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Jay Currie

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6/19/2004

Child Porn and the Internet

Wearing one of my hats I write about internet filtering over at the libraryfilter blog. I read with some interest Jan Wong's piece on just how easy it is to access child porn on the net.

She is right to a degree although my friend Bob Turner has a good deal to say about it from the perspective of a person making internet filters. However, her suggestion and that of a Toronto police officer that,
In Canada, Internet service providers say they don't monitor content and leave that role to police, taking action when presented with a court order.

Detective Sergeant Paul Gillespie of the Toronto police's sex crimes squad said he has grown frustrated with Canadian ISPs.

"I don't know why our service providers don't understand that they are facilitating access to these websites," he said. "They can block them, and they don't seem to have the will."
globe and mail
The fact is that even if an ISP blocked every alledged child porn site all a dedicated surfer need do is hook up with a public proxy server, of which there are literally tens of thousands, and surf to his heart's sick content. Unless ISP's blocked access to public proxy servers, which would be a huge and intrusive measure, the solution to child porn is not at the ISP.

Update: Sean over at Polspy is a professional photographer, a Dad and very clear on the issue of child porn politics.

Martin, the NDP, the Tories and Child Porn

[Coming back from a perfect birthday party at a gorgeous beach thronged with rabidly NDP and Green supporters.]

I'd give the Tory war room (on a scale of 10) 3 for tactics, 0 for taste. The headline writers, 9 for tactics, - 5 for taste.

Pointing out that Martin has voted against the assorted measures to strengthen child porn laws was tactically a no brainer. It makes sense to pay attention to voting records even on routine motions. However, doing that the day after rather than the day before the Holly Jones sentencing hearing was tasteless.

The headline writers are desperate to tar the Conservatives with the "going negative" brush so as to ignore or minimize the fact the entire Liberal campaign has consisted of very little other than saying just how darn scary Harper is. No new ideas, no vision: just the tired French refrain, "Elect the crook not the fascist."

On the actual issue we have wildly restrictive laws governing "child porn". At this point in Canada two fourteen yearolds can have sex legally but if they shoot a Paris Hilton (watch the hits rise) video of themselves they can be charged.

At the same time we allow the endless sexualization of children - see Vogue/Elle etc with 15 year old models dressed erotically, see the teen mags filled with what can only be called the "kinderwhore" look. As a society we have basically said that children are allowed to dress as adults from about ten onwards.

Child pornography is a nasty extension of a rampant sexualization of children. One which is supported and promoted by an entire entertainment/fashion/merchandising ethos devoted to beauty at any cost.

Holly Jones was killed by a man who, long before he started consuming child porn, was already bombarded with legal images of completely sexualized children. I have not heard a word from any party about that nor do I expect to.

Update: Two quotes: Martin
"Martin, meanwhile, is looking for an apology. "His comments were clearly out of line and it is really beyond belief that he doesn't believe just how unacceptable they were," he told reporters Saturday in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

The Prime Minister said he has always felt "personally very strongly" about the issue of child pornography. He also said he didn't think there was a political party in this country that wouldn't "pull out all the stops" to ban such material.

Martin said the reason he voted against Conservative legislation on child pornography was because the Liberals had their own legislation and they were focusing on that."


Harper:
"These are excuses to let child pornography continue. It's an excuse to have weak laws on child porn," Harper said. "We're not going to pussyfoot around this."
ctv

A Note on SES results

Over at the BlogsCanada Politics E-group there is some elation and some constrenation at the most recent SES numbers.

It is important to note that the SES numbers are from a rolling sample of 600. Any given night you may see 200 respondents. This does not make the poll wrong, rather it makes any given day's results interesting but not definative.

6/18/2004

Think Twice

Is Paul Martin Kim Campbell in drag? Comparing Harper to Harris, Klein and Mulroney has one obvious drawback - all of them were more popular than Martin currently is. Even Mulroney.

Negative ads need to have credible bogeymen.

Imagine the Harper campaign doing a morph of Paul Martin into the last of the promise keepers, Dalton McGinty. Underneath there would be a crawl about Adscam, the gun registry, "I'd resign...." Cut line "Would I lie to you?

