Call over Israeli West Bank goods
The Foreign Affairs Minister said Ireland would strongly support a European initiative to label exports from Israeli producers in the Palestinian state to give consumers the choice of whether they want to buy them. He said this was "in effect" like boycotting the goods.
"Settlements on the West Bank are illegal and therefore the produce of those settlements should be treated as illegal throughout the European Union," Mr Gilmore said.
"The High Representative Catherine Ashton has circulated a proposal for the labelling of those goods, for in effect boycotting those goods, from settlement areas and we support that."
Israel has come under huge international pressure over its plan to build another 3,000 settlements in the West Bank.
Last year, Mr Gilmore warned Ireland may push for the EU to ban goods from Israeli settlements if Israel does not quickly change its settlements policy inPalestinian territories. He said at the time he hoped Ireland's presidency of the EU, now in its fifth month, would provide the country with a platform to advance the Government's case.
The Tanaiste was joined by former US president Jimmy Carter in his calls for the new labelling system. Mr Carter was in Dublin with former Irish presidentMary Robinson and former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso for talks with the Foreign Affairs Minister on revitalising the peace process in the Middle East.
The former leaders make up a group known as the Elders, which was formed by Nelson Mandela in 2007 to use their influence to support peace and human rights around the world. Mr Carter, who was US president from 1977 to 1981, urged Europe to take a stronger role in the Middle East.
"The EU has repeatedly condemned settlement expansion in the West Bank," Mr Carter said. "It could therefore introduce a clear labelling of products made in Israel settlements, which are illegal under international law."
Meanwhile, the Tanaiste confirmed a process was in place to introduce a labelling regime of Israeli settlement goods in Ireland. But he said a European-wide initiative would be much more effective.
Saskatoon police mourn homeless drunk they considered a friend
He was one of the most recognizable residents in Saskatoon and some people consider the Prairie city a little different now that he's gone.
Alvin Cote wasn't a well-known politician, businessman or hockey player, but a ragged, homeless alcoholic whose tough talk would easily melt into a hearty chuckle and a big smile short on teeth.
He spent the past couple of decades living in Saskatoon. He could be seen curled up on the floor of a bank foyer, sleeping on park benches or reading worn copies of National Geographic in the drunk tank.
He died April 19, a few days shy of his 60th birthday.
Saskatoon police officers are still talking about his death, even though they considered it an inevitable fate. It's believed Cote had been arrested more times for public drunkenness than anyone else in the city's history. Some officers put the tally at close to 1,000.
Although his obituary does not list an official cause of death, police say Cote was in hospital with pneumonia when he died.
BEAT COP A FRIEND
Downtown beat officer Const. Derek Chesney was surprised and saddened when he heard the news. He saw the man almost every day over the past five years.
"It's not often that you can arrest somebody on multiple occasions and end up being friends with them. But such was the case with Alvin," Chesney recently wrote on his official police blog, Cops and Bloggers.
The officer confesses that he had a good cry after writing the online tribute. He fights back tears again as he talks on the phone about the important life lesson Cote taught him.
"You realize that people can fall through the cracks," says Chesney. "And just as much as a good person can have a bad day, things can happen to people in their lives where they end up going on a path that perhaps they didn't choose."
Cote was from the Cote First Nation in the Kamsack area, east of Saskatoon near the Manitoba boundary. He was carted off as a child to a residential school on a neighbouring reserve and suffered years of abuse, says Chesney.
He says Cote never talked about it, but the abuse likely set him on his destructive path. Cote has a sister in Saskatoon and she tried to look after Cote for a while, says Chesney. But he wouldn't stop drinking.
'I'M A FIGHTER'
Chesney remembers meeting Cote for the first time in the winter of 2009 outside the old train station downtown. Chesney had just earned his badge and saw the man with a scraggly beard tapping and flexing his arms, yelling his catch-phrase: "I'm a fighter."
Chesney calmed him down by asking, "I heard you were a lover, not a fighter."
"Well, I'm that too," Cote laughed.
