agency, aided and abetted by certain Canadian MPs (hello, Alexa!).

To test Canada’s resolve, Benjamin plans to fly to Ottawa on Thursday to speak at the invitation of several members of the Canadian parliament.

“This is going to be a real challenge,” Benjamin said. “We’re flying from Washington, D.C. to Ottawa and we may or may not be allowed to enter the country.”

But the pressure is on. Benjamin said her chief sponsor, Alexa McDonough, head of the liberal New Democratic Party and a member of Parliament from Nova Scotia, intends to ask Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about the country’s policy on admitting Benjamin and other activists with arrests for protests. Benjamin says she’s outraged.

“We are appealing to Canadians not to treat peaceful activists like common criminals. I travel all over the world on a regular basis and Canada is the first country to use the NCIC to keep out people like us,” Benjamin said.

She adds she has traveled to Canada many times and has never before been refused entry.

I had no idea Alexa McDonough is the leader of the New Democratic Party.  I imagine Jack Layton is very much surprised.

But in all seriousness, be outraged all you want.  Canada does not owe Ms. Benjamin, nor any other criminally-convicted foreign national, right of entry.  Just because she has never been refused entry previously doesn’t mean she”ll always enjoy that privilege (and it is, indeed, a privilege for foreign nationals to enter a sovereign country).  I jaywalk twice a day and have never been cited for it, but that hardly means that I never will be.

And, I hate to break it to Ms. Benjamin and her cohorts, but having an arrest record plus multiple summary offence convictions does kind of place one in the realm of “common criminal”.  Justice does not bear its sword in vain; one’s actions have consequences—a fact that Ms. Benjamin, Ms. Wright and thousands of other petty criminals seem incapable of grasping.  I have been to political protests on either side of the spectrum and never once been arrested.  I’ve also been on the other side of the fence—the one being protested.  It’s not hard to avoid being arrested in either case, unless one becomes so emotionally involved that they simply can’t operate with any reason.  And I do think that is what’s going on here.

Back in the early ’90s, around the time of the First Gulf War, I was downtown near the intersection of Yonge and Gould, wearing the standard-issue Mk II combat dress.  As I was crossing the intersection northbound, a vertically-challenged (but horizontally enormous) woman started losing her shit, screaming at me.  I glanced back to see what she was going on about, and it became apparent that she was squawking about the Gulf War, warring for oil, soldiers as baby-killers, and the rest of the totalitarian antiwar liturgy.

Keep in mind I’m a total stranger to her, but she’s standing at the southeast corner of Yonge & Gould foaming away at me as if I had personally slain a close relative.  I stood there for a few minutes, watching her get red-faced and spittle-flecked, losing her mind on the street corner.  She very clearly had no idea of what Canada’s involvement in the Gulf War really amounted to.  In brief, it was a naval task group, an air task group, airfield security, and a field hospital.  Not exactly the jungle-wading, hooch-searching, oil-thieving, baby-killing stuff I was being accused of.

But this is the sort of nonsense that runs though certain minds.  The actual facts of our military deployment to the Gulf mattered a lot less than somebody’s delusional idea of what it meant to be anti-war.  And this is the same sort of mindset that we’re seeing in Code Pink’s case — knowledge of the law (and customs restrictions) matter a whole lot less than being able to grandstand as a hard-done-by victim of an evil conservative leader.

UPDATE:  Before anyone starts spouting nonsense about Harper’s Canada, let me just remind you that the Smart Border Action Plan has been in place since December, 2001 and it was signed by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Deputy Prime Minister Tom Manley.  Specific aspects of the Smart Border plan such as immigration database sharing and joint enforcement coordination have been underway since 2002.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was sworn in on February 6th, 2006.

Ontario is the hot new getaway for extraterrestrials

id4_san_fran

Hard to believe the sort of junk that gets printed in the newspaper these days.  Here’s a CanWest MediaWorks outlet trying hard to resurrect the cheesy X-Files cult:

Brian Vike, who runs HBCC UFO Research from Houston, B.C, records Canadian incidents with the help of a British website.

They reported about 150 Ontario sightings so far this year up to the end of August out of a rough total of 300 in Canada.

Compare that with 188 Ontario sightings in all of 2006, according to another count that also includes Mr. Vike’s numbers, the Canadian UFO Survey, and the results could be surprising, he said.

“You’re going to have a record-breaking year, no doubt about it,” he said.

— William Lin, “Ontario is the new hotspot for UFO sightings: investigator“. Ottawa Citizen, September 16th, 2007.

It amazes me that in the 21st century, somebody’s still out there waiting for benevolent aliens to land and give us a Star Trek-style speech along the lines of “Humans are primitive barbarians who suck, but we won’t destroy you because you have goodness and compassion.”   This is prime time stuff, all right.  Not like we have something more newsworthy, say men and women fighting actual barbarism on another continent.

Mr. Friedman once worked as a nuclear physicist for engineering giants like General Electric, General Motors and McDonnell Douglas. He now calls New Brunswick home.

“I’m convinced the evidence is overwhelming that planet Earth is being visited by intelligently controlled extra-terrestrial spacecraft,” said Mr. Friedman, who was a guest speaker at the Edmonton conference. “We have sightings by scientist and by astronomers. There’s a tremendous amount of evidence out there.” Sometimes, the UFOs can be explained as the International Space Station, planes, even stars, Mr. Vike said.