Bastards

The body of Paul Johnson, the American hostage beheaded by terrorists inside Saudi Arabia, has been found in the capital Riyadh, the Associated Press reported.
bloomberg

SES

Last nights poll puts the Liberals ahead 34/29. SES thinks it is the effect of another round of Liberal attack ads. I am inclined to think it is more than likely a statistical blip. With a 600 person rolling sample any single night is interesting but not all that indicative of direction.

What is true is that the Conservatives have to be ready to run a quick series of waste and corruption ads and soon.

The Liberals, lacking any compelling reason for people to vote for them have run a campaign which has exclusively focused on how bad the Conservatives are. As a holding action it has worked to a degree. Desperate but somewhat effective.

Harper, by taking the high road and keeping positive is answering the Liberals in a way that they cannot answer him. But, hate to say, at some point a campaign has to remind voters of just what a scummy bunch the Liberals have become. It could very well make the difference between a majority and a minority Tory government.


6/17/2004

Regional SES

SES is out with the regional breakdowns:

Atlantic Libs 34 PC 41
Quebec Libs 30 Bloc 52
Ontario Libs 36 PC 40 NDP 23
Man/Sask Libs 32 PC 32 NDP 30
Alberta Libs 32 PC 51
BC Libs 31 PC 35 NDP 25

The Atlantic number is a shocker. The PCs are up 15 points in ten days. I have to bet a bit of statisitical error.

The Grits are, on these numbers, done in Quebec. Basically reduced to Westmount and a few other Montreal ridings.

Ontario is still interesting. The Tories are off their June 6 43% and the Grits up by 3%. Negative advertising has worked to a degree. The question is really how those votes are distributed. If the Liberals run up big majorities in downtown Toronto and the burbs, Harper could still win the majority of seats in Ontario. Just depends on the splits. It will also depend on whether Smilin' Jack can split the vote in enough Ontario "safe" Liberal seats.

Hard to call Man/Sask simply because while it looks like a three way tie the seats are unlikely to fall that way. Rural conservatives are not going to suddenly turn Liberal nor are downtown Winnipeggers going to embrace Harper.

Alberta is Alberta. The only interesting question will be if there are any Liberals elected.

As ever, I have no idea at all what is going on in British Columbia. The Greens are at 10% and the Bloc has 3%. We beyond the mountains will, I suspect, vote fairly stategically. (In my own riding, if a conservative government is assured, I will vote Green....how weird is that.) The one thing which is clear is that the Grits have no momentum.

Overall this poll suggests the beginning of a Conservative sweep with good representation from every region of the country except Quebec. (Which is too bad but not the end of the world.) Harper simply has to keep pushing for a majority and hoping the disenchantment with the waste and corruption of the Liberal Party will propel him into office.


Shift

A survey by the Liberal party's former pollster shows the Conservatives are heading for a strong minority government and may be within reach of a majority.

Party insiders say a poll by Michael Marzolini, chairman of Pollara, has the Tories at 36 per cent compared with 31 per cent for Paul Martin's Liberals.

The NDP is at 16 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois at 12.
ottawa citizen
It's an internal poll but it may signal the shift Harper needsto start shooting for a majority. He seems to think so,
"Obviously I have spent more time in the East than the West, (and will) probably continue to do so, because I'm spending time, the way this election is going, in Liberal ridings, making sure they change hands," he told reporters when asked if he was taking Western Canadians for granted.

"I have spent a lot of time in the last couple of years in Western Canada and certainly the message I have from our Western supporters is that they want us to win a national majority government. I'm not suggesting we take them for granted but ... I don't think I have to go out there and tell most westerners, they need to change the government."
ottawa citizen
If, in fact, the Liberal scare tactics are not working you have to wonder what the geniuses in the Liberal war room will come up with next. Reptillian kitten eater has been done.

At a guess, if the polls hold like this one, the Grits will move to re-enforce whatever strength they have left. Or they may try the "keep Canada safe, elect a minority Conservative government" move; but that will really smack of desperation.

Healthcare

The marvelous thing about the healthcare debate is it is not about health; it's about whether high cost public providers will be allowed to keep a monopoly on the provision of everything from surgery to clean sheets and which level of government will make that decision.

