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No better disguise than that of a protected class who can not be questioned without fear of legal jihadists. via Female impersonator robs liquor store wearing burqa.
BEL AIR, Md. – A burqa-wearing man pretending to be a woman is in police custody after an armed robbery and dramatic police chase Friday afternoon.
Police say around 3 p.m. Harford County Sheriff's deputies were called to Third Base Liquors on South Fountain Green Road in Bel Air for a report of a robbery. When officers arrived witnesses told them a man wearing a burqa covering his entire face except for his eyes entered the store and asked the clerk about beer.
Police say the man altered his voice to sound like a woman and chose a case of beer. As the clerk leaned over to pick up the beer the fake lady flashed a gun and announced a hold up.
The clerk gave the burqa-wearing female impersonator an undisclosed amount of cash and the robber left the store and jumped into a white SUV.
Police say an alert passerby noticed something strange, copied down the tag number and reported it to authorities.
A short time later police saw the SUV on Rt. 40 at Rt. 755 in Edgewood and attempted to stop it. As the Divine wannabe fled west on Rt. 40, he clipped a car and lost control. The man was critically injured and taken to Shock Trauma for treatment.
The driver has not yet been identified and detectives are investigating if this robbery was connected to an armed robbery that had occurred earlier today in the 2400 block of Churchville Road in Bel Air. Witnesses in that case also reported a white SUV as a suspect vehicle.
The investigation is continuing.
Omar Khadr's lawyer says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee plans to appeal his terrorism convictions. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/POOL, Janet Hamlin)
(Lawyer) Dennis Edney told CTV News on Saturday that if the 26-year-old is successful, he will walk free.
"We're arguing now that charges upon which he was convicted are not recognized internationally as law of war charges," he said.
Toronto-born Khadr is currently being held in Ontario's maximum security Millhaven Institution. He was transfered to Canada last September from Guantanamo Bay, where he had been held for a decade.
Khadr had pleaded guilty before a military commission in October 2010 to five war crimes -- among them killing a U.S. special forces soldier -- committed as a 15-year-old in Afghanistan. He was given a further eight years behind bars.
Edney said he is confident in the appeal, as the American appeal court has already thrown out similar military commission verdicts made against two other former Guantanamo Bay detainees after ruling the crimes did not exist under international law at the time.
However, Edney said Khadr's case could be more difficult since he had pleaded guilty.
Edney said he plans to file the appeal "in a matter of weeks" and anticipates it will be heard in about a year.
He said Khadr will remain in custody until the appeal is heard.
Under Canadian law, Khadr will be eligible for a parole hearing in July, at which point he will have served one-third of his sentence.
Bitter Seeds is a character-driven documentary which shows us the bleak situation for cotton farmers in India. More than 250,000 farmers have killed themselves since 1995.
Director Micha X. Peled interviews all players, from condescending seed salesmen and callous Monsanto execs, to activist Vandana Shiva, to farmers, their families and village elders who remember when life as an Indian cotton farmer was not so bitter.
The common thread linking all of these farmers is that they have been pressured to buy genetically modified seeds. (The seeds are from Monsanto, the American company whose seeds dominate industrial farms in the U.S.) These Indian salesmen, Monsanto employees, sell seeds for their own profit, regardless of the effect they have on the farmer and his livelihood.
Traditionally, Indian farmers have used seeds from the previous year's crop and fertilizer made from cow dung and compost. The GMO seeds, called Bt seeds, are designed only for a single year's use so farmers are forced to buy new seeds every year. This is something they may not have been told upfront. As a result, about 90 percent of India's cotton farmers have become like slaves to Monsanto. The salesmen are relentless. They hand out leaflets to the illiterate farmers with photos and testimonials from other Indian "farmers." These testimonials are later discovered to be false.
