Monday, October 31, 2011

Never say never?

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Kardashian's marriage to Kris Humphries lasted 72 days. During that time it is reported they earned $10 million or about $133,000 daily. Who says a couple minutes at the altar and marriage doesn't pay?

Scary! Scary! Scary! ..... boys and girls

"Behind every man now alive stand 30 ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living." - Fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke

Our favourite halloween character? Second City Television's Count Floyd - now that's scary!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"Read my lips Canada fuddle duddle off!"

"First thing we do, let's deregulate all the lawyers" ..... better than shooting them?

This page was sent to you by: Anonymous
Message from sender: FYI

Dear Anonymous:

Thank you indeed for an article right down our alley for a couple reasons. We're an economist by background who survived a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) the genesis of which can be traced to September of 2003 when our precursor site (CyberSmokeSignals) was placed on a "defamation watch" by the taxpayer funded Manitoba Metis Federation.

In late March of 2005 a Statement of Claim was finally filed. We estimate by the time the matter was resolved (late January this year) the MMF had expensed at least $250,000 worth of public money to prosecute this beyond asinine case - BTW, we have filed an application under The Access To Information Act to see if we can come up with an exact amount.

Get this. We didn't even write the allegedly defamatory words. Rather, once aware the site had been placed on a defamation watch we retained a Metis lawyer (pro bono) to watch over/advise CyberSmokeSignals. He was the one who wrote the material, suggested it could be posted but at no time cautioned it might/could be litigious. We had black print (e-mail) to prove it. Lionel Chartrand was never named as a Co-Defendant. Why? Rather, the "gentleman" fled to rural Alberta (Wataskiwin) to become a Crown Prosecutor if you can believe it.

In the end, the Plaintiffs sought the moon and stars but received the equivalent of a shovelful of dirt not suitable for even growing anything. We can not provide any more detail because the Manitoba Metis Federation insisted on a confidentiality clause (Wonder why?) in the final settlement agreement otherwise we would. You can access a listing of the extensive court filings - 249 documents - by visiting Manitoba Justice's Court of Queen's Bench online File Registry ( and entering CI 05-01-41955 (MMF et al. versus Terry Belhumeur et al.)

For much of that time (approximately 85%) we self-represented learning the law by the seat of our pants sitting on hard, wooden courtroom chairs. Aftering arguing Motions, attending almost 30 Case Management Conferences/Pre-Trial Hearings, preparing an appeal heard before The Manitoba Court of Appeal - the process encompassing 3-different Queen's Bench Justices, as well as, 3-Appellant Judges, we believe we have some knowledge/experience in the subject of layperson "self-reps." It can be done!

To facilitate discussion we have interspersed and highlighted our two cents worth throughout the Winston article.

We're sending an information copy of the article to congenial, welcoming Allan Fineblit, Chief Executive Officer, Manitoba Law Society. Have heard good comment about him from someone in a position to know. Problem is, like everyone else at 219 Kennedy Street he too is a captive of the system.Thank you again Anonymous for the great heads up!

Clare L. Pieuk


Hope VJH (Veritas Honoris Justitia) hasn't quietly fallen off the edge of the earth - no analysis/comment from him for some time. He's our severely overpaid Legal Affairs Critic. Wonder what he thinks of the Winston article?
Are Law Schools and Bar Exams Necessary?
By Clifford Winston

Related in Opinion

The Case Against Law School
Should the standard three-year law school model, followed by passage of the bar exam, be the only path to a legal career?

FOR decades the legal industry has operated as a monopoly, which has been made possible by its self-imposed rules and state licensing restrictions — namely, the requirements that lawyers must graduate from an American Bar Association-accredited law school and pass a state bar examination. The industry claims these requirements are essential quality-control measures because consumers do not have sufficient information to judge in advance whether a lawyer is competent and honest. In reality, though, occupational licensure has been costly and ineffective; it misleads consumers about the quality of licensed lawyers and the potential for non-lawyers to provide able assistance.

Perhaps Adam Smith, generally considered the father of modern economics, said it best in 1776 (Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations - The Wealth of Nations), "Seven years does not good cloth guarantee." He was decrying the long apprentices common in his day.

Rather than improving quality, the barriers to entry exist simply to protect lawyers from competition with non-lawyers and firms that are not lawyer-owned — competition that could reduce legal costs and give the public greater access to legal assistance.

With constantly escalating legal fees, coupled with insufficient Legal Aid funding in many provinces, more and more individuals are turning to self-representation out of necessity - a trend likely to increase for the foreseeable future. Add to the equation the proliferation of SLAPPs, abuse and nuisance litigation, usually undertaken by well-resourced parties with the express intent of financially ruining less resourced individuals/groups, and deregulation of the traditional legal profession makes goods sense.

In fact, the existing legal licensing system doesn’t even do a great job at protecting clients from exploitation. In 2009, the state disciplinary agencies that cover the roughly one million lawyers practicing in the United States received more than 125,000 complaints, according to an ABA (American Bar Association) survey. But only 800 of those complaints — a mere 0.6 percent — resulted in disbarment.

If, for example, you study the Law Society of Manitoba's Case Disciplinary Digests reporting the outcome of complaints against lawyers it's not uncommon to find numerous repeat offerders. There are approximately 1,800 attorneys currently practicing throughout the province. We are unaware whether The Society makes available annual data on total number of complaints received, those that resulted in some form of punishment versus disbarment. We will telephone the LSM and report back.

Canadian Law Societies are sometimes referred to as "Flaw Societies" with good reason because the process in kept completely in-house except for extreme cases where criminal activity may be involved and the police contacted. Both Britain and the United States are more advanced than their counterparts here where the investigator, prosecutor and panel of judges are not all members of the same Society.

What if the barriers to entry were simply done away with?

Unlikely to happen. To do so would mean getting rid of Law Societies which are the world's most powerful trade unions.

Legal costs would be reduced because non-lawyers, who have not had to make a costly investment in a three-year legal education, would compete with lawyers, who in many states are the only options for basic services like drafting wills. Because they will have incurred much lower costs to enter the field — like taking an online course or attending a vocational school — and can operate as solo practitioners with minimal overhead, these non-lawyers would force prices to fall. The poor would benefit from the lower prices for non-criminal matters, and poor litigants, who might be unrepresented in criminal matters like hearings because they could not afford a lawyer and because of dwindling state legal aid, would be better off.

Why not? Consider the case of licensed practical nurses doing certain tasks formerly only performed by doctors. For civil matters, many willing to make the time, effort and commitment should possess the wherewithal to self-represent. However, for more serious cases such as murder one we'd highly recommend retaining a solicitor although some have done it on their own..

At the same time, if corporations — and not just law firms, now structured as partnerships — could provide legal representation, their technological sophistication and economies of scale could offer much more affordable services than established law firms do. These firms, in turn, would have to reduce prices to compete.

Good point. There is a lot of lower end legal work that could be farmed out. Notarizing documents such as affidavits is a good case in point. Why pay an attorney unfamilar with the particularization of an action $50-$75 for a service that often involves a couple minutes worth of work to essentially ensure proper format has been followed versus actual content?

