Largest child pornography website busted—four men sentenced, including one Ontario man
Waverly D. Crenshaw, Chief U.S. District Judge of the Middle District of Tennessee, has charged four men with significant prison sentences for their connection with and operation of a “sophisticated” child pornography and exploitation ring operating off a Tor-network-based website.
Tor, short for The Onion Router, is a browser which gives users near-complete anonymity and the ability to access the dark web. The browser utilizes a network of internationally based Tor servers and provides anonymity by randomly bouncing your internet traffic between the various servers, further encrypting your activity each step of the way. The result is an almost untraceable digital footprint. Your activity may be seen, but no one will know where it came from.
A crown attorney has said that the three sixteen-year-olds who sexually assaulted a student at St. Michael’s College should be jailed for causing unforgettable trauma, according to the Toronto Sun.
Last year, the St. Micheal’s football team swarmed the victim, held him down so that they could sexually assault him with a broomstick. This incident was also videotaped by one of the students.
Speaking to the Toronto Sun, the crown attorney stated that “It’s one thing to be violently assaulted and penetrated and humiliated … It’s another thing to know this is being recorded so that other people can see your humiliation … after it’s over.”
All of the charged students have pleaded guilty to the crimes of sexual assault with a weapon. Last year, they were all expelled from school. Another teen pleaded guilty to making child pornography for videotaping the incident.
The sentence will be passed on Dec. 19.
On Remembrance Day, Don Cherry was fired from Sportsnet for a comment he made on Coach’s Corner regarding poppies. He complained that not enough immigrants were wearing them and suggested that it represented a general ingratitude by immigrants of the benefits they enjoy by living in Canada.
His comment, now dubbed the “‘you people’ comment”, caused predictable outrage. The state broadcaster pointed out that Cherry’s remarks could not possibly have merit because of the fact that there are visible minorities who fought for this country. Try not to think too hard about the fact that they conflated visible minorities with immigrants. I happen to be both, but many Canadians happen to be one or the other.
Many in the media interpreted (some in bad faith) it as an attack on all minorities through Canadian history. While there is a general stereotype that people of colour were not born in Canada, I dare claim that it is a fast disappearing one, at least from personal experience having lived most of my life in Ontario.
Unfortunately, while that stereotype is on the decline, another is on the rise. Even more unfortunately, the one that is on the rise has an uncomfortably high level of merit. After all, Don Cherry did not come up with an original idea, he merely expressed the “wrong” opinion in the “wrong” forum.
I know many fellow immigrant-minorities who find it quite puzzling that the mainstream media and a large section of society simply cannot fathom why racist attitudes are apparently becoming more prevalent and acceptable by progressives who hurl racist abuse against anyone who does not accept the “woke” dogma of the day and by the sentiment sometimes called “whitelash”. Did the white people of Canada spontaneously develop previously a non-existent or hidden collective race consciousness?
On the contrary, I cautiously claim that as each generation in society has its own cultural features, so do successive waves of immigrants. This is true regardless of the predominant country of origin or religion of any given wave of immigration. Not that immigrants are the same regardless of their origin, but that immigrants of the same origin will still tend to behave differently depending on when they came to Canada, and this is likely true even correcting for the amount of time spent in Canada.
In other words, an immigrant of “minority x” in 1990 who immigrated in 1975 will be systematically different from an immigrant of the same “minority x” in 2015 who immigrated in 2000. This is despite the fact that they are from essentially the same origin and have spent the same amount of time in Canada. This should not be a controversial statement.
This is because of two changing variables: the state of society in the country of origin, and the state of society in the destination country. Our society has definitely been changing, so it should not be a surprise if the way we integrate immigrants into our society changes as well. In fact, there may be a very strong case that our “immigration culture” has been changing mostly not because of changes in where our immigrants come from or their culture, but because of changes in our own culture and championing the “cultural mosaic”.
Not many people would argue with the fact that our society has become much more accommodating of social minorities, such as people in the LGBTQ community or people living with disabilities. Hopefully, not many people would argue with the claim that this is largely a positive thing for society as a whole.
Under Canadian Human Rights Law, individuals must be accommodated by society, including the government, employers, service providers, and other individuals. This accommodation must seek to prevent discrimination based on a “prohibited ground” to the point of “undue hardship”. Setting aside whether we as a society have enumerated the proper “prohibited grounds”, whether “undue hardship” is an appropriate threshold, or whether that threshold is interpreted as it should be, it is definitely reasonable for individuals to expect at least some accommodation from society because we do not all share the same characteristics, disadvantages, and capabilities, and a blanket allowance for all forms of discrimination will create discontent and will exclude too many people for society to function well.
For much of history, this accommodation was arguably too little, and we had been moving in the right direction for a long time. However, somewhere along the way, it became inappropriate to consider the extent to which individuals can be expected to accommodate society. Society is made up of individuals, and it is impossible for millions of idiosyncrasies to be accommodated perfectly. One individual’s right is necessarily another individual’s duty not to infringe upon that right. Where we create more rights, we create more duties for others.
