Category Archives: Politics

My final word on Kony 2012

I’ve spent a good part of a day and night arguing about Kony 2012. I love arguing, it’s one of the reasons why I’m going into politics and law. But, it can be exhausting. As such I thought I’d just post my thoughts in one easy accessible place, besides it’ll get me more hits.

I’m sure most people reading this are aware of the situation., for those who may not be, here’s a quickish summary. In 1986 in the central African state of Uganda, a man named Joseph Kony formed a rebel group called the Lord’s resistance Army. This group wanted to form a government and laws as set down by the Ten Commandments. The LRA promptly proceeded to ignore the whole ‘Thou shalt not kill’ aspect of said laws. But that’s not the worse part, the LRA has a policy of abducting children and turning them into soldiers or sex slaves depending on their gender. they’ve also spread from Uganda to The Congo and other countries in central Africa. These practises led the International Criminal Court to make Kony their first indictment post founding, as an aside as an aspiring human rights lawyer anything involving the ICC has me wanting to be involved at least superficially. Now I fully admit that this a massively simplified version of events, the Ugandan government is far from innocent for one thing.

Fastforwording to March 2012, a charity organization known as the Invisible Children, which was founded years earlier to showcase this conflict, launched it’s newest promotional campaign. A couple of days ago invisible children published a 30 minute video titled Kony 2012, and today as of this writing it has 19,986,084 views! The video explains who Kony is and whats he has done, though it honestly doesn’t go more in-depth than I did really. It’s a noted experiment in social media encouraging people to share the video and on the night of April 20th, poster your local city. This is to try to create pressure on the governments of the world, with an US focused bent, to help the Ugandan government and arrest Kony.

Invisible Children has since received some criticism about some financial irregularities about how much money actually goes to the cause vs salaries, travel costs etc. Also they’ve come under fire a bit for supporting the Ugandan military and militias, which aren’t that much better than the Lord’s Resistance Army in some cases, and being in favour of military intervention. There are some claims that the LRA has virtually abandoned North Uganda, where IC is focused. The organization has posted a response to the critiques, which I’d take with a grain of salt. However, it’s better than mos responses we see come from companies or governments under fire, so kudos to them for that.

Now as to the purpose of this blog. I view on the whole this is this: you can support the Kony 2012 movement, without supporting Invisible Children. Make you’re own posters rather than buying the package advertised by the charity, write your MP or government representative. There are plenty of ways to take part, no matter what your view on the charity behind it. As an aspiring human rights lawyer, this cause appeals to me in many buts besides that, I believe we all have a responsibility to the world and others, even if you don’t agree with that point people should take part because it’s the right thing to do. At the very least they’re bringing this to light and even people my Mother’s age who’d never heard of Joseph Kony before are learning about it. Knowledge is power after all, will free to educate yourself on the issue whole too. Now as Osama, Gaddafi, and others have proven over recent years the strategy of cutting the head off of the snake isn’t as effective as we like to believe. If Kony is captured or killed that just the first step in address the problems in Uganda, and I hope people will stick around not just go ‘Ok, jobs done”. There will be forces left over, the kids will need a lot of help, physically, mentally and socially. As has been mentioned the current Ugandan government has its issues, with reports of looting, rape and abductions of their own, and there has been the “Death penalty for Homosexuality” bill.Howver, in the latter case the government caved to international pressure, at least temporarily, but it shows they’re probably more amiable to negotiation than the Lord’s Resistance Army. As I’ve said a few times to people, sometime’s its about helping the lesser evil. It’ll be a long journey, but with help and their own will power and ability Uganda will be able to make it.


Why I am Team Mulcair

Here we are, just under 3 weeks to go until we New Democrats, who joined prior to Feb 18th,  elect our new Party Leader, who will serve as the head of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and in 2015 as Prime Minister of Canada, fate willing. This race hasn’t received too much media coverage because, well compared to the entertainment our neighbours to the south are providing in the Republican race, the NDP race has been polite and well to be honest rather vanilla, but hey I’ll take polite minor disagreements in policy any day over the clamour of the Romney/Anybody But Romney race the GOP is having. The race in general reminds of the Liberals 2006 race, with its large slate of candidates but with a couple of frontrunners. Hopefully we won’t see a repeat of the end of that race.

While I’d be satisfied with any of the seven as victors i do have my preference. I’ve considered myself undecided for most of the race but I’ve always been leaning to one candidate in particular, but I was keeping my mind open, however I am ready to finally and firmly declare my support for this person. As the title of this blog spoils: I am going to be voting for Thomas Mulcair on March 24th.

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On the Internet We Are All Somalis

My name is Sol O’Rielly, and I am an internet pirate.

Though SOPA and PIPA have been stopped, it is just a temporary reprieve, the issue of copyright protection vs. net neutrality will not go away anytime soon, nor should it. Despite my confession I deeply believe something should be done about illegal downloading. I just disagreed with the draconian “Team America : World Police”, “Corporations are People” conditions within the aforementioned bills.

I am more like The Pirates of the Caribbean in that I have my own “Pirates Code”. If there is a movie I really want to see, or a game I really want to play, such as Harry Potter or Skyrim respectively, I am more than happy to dish out the hard earned cash in order to buy it legally. On the other hand if its something I’m not sure of, or only sort of want then I’m likely to go to Demonoid, Pirate’s Bay, or somewhere to torrent it. Sometimes afterwards I may buy, but more often than not it stays on my Harddrive, or if I found it less than satisfactory deleted.  A couple of times I’ve lost a CD, and rather than repurchasing a replacement I download it.

