Google Tracks, Uber Hacks

From Virgil of Britbart News

Here’s a headline that might be of particular interest to the 107 million Americans who have an Android phone or other mobile device:

“Google collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled.”

Everyone, of course, should be concerned that a single corporation has flouted all the norms of personal privacy that we’ve built up over the centuries.

The scoop from Quartz Media details that since the beginning of 2017, mobile devices running the Android operating system track the location of the user, even when the device is turned off, and even when there’s no installed SIM card. It seems that each device has been automatically storing up the information, no matter what—and then, when it’s connected to the Internet, it sends it all to Google.

How does Google do this? Android devices have been relating their location to cell phone towers, and after that, it’s easy—and the more towers in a given area, the easier. When contacted by Quartz, Google didn’t deny the practice, volunteering some weaselly words to the effect that it would cease the practice—maybe. (We might also note that around the world, Google claims two billion active users; no one knows what’s happening to all that information.)

As the Quartz author, Keith Collins, puts it, “The result is that Google … has access to data about individuals’ locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy.”

Ah yes, “privacy”—now there’s a concept! It’s a bit retro, maybe, but still, in the minds of most of us, privacy is vital. Indeed, the Quartz writer observes that privacy can be a matter of life and death:

The practice is troubling for people who’d prefer they weren’t tracked, especially for those such as law-enforcement officials or victims of domestic abuse who turn off location services thinking they’re fully concealing their whereabouts. Although the data sent to Google is encrypted, it could potentially be sent to a third party if the phone had been compromised with spyware or other methods of hacking. Each phone has a unique ID number, with which the location data can be associated.

In other words, you’re being tracked, and you could also be hacked.

Speaking of hacked, we might pause over some more news—this a scoop from Bloomberg—that Uber, the car service, was hacked and lost the data of some 57 million people. It’s also noteworthy that the hack occurred in October 2016, and that, at the time, Uber paid a ransom to the hackers to keep them hushed up—and it was hoped also that they would delete the stolen data.

Moreover, the Uber hush-money plan would seem to be a flat-out violation of several laws. For openers, federal statutes require that victims of a privacy breach be notified immediately, and in addition, it’s typically not legal for companies to make secret-conspiracy payments to criminals.

Of course, as we can all now see a year later, the hack didn’t stay hushed. And while we’re at it, we can wonder: Did the missing data really get deleted?

Yes, Uber said to Bloomberg that no Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details, or other data were taken. But should we really believe them? And for that matter, what are the chances that this was some sort of inside job? And if so, what are the chances that it could happen again? Indeed, if its system is that porous, how can we be sure that Uber would even know what it has and what it doesn’t have—or rather, what’s secure and what’s not?

Presumably, the Uber hack will be fully investigated, but Virgil wonders: When will the investigators find the time? After all, there have been so many hacks in the last year or two that it’s not even clear that Uber’s makes it into the top ten.

So there we have it: Google tracks you, and Uber hacks you. Actually, come to think of it, we could well be getting both from both — both companies tracking and hacking.

At some point, the American people are going to conclude, for the sake of their privacy and security, that we can’t let this much power be concentrated into the hands of a few arrogant, irresponsible, and, frankly, neglectful, individuals and their companies. This isn’t just corporate malfeasance causing harm to individuals; this is malfeasance that jeopardize our economic and even national security.

Fortunately, there’s a powerful historical precedent for solving this problem: regulation and, possibly also, antitrust litigation, as we saw at the beginning of the 20th century, under the leadership of President Theodore Roosevelt.

As a nation, we’ve been down the dark and winding road of corporate misbehavior before, and after a difficult period, we came out the better for it. So now today, we had better re-learn those old lessons.

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A Thanksgiving Toast To The Old Breed!

A Thanksgiving Toast To The Old Breed

by Victor Davis Hanson
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The late World War II combat veteran and memoirist E. B. Sledge enshrined his generation of fellow Marines as “The Old Breed” in his gripping account of the hellish battle of Okinawa. Now, most of those who fought in World War II are either dead or in their nineties.

