October 19, 2011

Selley: Milewski is right on Tories’ “tough on crime” policies

Filed under: Cancon, Law, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:03

Chris Selley can’t be accused of being a Terry Milewski fan, but he does agree with Milewski’s message:

The CBC recently sent Terry Milewski to Texas, the blood and guts state, where he asked conservative politicians and various experts what they thought of building more prisons, and filling them up, as a means of driving down crime. “Don’t,” was the basic answer. “It doesn’t work. That’s why we’re doing the opposite.”

It was a nice piece on a serious policy issue. It reminded us that the federal government seems to consider crime legislation inside a hermetically sealed chamber. But for that very reason, nothing any journalist says is likely to make any difference. If contrary evidence carried any weight in Cabinet, the omnibus tough-on-crime bill, C-10, wouldn’t be before Parliament. The fact that elites recoil at its provisions and spew champagne out of their noses is a feature, not a bug.

And, if I may briefly adopt the voice of a partisan blogger, the mainstream media would denounce the law of gravity if it somehow helped the Liberals (or the NDP, depending what day it is). The CBC, in the memorable words of Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, “lies all the time.” And Mr. Milewski, as we all know, chairs the left-wing media conspiracy.

This is not an ideal policy-making environment. But I’m going to try to change minds on a single, narrow, easily fixable issue: Mandatory minimum sentences for non-serious crimes. I can’t see any level on which they are supportable.

Supreme Court rules that linking to defamatory material is not libel

Filed under: Cancon, Law, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 12:03

The Supreme Court of Canada makes the common sense ruling:

Hyperlinking to defamatory material on the internet does not constitute publishing the defamatory material itself, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Wednesday.

The ruling will alleviate fears that holding someone liable for how they use hyperlinks on websites, personal ones or others, could cast a chill on internet use.

The responsible use of the internet and how traditional defamation law applies to modern technologies were at issue in this case, which was watched closely by media organizations and civil liberties groups.

How someone can protect their reputation in the internet age when content is passed around with the quick click of a button was also considered in the case. On social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, users often share links, and the court’s ruling could have dramatically disrupted that function had it gone the other way.

In its unanimous decision, the court said a hyperlink, by itself, should never be considered “publication” of the content to which it refers. But that doesn’t mean internet users shouldn’t be careful about how they present links. The court says that if someone presents content from the hyperlinked material in a way that repeats the defamatory content, they can be considered publishers and are therefore at risk of being sued for defamation.

Vikings finally hand the keys to Christian Ponder

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:31

Most of the reaction to yesterday’s announcement that Christian Ponder will start the Vikings’ next game against the Green Bay Packers follows the same line: it’s about time. Ponder comes in with the team sitting at 1-5 and out of playoff contention. Green Bay, defending Super Bowl champs, are unbeaten this season. It’s a tall order for a rookie, but he clearly showed enough of a spark in last weekend’s disastrous outing against Chicago to get the nod to replace Donovan McNabb.

Dan Wiederer at the Star Tribune:

Truthfully, it was becoming awfully hard to find a risk-reward scenario that didn’t lead to Ponder replacing McNabb. As quarterback controversies go, this one sure seems clear-cut. For a Vikings squad whose 2011 season is going down in flames, the chance to develop a promising young quarterback far outweighs the value of possibly scratching out an extra two or three wins with an aging veteran whose contract will be up at season’s end.

It was quickly becoming a foregone conclusion that Ponder would start at some point this season. Frazier said as much Monday. So why delay the inevitable?

The Vikings head coach might say Wednesday he believes Ponder gives the Vikings the best chance to win now — this week and for the rest of 2011. But really, this is a prudent move designed to build toward a more promising future.

Questioning the “income inequality” argument

Filed under: Economics, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:19

James Pethokoukis doesn’t find the income inequality talk particularly convincing, and has a few reasons why:

Sorry, the story just doesn’t hold together. According to left-wing think tanks, columnist and bloggers — and, of course, the Occupy Wall Street radicals — the top 1 percent have been exploiting the 99 percent for decades. The rich have been getting richer at the expense of the middle class and poor.

