Friday, May 30, 2008

China goes to Gitmo

NYT : Terrorism and the Olympics

"After 9/11, China declared its own war on terror in Xinjiang, but Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented that this often has targeted Uighurs who are completely nonviolent.
[Uighurs are Turkic farmers inhabiting the Xinjiang region]

Unfortunately, the Bush administration has largely backed this Chinese version of the war on terror. Indeed, a Department of Justice report this month suggests that American troops softened up Uighur prisoners in Guantánamo Bay on behalf of visiting Chinese interrogators. The American troops starved the Uighurs and prevented them from sleeping, just before inviting in the Chinese interrogators."

The author also has a blog where he notes :
"What irks me is the Bush administration backing the Chinese Communist Party as it uses the “war on terror” as a cover to go after those moderate Uighur dissidents who favor more autonomy or religious freedom but oppose any violence. The Bush administration listed the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement” as a terror organization in the aftermath of 9/11, apparently as a “thanks” to Beijing for its help in cracking down on terror financing."

"Thanks" : China leaned on Pakistan, Pakistan made promises, Pakistan is no longer keeping them.

All of which leaves me wondering what Canada's Gitmo deal is with the US, the one wherein we are the last country in the world to press for release of a Canadian child-soldier held there since his 15th birthday.

Yesterday Khadr's US military lawyer William Kuebler stated that the judge hearing Omar Khadr's case, was abruptly dismissed, after he "threatened to suspend the case unless prosecutors turned over key evidence to the defense lawyers".

In April Maxime Bernier stood beside Condi Rice in Washington and announced it would be "premature to comment about the legal process right now and appeal process because they’re still ongoing. And what we will do is we’ll do -- and I received also assurances that Mr. Khadr has been treated humanely."

"And what we'll do is we'll do --" a little suppressed thought hiccup there from Max. I wonder what he stopped himself from saying.

Spin Doctors Without Borders....again

As noted by Dana at the Beav, a mere three days after the G&M reported:
Safe-injection site in B.C. wins court protection
"North America's only sanctioned safe-injection site for drug addicts won a major court victory Tuesday, thwarting any chance of the federal Conservative government closing it down"
Tony Clement announced at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health that he will be asking Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to appeal the BC Supreme Court's decision "as soon as possible".

Kady O'Malley live-blogged the committee hearings in her own inimitable way today, noting that :
"It occured to me as I was scurrying back from the foyer that this is the *second* meeting this week where the only witness on hand to defend the government’s policy on a controversial issue is an import from the United States—and not just the U.S., but the United States of Right-Wing Think Tanks."

Ah yes - Colin Mangham.
Colin Mangham is "director of research" for the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, an offshoot of , wait for it , the Drug Prevention Network of America, headed up by Calvina L. Fay of Drug Free America, Save Our Society From Drugs, and Drug Watch International, dedicated to "combating the drug legalization movement globally". DPN of Canada lists her as an "honorary board member" who has "served as an advisor to President Bush on drug policy".
Rounding out the board of our very own 'war on drugs' Canadian clonetank is past president ReformaTory Randy White and REAL Woman Gwen Landolt as current VP, plus a couple of Scientology's Narconon graduates.

Back to Kady : "Dr. Colin Mangham, who huffs and puffs over the "bad science" and sloppy journalism behind support for the program...[snip]...At one point, he mentions in an offhand way that he’s a graduate of UBC, but his accent is glaringly American. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.
He then goes into a rant about how people who support InSite, including some in this very room, are, in fact, part of a larger movement towards drug policy reform. He demands that "elected representatives" stop these "activists." By this point, there are hisses and catcalls coming from the visitors’ gallery."

"Bloc’s Christiane Gagnon : does he have any data to support his contention that the vast quantity of research that supports harm reduction policies is worthless?
Well, no, not exactly. He provided a “second opinion” on research produced by other people, to “critique” it, just like a first year university student would do."

Our score so far : 22 positive peer-reviewed studies in favor of InSite published in prestigious scientific journals versus one "second opinion" from a promoter of the wildly successful and universally admired US 'war on drugs'.

So why am I still worried?