No, I’m talking about the titular Internet Somali Pirates, whose first instinct is to download something, and rarely if ever actually spend money on their entertainment products. Those people I’m sad to say to say are usually males in theirs 20-30s and largely ah, “nerds”. My problem with this is this. It takes months-years of people’s lives to make a movie, video game, TV shows etc etc. Now they still get paid, even with the rampant piracy, but I question who it feels to invest so much of your time, and yourself into a product only to see it taken for granted. I could go at length, iunto how being reduced to a user name and a series of numbers makes us feel secure, but I’m not going to. Though to be honest, I feel a lot of pirates don’t really know what all the work that goes into it, or simply don’t care. Many may point to the prices of tickets as a justification for their kleptomania, well my mother deals with bringing in independent films, and I know some people who work in movies. Theatres don’t make very much on ticket prices, a majority of it goes to paying the distributors and other fees, most of their profits come from that over-priced popcorn and pop.

This article shows one of the effects of online piracy. I bet if the people who downloaded HP8, The Dark Knight, Transformers or the others in the first 5 days, or even earlier as there are usually leaked online copies, had actually seen them in theatre they would be way higher, as those top 5 movies I believe have a significant population overlap with those most likely to download their films. Looking at the Box office numbers for Scott Pilgrim vs the World, which was a good film, buts its problem was its target demographic. While I’m not entirely sure how reliable these numbers are, they show that the movie was more popular than its earnings indicate, but it made the mistake to aiming at the nerdy demographic alone, and people reward Edgar Wright with… not much.

Indeed, it is not just the traditional media of movies, music and even books that have been negatively impacted by the epidemic of torrenting, but even the new media, Gaming. Some of you may look at that aforementioned article about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and ask me how has the game industry been scathed.  A breakdown of those sales figures, was harder to track down then I thought, but I would bet anything a majority of those sales figures were for the console versions of the game. Why? Because console games have such protection that it is virtually impossible to get and use an illegal copy on an Xbox360 or a Playstation 3. In contrast many within the player base and the industry have commented on the decline of PC Gaming. In order to protect their product many Game producers place DRM, Digital Rights Management software, which is often intrusive on your computer, leading to public outcry. Also its often not that hard to work around, so in some ways companies encourage what they’re trying to fight against. Also the price requirements for a good quality gaming machine prevent a barrier for some in the public to get into computer gaming. Though there have been a few good quality PC Exclusives, or intended for PC Games over the past few years like Starcraft 2, and Dragon Age: Origins, PC gamers often find themselves getting the short end of the stick from companies in order to combat piracy. Often a PC version, if there even is one, will come out weeks to months after its console counterparts. Steam has helped by providing a cheap downloading portal, and social media area.

Now, I regret to say I don’t have an answer on how we can keep both the Companies, and Public happy, but I’m sure there is one as the status quo as is isn’t working, nor can we swing too far as SOPA/PIPA demonstrated.

In Memoriandum: Jack Layton 1950 – 2011

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.” -Jack Layton

Funny enough I didn’t check the news or Facebook as I normally do in the morning, as If I somehow new that one of the days I had feared had come to pass: Jack Layton had lost his second round of his battle with cancer. Somewhat interestingly my own father passed at 5:55am August 23, 2008 at age 57, where as Jack crossed over at 4:45(est) August 22nd at 61.

Whether you agree with his politics, as I do, or not, People have admired Jack’s dedication to social justice, health care, the environment, and our disadvantaged citizens. Despite his father having being part of the Mulroney Conservative government, a grandfather who was a minister in Dupelessis’ Union Nationale, Jack forged his own path in municipal and federal politics. Such was his vision for Canada and force of personality, that even with a cane recovering from prostate cancer and hip surgery, hes force of will and vision for Canada captured the hearts and minds of millions of Canadians across this great country and especially in Quebec. Jack virtually single-handedly propelled the Orange Wave and over doubled our seat count. The fact that he was mere steps away from seizing the apex of any politician’s dreams, and had accomplished something deemed almost impossible by the media and most of the citizenry, makes this story even more of a tragedy than most other deaths.

Due to a communication mishap I missed my chance to see Jack live. Yet despite this thespian like media presence, Jack’s integrity, personality and care for humanity, always shone there, he seemed  someone you could sit and have a beer or coffee with, a remarkable feat in politics. In fact he is the only politician I can think of who is mostly refered to by his first name.  He was always first or 2nd in leadership polls, no matter where the New Democratic party was itself. As for my own ambitions I can only hope to fit half the mold Jack did. And in that final press conference as Jack looked not at all unlike my father in his last month or weeks of life, we and felt pain

No matter how expected it is, it is always difficult to lose a father, husband and friend, so to Olivia Chow, Jack’s children and friends, I say though our grief is but a fraction of your own, all Canadians, New Democrats or otherwise, stand together if you in this time of mourning and loss and send our deepest condolences.

As for the NDP,  to be cliché it is always darkest before the dawn. To have such a devastating loss after finally reaching a spot of prominence is disheartening, but we must embody Jack’s optimism and fighting spirit and hold our heads high and continue our march forward. Jack has left us with a great foundation and golden opportunity. Whoever our new leader may be, Mulcair, Davies, Turmel, Julian, or someone else, may never be Jack, and his large shoes to fill, but we must support them and belief that we can finish his legacy and fulfill his dream of a  New Democratic Prime Minister of Canada, with a fairer and even greater country.

“Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. … I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.” – Jack Layton