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Archive for the ‘england’ Category

Phone Hacking deja vu

Posted by E on July 19, 2011

So this week hearings begin into the phone hacking operations by recently-defunct News of the World. Everyone is so tremendously outraged that stuffy mogul Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper employees could hack not only a poor missing teen girl’s mobile but God forbid, the Priminister and Royal Family’s own phone lines. Everyone’s scratching their heads and asking themselves, “But how could that be? Our privacy compromised like this, how can it be possible?” And now the probe goes further, wondering if the newspaper might have – gasp! – cracked into the US government’s phone database.

I can’t help but experience a strong hit of déjà vu here, like a rotten smell that just won’t go away. We’ve had much worse here, people, I want to scream. How have you all forgotten? How can you ever forget?

In the early nineties here in Canada we had a government agent operative – an undercover CSIS agent (Canada’s version of the CIA, to my American friends) – create a white supremacist group from scratch and teach them the tricks of the trade. Under CSIS’ tutelage, the white supremacist Heritage Front cracked into countless innocent people’s phone lines and terrorized them with death threats. It was called the It Campaign, and it was condoned by our own government.

Violent skinheads and gun-totting neo-Nazis telephoned people 24 hours a day to harass and force information about others out of them. They stalked their prey, followed people to and from work, targeting anti-racist activists for criminal harassment and physical assault.
All of them were taught by CSIS.
And nothing was ever done about it.

Heck, nobody wants to buy my novel – which is making editorial rounds RIGHT NOW (and being rejected, though with praise) – because apparently the thriller novel market is swamped and nobody’s buying. The fact that the novel is based on real-life and rooted in fact does not appear to sway editors. Nor that a country’s own government, through its “intelligence” body has hacked and terrorized its own people, seems to make an impression.

And in the end, aside from a few internal demotions, nobody ever prosecuted CSIS for their phone hacking. And for condoning their agents to train white supremacists to do the same. Despite the dozens of witnesses who spoke up about what had happened, despite my own much-publicized testimony on Parliament Hill, the final report excused their behaviour as having gotten “carried away” and been a tad “over-zealous” in their undercover work.

I guess watching tawdry CNN recaps is easier to swallow than knowing that things can be a lot worse than unscrupulous journalists hacking into voice mail for scoops.

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Posted in books, canada, commentary, crime, england, freedom, news, politics, press, rant | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Just back from London

Posted by E on June 2, 2010

Well, I’m back!! In more ways than one. Back from London, England as of a week now, and back on WordPress after a year of absence. I know, I know, a shitload of stuff has happened over the last year, and over the next little while I’ll be sure to update all of you on what has been going on.

But first, let me say this — despite all the trepidations about the ash cloud, etc (given as it made quite a dent in the recent London Book Fair, which was a bust for most overseas agents who didn’t get there early enough), somehow the clouds lifted during the particular week we were scheduled to leave.

To be honest, though, I didn’t let myself hope – or pack my bag even – until the day before our flight. Why bother getting all excited, I figured, if the airport was going to be shut down again? And, as if on cue, we leave on a Saturday, and the next day, Sunday, all UK airports close up. Yep. Not making this up. And they stay closed until 2 days before we’re supposed to depart.

Which made life a teensy bit tense for the partner, given a conference she was to attend the very next day in Boston….well, everything ended well. We got back to Canada, she got to Boston, wrapped up conference and came back home, and now we are….you guessed it, in another hotel room. In buttf*ck nowhere, southern Ontario. Don’t even ask. (Business, why else?)

But London was grand. For me, it wasn’t the reaction I anticipated: it wasn’t that punch-to-the-gut, breathtaking awe I experienced when I first laid eyes on Venice, or the fairytale magic of being on Barcelona’s streets, or the dizzying magnificence of Paris….no, my reaction to London (and its war-scarred architecture) was much more subdued. It was a bit like…coming home. Like settling into a comfortable pair of slippers. One that you never want to be forced to take off.

I could live there, I really could. (As I write this, I’m mentally adding it to my list of places I’d love to have a pied-de-terre in). The leafy parks, the grand boulevards, the excitement of Soho and Bloomsbury….not to mention all the great pubs and restuarants, and even the chain of Nando eateries I hadn’t expected to encounter. Not a far stretch of the imagination to think of London as a great central base for exploring Europe.

It’s definitely a place I intend to return to over and over again. And sample my new favourite drink: cider. Which I’m ashamed to say I’ve not ever had before this trip. It’s a fantastic find, I tell you — for someone who hates beer as much as I do, I finally have a substitute to make me look like I could fit in with all the cool kids and their big pints. Who’s ever to know that my pint tastes like sweet pears and apples? 🙂

More on London later. Ta-ta for now!

Posted in ash cloud, cider, england, london, travel, uk, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »