I'll be on the radio today north of the border with John Gormley in Saskatchewan on CKOM, and south of the border with Hugh Hewitt coast to coast. (Details in our right-hand sidebar.)
~Effective today, the Sultan of Brunei has made his lucky people the first in eastern Asia to live under a national Sharia law:
"With faith and gratitude to Allah the almighty, I declare that tomorrow, Thursday 1 May 2014, will see the enforcement of sharia law phase one, to be followed by the other phases," the absolute monarch said in a royal decree on Wednesday.
Plans for the sharia penalties – which will eventually include flogging, severing of limbs and death by stoning – triggered condemnation on social media sites in the tiny sultanate earlier this year...
67-year-old Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah – one of the world's wealthiest men – said in his decree that the move was "a must" under Islam, dismissing "never-ending theories" that sharia punishments were cruel in comments clearly aimed at detractors.
"Theory states that Allah's law is cruel and unfair but Allah himself has said that his law is indeed fair," he said.
The initial phase beginning on Thursday introduces fines or jail terms for offences ranging from indecent behaviour, failure to attend Friday prayers, and out-of-wedlock pregnancies.
A second phase covering crimes such as theft and robbery is to be implemented later this year, involving more stringent penalties such as severing of limbs and flogging.
Late next year, punishments such as death by stoning for offences including sodomy and adultery will be introduced.
Brunei is a Commonwealth country whose ultimate court of appeal is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London. It will be interesting to see how culturally sensitive their Lordships are to the first gay stoning that lands on their desks.
Islamic law is a bitch to live under because it has a complete lack of proportion, an inability to tolerate any dissent from orthodoxy, and a disinclination to recognize the concept of private space. On the other hand, in a western world in which a man can be fined $2.5 million for expressing the view in a private conversation in his own home that he'd rather his mistress didn't go around with black men, who are we to judge?
Either way, it's all a bit arbitrary. In Islam, a woman must be submissive. In America, you're not supposed to call a woman "bossy", and the expression "Man up!" is about to be banned. These days, we're all living under apostasy regimes. My bet is that Islam's will prove more durable.
~Just when you think Bernie Farber, bigtime censorship zealot and former head honcho of the Canadian Jewish Congress, can't get any smaller, he does. In a world in which the US Secretary of State thinks nothing of slurring Israel as an "apartheid" state, the Prime Minister of Canada is the best friend the Jewish state has. But Farber can't resist a cheap and vulgar crack (it is one of the paradoxes of our world that you can't say "bossy" or "man up" but you can say "shit" and "fuck" all you want).
The photoshop of which he is so proud imposes Stephen Harper on the current formal portrait of Her Majesty as Queen of Canada, and wearing her medals as Sovereign of the Order of Canada, which Bernie desperately wants to get in on, and of the Order of Military Merit, which may be a stretch even for him. I don't mind people sneering at the Queen - Quebec separatists do it all the time, and so do Aussie republicans and Guardian columnists and all kinds of other folk. But it's a strange thing for a creep like Bernie, who wasn't above accepting Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee medal, and is so pleased with it he uses the photograph of him getting it on his Twitter page, the self-same Twitter page where he pisses all over her.
It would be nice to think he'd be principled enough to give it back, but don't hold your breath. By the way, re John Kerry's "apartheid" crack, "Israeli Apartheid Week" is Bernie Farber's gift to the world. It started in 2005 in Toronto on his watch - while the cardboard warrior was too busy pursuing phantom enemies through the thought-crime division of the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission.
~I was saddened to hear of the death of Bob Hoskins at an age when he should have been looking forward to a decade of great geezer parts. He was terrific in the original 1970s telly version of Pennies From Heaven (I'm not a big Dennis Potter fan, but on Pennies the trick had not yet worn stale), way better than Steve Martin in the Herb Ross Hollywood version - if only because the sight of the pugnacious Hoskins singing and dancing was so perfect a summation of the gulf between aspiration and reality. At the end of that decade, The Long Good Friday made Hoskins a movie star in Britain, and then Who Framed Roger Rabbit?* and all the rest made him a name in America.
I've never forgotten the end of The Long Good Friday. Hoskins is an East End mob boss who walks out of the Savoy thinking everything's all set, and calls for his car.
It's his car, but not his driver. Except for a glimpse of his moll (Helen Mirren) being taken away in another vehicle, the entire scene is Hoskins' face, as he understands his fate and comes to accept it - without a word of dialogue. Not sure about the music, but it was 1979. Enjoy:
Rest in peace.
(*Apologies: I initially called it Whatever Happened To Roger Rabbit? Think that was Bette Davis with prosthetic ears.)