Director Micha X. Peled trains his camera on Monsanto salesmen using loudspeakers proclaiming the latest variety of genetically modified cottonseeds:
"Do you have land?" one of the seed-pushers shouts to a village woman. 'Tell your husband to plant Bt seeds." Against their own better judgment, the farmers inevitably succumb to the salesman's pressure.
Peled focuses on one Indian farmer, 40-year-old Ram Krishna Kopulwar. When we first meet Krishna, he is a hardworking cotton farmer with a failed crop and rising debt in Telumg Takli, a small village in Vidarbha, India. The fact that his two daughters are nearing the age for marriage adds more pressure. Unmarried daughters are a cause of social shame in Telumg Takli, and he needs money for his eldest daughter's dowry. We follow Krishna as he plants the Bt seeds and watch as he tragically loses his crop.
It is incredibly painful to watch as Krishna's crops slowly dwindle from lack of water and an infestation of mealy worms. Most of these farmers are completely rain-dependent and the GMO seeds require more water, pesticides and expensive fertilizers. Day after day we watch as Krishna weakens and tries everything to save his crops. Eventually he is completely broke, broken and desperate.
His only way out is to borrow money from a corrupt money-lender who charges outrageous interest and heaps abuse on him. Eventually, with no way to pay the money back, Krishna and other farmers end up losing their land (which is all they have) to the money-lender. This is the final blow. Many of these farmers do not know how to survive in India's changing economy. With nowhere to turn, more than 250,000 of these men have killed themselves, usually in an ironic, gruesome twist of fate -- by drinking the poisonous cocktail: Monsanto pesticide.
Peled weaves an equally riveting and poignant second story into this film. It centers on an 18-year-old college girl, Manjusha Amberwar, who has lost her father to suicide because of his farming debts.
Amberwar wants to become a journalist and suspects that the cause of so many suicides starts with the Bt seeds. She sets out to investigate this against the wishes of her family. It is the strong, unwavering voice of Manjusha that makes this film so incredibly memorable.
She asks one of the village elders about alternatives: "In my time there were no suicides," he tells her. "Even the poor could survive by working hard. There are no other seeds available now. Traditional seeds have disappeared. We farmers are illiterates. We follow false advertising like a dog follows bread."
Bitter Seeds and films like Food, Inc. show us how little we all know about genetically modified seeds (GMOs). But the farmers have an advocate in quantum physicist and activist Vandana Shiva, India's leading opponent of genetic modification and the patenting of seeds.
This has huge implications because it will unfold into the future. These seeds are shaping history, and already in them are carried the germs of another historical trajectory. If you really want to see whether change is being made, look at what is beginning in the small places: look at how organic farming is now increasing on a large scale.
Bitter Seeds has won 18 international awards. It is a film that will never leave you. There will be a screening of the film, along with a panel of local farmers and chefs at The Carey Center for Global Good in upstate New York on December 1st. Included in the panel are George Weld, owner of two wildly popular restaurants in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Egg and Parish Hall), Carol Clement of Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow, NY, and Director Peled who will be there via Skype.
"The mission of the event is to discuss the future of GMOs and other important issues affecting all of us," says Carol Ash, president of The Carey Center for Global Good. "We all care deeply about the struggles of cotton farmers in India, but also, what does he have in common with farmers in our region of New York State?"
There are social, environmental, health and economic questions being asked and answered in films like Bitter Seeds. We need to find solutions, as a community, as a nation and as a planet.
Raed Jaser (L) and lawyer John Norris are pictured in a courtroom sketch during a first appearance at Old City Hall Court in Toronto April 23, 2013. Jaser is one of two men who were charged with plotting an attack on a passenger train Monday. (REUTERS/Pam Davies)
Raed Jaser was taken into custody on Aug. 23, 2004, and was working illegally and using numerous aliases, an Immigration and Refugee board detention hearing was told.
Jaser was denied refugee status twice and after the second unsuccessful decision in 1998, a deportation order was issued and he was busted in 2004 but released two days later.
