We’ve got your kids

There’s nothing like family get-togethers to take the pulse of the nation. Over the holidays we quizzed our folks and friends on which wireless provider is the best (well, the least bad), the cheapest way to fly and what they thought of Trump (crazy like a fox) Trudeau (read on) and the Habs and PKP (not even the faithful have much faith).
We were the instigators on the Trump question. To get things rolling I’d say Trump and America deserve one another. Louise would note the budding love-in between The Donald and Mad Vlad Putin and what that might mean to their respective foreign policies. It was a sure-fire icebreaker.

The discourse on Canada’s new Prime Minister was revealing in both official languages. Even those I expected to be critical, weren’t. Before Christmas, Trudeau was asked why he hasn’t intervened personally in the case of Raif Badawi, the Saudi blogger imprisoned and tortured for disrespecting Islam and the theocratic police state which presumes to rule in Allah’s name. The questioner’s inference was that it was hypocritical of Trudeau to have hammered his predecessor for failing to get involved, then doing nothing once he was elected.
The PM’s response (I’m paraphrasing here) suggests to me there’s hope Trudeau the Younger may surprise us. If he weighs in and the Saudis say no, there’s no further recourse. Instead, he instructed Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion to take Badawi’s case up with Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs.
Dion says he began by congratulating Al Jubeir for bringing together Syria’s opposition parties in what is hoped will be a first step on the road to a ceasefire and peace talks leading to a free election and concluded with the observation that there are 16,000 Saudi students pursuing their education in Canada.
Perhaps that doesn’t sound like a tongue-lashing but it delivered a finely honed message coupled with the Liberal decision not to cancel the $15B sale of armoured vehicles to the Saudis. The Canadian-built LAV-25 Coyotes are considered one of the most sophisticated armoured patrol vehicles on the arms market and the Saudis want them badly.
Bottom line: we’ve got your kids and those 21st-century camels you so badly want. We want Badawi. You figure it out from there.
A subtle message, all the more effective because of the friendly way it was delivered.
Leaden tongue notwithstanding, Trudeau is clearly listening to the pros. He’ll only get better.

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What transparency?

Bummer caution: If you’re averse to depressing analysis I suggest you skip the following.

The core message in the Town of Hudson’s strategic plan is this: either the municipality incurs more debt to invest in revenue generating projects or risk being trapped in a death spiral of rising costs. A comparison of Hudson’s 2016 budget projections with the numbers contained in this past fall’s strategic plan suggest the beleaguered burg is stumbling into 2016 with the doomsday prophesy already well established.

The current administration announced its intention of initiating a strategic planning process shortly after taking power but it was going on two years before the results were presented to residents. Despite a lot of happy talk about contiguous trail networks, eco-trolleys and waterfront rests and boardwalks, it’s a sobering read, especially the last few pages. “Our do-nothing financial picture is not a good one,” the SP notes. Real costs, including a cumulative shortfall, are up $2.8 million in the last five years. Downloaded expenses for policing, public transit and regional government increase by 6% a year, twice the annual cost of living hike. At that rate, they’ll top $15 million by 2108. The crux of the problem: small towns like Hudson obtain almost all of their revenues from residential taxes. In Hudson, that figure is more than 95%. The struggling commercial core contributes 3.9%; agriculture and undeveloped land are together responsible for one percent.

Meanwhile, the evaluation on an average Hudson home continues to increase. From $450,000 in 2014 it’s expected to top $468,000 in 2016 and near $484,000 in 2017. The portion of the tax bill representing fixed costs is based on valuation. In other words, the more Hudson homes rise in value, the more their owners pay for the Surêté du Québec, public transit and overlapping layers of regional government. Valuations lag real-market prices, which the SP predicts could drop by 6%. According to the worst-case scenario, downloaded costs could increase by 10% annually, dragging the town deep into the red.

We come to local non-discretionary expenses such as infrastructure maintenance and essential services — roads, drinking water and sewers, waste management and fire protection. Then there’s the cost of servicing long-term debt. In Hudson’s case, the cost of interest and principal on the town’s accumulated debt ($32.5M in the SP, $27.3M in the 2016 budget) will average $511 on a $3,753 tax bill. That’s based on a mix of old debt at 3% and new debt at 4%. The SP’s worst-case scenario: a 6% annual increase. The SP included this ominous note: “The interest costs attached to this debt have been minimized through actions taken by the current administration over the past year, so that there is little flex in reducing the interest and repayment costs associated with this debt.”

