Monday, December 31, 2007


Sent my love off to the city in an ambulance this morning. For the last week we've been sharing the worst case of flu either of us have ever experienced but by this morning it was time to admit that one of us was starting to need a breathing prompter.
Happy morphine, my darling.

Then in the afternoon, an intervention. Alison, you're making yourself ill with this blogging shit - you used to paint.
This much is true - I did use to paint. Hard to see how another nude will be of much use at the moment however and I can't seem to manage both at once. I give them, my kind and loving friends, my standard citizens' democracy chat, only slightly ruining it by fitting in the word 'ambulance' at the end and bursting into tears. Noted pamphleteer Thomas Paine used this debating technique all the time I'm sure.

Thing is I haven't blogged, read any blogs or papers, or watched tv news in a week and it's been a great relief to know little more than that Benazir Bhutto was apparently killed by a car door handle.
I think I'll just check my mail though and maybe a couple of blogs, just in case Harper has decided to use Xmas week to kick up his conversion to full psi-lon status....

Oh look, Skdadl said something nice about me in a great piece on the freedom of the press to become whores. Wait, actually it's even better than that. She says that even as much of the fourth estate "have decided to make careers out of laundering government propaganda", there's still us - the lowly unpaid blogging pamphleteers - to point out both this fact and where the facts in their stories should be.
Skdadl : "This is very hard work for a volunteer army, but it is a privilege to know so many people who have joined up anyway."
And a pleasure to serve with you, chickie chick.

Night. Trying to snow.
I've opened the gates to let the local deer into my normally off-limits garden. They walk uncertainly past the lighted window and sprint off down to a winter salad of roses and the remains of the veggie garden. They want those cabbages but first they'll strip every leaf off every ivy they can reach, ivy being higher in vitamins C and D than most veggies.

Much is made of the superior cunning of predators; not enough of the perseverence of herbivores. I've seen a doe run repeatedly up a 7' chainlink fence, throw her weight at the top, and spring back to the same side again.
If unlucky, she'll snag a hoof between the links, break a leg and die. If successful, she'll flatten out just enough of the top of the fence to turn what was an obstacle into a landing touchdown, a springboard to take all the deer right over the wall.

I imagine it is at those times that she turns to her fellow deer and says something like : "This is very hard work for a volunteer army but it is a privilege to know so many who have joined up anyway."

Eat everything down to the ground, my lovelies. There's a new year coming.

Jan 3 update : Thank you so much for your many kindnesses left here and elsewhere. He still can't breath without the machine and is not expected to come home any time soon, so if it's ok with you all, I'm not going to mention this again till I have something more encouraging to report. Your good wishes very dear to me and I thank you.

God and Intelligent Design

Posted by Croghan to Bread 'n Roses.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

1st Best Canadian Blog Awards Meltdown

Just how fucking hard is this to figure out?
There are Canadian feminists. With blogs. Writing about feminism.
It doesn't matter whether you like feminists or get feminism, or whether the SoCons approve, or whether some idiot says you can't have a category for feminists unless you balance it with one for men abused by their spouses, or whether you would prefer feminists call themselves by some other name, or whether it's a little extra work, or whether you think feminists ought to be taught a lesson, or whether they are nice to you or call you a dickhead, or any of the other weasely excuses used so far. They are not relevant.
And yet somehow an argument as to whether or not the 2007 Canadian Blog Awards should include a Best Feminist Blog category has been going on for three days now.
There are Canadian feminists. With blogs. Writing about feminism.
They already are a category. Deal.
P.S. Dave is my hero. For his comments below his post, for standing up for fairness and truth and for not taking any weasel crap.
Update : Yes, JJ, you're right, the list of heroes is actually quite impressive : PSA, Dr. Dawg, Fern at Birth Pangs, Mattt at bastard.logic, and beginning of course with Berlynn from Politics 'n Poetry who simply said : "I have a concern. There is no Best Feminist Blog.", seconded by Prole from A Creative Revolution.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Archbishop of Canterbury joins War on Christmas

"No magi"
"No asses or oxen in the stable"
"No snow"
And worst of all - "Jesus probably not born in December"

Bummer. Prolly no presents then either.
And not a word about how things worked out for the little donkey.