Of course, lower legal prices would cause new law school graduates to be paid less, but more jobs would be available for such graduates because the demand for lawyers would increase. And new graduates would begin their careers with less law-school debt, because alternative providers of legal education would force law schools to reduce tuition.

The legal profession, like others, is undergoing a tremendous upheaval. Several sites known as, "law school scam blogs" have emerged especially in the United States. These are frequently operated by newly minted lawyers saddled with huge debt unable to find suitable employment. Their main target seems to be law faculty professors/administrators who paint an overly rosey picture of income expectations upon graduation. Then again it's the old story isn't it - caveat emptor!

Leaving aside the matter of letting non-lawyers and non-lawyer-owned firms do legal work, more could be done to enhance consumer choice and attorney accountability. One practical measure for more effectively regulating the field and lowering costs would be for third parties to compete to provide accurate and useful information about the quality of lawyers. Third-party providers of legal services information could do a service similar to that provided by Consumer Reports and Zagat Survey and effectively regulate the legal profession by monitoring the law firms’ performance and effectiveness.

In the example of Manitoba's Law Society, a layperson seeking a lawyer can start by accessing its online Case Disciplinary Digests. A member has told us these only go back to a certain date and tend to be Google unfriendly. Chatted briefly this morning with a LS staffer who didn't have a complete answer but agreed to look into the matter. Preliminary indication is The Society began placing the results of CDDs online approximately 1992-1994. In other words, if an attorney transgressed prior to that you will be unable to find any record.

Consumers would be in a position to demand credible and complete information about a practitioner. Incompetent and dishonest lawyers would bace immediate exposure over social and legal networks thereby alerting other consumers of potential problems with their services. By sharing their experiences, consumers would understand more fully which credentials and evaluations are the most accurate and useful signals of competence and value.

Under provisions of The Legal Profession Act a lawyer facing possible disciplinary action cannot be identified unless or until there has been a finding of misconduct. The penalty is a fine and/or possible jail sentence. Conceivably a solicitor could have been called before the LS multiple times but if there are no convictions .....

Get this. We were tracking the case of a young lawyer facing a disciplinary hearing (a classic textbook case of where a Queen's Bench Motion for a contempt of court citation should have been filed rather than an LSM complaint) because the standards of proof for the latter are lower than the former. Therefore, we were forced to come up with silly spseudonyms when discussing the case - "Blackie" - (for the accused based on author Charles Boyle's mythical character Boston Blackie). The complainants are a lawyer ("Mr. Y" - "what a guy that Mr. Y!") and a non-solicitor "The Bully." But it didn't end there.

Next we had to save The Society from itself when we published the 3-count citation against Blackie. If you can believe it, the actual initials of the parties' involved along with that of an organization were used. An 0y vey moment!

This morning we recieved electronic copies of the last two Law Society of Manitoba Annual Reports which we'll be reviewing to ascertain what data is publicly available. Total number of complaints? Number of convictions by type of penalty? Disbarments? Etc.

Thanks to resistance from lawyers themselves, strong competition has not developed in the market for information. The efforts of a leading legal-information provider, Avvo, have been the target of a class-action suit filed by lawyers who disapprove of the firm’s ratings system. By threatening lawsuits and not cooperating with Avvo’s requests for information about attorneys’ licensing and disciplinary records, several states have impeded Avvo’s ability to provide information. But in the absence of an open, competitive approach to information about the quality of legal services, the existing licensing and discipline system creates a false sense of security.

Some lawyers in the United States have started "reverse autioning" their services on e-Bay. For a discussion of possible issues solicitors using this service in Canada may face from Law Societies visit The LSM staffer was not aware whether any practitioners here were using e-Bay.

Ditto for Shpoonkle. An Amazon online book review of, The Shpoonkle Model for Legal Services can be found at It states:

The Shpoonkle Model for Legal Services is an in depth analysis into the changing scope of Legal Services. A comprehensive review of the innovative reverse auction model called There may be no traditional definition of Shpoonkle in any dictionary that could be found, but it may be a word that defines the legal profession within time. The ambitious goal behind the site is to revolutionize the legal industry and how lawyers and clients interact. Shpoonkle attempts to achieve this goal with an eye towards the current economic downturn and the prospects facing current and graduating law students. This book reviews why Shpoonkle Spells Success as a Startup.

This high-growth, dynamic, and controversial privately owned company founded in 2010 by CEO Robert Niznik and is facing brilliant prospects. Whether you love or hate the name Shpoonkle, people are talking about the company, ideology, methodology, and how it impacts the entire legal profession. Not bad for a company just a few months old.

To protect clients from bad lawyers, current barriers to entry try to separate the wheat from the chaff among potential legal practitioners. A market for information, though, would let consumers identify the chaff more precisely, saving more of the wheat. It is worth recalling that two of the finest lawyers and civil rights advocates our country has ever produced, Abraham Lincoln and Clarence Darrow, would not be allowed to practice law today under current rules. (Lincoln was self-taught; Darrow attended the University of Michigan Law School but did not graduate.) Eliminating entry barriers and allowing non-lawyers to perform legal services would, among many other gains, ensure that such talents have a place within our legal system.

A few years ago former Manitoba Chief Justice Jeffrey Oliphant in a Winnipeg Free Press interview noted the increasing number of self-reps showing up in the courts. His point? For sure there were those seeking their 15-minutes of fame but also several very good case presentations. Hear! Hear!

Clifford Winston, a Senior Fellow in the Economic Studies Program, has been with the institution since 1984 specializing in the analyis of industrial organization, regulation and transportation.

He has also been co-deitor of the annual microeconomic edition of the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity. Prior to his felloowship he was Associate Proefessor at the Transportation Systems Division of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Department of Civil Engineering. Since then he has authored and co-authored books and learned articles in several areas of deregulation tranportation. Mr. Clifford holds a B. A. (Eonomics, University of California at Berkeley), M. Sc. (London Schoold of Economics) and Ph.D. (Economics, Berkeley).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good Day Readers:

This e-mail had a little extra meaning for us. Our latest Shaw Cable invoice increased by $5.40 monthly. Unable to figure out where the difference was we called the friendly SC lady who advised the previous invoice made mention of the additional $ (the 40 cents is tax). Unfortunately, we retained only the payment confirmation portion of the invoice so assume it appeared elsewhere. Must have been in small print because we missed it.

We don't know how many customers Shaw has but that must represent a tidy sum.

Clare L. Pieuk

Stop Big Telecom from putting a pay-meter on your Internet before it's too late.

We are writing you about a critical issue we know you’ll want to be aware of. Big phone and cable companies want to put a pay meter on your Internet use. If they succeed, we’re looking at a future where big telecom companies will charge per byte for Internet use, the way they do with smart phones. You will have no choice but to pay MUCH more for less Internet.

Stop the (pay) meter on your Internet. Please sign the petition now.

Big phone and cable companies are obviously trying to gouge Canadians, make the Internet more expensive, and ensure that we continue to subscribe to their television services.

If they succeed in adding these new expensive usage fees it will crush innovative services, Canada's digital competitiveness, social progress, and your wallet.

Regulators are examining metered billing right now.