Update : Wow! Four posts on this at the Gazetteer from Ross, who is incidentally a scientist, a peer-reviewed scientist.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's either Sensenbrenner or Mr.Mustard in the Library

Days after an internal probe by the Clerk of the Privy Council Office Kevin Lynch failed to determine the source of the Naftagate leak, James Travers at The Star reported that "Multiple sources say the Canadian note questioning the Democrat frontrunner's public promise to reopen NAFTA was leaked from the Prime Minister's Office" to Frank Sensenbrenner, a Republican who worked at the Canadian embassy in Washington.

Now Sensenbrenner's father, James, introduced the notorious U.S. Patriot Act as chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, but just how did his son Frank appear in our midst?

"[Frank] Sensenbrenner was introduced to senior embassy officials by Gerry Chipeur, a Calgary-based lawyer who was once legal counsel to the Reform and Canadian Alliance parties, the antecedents of today's Conservative party.

Chipeur, a dual citizen who headed the Republicans Abroad Canada, also has deep ties to the evangelical community in both countries and prominent U.S. Republicans, including Kansas Senator Sam Brownback.

The entrée of Sensenbrenner into Canadian diplomatic circles was forged at the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, where members of the Canadian embassy and Conservative officials such as Day, Chipeur, Alberta MP Jason Kenney and John Reynolds, co-chair of the Tory 2006 election campaign, all attended.

Sensenbrenner had cut his political teeth in Canada, attending private college in the Toronto area and attending early Reform party conventions where he first befriended those in then-leader Preston Manning's inner circle.

The push to get him on the payroll came particularly from Day, sources said, when he took over the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative file, the name given to the Republican move to require all Canadians crossing the U.S. land border to carry passports or secure driver's licences."
~ Tim Harper at The Star

I had no idea Day, Kenney, and Reynolds attended the U.S. Republican National Convention but I can't say I'm surprised. This old boys network is already so 'deeply integrated' they can't imagine what's taking the rest of Canada so long to catch up.

Frank Sensenbrenner has since denied having a role in the leak of the Canadian consular memo.
So due to that internal Privy Council Office probe which protects the Cons from having to answer any difficult questions, we're back to Mr. Mustard in the Library again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


yeah, you were awesome too baby ... hey, did i leave some shit there last night? ***
BT Stephen Taylor is pleased that this whole sordid business of biker chicks and microphones allegedly planted in the seams of mattresses is now solidly behind us :
"By clearing the deck of the Bernier issue, the Prime Minister’s office will construct a narrative of promptly dealing with issues of substance and holding the line on fabrications from the opposition...Today was a bad day for Conservatives, but it represents an opportunity for the government move forward on its agenda without this distraction."
Yeah! - "moving forward", "constructing a narrative", "promptly dealing with issues".
So what have you got for us?
Ottawonk, from whom I pillaged the above pic and ***, notes that according to this Government House Leader page, next week is "Sound Economic Management Without a Carbon Tax Week", tastefully accompanied over at the ReformaTory homepage with this pic.
Oh. So it's Business as Usual with Funny Hats Week vs boobs then, is it?
I dunno, Mr Taylor, but I'm gonna hafta go with Cleavage-gate here. Boob stories always have more legs.
Ottawonk - wicked funny on this - Go