Andrew Coyne points to a Liberal Press release which quotes the scary Mr. Harper,
“I know this is a dangerous subject. My advisors say don't talk about it, but the fact is sometimes provinces have allowed in the past few years, they've brought in private services covered by public health insurance. Ordinary people can get them. Why do I care and why do we care as a federal government how they're managed? What we care about is whether people can access them. This is just an ideological agenda.”
liberal party of canada
So, private services covered by public insurance. Tommy Douglas is spinning in his grave - or is he? In fact the Canadian Healthcare system which Douglas began is a classic Canadian compromise. Unlike the British system in which doctors were effectively nationalized (leading to a significant wave of medical immigration from England) Canada has always had the primary caregivers, doctors, allowed to operate as private businesses. The actual principle at stake is a single payer model not the provision of services by private individuals and companies.

Moreover, the single payer model has never actually been true. The Workman's Compensation Boards, Aboriginals, and Canadians willing to go to the US have always been outside the single payer system.

So what is actually at stake comes down to whether or not individuals and companies are to be allowed to offer services which are publically paid for in competition with the public providers.

What this brings sharpely into focus is whether the public service unions which control the hospitals are to be allowed to keep their monopoly. Alberta and British Columbia are moving away from that model and are instead seeking lower cost providers. Which will likely result in more money reaching the end users of the system aka patients.

The Liberals and NDP do not want this to happen. Instead they want to put more money into the same, broken, system. The Conservatives are at least willing to look at fixing the system itself.

6/16/2004

Coyne v. Herle

To be fair, this is not only the judgment of the Globe. It is becoming the settled wisdom of a good section of the Canadian political class. Which is to say, the Liberal campaign is working. Specifically, the decision to hold a snap election, in the middle of the biggest political scandal in modern Canadian history, will prove to have been a gamble worth taking -- as a matter of tactics, I mean. Yes, in the early going it looked desperate and sleazy, and fully validated the public anger the Globe finds so mystifying. But memories fade, and as the days have passed the broader Liberal strategy has come to the fore: namely, call an election before the newly-minted opposition party has had time to even decide on its policies, let alone explain them to the public. Then accuse it of having a hidden agenda.
andrew coyne
andrew Coyne admits he may well be wrong about how well the Liberal sleeze is working. However, he has got the Liberal Party's "win no matter" what strategy pegged.

Like many Canadian elections this one will be about whether the Liberal Party can fool and scare enough Ontarians into voting Grit. On the numbers it is awfully close. David Herle's going negative early may have managed to frighten just enough voters to let the Liberals stay even with the Tories. The problem, of course, is that twelve days of negative ads added to the seven we've already seen will tend to blunt their effect.

Whether Harper can inject a bit of passion into his own performance over the next few days is an open question; but, for the moment, the Liberals have fired all the guns they have.

New email

Just in case you want to rant at me my new email is jaycurrie AT gmail.com. The old address is now dead.

We interupt this announcement to bring you more from Smilin' Jack....BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE...AFTER WE PUT UP THE WINMILLS WE'RE GOING TO GIVE EVERY CANADIAN A SPECIAL TOMMY DOUGLAS MEMORIAL CANE WHETHER YOU NEED IT OR NOT...AND DON'T STOP THERE...BE POSITIVE, MAKE A CHOICE, GET A CANE AND A WINDMILL


Let's hope Jimmy Pattison also has a job for Smilin Jack.

Update:Maybe Jack could shill for Yahoo...I was just over checking an email account and they have bumped the storage space to 100MB in response to Google's gig.

6/15/2004

And now a word from our sponsors

I think blog advertising will be a force to be reckoned with eventually, but it's going to take some time. First, blogs need to get on the radar screens of major marketers with money to spend. Then it's going to take some time for them to engage in small-scale testing before they make serious commitments. My advice to the blog community is to be patient and to keep doing what you're doing. Content truly is king, and as blogs draw more eyeballs away from mainstream news and topical sites, the dollars will follow the eyeballs.
hespos.com
For those of you just tuning in...Blogs are in their infancy. Gradually they are becoming the go to source for quick commentary and out of the mainstream opinion. Eventually this form of citizen journalism will attract decent sized audiences and will be a great, innovative way of advertising. Not quite yet; but soon.

Debates

Being sans television I went back to the thirties and listend to the last half on radio. Two yowling small children did not help but my quick impression was that Harper did fine but not brilliantly, Jack Layton was better than I expected and showed a good deal of poise, Martin sounded as though he felt he had a couple of themes to hit and just wailed on them and Duceppe did a masterful job of keeping Martin's feet to the Adscam fire.