We urgently need to send a clear message to decision makers that we refuse to be gouged by big phone and cable companies. Enough is enough.

Sign the petition at:

For the Internet,

Steve, Shea, and Glyn — The Team

P.S. We are very close to reaching an unprecedented half a million signatures! Help us grab headlines and stop these punitive new fees today:

Support is a non-profit organization that relies on donations from people like you to operate. Our small but dedicated team ensures even the smallest contributions go a long way to ensure your voice is heard.
Please donate today!

Follow us:

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Friday, October 28, 2011

That dam beaver sounds awfully like the Canadian Senate!

Good Day Readers:

Seen any polar bears roaming around Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario ..... lately? Makes one wonder if perhaps the well-financially taxpayer compensated Ms Eaton doesn't have better things to do with her time than insult the poor, defenseless little beaver?Senator Nicole C. Eaton


I was born and educated in Montreal and for some years in Europe. I graduated in production from Montreal’s National Theatre School. After graduating I worked as a stage manager for l’Opera du Quebec and Theatre Nouveau Monde, moved to Toronto where I worked as a field producer for CFTO television, and took advantage of these roles to begin what would become extensive travels throughout the country. Following my marriage to Thor Eaton, I left television and devoted my time to raising two children and volunteerism in the community.

A commitment to volunteerism

I have served as a Trustee of the George R. Gardiner Museum, Director of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, Director of the Stratford Festival of Canada and Trustee and Governor of the Royal Ontario Museum, where I helped create the Institute for Contemporary Culture. Today, I am Chair of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies and Director and Vice-Chair of both the St. Michael's Hospital Foundation and the National Ballet of Canada.

A dedication to public life

I grew up in a family both interested and involved in politics. In 1998 I joined the PC Fund of Canada as a Director. When the two heritage parties merged the Prime Minister nominated me as a Director of the Conservative Fund of Canada. I chaired the final Leadership Convention of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in May of 2003 in Toronto. I was Chair of both the 2005 inaugural Policy Convention of the Conservative Party of Canada in Montreal and the 2008 Policy Convention in Winnipeg.

Amongst my many interests is gardening. For three years I co-wrote, with Kelvin Browne, a gardening column in the National Post. I also co-authored two books: At Home in Canada and the best-selling In a Canadian Garden.

A new challenge

I was appointed to the Senate of Canada by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on January 2, 2009, was sworn into that distinguished institution on January 26, 2009, and delivered my maiden speech on February 11, 2009—an address focused on the profound value generated when Canadians invest themselves fully in their country.

I am a member of three Senate Standing Committees (Agriculture and Forestry; Transport and Communications; Official Languages), one Standing Joint Committee (Library of Parliament), and I chair the Artwork Advisory Working Group.

CyberSmokeBlog unofficial word count: "I" = 17; "me" = 3

As many will likely agree, thank goodness a couple media outlets have already started save "the beaver" online campaigns! Remind us again why some are calling for abolition of the Senate?

Clare L. Pieuk

Dam the beaver - use the polar bare as official emblem says Tory

Thursday, October 27, 2011

OTTAWA—A Conservative senator says it’s time Canada was symbolized by something more majestic than a buck-toothed rodent.

Senator Nicole Eaton wants the polar bear to replace the beaver as an official emblem of Canada.

She says the polar bear is Canada’s “most majestic and splendid mammal,” and a powerful symbol in the lives of native peoples in the North.

She believes the furry, white carnivore’s “strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity” is an appropriate symbol for modern-day Canada.

By contrast, she derides the lowly beaver as a “19th century has-been,” a “dentally defective rat,” a “toothy tyrant” and a nuisance that wreaks havoc on its environment.

Eaton acknowledges the beaver’s involuntary role in founding Canada — as the fashionable pelts that fuelled the fur trade — but she says it’s now time for a change.

“A country’s symbols are not constant and can change over time as long as they reflect the ethos of the people and the spirit of the nation,” Eaton told her Senate colleagues Thursday.

“The polar bear, with its strength, courage, resourcefulness and dignity is perfect for the part.”

Eaton said the beaver should “step aside as a Canadian emblem, or, at the least, share the honour with the stately polar bear.”

The Canadian Press


Good Day Readers:

For those who have never owned a firearm, much less fired one, this very well-written and presented article by Ms Fitzpatrick aprovides an excellent overview.

For our part, several years ago we once held an off duty RCMP' officer's Simth & Wesson 38 calibre hand gun (bullets removed of course) - it's weight (heavy) was surprising. How could we have possibly been arristed for illegal possession of an unregistered hand gun? Other than that it's the closest we've come.

Our questions for The Harper Government:

(1) What is the cost of fixing the long gun registry?

(2) The Province of Quebec recently announced it is contemplating establishing its own registry. If it does will the federal government move to block any attempt? What about Manitoba should it choose to follows suit?

(2) Why will Ottawa not turn over the data to those provinces wishing to establish a registry and destroy the rest subject to overview by the national/provincial Privacy Commissionsers?

(3) How will police investigations involving long guns change?

(4) What will the Harper Government say to us when an otherwise exemplary, law abiding citizen does the unthinkable and commits multiple homicides using a long gun as tragically sometimes happens?Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk
10 things to know about scrapping the long-gun registry
By Meagan Fitzpatrick, CBC News
October 26, 2011 The Conservative government introduced legislatin to abolish the long-gun regiatry on October 25. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
The Conservative government introduced a new bill on October 25 that would put an end to the long-gun registry, something Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been trying to do since taking power in 2006. The issue always causes controversy on and off Parliament Hill with hunters and other gun owners, police, crime and legal experts, politicians, victims' groups, rural and urban

Canadians all weighing in with their different perspectives. Here are 10 questions and answers about the registry and the government's efforts to end it.

The country's three firearm classificationsQ 1: What does this new bill on the gun registry do?

A: We keep hearing about scrapping the long-gun registry, but really what we're talking about is scrapping the requirement for people to register their rifles and shotguns – that's what Bill C-19 aims to do by making amendments to the Criminal Code and Firearms Act. Once passed, people will not have to register their non-restricted or non-prohibited firearms. It also provides for the destruction of existing records in the Canadian Firearms Registry for those firearms.

Q 2: What exactly is the registry?

A: It’s a centralized database overseen by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that links firearms with their licensed owners. It contains information about all three types of guns that must be registered – non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. (All firearms must be registered.) To register a firearm, you have to have a licence to possess it.

Q 3: Does the Bill make any changes to licensing requirements?

A: No. Canadian residents need a licence in order to possess and register a firearm or ammunition and that won't change. There are a couple of different kinds of licences because of various changes to laws and regulations over the years.

Q4: What are long guns?

A: There are three types of guns under Canadian law: non-restricted, restricted and prohibited. Most common long guns – rifles and shotguns – are non-restricted but there are a few exceptions. A sawed-off shotgun, for example, is a prohibited firearm. A handgun is an example of a restricted firearm. Different regulations apply to different classifications of firearms.

Q 5: How many guns are we talking about?

A: As of September 2011, there were about 7.8 million registered guns. Of those, 7.1 million are non-restricted firearms.