Someone alert the christmas troops.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

North American Forum 2007 Naff Off

Many of us first became aquainted with the North American Forum when it held its now notorious "private, not secret" meeting in Banff last year.
This year's informal sister to the SPP brings some familiar names and themes :

North American Cooperation and Community
Vallarta Palace Hotel Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico
October 12-14, 2007

Under the Joint Chairmanship of:
The Hon. George Shultz, Former U.S Secretary of State
The Hon. Peter Lougheed, Former Premier of Alberta
The Hon. Pedro Aspe, Former Finance Minister of Mexico

II Strategic dimensions of the North American security and prosperity partnerships
Gustavo Mohar, Deputy Director, National Intelligence (CISEN)
Stephen Rigby, Executive Vice-President, Canada Border Services

III: Investing in competitiveness: new ideas and options for infrastructure, borders and business - Public/private partnerships, municipal bonds and border development
Tom d’Aquino, Canadian Council of Chief Executives
Ron Covais, President, The Americas, Lockheed Martin Corp.

IV: NAFTA at 15: where do we go from here? How to create a North American Community
Anne McLellan, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
Moderator: Robert Pastor, American University

VI: Energy in North America – Security, rationalization and climate change
James Gray, Former CEO Canadian Hunter Exploration
David O’Reilly, CEO, Chevron Corporation

Read the full Agenda on pdf H/t to Council of Canadians

Gotta love that title "Energy in NA - Security, rationalization, and climate change" as discussed by oilbidness.

Purportedly SPP booster John Ibbitson from the G&M attended as a supporter.
He later declared the SPP to be dead.
Perhaps the Mexican poolside buffet didn't agree with him.

NAFTA Superhighway Saga continues...

Once upon a time it was called a mere myth, a conspiracy theory apparently believed only by paranoid nutters :

John Ibbitson, G&M, July 2007 :
"The so-called NAFTA superhighway - a massive, 12-lane road, rail and oil-and-gas corridor that would snake from western Mexico, through the United States and into Canada, making it far easier and cheaper to import Chinese goods, thus completing the final destruction of the American and Canadian manufacturing sectors.
Of course there is no NAFTA superhighway, and no plans to build one, any more than there is any serious talk of a North American Union. "
Why, even NASCO, the North American SuperCorridor Coalition Inc., and previously the biggest booster of the NAFTA Superhighway, says so. From their Facts and Myths page :
"There is no new proposed 'NAFTA Superhighway' : There are no plans to build a new NAFTA Superhighway - it exists today as I-35."
Also they tell us : no amero, no NAU, and especially nothing to do with the Trans Texas Corridor and its over blown rhetoric about a SuperCorridor from Canada to Mexico.
Apparently NASCO is just aiming to fix I-35 up a little. And to stop us from bothering them about it, they have taken down this map, which used to grace the frontpage of their website and scare the shit out of everybody :

Because nowadays the NAFTA Superhighway is just business-as-usual :

"Number two on the popular US web site Digg is a map of the NAFTA Superhighway on an Alberta Government web site. [Picture at top] Why in the name of free trade are so many people freaked out about this thoroughfare?
Many believe the transcontinental corridor is a myth.....The Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation web site uses the exact phrase, showing a thoroughfare that begins in Manitoba and drops all the way down to West Texas.
When initially reached for comment, ministry communications director Jerry Bellikka said, “Where’s the secret agenda if it’s on a government web site?" He added that the controversy is a “pretty good example of political rhetoric getting twisted out of shape.”
After some further investigation, Mr. Bellikka reports that the name in question has been on the site for five years and is used to help inform truckers of certain weight restrictions. "We don't see any link between trucking weights and conspiracy theories," he said."
I do hope you're keeping up here.
Six months ago the NAFTA Superhighway was a conspiracy theory but now it's been demoted to a useful tool on a government website.
The SPP = Jelly beans ; the NAFTA Superhighway = trucking weights.