What struck me was that Martin is desperate to turn this into a clash of visions but suffers from the problem that he really has no vision other than the status quo but better. Sadly, Harper seemed unwilling to really hit Martin on the issues. It was like listening to a guy wrapped in cotton wool.

It sounded to me as if Harper is running for a minority. And that, I'm afraid, is a mistake. If you are the challenger you have to swing for the fences not hit endless singles.

Update: Paul Wells is less kind....
And all they did was shout one another down, ask questions they knew could not be answered, declare their opponents unable to answer their bogus questions after the barest of pauses, and otherwise engage in a way that would have shamed the parents of any four-year-old.

Who taught Paul Martin to put his hand in another man's face to shut him up?
inkless wells


Update II: Andrew Coyne is a bit surprised at the positive reaction Harper got:
From comments on phone-in shows etc, it seems to be Harper's restraint -- or passivity, if you prefer -- that played well. People were really put off by all the shouting over one another. Indeed, if there's one big loser from the debate, it's probably Anna Maria Tremonti.

It doesn't matter who "won" the debate in a competitive sense: we're not picking a debating champ. It does matter if the general impression left influences voters one way or another. If Harper's performance assuages voter fears that he's too extreme -- extreme in temperament, more than in ideology -- he could get a lift out of this. As a bonus, it would make hash of my thesis in tomorrow's column.
andrew coyne
Part of what powers the media, even us bloggers, is we read the media. Out in the real world it is the impression a leader makes as much as the minute by minute gaffe count and scary meter.

[cross posted to Shotgun and BlogsCanada Election E-group.]

Sweet!

I just set up a new blog for my partner Susan. She is baking biscotti to Keep Galiano Island fed so I created a biscottigirl blog.

It gave me a chance to test out the new Blogger interface....gorgeous. Simple, elegant and still free!

Übermenschen, Moi??

Roused from slumber Canada's only living paleo-con, the esteemed Kevin Grace has donned the robes of the patriarchs and, with an irony I can only admire and never hope to match, taken me to task for suggesting socons don't belong in government.
The state has inflicted its beliefs on me from the day I was born. And Jay Currie has no problem with that, so long as people like him are in charge. Currie is determined to make a murderer of me: of babies in the womb and Serbs, Iraqis and other lesser breeds outside it.

I am not predisposed to take political guidance from those whose preferred response to any problem is Lenin’s—"Kill them"—but who am I to "inflict" my sissified morality on Übermenschen like Jay Currie?
the ambler
Trembling in the face of Grace's invective, an invective I fulsomely admire, I have to say that I would rather not have him in charge either. The difference, of course, is I would prefer to ensure that the state is minimized in every respect whereas Grace implies it would be a good thing for his folks to be in charge.

The philosophical difference is basic - I deeply believe that politicians use the state for ends which I am quite certain I disagree with but, rather than switching out one set of politicians for another, I would like to restrict the scope of the activities the state engages in. In particular, I would prefer that the state not make choices which can responsibly be left to individuals.

Reducing the scope of the state will reduce the scope of the mischief politicians can get up to. To take asimple example: I am inclined to think the state should get out of the marriage business. Leave it to the churches and whatever other institutions decide to get involved. What that would mean is that there would no longer be a registry of marriages maintained by the state. And there would no longer be any state sanctioned rules about who can or cannot be married. Thus ends the same sex marriage issue which seems to drive socons so very crazy.

Applied generally the test would be, is there any compelling reason why the state should be involved in activity "x"? This would quickly lead to the decriminalization of virtually every so called vice, the elimination of state required prescriptions, an end to most subsidies and a generally shrinking of the sphere of the state's activity.

At the moment Grace objects to the state making him, indirectly, a baby killer by his lights. Fine, get the state out of the business of sanctioning or providing any medical procedure. If we want the state to somehow fund medical care then it might set up a genuine insurance scheme and, to protect the poor, waive the premiums for those poor.