Q 6: Why does the government want to get rid of the long-gun registry?

A: The government says it is wasteful and ineffective at reducing crime and targets law-abiding gun owners instead of criminals, who don't register their firearms.

Q 7: Who wants to keep it?

A: Police and victims' groups are big supporters of the registry. Police say the database helps them evaluate a potential safety threat when they pull a vehicle over or are called to a residence. They also say it helps support police investigations because the registry can help determine if a gun was stolen, illegally imported, acquired or manufactured. This year, the RCMP says police agencies accessed it on average more than 17,000 times a day.

Q 8: When will the registry cease to exist?

A: That depends how quickly the government, using its majority, can pass the Bill. It was tabled on October 25 and the next stage in the process will be calling the Bill for a second reading and after a vote, it will go to the committee stage. How long it spends there depends on how many witnesses are heard. The opposition parties may try to amend the Bill which could also tie up some time. After it passes third reading it will go to the Senate, where the Conservatives also hold a majority, and it will become law. The Bill stipulates that the records should be destroyed as soon as possible.

Q 9: Why does the government want to destroy the records?

A: The government is doing this to ensure that no future non-Conservative government can recreate the registry. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has also made it clear that if any province wants to set up its own registry it would get no help from the federal government. The Conservatives are so fundamentally opposed to the existence of the records, because they say they focus on law-abiding citizens instead of criminals, that they don't want them available for anyone to use.

Q: How much does the registry cost?

A: The registry cost more than $1 billion to set up in 1995 and the cost was the source of much controversy. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said on October 25 that the government's best estimate is that it costs about $22 million a year to operate. That's the entire registry, not just the long-gun portion, but he noted most of the guns in the registry are long guns. He said he didn't know how much money scrapping the requirement to register long guns would save the government. Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner says there are also "hidden costs" that are borne by provincial and municipal police agencies to enforce the registry.

As many as the client can afford dummies!

How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?

By Amar Ha-Redeye
Friday, October 21, 2011

A: Whereas the party of the first part, also known as “Lawyer,” and the party of the second part, also known as “Light Bulb,” do hereby and forthwith agree to a transaction wherein the party of the second part (Light Bulb) shall be removed from the current position as a result of failure to perform previously agreed upon duties, i.e. the lighting, elucidation, and otherwise illumination of the area ranging from the front (north) door, through the entryway, terminating at an area just inside the primary living area, demarcated by the beginning of the carpet, any spillover illumination being at the option of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and not required by the aforementioned agreement between the parties

The aforementioned removal transaction shall include, but not be limited to, the following steps:

1. The party of the first part (Lawyer) shall, with or without elevation at his option, by means of a chair, step stool, ladder or any other means of elevation, grasp the party of the second part (Light Bulb) and rotate the party of the second part (Light Bulb) in a counter-clockwise direction, this point being non-negotiable.

2. Upon reaching a point where the party of the second part (Light Bulb) becomes separated from the party of the third part (“Receptacle”), the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall have the option of disposing of the party of the second part (Light Bulb) in a manner consistent with all applicable provincial, local and federal statutes.

3. Once separation and disposal have been achieved, the party of the first part (Lawyer) shall have the option of beginning installation of the party of the fourth part (“New Light Bulb”). This installation shall occur in a manner consistent with the reverse of the procedures described in step one of this self-same document, being careful to note that the rotation should occur in a clockwise direction, this point also being non-negotiable.

Note: The above described steps may be performed, at the option of the party of the first part (Lawyer), by any or all persons authorized by him, the objective being to produce the most possible revenue for the party of the fifth part, also known as “Partnership.”

Le connard?

Quebec's rising political star set to launch new party
Rheal Seguin
Thursday, October 20, 2011

The right-of-centre group, Coalition pour l'avenir du Quebec is led by ex-Parti Quebecois cabinet minister Francois Legault. (Christinne Muschi for The Globe and Mail)

Rising Quebec's political star Francois Legault will launch a new party on November 14 after months of speculation.
Mr. Legault made the announcement in Quebec on his final stop of a six week tour of the province.

“People can now stop asking: 'When, when, when? It will be on November 14,” Mr Legault told a crowd of 350 people.

Mr. Legault took advantage of the political crisis in Premier Jean Charest's government over reports of collusion and corruption in the construction industry to declare that his party would do things differently.

Mr. Charest this week announced that an inquiry with limited powers will examine corruption the construction industry. Mr Legault said that without subpoena powers, the probe will accomplish little.

“If I form a government, I will change the decree and give the commission headed by Justice France Charbonneau the powers to subpoena witnesses,” Mr. Legault said.

Recent public opinion polls have indicated that Mr. Legault's yet-to-be formed party would sweep the province and form a majority government.

The former Parti Quebecois minister launched the Coalition for the future of Quebec earlier this year with federalist business leader Charles Sirois. It has since raised tens of thousands of dollars in funding and attracted supporters from all political stripes.

“We never thought there would be so much enthusiasm so quickly,” Mr Sirois said. He later told reporters that on November 14, the coalition “will cease to exist” and that the step will be taken towards forming a political party.

Mr. Legault reiterated the need to set aside the old federalist-sovereigntist debate for at least a decade and focus on education, health, the economy and protection of the French language.

“We don't need to be a sovereigntist to love our language and defend our language in Quebec,” Mr. Legault said.

The new party intends to present a right of centre nationalist program that proposes abolishing school boards, guaranteeing each Quebecker access to a family doctor and more Quebec ownership of the economy.

“We have lost the crown jewels of our economy to foreign ownership,” Mr. Legault told the crowd.

Mr. Legault received resounding applause when one participant challenged him on his political past, in which he strongly defended sovereignty as the solution to Quebec' economic problems.

“But that was in 2007 when there was a surplus in Ottawa. Now there is a deficit and we don't have the luxury of debating a stale issue when we have to deal with our situation in education, health and the economy,” he said.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Legal hookers and pole-dancers?

Good Day Readers:

A couple years ago some Bar Associations in the United States were becoming increasingly concerned too many female law students were, to say this with delicatess, dressing too much like hookers and pole-dancers. So, the New York City Bar Association sponsored an event designed to give the ladies a better appreciation of appropriate workplace attire while its Chicago counterpart provided suggestions on wardrobe dos and don'ts.

Enter Sarah a second year student from a southern United States school. In the end it worked out well. The television show transitioned her into a corporate look - dark blue pant suit no cleavage.

As a sidebar comment, increasingly turning into a courtroom junkie we generally observe the ladies have better fashion sense than the men. At the risk of sounding like a foot fetish it's quite noticeable in shoes. Among the ulgiest we've seen are worn by men sometimes in need of a good polishing. In trying to predict the outcome of a case usually the attorney with the nicer shoes wins. It happened again this morning - defence lawyer Richard Wolson had better shoes than the Crown.

Clare L. Pieuk

Hey, OWSers what do you want eh?

Still think he's got a hidden agenda?

Joe Lofaro
Metro Canada In Ottawa
October 18, 2011

The student-run radio station at Ottawa's Algonquin College is trying to convince Prime Minister Stephen Harper for a second time to grow a moustache in support of next month's Movember campaign

The station might have to up the ante, though, after a government spokesperson said Harper's upper lip will stay bare this November.