Monday, May 26, 2008

The truth is out there

"The 9/11 Truth movement is really distinguished by a kind of defiant unfamiliarity with the actual character of America's ruling class. In 9/11 lore the people who staff the White House, the security agencies, the Pentagon and groups like PNAC and the Council of Foreign Relations are imagined to be a monolithic, united class of dastardly, swashbuckling risk-takers with permanent hard-ons for Bourne Supremacy-style "false flag" and "black bag" operations, instead of the mundanely greedy, risk-averse, backstabbing, lawn-tending, half-clever suburban golfers they are in real life.
It completely misunderstands the nature of American government -- fails to see that the old maxim about "the business of America is business" is absolutely true, that the federal government in this country is really just a lo-rent time-share property seasonally occupied by this or that clan of financial interests, each of which takes its 4-year turn at the helm tinkering with the tax laws and regulatory code and the rates at the Fed in the way it thinks will best keep the money train rolling.
The people who really run America don't send the likes of George Bush and Dick Cheney to the White House to cook up boat-rocking, maniacal world-domination plans and commit massive criminal conspiracies on live national television; they send them there to repeal PUCHA and dole out funds for the F-22 and pass energy bills with $14 billion tax breaks and slash fuel efficiency standards and do all the other shit that never makes the papers but keeps Wall Street and the country's corporate boardrooms happy. You don't elect politicians to commit crimes; you elect politicians to make your crimes legal. That is the whole purpose of the racket of government."
~Matt Taibbi, in an adapted excerpt from his new book, The Great Derangement, at Alternet
Followed up in comments by 724 howls of outrage and counting...
His sweeping ad hominem attack on the Truthers notwithstanding, his point is well taken : the real conspiracy has always been right out there in the open.
h/t Croghan at Bread 'n Roses

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The biggest bestest Surveillance Games evah!

NattyPost : "Canadian security agencies are planning to use planes, tanks, ships and thousands of military and police personnel to secure the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games and will consider their job a success if the public hardly notices their presence.
"It must be understood that the V2010 Games are a sporting event, not a security one," wrote Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier
Military planners say it will be the largest security operation in Canadian history and, if they do it right, Canadians will hardly notice."
Meanwhile CSIS is keeping its ever watchful eye on Olympic protesters. A March 2007 document entitled CSIS Threat Assessment names the Native Youth Movement and "a Vancouver-based special interest group comprised of members of the groups No One is Illegal, the Anti-Poverty Coalition, and the Downtown Eastside Residents Association" as being of particular concern.
Why, no, this isn't the picture that accompanied the original NP article. Why do you ask?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Supreme Court : Canada acted illegally in Khadr case

The Star : "Canadian agents acted illegally when they interrogated Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr and handed that intelligence to U.S. authorities, the Supreme Court ruled today in a decision damning the Bush administration's treatment of foreign terrorism suspects.
The unanimous decision released this morning said the federal government now must hand over documents pertaining to those 2003 interrogations by agents with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Foreign Affairs Department, since Canada participated in a process that was contrary to international law.
The ruling delivers a blow to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government which has been unwavering in its support of the U.S. war crimes prosecution of Khadr despite mounting domestic and international pressure."
Khadr's lawyers were hoping to also force the government to release a "U.S. post-battle report in Canada's possession that may contradict other accounts of the July 2002 firefight. Military prosecutors told a Guantanamo court last month that the original report had gone missing."
It's not clear from this ruling if that report will now be denied them. It's the one in which
"Lt. Col. W.", the Army Commander for Eastern Afghanistan at the time of the attack, had initially written in his report the day after the firefight that "the person who threw a grenade that killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer also died in the firefight"
- meaning that Khadr could not have killed him. The U.S. has "lost" their copy so making the Canadian government cough up theirs is crucial to Khadr's case.
Incredibly, Canadian "Government lawyers had countered that they did not have an obligation to disclose documents for a U.S. trial."
Our government - not too good at protecting the rights of Canadian citizens in detention abroad but absolutely excellent at ass-covering.
Kady O'Malley has more details and a link to the actual *unaminous* ruling.
More Kady : "The federal judge who will, as per today’s ruling, make the final decision on which documents will be disclosed to Omar Khadr’s legal team, and which may be redacted or withheld for reasons of national security grounds is Richard Mosley — the same Richard Mosley who, during a previous incarnation as associate deputy minister at the Department of Justice, was responsible for drafting much of Canada’s current anti-terrorist legislation, which has raised concerns over potential conflict of interest in the past."
CBC : "Defence lawyers for Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr said Friday's Supreme Court of Canada ruling ordering Ottawa to grant limited access to confidential documents falls "far short" of what they hoped for."
"Lawyers for the Canadian government argued that releasing the files could jeopardize international relations and reveal classified information."

How much for the little girl?