Now if only Manitoba Premier and Hemispheria member Gary Doer would keep up.
"Manitoba is also taking a major role in the development of a Mid-Continent Trade Corridor, connecting our northern Port of Churchill with trade markets throughout the central United States and Mexico. To advance the concept, an alliance has been built with business leaders and state and city governments spanning the entire length of the Corridor. When fully developed, the trade route will incorporate an “in-land port” in Winnipeg with pre-clearance for international shipping."
Oh dear. What's he on about?
That would be this : [bold mine]
"On September 19-21, 2007 , the Ports-to-Plains Trade Corridor Coalition hosted the Great Plains International Conference 2007 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver, Colorado, gathering hundreds of elected and government officials, business leaders, communities and citizens from Laredo, Texas, and the Alberta-Montana border, to examine how to work together to secure the benefits of trade, promote energy security and strengthen trade linkages to western Canada, on behalf of the communities of the Great Plains, North America’s energy and agricultural heartland. The Colorado Department of Transportation and Texas Department of Transportation were co-hosts. 
Major events of the conference included: Texas Transportation Commissioner Fred Underwood announced TxDOT would develop financial master plan for the Ports-to-Plains project; Len Mitzel, a Member of Legislative Assembly of the Province of Alberta, Canada’s energy powerhouse and a potential candidate for Coalition membership, spoke on behalf of the Alberta Minister of Transportation, and invited Coalition leadership (including state officials) to Alberta for follow-up meetings. 
The Great Plains International Conference was the first formal gathering of three Congressionally-designated north-south High Priority Corridors that, together, form the primary trade corridor serving the states of the Great Plains: Ports-to-Plains (from Laredo to Denver); The Heartland Expressway (from Denver to Rapid City, South Dakota); and the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway (from Rapid City to the Canadian border provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan). 
Ron Covais, President of Lockheed Martin Americas, and U.S. Chair, North American Competitiveness Council, reported upon the recent Montebello Summit of the NAFTA heads of state, and the recent NACC report on the NAFTA Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP).Two post-9/11 realities dominate NACC activities, he said:
1) After 9/11, international business and homeland security are intertwined; and
2) North American business will increasingly grapple with intense competition from the “BRIC” nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Under the circumstances, it is both necessary and appropriate to have the private sector on the front lines helping NAFTA governments to develop strategies for a secure, prosperous North America.The Great Plains conference helped to demonstrate that the Ports-to-Plains coalition has significant potential as a NAFTA-wide program, embracing interests from Coahuila to Alberta. Coalition staff and leadership have begun planning on next steps to more fully engage U.S. states and Canadian provinces on the northern end of the Great Plains region, particularly those at key connection points at the border, including Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana."
(end of transcript)
Ron Covais, the NACC, the Texas Superhighway model, talk of Alberta's oilsands, eager Canadian politicians from Alberta and Manitoba...doesn't look good, does it?
So far even they admit they don't have the money to pull it off.

Ports-to-Plains President Michael Reeves' boast of "together, we have secured over $270 million to develop, build and improve the Corridor in all 9 Coalition states" is a drop in the Superhighway superbucket.
But with eager beavers like Manitoba's Gary Doer and Alberta's Len Mitzel "who attended on behalf of Alberta Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette" on board, they are at least a couple of drips closer.
From only "a conspiracy myth" to just about "trucking weights" to a trans-border lobby group having the Trans Texas Corridor Commissioner develop a "financial master plan" for a North American Superhighway.

Have another look at that map at the very top again. It's from a Canadian government website.

Update : Politics 'n Poetry has the Prairie-to-Ports Gateway Map .

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fish 'N Flush Farming

Despite a recent scientific paper warning that parasitic sea lice infestations from fish farms could wipe out 99% of wild Pacific pink salmon within 4 salmon generations or 8 years, don't expect to see any radical mobilizing action from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans any time soon.
Not only is fishfarming part of the DFO mandate, the DFO deputy executive director of the Office of Sustainable Aquaculture expects fish farming to overtake industry fishing soon :
"While the salmon farming industry nearly doubled in size between 1997 and 2005, output from the wild commercial sector fell by more than 30%."
"They don’t believe their interests are in conflict."
"Fisheries scientists try to stay neutral"
"They want to avoid polarized debate."
"A transition to a floating closed containment system could possibly be phased in over 10 years."
Trouble is if this latest scientific paper is correct, the pink salmon don't have 10 years.
Last year, marine ecologist John Volpe of the UVic said that sea lice from fish farms kill up to 95 % of wild juvenile salmon that pass by the open net fish farms.
Yet according to independent researcher Alexandra Morton , "some see wild salmon as just too costly to protect - they require a long corridor of protection from the tops of the rivers all the way out to the ocean and this would "force the politicians to say no to all the hands that feed them."
As a result, "big industry [including logging and offshore drilling] fit well with salmon farms," she says "
So there ya go.