The SP emphasizes cost-cutting as the primary tool to return Hudson to fiscal probity but I see no evidence of that in next year’s budget. The most glaring example: general administration. The SP supposed the 2016 cost of administering the municipality to be less than $1.5M. Next year’s budget adopted in mid-December — four months after the strategic plan was presented — earmarks more than $2.25M, a  million-dollar jump. How about this past year? $1.44M budgeted, $2.06M spent. If this is how the Town of Hudson proposes to control costs, we may as well begin annexation negotiations with our neighbours while we still have room to negotiate.

My wish for 2016: transparency in the town we live in and pay taxes to. That includes posting every document, every presentation and the minutes of every meeting and discussion — both public and private — on the town website. Many of the figures I cite in this post have come from my own notes and documents still not publicly available. This was supposed to be a cleanup administration determined to lift the rock on the sordid past. I have yet to see evidence the coverup has ended.

Conspiracy conspiracy

Just finished supper with old friends. Table talk was mellow until he asked me what I believed about 9/11. Turns out he’s been sucked into the Twin Towers conspiracy theory. It’s where radical jihadis never went to U.S. flight schools to learn enough to fly hijacked jetliners into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, where the towers were brought down by phased explosive charges, where software created holograms of the planes disappearing into the skyscrapers, where Jews were spared because they were forewarned not to show up for work that day. No aircraft debris in the ruins, no black boxes because there were no hijacked jetliners and the only tangible proof of the fiction was rush loaded into containers and shipped to China. All a plot by unnamed conspirators for undefined purposes.

Logic and attributable facts have no place in this discussion. Nor is there any point in asking why the World Bank/U.S. State Department/CIA/FBI/Mossad would engineer such a conspiracy, let alone how conspirators managed to keep it secret through 15 years of financial crisis and political turmoil.

We hammered away at one another until the women declared the topic closed, which is just as well, because I felt common sense was on the run. Contempt and sarcasm are poor weapons against the impenetrable armour of absolute conviction worn by someone armed with what passes for analysis in web forums.

I could have left it there but it bothered me that I didn’t know enough about the conspiracy theory to be able to debunk it. So I spent some time following World Trade Center conspiracy threads through the internet.  I learned more than 60% of Americans don’t believe the official 9/11 version – of how four commercial aircraft were hijacked by Salafist jihadis, some of whom had undergone training in U.S. commercial-licence flying schools, then flown into the twin towers,  the Pentagon and into the ground in rural Pennsylvania when passengers thwarted an attack on the White House. Close to half don’t believe Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden had anything to do with it.

Even a quick search shows the complexity and contradictions within the 9/11 conspiracy camp. One group concentrates on proving there are no other examples of modern high-rise structures collapsing as the result of fire. (What other modern tower was struck by a fully fuelled 757 at 300 mph?) Engineering consultants can’t explain why top floors collapsed in sequence, tearing floors beneath them loose from the curtain walls in a catastrophic cascade. No explanation? Then try the use of shaped explosive charges. Anyone good at manipulating the public knows the selective use of fact at a precise point can move minds.

One of the challenges in debunking a logic-defying structure of half-truths and opinions is knowing where to begin. (I go back to a line drawing in a late-nineties edition of the Concordia Student Guide depicting a commercial aircraft being flown toward the twin towers during a period when the downtown campus was struggling to prevent being transformed into a madrasa.) Following the failed bombing of the WTC by Mullah Omar’s plotters in 1993, the towers became the obvious target of choice. Another attack was inevitable.

Once you’re into it,  questions present themselves. I found myself rerunning memory video of a frozen Bush upon learning of the attacks in the midst of an elementary school photo op. Within hours and despite a continent-wide lockdown of U.S. airspace, anyone connected with the Saudi royal family and its retainers had been spirited out of America. If there’s a conspiracy, I thought, this is part of it.

I plead guilty to having promulgated conspiracy theories. The role of the French secret service in the assassination of former Quebec deputy premier Pierre Laporte three years after French president Charles de Gaulle’s ‘Vive le Quebec libre’ is one. Another hypothesizes the existence of  a carefully crafted vote-rejection system to disqualify No votes in the close-call 1995 Quebec secession referendum. But these are local currency, chump change compared to 9/11. Not even the assassination of JFK compares with the impact of the collapse of the twin towers on 21st-century life.

Next time we sit down, 9/11 won’t be at the table. Too many people are spending too much of their time rewriting history according to what they trawl from the web. I can’t see that as a plus for humanity.

soot on the water

Sierra Club Canada fundraising pitch:

Sierra Club Canada Foundation has been a leading voice on climate change from the beginning. We aren’t letting up. And we’re getting results.