Much has been written about the disappearance of these members of the Greatest Generation—there are now over 1,000 veterans passing away per day. Of the 16 million who at one time served in the American military during World War II, only about a half-million are still alive.

Military historians, of course, lament the loss of their first-hand recollections of battle. The collective memories of these veterans were never systematically recorded and catalogued. Yet even in haphazard fashion, their stories of dropping into Sainte-Mère-Église or surviving a sinking Liberty ship in the frigid North Atlantic have offered correctives about the war otherwise impossible to attain from the data of national archives.

More worrisome, however, is that the collective ethos of the World War II generation is fading. It may not have been fully absorbed by the Baby Boomer generation and has not been fully passed on to today’s young adults, the so-called Millennials. While U.S. soldiers proved heroic and lethal in Afghanistan and Iraq, their sacrifices were never commensurately appreciated by the larger culture.

The generation that came of age in the 1940s had survived the poverty of the Great Depression to win a global war that cost 60 million lives, while participating in the most profound economic and technological transformation in human history as a once rural America metamorphosed into a largely urban and suburban culture of vast wealth and leisure.

Their achievement from 1941 to 1945 remains unprecedented. The United States on the eve of World War II had an army smaller than Portugal’s. It finished the conflict with a global navy larger than all of the fleets of the world put together. By 1945, America had a GDP equal to those of Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the British Empire combined. With a population 50 million people smaller than that of the USSR, the United States fielded a military of roughly the same size.

America almost uniquely fought at once in the Pacific, Asia, the Mediterranean, and Europe, on and beneath the seas, in the skies, and on land. On the eve of the war, America’s military and political leaders, still traumatized by the Great Depression, fought bitterly over modest military appropriations, unsure of whether the country could afford even a single additional aircraft carrier or another small squadron of B-17s. Yet four years later, civilians had built 120 carriers of various types and were producing a B-24 bomber at the rate of one an hour at the Willow Run factory in Michigan. Such vast changes are still difficult to appreciate.

Certainly, what was learned through poverty and mayhem by those Americans born in the 1920s became invaluable in the decades following the war. The World War II cohort was a can-do generation who believed that they did not need to be perfect to be good enough. The strategic and operational disasters of World War II—the calamitous daylight bombing campaign of Europe in 1942-43, the quagmire of the Heurtgen Forest, or being surprised at the Battle of Bulge—hardly demoralized these men and women.

Miscalculations and follies were not blame-gamed or endlessly litigated, but were instead seen as tragic setbacks on the otherwise inevitable trajectory to victory. When we review their postwar technological achievements—from the interstate highway system and California Water Project to the Apollo missions and the Lockheed SR-71 flights—it is difficult to detect comparable confidence and audacity in subsequent generations. To paraphrase Nietzsche, anything that did not kill those of the Old Breed generation made them stronger and more assured.

As an ignorant teenager, I once asked my father whether the war had been worth it. After all, I smugly pointed out, the “victory” had ensured the postwar empowerment and global ascendance of the Soviet Union. My father had been a combat veteran during the war, flying nearly 40 missions over Japan as the central fire control gunner in a B-29. He replied in an instant, “You win the battle in front of you and then just go on to the next.”

I wondered where his assurance came. Fourteen of 16 planes—each holding eleven crewmen—in his initial squadron of bombers were lost to enemy action or mechanical problems. The planes were gargantuan, problem-plagued, and still experimental—and some of them also simply vanished on the 3,000-mile nocturnal flight over the empty Pacific from Tinian to Tokyo and back.

As a college student, I once pressed him about my cousin and his closest male relative, Victor Hanson, a corporal of the Sixth Marine Division who was killed on the last day of the assault on Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa. Wasn’t the unimaginative Marine tactic of plowing straight ahead through entrenched and fortified Japanese positions insane? He answered dryly, “Maybe, maybe not. But the enemy was in the way, then Marines took them out, and they were no longer in the way.”

