Thursday, December 16, 2010

A smiling Daniel Ellsberg is led off to jail


The famous Vietnam war whistle blower, now age 79, was arrested in the snow today after chaining himself to the White House fence to protest efforts to prosecute WikiLeaks Julian Assange and Bradley Manning as terrorists.
.
"I have no doubt if I put out the Pentagon Papers in every detail, same as before, I would now be called a terrorist," said Ellsberg, whose leaks 39 years ago helped to turn public opinion against the Vietnam war.
.
About 135 demonstrators were arrested at the protest organized by Veterans For Peace, including journalist Chris Hedges.
.
Against this man's heart, your cynicism is as nothing.
.
Peace now.
.

Adventures in Con Leakage to lobbyists - Part 3.

On Tuesday the Procedures and House Affairs Committee heard from Russell Ullyatt, the former Con MP Kelly Block staffer who leaked a draft copy of the Finance Committee report to Con-connected lobbyists before MPs had seen it.

Today we got Con MP Kelly Block herself before the PROC committee, already ably live-blogged by Kady so I'm not going to blow-by-blow it, except to note that the meeting immediately descends into the committee Cons - Scott Reid, Tom Lukiwski, Ted Menzies, and the Chair Joe Preston - circling the wagons around Block to prevent her from answering any of the questions raised by Ullyatt's previous testimony. How they think this helps her personal credibility as an MP at all I have no idea.

This committee, like most of them, is composed of 50% Con MPs including a Con chair.
If the chair doesn't like a particular line of questioning, he disallows the witness from answering and that's the end of it.

Today Chair Joe Preston refused to hear any questions following on from Ullyatt's testimony on Tuesday, while the Con MPs used up their allotted time praising the apparently sainted Block for appearing before committee at all and hey isn't her son coming back from Australia today? and what are her plans for Christmas? OK, I made that last one up - only the last one.

Blocked line of questioning from opp members :
What about the printer with its pallets of boxes of mailouts stacked outside Block's office that were presumably part of Ullyatt's private direct mail business? Was it run out of her office? What was in them? More leaks? Didn't she ask him about them some time over the past two years he was in her employ?

NDP Mulcair elicits from Block that Ullyatt was recommended to her employ by Con MP Rob Clark. Ah. As already noted, when Ullyatt was Clark's campaign manager before coming to Block, RCMP in uniform were discovered using RCMP vehicles to deliver Clark campaign signs, causing a wee stir in the media about blurring use of gov resources for Party partisan reasons. You can guess where Mulcair is going with this and so does the chair who immediately shuts him down.

Much of the two hour meeting with Block posted on the committee agenda was taken up with opp members registering their outrage that Block mentioned she was only staying for one hour. Whose idea was that? Because it's going to take more than a couple of five minute attempts each by opp members to get any relevant questions past the chair.

My guess : As no one knew the two hour session was being cut to one hour before Block mentioned it after being escorted into the meeting by House Leader and veteran defender-of-witnesses-from-committees John Baird, I'm guessing we can draw our own conclusions where that particular one hour directive shutting down hour two with the committee came from.

Anyway Block declines to stay, down comes the gavel and she's whisked away by a posse - the meeting and the committee adjourned till next year - leaving us none the wiser about anything from her testimony.
.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Time Magazine's 2010 Person of the Year


.
Oh sorry - that is just Time's readers' poll.

Here ya go .
.
BBC :
"A Time poll showed readers favoured naming WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange this year but the magazine's editors and correspondents chose Zuckerberg.
The conservative Tea Party political movement was Time's second choice, followed by Assange, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the 33 trapped Chilean miners."
So. Facebook, then the Tea Party, then WikiLeaks, then Afghan President Karzai. In that order. Please adjust your headsets accordingly.
.

Inside the Procedure and House Affairs Committee : Ullyatt

Further adventures in Con Leakage to lobbyists.

Russell Ullyatt, Con MP Kelly Block's staffer who leaked a pre-budget finance committee draft report to five Con-connected tax industry lobbyists before MPs had seen it, was grilled at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee today.

Mr. Ullyatt could not be more contrite. Mr. Ullyatt cannot say enough wonderful things about his totally blameless former employer Kelly Block, who he worked for for two years before leaking docs out of her office to exactly the same five lobbyists to whom he was applying for jobs. Mr. Ullyatt has a longer list of people he is apologizing to than Academy Awards winners have people to thank. Mr. Ullyatt is breaking my heart here.

First question is from Lib MP Ratansi - not usually my favorite committee interrogator but she has it totally pegged : "Who coached you for your appearance here today?"

Ullyatt responds well you know his family, his friends, but not the Cons - oh no, not the Cons.

Ratansi circles around, comes back at him. Um ok yes actually he did retain Con Party lawyer Paul Lepsoe of Con in-and-out court case fame to coach him today. Busted.

Ratansi also points out that eight hours elapsed between first and last leak, which pretty well blows the momentary lapse of judgement part of his heartbreaking apology all to shit.

And holy crap I'll bet Lepsoe wishes he had been allowed to sit next to Ullyatt in committee and stop him from scoring on his own goal by offering up the entirely unsolicited info that he asked one of the lobbyists he leaked the docs to - Egan, CEO of the Canadian Gas Association -if Egan had any specific questions he would like Block to put to Egan during Egan's appearance before the Finance committee. Oh dear.

NDP MP Mulcair wants to know about the "slats and pallets, with boxes piled high and a very elaborate printing machine" he has seen sitting outside Block's office when he walks by. Would that would be Ullyatt's on-the-side business R. U. Thinking, "Canada’s only completely political mail provider," that has sent out "over 5 million mailouts in the last two years"? Yes, it would. How long did he work for Block again? Two years. Does Block know about his on-the-side biz? Um.................yes. But Ullyatt assures the committee he didn't operate his private business out of her office which would, incidentally, be totally illegal. [slats of mailouts out side her office? what slats?] No, he operated it out of his garage. Oh dear again.

Rather handy, isn't it, that the upshot of yet another low level staffer being busted is that the final committee report will now be shelved, leaving opposition parties and the over 400 witnesses who have appeared before finance committee without any input at all into next federal budget, so now the whole show belongs entirely to Flaherty. The problem is that it was the draft committee report that was leaked and drafts reveal all the horse-trading the opposition parties do in camera - and none of them wants that aired in public. This is just total bullshit on your part, opposition parties.


Next up - Ullyatt's five "friends" as he refers to them at least 50 times - the lobbyists who received Ullyatt's clearly marked Confidential report.

Lynne Hamilton, former Mike Harris alumnus and media co-ordinator for Walkerton water tragedy, now a VP at GCI Group and author of the "I heart you" response to Ullyatt upon receiving the leaked doc, says she never read it. Moreover she points out that as a former Senior Special Assistant to Secretary of State Helena Guergis, Ullyart can not be hired as a lobbyist by her company anyway.

Andy Gibbons, former legislative assistant to Con MP Leon Benoit and now at Hill and Knowlton, said Ullyatt knew he was following the finance committee but he did not solicit the report. Gibbons sent a paragraph of the leaked report on to his client Merck Frosst and someone else at Hill and Knowlton.

Clarke Cross, former Legislative Assistant to Con/Alliance MPs James Lunney and Leon Benoit, and now senior consultant with Tactix Government Relations and Public Affairs Group, forwarded "a summation of two points" from the report on to "one person at the University of Calgary". Huh.