“We will be hated and vilified, in the same way that slave traders were once hated and vilified.” That’s how Brian Ricketts, head of the European Association for Coal and Lignite, summed up the Paris deal. “You might be relieved that the agreement is weak,” he told his members. “Don’t be. The words and legal basis no longer matter. Fossil fuels are portrayed by the UN as public enemy number one.

Namecalling notwithstanding,  the fossil-fuel phaseout measures in the Paris Agreement are neither binding nor inclusive.  The 196 signatories left feeling good, but the truth is they didn’t commit to much. A good example: aviation and shipping, both significant GHG emitters, were left out even though they represent an estimated 8% of global CO2 emissions. More than 90% of the world’s trade is transported by sea and the International Maritime Organization,  representing the shipping industry and member nations, is trying to impose a 50% cut in 2007-level CO2 emissions per tonne/kilometre by 2050 but it needs member-state muscle to back it up. I find it ironic that the Marshall Islands, a popular flag of convenience among shipowners, will be inundated if/when a two-degree rise in the planet’s ambient temperature triggers a hypothetical cascade of icecap melts and extreme weather.

As with every fossil-fuel-consuming industry, there are the believers and the scofflaws. The Maersk Group, owner of the world’s largest fleet of containerships, expressed disappointment at shipping’s exclusion from the Paris pact. (Maersk has committed to a 60% reduction per container by 20120.) With an estimated 100,000 cargo vessels operating worldwide, good corporate scouts like Maersk know half those freighters, tankers and bulk carriers will continue to emit their way around the planet. These dodgy vessels, registered in flag-of-convenience ports like La Paz, Monrovia and Limassol will continue to pollute because,  with scrap prices at an all-time low, there’s no financial incentive to pull these soot-spewing relics out of service.  The U.S. reaction: Congress passed an amendment allowing U.S. crude exporters to export.

(This has me stumped. With North Sea, West African and Middle Eastern crude priced below WTI priced in skyrocketing greenbacks, what market is there for American shale oil when its producers can’t afford a fractional interest rate hike?)

Commercial aviation is pulling windfall profits thanks to the bogus fuel surcharge jacked onto tickets over the past three years. Jet fuel now sells for 35% less than it did a year ago, an $89.2 billion gift to the world’s carriers and their stakeholders. Collusion, price-fixing, racketeering — call it what you will. The commercial aviation industry will continue to pump GHGs into the stratosphere where it does the most harm without accountability or apology.

Climate change is an excuse for scapegoating. Coal is bad. Nigerian, Iranian, Iraqi, Saudi oil is good. Canadian and U.S. pipelines are good if they’re moving imported oil, bad if they’re pumping North American crude. I get Quebec’s position, which wonders why we should incur environmental risk allowing crude to be shipped through the province without economic benefits. What’s in it for us?

There it is. Almost nothing discussed in Paris will have the slightest bearing on the lives of most of humanity. The only difference I can see is that now we’ll be keeping better tabs on who’s in and who’s out in the fossil fuel sweepstakes.

 

 

 

 

 

The Badawi Decision, annotated

Ensaf Haidar, the wife of imprisoned Saudi rights blogger Raif Badawi received a standing ovation at the European Parliament assembly today (Wednesday) as she accepted a prestigious human rights award on his behalf.

Haidar, who claimed refugee status in Quebec and lives with their three children in the Eastern Townships, accepted the European Union’s Sakharov Prize in a ceremony in Strasbourg, France.

“Raif Badawi was brave enough to raise his voice and say no to their barbarity. That is why they flogged him,” Haidar said in a speech cited by the European Parliament’s news service.

Despite the efforts of human rights activists and organizations, Badawi remains in a Saudi prison while his torturers wait for the hue and cry to die down. (He’s said to be on a hunger strike and growing weaker.) The Saudis know time is on their side; once Hillary Clinton is in the White House, there’s no risk of a U.S. president summoning the Saudi ambassador for a scolding. Nor do I expect Justin Trudeau to go any further than his predecessor Stephen Harper in militating for Badawi’s release. We Western democracies are fine with totalitarians and rights abusers with whom we have or hope for a gainful relationship.

Last year Badawi received the first 50-lash instalment of his thousand-lash 10-year sentence, harsh even by the standards of a state where rape victims are stoned to death for adultery. Those who follow Saudi Arabia’s kangaroo-court proceedings (read William Sampson’s Confessions of an Innocent Man) will know why what passes for the rule of law in this tribal state cannot bring itself to show mercy to infidels.

Why Badawi’s exemplary sentence? Take the time to read the following ruling, translated by Haidar for the Centre for Inquiry. If you need context, find yourself a later edition of Lowell Thomas’s With Lawrence in Arabia. (I have a copy of the 16th edition.)  I have yet to read a better explanation of the West’s complicity in creating today’s Middle East and the rationale behind our tacit approval of systemic rights abuses.

