I'm sorry... what?!

I couldn’t help but do a double take when I saw this: an American company has asked that a lawsuit brought against it be tried under Sharia law.

To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.

(link) (hat tip: The Vanity Press)

The reason this news story has gotten so much air play on a number of anti-war blogs is because they’ve listened to far more than their fair share of commentators railing against Muslims in general and Sharia law in particular.

Outside of this charged environment, the cognitive dissonance transforms into the merely heartless. The deaths occurred in Afghanistan, and the company facing the lawsuit is simply trying to avoid as much financial damage as possible by picking the legal system that is most advantageous to itself:

If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.

Which says what many of us have known for some time: capitalism can sometimes be quite a heartless system.


Is Toronto Recession Proof?

That’s what the Globe and Mail wants to know. While noting the problems that the Ontario economy is having, with auto plants closing in Oshawa, and an accident of federal statistics turning us into a “have not” province (note: only in comparison to Alberta’s windfall growth), Toronto doesn’t appear to have noticed:

Every developer fears the worst. In the meantime, they are all scrambling to meet insistent demand for new places to work and live.

The vacancy rate for top-quality downtown office space “went into freefall” in the first quarter of 2008, according to Cushman & Wakefield Lepage, dragging down vacancy rates for all kinds of commercial space in central Toronto.

Rental rates rose correspondingly: Companies scrambling to find a good address in the financial core drove up rents by the annual equivalent of 14 per cent in the first three months of this year, according to Cushman, leasing almost one million square feet of space over the same time.

That’s why so many new office buildings are going up downtown, with 3.4 million square feet - the equivalent of the entire Toronto-Dominion Centre - coming to market next year.

And this despite the fact that the American sub-prime lending crisis has trashed real-estate values and has started to empty out the weaker suburbs.

Well, I don’t know if this report is true or not, but given that during the last recession (1990-1994), Toronto lagged the rest of the country in coming out of it, I’d have to say that it would be a very nice change indeed.

Here in Kitchener-Waterloo, we seem to be doing well as well. Perhaps this is a new-economy/old-economy thing. I say again, I don’t think we can save the old tech auto sector jobs. We need to say goodbye to all that, invest heavily in the new information and bio-tech economy, and bulk up our training programs so we don’t leave the old workers behind.


Sultry Saturday

And, finally, as some blogs seem to like to stop their commentary once in a while for a musical interlude, I offer you this video by Jorane, singing “Pour Ton Sourire” with Daniel Lanois. Great stuff! I apologize for Yahoo’s commercial.

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