Dear Steve :

When you stood next to President Uribe of Colombia [8,000 trade unionists killed, 25 more reported by May this year so far] and said :
"When we see a country like Colombia that has decided to address its social, political and economic problems in an integrated way, that wants to embrace democracy and human rights, then we say, "We're in."
"We are not going to say fix all your social, political and human rights problems and only then will we engage in trade relations with you. That's a ridiculous position."

were you referring to :
"a free trade agreement [which] would allow the Colombian government to pay a token monetary amount into a ‘cooperation fund’ when a Colombian trade unionist is murdered"?

What kind of trade deal equates paying a fine for murdering human beings with "embracing democracy and human rights"?
Is there a special group rate for killing a whole bunch of them at once?
How about a pre-payment plan?


P.S. Please see attached letter from Canadian union leaders .

Thursday, May 22, 2008

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Of course total global cheating may actually increase under this method....
Very funny site. Be sure to check out the client testimonials.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Global Peace Index 2008

The Index is constructed from 24 indicators of external and internal measures of peace, including import and export of weapons, percentage of displaced and jailed people, military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, level of violent crime, and war deaths.
Japan is the only G8 country in the top 10.
# 1 Iceland
# 2 Denmark
#3 Norway
#4 New Zealand
#5 Japan
#6 Ireland
#7 Portugal
#8 Finland
#9 Luxembourg
#10 Austria
#11 Canada



#49 UK



#97 USA

Monday, May 19, 2008

Emma the Embryo : If a fetus is a person...

If a fetus is a person, then a woman isn't.
Or, if you prefer, any separate legal rights granted to a fetus as a person with the right not to be killed or injured must necessarily come at the expense of the person carrying the fetus.
In Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, the word "child" appears 14 times and the phrase "unborn child" five times. Clause 5 states :
"It is not a defence to a charge under this section that the child is not a human being."

Read that again : "It is not a defence to a charge under this section that the child is not a human being."

In Bill C-484 Endangers Abortion Rights and Women’s Rights by Establishing Fetal Personhood, an excellent rebuttal to the supposed innocuousnous of the bill, Joyce Arthur of Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada writes : "Regardless of Ken Epp’s stated intent for the bill – to protect pregnant women and wanted fetuses from violence – he should realize that once enacted, his bill can be used in ways he did not intend......By recognizing the "rights of the unborn," it creates the risk that pregnant women’s behaviour could be regulated or punished, and abortion rights restricted."

Plus, although Epp cannot be held directly responsible for the, uh, enthusiasm of his followers, referring to his bill as Kicking Abortion's Ass isn't really helping his case much.

Tuesday update : Terrific post from PSA at Canadian Cynic :
Ken Epp's Big Con

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Telephonic Sheep

by Jean Luc Cornec. Made entirely from old telephone parts.
There are phone lines trailing about the floor - I do hope this means their heads ring from time to time.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hey Harpercrites, how's that famous Accountability Act coming along?

Not content with merely taking months to release heavily redacted documents obtained via freedom-of-information requests, the Cons have decided that when it comes to cabinet ministers, they would prefer it if you didn't ask questions at all.

Tories do turnabout, go to court to block access to ministerial offices
"Opening the offices of cabinet ministers to scrutiny under freedom-of-information legislation could compromise sensitive material that ought to remain private, the Harper government is telling Federal Court.
The argument is a sharp turnaround for the federal Conservatives, who complained bitterly in opposition about Liberal secrecy and vowed to reform the Access to Information Act to fix the problem."

And just what case examples are the Cons using to illustrate what a terrible violation of ministerial privacy such freedom-of-info requests really are?
Four access requests, three of which originated with Alliance and Con party members.

"The Conservatives promised, in their last election platform, to bring in amendments making it clear that cabinet offices come under the law, but they have failed to deliver on the pledge."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Behold a Pale hobbyhorse

Steve's mission statement for the Canada First Defence Strategy
Monday - $30 billion
Jay Paxton, Peter MacKay's press secretary : "As such, the speeches are the strategy."
Dan Dugas, MacKay's senior spokesman : "The strategy is what they unveiled,"

Peter MacKay's office : "There's a very detailed cabinet document that lays this down and more."
Defence Department senior military official who apparently cannot be named : "There is a very solid, detailed document in existence. It's not just stuff pulled out of the air."