My initial reaction upon reading the Saudi decision: how fortunate I am to be living in Canada. Many times throughout my journalistic  career I’ve been threatened with legal and economic sanctions because I dared challenge power and privilege. But never have I faced the threat of prison or torture because of anything I’ve said or written.

An amendment to a judicial order

Praise be to Allah alone and forward, I Abdulrahim bin Ibrahim Almuhaythef, the judge in Jeddah’s jurisdiction criminal court. The hearing opened on Tuesday 28/07/1435(Hijri) at 09:44 AM with the presence of the public prosecutor Mohammed Bin Obaid Alqahtany and the defendant. The case was sent back to revision from the court of appeals as agreed upon in file number 342709543 on 12/04/1435 (Hijri). Enclosed is decision number 35194727 from the court of appeals issued on 03/04/1435 (Hijri) from the first criminal court that concludes a request for revision after studying the ruling and its adjustment and the filing of an objection it has been decided to send the case back to the judge to review the following: first, the procedure conducted by your eminence following our court’s decision number 34388916 on 26/08/1434 (Hijri) is not convincing and not logical because two rulings were issued to this case, the first to dismiss the case due to the lack of specialization and the second ruling issued by his eminence sheikh Fares Al-Harbi who recommends to review the case and to punish the accused, which results in having two contradicting rulings, and that cannot be accepted systematically. It has been pointed out that sheikh Fares Al-Harbi has a history of court cases and rulings, yet his long history of cases does not include a case of that nature, hence we request him to go back to our first ruling and to ask Allah’s help. Secondly, the court did not find that his eminence sheikh Fares Al-Harbi stepped back from his sentence and we did not find a copy of the record to what his eminence did from the beginning of the case to the end to help me see what happened in order to take the required action. Based on the decision of their eminence I decided to proceed with the case, and after viewing the records from the previous trials and reciting the statements on the defendant and the prosecutor I turned to the prosecutor to ask if he has any additional declarations he replied that he said everything he has to say. I turned to the defendant afterwards and asked him if he has an account on Facebook, he replied positively but also added that the posts mentioned [earlier in other trials] by the witnesses are neither his own writings nor even his own thoughts. He explained that these posts originated from different publications posted online on the World Wide Web and that his accounts on Facebook and Twitter were hacked several times while he was incarcerated and he declared all he had to say to sheikh Fares Al-Harbi on a televised

interview, and for those declarations I take full responsibility, but I do not assume responsibility for the declarations mentioned in the witnesses testimony because they are false and are not my own. Based on the previous facts, and upon the convict’s approval of creating the Saudi Liberal Network website, which contains reports of blasphemy, infidelity, disbelief in the Islamic Shariaa’s provisions and other publications that insult Allah almighty and his prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions. The convict’s publications on his website also mock the grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its scholars and preachers. The defendant declared that [as an admin] he had the authority to withdraw or omit or stop any subject or any person that contravenes the Islamic morals and values. The following examples were on his website:

  1. A post by a blogger named Abu Banqal titled “Is Allah unjust?”. May Allah be exalted above all that.
  2. A post by the convict titled “Happy Valentine’s Day to all the nations around the world and congratulations to us for the virtue” sealing that comment with a mocking phrase “congratulations to us on the CPVPV (Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the prevention of Vice) our virtuous teacher that is always keen to save the Saudi people’s spot in heaven”.
  3. A post by a blogger named “Dear mind can you be seen” titled “Why the Kingdom’s Mufti is blind?”
  4. A post by a blogger named “The female’s bosom” in which he mocks a member of the grand clerics of the kingdom, sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan titled “Mr Al-Fawzan is playing the fool ”
  5. A post by the blogger “flickers of fire” titled “The crimes of the gangsters called the CPVPV”
  6. A post by a blogger named “Raoum” titled “Closing the University of Imam Muhammed Bin Saud” where he declares the university campus as a home for terrorists, Talibans and fundamentalists.

The defendant admitted that he is one of the writers on the forum.