Really? Just think for a second: If inequality had really exploded during the past 30 to 40 years, why did American politics simultaneously move rightward toward a greater embrace of free-market capitalism? Shouldn’t just the opposite have happened as beleaguered workers united and demanded a vastly expanded social safety net and sharply higher taxes on the rich? What happened to presidents Mondale, Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry? Even Barack Obama ran for president as a market friendly, third-way technocrat.

Nope, the story doesn’t hold together because the financial facts don’t support it. And here’s why:

[. . .]

5. Set all the numbers aside for a moment. If you’ve lived through the past four decades, does it really seem like America is no better off today? It doesn’t to Jason Furman, the deputy director of Obama’s National Economic Council. Here is Furman back in 2006: “Remember when even upper-middle class families worried about staying on a long distance call for too long? When flying was an expensive luxury? When only a minority of the population had central air conditioning, dishwashers, and color televisions? When no one had DVD players, iPods, or digital cameras? And when most Americans owned a car that broke down frequently, guzzled fuel, spewed foul smelling pollution, and didn’t have any of the now virtually standard items like air conditioning or tape/CD players?”

No doubt the past few years have been terrible. But the past few decades have been pretty good—for everybody.

Regulators back off (temporarily)

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Economics, Environment, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:08

Walter Olson reports on some recent regulatory retreats:

Are there enough data points yet to call it a trend? I think there are: the Environmental Protection Agency is now backing off a whole series of deeply unpopular Obama-era initiatives. This time it’s the idea of tightening the federal standard for coarse airborne particulates — better known as “dust” — from the current 150 micrograms per cubic meter to a figure somewhere between 65 and 85, depending on what assumptions are used. That change could have dealt a tough economic blow to businesses, notably farms and ranches, that kick up quantities of dirt in the ordinary course of operation. Unfortunately, the EPA — unable to resist the urge to lash out against its critics — is being less than candid about its latest turnabout.

The retreats have been coming steadily in recent months, since President Obama’s popularity ratings began to tank. In July, following protests from Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and other lawmakers, the administration dropped a proposal that would have required lead-dust lab testing as part of even relatively minor renovations to older homes. Last month it scuttled costly new smog regulations. A couple of weeks ago it relaxed its so-called Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which was menacing the continued operation of power plants. And it remains under heavy pressure to scrap its ultra-expensive “Boiler MACT” rules, another utility nemesis.

EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has made it clear that she isn’t happy about some of these about-faces, and her staff spun the latest dust decision in remarkably graceless fashion, accusing critics of spreading “myths” and claiming the agency never had any intention of going after farm dust in the first place.

Four year sentence for . . . posting an idiotic suggestion to Facebook

Filed under: Britain, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:54

Patrick Hayes attempts to point out that the sentence imposed on Facebook idiot Jordan Blackshaw is both disproportional and a clear and present danger to free speech rights in Britain:

Did you know that all it took for people to trash their own neighbourhoods this summer, such was the ‘collective insanity’ then gripping the UK, was for someone to suggest they do so on Facebook? A few words saying something like ‘let’s have a riot’ and, hey presto, off people went to have a riot.

This didn’t happen, of course. But it is a view of last August’s riots that seems to provide the rationale behind the sentencing of 20-year-old Jordan Blackshaw. This was the man, lest we forget, who on 9 August set up a Facebook ‘event’ entitled ‘Smash Down in Northwich town’. This hardly inspiring suggestion involved would-be rioters meeting up for said ‘smash down’ outside a local McDonald’s.

In explaining why Blackshaw was to receive a four-year jail sentence for doing nothing more than publishing words online, the judge claimed that ‘this happened at a time when collective insanity gripped the nation’. Blackshaw’s conduct, he continued, ‘was quite disgraceful and the title of the message you posted on Facebook chills the blood’. Yesterday, Blackshaw’s appeal against the harsh sentencing, alongside that of another ‘Facebook rioter’, was rejected by the Crown Court.

So, how many people responded to Blackshaw’s online suggestion during this period of ‘collective insanity’? The answer is one: Blackshaw himself. (He was immediately arrested). In fact, only nine of his 147 Facebook friends even responded online. Yet the reason for this collective no-show, at least as far as the judge was concerned, was ‘the prompt and efficient actions of police’ who eventually took Blackshaw’s Facebook page offline.

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