"While the prime minister will not be growing a moustache this year,he does wish the organizers of this year's campaign every success in raising money and in increasing awareness of prostate cancer," read an email statement from Andrew MacDougall, the Prime Minister's Office Associate Director of Communications.

CKDJ 107.9 Program Manager Ryan Gibson is confident he'll gather the 10,000 signatures he is seeking to convince the Prime Minister otherwise.

"I'll keep pushing for him to grow one until the end," said Gibson who is also a radio broadcasting student. "He takes his role as a politician quite seriously, and I think, just for bringing attention to Movember, there's no other high profile person in the country than the Prime Minister."

The station tried the same campaign last year, but was unsuccessful. Money raised from the Canada-wide campaign will go to Prostate Cancer Canada.

Gibson's uncle's battle with rrostate cancer is one of his motivations for restarting the campaign.

Last November, a number of MPs grew moustaches to support of the Canadian campaign, including Liberal Justin Trudeau and New Democrat Peter Stoffer.

Gibson said peiople can sign his petition , which is available at

The Harper government wouldn't do this ..... would it?

Good Day Folks:

Received the following today from San Francisco-based EFF one of North America's leading digital law research centres. The Omnibus Crime Bill to be debated in Parliament shortly contains some far-reaching provisions many do not really appreciate the most significant of which is the warrantless internet search. But there are others.

While this article pertains to the American experience, with a majority government could something like this be next?

Clare L. Pieuk
Dear Clare,

The Internet Blacklist Legislation is back and it’s worse than ever. Introduced today, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) seeks to authorize both the executive branch and private parties to conduct slash-and-burn campaigns against websites that allegedly host – or even link to – content that infringes on intellectual property rights. This would “disappear” whole domain names, fundamentally undermining Internet security, and/or choke off their financial support. The Internet Blacklist Legislation puts more sites than ever at risk, effectively upending the DMCA safe harbors that, while imperfect, have been crucial to the growth of Internet innovation and creativity.

Email your members of Congress now and tell them to reject the Internet Blacklist Legislation.

Sadly, these short-sighted and dangerous bills won’t do much to stop online infringement – but they will jeopardize our ability to speak and read online with the kind of freedom we cherish in the offline world. Deep-pocketed Hollywood lobbyists are aggressively pushing to control and censor the open Internet, willing to sacrifice free speech and our Internet culture in hopes of controlling how people view their movies and products.

We can stop them, but we’ll need to throw everything we’ve got at this fight. That’s why EFF is joining forces with organizations from across the country, Internet businesses, academics, inventors, and anti-censorship activists in fighting this dangerous legislation. Please act now to tell your Senators and Representatives to reject the Internet blacklist campaign: Sign now.

Defending your online freedoms,

Rainey Reitman
EFF Activism Team

PS. If you’re one of the 25,000+ people who has taken action against PROTECT IP, please sign this as well. The previous action responded to a Senate-based bill, and this one includes the House – which means new recipients! Please sign now:

Support our work

Charges dropped against provincial judge!

Good Day Readers:

Spent the morning in courtroom 308 Judge Kelly Moar presiding. Was primarily there to follow the case of Judge (provincial) Brian M. Corrin who you may recall was charged this February with assault and uttering a threat against the person of Celia Corrin. The relationship was never revealed.Toronto Crown Prosecutor Paul McDermott briefly testified he had thoroughly and independently reviewed the evidence (there was never any interference from Manitoba Justice) and decided the liklihood of a successful prosecution was unsustainable. He did, however, mention something interesting which was he had encountered conflicting forensic evidence but did not elaborate nor was he questioned by Judge Moar. The charges were stayed and poof it was over in under a couple minutes or less.

Sitting a few seats from us was a well-dressed gentleman who resembled Mr. Corrin. Upon hearing the decision he appeared pleased, acknowledged the judge (nodded) and immediately left. We assume Judge Corrin will now return to the Bench. Brian Corrin was represented by Winnipeg lawyer Richard Wolson.

There were also the usual impaireds but another case which was somewhat troubling. It involved an older, grey haired little lady who could have passed for your grandmother. She was unable to afford a solicitor so self-represented. According to the Crown, she is facing two counts of criminal harassment and a third for breach of a peace bond. At times she became somewhat emotional. The judge set a Case Management Conference (Pre-Trial) for next week. To his credit on several occasions he urged her to try to find a lawyer.

Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, along with many others within the legal community, have been expressing concern over the increasing number who cannot afford legal representation especially as Legal Aid is being cut back in many if not all the provinces.

We're sending a copy of this posting to Winnipeg Free Press court reporter Mike McIntyre who has always been very good in the past about returning our telephone calls. Just checked the WFP, Winnipeg Sun and CBC Manitoba sites which have yet to run this story. Like us they too were likely not expecting such a speedy end to the charges. It's not every day we get to scoop the mainstream media. You'll have to excuse us while we quietly go off to a corner to gloat ..... "gloat" ..... "gloat" ..... "gloat" .....

Clare L. Pieuk


A special thank you to the provincial court employee who got out a thick legal text to explain the difference between an "indictment" versus a "hybrid" charge terms we'd encountered earlier in the courtroom.

She was also quite helpful answering our question regarding CPIC (Canadian Police Information Centre - a national data bank) which we'd encountered while looking over Judge Corrin's file earlier - knew the meaning of the acronym but required the process be explained. Had Brian Corrin been convicted his name would then be placed in CPIC. When we found it stamped on a police form it simply indicated the information contained thereon has being held in abeyance pending outcome of the charges.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What are you smoking Harper Government?

Cloud 9 Kloutsters are we?

The Measured Life: What's Your Klout Score?

Klout gives users of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks a score based on their online influence. WSJ's Andy Jordan looks at how the score is calculated, what it means for getting freebies, and why the score is so valuable to advertisers.

A must watch!

Good Day Readers:

As you can see Prairie Public Television (Cable 3 Winnipeg/Brandon) has kindly responded to our request. This is a must view documentary (almost 1-hour) that should be watched if you missed it. With the potential for such horrible mistakes, it makes one appreciate Canada abolished the death penalty several years ago (Bill C-84, July 1976). We also refuse to extradite United States citizens (or any others for that matter) illegally living here facing capital punishment unless guaranteed beforehand it will be waived.

Clare L. Pieuk

Hello Clare,

The FRONTLINE episode, "Death by Fire," will be repeated in our overnight schedule at 2 a.m., October 27. You can also find more information about the documentary as well as the possibility that it will be available for online streaming here:

I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Thank you for watching Prairie Public!


Morgan D. Jenkins
Community Engagement Coordinator
Prairie Public Broadcasting

From: Clare Pieuk []
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 9:57 AM
To: 'PPB Info'Subject: Re: Death By Fire?

Dear Morgan Jenkins:

Prior to yesterday’s Death By Fire we had some familiarity with the Todd Willingham case, however, Frontline (superb series) really emphasized the story even more deeply. After we posted the excerpt, accompanied with a little more detail, our readership numbers significantly spiked. We’re publishing the information you kindly provided encouraging more people to view the documentary. Since we missed a little of the beginning we plan to watch it again from start to finish.