At the time, Jaser was neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident, the hearing was told. Jaser, a Palestinian by descent and born in the United Arab Emirates but not a citizen there, was stateless.
While his other family members had abandoned their refugee claims after being refused the first time, Raed Jaser pursued a second hearing. The Jaser family appealed, consented to a second hearing, which never took place.
Everyone in Raed's family except him were accepted under a special program, Deferred Removal Order Class (DROC), and later became Canadian citizens and owned a house in 2004, the hearing held at Toronto West Detention Centre was told.
Jaser had compiled a few criminal convictions, including fraud under $5,000 and was denied for that DROC program and kept pursuing his refugee claim, which he lost. At age 26 in 2004, he also was too old to be sponsored.
He was then under a deportation order, but wasn't in imminent danger of being removed, court heard.
Jaser was released on a $3,000 bail with his uncle Mahmoud Jaser posting the deposit.
"His entire family are here and are residents, or citizens of Canada. It's clear that Mr. Jaser would prefer to be in Canada and that he would not desire to leave this country," the hearing was told.
The detention hearing was told that Jaser was extremely co-operative and never missed any hearings.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Wednesday's disaster refocused attention on Western high-street brands that use Bangladesh as a source of low cost goods. North American and European chains including British retailer Primark and Canada's Loblaw said they were supplied by factories in the building.
"I thought there was an earthquake," said Shirin Akhter, 22, who was starting her day at the New Wave Style workshop, six floors up, when the complex crumbled. Akhter was trapped for more than 24 hours before breaking through a wall with a metal bar. She says her monthly wage was $38.
For a second night, local residents used flashlights and dug with crowbars and their bare hands to find survivors and bodies beneath twisted wreckage of the Rana Plaza building in the commercial suburb of Savar, 30 km (20 miles) outside the capital Dhaka.
They dropped in bottled water and food to people who called out, trapped between floors. Late on Thursday, rescuers forced a hole into a room and pulled out 41 people alive.
But the death toll grimly rose all day. Relatives identified their dead among dozens of corpses wrapped in cloth on the veranda of a nearby school. More than 1,000 were injured.
Police said the owner of the building, local politician Mohammed Sohel Rana, was told of dangerous cracks on Tuesday.
While a bank in the building closed on Wednesday because of the warnings, the five clothing companies told their workers there was no danger, industry officials said. Rana is now on the run, according to police.
"We asked the garment owners to keep it closed," said Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) President Mohammad Atiqul Islam.
Instead, Islam said, there were 3,122 workers in the factories on Wednesday.
"An unspecified number of victims are still trapped," said Mizanur Rahman, a rescue worker with the fire brigade, as he clambered over the wreckage. "We can't be certain of getting them all out alive. We are losing a bit of hope."
DAY OF MOURNING
The government declared a national day of mourning and flags were flown half mast at all official buildings.
Dhaka city development authority had filed a case against the building's owner for faulty construction, police chief Habibur Rahman said. It filed another case against the owner and the five garments factories for causing unlawful death.
Rana had told proprietors of the building's five factories that the cracks were not dangerous, Islam added. "After getting the green signal from the plaza owner, all the garment factories opened," he said. BGMEA blacklisted the five companies on Thursday.
More than 1,000 textile workers besieged the BGMEA offices on Thursday, pelting it with stones and clashing with riot police, TV channels showed. The workers demanded all garment factories be shut and the owners harshly punished for accidents.
"The deaths of these workers could have been avoided if multinational corporations, governments and factory owners took workers' protection seriously," Amirul Haque Amin of the National Garment Workers' Federation said in a statement.
"Instead, the victims' families must live with the terrible consequences of this tragedy."
U.S. ambassador Dan Mozena said the accident could affect Bangladesh's market access to the United States. Bangladesh is fighting a petition by U.S. unions to revoke preferential trade access because of worker safety issues.