Chesney and his partner then put Cote in their cruiser and, as they were heading back to the police station, Cote knocked on the dividing window with $5 in his hand. He said he was hungry. Chesney ran into a McDonald's and got him two double cheeseburgers. Cote happily devoured his meal during the rest of the ride.
Chesney says he and many other officers looked out for Cote. They checked on him at night and made sure he had enough to eat. Sometimes, when Cote was hanging out on his usual bench in the public lobby of the police station, officers changing shifts would hand him their lunches as they walked by.
One time, when Cote was in detention on his birthday, staff rummaged up a cupcake and stuck a candle on top. "They actually had everybody on key and everybody else in cells sang Happy Birthday. He blew the candle out through the bars."
Chesney says he last saw Cote a few weeks before he died, sitting outside a Tim Hortons. Chesney patted him on the back and they ended their chat the way they always did.
"OK, Bud. See you later," Chesney said.
"You will," Cote replied.
Chesney says he and other officers have made their way in recent weeks to the home of Cote's sister to drop off sympathy cards and kind words about the man they miss. Some even say they thought of him as family.
But the police aren't the only ones mourning Cote. Chesney's blog has received hundreds of clicks and comments from people who had seen Cote on the streets, even though they never knew his name.
A McDonald's manager wrote about how she will miss waking up Cote outside the restaurant in the mornings and asking him to move along. Another woman said she'll miss buying him lunch. One man talked about how he once saw Cote sleeping inside a bank foyer. He slipped some money under the pile of clothes the man was using as a pillow.
'ANGEL IN DISGUISE?'
"Sounds like this guy may have been an angel in disguise?" wrote a woman named Amy. "He seems to have brought out the best in humanity."
Const. Robbie Taylor often sat and had coffee with Cote. He laughs as he recalls his favourite stories about the man, like the one about how Cote used to wear a second-hand sweater from the Salvation Army. On the front it read, "What the world's greatest mom looks like."
Then there was the time when Cote pitched a fit in detention because officers gave him a magazine with singer Anne Murray on the cover. "I hate her!" he ranted.
Taylor says Cote loved to read but was always losing or breaking his glasses. So officers usually grabbed him glasses from boxes of used, donated pairs that were supposed to go to Africa.
Taylor once gave Cote an amateur eye exam. He had him read an oatmeal box while trying on different glasses. If he squinted, Taylor had him try on another pair. The ones Cote liked best were large and red and made him look like TV talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael. Cote suspected they were women's glasses but he still tucked them away in his pocket.
"I still have a couple of pairs in my locker. They were ready to go if he broke them again."
Cote was such a character that a worker at the police detention centre sketched his picture, put his mug on some T-shirts and gave them to other staff. Orders for more are now rolling in so people will have something to remember him by.
DIDN'T LIKE HIS T-SHIRT
The workers tried to give one of the T-shirts to Cote last year for Christmas but he didn't want it. He grumbled that he looked too much like Santa Claus.
Even Saskatoon's police chief knew Cote. Clive Weighill recalls seeing him at a Tim Hortons just a few weeks before he died. Weighill slipped him some cash.
"I think most people thought I was telling him to leave but I was just giving him a five dollar bill so he could go get himself something to eat."
Weighill says a study completed last year tracked Cote and 22 other homeless people with substance abuse problems. It showed that they cost the city $2.8 million over one year in policing, ambulance and hospital costs.
That's why police, health officials and other agencies hope to build a wellness centre in the city to house the group. Weighill says it's a more dignified solution than sticking them in police cells.
The centre could also provide faster access to treatment services, but Weighill concedes some people just don't want help.
Chesney says he did everything he could for Cote. "I couldn't make him sober up. I couldn't bring him home and put him in my basement and give him a bath. He lived the way he wanted to and you almost have to respect somebody for that."
Some officers say they would have gone to Cote's funeral but he was buried on his home reserve some 350 kilometres away. There's talk of a local memorial, but nothing has been organized.
Chesney hopes the bench in the police lobby that Cote sat on for countless hours will be decorated with a plaque in his name and moved into the new police station that's under construction. That way Cote will always be there.
"He was a fighter. He was a survivor. And he'll be remembered."