Howard Mains, formerly with the Mulroney government and now Co-President of Tactix, never read Ullyatt's email and is hearing the contents of the email for the first time just now apparently.

Tim Egan, CEO of the Canadian Gas Association and founding director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, the Tim Ball and Tom Harris climate change skeptics group, also never read Ullyatt's email because it caught in his spam filter.

Testimony from these lobbyists, btw, marks the single greatest number of times I have ever heard the term 'pro-active' used to describe the failure to anticipate an oncoming shitstorm.
Pro-active. For those days when "going forward" just isn't strong enough.
.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Avi Lewis : The Canada-Israel special relationship


Avi Lewis : "There's no wave of anti-Semitism in Canada?"

Scott Reid : "No, no, no, no, absolutely not. It's funny I've heard people who have criticized us saying that we think this but there is absolutely no spike in the kinds of anti-Semitic incidents that I think appall us."

Con MP Scott Reid is Chair of Steering Committee of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism and vice-chair of the CPCCA's inquiry panel on domestic anti-Semitism.

Thanks, Scott. Good to know. It seems the US Anti-Defamation League agrees with you on that.

Perhaps the misconception about the rise of, you know, actual recorded incidents of anti-Semitism in Canada has arisen from the original CPCCA mission statement put out by yourself and Lib MP Mario Silva in June last year :

"Recorded incidents of antisemitism have been on the rise both locally and globally."

Last week the phrase "rising tide of anti-Semitism" was used in the Ontario legislature to hysterically condemn a two year old MA thesis written by Jenny Peto, a Jewish Palestinian solidarity activist and one of the people interviewed in the vid above. Really reaching here, guys.

Meanwhile the World Zionist Organization is launching a new hasbara program targetting students and Canada was represented there :

"Dozens of students from 14 countries around the world joined together this weekend at a seminar in Paris that launched the World Zionist Organization’s new Global Network for Countering Anti-Semitism.

The students and others like them will be the soldiers on the ground who will report to the WZO about anti-Semitism in their countries and receive advice about how to tackle future incidents. To that end, the WZO launched a media room that will be in touch with activists around the world in several languages.

The global network’s media room will be ... in contact with students acting as antennas on campuses around the world. For instance, if there is a problem on a particular campus, the WZO can contact the university and ask for security or bring in other activists from close by to help counteract the problem.

Media room director Eitan Behar : "With the right work of all our activists around the world and if we are unified, we can win the battle that is going on around the world for Israel’s image."

Because clearly that's what all this is about : Israel's image.

What is less clear is why Canada is so determined to identify with it.

.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

WikiRebels - The Documentary

The rough cut advance of a new documentary on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, released today in English by the Swedish broadcaster SVT for the press and available on their site til Monday.

Openleaks.org, the WikiLeaks breakaway group also profiled in the doc, goes online on Monday.

h/t WL Central

.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Health Canada Crime Fighters Ashtray


The Health Canada Crime Fighters Commemorative Ashtray, marking Health Canada's brave decision to suddenly ditch their expanded label warning program on cigarette packages in favour of fighting contraband tobacco, presumably on behalf of tobacco companies.

Perrin Beatty, registered tobacco lobbyist and President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, argues that Health Canada's priority should be people selling ciggies off the backs of trucks at the side of the road, not health labels :

"There is a significant share of the market that it is being fuelled by organized crime," he said. "Do we want to make it easier for organized criminals by eliminating the ability of other people to offer brands in competition?"

Health Canada and tobacco lobbyists - fighting crime together.

Ezra Levant, author of Ethical Oil and registered tobacco lobbyist for Rothmans, Benson & Hedges in 2009, told CBC he has since de-registered : "I am no longer a lobbyist. I no longer have any interest in the file."

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Son of SPP : The Sequel


Well, it's back. The 'one security perimeter' deep integration SPP/FTAA zombie, now with new and improved emphasis on security.

You're shocked, I'm sure.
Like it ever really died.
The re-animators just learned not to dig it up and parade it around in parliament too often.

"Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Competitiveness"
"A Declaration by the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Canada."

"We share responsibility for the safety, security and resilience of Canada and the United States and we intend to address threats at the earliest point possible, including outside the perimeter of our two countries"
reads a draft agreement yet to be signed by Harper and President Barack Obama.
.
" In what could be the biggest challenge to Canadian sovereignty since free trade in the 1980s, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is secretly cooking up a deal with the Obama administration that would give Washington a much bigger say in Canada’s border security, immigration controls and information-sharing with American law-enforcement agencies."
Naturally there's a working group to handle the implementation -isn't there's always some extra-parliamentary working group to handle the implementation? This one - "Beyond the Border Working Group" - is staffed by officials from the Privy Council in Ottawa and National Security Staff in the White House.
The US is also currently negotiating a similar deal with Mexico called New Border Vision, and the foreign ministers from all three countries are meeting in Ottawa in four days.

Chris Sands of the Hudson Institute - and author of Negotiating North America, the closest thing we have to a manual on implementing deep integration security - says it's all about "trying to boost security by exchanging more information, rather than fortifying the border" :
"But it's taken us [Canada and the US] a while to see the world in the same way"
Sands is not always this diplomatic. Two years ago he addressed a security conference in Ottawa.
"... homeland security is the gatekeeper with its finger on the jugular affecting your ability to move back and forth across the border, the market access upon which the Canadian economy depends.

In exchange for continued visa-free access to the United States, American officials are pressuring the federal government to supply them with more information on Canadians. Not only about (routine) individuals but also about people that you may be looking at for reasons, but there's no indictment and there's no charge."
Sands then recounted a conversation he had with Stewart Baker, the assistant secretary of policy at the Department of Homeland Security :

"Canadians have "had a better deal than anybody else in terms of access to the United States and for that they've paid nothing." Now "we want to give you less access, but we want you to pay more and, by the way, we're standardizing this (with other visa-free countries) so you're not special anymore."
Well certainly that's an assessment Harper would have no trouble with.
.
Stuart Trew at Council of Canadians, yesterday :

"Canada has armed and secured itself to the teeth to satisfy the U.S. but no new perimeter plan can bring the U.S. economy back to life. That’s the real reason trade is down across the border."

John Manley, former Liberal deputy prime minister and now president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, yesterday :
"The real question will be what do we get at the border in exchange for greater co-ordination on security."
Back in 2005 when he was Canada Chair of the deep integration project, 2005 Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, Manley wrote :

"The Task Force's central recommendation is establishment by 2010 of a North American economic and security community, the boundaries of which would be defined by a common external tariff and an outer security perimeter."

.Are we going to let them get away with it this time?

WELL, ARE WE ?

.
.

Amazon selling WikiLeaks cables

[updated below]


.
While Amazon may have kicked WikiLeaks off its server because, in their own words :
"... it is not credible that the extraordinary volume of 250,000 classified documents that WikiLeaks is publishing could have been carefully redacted in such a way as to ensure that they weren't putting innocent people in jeopardy"
they are nonetheless quite happy to sell those same docs [update : analyzed] for your Kindle :

"WikiLeaks documents expose US foreign policy conspiracies. All cables with tags from 1- 5000"

And while you're there, you may as well also not pick up this handsome WikiLeaks Freedom T-Shirt they are offering through their convenient Mastercard, VISA, or PayPal payment plan.
.
PandaLabs and The Guardian have the details on the "anti anti-WikiLeaks" Operation Payback cyber attacks on MasterCard, Visa, the Swedish prosecution authority, Joe Lieberman, Sarah Palin, PayPal, Twitter, PostFinance, Amazon and EveryDNS.net by "Anonymous".
.
Unsubstantiated Anonymous Rumours From 'Sources' Dept.
Crikey reports Julian Assange rape accuser Anna Ardin may have ceased co-operating with the Swedish prosecution and moved to the West Bank. Her blog is active again :

"mastercard, visa och paypal - skärp er, nu!"

which Google helpfully translates as : "mc, visa and paypal - belt you now!"