My father, William F. Hanson, died when I was 45 and I still recall his advice whenever I am at an impasse, personally or professionally. “Just barrel ahead onto the next mission.” Such a spirit, which defined his generation, is the antithesis of the therapeutic culture that is the legacy of my generation of Baby Boomers—and I believe it explains everything from the spectacular economic growth of the 1960s to the audacity of landing a man on the moon.

On rare occasions over the last thirty years, I’ve run into hard-left professors who had been combat pilots over Germany or fought the Germans in Italy. I never could quite muster the energy to oppose them; they seemed too earnest and too genuine in what I thought were their mistaken views. I mostly kept quiet, recalling Pericles’s controversial advice that a man’s combat service and sacrifice for his country should wash away his perceived blemishes. Perhaps it’s an amoral and illogical admonition, but it has nonetheless stayed with me throughout the years. It perhaps explains why I look at John F. Kennedy’s personal foibles in a different light from those similar excesses of Bill Clinton. A man, I tend to think, should be judged by his best moments rather than his worst ones.

Growing up with a father, uncles, and cousins who struggled to maintain our California farm during the Depression and then fought in an existential war was a constant immersion in their predominantly tragic view of life. Most were chain smokers, ate and drank too much, drove too fast, avoided doctors, and were often impulsive—as if in their fifties and sixties, they were still prepping for another amphibious assault or day-time run over the Third Reich. Though they viewed human nature with suspicion, they were nonetheless upbeat—their Homeric optimism empowered by an acceptance of a man’s limitations during his brief and often tragic life. Time was short; but heroism was eternal. “Of course you can” was their stock reply to any hint of uncertainty about a decision. The World War II generation had little patience with subtlety, or even the suggestion of indecision—how could it when such things would have gotten them killed at Monte Cassino or stalking a Japanese convoy under the Pacific in a submarine?

After the stubborn poverty and stasis of the Great Depression, the Old Breed saw the challenge of World War II as redemptive—a pragmatic extension of President Franklin Roosevelt news-conference confession that the “Old Dr. New Deal” had been supplanted by the new “Dr. Win-the-War” in restoring prosperity.

One lesson of the war on my father’s generation was that dramatic action was always preferable to incrementalism, even if that meant that the postwar “best and brightest” would sometimes plunge into unwise policies at home or misadventures abroad. Another lesson the World War II generation learned—a lesson now almost forgotten—was that perseverance and its twin courage were the most important of all collective virtues. What was worse than a bad war was losing it. And given their sometimes tragic view of human nature, the Old Breed believed that winning changed a lot of minds, as if the policy itself was not as important as the appreciation that it was working.

In reaction to the stubborn certainty of our fathers, we of the Baby Boomer generation prided ourselves on introspection, questioning authority, and nuance. We certainly saw doubt and uncertainty as virtues rather than vices—but not necessarily because we saw these traits as correctives to the excesses of the GIs. Rather, as one follows the trajectory of my generation, whose members are now in their sixties and seventies, it is difficult not to conclude that we were contemplative and critical mostly because we could be—our mindset being the product of a far safer, more prosperous, and leisured society that did not face the existential challenges of those who bequeathed such bounty to us. Had the veterans of Henry Kaiser’s shipyards been in charge of California’s high-speed rail project, they would have built on time and on budget, rather than endlessly litigating various issues as costs soared in pursuit of a mythical perfection.

The logical conclusion of our cohort’s emphasis on “finding oneself” and discovering an “inner self” is the now iconic ad of a young man in pajamas sipping hot chocolate while contemplating signing up for government health insurance. Such, it seems, is the arrested millennial mindset. The man-child ad is just 70 years removed from the eighteen-year-olds who fought and died on Guadalcanal and above Schweinfurt, but that disconnect now seems like an abyss over centuries. One cannot loiter one’s mornings away when there is a plane to fly or a tank to build. I am not sure that presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower were always better men than were presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, but they were certainly bigger in the challenges they faced and the spirit in which they met them.

This Thanksgiving, let us give a toast to the millions who are no longer with us and the thousands who will soon depart this earth. They gave us a world far better than they inherited.

Victor Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson senior fellow in classics and military history at the Hoover Institution and the author most recently of The Second World Wars.