"It certainly makes the environment of the workplace safety questionable," Mozena told reporters in Dhaka.
UK clothing retailer Primark, which has 257 stores across Europe and is a unit of Associated British Foods, confirmed that one of its suppliers occupied the second floor of the building. Danish retailer PWT Group, which owns the Texman brand, said it had been using a factory in the building for seven years.
"We check the working conditions at the factory, but we are not construction engineers. We cannot be held responsible for how they build their factories," PWT director Ole Koch said.
British clothing retailer Matalan said it used to be supplied by one of the factories at the complex but had no current production there.
Canada's Loblaw, a unit of food processing and distribution firm George Weston Ltd, said one factory made a small number of "Joe Fresh" apparel items for the company.
Primark, Loblaw and PWT operate under codes of conduct aimed at ensuring products are made in good working conditions.
Documents including order sheets and cutting plans obtained by Reuters appeared to show that other major clothing brands such as Benetton had used suppliers in the building in the last year. A Benetton spokesman said none of the factories were suppliers to the company. Spain's Mango said it had an unfulfilled sample order with Phantom Apparel, at the plaza.
About 3.6 million people work in Bangladesh's garment industry, making it the world's second-largest apparel exporter. The bulk of exports - 60 percent - go to Europe. The United States takes 23 percent and 5 percent go to Canada.
Hundreds of students donated blood at a clinic in Savar after doctors at Dhaka hospitals said they could not cope with the number of victims.
Mohammad Mosharraf, who was rescued on Thursday after 26 hours, said he had been hit on the head by something heavy and knocked unconscious when the building came down.
"When I regain my sense I found another four colleagues are also trapped under the debris of the building," he told Reuters.
"We desperately tried to shout for someone to rescue us. Initially we didn't receive any response, but we moved to another part of the floor and found some light and heard voices."
The Rana Plaza collapse follows a fire at the Tazreen Fashion factory on the outskirts of Dhaka that killed 112 people in November and another incident at a factory in January in which seven people died, compounding concerns about worker safety and low wages in Bangladesh.
Entry level wages in these factories start at 14 cents an hour, said Charles Kernaghan of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights.
Following the Tazreen fire, giant U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said it would take steps to alleviate safety concerns, while Gap Inc. announced a four-step fire-safety program.
Wal-Mart said it had not determined whether a factory in the building that collapsed was producing goods for the company.
Edward Hertzman, a sourcing agent based in New York who also publishes trade magazine Sourcing Journal, said pressure from U.S. retailers to keep a lid on costs fostered poor conditions.
Hertzman, whose publication has offices in Bangladesh, said New Wave Bottoms was on the second floor, Phantom Apparels the third, Phantom Tack the fourth and Ethar Textile the fifth.
The New Wave website listed 27 main buyers, including firms from Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Canada and the United States.
(Additional reporting by Anis Ahmed in Dhaka, Jessica Wohl and Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Chicago, Solarina Ho in Toronto, Robert Hertz in Madrid and Mette Kronholm Fraende in Copenhagen.; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Paul Tait, Alex Richardson and Mark Trevelyan)
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
By: Carol Sanders
Phoenix Sinclair is about three years old in this file photo. (HANDOUT PHOTO)
The sobbing ex-partner of Karl Wesley McKay recalled him threatening her with a machete and trying to push her and their six-month-old son down a flight of stairs -- but she'd never seen him physically abuse their two sons, the inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair heard today.
The two men testifying at the inquiry this afternoon were 12 and 14 when they were sent to stay with their dad in 2005, the year Phoenix was tortured and murdered. McKay and Phoenix's mother, Samantha Kematch, were convicted of first-degree murder.
They and their mother cannot be identified under a publication ban granted by Commissioner Ted Hughes after the three witnesses complained that they were harassed after testifying at the murder trial of McKay in 2008. They are giving their testimony remotely through a video link that is audible to everyone in the hearing room but visible only to the inquiry commissioner.