Based on the previous proofs and due to other publications by this liberal network that contain blasphemy and atheism, along with the mocking of the divine being, Allah, his prophet (peace be upon him), the angels, and the Islamic religion, its doctrines and followers. Also, mocking and insulting the scholars of this blessed country, criticizing the religious leaders, people of righteousness, which will eventually lead to sedition and problems among fellow Muslims and destabilizing the security. Forasmuch as to the control of the convict on the publications of this website, and due to him letting these blasphemies and insults, toward the religion of Allah and his righteous people, to be published on it, moreover he is also one of the participants in the forum. And because the forum tells what it was made for since the name tells the content and because liberalism is a call for absolute freedom in opinion, expression, and criticism, which means whoever insulted Allah (may be exalted) or his prophet (PBUH) or the Islamic religion, he is free to do so and should be respected (!) Liberalism is parting away from religion according to the western definition of it, and the convict has embraced it as mentioned. And because he established this network and disregarded the blasphemy being spread through it, he shows that he accepts it and adopts its content. How come that he established a network that gathers who insults Allah (may be exalted) and his prophet (PBUH) and in the same time he could be considered as [a believer] who hates that and denies it. Allah said [in the Quran 4:140] “And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together”, the late Imam Al-Bughawi further explains that “if you sit with them while they are discussing and mocking [your religion] you are considered infidels like them.” Therefore, if Allah judged the one who sits with them and considered him like them then it is much more evident in the case of a person who gathered them and prepared the gathering for them. And the virtual gatherings have the same ruling as the physical gatherings, to a point that many electronic websites are called gatherings or forums. And because the convict has helped through his electronic website and encouraged sinfulness and ridiculing Islamic sanctities and spreading sedition and corrupting faith, as Allah almighty says “Sedition is far worse than murder” [Quran 2:191] and also adds “but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation” [Quran 4:27] and “And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” [Quran 5:2].

 

The convict confessed that he posted the following:

  1. The month is coming and the hypocrisy and disturbance are coming along, I wish I was not in Saudi Arabia during that time but I am forced to stay not by choice.
  2. The atheist has the right to speak his mind and to declare his atheism in public and no one has the right to hold him accountable for it
  3. The liberal network is a liberal forum that aims to adopt the enlightening intellect that is free of the religious authority.
  4. Preventing women from fulfilling her rights and sounding her voice is a shock to intellectuals and it is definitely considered a backlash with ongoing effects on the reformist project led by King Abdullah and it rather leads to a retardation project that will be strongly rooted in the social life for a term of several centuries and that manifests the Islamic control on every aspect of life. Silencing and disregarding these preventions will result in abstracting the freedom of speech from everyone and not only females, therefore, we have to demand the fulfillment of women rights in all aspects of life and women should object to this irreverence
  5. The Salafists see themselves to be the only ones who hold the truth and the government has helped and protected them after the Grand Mosque Seizure, hence the soreness surrounding the people in our society..
  6. In the west they have better laws even than Saudi Arabia.

The judicial evidence against the defendant shows that he wrote also on his Facebook page the following:

  • The month is coming and the hypocrisy and disturbance are coming along, I wish I was not in Saudi Arabia during that time but I am forced to stay not by choice.
  • My almighty lord told me to drink according to Abi Hanifa’s school. You, the one sitting to my right side, write that I have rebelled and chosen the liquor glass as my tapster, write! I’m not ashamed of it. You, the one sitting to my left side, write and add more to my fire account, write for you are the traitor do not try to wrangle.
  • Why human greatness is incapacitated in front of what is called death, the one that humiliates us. The combination of the sword and the Quran are more dangerous than a nuclear bomb. If someone declared his atheism in our country, what fate would be awaiting for him in the kingdom of humanity?
  • Is there a start for life? In Buddhism to have a start for life is not logical, the one who believes that this life was created by Allah will be surprised by this answer, but if we ask him what is the beginning of Allah he will say that he has no beginning without being surprised of his own answer.
  • Why we consider any rational explanation of Islam specifically, as a blasphemy, disbelief and heresy? Every religion claims validity among others, for the Jewish says that his bible is the accurate book and his god is the truth, and so does the Christian and the Muslim. Whereas the atheist claims that there is no god and that all of them are deluded because none of them can prove that his religion or beliefs are right. Heavenly father remain in heaven.
  • She told me: from what I know, the wife is sent along with her husband to heaven as part of the heavenly virgins he receives, but I am not married and I will never be, so what is my reward then? The lack of an explanation what comes after death and the question of whether there is another life drives people out of sanity and encourages them to believe and hold on to myths and legends.
  • The man who said that Islam is the solution was right because Islam is the true solution. When you grow a beard and your clothes start resembling the Scottish kilt, with all due respect to the Scottish kilt in the land of the two Mosques, and you use words like : the prophet said, according to Omar and according to Hussein.. you will make a fortune, and when you wish to atone and be forgiven for the despoliation, corruption, plunder and persecution you go to the Hajj for a couple of days and then you are as pure as the day you were born, and the list never ends therefore Islam is the solution only in third world countries.
  • She told me: the Muslim woman is the one that should reject Islam after [reading] this Hadith: “for the prayers can be interrupted by three – a donkey, a black dog and a woman”, as commented by the Bukhari.
  • They lie in order for them to be able to see God beautiful. It is well known to observers of Muslims in Saudi Arabia that they do not respect others’ beliefs; furthermore they treat them as blasphemers. Every non Muslim is a blasphemer and even every Muslim of a faith different than the Hanbali is an outlaw, so how can we create a human culture and good relationships with 4.5 billion out of 6 billion people do not follow Islam?
  • A brave Egyptian blogger challenges everybody and posts nude pictures of herself in the name of freedom. When the man rebels, culture is born. The sheikh of the Arab mind Abdullah Alquseimy says: whoever does not know of my existence cannot harm me, but the one who knows of my existence and acknowledges it and then ascribes evils and flows to me, is the one who harms me.
  • The legend of Adam’s sin was an introduction to the creation of culture on earth in which man has all the glory and all the glory is for him alone. When Islamists in our countries cannot reply to ideas or thoughts they turn to The Inquisition.
  • Why don’t we ask ourselves about the reason behind America welcoming Muslim missionaries in its land, while the kingdom of Saudi Arabia denies it? We cannot disregard all these questions and put our heads in the sand like an ostrich, then pretend that no one can see us and we do not care. We want it or not we are a part of humanity, we have the same duties and the same rights, we must respect others’ rights and differences as they respect ours.
  • Can I have a mediator who will intervene and allow me to travel temporarily during Ramadan?
  • What makes me feel more pain is the Islamic chauvinist arrogance over people, by claiming that the blood of innocent people, which were shed by some barbaric minds under the banner of “Allah Akbar”, does not weight anything when it is compared to building a Mosque (which will serve as a hatching place of new terrorists).
  • The jihadist doctrine of the Islamic extensions that happened after the death of the prophet (pbuh), which encouraged the outbreak of the Muslim conquests and the apostasy wars, in contradiction to the essence of Islam, which led to civil war between the companions, remains the same until today.