Or it's a psy ops. Or just bs. Getting harder and harder to tell. Going to get even harder.

1oam LOLsy Update : Since I first posted the above screenshot from Amazon with its offer of "All cables from 1-5000" and its one customer review at 3am, I see 120 more "customer reviews" have weighed in.

A sampling :

" I can't understand this. First Amazon kicks Wikileaks from their servers - because of these documents. Now they are trying to make money with them. Instead of buying this eBook, you should better spend Money for Wikileaks!"

"I bought this thinking that my bank accounts would be frozen, and I would be falsely charged with two counts of rape, but sadly neither were included in the price of this package."

"Is this a practical joke?"

"Amazon, this is incredible: 1. You ban WikiLeaks data from your server 2. and SELL the same information."


And so on and so on.

If you click the link above to Amazon now, you will find my original screenshot replaced with a brand new amended one which prominently reads :
(DOES NOT CONTAIN TEXT OF CABLES).
And in case you missed that, a little lower down : "This book contains commentary and analysis regarding recent WikiLeaks disclosures, not the original material disclosed via the WikiLeaks website."

.

Well alrighty then.

h/t cosmicsync in comments
.
2pm Update : Amazon link to above Kindle book now 404'd
.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

State Dept. WikiLeakage

Press Statement
Philip J. Crowley Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
December 7, 2010

"The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 - May 3 in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press.

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression.

At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

Highlighting the many events surrounding the celebration will be the awarding of the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize at the National Press Club on May 3rd. This prize, determined by an independent jury of international journalists, honors a person, organization or institution that has notably contributed to the defense and/or promotion of press freedom, especially where risks have been undertaken."

Same dude, same day ....

ABC News :

"State Department spokesman P J Crowley said the WikiLeaks was inviting terrorist attacks by releasing the cable that mention some of the key infrastructures projects across the globe identified by the US as vital for its national security interest. Without discussing any particular cable, the release of this kind of information gives a group like al Qaeda a targeting list. This is why we have condemned WikiLeaks for what it has done."

So. No UNESCO prize likely to be forthcoming for Wikileaks for "promotion of press freedom, especially where risks have been undertaken."

Because prior to these leaks, no one could possibly have guessed where the Canadian border crossings are or that an Israeli weapons manufacturer that makes components for US cluster bombs would be considered by the US to be "vital for its national security interest".

h/t Glenn Greenwald for the State Dept link.

.

Assange : Don't shoot the messenger

Julian Assange "arrested on a European Arrest Warrant by appointment at a London police station at 9.30am." Denied bail and refusing to be deported to Sweden to face the as yet unspecified rape charges. Ken Loach and John Pilger were on hand in the courtroom to act as sureties if needed. Excellent interview with Pilger on Oz Late Night Radio re "the latest twists and turns in the Wikileaks case" here.

The following article by Assange appeared in The Australian this morning :

Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths
WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.
IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true.
Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.
Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes.

continued ...
.
Best source of updates and news : WL Central
.
Update : VISA became today the fifth financial institution to suspend payments to WikiLeaks, after Moneybookers, PayPal, Mastercard, and PostFinance.
"Charles Arthur, the Guardian's technology editor, points out that while MasterCard and Visa have cut WikiLeaks off you can still use those cards to donate to overtly racist organisations such as the Knights Party, which is supported by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Ku Klux Klan website directs users to a site called Christian Concepts.
It takes Visa and MasterCard donations for users willing to state that they are 'white and not of racially mixed descent. I am not married to a non-white. I do not date non-whites nor do I have non-white dependents. I believe in the ideals of western Christian civilisation and profess my belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God."
Well done, MC and VISA.
.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Harper commemorates Montreal Massacre by axing gun tracing

Steve today : Montreal massacre was heinous crime

"That these women were gunned down for no other reason than their gender is as incomprehensible now as it was in 1989. While we cannot, and probably never will, be able to make sense of the events of that day, we can work to ensure that it never happens again.

Let us pay tribute to their memory in the best way that we can: by working to eliminate violence against women while making our communities safer for all Canadians."
Steve, one week ago : Gun tracing regulations delayed third time

"The Harper government has once again delayed implementation of regulations that police say they need to quickly trace guns used in crimes.
The government quietly posted a notice last Tuesday — one day before the firearms marking regulations were to have come into force — disclosing that implementation has been postponed until Dec. 1, 2012.

"The regulations are supposed to bring Canada into compliance with international protocols requiring import marks on all firearms."

This is the third time the Harper government has delayed regulations requiring gun manufacturers to note the origin and year a gun is imported into Canada to make them easier to trace - regulations which were supposed to go into effect in 2006.

This is not the long gun registry so you would think the lawn order™ Cons would support a registry to trace guns used in crimes.
But as 900 ft Jesus points out : How do you please your rabid base when two rabid base issues conflict?

The Canadian Shooting Sports Association (read : NRA) has apparently been "working tirelessly" to delay gun marking, along with regs for the use of firearms at gun shows :
"They are both now delayed until December of 2012 which gives us more time to resolve the negative impacts these regulations will have and, since there is the strong possibility of an election within the next 12 months, have them rescinded with a majority government.”
A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the regulations have been postponed "to allow time for consultation to develop a workable regulatory package."

Because four whole years with a Federal Firearms Advisory Committee entirely reconstituted to only include gun buffs is not enough.

"Once upon a time, the Firearms Advisory Committee included experts from all sides of the gun debate. Former member Marilou McPhedran, principal of Global College at the University of Winnipeg and a lawyer specializing in women’s, children’s and disabled rights, says it was "evident that some members had ties to the U.S. National Rifle Association,” but meetings were substantive.

“When Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, a dramatic shift occurred,” says McPhedran. “I received a vague letter hinting at no more meetings, and I was never invited to another one."

Nor were reps from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Canadian Police Association and the Centre for Suicide Prevention.

First Mourn Then Organize: 21 years since the Montreal Massacre
.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

WikiLeaks links

"If Wikileaks was the 9/11 of diplomacy, we can soon expect the US government to retaliate by invading Wikipedia."
~ seen at TweetChat#wikileaks

" ... journalism’s stock-in-trade is disclosure. As we have seen this week with WikiLeaks, power loathes truth revealed. Disclosure is messy and tests moral and legal boundaries. It is often irresponsible and usually embarrassing. But it is all that is left when regulation does nothing, politicians are cowed, lawyers fall silent and audit is polluted. Accountability can only default to disclosure. As Jefferson remarked, the press is the last best hope when democratic oversight fails, as it does in the case of most international bodies."
~ Simon Jenkins at The Guardian

So how is the "last best hope" doing with the latest WikiLeaks exposure of the mythology of power?
For the most part, not well.

What is WikiLeaks? It is The Blueprint. Brilliant.