Pink salmon routes and fish farms in Broughton archipeligo, BC.

Mulroney invokes Sir John A.

in his closing remarks before the Ethics Committee:
"From Sir John A. Macdonald on, every prime minister has made mistakes," Mulroney said. ". . . part of the greatness of Sir John was that he was flawed..."

Ah, now that was an unfortunate comparison, Bri.
As Ottawonk points out, Sir John A holds the distinction of being " the very first conservative prime minister to take kick-backs on a procurement contract (they didn't have planes back then so they did it with trains)."

Despite Sir John A's claims of innocence, there was the little matter of receipts for the money from the Canadian Pacific Railway bidder (thank heavens we've progressed since then!) plus a telegram from Macdonald six days before the election which read, "I must have another $10,000. Will be the last time of calling. Do not fail me. Answer today."

Sadly, telegrams are seldom used for this type of transaction nowadays.

Best live-blogging of Muldoon's 3 1/2 hour non-testimony is Hope and Onions' The Mumbrage. The subtitles alone are worth the jump.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Excited delirium 'R

Ken Boessenkool, original signatory to the 2001 'Alberta Firewall' letter and former Alliance campaign advisor to both Harper and Stockwell Day, has added TASER™ International to his lobbying portfolio.

According to the Gov. of Canada Lobbyist Registration System, his job for TASER™ will be to lobby the Prime Minister's Office, the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada (PSEPC), and the RCMP with an "Awareness campaign to educate decision-makers on the facts of TASER International's products" for "Government reviews of taser use by law enforcement".

One of the "Techniques of communication that you have used or expect to use in the course of the undertaking" listed on Ken's TASER™ page at the same government lobbyist website is "Grass-roots Communications"

LOL, as the kids say.

Previous "grass-roots communications" by Ken Boessenkool's firm, Hill and Knowlton Canada, have been "", a grass-roots effort to convince Albertans they really don't want to benefit personally from $2B+ in tarsands revenue after all, and the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, another grassroots org famous for shilling for ethanol for agri-biz firms.

Based on past performance, we now eagerly await new TASER™ grassroots websites like, exciteddelirium'r and

Possibly, would be pushing it.

Former advisor to Harper and Day lobbies for Taser Int - a very good article from Sue Bailey at Canadian Press re the revolving door of gov/industry lobbying and Boessenkool's work for Merck Frosst, which benefited from a surprise $300-million fund in the last federal budget to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Creeping Canadian colonialism

Politics and Poetry often writes to issues of Canadian nuclear policy and indigenous rights, and sometimes they overlap as in the polite protest at Sharbot Lake, but today her research makes some disturbing new connections between the two.
Remember back in September when Canada's Getting-Old-Really-Fast Government not only declined to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, but according to Maclean's, aggressively opposed it?
A bit of a puzzler at the time, garnering a ton of bad PR and apparently for little gain, as the declaration wasn't binding on Canadian law anyway.
In The Uranium-Backed War on Indigenous Peoples, Politics and Poetry provides new research that suggests the reason Canada didn’t sign that declaration is because Canadian companies intend to mine uranium on indigenous lands in Niger, Quebec, and New Mexico.


Thursday, December 13, 2007


Shorter Brian Mulroney : I am not a crook. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
Oh and I've changed my mind about having a full public inquiry -
I've decided I don't want one after all.

Update : Excellent catch from J from Wpg in comments :
"Byron Muldoon claims he only received $225,000 and stashed some of it in the USA. Does that mean he got the $300,000 Canadian in US dollars?"

Afghanistan - We are so-o-o-o-o past 3-D

Embassy Mag : The term "three-D approach" is being replaced with "whole-of-government" to describe the mission in Afghanistan.
"Brig.-Gen. David Fraser, who commanded Canadian and multinational forces in southern Afghanistan last year says the government "is past three-D." [development, diplomacy and defence]

And no wonder. Perhaps you recall Brig.-Gen Fraser's Hearts and Minds Canadian Flak Tour back in January, in which he praised such Canadian reconstruction projects as "building roads", although these same projects were referred to in the NYT as :
"NATO troops bulldozed through orchards, smashed down walls and even houses, and churned vineyards and melon fields to dust. Reconstruction projects were planned, but never materialized. Now NATO countries are championing the thoroughfare as a $5 million gift to local people."

