Saturday, February 13, 2010

Last Place finish for ethics at Van 2010?

It's only day two at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and already it's been quite eventful. Many of these events have me questioning the ethics of the people in Vancouver right now, including the media, protesters and Olympic committees. The Olympics only started yesterday, and so far I shudder as I ponder on what may be next.

My first ethical question has to do with NBC, and their disregard for not only Canadian heroes, but for the tried and tested art of fact checking. In this video, uploaded to the website and shown to me by Laurie Callsen, hosts of NBC's Today Show gather around a fire and speculate about who may light the Olympic cauldron in the opening ceremonies. After a quick discussion, one suggests it may be the mother of legendary Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with cancer and ran across the country to raise money. Of course, all Canadians hearing this would be inclined to leap from their seats, quick to point out the fact that it was Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope, not Michael's. But it was a different story for NBC reporters and editors, who instead showed pictures of Michael J. Fox and Terry Fox running with his artificial leg, assuming that they are one in the same. They clearly broke an ethical code with not checking the facts, but what will their next move be? Will NBC make a formal retraction?

Next up, the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili on a test run in Whistler, BC. Since his death, Olympic officials have placed the blame on the athlete, and not the course. Less than a day after the crash, the Vancouver Sun said the course has been re-opened with minor alterations. Morally speaking, should more be done for Kumaritashvili and his family, instead of placing the blame on him? Furthermore, where should the line be drawn for the media's coverage of the crash? I first saw video of the crash in a restaurant last night. It's quite disturbing to see someone die while eating your supper. Is it ethical to show this video of Kumaritashvili, who gets tossed around like a doll at high speeds? Or can it be argued that the media are just doing their job, and providing the news as it happens? I find it interesting that the assignment editor at the paper I work at has no problem with publishing the story, but refuses to even watch the video himself.

And finally, the age old question of protesting ethics. Saturday morning saw protesters, or rioters if you prefer, take to the streets of downtown Vancouver. As the Vancouver Sun reports, the protesters began to smash windows, and spray paint vehicles and businesses. Approximately 200 masked individuals took part in the violent protest, to express their opposition to capitalism in the Olympics. Video of these riots were quickly posted by the Vancouver Media Co-op, and it has me wondering about the unwritten rules of proper protesting. When a protest turns violent, does it discredit the cause? Is it ethical for protesters to smash windows of businesses and wreck private property by vandalizing cars, or does the end justify the means? Because I think it is safe to say that violent riots get much more coverage then peaceful demonstrations.

The curse to ethics is that there is no clear line drawn in the sand. What may be morally right for one person may be unquestionably taboo for another. But I think that's why these events over the past day at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics have left me with more questions about ethics, rather than statements. I don't think this is a matter of right or wrong, but being able to justify your actions.

Except for NBC's mix up of Terry and Michael J. Fox. That was just ridiculous.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pen Fluid #4

Violence on the rise
Just in this past month, Edmonton has witnessed multiple attacks on cab and bus drivers, raising the question of their safety on the job.

Riders on the 10 Clareview that December 4th morning will probably never forget their ride to school or work, as Gary Edwin Mattson allegedly punched and than dragged the bus driver outside where he continued to stomp on the skull of the 58-year-old driver, all over a dispute over bus fare.

A few weeks following that beating and yet another bus driver was attacked over bus fare again. This involved two teens near the at the Coliseum transit center during the morning rush hour.

Two teenagers are accused of arguing with the bus driver and than pepper-spraying him before running off.

And just days after that, five teenagers have been arrested and may be charged in connection with a cab driver who had both his wallet and cab stolen.

Both the police helicopter and the canine unit were used to catch all five suspects, and luckily the cab driver didn't receive any injuries.

These are just a few examples of dangers that drivers meet on a day to day basis. And these attacks just occurred in the month of December. The total number of attacks on bus and cab drivers may result in a quick change.

January could lead to more protection for all drivers, with Plexiglas installed in more cabs and buses to protect their workers.

Is Edmonton becoming too violent? Or should we just abolish bus fare? Are we asking too much from our city's cab and bus drivers?

Too many questions will no answers put the pressure on ETS and cab services in Edmonton to come forward with the right solution.

And the winner is...
And 2009 always gives way to “Best of the Year” lists, and we too at Full Metal Pen, could also not resist. After flipping through papers and scanning through websites, we have the Best News Quote of 2009.

And seeing as how 2009 was as eventful as any other year, it's a toss up between a story that happened in the beginning of the year, and a fatal car crash that happened just yesterday.

The first was during the trial of Kenneth Butler, who was accused of second-degree murder and aggravated assault on a cab driver.

In court, the cab driver recalls the events of that night and told the court what Butler had allegedly said to him.

“Take me anywhere. It doesn't matter. I'm going to kill you no matter what.” The cab driver said in court, at what Butler had supposedly told him. “I just killed my sister-in-law and now I'm going to kill you.”

A line that seems more fitting in a horror film than reality, nothing is more real than the three month long coma that the cab driver suffered through after the brutal attacks.