74 mirror sites for WL which is currently accessable at : http://213.251.145.96/ or http://88.80.13.160/

Best site for news updates on WL : WL Central.

Wiki downloads : Wikisnatch
.
Monday Update : Freedom of information is priceless; for everything else there's Mastercard
.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Inside the Subcommittee on Human Rights

Photo : Afghan women students at Kabul University, 1995.
.
Speaking to his fellow members of the Subcommittee on International Human Rights on Tuesday at a meeting which heard that the situation for Afghan women has considerably worsened over the last two years, Lib MP Mario Silva recounted his own conversations with womens groups in Afghanistan this past June :

"They told us when they were young, they had full freedom in terms of education, they didn't have to wear the head scarf, they could go out in public without any problem. It was more restricted with the Taliban but they did have more progrssive attitudes towards women some time ago so I think when we in the West say we have to be culturally sensitive to them and it takes time - I think that is a false argument."

He stated that that all the womens groups told him that concessions to the Taliban were won on the backs of women, that they strongly opposed the Karzai government, and that continued Canadian presence in Afghanistan was important to them.

The only witness Tuesday was Reverend Majed El Shafie of the Christian Toronto-based human rights group, One Free World International.

He testified that while working in Afghanistan four years ago, he was able to connect with local human rights orgs and individuals through their networks but in the last four years, and specifically in the last two, reports indicated the human rights situation is much deteriorated, so in June he returned with the delegation that included committee member Lib MP Mario Silva.

El Shafie outlined three main issues.

Number one - the severe abuse and shocking punishments meted out to women, abetted and sanctioned by the new 2009 laws passed by the Karzai government before the last election.

Number two - Boy play or "bacha bazi" - sexual slavery in which boys are dressed up to dance as girls and afterwards whoever pays the most gets to rape the boy. Members of the government take part, says El Shafie, and some boys are raped six to eight times a day, including by the police if they complain. He has video.

Number three - Persecution of 25 Afghans converting to Christianity, including calls for their deaths by members of parliament, backed up by Karzai's spokesman, the deputy secretary. El Shafie tabled the document authorizing them being stoned to death.

He recommended future Canadian aid be tied to preconditions on human rights improvements.
Although he testified that "our support of Karzai and the corruption of his family is what is negatively affecting our image" to the Afghan people, he made a passionate plea for Canada not to abandon them, to stay on in Afghanistan.

The committee met hours before the defeat of the Bloc motion condemning the Conservative government's extension of the Afghanistan mission without a parliamentary vote.

There is a notable lack of partisan party bickering on this seven member committee - possibly because a majority of them also work together on the Steering Committee of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA). Scott Reid is Chair of both, Mario Silva is Vice Chair of both, and Irwin Cotler and David Sweet are members of both. So the Steering Committee of the CPCCA holds a majority on the human rights committee.

This also perhaps explains why human rights abuses perpetrated on Palestine/Gaza do not show up anywhere on their radar. Rather unusual for a human rights committee, no?
.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Poll dancing at the CBC

CBC Question of the Day :
Should the WikiLeaks document release be treated as a threat to national security or legitimate journalism?
O Threat to national security
O Legitimate journalism
O Unsure

Happily, JimBobby Sez appears in the comments below the CBC poll to sort them out:
"Wikileaks is a source. It is neither a threat nor journalism. The media classifies WL as journalism and then goes on to complain that it's poor journalism. Journalists use sources like Wikileaks to craft articles and analysis. WL simply provides raw material. It's up to journalists to turn it into journalism."

Thank you, JimBobby.
And as noted by Toe in comments under Pogge's excellent On looking a gift horse in the mouth :
"If the Media in this country and elsewhere did their bloody jobs, we wouldn't need a WL's!"

The polling host used by CBC suggests : Start your own poll!
Ok then.

Creekside Question of the Day
Should CBC's Power and Politics be thought of as infotainment or as a musical?
O Infotainment
O Musical
O Unsure

Take your time. Don't rush it. Personally I think CBC is unsure.
.

WikiLeaks : The Canadian anti-US melodrama doc dump

In a four page 2008 cable, the American Embassy in Ottawa analyzed the increase in "anti-American melodrama" on Canada's "state-owned" television.

Lols.



*ring* ... *ring* ...

"Yeah. Special Agent Joe here."
.
"Hey Joe, you finished that report on the changing dynamic of Canada-US relations yet?"
.
"Just about."
.
"Just about? It's been six months already and I'm looking at your $20,000 room service bill here. Wtf's going on up there?"
.
"It's complicated, sir. Things are at a very delicate stage. Did you know there's a CIA plot to secretly divert Canadian water to the southwest?"
.
"Well, former ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci mentioned it once - something about aquaducts - but I don't think it went anywhere."
.
"Tell that to the state-owned television station up here. In just the last three weeks a Syrian terrorist with a belt full of explosives was taken off a plane but unfortunately it was the Canadian-Syrian man sitting next to him who was rendered by CSIS and the CIA to Syria."
.
"I haven't heard anything about .... Are you sure about this?"
.
"Oh yes, sir, I read about it in the National Post."
.
"Good God."
.
"Then one of our rendition aircraft with three terrorist suspects on the "Guantanamo to Syria express" crashed in Quebec and the terrorists escaped. Luckily an arrogant, albeit stunningly attractive female Homeland Security officer, sort of a cross between Salma Hayek and Cruella DeVil, has arrived to sort it out."
.
"Have you made contact with her yet?"
.
"Not exactly, sir. She hasn't returned my calls. Her agent was quite rude to me actually and he isn't even a special agent."
.
"Be careful, Joe. We don't want to start up any interdepartmental turf wars. Is there anything else you need?"
.
"Another television would be a big help, sir. Sometimes reruns of The Border come on in the afternoon at the same time as Little Mosque on the Prairie and I can't keep up."
.
"Of course. Whatever you need. After all, it's a matter of national security."
.
.

OK, you know what really is funny? The original report from the US Embassy in Ottawa, complete with Selma Hayek/Cruella DeVil references.
.k, you kno what really

Monday, November 29, 2010

A new low for Canada in Afghanistan


CBC : "The Canadian Forces have for years arrested children suspected of working with the Taliban and handed them over to [the NDS] an Afghan security unit accused of torture.

The document, obtained under an Access to Information request and marked "secret," shows that Defence Minister Peter MacKay was briefed on the topic of juvenile detainees in Afghanistan March 30."

UN General Assembly Security Council, Children and Armed Conflict, April 10, 2010 :

"Approximately 110 children have been detained by the Afghan National Directorate of Security and international military forces on charges related to national security, including their alleged involvement or association with the Taliban or other armed groups. Access to detention facilities continues to be difficult and information on children detained by pro-Government forces remains limited.

The use of harsh interrogation techniques and forced confession of guilt by the Afghan Police and NDS was documented, including the use of electric shocks and beating. ... Available information points to sexual violence as a widespread phenomenon."

Electric shocks, beating, forced confessions, sexual violence.

You can see how the Con/Lib/Bloc Afghan detainee panel - all sworn to secrecy and finally convened in July seven months after it was ordered in the House and charged with going through all those binders on detainees that Laurie Hawn is leaning on - is going to take a really really long time to get around to releasing any hint of this, if ever.

At which point, MacKay will probably issue one of his 'there was a problem but we already fixed it' missives and point out that Afghanistan is a sovereign country whose torture facilities are solely responsible for the treatment of the children we hand over to them. Especially as we now apparently actively solicit Canadian industry support for the CIA-backed NDS.