Based on what is written in these declarations by the convict, which he confessed and were recorded according to sharia as evidence against him being the writer of some of them, which proves his violation of the sanctity of the religion and its people. It shows his disparagement of the one who made the Quran and the Sunnah as a guiding light and a law that equates the ruler and the ruled. And based on these thoughts that spread doubt in the fundamentals of the religion and its values, violates the five essentials which sharia came to protect, and spread sedition and conflict among the people in society. Hence, according to act 23 of the basic law of governance which says: “the government protects the Islamic doctrine, applies the law of the Shariaa, and promotes virtue and prevents vice” and according to act 11 of the same law “the Saudi people live based on the tenacity of its individuals to the rope of Allah, and cooperate on righteousness, piety and interdependence among each other, and never be separated”. And due to the convict’s father allegations of impiousness, (the need of his father to sue him is an evidence of impiousness) and because the statements he confessed writing it contain overall the perverted liberal thought and a call to embrace it and to reject the way of people of goodness and righteousness, it is a call to liberation from the duties of religion and its values, and to disrespect its tenets. The convict’s acts are condemned and considered a crime according to sharia and according to [our] government according to paragraph 1 of article 6 and article 9 of combating cybercrime which says “any person who commits the following cybercrimes is to be sentenced to serve a maximum of 5 years in prison and fined not more than 3 million Saudi Riyal or one of the penalties: forming whatever affects public order and religious values, and public manners and the privacy of personal life via composing, sending or publishing the compromising material on the cyber web or any other electronic device”. Due to the fact that what the witnesses said does not constitute evidence since the defendant did not admit it saying that others wrote it since his page on the program called Facebook was hacked.

However due to all what was said before it is proven to me that the defendant Raif bin Muhammad bin Raif Badawi should be convicted for establishing the website called the Saudi Liberal Network as well as for the following statement declared by him:

  1. The month is coming and the hypocrisy and disturbance are coming along, I wish I was not in Saudi Arabia during that time but I am forced to stay not by choice.
  2. The atheist has the right to speak his mind and to declare his atheism in public and no one has the right to hold him accountable for it.
  3. The liberal network is a liberal forum that aims to adopt the enlightening intellect that is free of the religious authority.
  4. Preventing women from fulfilling her rights and sounding her voice is a shock to intellectuals and it is definitely considered a backlash with ongoing effects on the reformist project led by King Abdullah and it rather leads to a retardation project that will be strongly rooted in the social life for a term of several centuries and that manifests the Islamic control on every aspect of life. Silencing and disregarding these preventions will result in abstracting the freedom of speech from everyone and not only females, therefore, we have to demand the fulfillment of women rights in all aspects of life and women should object to this irreverence
  5. The Salafists see themselves to be the only ones who hold the truth and the government has helped and protected them after the Grand Mosque Seizure, hence the soreness surrounding the people in our society.
  6. In the west they have better laws even than Saudi Arabia.