I am not trying to argue that the poor white people of Canada are being victimized because they now have more duties not to infringe upon others’ rights not to be unfairly discriminated against. Rather, it is that rights must have a limit, or we create unlimited duties that can have negative consequences or even become impractical.
The phrase “Islam is right about women” is one illustration of this conflict. The phrase was coined to point out a popular contradiction in our modern outrage culture. The idea is that you can either be offended because you think the statement is discriminatory against either muslims or women, but thinking that it is discriminatory against muslims is sexist and thinking that it is discriminatory against women is Islamophobic. The phrase does not claim that Islam is worse for women than any other religion, and there is a good case that Christianity, as with most other religions, are sexist as well, at least by modern western standards. However, the illustration only works because muslims are considered, rightfully in my opinion, to face disproportionately high levels of unfair discrimination.
Other examples include: lessons promoting LGBTQ equality being pulled from classrooms because of complaints by immigrants that such ideas infringe upon freedom of thought or religion, claims by trans activists that lesbians are transphobic for refusing to sleep with people with penises, or labelling the term “bisexual” as exclusionary of non-binary individuals.
Excuse the cliche, but the point is this: we can’t only keep asking what our country can do for us, and not what we can do for our country. The country is nothing more than a collection of us, and we can’t expect all of us to do everything for each individual while making no attempt to fit into our society.
Canadians are bound together by what we have in common, but without the effort of individuals, the few remaining values that hold us together will only continue to weaken and we will become ever more divided into factions competing to score the biggest take for their particular team. Soon, there could be nothing we have in common with each other, other than our shared struggle to compete with each other for resources.
Diversity does not make balkanization inevitable, but our current societal trajectory probably does when “diversity is our strength” is zealously pushed without expecting some common values and customs to be upheld to keep us all together.
Don Cherry was merely pointing out one aspect of that fact.
The cenotaph that stands outside Toronto’s Old City Hall has been vandalized with spray paint. The inscription the spray paint made out, was “ye broke faith.”
This comes less than 24 hours after Remembrance Day.
The Toronto police have been investigating the vandalism since 7:00 in the morning.
The writing itself bears resemblance to the poem “In Flanders Fields, by the Canadain poet John McCrae. In the last stanza, McCrae writes “the torch; be yours to hold it high, If ye break faith with us who die.”
Although the culprit and their intentions remain unclear, the message is evidence that there is a message behind this vandalism.
Celebrity activism by the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna, Pusha T, Kim Kardashian, and Shaun King skyrocketed over the weekend, as they and many more publicly signed a petition to prevent the upcoming execution of Rodney Reed.
Reed is scheduled for execution on November 20 for the murder of Stacey Stites in Bastrop, Texas. In 1998, Reed was convicted by a jury, which many have pointed out was “all-white.”
According to a Change.org petition, “Mountains of evidence exonerates Rodney Reed. All of that evidence was kept from the all-white jury that convicted him. Instead, the evidence implicates the victim’s fiancé – local police officer Jimmy Fennell – who has a history of violence against women, including being convicted for kidnapping and sexual assault soon after Rodney was wrongly sent to prison.”
That petition has been signed nearly 2.5 million times, and is roughly 500,000 signatures away from reaching its goal of 3 million.
Kim Kardashian also made a comment about the case at the 2019 People’s Choice Awards, telling media: “seeing everyone rally around cases like Rodney Reed’s case that I’m so passionate about and getting people from both sides of the aisle to really come together and support something like a stay of execution from the governor of Texas. … I’m so proud that the right and the left are working together and I’m proud that the fans are following this journey with me.”
The problem is, though, that Rodney Reed has a long, well-documented history of sexual assaults according to Supreme Court documents.
According to information easily accessible on the Supreme Court’s website, Reed is responsible for a number of sexual assaults, and the only reason he was ever a suspect in his 1998 conviction was because he attempted to rape another woman, Linda Schlueter, at nearly the same time and place.
According to page five of the U.S. Supreme Court’s report:
“Reed became a suspect in Stites’s murder after he was arrested for kidnapping, beating, and attempting to rape and murder another nineteen-year-old woman, Linda Schlueter. Schlueter was abducted by Reed approximately six months after Stites’s murder, near both the route Stites typically took to work and the time she disappeared—3:00 a.m.. Moreover, Reed was regularly seen in this area by Bastrop police officers in the early morning hours, and his home was close to where both Stites’s and Schlueter’s vehicles were abandoned.”
Police were familiar with Reed, as he’d already been known to police for raping his intellectually disabled girlfriend Caroline Rivas.