Ok, so not just something Steve pulled out of his ass which he can stuff right back in again when it suits him (h/t Boris)
There is a plan - they just don't know what it is yet.
"One senior officer used an expletive to express his dissatisfaction with how, in his view, the most proactive spending plan the Forces have ever seen was being communicated to the public."
"Military planners said they took a comprehensive modern approach to predict what global security risks or "conflict drivers" such as terrorism, climate change or population migration would drive up demand for the services of the Forces.
"Food is one, oil is another one, water is one," said another military official."

Pale at A Creative Revolution asks:
and provides this handy reference drawing for clarification :

Note : I made a very small addition to Pale's drawing which I hope she will not mind.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Police "brainwashed" by TASER™ says a police psychologist

"When you think the only tool you have is a hammer, then the whole world begins looking like a nail," Mike Webster told the Braidwood Inquiry into police use of the weapons.

Referring to excited delirium as a "mythical dubious disorder" used by Taser International in its training of police in Canada and the U.S., Webster said he has been "shocked and embarrassed" by recent "ridiculously inappropriate applications of the Taser" in low-risk situations :
"I am embarrassed to be associated with organizations that Taser sick old men in hospital beds and confused immigrants arriving to the country. Frankly I find it embarrassing," he said.

Amnesty International has a slightly longer list of the TASER™ being used as a pain compliance method in Canada :

An Edmonton police officer in 2003 searching a hotel with two other officers for a robber armed with a knife, used his Taser to rouse two sleeping hotel guests. (The officer was charged with assault with a weapon.)

In 2004, Halifax regional police used a Taser three times on a woman who was handcuffed and held down in a police cell. (Both officers involved were cleared of assault.)

In 2005, a 42-year-old restaurant owner was shocked with a Taser as he lay unconscious. An RCMP officer ordered the shock in an attempt to revive him. (The officer pleaded guilty in court to assault with a weapon. He was given a conditional discharge and 50 hours' community service.)

A 66-year-old lawyer, Brian Fish, was taking photos of Edmonton police intervening at the 2006 Stanley Cup victory celebrations. When Fish refused a police demand to stop taking photos, an officer pushed Fish to the ground and Tasered him twice in his back. A police investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of the officers. Fish has filed a complaint.

RCMP officers in New Brunswick in 2006 Tasered a 17-year-old boy at least 13 times, hitting his lower back and his front, including his groin. A witness to the arrest disputed claims by the police that the boy was resisting arrest: "They kept telling him to get on his back but every time he tried to turn, they'd keep Tasering him. It was just horrible."

More recently there was that fellow who didn't pay his SkyTrain fare and clung to a railing.

Thank you, Mike Webster, for speaking up and conveying our collective embarrassment to the inquiry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Steve's Mission Statement

DAVID PUGLIESE : "Canada's defence strategy for the next 20 years will be based on speeches by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay given Monday in Halifax.
In a highly unusual move, the Conservative government will base its entire future rebuilding of the Canadian military on Mr. Harper's 10-minute speech and Mr. MacKay's 700-word address. No actual strategy document has been produced, nor will be produced, according to government and defence officials."
Asked about when the actual Canada First Defence Strategy was going to be released, Jay Paxton, Mr. MacKay's press secretary replied: "It is a strategy that you heard enunciated by the Prime Minister and Minister MacKay."...snip..."As such, the speeches are the strategy."
Accidental Deliberations : "For those who held out hope that the Cons' brand of cult conservatism would stop at a mere Stephen Harper portrait gallery, matters have managed to get worse. From now on, Canada's national defence strategy consists of parsing the Glorious Leader's prophetic vision of Canada Firstness."
Operation Enduring Steve.

Monday, May 12, 2008

RCMP strip details from Dziekanski airport TASER™ report

Missing from the RCMP report :
1) Dziekanski's name
2) the name and rank of the officer who fired the TASER™
3) the name of his supervisor
4) details about the duration of the firing
5) the number of times the weapon was used in stun mode
6) whether Dziekanski was armed
7) a written summary of the incident
8) "assessments as to whether use of the TASER™ helped the RCMP either "avoid use of lethal force" or "avoid injuries to subject or Police."