The boys are grown men now working and going to school and their colleagues don't know about their connection to McKay, the inquiry has heard.
Their mother, now 42, testified this morning that the younger boy, who was getting into trouble in Winnipeg, was sent to live with his father in Fisher River First Nation in April 2005. The intent was to get the then-12-year-old away from gangs and bad influences in the city.
McKay had moved to the reserve from Winnipeg that spring with Kematch, their newborn baby and Kematch's daughter Phoenix, who had turned five that April. McKay's older son joined them on school breaks and summer vacation, she said.
Their mother testified the boys told her on a visit home to Winnipeg that Phoenix was shot at with a pellet gun, choked unconscious and beaten by McKay and Kematch. The mother said she notified a child-welfare agency about her concern for Phoenix -- and for her sons in McKay's care -- but could not remember which agency she called or when and how much detail she provided.
She said she remembers calling 411 for the number of Fisher River CFS and being told they were "short staffed" and that somebody would get back to her. "Nobody ever got back to me," she said.
On July 12, 2005 a probation officer notified Intertribal Child and Family Services that McKay's adolescent sons had been left with an inappropriate caregiver while McKay, a trucker, and Kematch were on the road, the woman said. Phoenix, she was told, had gone to live with her biological father. McKay called her that day when Intertribal CFS workers visited his home, she said.
The woman recalled receiving a call from McKay on the day child-welfare workers returned their sons to her in Winnipeg.
"He was just swearing at me and threatening me that nothing was going to be done because his cousin worked there," she said.
The inquiry heard last week from McKay's cousin, Interlake Tribal CFS supervisor Madeline Bird, who said she had no knowledge of any child-welfare complaints against McKay except for the call on July 12, 2005, when they arranged to send his sons home to their mother in Winnipeg.
Today, after dredging up painful memories, then being pressed for specific dates and people spoken to, McKay's ex-partner hit a breaking point when the lawyer representing the provincial government accidentally mentioned the names of McKay's sons, whose identities are protected by a publication ban.
"You've named them twice," their mother, who is also protected by the ban, scolded lawyer Gord McKinnon. "I'm done."
She declined to testify further.
Commissioner Ted Hughes called for a break, asking the lawyer representing the woman and her sons to speak to her about returning to testify. The proceedings continued 20 minutes later and she completed her testimony.
MONTREAL- A tense standoff at city hall ended in relative peace Monday evening with one lone arrest, as many anti P-6 protesters dispersed upon learning that city council had decided to delay a vote on the protest bylaw.
Montreal riot police appeared to be prepared for a major conflict, as they moved in swiftly on a group of protesters, arresting one on charges of resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.
The demonstration began outside city hall early Monday evening, as the second opposition Projet Montreal was expected to table a motion to repeal the municipal bylaw.
A masked protester holds a sign denouncing bylaw P-6 outside city hall in Montreal Monday, April 22, 2013. Under this bylaw, protesters who do not provide their route to police may be subject to a fine of $637. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.
Protesters denouncing bylaw P-6 demonstrate outside city hall in Montreal Monday, April 22, 2013. Under this bylaw, protesters who do not provide their route to police may be subject to a fine of $637. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.
"The goal here is to put an end to these mass arrests, to these preventive arrests, to blame everyone for the alleged wrongs of a handful of people," said Projet Montreal city councillor Alex Norris.
Bylaw P-6 forbids the wearing of masks during protests and ends the practice of spontaneous demonstration, requiring organizers to provide a route to police in advance of any march. It was passed by city council at the height of student protests last May,
So far in 2013, over 700 people have been detained and ticketed under the bylaw, each handed a $637 fine.
Opposition to P-6 started in the early morning hours of Monday when a number of signs decrying the bylaw were installed in Emilie-Gamelin Square by the student group ASSE. The square was the typical starting point for marches during the 2012 student protests.