In the Afghan Committee on Oct 20, 2010, Parliamentary Secretary for National Defence Laurie Hawn remarked the NDS is "probably one of the better institutions in Afghanistan" and asked the Afghan ambassador if there was anything Canadian private industry could do to help them out.

.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stop the presses : Unreported crime up 3% over 5 years

Whenever he's faced with StatsCan reports showing a decrease in the crime rate, including the violent crime rate over the last decade, Public Safety Minister Vic lock-'em-up Toews always attempts to refute the evidence by claiming that the unreported crime rate is going up.
And that is presumably why we have to build more prisons to house all the unreported criminals.
I know, I know, but just bear with me for a moment.

On Steve Paikin's The Agenda this week, Toews stated :

"Quite frankly Canadians don't care what the crime rate is"

and went on to produce stats on his unreported crime meme :

"From 2004 to 2009, instead of 34% of crimes being reported to police, only 31% were. So what we are seeing is a gradual decline in confidence in the justice system."
Holy crap! A 3% increase in unreported crime over 5 years.

Toews also explains that "an apples to apples comparison of Canadian victimization surveys with American victimization surveys is the proper standard to use" and recommends everyone read the Vancouver Board of Trade Victimization Survey, which he says shows an increase in unreported crime.

Did that already actually, Vic, and blogged about it back in 2007. While applauding the addition of spousal violence to the survey, I'm not convinced we need more prison spaces to deal with other survey questions such as whether the questionnaire respondent has received unwanted emails or had a window or fence broken.

To Toews' claims of public safety being the Cons first priority, Paikin asks why then did the Cons scuttle their own crime bills by proroguing parliament?
Toews :

"Essentially as a result of prorogation we were able to reconstitute the committees in the Senate which would allow us to get the criminal bills through.

We're right on track with our agenda and now we don't have to worry about the unelected Senate impeding the will of the House of Commons."

[cough]Climate bill[cough]

Indeed, yesterday the Senate voted to make possession of 6 pot plants subject to a mandatory prison sentence.

But guess what, Vic, unreported crime (click the video viewer on the right at the link) is indeed getting a massive increased airing this week.
.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Con leakage

Impolitical mops up the latest embarrassing Con leakage -Con MP Kelly Block's staffer Russell Ullyatt who was fired for leaking drafts of confidential Finance Committee reports to at least four Con-connected industry lobbyists.
"I heart you," one of them wrote back to Ullyatt on receipt of his "Thought you'd like to see this in its infancy" covering note.

So whenever CBC's Power and Politics is done wrapping up its important coverage of the opinions of the Bonhomme mascot, here are a few other connections the CBC might consider following. After all, Ullyatt may well have only taken up leaking confidential docs to industry lobbyists for the very first time this week but given he's been swimming in the Con pool for some years now, it wouldn't hurt to ask, would it?

Prior to being hired by Brock, leaker Russell Ullyatt was employed as Senior Special Assistant to Secretary of State Helena Guergis (Foreign Affairs and International Trade).
In 2008 Ullyatt was campaign manager for Con MP Rob Clarke, the former RCMP sergeant who made the news when a "uniformed RCMP officer was spotted delivering campaign signs out of an RCMP truck".

The leaked docs recipients

Lynne Hamilton, former Mike Harris alumnus now a VP at GCI Group, and author of the "I heart you" note.
The GCI Group Leadership Team page lists Ken Boessenkool, former Senior Policy Advisor to Stephen Harper, as Senior Counsel. Hamilton's bio :
7 years at Hill & Knowlton plus previous government posts :
Chief of Staff to the Ontario Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
Ontario Ministry of Northern Development
Environment Ministry media coordinator in 2000 for the Walkerton water tragedy
Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism -"handled the corporate
restructuring of over 40 companies for the Government"
Ontario Premier’s office co-ordinating the daily issue binder for question period.

Tim Egan, CEO at the Canadian Gas Association.
Founding director of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project aka Not Really Science People - the Tim Ball and Tom Harris climate change skeptics group. Former President of the High Park Group, a Toronto-based lobby organization of which Tom Harris is the former head of its Ottawa office.

Clarke Cross, senior consultant with Tactix Group and former Legislative Assistant to Con/Alliance MPs James Lunney and Leon Benoit

Andy Gibbons of Hill and Knowlton , also formerly a legislative assistant to Con MP Leon Benoit.

Con cabinet ministers and the former political insiders who are now paid to lobby them - you can see how Russell Ullyatt might easily have got the two email lists confused. If only there was some sort of rule to keep the two separate.
.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pentagon freaking out ahead of the next WikiLeaks doc dump



and warns the documents may contain accounts of "compromising conversations" that could "cause serious embarrassment for foreign governments and politicians named in them" and result in "the expulsion of U.S. diplomats from foreign postings".

Because a previous Wikileaks-released conversation from a US Apache helicopter concerning civilians and Reuters employees ambling down a street in Baghdad that went :

"Light 'em all up. C'mon, fire! Keep shoot'n, Keep shoot'n. Keep shoot'n."

was not considered to be sufficiently offputting all by itself I guess.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"You think I know f*ck nothing? I know f*ck all!"

Yesterday in the House, Con MP Phil McColeman accused his fellow member on the Public Safety committee, Lib MP Mark Holland, of advocating "on behalf of convicted criminals".

Holland immediately protested the remark, calling it "below the level that should be expected in the House."

Unrepentant, McColeman rose to respond :
"Mr. Speaker, since being elected to the House some two years ago and a bit, I will take no lessons from the member for Ajax-Pickering when it comes to presenting issues to Parliament that are not based on any factual evidence. I will take no lessons from that member."

Okie dokie then.
.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Justice for Stacy Bonds

is looking less likely by the day.

Unlawfully arrested, forcibly strip-searched in front of male officers while being held down with a riot shield, her shirt and bra cut off with scissors by a male officer, a hand put down her pants, left in a cell for over three hours in the pants she soiled in fear.

After reviewing the police tapes and emphasizing that Ms Bonds was "clearly cooperating", Justice Richard Lajoie threw out the prosecutor's case in disgust, noting in his Reasons for Judgement on Oct. 27 :
"The officers have tried to justify their actions on the principles of safety, officer safety and the accused's safety, as well as risk of suicide."
Risk of suicide. What a disgusting excuse for an assault.

Here's their boss, Ottawa Police Chief Vern White, speaking to CBC about the case on Nov 17 :

"Like other Ontario police chiefs, White said, he would like more power to discipline officers.
"I do not feel our discipline process today carries the full weight of accountability the public expects," White said. "Most of the chiefs have identified to the province that we need to have some changes in the Police Services Act."

White said the current act makes it difficult to suspend or dismiss police officers, and even those dismissed may remain on the payroll if they choose to appeal."


But as noted by Dr. Dawg, Chief White's investigation is now history, taken over by the Ontario Special Investigations Unit. The SIU mandate as per their website :
"The SIU is a civilian law enforcement agency, independent of the police, that investigates circumstances involving police and civilians which have resulted in serious injury, including sexual assault, or death."
Serious injury, sexual assault, death.
The bar for proving sexual assault is already appallingly high and what with the officers saying they were only attempting to prevent Bonds from committing suicide ...
Case closed.
.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Keith Martin on the democratic deficit

Retiring from politics after 17 years, MP Dr. Keith Martin, (Reform, Alliance, Ind, Lib), spoke on CBC's The Current yesterday about the "serious, serious lack of democracy in Parliament ... the tragedy of the commons".