CP : "In a letter accompanying the form, the RCMP says it invoked exemptions under the Access to Information Act to protect the privacy of the person stunned and to guard confidences about the force's investigations and weapons."

"To protect the privacy of the person stunned"
I can't find the italics italic enough for that statement.

RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, the man brought in to clean up (the image of) the RCMP, said in March, "Our motivation is not to avoid criticism or controversy by exercising our discretion one way or the other, but to strike an appropriate balance between sometimes competing interests like privacy and the public's right to know."
CP : Insp. Troy Lightfoot, an RCMP spokesman, said that internal analysis of the forms concluded the painful weapons were being used correctly.

In 2004 Robert Bagnell was killed almost instantly after being shocked by a Vancouver police Taser.
"Engineering firm Intertek tested the two weapons fired during the Bagnell incident. Their research found while one Taser performed within a normal electrical output, the other was 30 times higher.
Taser International, a U.S. stun gun manufacturer, later disputed Intertek's test results. Since then, the two Bagnell Tasers were sent to the Canadian Police Research Centre in Ottawa for further examination. That was two years ago.

Victoria Const. Mike Massine, considered one of Canada's foremost police experts on stun guns, says Tasers are not tested by police. "I'm assuming (Tasers) are tested at the factory," he said. "We don't have the mechanism to do that."

Intertek's data came as a surprise to Federal Liberal Party safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh.
"If they've known about this and have done nothing -- that is absolutely wrong," Dosanjh said."
Today, Dosanjh and TASER™ chairman Tom Smith will both testify at the BC inquiry into TASER™ use.
It's worth remembering that none of these inquiries would be happening at all had not Paul Pritchard of Victoria first recorded Dziekanski's murder and then stood his ground and hired a lawyer to reclaim the recording from the RCMP after they told him it might be several years before they would return it.
Previous to Pritchard's YouTube going worldwide, the RCMP were already covering their tracks, muttering darkly about the likelihood of Dziekanski being a drug mule and how the officers were forced to use stun guns because the room was crowded with airline passengers.
So much, Mr. Elliott, for your "appropriate balance between competing interests like privacy and the public's right to know".

Friday, May 09, 2008

Bush, Harper : "Criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic"

Some criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic: U.S.
Thursday, 17 April 2008

"WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has taken the ground-breaking step of identifying some virulent criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism, as it warns that anti-Jewish attitudes and incidents are on the rise worldwide.

“Anti-Semitism has proven to be an adaptive phenomenon,” the report said. “New forms of anti-Semitism have evolved. They often incorporate elements of traditional anti-Semitism. However, the distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that – whether intentionally or unintentionally – has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel’s perceived faults to its Jewish character.”

U.S. diplomats and other officials will be expected to take their cues from this forceful language in how they deal with political groups and individuals overseas.

“I hope this keeps it on the radar screen and lets other governments know that the U.S. sees this as an important issue that needs to be taken seriously,” LeGendre said."

And right on cue.....

Criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, Harper says
MIKE DE SOUZA, Canwest News Service
May 9, 2008
"Some of the criticism brewing in Canada against the state of Israel, including from some members of Parliament, is similar to the attitude of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned yesterday.
"I guess my fear is what I see happening in some circles is (an) anti-Israeli sentiment, really just as a thinly disguised veil for good old-fashioned anti-Semitism, which I think is completely unacceptable," Harper said in an interview with CJAD radio."

Steve takes the Bush message of "some criticism of Israel" and uses it to bash "some members of Parliament".
I suppose we can expect rather more of this since we signed that "Homeland Security Pact" with Israel in March.

H/T Lagatta at Bread 'n Roses for the CannedWest link.
Lagatta says : "I wonder if people who criticise Canada's mistreatment of its Aboriginal population are "anti-Canadian"? "

RCMP TASER™ 82 year old man in hospital bed

Three Kamloops RCMP officers say they "really had no other choice" but to TASER™ an 82 year old man lying on his back in a hospital bed three times in the torso. The patient was delirious from lack of oxygen and wielding a 3" pocketknife.
As Cpl. Scott Wilson explained, he had "a deadly weapon in his hand".