"This sort of bylaw can not be tolerated," said a representative from ASSE named Jeremie. "We will continue to fight it in the courts and in the streets."
The ASSE signs were designed to appear as if they had been installed by the city. They ironically celebrated the elements of the bylaw most disliked by its opponents. The large square was also ringed with false police tape, clearing marking it off as a "no protest zone."
The signs and tape were removed by police shortly after their installation.
That event was followed a few hours later by a short march from the courthouse to city hall where demonstrators spoke out against P-6.
Demonstrators argue that the bylaw violates their right to free assembly by requiring that they provide an itinerary to police. They also plan to contest the fines because they don't feel they did anything wrong by gathering.
Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum stands by the bylaw and credits the application of P-6 by the Montreal police for renewed calm in the city.
The main opposition in city hall, Vision Montreal, has confirmed that it is in favour of removing the bylaw, but will vote against the "irresponsible" motion tabled by Projet Montreal.
In March, Manon Masse, a defeated candidate for Quebec Solidaire in Montreal's east end, called on the government to "restore the right to protest."
One of the first acts of the Parti Quebecois once in power last September was to revoke Bill 78, a province-wide law passed by the Liberals that mimicked many of the powers given to Montreal police by P-6. The party has taken no steps against P-6.
Legal blogger Veronique Robert wrote in the weekly Voir that the use of P-6 by the police was "alarming and frightening." She called on the police to look into the conflict between the bylaw and protesters' legal rights.
Those questions should be asked at city hall over the next few days.
MONTREAL MAYOR MICHAEL APPLEBAUM - THE PEOPLE ARE IN THE WAY http://phylliscartersjournal.blogspot.com/2012/11/montreal-mayor-michael-applebaum-people_7850.html
(CNN) -- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are expected to announce Monday afternoon that Canadian law enforcement officials have "thwarted a plot to carry out a major terrorist attack, arresting suspects in Ontario and Quebec," the Canadian Broadcast Corp. reported.
The CBC, which is a CNN affiliate, quoted "highly placed sources" as saying the suspects were under surveillance for more than a year.
No connection exists between the disrupted plot in Canada and the Boston Marathon bombings, U.S. government sources told CNN's Carol Cratty.
The CBC reported that the investigation was "part of a cross-border operation involving Canadian law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security."
An official with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told CNN's Paula Newton on Monday an alleged terror plot that has been uncovered intended to target "transport links" but would not provide further details.
CNN's Carol Cratty contributed to this report.
Posted: 2:46 PM - April 22, 2013
You gotta have a dream,
If you don't have a dream,
How you gonna make a dream come true ?
Nine-year old Katie dreams
During the period we call The Cold War, we learned about "sleepers" - spies who live among us for decades waiting to be called to act against us.
Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, former members of the British Foreign Office who had disappeared from England in 1951, resurface in Moscow. Their surprise appearance and formal statement to the press put an end to one of the most intriguing mysteries of the early Cold War.
Maclean and Burgess had been senior officials in the British Foreign Office and in 1951, they seemed to disappear without a trace. There were rumors that they had been spies for the Soviet Union and had left England to avoid prosecution. For five years, nothing was heard of the pair. British intelligence suspected that they were in the Soviet Union, but Russian officials consistently denied any knowledge of their whereabouts.
On February 11, 1956, the pair invited a group of journalists to a hotel room in Moscow. Burgess and Maclean were there to greet them, give a brief interview, and hand out a typed joint statement. In the statement, both men denied having served as Soviet spies. However, they very strongly declared their sympathy with the Soviet Union and stated that they had both been "increasingly alarmed by the post-war character of Anglo-American policy." They claimed that the decision to leave England and live in Russia was due to their belief that only in Russia would there be "some chance of putting into practice in some form the convictions they had always had." They were convinced that the Soviet Union desired a policy of "mutual understanding" with the West, but that many officials in the United States and Great Britain were adamant in their opposition to any working relationship with the Russians. They concluded by stating, "Our life in the Soviet Union convinced us we took at the time the correct decision."