Martin began as a Reform MP in '93, attracted by the Reform Party Contract which listed MP's duties in the following order : first your conscience, then your constituents, and lastly your party and leader.

So what went wrong with that?
Harper beat out the more populist Preston Manning.

"Mr. Harper is a follower of a political philosopher in the US called Leo Strauss, and essentially Mr. Harper's philosophy is that a small number of people would rule and tell everybody else what to do and that is the best form of government.

"The larger problem is that within leaders' offices, prime minister's offices, the people around them are unelected, generally very young and tend to be extremely partisan. They're hired by leaders to do the job and they have much more power than members of parliament do. They control much of what goes on on a day-to-day basis with respect to the tactics and strategy. But these are very young people - they are not terribly experienced in the real world - they may be smart in certain ways, but they haven't knocked on doors, they haven't run for political office, they are not as connected to the citizens on the ground as those who have gone through the election process.

So the people calling the shots, the rabid partisanship, tends to revolve around leaders' offices and they basically tell the MPs what to do. And that's a complete perversion of democracy."


Martin says the vast majority of his colleagues and friends from across party lines regret the change to the damaging rabid hyper partisanship imported from the US which silences innovation, debate, and bipartisan co-operation while rewarding juvenile mudslinging with career advances.

While the Korys and the Dimitris call the shots, and are protected from appearing before parliamentary committees to account for their actions, elected MPs' chances of career advancement increasingly depend merely upon their ability to fling poo.

And in this way Harper, never much of a democracy fan, has sidelined parliament from dealing with any of the real issues facing Canada, opting instead for inventing mock problems that can only be solved by further attacks on democracy.
.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ottawa Police vs Stacy Bonds

For over two years the Ottawa Police have had in their possession police video showing the unlawful arrest, assault, detention and brutalizing of Stacy Bonds by Ottawa police officers - including having her bra and shirt cut off with the assistance of "at least three male officers" and being left half-naked in a cell for three hours in the pants she soiled in fear - and only now that the case has gone public is Ottawa police Chief Vern White getting around to promising what he has the gall to refer to as "a swift internal investigation" ?

Stacy Bonds, 27, 100 pounds, and with no prior record, was arrested merely for asking why she was being questioned by police.

Presiding Justice Richard Lajoie describes the subsequent police station videotape.
Bonds is "clearly cooperating", "compliant", "with no hint of violence and no hint of being aggressive", yet he says the cameras show Bonds received "two extremely violent knee hits in the back", "is taken to the ground" with a riot shield, "someone has a hand inside Ms. Bonds' pants", and Sergeant Steven Desjourdy cuts off Bonds' shirt and bra, at which point she is strip searched by Constable Melanie Morris in the presence of "at least three male officers" before being thrown half naked into a cell.

And you thought if you were all compliant and cooperative nothing like this would ever happen to you.

Lajoie described Bonds arrest as "unlawful", "appalling", "a travesty" with "no reason apart from vengence and malice", and "an extremely serious breach of Ms. Bonds rights".

Smells like G20, doesn't it?

Ottawa Citizen :
"It’s not the first time Desjourdy has been under investigation. Days before this 2008 case, he kicked and Tasered a female prisoner in the cell block twice. In 2009, he pleaded guilty under the Police Act and was demoted for three months from sergeant to constable."

Which gives us some idea of what the outcome of Ottawa Police Chief Vern White's "swift internal investigation" will look like.

Dawg is offering to help Stacy Bonds finance a lawsuit. Go.
.
Nov 25 Update : The Citizen has published the police video of Stacy Bonds jailhouse abuse.
.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sisters in Spirit update - NWAC not consulted


Last week APTN News reported that not only does the Cons new missing persons initiative entirely bypass Sisters In Spirit, the very group which initiated research into the nearly 600 missing and murdered FN women and girls in the first place, but SIS can no longer use the SIS name or continue their research when applying for grants.

Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose invoked support from the Sisters' parent organization, Native Women's Association of Canada, to blow off criticism in the House :
"Most important, we are working with and have the support of NWAC "
and
"In fact, we have been working with NWAC for the last couple of years in order to implement these concrete actions."

Native Women’s Association of Canada president Jeannette Corbiere Lavell said she was only informed by the government the day before Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose stood in the Vancouver police department to say her government was following through on their $10 million commitment.

Lavell said the Conservative government did not consult with NWAC staff or those involved with the organization’s groundbreaking Sisters in Spirit project in the lead-up to the announcement.

"NWAC was originally led to believe that it would be invited to join in a discussion with the Department of Justice…about the allocation of the $10 million ," said Corbiere Lavell. "This did not occur."

Lavell further notes that the new initiative "reinvents" the work already done by SIS [at a new RCMP centre that will use up half the money], folds their research on murdered FN women into a general pot of violence against all Canadians, and excludes provinces east of Manitoba from access to funding.

She also confirmed Status of Women's embargo on the SIS name and continued research.

So why did Lavell stand with Ambrose on that podium in Vancouver last week and imply NWAC's endorsement?

Because, explains Lavell, they need the money and Aboriginal women have been waiting for it. They have to comply with the new SIS-squashing rules so they can access funds to continue related work.

Nice. Someone better call Ambrose on her bullshit in the House next week.
As Cathie from Canada put it : "Trying to make it disappear just like all those women have disappeared."
.
And as for Canada's conditional endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples this week : See Pam Palmater at Non-Status Indians.
.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quagmire update

CBS, Nov 10, 2010, :

"The U.S. military has destroyed hundreds of Afghan civilian homes, farm houses, walls, trees and plowed through fields and buildings using explosives and bulldozers in war-torn Zhari district, a practice that has begun to anger Afghan villagers.

The much anticipated third phase of the Kandahar campaign, called Operation Dragon Strike ...

"You bulldozed some of my trees, they're blocking the canal, now we can’t get water to the orchard," Haji Jilal, a frail, weathered Afghan farmer with a white beard said.

In an effort to clear paths heavily mined by the Taliban, soldiers employed a weapon called a MICLIC, an acronym for Mine Clearing Line Charge. In one thunderous, ground-shaking boom, the weapon clears a path 300 feet long and wide enough for a tank. Breland said his company commander, Cpt. Mike Gold, had used 16 MICLICs in one day. "When Cpt. Gold clears a road he clears a road," he said. "It's clear."

Gold said that in order to clear a safe path for the troops, there was no choice but to destroy Afghan property."

Nearly four years earlier and a few miles to the southwest, the nearly identical tale :

NYTimes, Jan. 13, 2007
"The road that cuts through the heart of Panjwai district here tells all that is going wrong with NATO's war in Afghanistan.
To fight their way into this area and clear it of Taliban insurgents, NATO troops bulldozed through orchards, smashed down walls and even houses, and churned vineyards and melon fields to dust.
Now NATO countries are championing the thoroughfare as a $5 million gift to local people.
“They bombed our orchards and fields and we have nothing now,” said Hajji Abdul Wahab Kutaisi, 65, a farmer from Pashmul. “They made a road through my land.”
Meanwhile Steve chose Remembrance Day to announce from Korea on what we've all been saying for years now : We're staying in Afghanistan till 2014 - in a "training capacity".