A very powerful, chilling documentary that gives one pause to reflect - especially on the role of Presidential Candidate Governor Rick Perry. Keep up the great work!

Thank you again!

Best Wishes,

Clare L. Pieuk
Blog Master

From: Clare Pieuk []
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 10:54 PM
To: Subject: Death By Fire?

Good Evening,

Do you know when the outstanding documentary, Death By Fire (Frontline) which appeared this evening will be repeated?

Thank you,
Clare L. Pieuk

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shocking! Shocking! Shocking!

Good Day Readers:

We first profiled this story on September 21 of this year, Will Todd Willingham come back to haunt Rick Perry from the grave? ( in which one of North America's leading legal DNA experts Barry Scheck professed his belief Mr. Willingham was innocent and should never have been been executed in February of 2004.

This evening we just finished watching the PBS Frontline (WJBH Boston) investigative documentary, Death By Fire. As you will soon see the actions of Presidential Candidate Governor Rick were beyond unconscionable as he permitted a man to be executed in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary. We fully agree with Mr. Scheck this may be his undoing in the race to the White House, that is, if first he doesn't shoot himself in the foot prior to the Republican national convention (as we believe he will) to pick a challenger against Barack Obama.

Unfortunately, the video is only an excerpt - the full documentary becomes increasingly chilling as the world's foremost authority on arson submits a detailed report a couple days before the execution date firmly establishing it was an accident. In the face of this, as well as, other mounting evidence, Rick Perry refused to exercise his power to delay Mr. Willingham's death for 30 days to review the latesting findings as he is empowered to do! At the time the Governor was running for another term.

View the video interview with Barry Scheck (above) for a better overview of the Governor's behaviour. You be the judge and jury.

Clare L. Pieuk


Texas has the hightst rate of executions in the United States. We have e-mailed Prairie Public Television asking when, Death By Fire will be repeted in its entirety (almost one hour). As soon as we receive a reply we will share it with you.

Now back to finishing, War by remote control.

War by remote control - Taliban meet the "Devil Sticks" family!

Good Day Readers:

Over the years The Christian Science Monitor has always employed excellent researchers/writers. Their Special Reports are constitently top drawer - this one is no exception. Viewing, War by Remote Control, documents some of the latest technology employed by the United States in foreign theatres. While most are familiar with drones the article goes far, far beyond to investigate the impact of future military conflicts from several perspectives.

As an aside, recently a virus was detected among the drone population that's causing consternation within the US military - the Taliban like to refer to these as "Devil Sticks!"

While admittedly quite lengthy, nevertheless well worth a read for those interested in this subject.

Clare L. Pieuk
Unmanned drone attacks and shape-shifting robots: War's remote-control future

The Pentagon already includes unmanned drone attacks in its arsenal. Next up: housefly-sized surveillance craft, shape-changing 'chemical robots,' and tracking agents sprayed from the sky. What does it mean to have soldiers so far removed from the battlefield?

By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer / Sunday, October 22, 2011 Pakistanis hold up a burning mock drone aircraft during a May rally against drone attacks in Peshawar. In 2009, the Brookings Institution estimated that unmanned drone attacks were killing about 10 civilians for every 1 insurgent in Pakistan. (K. Pervez/Reuters)


In the shadow of a heavily fortified enemy building, US commanders call in a chemical robot, or what looks like a blob. They give it a simple instruction: Penetrate a crack in the building and find out what's inside. Like an ice sculpture or the liquid metal assassin in "Terminator 2," the device changes shape, slips through the opening, then reassumes its original form to look around. It uses sensors woven into its fabric to sample the area for biological agents. If needed, it can seep into the cracks of a bomb to defuse it.

Soldiers hoping to eavesdrop on an enemy release a series of tiny, unmanned aircraft the size and shape of houseflies to hover in a room unnoticed, relaying invaluable video footage.

A fleet of drones roams a mountain pass, spraying a fine mist along a known terrorist transit route – the US military's version of "CSI: Al Qaeda." Days later, when troops capture suspects hundreds of miles away, they test them for traces of the "taggant" to discover whether they have traversed the trail and may, in fact, be prosecuted as insurgents.

IN PICTURES: War by remote control

(Editor's Note: Check out Slide 7 - How would you like one of these flying around your house?)

Welcome to the battlefield of the future. Malleable robots. Insect-size air forces. Chemical tracers spritzed from the sky. It's the stuff of science fiction.

But these are among the myriad futuristic war­fighting creations currently being developed at universities across the country with funds from the US military. And the future, in many cases, may not be too far off.

Engineering students at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. for instance, are now experimenting with chemical taggants on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) like the ones being used in Afghanistan. Sure, the shape-changing chemical robot that slips through cracks may be more Ray Bradbury than battlefield-ready. But the Pentagon, in its perpetual quest to find the next weapon or soldier-saving device – and with scientific assurances that it's possible – is already investing millions to develop it.

"We're not about 20 years, or 10 years, or even five years away – a lot of this could be out in the field in under two years," says Mitchell Zatkin, former director of programmable matter at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the Pentagon's premier research office.

The development of a new generation of military robots, including armed drones, may eventually mark one of the biggest revolutions in warfare in generations. Throughout history, from the crossbow to the cannon to the aircraft carrier, one weapon has supplanted another as nations have strived to create increasingly lethal means of allowing armies to project power from afar.

Page 2 of 7

But many of the new emerging technologies promise not only firepower but also the ability to do something else: reduce the number of soldiers needed in war. While few are suggesting armies made up exclusively of automated machines (yet), the increased use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan has already reinforced the view among many policymakers and Pentagon planners that the United States can carry out effective military operations by relying largely on UAVs, targeted cruise missile strikes, and a relatively small number of special operations forces.

At the least, many enthusiasts see the new high-tech tools helping to save American lives. At the most, they see them changing the nature of war – how it's fought and how much it might cost – as well as helping America maintain its military preeminence.

Yet the prospect of a military less reliant on soldiers and more on "push button" technologies also raises profound ethical and moral questions. Will drones controlled by pilots thousands of miles away, as many of them are now, reduce war to an antiseptic video game? Will the US be more likely to wage war if doing so does not risk American lives? And what of the oversight role of Congress in a world of more remote-control weapons? Already, when lawmakers on Capitol Hill accused the Obama administration of circumventing their authority in waging war in Libya, White House lawyers argued in essence that an operation can't be considered war if there are no troops on the ground – and, as a result, does not require the permission of Congress.

"If the military continues to reduce the human cost of waging war," says Lieutenant Colonel Edward Barrett, an ethicist at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Marylandd "there's a possibility that you're not going to try hard enough to avoid it."

Beneath a new moon, a crew pushes the 2,500-pound Predator drone toward a blacked-out flight line and prepares it for takeoff. The soldiers wheel over a pallet of Hellfire missiles and load them onto the plane's undercarriage. The Predator pilot walks around the aircraft, conducting his preflight check. He then returns to a nearby trailer, sits down at a console with joysticks and monitors, and guides the snub-nosed plane down the runway and into the night air – unmanned and fully armed.