OK, so what did the 'development' and 'diplomacy' part of the now apparently passé 3-D consist of?
"Canada's aid agency will have 35 professional staff working in Afghanistan by April 2008, up from 10 in 2006. Five foreign affairs personnel, six from CIDA, 10 from the RCMP and two from Correctional Services Canada positions. DFAIT also has two foreign affairs officials at the Kandahar airfield."
???That's it???
By way of comparison, we have 2,500 military personnel making up the 'defence' part of 3-D.

The Brig,-Gen bafflegabs onwards :
"A lot of people use three-D, but it's bigger than that," he said. "I think it's illustrative of the evolution of a concept that's getting bigger, getting broader, that has more depth, that is getting more mature and is developing more effects for countries like Afghanistan. It just shows the evolution of doing more."

What the fuck is he on about here?

Thankfully the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan were rather more succinct in their International Human Rights Day speech on Monday :
"The US and her allies tried to legitimize their military occupation of Afghanistan under the banner of “bringing freedom and democracy for Afghan people”. But as we have experienced in the past hree decades, in regard to the fate of our people, the US government first of all considers her own political and economic interests and has empowered and equipped the most traitorous, anti-democratic, misogynist and corrupt fundamentalist gangs in Afghanistan.
The US doesn’t want to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, because then they will have no excuse to stay in Afghanistan and work towards the realization of its economical, political and strategic interests in the region."
Thanks, RAWA - that's pretty much what we thought he meant.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blogging Bali and Baird's ballyhoo

Local eco-activist Tzeporah Berman blogs the Bali conference and spars with Minister Baird over a beer. Some quick quotes :

"Shall we hold off having democratic elections until China does as well?"

"Tomorrow we'll be doing a press conference and panel discussion on Canada's forests here at Bali. There is a lot of discussion here about tropical forests but few people know that Canada's forests store more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem or that our logging contributes as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the cars on the road."

"It turns out that there is one thing to admire about Baird. His chutzpa. With full recognition of how disgusted some of the most committed and informed people from around the world are at him, he waltzed into the non-governmental groups' reception and had a beer. Obviously I couldn't pass up the moment. After debating the issues with him for half an hour I can safely say that the chutzpa is all I found to admire and unfortunately that alone is not enough to make a great leader. We live in a time that calls for courageous and thoughtful leadership. Talking to Minister Baird tonight was a little like debating Bill O'Reilly. You have to be quick and he is clever but he doesn't listen for a second and he is more interested in scoring points than actually leading."

Continue reading at Berman's blog or The Tyee

Update : Stop the Climate-Wrecking at Bali Avaaz Petition:

"We call urgently for the US, Canada and Japan to stop blocking serious 2020 targets for emissions reductions, and for the rest of the world to refuse to accept anything less."

Your name here

62,823 signatures in 12 hours so far......Thank you, Holly Stick

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mr Baird goes to Bali

Shorter Baird : If we don't succeed in finding new excuses to continue trashing the environment, ultimately there will be no economy left to worry about.
As other nations discuss whether the Climate Change Conference in Bali will be successful in getting "rogue nations like China and the US to sign on to real targets", Canada throws up roadblocks to progress. Well, not Canada exactly, just our government according to Germanwatch :
"China's ranking on Germanwatch's 40th annual index, which ranks 56 industrialized and emerging countries, was an improvement of four places over last year, the group said Friday.
The United States and Saudi Arabia were the worst on the list, at 55th and 56th places, respectively.
Canada placed 53rd on the list, down two spots from last year's survey. It has prompted concern that the country lacks credibility on the international stage."
Ya think? In preference to Kyoto, "Baird uses the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances as an example of what the world should strive for. "
Sure, let's ban hairspray again - we were great at that! But wait :
Matthew Bramley, director of the climate change program at the Pembina Institute, said :
"The Germanwatch ranking was developed by analyzing each country's emission levels, emission trends, and greenhouse gas reduction policies and combining the information to create an overall climate change performance target.
While Canada placed 46th and 43rd in terms of emission levels and trends, its governmental policies were ranked 55th, making them the second-weakest in the study.
"The people that compiled the whole survey have explained to me that if Canada substantially strengthened its policy, it could rise as much as 20 places in this ranking," he said."
That'll be our job - getting rid of these hairspray policy activists.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Give someone a water buffalo this Christmas

Or bees. Or a llama, a goat, a flock of ducks, a heifer, a pig, rabbits, sheep, or even trees.