Additionally, it was proven to me that he should be charged strongly for statements shared by him personally on his personal account on Facebook, for these reasons:

  1. The legally [accepted] and recorded testimony of the two witnesses who discussed the statements with him;
  2. The spread of his reputation among people and Muslims that he adopts these perverted thoughts and that he calls others to embrace it;
  3. His admission to part of the allegations against him and disregarding other accusations although they all share the same meaning, as well as to charge him for being ungrateful towards his father (since the need of a father to go to court to report that is an evidence of impiousness and sign of it).

Since the convict has declared his repentance and dissatisfaction with what was being published on his website and on his personal Facebook account; and due to the reasons mentioned above; and according to article 13 of the law of combating cybercrime and because the prophet (PBUH) “jailed a man for an accusation” narrated by At-Tirmidhi and judged authentic by Al Albany I find the convict guilty and to be sentenced to the following:

  • Imprisonment of 5 years, and a fine of 1 million Saudi Riyal, to be deposed Bayt Al- Mal financial institution and spent on charitable causes, as a punishment for him for establishing the network. As well as closing the network and expropriation of his Dell laptop and damaging it and its content.
  • Imprisonment of [another] 5 years and 1000 lashes divided on 20 times, [50 each] between them not less than a week, to be carried out in front of people after the Friday prayers in AlJafali mosque in Jeddah district as a punishment for the statements he confessed and for the strong accusation proven against him, being the writer of blasphemous phrases on his page on Facebook. And for his ingratitude towards his father, the two periods of imprisonment should not interfere. Taking into account the period he served during this trial. I also ordered that he is to prevented from having any interaction with all kinds of media devices for a period of 10 years after finishing serving his sentence and to be prevented from traveling outside the borders of Saudi Arabia for 10 years. After posting the indictment the convict rejected it, while the prosecutor objected. The convict was presented with a copy of the indictment and the penalties, he was shown how to file an objection within 30 days from this day, or else he shall be deprived from the right to object, while the prosecutor was satisfied with the objections he filed in past. May Allah grant us success. Peace be upon our prophet Muhammad, his family and companions. 28/07/1435 (Hijri) [27 May 2014]

The Judge in the appeal court in Jeddah district Abdulrahim bin Ibrahim Almuhaythef

Hudson: Lawyers ‘r’ us

 

Now that former town manager Louise Villandré has pleaded guilty to embezzlement, can the town collect from its insurers?
Perhaps, her latest replacement Jean-Pierre Roy told the second sitting of last night’s double-barrelled council meeting — but we can’t know more because the town doesn’t want to tip its hand.
I had asked whether the town had insurance to cover losses due to managerial malfeasance. From Roy’s comments it would appear the town proposes to wait until after Villandré’s sentencing Feb. 22 to discuss the matter with its insurers.
Residents also learned the town is embroiled in some 30 lawsuits. Some are of the administrative variety (council approved a $95,000 payout to the province to cover its share of deductions that were never made from town employees’ paycheques) while others are like the $200,000 lawsuit initiated by a Pine Lake resident or the action instituted by the town’s former auditors for non-payment, or the flurry of claims and counterclaims involving Hudson’s last DG, Roy’s immediate predecessor Catherine Haulard.
One Cameron resident grilled the mayor and council on rumours it was thinking of bringing defamation suits against its Facebook detractors. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t hear a denial.

Highlights from last night’s Hudson 2016 budget meeting:

— Taxes go up 1.85 per cent, or $68 on the mythical average Hudson home worth just under $400,000. The owners will be billed $3,753 compared to last year’s $3,685. $550 represents their share of Hudson’s debt, now down to $28.9 million. Gone is the $25 eco tax, which brings the tax bill down to just $43, a 1.17 per cent hike.

Mayor Ed Prévost on Hudson’s long-term debt situation:
“We’re in relatively good shape…we could be in better shape.”

— Hudson’s notoriously uncollectible business tax has been rolled into a higher non-residential tax rate (74.73 cents per $100 compared to 69.73 cents on residential and agricultural properties.)

— The town has decided to turn Hudson’s business-tax deadbeats over to a collection agency.

— DG Roy and treasurer Serge Raymond have opted against expressing fixed costs (SQ policing, public transit, regional and metropolitan taxes) as a separate line item. So we don’t know how much more we’re being dinged for policing, public transit and regional government. We learned the MRC will cost us $61,000 more next year, mostly to cover the cost of the regional municipal court.

