We can talk about terrorists without glorifying them or their acts

We want to know more, not less, and we want to know it NOW. We want as many details as possible so we can develop an understanding of the event and figure out what is important and what is not.

When the event in question is an act of terrorism, as we saw last week in Christchurch, New Zealand, we want to know even more. We live in a post 9/11 world where we have been inundated with terrorist act after terrorist act after terrorist act: we could almost call the current period the ‘Age of Terrorism’ based on the frequency of such incidents and the media coverage they receive.

When the event in question is an act of terrorism, as we saw last week in Christchurch, New Zealand, we want to know even more.

News articles, op-eds, books, specialised journals, blogs and podcasts (including my own blogs and podcasts – An Intelligent Look at Terrorism) have sprung up to dissect this phenomenon, all with the purpose at getting a better handle on it (and perhaps helping to decide what to do about it).

In this search for more details about the who, where, what, why, how and when, however, there has been some push back of late. Some have called for a suppression of information on terrorist attacks. This way of thinking states that naming terrorists or showing footage of their attacks (the New Zealand livestreamed his massacre) only serves to glorify them and promotes their acts for others to follow. There is ample evidence that likeminded individuals cite previous attackers as part of a justification for their own actions (the New Zealand terrorist cited both Anders Breivik, the 2011 Norwegian shooter, as well as Canada’s Alexandre Bissonnette, the shooter of the Quebec City mosque in 2017). There are also some who say publishing the names of the perpetrators compounds the grief of the families of the dead.

In light of this what should we do?

No one wants to give fodder to future terrorists and no one wants to prolong the agony of the loved ones of the victims. But is the reporting of a name doing this? I cannot speak for the feelings of those who lost family members or friends to terrorists but it strikes me that there is a tension between reporting facts and being sensitive. Where is the line between the public’s right to know and the bereaved’s right to not suffer?

The question of whether to show the video is a different matter however

Besides I think it is not a good idea to equate reporting with glorification or giving undue attention to a terrorist seeking either. Facts are facts and should be objective and not emotion-laden. In addition, in a world of instant news and multiple platforms we cannot suppress information anyway: that horse has left the barn. The New Zealand shooter’s video and manifesto were already being praised by those who shared his warped views seconds after they appeared online. Whether or not the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail or The Hill Times opts to not publish the terrorist’s name makes no difference in the reach of his message.

The question of whether to show the video is a different matter however. That piece of information is nothing more than violence porn. We should not share that any more than we should share footage of snuff videos or violent rapes. There is simply some material that should not be posted out of a sense of basic human decency.

We can learn about terrorism and its motivations by sharing more information, not less. We can be both true to our need to acquire details and our need to be sensitive to others. It is something that has to be done carefully, but it can be done.


Episode 6 – The terrorist attack in New Zealand and the threat of far right extremism

The mid-March massacre in Christchurch is still resonating around the world. What does this mean for the far right threat to Canada and other nations?

In this podcast, former Canadian intelligence analyst Phil Gurski analyses the terrorist attack in New Zealand and the threat of far right extremism.

This podcast is now available on iTunes and Google Podcast!

Find us on your favorite app and make sure to subscribe and follow to make sure to never miss a new episode!

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Edited by Jean-Baptiste Pelland-Goulet
Produced by Borealis Threat & Risk Consulting, ContinuityLink
Writing/Research: Phil Gurski
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See a Gigantic Sinkhole on New Zealand’s North Island | National Geographic

A giant sinkhole measuring about 650 feet long and up to 100 feet wide opened up in the ground on New Zealand’s North Island.

The hole, which runs along a fault line, appeared after heavy rains in the area. Layers of geological history can be seen on the walls of the hole, including a 60,000-year-old volcanic deposit.

Sinkholes are depressions that gradually form in the ground when water erodes an underlying layer of rock or soil.

Major environmental disasters: April 2017

Impact Forecasting has published the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during April 2017.

View the full Impact Forecasting April 2017 Global Catastrophe Recap report (PDF).

Flooding in multiple communities in southern Ontario and Quebec in April and into May is estimated to cost “well into the millions of dollars (USD)” in economic losses,

The report points to “an abnormally wet month of April” in parts of southern Ontario and Quebec led to widespread flooding in multiple communities through the early portion of May. “A series of storm systems originating in the United States led to excessive rainfall that combined with melting winter snow to allow several rivers to overflow their banks,” the report said. “In Quebec alone, the government noted that more than 1,300 homes were inundated by flooding across 124 cities and towns.”