What, you couldn't have disarmed him with a friggin blanket? There's three of you! He's 82! He's lying on his back! He has pneumonia!
Presumably the RCMP consider the potential risk of harm from blankets to be prohibitively high when compared to TASERS™.

Cpl. Scott Wilson : "We could not deploy our … pepper spray, because we could potentially contaminate the entire hospital."
OK, so it's either the pepper spray or the TASER™ then. That's it. No "other choice". No other method of handling the situation.

"He made comments to us that the guy in the next bed might be dead," Wilson said, adding that, because the man had a knife, officers thought they could potentially be dealing with a murder."
Oh please. Know what would have made this lame bit of spin even remotely defensible? If one of the three of you had gone to check on this potential murder victim, who was sleeping soundly in the next bed.

How did police ever handle this sort of situation before there were TASERS™?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Steve and Sandra and Grover

And here's the article : Harper's 'nation of shopping centres'
"Tom Flanagan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's longtime confidant and former chief of staff, is delighted at the Conservatives' success in "tightening the screws on the federal government" to dramatically reduce its significance in the daily lives of Canadians.
The Conservatives' three budgets have left Ottawa financially incapable of offering any new national social program like affordable housing, higher education or day care. Although overall spending went up, mostly on the military, measures were taken to deplete revenues to the point future governments' hands will be tied unless they raise taxes or run deficits, both prescriptions for political suicide.
Flanagan is impressed that Harper managed to execute his stealthy revolution in Canadian public policy with barely a whimper from the public. But that, too, was the strategy according to the University of Calgary professor and Reform party founder.
"Part of the execution of the plan was that there would be conservatives attacking him, like John Williamson (of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation) and Gerry Nicholls (Harper's successor as head of the far-right National Citizens' Coalition). That's extremely useful, to have that kind of pressure there, berating the prime minister for not doing enough."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Cons' copycat crime bill

Tories are copying U.S. crime laws that failed, expert says
2.3 million Americans behind bars
"The Harper government is embracing tough-on-crime policies even as the United States backs away from similar approaches that have produced record levels of incarceration, huge costs and racialized prisons, says an American expert on sentencing policy.
"We've had this get-tough movement for three decades now," says Marc Mauer, head of the Sentencing Project, which promotes reforms in sentencing law and alternatives to incarceration.
"If that's the best way to produce safety, we should be the safest country in the world, and clearly that's not the case.
Mauer's observations are relevant because the federal Tackling Violent Crime Act echoes the punitive approach to crime adopted in the U.S.
The Harper government pushed the bill through even though crime rates in Canada are falling and are now at their lowest level in 25 years."

You know, we used to know better.

Here's a page written by the head of Corrections Service of Canada, in Sept 2000 :
"HTTP Error 404 - Not Found
In an effort to serve you better, we have redesigned the Correctional Service of Canada website. As a result, many of our webpage addresses have changed and some links may be unavailable.
Date Modified: 2008-01-04"

Well, never mind, as it happens I have my own copy :
"American politicians have often found it in their self-interest to use fear of crime as a strategy to win elections, by promising to wage war on crime.It is ironic that in the United States, as in Canada, crime rates have been declining since 1991. However, by waging war on crime they have managed to double their prison population without making the United States a noticeably safer society than Canada. We would do much to advance the public interest if we can better manage the fear of crime than our American neighbours."

Currently one out of every 100 US citizens is behind bars.
Americans spend $44 BILLION a year on corrections -- six times more than they do on higher education.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Judge orders 'Taser' removed from autopsies.
"A judge ruled today that the Summit County Medical Examiner must change her autopsy findings to remove all references to the Taser stun gun as a contributing cause of death in the cases of three men who died during encounters with law enforcement officers.

The decision by visiting Judge Ted Schneiderman, released late this morning after a four-day trial in Common Pleas Court last week, stated that there is ''simply no medical, scientific or electrical evidence to support the conclusion that the Taser . . . had anything to do with the death of Dennis S. Hyde, Richard Holcomb, or Mark D. McCullaugh.''