“Given the similarities between these crimes, law enforcement inquired with DPS if they had Reed’s DNA profile on file; they did because Reed had raped his intellectually disabled girlfriend, Caroline Rivas. Reed’s DNA profile was compared to the foreign DNA inside and on Stites’s body—the two were consistent”
Though DNA testing has well-documented shortcomings, the results in Reed’s case were all considered conclusive. According to page six of the Supreme Court document:
“Reed could not be excluded as the foreign DNA contributor but 99% of the world’s population could be, and only one person in 24 to 130 billion people would have the same foreign DNA profile. But, to be sure, samples were taken from Reed’s father and three of his brothers, and they were ruled out as contributors too.”
The court document also thoroughly breaks down Reed’s forays against women.
His first instance was against Connie York, a 19-year-old who had come home late one night from a night with friends. According to Supreme court documents, “York was grabbed from behind and told, “don’t scream or I’ll hurt you.” When York did not listen, she was 8 repeatedly struck, dragged to her bedroom, and raped multiple times.”
Reed was interviewed, and, while he admitted that he knew York from high school, he denied raping her. When confronted with a search warrant for biological samples, Reed had an about-face, “Yeah, I had sex with her, she wanted it.” The case went to trial four years later, and Reed was acquitted.
Reed’s next assault was on a 12-year-old girl, A.W.
A.W. fell asleep on a couch while home alone, and woke up to Reed pushing her face into the couch, then being blindfolded, gagged, and repeatedly struck. The full details of that incident can be read on page 8 of the Supreme court document.
“The foreign DNA from A.W.’s rape kit was compared to Reed; Reed was not excluded and only one in 5.5 billion people would have the same foreign DNA profile from A.W.’s rape kit.”
That incident, as well as an additional four more sexual assaults which have DNA evidence pointing to Reed, are all outlined in the document above.
Additionally, Texas deputy assistant attorney general Lisa Tanner, who was the lead prosecutor for Reed’s case, stood by the court’s decision to convict him.
“A large amount of credible evidence, including irrefutable DNA evidence, the testimony of witnesses, and the pattern Rodney Reed followed in committing his other sexual assaults, show beyond a reasonable doubt that he raped and murdered Stacey Stites,” Tanner said.
Tanner went on to tell CNN that more than 20 judges have reviewed Reed’s case over the past two decades, “and found no reversible error and no credible evidence that someone other than Mr. Reed might have been disposed toward committing this heinous crime.”
What advocates are saying
Groups working for Reed’s innocence, such as the Innocence Project, point out what they consider to be weaknesses in the case, such as the lack of DNA testing on the murder weapon, as well as forensic experts having admitted to errors within testimonies which led to Reed’s conviction.
Bryce Benjet, Reed’s attorney, told CNN that there are “mountains of evidence” that prove Reed’s innocence. Benjet also points to the then-fiance of the victim, Jimmy Fennell, as a suspect.
In the 1998 trial, Fennell testified that he was home alone with Stites, having stayed up with her to watch TV until he fell asleep at around 9 p.m. Stites left at about 3:30 a.m. for her shift at a grocery store.
Her pickup truck was found abandoned in the parking lot of a local high school, with her deceased body being found off a nearby rural road.
Reed became a suspect in Stites’s murder after he was arrested for kidnapping, beating, and attempting to rape and murder another nineteen-year-old woman, Linda Schlueter.
Ten years after a trial found Reed guilty, Fennell pleaded guilty to charges of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and a kidnapping in Georgetown, Texas, after a woman he detained accused him of rape. He was sentenced to 10 years.
Additionally, a former inmate who served time with Fennell said in an affidavit earlier this month that Fennell confessed to killing his fiance.
“Jimmy said his fiancée had been sleeping around with a black man behind his back,” wrote Arthur Snow Jr., who was serving a sentence for forgery in a Texas prison in 2010, in the affidavit.
“Toward the end of the conversation Jimmy said confidently, ‘I had to kill my n*****- loving fiancée,'” he wrote.
Support for Reed continues to grow, as social media campaigns and celebrity endorsements keep the flame alive. Recently, a group for 26 lawmakers wrote to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in hopes of sparking a delay in Reed’s execution.
“Killing Rodney Reed without certainty about his guilt may exacerbate that issue and erode public trust—not only in capital punishment, but in Texas justice itself,” the letter said.
On top of this, Heather Stobbs, Stites’s cousin, now feels that Reed was wrongly convicted, and possibly framed. She told the Fox affiliate in Austin that she has no doubt in her mind that Fennell did it.
According to Wikipedia, “newly available DNA evidence has allowed the exoneration and release of more than 20 death row inmates since 1992 in the United States, but DNA evidence is available in only a fraction of capital cases.
Others have been released on the basis of weak cases against them, sometimes involving prosecutorial misconduct; resulting in an acquittal at retrial, charges dropped, or innocence-based pardons. The Death Penalty Information Center has published a list of 10 inmates ‘executed but possibly innocent.’ Of all executions in the United States, 144 prisoners have been exonerated while on death row.”