The Deconstruction Of Humanity

THE DECONSTRUCTION OF HUMANITY
NOVEMBER 16, 2017 MELANIE Phillips

Melanie is a British writer . You can go to her website by using her name.

If you want a break from the spectacle of Britain tearing itself apart over leaving the European Union, you can upset yourself instead watching the spectacle of the western world tearing apart the very notion of what it is to be a human being.

The knee-jerk bullying, victim-group sectarianism and repudiation of reason itself over transgenderism defy belief. The Times (£) reports that a lesbian Labour party women’s officer was allegedly subjected to months of harassment as a “Terf” — a derogatory term for “trans exclusionary radical feminist” – because she took issue with aspects of transgenderism.

Intimidation by transgender activists, in the laughable cause of promoting greater tolerance and inclusivity, has suddenly become the new norm. Examples – such as the Christian maths teacher who was suspended for addressing as a girl a female pupil who identifies as a boy – are coming thick and fast.

As has been noted elswhere, however, the really extraordinary aspect of all this is the way in which the establishment – Conservative government ministers, schools, universities, the Church of England – are meekly falling into line with the hallucinatory requirement, enforced by coercion, character assassination and social ostracism against anyone who dares resist, that we deny the fact that we belong to the sex into which we were born.

The reason for this existential collapse is that the relativist west has so heavily bought into the belief that reality is merely what we decide it to be. Ours has become a culture of radical subjectivity in which there is no such thing as objective truth. Everything is instead a matter of opinion and individual perception.

Feelings trump facts every time. No-one’s lifestyle is to be considered wrong or inferior to anyone else’s. No judgment is to be permitted, except for the judgment that judgmentalism is wrong. What is right for me is what is right. What I declare something to be is what it is. I feel, therefore I am.

The ostensible aim of all this is to end discrimination, prejudice and social exclusion. This is untrue. The aim is unilaterally to change the entire basis of society from one governed by external moral rules and duties to one in which the only rule that has any authority is the duty to actualise our own inner potential and fulfil our own desires.

People declared themselves answerable to no moral authority beyond themselves. Human beings would now make it all up as they went along. Since sexual procreation is the way in which a society replicates itself, in order to change the society the rules governing sexual procreation had to be junked.

Normative rules of sexual constraint, marriage, heterosexuality and so on were all dismissed as harmful social constructs. Now human biology is also being turned into a social construct so that it can be deconstructed and reconstructed at will. Humanity itself has to become fluid.

So we severed the link between sex and procreation through sperm donation, surrogacy, IVF and the rest of the bio-engineering box of tricks. We stripped sexual orientation of any fixed meaning so that people can move in and out of different proclivities – heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual – at will.

We stripped parenting of meaning by removing the link with biology, erasing the difference between biological parents and step-parents and forbidding references to mothers and fathers. We stripped men and women of meaning on the basis that some days people would think they were the one and some days they might think they were the other. And whatever they said they were, at any one time, that’s what they were.

To manage this, we deliberately muddled sex and gender. That’s because sex is biology and biology is fixed, whereas gender is a social construct and therefore we can desconstruct and reconstruct it. And so sexual identity has to be denied altogether and transformed into gender.

But sexual identity is human identity. We are not androgynous, nor do we reproduce by parthenogenesis. The human race is created by the fusion of male and female. Sexual difference is at the very core of what makes us human beings. Denying the role of complementarity and difference in the human race throws its ability to procreate and raise its offspring safely, and thus its very survival, into doubt.

A paper published last June by the American College of Paediatricians – which is required reading for the evidence it provides of the corruption of medicine and the unforgiveable harm being done to children by transgender activism – said:

“Sex chromosome pairs ‘XY’ and ‘XX’ are genetic determinants of sex, male and female, respectively. They are not genetic markers of a disordered body or birth defect. Human sexuality is binary by design with the purpose being the reproduction of our species. This principle is self-evident.”