I am no happier with much of what the state does in my name than Grace is. But replacing one bunch of politicians with another is really not addressing why the state has become so intrusive. The solution is to look seriously at fixing the machine rather than replacing the operators.

book chat

Outspoken criticism remains as rare in our time as it was in West's. The reason became clear to me when I worked in the books section of the National Post. Part of my job involved calling up writers and asking them to write reviews. I enjoyed getting to know many talented authors, but I couldn't help but be struck by a common occurrence. Often, I'd say something along the lines of, "Why don't you tell me what kind of books you're interested in, and I'll keep you in mind if I see any?" Nine times out of ten the writer would reply, "I'll tell you what kind of book I don't want to review: Canadian literature."
the walrus
Ex-Post Booksguy Andy Lamay writing in The Walrus lands one on the cozy club of Canadian authors. I have also been told by GG winners and assorted other Canadian writers that they don't review Canadian fiction if they can help it. And, because I am onlyly indirectly attached to the press, they were forthcoming. One explained that if he didn't like a book he really didn't feel he should review it because he knew he'd see the author fairly soon.

Of course, reviewing at all in Canada is becoming a lost art as the Book review pages are cut and stuffed with wire copy. Ah well.

Still a horse race

The Liberals and Conservatives continue their neck and neck race, once
again tied as of polling completed last night. As of last night, CPAC-SES
Tracking: Conservatives 33%, Liberals 32%, NDP 19%, BQ 12%, Green 5%.
Time for a change holds steady at 59%, while Martin slips 3 points as the
leader who would make the best Prime Minister but still holds onto a
marginal lead (2 points) over Stephen Harper.
ses email
At a guess the voters are waiting for tonight's debate. At the same time, the fact the tories and Liberals are in a dead heat does not bode all that well for Martin. With all the attack ads and outright bribes the best the Liberals can do is stay even. The Tories, on the other hand, are in the position that they can go after the Liberals with attack ads of their own claiming turnabout is fairplay. If Harper wins - whatever that may mean - tonight and the polls begin to go the Tories way I suspect they will keep the negative ads off air; but if it is a draw then watch for all AdScam all the time.

Paul to Paul

On the June 21 McLeans back page Paul Wells writes Paul Martin:
You had more than a year after you stage-managed your dismissal from cabinet to tell Canadians your plans for government. You decided not to risk it. You came to power without an agenda, confident you could find one after we re-elected you. You wonder why we won't buy grand promises about a Paul Martin government. The answer is simple: we've seen one. It wasn't that great. It left people with no feeling that anything will be lost if you go away.
paul wells

Traction

When Mr. Martin tried arguing that Quebec's interests would be best defended with representatives from that province elected under the Liberal banner, Mr. Duceppe reminded him of the sponsorship scandal.

"We saw for 10 years what you did with your elected officials from Quebec," Mr. Duceppe said. "On the question of sponsorships where your caucus decided behind closed doors to grease the pockets of your friends."

Mr. Harper argued that accountability is this election's most pressing issue.

"We have a government that has a track record of incompetence and scandals and wastefulness, which is the worst in the history of this country, and we have to offer a real moderate modern alternative in order to replace this government," Mr. Harper said.
globe and mail
I didn't watch the French language debate simply because I have no television; but I doubt I would have watched it in any event. How the leaders look is a cottage industry in the press and, no doubt, one which will continue. It isn't one which interests me very much.

The real question is whether or not Martin could overcome the Adscam tarnish and get the election back on his track. From the press reports it does not look as if he did. Shooting at Harper's economics is fine; but it sounds lame when you have presided over the looting of 250 million in Adscam and 2 billion in gun registry.

As Andrew Coyne points out, it is awfully difficult to pose as the champion of fiscal responsibility when you are doling out a billion dollars in corporate pork (a 100 million of which goes to the impoverished Ford Motor company).

However, and here is the rub, the Conservatives are so lily livered that instead of taking this heaven sent opportunity to skewer the Liberals for paying off big buisiness and big labour in Ontario, they come out with a promise to honour the commitments made by the Federal Liberals.

This could be as incisive a moment as the "You could have said no." was in the Turner Mulroney debate. But Harper has to be willing to call a bribe a bribe and use it as one more example of the Liberals pandering and corruption.

6/14/2004

Dead Heat

Proving that going negative can pay off the overnights at SES have the Conservatives at 34% and the Grits at 33 going into tonight's French language debate.

