Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

Federal government’s selective belief in statistics is criminal by Peter McKnight:

According to the General Social Survey, the amount of crimes being reported to the police is declining, down three per cent in 2004 from 1999.

Numbers don’t lie: if 37 per cent of criminal incidents were brought to the attention of the police in 1999, and only 34 per cent were in 2004 (according to the GSS), then the conclusion to be drawn from the statistics is that less crimes are being reported to the police.

These statistics do not necessarily mean that crime rates are down.

As McKnight pointed out in the article, the reliability of the GSS needs to be taken into account, as do the differences between the GSS and the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, both of which are used to collect data on crime.

Statistics merely show the results of research; how they are interpreted is another story.

If the Conservatives are justifying a $9.5 billion decision to build new prisons on a couple of numbers that can be interpreted to show that crime rates are declining, maybe it’s time to begin monitoring the reasoning process leading up to such expensive decisions.

Forest fire budget at a 10-year low, and B.C. is already over by Todd Coyne:

This year, the B.C. government set aside $51.7 million to fight forest fires.

Last year, the Liberals allotted $61.7 million, but spent $382.1 million fighting fires, according to the Vancouver Sun.

The cost of fighting fires for 2010 has already exceeded the allotted budget; Finance Minister Colin Hansen confirmed the expenses had reached $56.5 million.

If it cost the provincial government over $380 million to fight forest fires last year, why is this year’s budget less than one seventh of that cost?

There is no way the Liberals could have expected that $50 million would be enough funds, which raises yet another question:

Let’s pretend for a moment that the overall provincial budget is $1 billion. (Again, we are merely pretending.)

And let’s say that last year, the government spent one tenth of that, $100 million, on fighting forest fires.

This year, they decided to allocate $50 million, knowing the costs would be exceeded.

However, to balance their budget, the government would have to take the $50 million no longer going towards fighting fires, and put it somewhere else.

By the end of the day, the total expected expenditures would equal $1 billion: by the end of the year, the actual expenditures would look quite different.

On paper, the government balanced their total budget, but they essentially allocated $50 million needed to cover the cost of fighting forest fires to another expense.

So to conclude my complicated thought process: $50 million (forest fires) + $50 million (taken from last year’s budget) + $50 million (the additional money eventually spent on fighting fires, not accounted for in the budget) = $150 million.

That is some magic trick, making money out of thin air…


Here are my thoughts on today’s headlines. Everything but the titles is written by yours truly.

Conservatives’ irrational crime laws make no sense, cost billions of dollars by Neil Boyd:

The Conservatives have decided to allot billions of dollars towards the construction of new federal and provincial prisons.

This is yet another step in the Tories’ crackdown-on-crime movement, like their crime bill proposals and mandatory minimum sentencing for people who grow more than six marijuana plants.

According to Boyd, a professor and associated director of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University, studies have shown that rates of imprisonment are relative to the confidence of the people in the legislative and justice systems of the county.

In other words, a lack of confidence in our systems of governance is a significant factor of high rates of imprisonment.

Globally, Canada has the highest rates of incarceration and comparatively has high crime rates.

Where is our confidence?

More importantly, why don’t we have confidence in our democratic legislative and justice systems?

Iran’s leaders launch a new crackdown on ‘immodest dress’ by Rasa Sowlat:

Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed to “deal harshly with corruption in society” to ensure that the faces of chastity and Iranian virtues, religion and society remained unblemished within the country.

Consequently, women can be fined over $1,000 if deemed too fashionable, and suntans, nail polish, cosmetics and improper hijabs all result in financial penalties.

Approximately 27 government agencies are promoting Khamenei’s vision of how citizens should dress and how men and women should interact. The state has also proposed to take over 14,000 private kindergartens to ensure that the “bad hijab” campaign’s values reach youth at an early age.

Iran’s interior minister stated that children can only play games that uphold Islamic culture and are religiously correct.

This is where the problem lies.

Khamenei is the ultimate leader of said campaign. After his recent announcement to “deal harshly with corruption in society,” prayer leaders across the country began preaching his values.

It is not a god who deems it sinful to wear lipstick or sport a tan; these are the corrupt values of one man, hidden behind the mask of religion.

CP news service to privatize by Mark Iype:

After 93 years as a non-profit cooperative, The Canadian Press will be placed under private ownership, according to a tentative deal.

CTV-globemedia, Torstar Corp. and Gesca, CP’s biggest members, will become equal partners in what will be called Canadian Press Enterprises, a for-profit entity.

Should the deal be finalized, the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and La Presse, owned by the three companies respectively, would become papers written, edited, manufactured and sold with the aim to achieve a profit.

Freedom of the press doesn’t mean that the press, what should be a reliable and independent source of information, is free from conflicts of interest…