• New charges are pending against a St. John's inmate after threats were made against warders.A new study suggesting religion doesn't work to deter criminal behaviour is being trumpeted as controversial and provocative. But haven't most of us already figured this out, already?

    The U.S. study suggests that criminals are able to adopt religious messages to support their behaviour through "purposeful distortion or genuine ignorance."

    Many inmates interviewed as part of the study, published in the journal Theoretical Criminology, were able to rationalize and excuse their violent behaviour — one even said he prayed before each crime to “stay cool with Jesus.”

    The study’s lead author, Volkan Topalli, told Postmedia News:

    People have to understand that presenting religious doctrine to people isn’t enough to change their behaviour. (Faith-based services) have to be systematic and about behaviour change — religion has to be a vehicle, rather than the goal.

    [ Related: Ontario court to hear cases on mandatory minimums sentences ]

    We shouldn't be too surprised that criminals turn to their

    Read More »from How often is religion used to rationalize criminal behaviour?
  • St. John the Apostle church on Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal. (CBC Photo)The Roman Catholic Church has been a major player in the development of Canada but no where was its influence stronger than in Quebec, where until after the Second World War it dominated almost every aspect of life.

    But the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s helped loosen that connection to the point that church attendance among Quebecers had been among the lowest in Canada. Priests preached to empty pews and many churches were sold as congregations dwindled.

    However a newly published survey suggests the decades-long trend may be bottoming out, Postmedia News reports.

    A Leger Marketing poll done for the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies suggests that the sense of "attachment to religion" among Quebecers has edged upwards in the last two years while waning in the rest of Canada, Postmedia News said.

    "Quebecers have tended to be more averse to organized religion," the survey said in its introduction. "Recent data shows that Quebec’s antipathy to religion may have bottomed while

    Read More »from Quebecers’ ‘antipathy’ to religion may be bottoming out, survey suggests
  • Idle no more protest. (CBC photo)Attawapiskat, for the most part has been out of the news since Chief Theresa Spence ended her hunger strike in Ottawa last month, but that doesn't mean things aren't happening at the remote northern Ontario First Nations community.

    Some members of the James Bay Cree community are in a legal and physical standoff with diamond-mining giant De Beers Canada over operation of its Victor mine, about 90 kilometres west of the settlement.

    Residents have been blockading an ice road used to deliver supplies to the $1-billion mine for more than a week. They say local aboriginal people have not received their fair share of jobs and other economic benefits from the diamond-mining operation, something the company disputes.

    [ Related: Attawapiskat unrest continues, despite De Beers investment ]

    The company won a court injunction Friday ordering the blockade to be taken down but on Saturday, Spence met the sheriff delivering the ruling at the airport and handed him a letter that forbade him from

    Read More »from Attawapiskat First Nation members continue blockade of ice road to remote diamond mine
  • Rick O'Brien, chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and a former residential school student, speaks at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission event Monday in Whitehorse. Freshly studied documents on Canada’s disgraced Indian residential school system suggest more than 3,000 children died while in the imposed care of such facilities, stamping a harsh number on the cost of an often overlooked smudge on Canada’s history.

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission said the number has been confirmed through the study of government and school records, telling the Canadian Press that all but 500 of those left dead have been identified.

    What is amazing is that this is the first time a number has been placed on residential school fatalities based on systematic research.

    Until now, there have only been first-hand accounts and speculative accounting.

    [ Related: Research finds  3,000 confirmed Indian residential school deaths ]

    It will certainly be noted that this report, based on study of various government and school records, comes just days after a judge ordered the federal government provide the commission with all relevant files — not just those available in the

    Read More »from Death count stamped on disgraced Indian residential school system
  • A baby girl in Toronto born in sub-zero temperatures and pronounced dead was later found to be alive

    A Toronto hospital is investigating how a newborn baby was declared dead after being born on a snow-covered sidewalk, only to be discovered alive more than 90 minutes later by an alert police officer while waiting for the coroner to pick up the body.

    Police were overjoyed at the happy outcome of what first looked like a tragic incident early Sunday, but officials at Humber River Regional Hospital are reviewing the circumstances that saw the living child presumably headed for the autopsy table.

    Hospital spokesman Gerard Power issued a statement saying it was “reviewing the events of yesterday with the appropriate agencies and that review is ongoing at this time," CTV News reported.

    Power said the hospital could not release details of the incident because of privacy laws.

    The strange chain of events began around 6 a.m. Sunday when a 20-year-old pregnant woman, a resident of

    Read More »from Toronto hospital reviewing how baby deemed dead after sidewalk birth found alive by cops 90 minutes later
  • Civil rights leader Julian Bond is arrested outside the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, as prominent environmental leaders tied themselves to the White House gate to protest the Keystone XL oil pipeline.. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)Will Canada be able to polish its environmental image in time to save the Keystone XL pipeline development?

    Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird appears to think so, as he is now touting our country as leader in addressing climate change.

    With massive protests being held in Washington to oppose the massive pipeline deal, which would see Alberta bitumen channeled all the way to Texas, the cross-border project faces an image issue that could derail the whole affair.

    [ Political Points: Environmentalists prep for ‘biggest rally in U.S. history’ ]

    After a similar protest last year, U.S. President Barack Obama stepped back from supporting the project and left the decision until after the presidential election.

    Now into his second term, Obama has yet to tip his hand on the issue. But a decision is coming, and a significant factor will be what Obama perceives the impact will be on his environmental credibility.

    Enter Canada, the responsible leader on climate change. Baird said the U.S. should

    Read More »from Ottawa polishes environmental image to save Keystone XL project
  • In a win for albino rights, a popular Canadian restaurant chain is changing the name of its house brand of beer after an albino woman filed a human-rights complaint in British Columbia.

    The Vancouver Province reports Earls Restaurant, with more than 50 locations in Canada and the United States, is complying with a request to alter the name Albino Rhino from its beer and also its chicken wings. By April 24, menus will refer to them simply as Rhino.

    "The Albino Rhino brand was created 25 years ago and named after the white rhinoceros," Earls said in a statement on its web site.

    "It did not occur to us that the name would be associated with albinism, neither did it occur to us it would offend. We do not believe the use of the word 'albino' reflects any intention to discriminate against persons with albinism.

    "We have learned from participating in the human rights complaint process, however, that many persons with albinism are genuinely offended and feel that their dignity is negatively

    Read More »from Earls restaurant ditches Albino Rhino, won’t fight human rights complaint
  • President Barack Obama returns to his hometown of Chicago, pointing to communities with too few fathers involved in children's lives and too few examples of success. He says he wishes he had a father around growing up. (Feb. 15)The long-simmering gun control debate is on full boil in the United States these days, with U.S. President Barack Obama making the issue a key point of his second-term agenda and a keystone to his State of the Union address earlier this week.

    In response to Obama’s call for a vote on new gun regulations, National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre, in his own call to arms, urged gun owners to "stand and fight" for the right to bear arms.

    In Canada, where many consider the gun control debate one of moderate degrees, there are advocates just as passionate about the right of gun ownership. Sheldon Clare, president of the National Firearms Association, echoed LaPierre’s sentiment in a recent wide-arching interview with Yahoo! Canada News, calling for a scaling back of gun laws in Canada and defending the NRA’s stance on gun access.

    “The NRA is labeled as extreme by those who take extreme positions,” Clare said. ‘The NRA’s primary purpose and reason for being is to provide skills

    Read More »from Canadian firearms advocate calls gun ownership ‘practical choice’
  • If you live in Manitoba, you almost lost your chance to by a premium rum called Ron de Jeremy when authorities briefly pulled it off the shelves late last week, just nine days after its debut.Let's leave aside the question of why you'd buy booze named after Ron Jeremy, an aging, hairy porn star whose cinematic attributes do not include matinee idol looks.

    But if you live in Manitoba, you almost lost your chance to by a premium rum called Ron de Jeremy (ron is apparently Spanish for rum, get it?) when authorities briefly pulled it off the shelves late last week, just nine days after its debut.

    The label on the 80-proof rum feature's the face of Jeremy, whose nickname is "The Hedgehog" and who is probably the best known male porn performer in the world. The bottle is short and and fat, like him, though I expected the neck to be a lot longer.

    The New York City-born Jeremy's everyman looks and light-hearted approach may account for his broader popularity outside the adult-film world. He's made appearances in mainstream movies and TV shows, has his own clothing line and a 2007 memoir, Ron Jeremy: The Hardest (Working) Man in Showbiz. So a booze brand isn't a a stretch, I guess.

    Read More »from Rum named after porn star back on Manitoba liquor store shelves
  • Following a Human Rights Watch report that alleges RCMP officers abused aboriginal women and girls, NDP MP Niki Ashton says a public inquiry is the only way to get justice for the women and their families.It is troubling times for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as it fights perception issues on multiple fronts.

    With the release of two damning reports and and expression of dissatisfaction from Canada’s prime minster, the RCMP is facing some tough questions about their role as public protectors.

    The separate investigations, one into the RCMP’s troubled relationship with aboriginal females in British Columbia and the other on the complaints of mistreatment within the force, highlight in two varying ways its troubled image.

    As noted in the latter report, “the simple perception of the existence of systemic poor treatment … has a huge impact on both public confidence and the manner in which the police are regarded."

    There is a stretch of time — and it can feel like an eternity — between the moment charges and allegations are made and the time they are found to be true or false.

    Those people, in this case organization, are innocent until proven otherwise. We must await all the facts before

    Read More »from Damning reports of abuse, mistreatment lend RCMP a perception problem

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