Tonight is really irrelevant in most repects. So long as Harper can speak French, which he can rather well, he comes out looking Prime Ministerial. Meanwhile Martin will take a punching on AdScam and the rest of the sleeze. The point being that the French language debate will really only effect Quebec where, at most, half a dozen seats might change hands depending on Martin's performance. The Conservatives are unlikely to win any so it is really between the Bloc and the Liberals.

In a wider context the French language debates can boost Harper if he meets even the low expectations set for him. Being Canada we want our Prime Minister to be able to use both Official languages. If Harper meets that challenge it is probably worth a point or two in the rest of Canada.

Like he Said

From the valuable Nick Packwood:
Mr. Harper's problem as leader of a political party seeking power is a bit different. He has to paper over differences between socons and those neocons who are libertarian-leaning on social issues. But on black and white issues such as the legality of gay sex or abortion I see little room for compromise. If I thought there were any prospect of a Conservative majority I would be concerned at the prospect of that government thinking to use the notwithstanding clause on this or this bit of possible legislation. As it stands I am no more troubled by the socon Evangelicals of a Conservative government than I already am by the right wing Catholics of the Liberal backbench over the last ten years. On some issues of conscience it is six of one and half a dozen of the other. There is also the important point that people with views that are not in vogue at the CBC space fortress on Front Street should also have those views represented in a democracy. There is a sad irony in the fact a government lead by Mr. Harper may offer more opportunity for Liberal socons to express those views than a Liberal majority ever did.
ghost of a flea
I rather hope for a narrow Conservative majority; but for exactly the reasons Nick outlines in his post I would be just as happy to see a minority.

The divide between socons and libertarians is likely more real than the divide between fiscally responsible Liberals and their Conservative counterparts. it comes down to a question of to what degree do you want the state to regulate morals.

I prefer a state which gets on with the tasks of road repair, fighting crime, conducting a responsible foreign policy and providing the wherewithal to finance a basic social safety net and decent healthcare. Beyond that I prefer the government to avoid trying to imporve or supervise its citizens.

No doubt there is a place for social conservatives; but I am pretty certain it is not in government. By all means go out and try to save souls from same sex marriage, abortion and whatever else - pot, cigarette smoking, demon rum, fast food, GMOs, nanotechnology, internet pornography - is being decried at the moment from whatever pulpit the socon sits beneath; but don't use the state to inflict your beliefs on the rest of us.

6/13/2004

How to beat a deficit

In the comments at the politics E-group Andrew Spicer notes:
So, in per-capita constant dollars, the Liberals raised personal income taxes 25%, corporate income taxes 87%, other income taxes 64%, excise taxes and duties 17%, EI was decreased 29%, and other revenues decreased 8%
politics egroup blogs canada
Ouch!

More on Debt

Ian Welsh, who does not sleep, has put up a brilliant post at the BlogsCanada Election e-group.
Once upon a time, about 30 years ago, we had a relatively small debt, that sat at about 12% of GDP and had servicing charges on gross debt of a little over 5.3%. That was 1973. Oddly the year before servicing charges had been 5%, with a slightly higher debt - and the year after servicing charges were to rise to 5.6%. Those servicing charges would keep rising, reaching a height of 10.7% in 1981. That rise more than doubled actual debt costs - and since debt itself began to rise, there was a classic vicious cycle. Although there would be dips, a long term decline would not begin until 1991.
ian welch
Frankly, this should be required reading for anyone who presumes to discuss fiscal policy during this election campaign.

Good News in Palestine

Running guns and contraband through tunnels into Rafah refugee camp from nearby Egypt was once both profitable and patriotic in Palestinian eyes. It put rare cash into a poor economy and fueled "resistance" to Israeli occupation in Gaza.

But communal support for the smugglers has cooled as Israeli forces have razed more and more parts of Rafah said to be hiding tunnels. With 13,000 people now homeless, many of whom say they concealed nothing, residents are turning on the tunnel men.

"Many people now oppose our work. I know of cases where people have noticed others digging a tunnel and they have assaulted them," said Mustafa, a veteran Rafah tunnel builder who declined to give his family name.

Residents have staged no public protests against the tunnel networks for fear of seeming disloyal to the uprising in Rafah, which is dominated by militant factions.
reuters
At some point the Palestinians will get fed up with the hopeless leadership they have and will begin to take matters into their own hands. Turning on the tunnel men is a good first step.