Dana, one of my inkstained co-wretches at The Galloping Beaver, has set up a gift registry at Heifer International where you can donate shares in your choice of the above to help hungry families to feed, house and clothe themselves.

Heifer is the real deal, providing training in sustainable animal husbandry - yes, they have veterinarians working on a community level - and a unique feature which gives recipients the opportunity to pass the proceeds of their gift along to others.

Dave reports that as of yesterday we are at 1 flock of chickens, 5 shares of a goat, 2 shares of a heifer and 2 shares of a llama. What, no takers on the water buffalo yet? Direct link to Dana's registry here.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Justice is a woman with a sword on her way to a gun fight

On Dec. 6 every year since 1989, women, mostly women, hold vigils to commemorate the Montreal Polytechnique shooting massacre of 14 women merely for being women. As much as it is for the women who died, this yearly tribute continuess because not enough has changed for many of the rest of us in the intervening 18 years.

Women working fulltime still make .73¢ on every dollar made by men in comparable jobs and thousands of battered women still seek shelter in not enough shelters. Certainly Marc Lepine's battered mother could have used one. Yet despite this, last I heard the only street-level women's advocacy group in Victoria, the capital of BC, was still operating out of a storage locker.

Since 1991, The White Ribbon Campaign, almost all men, pledge to do what they can to end violence against women and children in their communities. Hats off to them.

Some other people wish we'd all just shut up about it. It's an unseemly public display, they say, and besides it's unfair to men. Usually they go on to state that more men than women die violently every year while neglecting to mention that those men are almost always killed by ...other men. Mostly they complain that the memorial is divisive and that destructive attitudes towards violence cross the boundaries of sex, class, and religion. I am willing to concede this last point; in fact I'm willing to prove it.

The following three sets of statements regarding the Montreal massacre were taken from texts written by Marc Lepine, the Let Freedom Reign group blog of a Calgary aldermanic candidate, and National Post columnist Barbara Kay, those last two just a couple of days ago. I challenge you to guess who said what.

"...male heroism was considered a quality deserving of public recognition. But now, a "grandfathered" Nov. 11 is the only day of the year when feminist ideologues refrain from overt misandry....male-bashing is often justified by the fact that more men kill women than women kill men."

"However my Christian upbringing isn’t good at telling me to go out and kill feminists. Even though they sanction the death of over 50,000 of their sisters each year. While everyone is agonizing over violence against women “today” more men in Canada fall victim than women to violence every year."

"...the feminists always have a talent for enraging me. They want to retain the advantages of being women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventive leave) while trying to grab those of the men.... They are so opportunistic that they neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men throughout the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can."

Answers in comments.

H/T bastard.logic

Friday, December 07, 2007

We're the new # 6

Last year Canada was the sixth largest arms exporting country in the world, just behind the US, Russia, UK, Germany, and China, according to the U.S. Congressional Research Service. It would have been nice to have our own figures on that of course, but as CBC has been reporting for a while now, two successive Ottawa governments have not released annual reports on military exports to Parliament since 2002. Best excuse? Computer technical glitches. For years.
From the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade :

"The Minister of Foreign Affairs is responsible to Parliament for the operation of the Export and Import Permits Act. The Minister produces an annual report on exports of controlled military goods and presents it to Parliament and Canadians. No country reports in more detail on such exports."

Well yes, at least no country with a lower transparency ranking than us, according to Small Arms Watch who notes we just squeaked past Iran in their transparency ratings to place 11th out of 20 countries.

500 companies across Canada are making LAVs, missile components, grenade launchers, firearms, ammunition .....and we have no idea what exactly or where it's all going.

Ten years ago Canada was a leader in drafting the treaty banning anti-personnel mines, known as the Ottawa Treaty. The US-#1, Russia-#2, and China-#5 all refused to sign it.

