Shorter Question Everything
Okay, maybe not all of it. There’s still enough stuff happening everywhere else but today at least, Canada tops it all.
• “Star Trek” fans rejoiced Friday after Captain James Kirk of the starship Enterprise, or rather the actor who played him on the iconic sci-fi series, swapped tweets with a Canadian astronaut.
“@Cmdr_Hadfield Are you tweeting from space? MBB,” William Shatner — who signs his Twitter messages with shorthand for “my best, Bill” — asked Chris Hadfield, mission specialist on the International Space Station.
“@WilliamShatner Yes, Standard Orbit, Captain. And we’re detecting signs of life on the surface,” replied Hadfield, who arrived at the space station on December 21 for a five-month stint.
• Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has agreed to meet a delegation of First Nation leaders, following a 25-day hunger strike by one chief. Attawapiskat chief Teresa Spence says she will join the 11 January meeting, but continue her fast until then.
• Espionage, Canadian-style: Canada’s biggest spy case since the Cold War not the stuff of thriller novels. For almost five years, Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle got away with selling official secrets to the Russian military, causing what the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has called “severe and irreparable damage.” As a Canadian naval intelligence officer with a Level 3-Top Secret clearance, Delisle had access to the files of CSIS, the CIA, FBI, British and Australians. As a Russian spy, he leaked them monthly to Moscow. But as he is scheduled to appear in Halifax court next week for a sentencing hearing that could see him imprisoned for life, the details of Canada’s biggest espionage case since the Cold War are almost a disappointment.
• Secret US cybersecurity program to protect power grid confirmed. Newly released documents confirm that the National Security Agency (NSA), America’s top cyberespionage organization, is spearheading a cloaked and controversial program to develop technology that could protect the US power grid from cyberattack. Existence of the program, dubbed Perfect Citizen, was revealed in a 2010 Wall Street Journal article. But intriguing new details are revealed in documents released by the NSA last month to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an Internet privacy group that petitioned for them in 2010 under the Freedom of Information Act.
• The Sandy 67: 67 Republican congressmen voted against Sandy relief but had no problems voting for relief when disasters hit their own states.
• The conservative Club for Growth said Friday that it will punish House members who voted for a flood insurance measure aimed at helping pay for Hurricane Sandy’s damage. The Club will “key-vote” the measure, using it to compile an annual rating for each lawmaker. The House on Thursday morning approved the $9.7-billion increase in funding for the National Flood Insurance Program. The bill passed easily in a bipartisan 354-67 vote.
Right wing idiots
• California judge rules assault wasn’t rape because woman wasn’t married. A California appeals court has overturned the rape conviction of a man charged with raping a sleeping woman, basing the decision on an 1872 law that does not protect unmarried women the same protections as those who are married. According to the LA Weekly blog, the court found in favor of Julio Morales, who was convicted of rape after he slipped into bed with a sleeping 18-year-old woman and initiated sex with her, pretending to be her boyfriend. The reversal of the rape charge is based on an archaic law in the California penal code that, according to the Daily Mail, stipulates “any person who fraudulently obtains the consent of another to sexual relations escapes criminal liability (at least as a sex offender under title IX of the Penal Code), unless he (or she) … masquerades as the victim’s spouse.” Judge Thomas A. Willhite, Jr. wrote in the court’s decision, “Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no, even though, if the woman had been married and the man had impersonated her husband, the answer would be yes.”
• Dick Armey Dishes On FreedomWorks’ Deals With Beck & Limbaugh. Former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey says the conservative outlet that helped launch the Tea Party paid Glenn Beck at least $1 million last year to fundraise for the organization, an arrangement he said provided “too little value” for the money. Armey, who left the organization this past fall after a dispute over its internal operations, said a similar arrangement was also in place with Rush Limbaugh, but did not know the exact financial details.
• Japan scrambled fighter jets on Saturday to head off a Chinese state-owned plane that flew near islands at the centre of a dispute between Tokyo and Beijing, a Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman said. The Japanese jets were mobilised after a Chinese maritime aircraft ventured some 120 kilometres (74 miles) north of the Senkaku islands, which China calls the Diaoyus, at around 12:00 pm (0300 GMT), the spokesman said. The Chinese Y-12 twin-turboprop later left the zone without entering Japanese airspace over the islands, he added.