Microsoft Appoints 1st Women CFO
Amy Hood, Microsoft's first Women CFO that has replaced Peter Klein begins her position that is "effective immediately" once Klein leaves which is said to be in June to "ensure a smooth transition". Hood joined Microsoft in 2002 and has been overseeing many projects such as Skype and Yammer.
New XBOX will be named 'Infinity'
As the discussions rise, and debates are beginning, the official statement has been made declaring the name for the new XBOX to be Infinity. Microsoft will officially unveil their secrets on May 21st at their event which will answer all questions that many XBOX users, and gamers may have regarding the new XBOX. Leaked images of the new XBOX and information regarding it were leaked earlier this week to Reddit.
2MIL for Steam Greenlight
Since Valve's launch of Steam Greenlight in August, Valve says they have reached over 2 million votes from peers. Valve also said that they were "activity looking into" making a Steam API so develoeprs could be Steam ready once greenlit. No other note has been said on this topic nor an estimated time on when this would be completed.
Pirate Bay Takes Over Distribution of Censored 3D Printable Gun
"Unfortunately, we have limited resources at the moment," said Valve, "so we cannot ship every game that we want. We're working toward having an open platform that Gabe [Newell] has talked about, but we're not there yet."
Greenlight currently has "hard technical limits" as to why more games cannot be published using the service, but a "bunch of people" at Valve are said to be working on making the process easier. Valve recently said it would greenlight indie games in smaller, more regular batches.
In late 2012 the 3D blueprint website Thingiverse decided to ban 3D gun designs, citing their terms of service which clearly prohibit files used to make weapons.
Enter DEFCAD, a site dedicated to hosting designs that have been banned at Thingiverse. Namely, the entirely printable 3D gun design which clocked up more than 100,000 downloads within its first two days of release.
This did not sit well with the Department of State Office of Defense Trade Controls who kindly requested that DEFCAD remove the availability of the 3D printable gun documents, enthusiastically named “The Liberator,” citing a possible violation of International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
In the letter from the State Department, which can be read in full at Forbes, the Government explains that it wants to review whether the designs are in compliance with arms export control laws.
While the attempted censorship of the 3D gun blueprints may come as no surprise, the popularity of these files is a vivid example of the daunting task faced by those charged with censorship of information.
While DEFCAD promptly complied with the request to remove access to the design, it was shared so widely during the short window of availability that it is now virtually impossible to prevent any further distribution. Currently, there appears to be several torrents available for the design at The Pirate Bay and the site informs us that these will not be censored.
“TPB has for close to 10 years been operating without taking down one single torrent due to pressure from the outside. And it will never start doing that,” A Pirate Bay insider told TorrentFreak.
Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform
The immigration reform measure the Senate began debating yesterday would create a national biometric database of virtually every adult in the U.S., in what privacy groups fear could be the first step to a ubiquitous national identification system.
Buried in the more than 800 pages of the bipartisan legislation (.pdf) is language mandating the creation of the innocuously-named “photo tool,” a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.
Employers would be obliged to look up every new hire in the database to verify that they match their photo.
This piece of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants. But privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet. Think of it as a government version of Foursquare, with Big Brother cataloging every check-in.
“It starts to change the relationship between the citizen and state, you do have to get permission to do things,” said Chris Calabrese, a congressional lobbyist with the American Civil Liberties Union. “More fundamentally, it could be the start of keeping a record of all things.”
For now, the legislation allows the database to be used solely for employment purposes. But historically such limitations don’t last. The Social Security card, for example, was created to track your government retirement benefits. Now you need it to purchase health insurance.
“The Social Security number itself, it’s pretty ubiquitous in your life,” Calabrese said.
David Bier, an analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, agrees with the ACLU’s fears.
“The most worrying aspect is that this creates a principle of permission basically to do certain activities and it can be used to restrict activities,” he said. “It’s like a national ID system without the card.”
For the moment, the debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee is focused on the parameters of legalization for unauthorized immigrants, a border fence and legal immigration in the future.
The committee is scheduled to resume debate on the package Tuesday.