NDP Paul Dewar immediately said it would require a vote in parliament but the Libs said they didn't agree.
"That’s a discussion that needs to be had with all the parties after the government tells us exactly what it’s doing. But in principle, I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary,” said Bob Rae, Liberal foreign affairs critic."
Of course not. Because there was never any doubt of it, was there, Bob?
.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

G20 : Breach of the Peace

In his testimony to the Public Safety Committee on Nov 3 about G20 police abuses, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair claimed that detained members of the public complained of sexual assault and being threatened with sexual violence by police but then withdrew those complaints when they learned the extent of police video surveillance in the detention centres. Here's Blair at the 16:25 mark :
"One of the allegations made to the public and the media was allegations of sexual assault. When it became more public knowledge that there were video cameras there, those allegations were withdrawn."
Guess not, Chief Blair, because here they are again at the Breach of the Peace public hearings co-hosted by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Union of Public and General Employees. The two days of proceedings are tweeted live at Rabble and they resume tomorrow for one more day in Montreal. Likely this is the closest we will get to a public inquiry.

Many people automatically discount allegations of sexual threats from the police. I don't.
Here's my own wee story, insignificant though it is beside those of the G20 detainees.

Many years ago when I was a young teen growing up in West Vancouver I was crossing Marine Drive on a crosswalk one afternoon when out of a group of people crossing towards me an old man began to stumble and fall. I managed to catch him on his way down; he thanked me, righted himself, seemed ok, and off we went in our opposite directions. A block later a West Van Police car with two officers in it pulls up and motions me over. The officer on the passenger side begins to question me about the old guy. I think they are concerned about him. Then they ask me if I just bought drugs from him. I don't know the guy, I answer, and I don't do drugs. They are obviously not convinced. I ask them if they would like to search my bag. (I know, I know, but I was just a kid.)
"Maybe you keep your drugs in your underpants," says the passenger side cop. "Do you keep your drugs in your underpants?" I ran.

Embarrassed that anyone would talk to me in such a manner, I was too ashamed to tell anyone, let alone my parents. Much later I wished I had the wit and courage at the time to think beyond myself, as that kind of sexual bullying may well have been a regular feature of his day in the neighbourhood.

Anyway I got over it and stopped being on alert for police cars, and hopefully so will the young men and women who are making much more serious complaints of sexual threats and abuse at the G20. But it changes how you think of the police and that is not a good thing for law enforcement in this country.

Blair should welcome the opportunity to air these charges in a public inquiry. Sadly he does not and so they fester on unanswered, consigning suspicion to an entire police force - their alleged bad apples and their bubble of unaccountability undermining both the force and the public goodwill on which they depend.
.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I think I see a pattern here

Defense Ministry, Nov 6 : Afghan soldier mistakenly kills two US troops

McClatchy, Nov 6 : Afghan soldier turns weapon on American troops, kills 2

"And just last week, a squad of Afghanistan's national police in Ghazni province, southwest of Kabul, were reported to have crossed sides to the Taliban."
LA Times, Nov 7 : Afghan soldier killed at least 2 U.S. troops, Taliban claims

"A Taliban spokesman says a defecting Afghan soldier killed three U.S. troops in a military installation. In August, two Spanish paramilitary police officers and their interpreter were shot and killed by an Afghan at a police training center."
The Star, Nov 6 : Troops may stay in Afghanistan as ‘trainers'

"Canadian troops could remain “behind the wire” in Afghanistan involved in training local troops after their combat mission ends next summer." Till 2014.

Sure, Steve, train 'em up. Asshole.
.

Monday, November 08, 2010

About that "rise in anti-Semitism", Steve

From the US Anti-Defamation League, the "world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism":

.

The Anti-Semitic Plot thickens


Live-blogging from the Ottawa Conference on Combating Antisemitism today, the intrepid Kady does her level best to find out what The Plot - a secret exhibit from the US Anti-Defamation League that is off-limits to media - is all about.

I don't know either but I'll lay you odds that it doesn't include this B'nai Brith Canada poster - with its pictures of Nazis and allusions to "World Domination" - which graced the entire back page of the Natty Post exactly one year ago today.

Steve weighed in on the ever-expanding definition of the "new anti-Semitism" in his remarks to the opening of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism conference in Ottawa today :

"Harnessing disparate anti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targetting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so,” the Prime Minister said. “We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is."

Steve then went on to complain about the "bruises" he's taken for his courageous defence of what is actually only the most right wing of Israeli politics and their rapture-ready fans here in North America.

Boris takes a good look at those 'bruises'.

.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Meanwhile in Halifax pre-emptive bombing of Iran is on the table

And not just their nuclear site, but pre-emptive bombing of their navy, their air force, their army.

Political leaders and security and defence officials and generals are in Halifax from November 5 to 7 for the second Halifax International Security Forum, presented by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and hosted by Airshow MacKay. Airshow is credited by GMFUS with having the idea for these annual security conferences.

Attending : Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security; Condoleezza Rice; Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Mark Udall ; Stephen Hadley; Ehud Barak, Minister of Defense, Israel; Amos Gilad, Political-Military Affairs, Israeli Ministry of Defense; Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute; Ron Covais, Lockheed Martin; John Manley, CEO Canadian Council of Chief Executives; ; Janice Gross Stein, Munk School of Global Affairs; Walter Natynczyk, Chief of Defence Staff; Mark Carney, Governor Bank of Canada; Vic Toews.

I just watched a panel today with US Senators Mark Udall and Lindsey Graham, and Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute - introduced by John McCain and moderated by the CBC's Susan Bonner.

Here's Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Budget, Armed Forces, and Homeland Security committees, supporting pre-emptive bombing of Iran [at half-hour mark]:
"Republicans are looking for a way to support Obama on Iraq and Iran.
My big fear about the Iranians developing a nuclear weapon is not so much they'll put it on top of a missile and send it to Israel, is that those materials can work their way into the hands of people who would use them in a variety of fashion. The one thing that changes the world as I know it is Iran with a nuclear weapon. The consequences are enormous, the idea of containment to me is off the table, so that takes us back to the idea of being tough.

And if you use military force, if sanctions are not gonna work - and a year from now it's pretty clear they're not gonna work, [inaudible] what our friends in Israel are gonna do - so I would like the President to make it abundantly clear : all options are on the table. And we all know what that means. My advice to the President : If you take military action against Iran as the last effort to stop their nuclear ambitions, you do open up Pandora's box but if you let them acquire nuclear weapons, you empty Pandora's box.

So my view of military force would be not to just neutralize their nuclear program, which would probably disperse and harden, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force, and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard.
In other words, neuter that regime, destroy their ability to fight back, and hope the people within Iran would have the chance to take back their government and be good neighbours to the world in the future. So that's what I mean by being tough."

Democratic Senator Udall did not disagree, hopes sanctions will yet work, but says: "This may be Agenda Item #1 for every person in this room."

.