While the surprise news conference solved the mystery of where Burgess and Maclean had been for the past five years, it did little to settle the question of why they had gone to the Soviet Union in the first place. Their statement also did not clear up the issue of whether or not they had spied for the Soviet Union. Evidence from both British and American intelligence agencies strongly suggested that the two, together with fellow Foreign Office workers Kim Philby and Sir Anthony Blunt, had engaged in espionage for the Russians. Both men spent the rest of their lives in the Soviet Union. Burgess died in 1963 and Maclean passed away in 1983.
The drama of the U.S.-Russia spy swap is over, but in the process 16 lives have been changed forever.
Ten Russian "sleepers" leave behind a comfortable suburban existence in the U.S. and have been returned to a life and family in a Russia for which they may now feel little connection.
An 11th member of the ring, who went by the name Christopher Metsos, is still on the loose and American authorities are in the process of deporting a 12th Russian national who was scooped up later.
For the four Russians, including two former high-ranking intelligence officers, who were released from prison to complete the swap, freedom must be especially sweet.
Nevertheless, their futures are uncertain as they navigate new lives in the West.
The world of Russian espionage is mysterious at the best of times. But few know it better than historian Amy Knight, who has studied the KGB and its incarnations for decades.
A prolific writer on Russia for the New York Times Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement and The Globe and Mail, Knight is an independent scholar who has authored five books on espionage and the Russian intelligences services.
The most recent is How the Cold War Began: The Igor Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies.
She spoke with CBC producer Jennifer Clibbon about the likely fates of the individuals swept up in this episode and about the new face of Russia's intelligence operations under Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev.
CBC News: What awaits these Russian sleeper spies who have been returned home after years in the U.S.? What kind of role are they likely to play back in Russia?
Knight: Well, these individuals will doubtless find their circumstances changed considerably.
They will probably continue to be employed by the SVR [Russia's foreign intelligence service] in some capacity, like translating, teaching new recruits, analyzing reports, etc. But I doubt that they will serve abroad again soon.
Indeed, I think this spy scandal has been a huge setback for the SVR and will cause them to completely rethink their strategy of planting illegal "sleeper" agents abroad.
As for the agents themselves, Russia is not an easy place to live these days without a lot of money and I doubt that their SVR salaries, even with all the perks they enjoyed in the U.S., have made them rich.
CBC News: The alleged Western spies who were traded back to the U.S. are being debriefed by British and American security experts. Many served long years in Russian prisons. Can you describe what kind of conditions they would have endured?
Knight: Conditions in Russian prisons and penal colonies are notoriously awful, often ruining the health of inmates or even causing them to die.
So these four individuals who were pardoned and released to the West probably had to endure a great deal of hardship, both physical and psychological.
President Medvedev has promised to introduce broad reforms to the prison system, but these will take time. In the meantime, prisoners will continue to suffer abuse.
CBC News: Among this group were two were former senior KGB officials. Who stands out the most?
The most intriguing case is that of Alexander Zaporozhsky, a former colonel who at one point was deputy chief of the SVR's American department.
According to numerous reports, Zaporozhsky was recruited by the CIA sometime before he suddenly retired in 1997 and moved with his family to the U.S.
He apparently did not suspect that his former bosses in Moscow knew about his ties to the CIA and in 2001 flew to Moscow for a visit.
He was arrested at the airport and sentenced to 18 years in prison for espionage. As such a high-ranking mole for the Americans, Zaporozhsky will be treated well by his American hosts, but will also undergo extensive debriefing.
CBC News: There is also the poignant case of the researcher Igor Sutyagin. When I lived in Moscow in 2000 his case was in the headlines. He was a researcher in his 30s who was arrested as an alleged spy and sent to a prison in the Far North. His case seems particularly tragic, given that most experts argue he was no spy.
