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Black Watch: Today’s Top Stories

Oh, what might have been. I remember having the same giddy feeling at the prospect of seeing Emerson Lake & Palmer back-to-back with the Electric Light Orchestra. Or was it Yes with Genesis? I can’t remember. At any rate, today’s proceedings in Chicago might have been the double bill of the century: Maclean’s editor Ken Whyte paired with none other than The Donald. I wonder what they might have said to each other in the antechamber. Such are the great mysteries on which history turns. But alas, despite much ballyhoo, The Donald was a no-show.

In other news, even as the defence builds its case for dismissal or acquittal, Rick Westhead reports in Saturday’s Star that the prosecution, in anticipating its opponents’ train of logic, seeks tactical advantage by way of pre-emptive strikes.

“As the three-month fraud trial enters its final weeks, attention is shifting to the instructions Judge Amy St. Eve will deliver to the jury before it begins deliberations.

Government and defence lawyers attended a jury-instruction conference yesterday. The prosecution wants St. Eve to include a so-called ‘ostrich instruction.’ Also known as ‘conscious avoidance’ or ‘deliberate ignorance,’ this would allow the jury to consider whether defendants deliberately avoided knowing about any crimes occurring at Hollinger’s Chicago offices.”

Westhead goes on to report that this instruction is normally reserved for drug cases where a landlord rents to a drug dealer at 10 times the going rate while remaining wilfully ignorant of his tenant’s activities, thereby implicating him or herself in the dealer’s criminality. That Conrad Black might be subject to something normally reserved for drug-dealing conspirators makes you wonder what his fellow peers in the House of Lords must be thinking this morning.

And along the same lines, the fabulously monikered columnist Cosmo Landesman, freestyling in the Sunday Times of London, wrote:

“Will former media tycoon Conrad Black become the Paris Hilton of the chattering classes? Only 12 jurors can tell. Black and Hilton are iconic figures facing prison. They are loathed because they are guilty of being rich, extravagant and appearing to have more fun than the rest of us.

Hilton, who violated a previous drink-drive conviction, begins her sentence on Tuesday. Prison has been a place where many authors—from Machiavelli to Solzhenitsyn—have done their best work. Now we can reveal extracts from Hilton’s yet to be written jail diaries.

‘The cruelty of the American penal system is awesome. I begged them to let me wear my Louis Vuitton jumpsuit with the sequinned arrows, instead of these drab, itchy prison uniforms—and they refused!

‘The shopping facilities in this place is, like, so medieval. You can buy everything a girl needs—cigarettes, drink, protection—but nobody takes my gold American Express card. Still, prison has taught me a vital lesson that I want to share with all my fans: don’t get caught.’”

What Black’s contribution might be in this regard, Landesman leaves to our imagination—or what’s left of it.

‘Ostrich’ order poses risk for Black [Toronto Star]Prison has all that a girl like Paris needs [Times of London]No smoking gun yet in Conrad Black fraud trial [Washington Post]Trump to appear at Black trial [Guardian]

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