Schneiderman, quoting passages from [medical examiner, Dr. Lisa J.]Kohler's autopsy report on McCullaugh, stated that his death ''shall be ruled undetermined and any reference to death by 'asphyxia due to the combined effects of chemical, mechanical and electrical restraint,' as well as any reference to 'homicide' due to 'multiple restraint mechanisms with beating and anal penetration' shall be deleted from both the death certificate and the Report of Autopsy.''

Anal penetration?
"Lawyers for Taser, relying on a ''multiple number of experts . . . in the area of sudden and unexpected death while law enforcement attempted to obtain custody provided overwhelming credible medical and scientific evidence to support their positions,'' Schneiderman's ruling stated."

Dr Stanbrook at the Canadian Medical Association Journal, however, deigns to disagree.
From Tasers in medicine - an irreverent call for proposals : (pdf, sorry)
"In this issue, we call your attention to an emerging and increasingly popular medical device: the taser. It may strike you as odd to hear tasers described as medical devices. Tasers are probably more familiar to you, depending on your point of view, as a valuable tool for subduing criminals and
safeguarding the lives of law enforcement personnel, or, alternatively, as a potentially lethal weapon being deployed with wanton disregard for public safety. The latter perspective has possibly been inflicted on society by the media, which has an annoying habit of publicizing when someone dies after being exposed to a taser discharge."

Noting TASER™'s litigious nature and propensity for using researchers who "occasionally neglect to mention their participation on TASER International’s medical advisory board or board of directors" in "suing a researcher for publishing scientific results critical of tasers in a peer-reviewed journal and a medical examiner for the “error” of listing taser exposure on a death certificate as the cause of death", Matthew B. Stanbrook MD PhD, Deputy Editor, Scientific, CMAJ, writes :

"Only cynics would observe that tasers nevertheless appear to be the leading risk factor associated with sudden death due to excited delirium"


"Obviously, no one is better suited to instruct a qualified physician, coroner or specialist in forensic pathology on how to determine the cause of death than advisors to a corporation with a vested interest in the device being critiqued."

The Vancouver coroner's investigation into the death of Robert Dziekanski should be starting any day now.
I do hope the delightfully sardonic Dr Stanbrook is invited.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Emma the Embryo

Middle-aged People Effing Up

Our story so far...
Bill C-10, aka McVety's 'Young People Effing' Bill, the film tax-credit legislation to block government funding of any film which might offend the delicate sensibilities of Canadian Heritage officials, sails through the House because no one really reads these effing things apparently. Off it goes to the Senate where someone who actually does read these things says, "Eff me! Hang on a sec" and proposes an amendment. The amendment causes it to go back to the House for a confidence vote because it's about money, whereupon the Libs have to vote to pass it rather than risk precipitating an election which would feature Con campaign ads like this :
"Stephane Dion wants to spend your hard-earned tax dollars on movies like Young People Effing. Is this how you want your government to spend your hard-earned tax dollars?"
causing voters right across Canada to turn to one another and ask, "What the fuck is "effing"?
G&M link

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy May Day, ILWU!

In most of the world today, May Day, or International Workers' Day, is an international celebration of the social and economic achievements of the labour movement. Countries that do not celebrate it today include Canada, South Africa, and the United States which is the birthplace of May Day......Hello, what's this then?

U.S. West Coast ports closed by worker protest.
May 1 (Reuters) - Ports along the U.S. West Coast, including the country's busiest port complex in Los Angeles, shut down on Thursday as some 10,000 dock workers went on a one-day strike to protest the war in Iraq, port and union officials said.
Twenty-nine ports from San Diego to Washington state that handle more than half of U.S waterborne trade ground to a halt, but shipping experts said the economic costs of the walk-out would be limited.
Paul Bingham, an economist with Global Insight, which tracks container volume and congestion at U.S. ports, said labor officials had alerted shippers and carriers.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union said some 10,000 workers joined the anti-war protest, spurred in part by its belief that big shipping companies are profiting from the war
."Longshore workers are standing down on the job and standing up for America," said ILWU International President Bob McEllrath. "We're supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it's time to end the war in Iraq."

Fuckin' A and a Happy May Day to you, ILWU.

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