Just as transgenderism is a disorder based not in the body but the brain, so the claims it makes are based not in science but ideology. The ACP paper says:

“To be clear, twin studies alone establish that the ‘alternative perspective’ of an ‘innate gender identity’ arising from prenatally ‘feminized’ or ‘masculinized’ brains trapped in the wrong body is in fact an ideological belief that has no basis in rigorous science.”

“Rigorous science”. How quaint that sounds. In our ideologically fluid world, that too is being washed away as we steadily dismantle not just the foundations of western culture, not just morality, not even just the primacy of reason but our very understanding of what makes us what we are.

Is This Too Good To Be True?

IS THIS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

NOVEMBER 19, 2017 MELANIE Phillips

According to the Turkish Anadolu news agency, reported here, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz al Sheikh, has issued a quite remarkable religious ruling. Answering a question on TV about the Palestinian Arab riots over Temple Mount last July, he didn’t merely denounce Hamas as a “terror organisation”.

Much more significantly he actually issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, forbidding war against the Jews; and he said that fighting against Israel was inappropriate.

How can this be anything other than highly significant?

Sheikh Abdul Aziz is not exactly a theological liberal. In March 2012, he reportedly declaredthat it was necessary to destroy all churches in Kuwait, or possibly in the region.

Earlier this year, he warned of the “depravity” of cinemas and music concerts, saying they would corrupt morals if allowed in the kingdom.

In December 2015, while calling for greater Islamic co-operation against Isis, he labelled Isis “part of the Israeli army”, thus suggesting that when it comes to Israel he is delusional.

So undoubtedly he’s not going to announce that synagogues or churches may be built in Saudi Arabia any time soon.

Nevertheless, he is the most senior cleric in the state which has served as the epicentre of Sunni Islamic fanaticism and the most austere and conservative interpretation of a religion which has Jew-hatred at its theological core. If such a man is now saying that war against the Jewish state is not holy at all but must be forbidden on religious grounds, will this not have some impact within the Islamic religious world for which holy war against the Jews is an article of faith?

We can all obviusly see the politics behind this. Saudi Arabia is in the fight of its life with Iran, to which end it has forged tacit and not-so-tacit alliances with Israel as well as the US. The new, reformist Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has not only supported this alliance with Israel but, more remarkably, has said that now is the time for the kingdom to get rid of Wahhabi extremism and revert to “what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions”.

Of course that last bit was nonsense – the House of Saud made an alliance with the Wahhabis back in the late 18th/early 19th centuries. Nevertheless, the fact that the Prince made such a statement about now getting rid of extremism, in public, followed by this fatwa from the Grand Mufti, in public, surely suggests that the tectonic plates might just be beginning to shift within the heartland of Sunni fundamentalism.

Too good to be true? Just more smoke and mirrors? Of no more significance than a temporary alliance of expediency? Maybe. Nevertheless, a religious statement goes beyond politics. Neither the Prince nor the Grand Mufti needed to open up the religious issue in public at all.

Why Is Canada NOT In the Top Ten ? It Ain’t Complicated!

The World Economic Forum 2017/18 Competitiveness Report explains why:

‘The Global Competitiveness Report 2017-18 highlights several more critical challenges facing Canada:

Business R&D remains back of the class, despite decades of government incentives and programmes. Although Ottawa is exploring bolder policy ideas, such as a new programme to co-invest with business in “super-clusters”, the challenge in universities and large companies, especially foreign-owned ones, may be more fundamental.

Canadian universities are not generating enough commercial IP, while multinational corporations have cut their R&D significantly for years.

The overall tax burden remains a shackle on growth and it is tightening. According to the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey, Canada’s business community considers tax rates to be one of the most significant barriers to doing business. Governments, especially at the federal level, continue to downplay the barriers to domestic investment that they’re building through tax regimes.

The survey suggests that Canada’s business community views inefficient government bureaucracy as the single most problematic factor in doing business. This is not an area that any major government is currently addressing in an assertive way.

Government procurement of technology is missing in action, struggling in 68th position. As governments push business and investors to do more, it might be wise to look in the mirror too and have the government lead by example.’

In summary —-my fellow Canadians!