The second “Best News Quote of 2009” goes to Walter Romaniuk, who witnessed a fatal crash in Calgary on December 27th. While his wife performed first aide on a lady who later died, Romaniuk chased after two men who fled from the truck that was involved in the collision.

In the excitement of the chase, Romaniuk was able to yell at the two men.

“I suggested he go back to the scene of the accident he caused,” Romaniuk told the Canwest News Service.

Pretty calm words for someone who allegedly just caused a fatal highway crash.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Colvin becomes government's number one enemy

An all-party federal committee has been given the serious task of getting down to the bottom of Richard Colvin’s serious allegations put forward on Oct. 14.

Colvin accuses the Canadian military of knowingly transferring prisoners of the war in Afghanistan to certain torture carried out by Afghanistan officials. In his 16-page documented report, he says that all prisoners handed over in 2006 and 2007 to the Afghan police were tortured.

This all-party committee will undoubtedly be torn between both sides of the story; much like the House of Commons and the nation is right now. Those who haven’t chosen a side between Colvin and the Canadian military will soon need to, because this is shaping up to make Canadian military history.

Colvin’s accusations are extremely important for a few reasons.

First of all, Canada’s peacekeeping persona and mandate may be tarnished if charges are carried out. If the committee decides to hold a trial, those who were involved may face war crime charges, including some high ranking and prominent political figures. Not to mention handing over a prisoner of war to certain torture is in direct contradiction to our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I for one would strongly ridicule our government if they say they are fighting for freedom in an oppressed nation and then break their own charter.

Secondly, this is important because there were many warning signs presented to our government in the past about torture in Afghanistan. According to Global Research, a Canadian organization, both Colvin, Amnesty International Canada and British Columbia Civil Liberties Association brought these accusations forward in 2007, but were ignored or shut down immediately.

Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay argues that Colvin’s professionalism is not credible enough to make such strong allegations. In an interview with David Akin for Canwest News Service, MacKay made himself perfectly clear that Colvin’s evidence was not sizeable.

“I’m saying evidence that has been presented thus far does not substantiate the claim. It does not prove that any detainees - Taliban prisoners - transferred by Canadian Forces were tortured,” MacKay said.

Sounds as if MacKay is trying to downplay Colvin’s evidence that now has the whole nation watching. But MacKay may want to take a different approach than under estimating Colvin’s professional credibility, because this isn’t Colvin’s first time up to bat.

A senior diplomat for over a year and a half in Afghanistan, Colvin was then chosen to become a senior diplomat in Washington, Canada’s biggest and arguably most important embassy. Not quite the job for someone who is not professional credible.

MacKay also needs to stop and wonder, what does Colvin have to benefit from these accusations. The simple answer? Nothing. By blowing the biggest whistle in Canadian military history, what has Colvin received? A long and strenuous committee hearing, nothing that is too coveted. So why would Colvin feel the need to lie about these accusations if he would not personally gain anything out of it? He wouldn’t, which is exactly why our Defense Minister should be a little worried that all this finger pointing may have some merit to it.

What should also be noted is a statement coming from a prison warden in Afghanistan. What started off as a possible defense for the Canadian military, the latest out of Afghanistan may undoubtedly dig them a little deeper. Chief warden Col. Abdullah Bawar of a prison in Kandahar told Canwest News service stated that Colvin’s abuse accusations were over exaggerated, and the torture levels weren’t that high.

Oh that’s good news, not all the prisoners were having their rights violated, only a few were. Well last time I checked, a human rights violation was a human rights violation, regardless of the number of people who were being abused. One single act of this cruelty should have all those involved held responsible, including any Canadian soldiers who knowingly handed prisoners over to this fate.

So stay tuned to hear the decision of the still debating all-party committee, because you can also bet MacKay and the rest of the Conservatives will also be awaiting to hear what has been decided. Of course I would never wish such dirt to be kicked on Canada’s peacekeeping name, but I would certainly hope for a little accountability in our military who is carrying out a mission that many citizens of Canada already have low spirits over.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

8 tips for Student Home Decorating

Here is a link to my feature article for Intercamp on student home decorating. It gives 8 tips from local experts, from interior designers to students who went through the process of decorating their place, to help anyone planning to make their living space their own.

Hat Trick in the Edmonton Journal today

Here are links to three stories I had published for the Journal today. One was for the paper, and the final two were for the website.

This one was on a Halo 3 marathon to beat the world record.

The second article is about Alberta Health Services announcement to provide seasonal flu shots again starting Monday which I wrote with Andrea Sands.

And the final story is on the success of the 15th annual Stuff a Bus campaign.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Intercamp article on Immigration Hall

Read my article on Hope Mission's newest service, Immigration Hall in downtown Edmonton.

Later this week on FMP:
-Pen Fluid #3
-more tweets from the Edmonton Journal Newsroom

Friday, October 23, 2009

FMP in Intercamp

Check out my story in this week's Intercamp online, or find one kicking around any Grant MacEwan campus. It's about everyone's favorite demonic barber, Sweeney Todd!