The takeoffs of Predators with metronome regularity here at Kandahar Air Field, in southern Afghanistan, has helped turn this strip of asphalt into what the Pentagon calls the single busiest runway in the world. An aircraft lifts off or lands every two minutes. It's a reminder of how integral drones have become to the war in Afghanistan and the broader war on terror.

Initially, of course, the plan was not to put weapons on Predator drones at all. Like the first military airplanes, they were to be used just for surveillance. As the war in Iraq progressed, however, US service members jury-rigged the drones with weapons. Today, armed Predators and their larger offspring, Reapers, fly over America's battlefields, equipped with both missiles and powerful cameras, becoming the most widely used and, arguably, most important tools in the US arsenal.

Since first being introduced in Iraq and Afghanistan, their numbers have grown from 167 in 2002 to more than 7,000 today. The US Air Force is now recruiting more UAV pilots than traditional ones.

Page 3 of 7

"The demand has just absolutely skyrocketed," says the commander of the Air Force's 451st Operations Group, which runs Predator and Reaper operations in Kandahar.

Briefing: Aerial drones as weapons of war
New role for robot warriors
Al Qaeda drone attacks on US? Soon it won't be so far-fetched.


Military Technology
Drone Attacks
War and Conflict
Armed Forces
Afghanistan War

As their numbers have grown, so has the sophistication with which the military uses them. The earliest drones operated more as independent assets – as aerial eyes that sent back intelligence and dropped their bombs. But today the unmanned aircraft are integrated into almost every operation on the ground, acting as advanced scouts and omniscient surveyors of battle zones. They monitor the precise movements of insurgents and kill enemy leaders. They conduct "virtual lineups," zooming in powerful cameras to help determine whether a suspected insurgent may have carried out a particular attack.

"A lot of the ground commanders won't execute a mission without us," says the Air Force's commander of the 62nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron in Afghanistan.

Robots, too, have become a far more pervasive presence on America's fields of battle. Remote-control machines that move about on wheels and tracks scour for roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan carry hand-held drones in backpacks, which they assemble and throw into the air to scope out terrain and check for enemy fighters. In the past 10 years, the Pentagon's use of robots has grown from zero to some 12,000 in war zones today.

Part of the exponential rise in the use of UAVs and robots stems from a confluence of events: improvements in technology and America's prolonged involvement in two simultaneous wars.

There is, too, the prospect of more money for military contractors eyeing a downturn in future defense budgets.

Today, the amount of money being spent on research for military robotics surpasses the budget of the National Science Foundation, which, at $6.9 billion a year, funds nearly one-quarter of all federally supported scientific research at the nation's universities.

Military officials also see in the new technologies the possibility of savings in an era of shrinking budgets. Deploying forces overseas can now cost as much as $1 million a year per soldier.

Yet the biggest allure of the new high-tech armaments may be something as old as conflict itself: the desire to reduce the number of casualties on the battlefield and gain a strategic advantage over the enemy. As Lieutenant General Richard Lynch, a commander in Iraq, observed at a conference on military robotics in Washington earlier this year: "When I look at the 153 soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice [under my command], I know that 80 percent of them were put in a situation where we could have placed an unmanned system in the same job."

Drones, in particular, seem the epitome of risk-free warfare for the nation using them – there are, after all, no pilots to shoot down. Moreover, the people who run them are often nowhere near the field of battle. Some 90 percent of the UAV operations over Afghanistan are flown by people in trailers in the deserts of Nevada. In Kandahar, soldiers help the planes take off and land and then hand over controls to the airmen in the US.

"We want to minimize the [human] footprint as much as possible," says the 451st Operations Group commander at the Kandahar airfield, where the effects of being close to the war are clearly visible: The plywood walls of the tactical operations center are lined with framed bits of jagged metal from mortars that have fallen on the airfield over the years.

Page 4 of 7

While the distant control of drones may well protect American lives, it raises questions about what it means to have people so far removed from the field of conflict. "Sometimes you felt like God hurling thunderbolts from afar," says Lt. Col. Matt Martin, who was among the first generation of US soldiers to work with drones to wage war and who has written a book – "Predator: The Remote-Control Air War Over Iraq and Afghanistan: A Pilot's Story.

Martin agrees that the unmanned aircraft no doubt reduce American casualties, but wonders if it makes killing "too easy, too tempting, too much like simulated combat, like the computer game Civilization."

It probably doesn't reassure critics that the flight controls for drones over the years have come to resemble video-game contollers, which the military has done to make them more intuitive for a generation of young soldiers raised on games like Gears of War and Killzone.

Martin knows what it's like to confront the dark side of war, even as he fought it from afar. During one operation, he was piloting a drone that was tracking an insurgent. Just after he fired one of the aircraft's missiles, two children rode their bicycles into range. They were both killed. "You get good at compartmentalizing," says Martin.

What worries critics is those who are too good at it – and the impact in general of waging war at a distance. Some fret about the mechanics of the decisionmaking process: Who ultimately makes the decision to pull the trigger? And how do you decide whom to put on the hit list – a top Al Qaeda official, yes, but is some petty but persistent insurgent a matter of national security?

As the US increasingly uses drones in its secret campaigns, questions arise about how much to inform America's allies about UAV attacks and whether they alienate local populations more than they help subdue the enemy, which the US has starkly, and almost weekly, confronted with its drone campaign in Pakistan.

From the US military's viewpoint, the drone war has been fantastically successful, helping to kill key Al Qaeda operatives and Taliban insurgents with a minimum of civilian casualties and almost no US troops put at risk.

Some even believe that the ethical oversight of drones is far more rigorous than that of manned aircraft, since at least 150 people – ground crews, engineers, pilots, intelligence analyzers – are typically involved in each UAV mission

The issue of what's a minimum of civilian losses is, of course, subjective. In 2009, the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, estimated that the US drone war was killing about 10 civilians for every 1 insurgent in Pakistan. That may be far fewer casualties than would be killed with traditional airstrikes. But it is hardly comforting to the Pakistanis.

Moreover, the very practice of taking out enemy leaders or sympathizers could at some point, according to detractors, devolve into an aerial assassination campaign. When the US used a drone strike last month to kill jihadist cleric and American-born Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, President Obama hailed it as a "major blow" to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But some critics decried the killing of a US citizen with no public scrutiny.

Barrett, who is the director of Research at the Naval Academy's Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership, discusses with his students the prospect of whether UAVs make it easier to wage war if the government doesn't have to worry about a public outcry. "There are not the mass numbers of troops moving around and visible, so it could be easier to circumvent the oversight of Congress and, therefore, legitimate authority," he notes.

Page 5 of 7

Others ask a more simple but practical question: What about the troops who conduct the UAV strikes from the Nevada desert – could they become legitimate targets of America's enemies at, say, a local mall, bringing the war on terror to the suburbs?

Some worry that the US is, in fact, placing too heavy a burden on its UAV troops. Despite warnings that "video-game warfare" might make them callous to killing, new studies suggest that the stress levels drone operators face are higher than those for infantry forces on the ground.