R and D , Innovation, Taxation , Technology , Regulation, Sluggish Universities.

We are 14th . Our largest trading partner —that ugly Trump USA?

Number 2!

Who is number 1?

Switzerland! And they are not a member of the EU!

European Immigration? Trouble!

The vaunted European Union Immigration System is having its problems ;

Just look at Norway( reported by Breitbart) :

‘Norwegian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Anniken Hauglie has raised alarm bells after a report has revealed that migrants account for half of the welfare beneficiaries in the country.

The report, which comes from the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), claims that not only are a disproportionate number of migrants receiving welfare, but many are living below the poverty line. Minister Hauglie has warned that the poor migrants could be forming an underclass in Norwegian society, Verdens Gang reports.

“The report confirms that one of the main causes of poverty in Norway is immigration. 28.5 per cent of immigrants live in sustained low income,” Hauglie said.

“It’s alarming. The worst thing that can happen is that immigrants and refugees become their own subclass in Norwegian society,” she added.

From 2011 to 2015, the poverty rate in Norway has increased from 7.7 per cent to 9.3 per cent. Immigrants, though they only make up 16.8 per cent of the total population, account for 28.5 per cent of all people considered to be in poverty in the country.

“To reduce poverty in Norway, more immigrants have to work,” Hauglie said. “Without language, it is difficult to get in the Norwegian labour market,” she added and recommended that more emphasis is put on having migrants learn Norwegian and not put them in jobs where they do not have frequent contact with native speakers.’

And then there is Lesbos Island

‘ATHENS (Reuters) – Residents on the Greek island of Lesbos went on strike on Monday to protest against European policies they say have turned it into a “prison” for migrants and refugees.

Islanders shut businesses, shops, municipal offices, nurseries and pharmacies and dozens rallied on a central square, calling on the government to transfer asylum-seekers to the mainland.

“Lesbos is not a place of exile,” a banner read.

Just a few miles from Turkey’s coast, Lesbos has borne the brunt of Europe’s migrant crisis. In 2015, nearly a million people – most fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – landed on its shores before heading north, mainly to Germany.

It is now hosting some 8,500 asylum-seekers in facilities designed to hold fewer than 3,000.

“Lesbos is not an open prison, nor will we allow anyone to view it as such,” Mayor Spyros Galinos was quoted as saying by the Athens News Agency.

Thousands of asylum-seekers have become stranded on Lesbos and four other islands close to Turkey since the EU agreed a deal with Ankara in March 2016 to shut down the route through Greece.

Some have been moved to camps on the mainland, but authorities say the terms of the agreement prevent asylum-seekers from traveling beyond the islands.

Rights groups have described conditions in camps across Greece as deplorable and unfit for humans. On Lesbos, violence often breaks out over delays in asylum procedures and poor living standards.

“The message (today) was that we can’t take it any more,” Galinos said. “Lesbos is in a state of emergency.”

Oh! And Austria is feeling the effects and so is Sweden . And we all know about the Netherlands ( who have already abandoned their multi cultural Policy and are now vetting more of their immigrants) and , of course, there is Belgium and France that we all know from the news and crime.

Of course, thousands of migrants are housed in sub standard conditions in Germany, but few talk about that.

I guess there may be some validity to being a little careful about an open ended immigration policy.

The Myth of Indigenous Utopia

The myth of indigenous utopia

Genocide. Ethnic cleansing. Forced assimilation. Slavery. Racism.

By Hymie Rubenstein

November 8, 2017 |

As much as mainstream history and traditional anthropology have shown these five phenomena to be near universal features of the human condition, they are mostly portrayed these days in the ivory tower, government and media as late 15th century European colonizer inventions to subjugate, exploit, or exterminate the indigenous people of the world.

In Canada, this skewed portrait of the five sins of Westernization portrays the pre-contact New World as a veritable Garden of Eden inhabited by a myriad of aboriginal groups mostly living peacefully with each other and in harmony with nature. The indigenous “fall from grace,” if any, was precipitated entirely by the arrival of Europeans.

