Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Hyped for His Holiness

BARBARA WICKENS March 31 1997
Opening Notes

Opening Notes

Hyped for His Holiness

BARBARA WICKENS March 31 1997

Opening Notes

BARBARA WICKENS

Hyped for His Holiness

At first, things did not look good. After two years of hard planning, and then travelling halfway around the world, the 72 members of the Catholic Central High School Concert Choir from London, Ont., were not in the front row as promised for their audience with Pope John Paul II. Instead, the 50 girls and 22 boys found themselves wedged in the middle of Pope Paul VT Audi^ torium. Still, choirmaster Ted Gorski said the students § gave their all when they sang The Black Madonna—in -Polish—and several French songs, in honor of Montreal’s Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, who was also in Rome last week. But then St. Joseph—the patron saint of Canada, whose feast day was on the day they sang—must have smiled on the choir. Or perhaps it was Gorski’s boldness in moving his students to the front to sing the Polish hymn a second time as the auditorium

was emptying. In any case, something caught the Pope’s attention and he granted the Canadian students a 10-minute private audience. “We could see that the Pope was moved,” says Gorski. “It was more than we ever expected.”

The Pope

Caught in the Web

Bad drivers on Canada’s West Coast beware. A novel Internet Web site now invites Vancouver-area residents to snitch on meathead motorists. By connecting to http://users. uniserve. com/~gdaymate/drive, witnesses to such potentially lethal manoeuvres as failing to signal, dangerous lane changing and red-light running can report

the details—complete with the offender’s licence plate number—for others to see.

Last June, Trevor Wilson, a native of Australia who has lived in the Vancouver area since 1994, launched the Web site “Bloody Idiots: British Columbia's Record of Dumb Drivers” after he saw a motorist speeding through a school zone. “I’m not one of these people that likes to jump out and abuse people,” he explains. “And I didn’t have a

cell phone on me to call the police. So I thought, ‘What else could I do?’ ” Although Wilson’s reports are currently limited to the B.C. Lower Mainland, the 27-year-old employee of a local radio station says he is open to forging links with others elsewhere who want to set up similar Web sites—and is looking for a sponsor. “If it makes just one person drive more carefully,” says Wilson, “then it has all been worth it.”

A blacklist of violent sex offenders

British Columbia, home of Canada’s most infamous serial sex killer, Clifford Olson, is pushing for the creation of a new national registry of violent sex offenders. The province already has some of the country’s toughest laws for public disclosure of the whereabouts of paroled sex offenders. And victims’ rights groups have called for such a registry for some time. But now B.C. Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh has taken up the cause. Dosanjh says he has asked his officials to draft a blueprint for a national database of known violent offenders. He intends to propose the plan to his counterparts in the other provinces at their next meeting, early in 1998. The registry, he says, should be available to parents who wish to check the backgrounds of babysitters or anyone else who may come into contact with their children. Dosanjh acknowledges that such a registry might run into opposition from civil libertarians. But, he says, “I think it is appropriate to look at whether one loses certain fundamental rights forever if one poses a continuing risk to society. One should err on the side of protection, especially of children.” And though it might be of “minimal effectiveness,” Dosanjh says he feels so strongly about the registry that British Columbia might even move alone to create its own if the other provinces don’t join in.

Art on the town

It is as much a vacation destination as a new job posting. The task: to be artist-in-residence for the quiet town of Coaticook, population 6,942, in the picturesque rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. Thrown in for good measure: fully furnished accommodations and an all-purpose studio on the top floor of the town’s newly renovated, onetime post office, built in 1886. All for free, and for as little as two g months or as long as a year, beginning 1 in August. Normand Gladu, the local sculptor and painter who came up with g the idea, says the successful candidate § must be an established professional i artist, from Canada or abroad, and not

“someone who’s just sloshed a bit of § paint around.” Friendly Coaticook, Gladu: a change of pace for the right candidate surrounded by farmland, sponsored the program to bring art to its citizenry and to offer artists of exceptional calibre a change of pace. In exchange, the artist is expected to donate a piece of his or her work

to the town upon departure. Landing the job, even though unpaid, “would be like a gift from heaven,” Gladu declares. Nice work if you can get it.

Don't click on this

The free and easy way in which surfers navigate from one site to another on the World Wide Web could soon get bogged down in a sea of litigation. Lawyers for six major U.S. news organizations will argue their case this spring in New York City against Phoenix, Ariz.-based Total News Inc., a five-monthold Web site that offers one-stop shopping for news on the Web. The site provides links to more than 1,200 news-oriented sites worldwide, including those of plaintiffs Washington Post Co., Dow Jones &

Co. Inc., Reuters New Media Inc., Time Inc., CNN Inc. and Times-Mirror Co. (publisher of the Los Angeles Times). According to lawyers for the six companies, Total News infringes their copyright by republishing their news content without sharing advertising profits. Nonsense, says Total News president Roman Godzich, who continues to provide links to those sites. ‘We’re not copying,” he says. ‘We’re not republishing, re-editing or modifying their sites in any way.” Internet experts say the outcome of the case could affect far more than just one company, as a ruling against Total News would call into question the linking practices of thousands of other sites. “The basic fear is that making any kind of Web links without some kind of written permission would become illegal,” says Stanton McCandlish of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a U.S. cyberspace watchdog. Regardless, the case will certainly test the traditional boundaries of copyright.