"Having this idea of a 'surgical war' where you can really just pinpoint the bad guys with the least amount of damage to our own force, there's a bit of naiveté in all that," says Maryann Cusinamo Love, an associate professor at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

She says the powerful cameras on the drones allow pilots to see in "great vivid detail the real-time results of their actions. That is an incredible stress on them."

It is also, she argues, a "ghettoization of the killing function in war." However justified the military mission may be, she says, "You are still giving the most stressful job of war disproportionately to this one subset of people."

Nearly as long as militaries have existed, they have invented arms to keep their soldiers as far away from danger as possible. Some sound ridiculous, others terrifying, but most have raised questions of fairness in warfare.

During World War II, Japanese forces used the jet stream to launch paper "fire balloons" rigged with bombs meant to explode when they drifted over US soil. One such balloon discovered by an American family during a picnic in the Oregon woods resulted in the only deaths in the continental US caused by enemy hostilities in the war.

For their part, US scientists experimented with a form of bio-inspired warfare: a "bat bomb" that they planned to launch in parachute-rigged casings over Japan. They imagined fitting the bodies of tiny bats with incendiary bombs on timers. The theory was that the bats, once dropped, would roost in the eaves and attics of Japan's delicate wooden dwellings, setting off fires. The technology was successfully tested but scrapped when it was deemed too expensive by the Pentagon.

On the Western front, Germany was experimenting with a remote-control tank known as the Goliath. It used technology pioneered by an American who had demonstrated a remote-control boat years earlier at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When he tried to sell his technology to the US military, however, he was met with ridicule.

"He said, 'I've got this technology,' but they started laughing – they thought he was crazy," says Peter Singer, author of "Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century."

Page 6 of 7

With the advent of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, technology has once again rendezvoused with military necessity. A company called iRobot in Bedford, Mass. sent a prototype of its PackBot, which soldiers began using to clear caves and bunkers suspected of being mined. When the testing period was over, "The Army unit didn't want to give the test robot back," Mr. Singer notes.

While the use of robots that can detect and defuse explosives is growing exponentially, the next big frontier for America's military R2-D2s may parallel what happened to drones: They may be fitted with weapons – offering new fighting capabilities as well as raising new concerns.

Already, researchers are experimenting with attaching machine guns to robots that can be triggered remotely. Field tests in Iraq for one of the first weaponized robots, dubbed SWORDS, didn't go well.

"There were several instan­ces of noncommanded firing of the system during testing," says Jef­frey Jacz­kow­ski, deputy manager of the US Army's Robotic Systems Joint Project Office.

Though US military officials tend to emphasize that troops must remain "in the loop" as robots or drones are weaponized, there remains a strong push for automation coming from the Pentagon. In 2007, the US Army sent out a request for proposals calling for robots with "fully autonomous engagement without human intervention." In other words, the ability to shoot on their own.

"Let's put it this way," says Lt. Colonel David Thomp­son, project manager of the Army's robotic office. "We've seen the success of unmanned air vehicles that have been armed. This [weaponizing robots] is a natural extension."

At the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ronald Arkin is researching a stunning premise: whether robots can be created that treat humans on the battlefield better than human soldiers treat each other. He has pored over the first study of US soldiers returning from the Iraq war, a 2006 US Surgeon General's report that asked troops to evaluate their own ethical behavior and that of their comrades.

He was struck by "the incredibly high level of atrocities that are witnessed, committed, or abetted by soldiers." Modern warfare has not lessened the impact on soldiers. It is as stressful as ancient hand-to-hand combat with axes, he argues, because of the sorts of quick decisions that fighting with modern technology requires.

"Human beings have never been designed to operate under the combat conditions of today," he says. "There are many, many problems with the speed with which we are killing right now – and that exacerbates the potential for violation of laws of war."

With Pentagon funding, Dr. Arkin is looking at whether it is possible to build robots that behave more ethically than humans – to not be tempted to shoot someone, for instance, out of fear or revenge.

The key, he says, is that the robot should "first do no harm, rather than 'shoot first, ask questions later.' "

Such technology requires what Arkin calls an "ethical adaptor," which involves following orders. Learning, he explains, is potentially dangerous when it comes to making decisions about whether to kill. "You don't want to hand soldiers a gun and say, 'Figure out what's right and wrong.' You tell them what's right and wrong," he says. "We want to do the same for these robotic systems."

The aim, says Arkin, is not to be perfect, "but if we can achieve this goal of outperforming humans, we have saved lives – and that is the ultimate benchmark of this work."

Page 7 of 7

Other research into armed robots centers not so much on outperforming humans as being able to work with them. In the not-too-distant future, military officials envision soldiers and robots teaming up in the field, with the troops able to communicate with machines the way they would with a human squad team member. Eventually, says Thompson, the robot-soldier relationship could become even more collaborative, with one human soldier leading many armed robots.

After that, the scenarios start to become something more out of the realm of film studios. For instance, retired Navy Capt. Robert Moses, president of iRobot's government and industrial relations division, can envision the day of humanless battlefields.

"I think the first thing to do is to go ahead and have the Army get comfortable with the robot," he says. One day, though, "you could write a scenario where you have an unmanned battle space – a 'Star Wars' approach."

These developments raise questions that ethicists are just beginning to unravel. This includes Peter Asaro, who last year formed the International Committee for Robot Arms Control. He's grappling with conundrums like: What, to a machine, counts as "about to shoot me?" How does a robot make a distinction between a dog, a man, and a child? How does it tell an enemy from a friend?

Such things are not entirely abstract. An automated "sentry robot" now stands guard in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, equipped with heat, voice, and motion sensors, as well as a 5 mm machine gun. What if it starts firing, accidentally or otherwise?

Within their own ranks, military officials are asking themselves similar questions. In March, the Navy launched a program at its postgraduate school in Monterey that explores the legal, social, and cultural impacts of unmanned systems. "Are we going to give the ability to a robot for conducting a killing operation based on its own software and sensors?" asks retired Navy Capt. Jeffrey Kline, who is directing the new effort. "That rightly causes a lot of red flags."

In part, military officials feel they have to develop these new systems to stay ahead of America's enemies, many of whom will be creating their own versions of automated armies. Yet that could lead to what some consider a 21st-century arms race and encourage others to use the new weapons.

Late last month, federal authorities charged a Massachusetts man with plotting an attack on the US Capitol and the Pentagon using a large, remote-controlled aircraft filled with explosives. Earlier this year, Libyan rebels contacted Aeryon Labs Inc., a Canadian drone manufacturer, about buying a small unmanned helicopter. "Ultimately, I think they found us through Googling. That's how a lot of people find us," says Dave Kroetsch, Aeryon's president. Aeryon officials say they get inquires from militaries all over the world, which is one reason they have decided not to sell weaponized drones.

In the end, the emerging era of remote-control warfare – like evolutions in warfare throughout history – will likely create profound new capabilities as well as profound new problems for the US. The key will be to minimize the one over the other.

"There are many futures that can be created," says Georgia Tech roboticist Arkin. "Hopefully, we can create, I won't say a utopian, but at least not a dystopian one."