The de facto Book of Genesis for Canada’s indigenized creation story is the 4,000-page 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RRCAP). The Report does not suggest the country was created in six days, it is silent on serpents and sex, and the Flood only appears as a metaphor for immigration. But – and I mean no disrespect to the authors and believers of the biblical Genesis story – the RRCAP creation story is just as hard to accept.

Among its many evidentiary shortcomings, it privileges unverifiable oral history over well-documented written accounts; makes no mention of periodic pre-contact hunger, starvation, or famine; only fleetingly refers to “violent death and cannibalism” and occasional warfare among the militaristic Iroquois; briefly comments on lethal conflict among the famously warlike Blackfoot; and buries pervasive West coast pre-contact slavery in a one-sentence footnote.

Conversely, the Report deals extensively with similar activities, some now viewed as crimes against humanity, when they were perpetrated by European societies, regardless of their relevance to Canada. This partial and selective story is well on its way to becoming our country’s “official history”. It is increasingly taught in our schools and is constantly regurgitated by prominent members of the Canadian intelligentsia. One of the latest to do so is Niigaan Sinclair, Associate Professor of native studies at the University of Manitoba and son of Senator Murray Sinclair, former chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Although Professor Sinclair is a beneficiary of the modern nation-state, industrialism and the capitalist system, he strongly rejects all three in an essay published by the Globe and Mail earlier this year as part of a multi-part series titled “Walls, Bridges, Homes … a series of essays written in response to the emerging global appetite for a progressive narrative around inclusion and immigration.” The essence of his argument is that the economic, social and political structures of pre-contact aboriginal cultures were not only fundamentally different from but actually superior to those of the European invaders. So superior, in fact, that Sinclair contends they must replace western civilization in order to “save the world”.

Leaving aside the claim of cultural superiority, for the moment, let’s examine the claim of indigenous exceptionalism.

There is no evidence that the aboriginal settlers of the Americas, as full and equal members of the human race, were any different from their pre-modern counterparts all across the globe, including Western Europe, in coping with the severe survival challenges they faced. Although the political evolution of individual groups of humans was highly idiosyncratic, the overall path of humanity starting about 100,000 years ago traversed from loosely structured, scattered, highly mobile family groups to somewhat larger, more organized foraging bands, to larger, more tightly integrated semi-sedentary tribes to moderately centralized chiefdoms and, finally, some 5,000 years ago, to the world’s first six pristine, hierarchical states. The long-term global process (which in no way implies the notion of “progress”) called “general evolution” mainly took place on the back of some combination of slaughter, subjugation, tribute extortion, assimilation, and expulsion meted out against foes.

Not in his ancestral back yard, says Sinclair. In the Globe article, he sarcastically dismisses this cumulative story of thousands of years of human accommodation, adaptation, and change as a Eurocentric fiction based on an “an evolutionary model of human community [that] was invented, starting with the ‘tribe’ or some other savagery and ending with the great [19th century] Westphalian nation-state and notions of sovereignty.”

In every other culture but Sinclair’s, apparently, infanticide was used to control population growth beyond the environmental carrying capacity of stone-age hunters and gatherers; ethnic cleansing was undertaken against alien neighbours when local groups exceeded the demographic sustainability of their territories under simple forms of farming; cannibalism was practiced as a response to hunger or to capture the spiritual power of competitors; wholesale extermination of enemies – genocide – was organized and executed to seize territory or eliminate military threats; and just about any alien group (now called “subalterns” in Marxist postcolonial studies) was subject to enslavement in support of forced labour, sexual exploitation, trade, or status enhancement.

Around the world, groups that excelled at these practices, including the Aztec of Mexico and Inca of Peru, slowly evolved into state-level societies. In the process they typically conquered, exiled, or absorbed their neighbours. Sometimes they butchered them for food, as the Aztecs did to obtain enough protein to survive in the fauna-scarce Valley of Mexico. They also despoiled their habitats through deforestation and species extinctions. Many of their victims, human, plant, and animal, are now known only via the paleontological record.