“Let me tell you, we get hoaxes, lots of them. But you try to sort it out the best you can,” he said.

Okay, so where’s the evidence?  Anecdotes and inconclusive blurry photographs?  Wait, wait.  I have an idea.  Let’s mass produce visual recording devices (like say digital cameras) and even jam them into everyday objects that the average person is likely to carry around (like say cell phones).  So when one of these things shows up and surprises us with an astounding multi-coloured display, we can whip out the recording device and voila, instant proof.  No?

How about comprehensive tracking of almost every orbital object surrounding the planet Earth?  Not unlike, say, NORAD and SPACECOM do today.  And let’s not even think about what sort of flight profile a spacecraft would have to take in order to evade radar/thermal/visual detection, enter the atmosphere, slip through our ADIZ and finally park itself somewhere in Ontario to conduct observations.

B.C. used to be the UFO magnet of Canada. According to last year’s survey, B.C. beat Ontario in sightings despite having a smaller population.

In 2002, B.C. logged 176 sightings. Ontario had 128. And the next year, it was even more lopsided: 304 to 150.

But, so far his year, up to the end of August, B.C. only has half of Ontario’s numbers, at 81 sightings, according to Mr. Vike.

Mr. Vike said he’s at a loss to explain it. He said several sightings were spotted near the Pickering nuclear plant.

“Is it something that’s attracting them? Is it something like the great bodies of water that you have?”

I’m not pooh-poohing the idea of aliens in entirety.  It’s possible that in a universe as vast as ours, there may be other sentient life out there.  Until we start visiting and examining a large number of other worlds for ourselves, we won’t really know what the odds are.

But I do find it entirely risible that notional species who have mastered interstellar flight are going to be interested in water and nuclear fission.  And yet they are stupid enough to give away their presence by visual signalling.

Yes, I know there are squids and other marine life who communicate via bioluminescence.  Show me a squid capable of building and controlling interstellar craft.  How advanced do you have to be before the concept of “camouflage” or “cover and concealment” enters your tactical doctrine?  We must be light years ahead of the other guys already.

That or our UFOlogists are idiots.

Category: What Really Grinds My Gears  Tags: ,  Comments off

For God’s sake, find a new hobby horse

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson. Self Reliance, 1841.

Canada is a nation peopled by an entirely paranoid and gullible species of conspiracy theorist.  What other reason (aside from the existence of an actual conspiracy) could cause otherwise sane citizens to believe, rehash and print this sort of nonsense for close to twenty years:

OTTAWA–Canada is in secret talks with the United States that could lead to the bulk export of water south of the border, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion charges.

“The pressure coming from our American friends to remove Canadian water to help their problems with the shortage of fresh water is very strong,” Dion told a news conference yesterday.

“There is a strong lobby for that. We should be strong to resist that.”

Dion rejected the denials of senior government officials and insisted yesterday that he has inside knowledge that “negotiations” are underway.

— Bruce Campion-Smith & Susan Delacourt, “Secret talks underway, Dion claims“. Toronto Star, August 18th, 2007.

Yes folks, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is now giving official credence to the bed-wetting, world-ending nightmares of Maude Barlow and certain scare-mongering state propaganda organs.

In these fevered minds, of course the Americans and Mexicans want to steal our fresh water!  Water is the source of all life, Mandrake.  Seven-tenths of this earth’s surface is water.  Why, seventy percent of you is water!  And as human beings, you and I need fresh, pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids.  Are you beginning to understand?  Mandrake, have you never wondered why I drink only distilled water, or rain water, and only pure-grain alcohol?

Never mind that the Hon. John Baird, Minister of the Environment, specifically refuted the bulk water export bugaboo the last time they dragged the ghost out of the closet and rattled the rusty chains.

Never mind that a previous government had also taken steps to rule out the bulk export of Canadian fresh water.

Never mind that every Dominion Government since 1987 has stated that NAFTA (and its predecessor, FTA) does not apply to water in its natural state—in lakes, rivers, ice sheets, etc—because the water has not at that point “entered into commerce and become a good” for purposes of our multilateral trade treaties.

How frickin’ hard is that to figure out?  This no-bulk-sale policy is bipartisan, having survived several changes in government with no apparent moderation.

Monsieur Dion, if you have concrete proof that the Government of Canada is actually going to permit trafficking in bulk water, contrary to its stated policy, then it behooves you to present that proof to the people of Canada.  If you have no such proof, then you are deliberately spreading misinformation and undermining the public’s faith in civil governance for no reason beyond mere partisanship.  And you’re a fool for doing so.

Put up or shut up.

Category: Amor Patriae, Aut disce aut discede  Tags: ,  Comments off

Math — Friend or Foe?

Pop Quiz time:

You struggle through a calculus exam and get a passing but lacklustre mark.  This is a subject for which you do not have much interest and, not coincidentally, have never historically done very well.

Is your poor performance the result of:

  1. Lack of interest (and therefore motivation) in seeking to comprehend the minutiae of mathematics, algebraic notation, differential and integral calculus?
  2. Mathematics being an essentially reactionary academic discipline, useful for designing weaponry or potentially repressive computer technology, but not with any obvious humanistic or socially positive uses.

Watch humanity’s best minds struggle with the answer here (hat tip to Bob Tarantino).

I’ll give you a hint:  The ancient Greeks and Indians had a handle on calculus concepts long before they thought anything like DRM software would be invented.

Category: Miscellania  Tags:  3 Comments