May 16, 2009

Kingston Trio-M.T.A.

An old classic song about Boston's public transit system now known as the MBTA.
The situation is actually kind of interesting...there used to be a fare you had to pay to exit the transit system until it was overhauled with the new Charlie (from the song) Card system. Enjoy:

May 15, 2009

Rick Mercer Report.: Obama Envy

A great look into the Canadian psyche concerning Obama:

May 12, 2009

The U.S. Border Patrol's Interior Checkpoints

With a lot of attention (especially by me) on the new passport requirements at the border on June 1, there has also been controversy of legal ability of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to detain anybody 100 miles inside the external boundaries of the United States.

The "Constitution-Free Zone" (coined by the American Civil Liberties Union) where border agents can question and detain anybody:
Background from a Government Accountability Office Report:

When establishing checkpoints, the Border Patrol must take into account court decisions ruling on the parameters of immigration officers’ authorityto conduct inquiries concerning illegal aliens. The legal authority of immigration officials to establish permanent checkpoints and stop vehicles transiting through them has been confirmed by the Supreme Court in United States v. Martinez-Fuerte.14 The Supreme Court ruled that government officials may stop vehicles at permanent interior checkpoints for brief questioning of the driver and passengers without reasonable suspicion. The Court held that it was constitutional for the Border Patrol, after routinely stopping or slowing automobiles at a permanent checkpoint, to refer motorists selectively to a secondary inspection area for questions about citizenship and immigration status on the basis of criteria that would not sustain a roving patrol stop.15 (15A roving patrol stop is a stop by an agent who patrols in a vehicle but who is not assigned to a particular location.)

The Court determined that the constitutional interests of motorists at these checkpoints were not violated, for a number of reasons. It found that the checkpoints, with flashing lights and warning signs, provided advance notice to motorists of an official roadblock that was applicable to all motorists.16 Motorists were not taken by surprise, as they knew, or could find out, the location of the checkpoints. Furthermore, the Court concluded that the regular manner in which established checkpoints were operated was visible evidence that the stops were duly authorized.17 (14428 U.S. 543 (1976).)

From the extremely independent minded but legally uneducated individual who went out of his way to challenge this legal authority, stop highway traffic, and waste taxpayer money (video below) I really can't see how in his specific cases his rights were being infringed upon. If he would have stopped, showed ID, answered a question or two and moved on he could have saved a half hour of his life and not gotten so upset over what amounted to a minor inconvenience.

I can see why there is concern about civil liberties and effective use of taxpayer dollars in borderline cases where Border Patrol questions people at bus and train station about their immigration status. This has been criticized by immigrant and civil liberties advocates who

argue that the agents focus more on certain passengers based on skin color and accent.

"They will see a white person and ask, 'Where were you born?' Then they will see a person of color and ask, 'Do you have ID?' " says Caroline Kim with the Detainment Task Force in Syracuse, which provides bail for some detained immigrants and helps them through the legal process.

These kind of accusations racial profiling and assaults on civil liberties should be taken seriously, but I don't agree with the actions of the individial below who, in his specific situation overreacted horrifically to what amounted to a short traffic stop which didn't significantly infringe upon his rights.

Rick Mercer Report: Canadian Government Explained

The Rick Mercer report is a satirical Canadian television comedy series which airs on CBC Television. During the constitutional crisis Mercer explained how Canadian Government works, "Everything you wanted to know about Canadian Government but were too afraid to ask". Here it is:

May 11, 2009

Bored on a Sunny Day Set to Electric Light Orchestra's "Mr. Blue Sky"

Since I've been back I haven't had really much to do. It's been a relief to be done (temporarily) with essays, and exams and deadlines. However, there can sometimes be too much free time. There were a few days where I was pretty bored. Then I stumbled upon a video a friend made...about being bored on a sunny day...and I thought I needed to share. The music is Electric Light Orchestra's "Mr. Blue Sky". Enjoy.

The US and Canadian Postal Services: Running Running Low on Cash

With today's economic downturn, the USPS raising postage fees today and considering cutting its Saturday service. But in Canada, with roughly a tenth the population as the U.S. spread out over 138,000 square miles more than the US, there are recently released recommendations by an outside review headed by Mount Allison President Robert Campbell that urges Canada Post to consider drastically increasing fees and cutting home delivery service...which many Americans take for granted but is provided to less than half of Canadians.

Outside review suggests Canada Post drop door-to-door delivery
Last Updated: Saturday, May 2, 2009 | 8:10 AM ET Comments253Recommend95
The Canadian Press
An outside review done for the federal government suggests Canada Post should think about dropping door-to-door mail delivery as one way to address the corporation's "uncertain'' financial future.

The review, chaired by Mount Allison University president Robert Campbell, says Canada Post needs more than $3 billion over the next seven years to modernize equipment.

The 182-page report says that while door-to-door mail delivery is convenient for those who receive it, the high cost is paid for by all postal users, including those whose mail is delivered more efficiently to community mailboxes.

The review says the volume of letter mail is dropping by at least one per cent annually as more and more Canadians switch to email and other internet-based communications.

To strengthen Canada Post's balance sheet, the review recommends the first-class postage rate be boosted by up to seven cents over two years.

Although the report calls for a cut in Canada Post's labour costs, the 54,000-member Canadian Union of Postal Workers says a review of labour deals would be "a threat to the collective agreements.''

Appendix A:
Biographies of the Advisory Panel Members

See this link for the full report.