What we know about the Mesoamericans comes partly from direct documentary evidence, for theirs was a literate society. Admittedly we don’t know a lot about human life in pre-contact Canada because literacy didn’t arrive until the Europeans, and petroglyphs don’t tell us much. The historical record in these parts thus begins with documents like the 18,000-page Jesuit Relations (1632-1673) based on the reports of Roman Catholic missionary priests. While these and other writings were undoubtedly tainted with ethnocentric and evangelical bias, they consistently and comprehensively report that Canada’s original inhabitants demeaned their foes using vicious quasi-racial stereotypes (from coast to coast); mutilated, tortured to death, and cannibalized enemies (prevalent in southern Ontario and Quebec); enslaved members of neighbouring groups (common among West coast tribes); massacred competitors for land and resources (widespread on the Prairies); and exterminated entire ethnic groups (as in the genocidal annihilation of almost all the Huron by the Iroquois in 1649).

In short, contrary to the idyllic picture painted by Professor Sinclair’s essay and the RRCAP, the preponderance of scientific evidence, as opposed to tales told around eons of campfires, indicates Canada’s first immigrants acted just as beastly as the rest of the human family.

Whatever was going on pre-contact, it was remarkably unproductive in terms of population growth, compared to many other regions of the world. The aboriginal settlers had at least 15,000 years to populate the northern half of the continent, but on the eve of European settlement there were no more than 500,000 indigenous people in what is now Canada, or one person per 20 square kilometres. It was a virtual terra nullius by any reasonable definition. To be sure, they faced technological and environmental challenges that limited population growth (although endemic plant and animal food shortages were not among them), but based on the relatively rapid population growth in Europe and elsewhere over the same period, it is reasonable to hypothesize that inter-tribal warfare was more lethal in pre-contact Canada than it was just about anywhere else, including Europe during its darkest ages. In fact, the kill rate likely exceeded – by a huge factor – the number of indigenous people deliberately killed by Europeans.

None of this seems to have occurred to Professor Sinclair. Instead, he recommends the world look to aboriginal history for guidance on how to reduce modern inter-state and inter-cultural violence: “Indigenous nations have answers to nearly every single challenge facing nation-states and leading to such wars today.”

There is no denying that the death of tens of thousands of indigenous people in Canada and millions more elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere because of their susceptibility to infectious Western diseases like influenza, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, smallpox, and measles is a human tragedy of epic proportion, although it’s miniscule compared to the Black Death that killed an estimated 75-200 million people in Eurasia between 1346-1353. And it is outrageous that so many indigenous people died of smallpox contracted from blankets obtained from fur traders in return for animal skins. It’s widely alleged the Europeans deliberately infected their indigenous trading partners, which seems counterintuitive, to say the least. But even if they did, they were petty biological warriors compared to, say, Genghis Khan, who used catapults to toss plague-infested corpses over the walls of castles he besieged.

What Sinclair ignores most of all is that, unlike so many other places in the world, including Western Europe where even the names of most preliterate indigenous groups disappeared millennia ago, the post-contact European treatment of Canada’s original inhabitants involved neither genocide, nor slavery, nor ethnic cleansing, nor total assimilation, nor tribute extraction. On the contrary, though there was an unfortunate and unjustified period of legislated racial segregation for treaty Indians between 1885 and 1951, as well as other small and large injustices from first contact to the present, European settlement starting in 1535 eventually resulted in permanent pacification (the abolition of tribal warfare and the voluntary signing of treaties), the free and lively exchange of aboriginal products for European manufactured goods for 250 years, tens of billions of dollars spent since Confederation in 1867 to enhance the well-being of indigenous peoples, and an Indian Act (1876) and the Constitution Act (1982) – both rooted in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 – which defined, enhanced, and preserved the special rights and privileges of aboriginals (especially their treaty rights).

Warts and all, no country has ever done more for its indigenous people. And Professor Sinclair’s haughty claims to aboriginal moral superiority over European savagery have no foundation in Canadian history.

Mr. Rubinstein is a retired Professor of Anthropology at the University of Manitoba . This article appeared on the C2C Website .