Knight: Sutyagin's case has long been a cause célèbre among human rights activists. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have labelled him a political prisoner and have drawn considerable international attention to his plight.
He was accused of giving secrets to a British consulting firm, but he reportedly had no access to classified information and, according to Sutyagin's defenders, the information he passed on was available in open-source materials.
Nonetheless, the fact that Sutyagin was included in an exchange together with three other bona fide spies for the Americans, and that he confessed to his guilt before being pardoned and sent out of Russia, detracts from the argument that he was a completely innocent victim who the Russian security services chose to persecute as a warning to scientists about ties with Westerners.
CBC News: You are an expert on the Russian security service. Can you describe the new face and priorities that Putin and Medvedev are trying to implement?
Knight: Basically, the Kremlin's strategy has been to bring significant numbers of former security officials into the government and government-run corporations, as well as encouraging security officials to take over the running of private businesses.
At the same time, the Kremlin has given the domestic arm of the security apparatus, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, significant new powers and resources.
Such powers include the legal right to hunt down and assassinate enemies of the Russian government abroad and the newly acquired authority to force people to submit to questioning by the FSB even when they are not suspected of a crime.
This is basically a form of intimidation similar to the methods of the former KGB.
As for the SVR, we know much less about its powers and prerogatives because it is still a very secret organization.
But the Russian government sponsors a great deal of publicity — documentaries, films and books — that glorifies the past and present activities of the SVR.
And reports from Western governments suggest that the SVR, after suffering an initial cut in resources and manpower after 1991, still conducts ambitious and extensive intelligence-gathering efforts against the West.
CBC News: These latest sleeper agents were laughed off as ineffective by many in the media. Are they indicative of a deteriorating cadre of spies, or is the network changing and these agents are just one face of a multifaceted organization?
Knight: The use of sleeper agents, or illegal agents under deep cover, is a throwback to the days of the Cold War and has continued since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Despite the fact that the Cold War ended, the SVR, which is very much an old-boy, elite network of cadres, continued on with the same methods and strategies that it had been using for decades.
And some experts have suggested that it was never subjected to the significant reorganizations that the domestic security agencies underwent.
The program of training illegals at special schools and sending them abroad under false identities is a good example of an outmoded strategy that has out-lived its usefulness.
No doubt this recent scandal will cause the leadership of the SVR to revamp its strategy and some heads will probably roll.
CBC News: What kinds secrets are the Russians really after from the U.S. or Canada?
Knight: Conventional wisdom has it that the Russians have changed their focus completely from political secrets to economic ones.
While it is probably true that the SVR is more preoccupied with gaining information about advanced technology in the West than it is with information on high politics, I assume that trying to find out what is going on in the upper echelons of the decision-making bodies in other governments is still very much on the SVR's agenda.
CBC News: There are famous stories about former Russian spies in the West, like the so-called Cambridge group in Britain, and how their lives changed dramatically once they were discovered and defected to Russia. Life for a former spy, when you came out of the cold, was something quite grim. Will this be the case for these Russian spies?
Knight: The spies who were recently deported back to Russia are a very different breed from men like Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean.
First of all, the members of the Cambridge group were "moles" who were spying against their own countries. Philby was working for MI6 when the Gouzenko case broke in 1945 and was reporting to Moscow everything that was being discussed among the Allies.
The damage they did to their government was huge and much more valuable to Moscow than anything these agents operating as illegals in the U.S. could have contributed.
They were also acting, initially at least, out of ideological considerations.
This new group of spies are simply SVR employees with varying decrees of patriotism and loyalty to their country.
Unlike Philby and they others, they have gone back to live in their native country, where they still have jobs and family and friends.
To be sure, they are unlikely to receive promotions, given that they allowed themselves to be discovered by the FBI. But they won't be sent to labour camps like they would have been in Stalin's day.