— We’ll see sizeable increases in administration ($2.25M, up from $2.05M last year), public works ($2.2M compared to $1.9M) and debt service ($1.2M to last year’s $963,000).

— Public security and Parks, Recreation and Culture will cost $100,000 less next year, prompting Hudson Music Festival impresario Blair MacKay to demand why the town has money for its third skatepark but none for culture. MacKay and the mayor have been going at this for months because of the town’s refusal to donate the old firehall to the artistic community.

— Council last night adopted a resolution to buy the town’s fleet of fire trucks back off lease, a $833,000 expense. Asked why the town was reversing a policy adopted three years ago to lease the fleet from the province, the DG said it would save $45,000 a year. What about maintenance costs? Curious citizens received no clear answer. We did learn Ladder 402, the only remnant of the town’s old fleet, needs $65,000 in repairs because the firm which rebuilt it didn’t supply the correct certification. (One would think this would be the best argument for a fleet leased from the government.)

— Roy presented Hudson’s new three-year capital expenditures program, to the confusion of many of those in the hall. (This is a Hudson first.) In vain did Roy try to explain that the $25.4M PTI is a wish list. Some items, like the $40G cost of excluding some of Hudson’s farmland from the CPTAQ’s iron fist, are likely, especially since landowners pay the town to get it done. Ditto the $1.45M for a new well even though Hudson is investing in the recertification of Well #265, supposedly good for 3,000 cubic metres a day. So why does Hudson need another well? Residents got no clear indication.

Other PTI items didn’t sit well, like the $5.825M for a new town hall. Hudson is already dropping 25 grand on merging offices and another 25 grand on an assistant to the assistant treasurer, so where, asked a Quarry Point resident, did this come from?

“It was on the books,” said Mayor Ed. “…Louise Villandré.”

This was the tone of the evening, the evocation of the ghosts of administrations past. How long will it take to exorcise them to the point that they can no longer provide excuses for a council midway through its term?

I’m back

Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014: Gazette Vaudreuil-Soulanges published what would be its last print edition. Three days later, Louise and I left on a month-long jaunt through India and Bhutan where we could recalibrate our perspectives on life.

Putting out a weekly newspaper is feeling one’s life ticking away in one-week increments. Time is in short supply; the stress of deadline is relentless and addictive. Three weeks after my July 2012 heart attack I was back to working six-day weeks and 14-hour days. Louise and I continued publishing until we couldn’t. I won’t get into the whys and wherefores, but I will say this: we saw the Gazette as our community’s independent arbiter, witness and mirror, a 63- year voice of reason and passion, a journal of record, a soapbox for all. Like the hundreds of readers who continue to express their dismay, we mourn its passing.

Thanks to all for your interest and concern, especially those who don’t begin a conversation with “where’s my paper?” The Gazette was privately held; nobody is owed an explanation as to why it ceased publication. We’re not alone. Traditional media are closing or cutting across Canada, victims of mergers, skyrocketing expenses and the flight of advertising to the web. Why else would the Toronto Star buy La Presse’s successful tabloid platform? Daily print will continue its disappearing act, replaced by fat, expensive weekend papers and free web access. The Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette, along with dozens of others, are pulling down their internet paywalls in the rush to attract eyeball traffic to their sites.

What next? We spent a year pondering just that. Restoration of the 175-year building at 397 Main is almost finished, thanks to Louise’s vision, energy and sense of design. We’ll be hearing more in coming days.

Like many of you, my interests have widened. So I’m launching a couple of sites. The first, http://www.thousandlashes.ca, is a tribute to Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian human rights activist sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and a fine of close to C$300,000 for insulting Islam. The Saudis are under international pressure to commute what amounts to his death sentence but thanks to mixed signals from their presumed allies in the war on Islamic extremism, they clearly feel justified in maintaining their position. This week an Amnesty International source told me Badawi has lately been moved to a remote prison inaccessible to his supporters. Out of sight, out of mind, not just in Saudi Arabia, but in states around the planet. Our silence on rights issues is tacit approval, even complicity.

Ditto the environment. When will humankind get it that we’re all in this together? COP21 has made carbon the villain in a real-time climate change cliffhanger but unless we see how we’re playing in supporting roles it’s inevitable we’ll change channels.  Out of sight, out of mind.

 

The second picks up where the Gazette left off. http://www.jimduff.ca is my soapbox and yours for local issues. I’ve already posted my first rant.

So feel free to visit early and often. Feel free to comment or post, either here or on my Facebook page.