In the United States, insurers face a multi-billion dollar bill from April weather damage, with U.S. severe weather remaining the biggest driver of global insurance losses in 2017,

The most severe outbreak, from late April into early May, featured a complex and broad storm weather system that spawned violent tornadoes, straight-line winds, large hail and excessive rainfall, killing 20 people in parts of the Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Total economic losses from this event alone event were expected to exceed US$1 billion.

Elsewhere, Cyclone Debbie swept across parts of the South Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand from late March into the first weeks of April, killing at least 14 people. Eastern Australia was the worst impacted, with damage from high winds and widespread coastal and inland flooding resulting in an anticipated insured loss of US$970 million.

Other global natural hazard events during April included:

  • An ongoing weather phenomenon deemed a “coastal El Niño” led to relentless rainfall in parts of Colombia, killing an estimated 400 people in the Colombian town of Mocoa, and 17 people in Manizales after separate massive debris flows destroyed dozens of neighbourhoods. Total economic losses were estimated at tens of million in U.S. dollars;
  • Major flooding in northeast Bangladesh led to extensive agricultural damage in excess of US$350 million. Similar levels of flooding in Iran killed 48 people and caused damage beyond US$353 million;
  • Frigid temperatures and frost across central Europe inflicted severe crop damage. Preliminary combined losses to vineyards and orchards alone were expected to reach into the hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars; and
  • A series of earthquakes struck the northern Philippines from April 4 to 9, causing damage to roughly 5,000 homes, schools and other buildings in multiple provinces. Economic losses were estimated in the millions in U.S. dollars.

View the full Impact Forecasting April 2017 Global Catastrophe Recap report (PDF).

Source: Canadian Underwriter

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Being prepared: An increase in natural disasters sends residents scrambling

James Katte was completely unprepared for the wall of soil and rubbish that barrelled into his Auckland home on Tuesday night.

The former furniture maker and his partner Therese were fretting about torrential rain falling outside their apartment block in Kohimarama, in the city’s inner eastern suburbs.

“The lights flickered and my partner said ‘just in case the power goes out we should get our torches ready’. Then, next minute, soil came crashing in.”

At about 8pm a steep, rain-swollen bank looming over the 11-unit San Remo apartment block collapsed, sending tonnes of soil and rubbish down.

“Our back door was caved in, firemen were crawling around in the mud looking for a missing neighbor.”

Fears for their neighbor were quickly allayed when he was found alive and well, but four apartments including Katte’s were trashed by the landslip.

“My front door and windows were completely smashed-in, but the killer was the rain washing in dirty soil, it got everywhere, the kitchen, the laundry, the carpet is ruined,” James Katte said.

“I had a chance to pack a few things and then firemen and police told us to get out,” Katte says.

“My front door and windows were completely smashed in, but the killer was the rain washing in dirty soil. It got everywhere. The kitchen, the laundry, the carpet is ruined. “My ground floor is munted.”

The number of natural disasters is on the rise, and Katte’s shock evacuation highlights how ill-prepared many of us would be in an emergency.

Civil Defence’s 2016 Disaster Preparedness Survey shows 25 per cent of homes are prepared for disaster with dwellings stocked regularly refreshed food, water, emergency items and a survival plan.

Drone footage shows the extent of flood damage to Edgecumbe.

But Jones’ efforts proved futile against the ferocity of Tuesday’s landslip.

“I had a little bag by the front door with water bottles, raincoat, torches, radio and things,” Jones says. “With the mudslide, that got taken out straight away.”

For thousands of 2000 residents of Edgecumbe in the Bay of Plenty, the coming days, weeks and possibly months will be spent staying with family, friends, or wherever Civil Defence can find a warm, dry bed for them.

The increasing numbers of natural disasters is forcing authorities to rethink the way they house those people displaced by floods and earthquakes. The preparedness survey shows only 25% of homes are prepared for disaster with dwellings stocked regularly refreshed food, water, emergency items and a survival plan.

A Civil Defence spokesman said the large number of post-2016 survey natural disaster events, notably the Kaikoura earthquake, are likely to have acted as a strong motivator for more people to get better prepared.

Source: stuff.co.nz

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