Sisters in Spirit shut down



It was only last week that Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose praised Sisters in Spirit when she announced details of a $10 million national strategy to address "the disturbing issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women" :
"The journey truly began with an initiative called Sisters in Spirit that was led by the Native Women’s Association of Canada. The association has undertaken an incredible amount of research... they have brought to light the shocking extent of these horrendous acts of violence."
Yet Rona's Status of Women government webpage announcing the new strategy makes no mention of Sisters in Spirit at all and now the APTN News reports that Sisters have been excluded from receiving any of that $10M.
Instead they must apply to Status of Women for less money under new rules which will prohibit them from continuing to use the name Sisters in Spirit, or maintaining and extending their research database of nearly 600 missing aboriginal women, or lobbying government.
.
Con MP Shelly Glover, Parliamentary Secretary for Indian and Northern Affairs :
"That project was finished. Don’t mix apples and oranges. That project was finished, now we’re working with them to pursue other projects."
Other projects? Bullshit.
Sisters in Spirit is their database and their advocacy work and their vigils. That's who they are.
.
So where's that $10M going? A good chunk to the RCMP.
Get more details in a very good 2 minute news vid from APTN. Go.
.
Then write an effing letter :
Rona Ambrose : Ambror@parl.gc.ca Phone : (613) 996-9778
Shelly Glover : Glover.S@parl.gc.ca Phone : (613) 995-0579
SWC NDP Irene Mathyssen : Mathyssen.I@parl.gc.ca Phone : (519) 685-4745
SWC Lib Anita Neville : Neville.A@parl.gc.ca Phone : (204) 983-1355
SWC Bloc Nicole Demers : Demers.N@parl.gc.ca Phone : (450) 686-2562
.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Inside the Public Safety Committee : G20 preventative arrests

At the Public Safety Committee yesterday, Toronto Chief Bill Blair lobbed the following statement about "preventive detention" into the proceedings [just before the 4 minute mark]:

"I think you are all familiar with images of members of that group who were smashing windows, burning cars, looting stores, and generally causing a great deal of mayhem through vandalism and violence in the city of Toronto. We began to take the steps necessary to contain that threat and over the course of that weekend, the criminal conspiracy to commit criminal acts did not end on Saturday afternoon and it did not end when they left Yonge St. It continued. We were gathering intelligence and information from within the crowd and we had other sources of information that made it very clear to us that the criminal intent of the people involved in those criminal acts continued throughout the weekend. Our ability to continue to police lawful peaceful protest was quite frankly compromised by the actions of those who instead undertook the actions of a mob and engaged in criminal acts, and it was necessary, and decisions were made by our operational commanders and by our major [inaudible] commanders that it was necessary to disperse those crowds, and if the crowds refused to disperse, in order to prevent a breach of the peace, to take persons into preventive detention and that did take place over the course of the weekend."
Testimony on one such preventative detention was given by biochemistry student Kevin Gagnon, arrested with around 70 others at gunpoint off the floor of the U0fT gymnasium floor at 4am and held for over 60 hours before being released without charge on the stipulation he leave Toronto within 24 hours.


Don Davies, NDP : "70 out of 70 people had their charges dropped. ....Who made the decision to burst into that gymnasium and arrest 70 sleeping students?"

Blair : "The investigators who were investigating that case and I must tell you it's a very complicated case involving a great deal of evidence which I'm not going to be able to disclose and discuss with you here today."

Davies : "Can we have the names of the investigators who made that decision?"
Blair : "I don't have them here with me today."
Davies : "Could you undertake to provide that to the committee?
Blair : Yes.


Side note : Davies asked about police officers covering up or removing their name badges and Blair responded that it was against his rules so the "approximately 90 officers" who were identified as going badgeless will probably face disciplinary action in the form of loss of one day's pay.

Ok, back to 'preventive detention'.

Roger Gaudet, Bloc : "I saw the pictures. How come you didn't arrest these people who were masked? You entered into a university gym and you arrested people who were sleeping at 4am. This wasn't Halloween; this was June and yet they were masked. How come you didn't arrest them? They were all together - it would have been easy to surround them and then you'd be finished for the whole weekend. Instead you let them be and you arrested poor students in the university in a gym. Show me the logic in that."

Blair : "This was a crowd of several thousand and for the police to penetrate that crowd in an effort to apprehend those individuals ...First of all they had not yet begun to riot tumultuously as they did the following day and so unfortunately there needs to be ..."
Gaudet : "But those people were masked. This wasn't a masquerade. You know what you had to do. You should have arrested them right away but no, the police went into a school the next morning in a university. This is a farce."
Blair : The decision was made not to try to penetrate this crowd because it would have created a more dangerous situation, and in fact an operational decision was made by investigators that a safer place to apprehend people who they believed were involved in criminal activity was in the school gymnasium away from this crowd. That that was a safer thing to do. Our responsibility is to maintain the rule of law and protect the public but also to do our job in such a way which does not compromise public safety and a decision was made not to try to penetrate this crowd to remove this group but to rather do it in a more safe environment, which is why the arrests were made in a school gymnasium in the very early hours of the morning as opposed to out on the street where a riot might have ensued."

Insert joke here about the drunk looking for his car keys under the streetlight because there's more light there.

Maria Mourani, Bloc : "You stated that you made a choice to conduct the arrests in the gymnasium so you're starting from the premise ... they presumed that there were Black Blocs in the gymnasium?"

Blair : "The police had reason to believe that the people they were arresting were involved in criminal activity and there was a number of different investigations .. evidence had been gathered ..."

Mourani : "You had evidence. You say you had evidence. So why is it that the people in the gymnasium all had their charges dropped? Maybe one or two still have charges outstanding because they refuse to plead guilty..."

Blair : I don't have the details ... I can only offer you my understanding of the explanation I have received as to why those charges were dropped and it was because the police did not have the appropriate warrant for the apprehension of those individuals. But that does not negate the fact that they had evidence to make an arrest."

Mourani : "What you're saying is that they had no warrant to have some one hundred people arrested in a gymnasium ... they ended up in a detention centre where their individual rights were violated... there was no warrant for that arrest that was conducted in that gymnasium? That's what I understood just now."
Blair : "The circumstances of that arrest required what is known as a Feeney warrant and the police did not have the appropriate warrant to make those arrests. The Crown also..."

Mourani : "No warrant and they proceeded with those arrests. This is fantastic."
Blair : "The Crown also commented that the officers had reasonable and probable grounds to make that arrest but it was a technical problem with the way in which the arrest was done and that is why the charges were dropped. That's my understanding."
Here's my understanding.
If police knowingly arrest people illegally with the wrong warrant, they are safely assured that those arrests will never make it to court where gross violations of civil liberties like "preventive detention" can be aired and challenged.

And let's not forget the Canadian grand-daddy of legalizing preventive detention, the Combating Terrorism Act, has already passed second reading in the House and is well on the road to never being challenged by this committee.

Public Safety Committee Liberal MPs Andrew Kania and Mark Holland, as already noted by Kady and blogged by Boris, completely avoided any questioning of Blair yesterday as to violations of civil liberties. Not word one. Kady :

"This, by the way, is what happens when the Liberals are terrified to be targeted by Conservative Party InfoAlerteBots accusing them of being insufficiently supportive of police: not a single question about civil liberties or the treatment of the summit detainees, but long, meandering lines of questioning on logistical decisions and, if they can manage it, fake lakes.".
Yeah, well the Libs voted for the Combating Terrorism Act last month too.

Update : Also see Pogge : Preventative detention.
.
Update #2 : Chief Blair explained more about preventative detention towards the end of the meeting when Kania asked why so many arrests at G20, none at G8:
"People were apprehended and detained under that [breach of the peace] legislation [of the criminal code] without intention of bringing them up on criminal charges because there is no charge under breach of the peace. It is simply a preventative detention to maintain the public peace."
.

Blog Archive