Then, after 4 million cluster bombs were dropped on southern Lebanon, representatives of 47 governments met in Oslo to begin crafting an international ban on cluster bombs. Israel, with whom Canada is expected to sign a "security accord" shortly, and the US, with whom Canada already has, are not expected to sign on.

Canada is obviously going to need a little nudge here to withstand the influence of her partners. Here's one from of Ceasefire :

Dear Prime Minister Harper:
Canada led the way to ban landmines. Now it is time to ban cluster bombs. I urge the Canadian government to declare a moratorium on the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions until a new treaty has been negotiated.

I await your reply.
Thank you.

Your signature here.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

CUJO goes to Bali

At Kyoto talks in Bali during which China is talking for the first time about "commitments", the new Canada, US, and Japan org, henceforth to be known as CUJO for short, could certainly use a little branding help to clarify their crappy bad boys spoilers rep on the world stage. And a dangerous rabid dog seems about right.
"In the most contentious move of the conference so far, Japan insisted it is “essential” for the world to “move beyond the Kyoto Protocol.” Just a few minutes later, in what appeared to be a prearranged move, Canada threw its weight behind the Japanese position, lending crucial support to Washington's refusal to sign the Kyoto treaty."
U.S.: the next climate agreement must be “economically sustainable” and must promote economic growth for people and nations “everywhere.”
Japan : there must be “compatibility” between environmental protection and economic growth.
Canada : there must be a “balance” between the environment and “economic prosperity.”


None of the three mentioned binding commitments or mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gases or short-term targets for an agreement to replace Kyoto when it expires in 2012.

And yet, most amusingly, despite Canada's assertion that there must be a 'balance' between the environment and 'economic prosperity', the G&M reports that "Canada is not sending any ministers to the meetings of trade and finance ministers at Bali."

Apparently although we place the highest priority on an economically sustainable environment treaty, somehow we just don't feel like talking about it right now.

Hopefully The Yes Men will yet make an appearance on our behalf.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Mulroney's innocence so far...

Prime Minister Mulroney sends a car to fetch arms lobbyist Schreiber to an official residence.

Schreiber promises Mulroney an unspecified amount of cash for unspecified work.

Mulroney has secret meetings with Screiber to pick up envelopes of cash in 1993 and 1994 while still an MP.
(At least Mulroney, if not Schreiber, knows the unspecified work is not for Schreiber's Bear Head project because Mulroney already cancelled that in 1990.)

Mulroney fails to declare the money on his income tax return at the time.

Mulroney's former solicitor-general drafts an apology letter for Schreiber to be sent in Schreiber's name to Mulroney. Letter states "Mulroney is the best advocate I could have retained" .

Mulroney and his spokesman Luc Lavoie make frequent use of letter as proof of Mulroney's innocence.

Schreiber alleges he sent the letter because he was told that if he provided the apology, Mulroney would get Harper to halt his extradition to Germany.

Schreiber claims Mulroney subsequently asked him to cover up their business arrangement

Schreiber is suing Mulroney for failing to provide promised business services, but testifies that Mulroney had nothing to do with Airbus contracts.

Luc Lavoie has resigned as Mulroney's spokesperson.

Well alrighty then.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

"And when justice is gone, there's always force"

'Cause when love is gone, there's always justice
And when justice is gone, there's always force
And when force is gone, there's always Mom (Hi Mom!)

So hold me, Mom, in your long arms
In your automatic arms, your electronic arms
Your petrochemical arms, your military arms
In your arms

~Laurie Anderson, O Superman, 1981

CS Monitor : Taser death in Canada sparks heated debate around the world

Good article, but actually the debate, nominally about whether police forces around the world should use TASER™ stun guns, has hardly even started yet. The real debate is which end of the TASER™ you identify with. Is it a useful efficient tool which your trusted government deploys to protect you from baddies, or is it a weapon of ritualized oppression to stifle any incidence of otherness?

When the UN came out against the use of stun guns as incidentally lethal torture devices, Taser International responded that the UN was "out of touch with the realities facing law enforcement agents".
No, I don't think so. If there's one thing the UN understands, it's that regardless of political ideology, the battle is always between the "haves" and the "have nots".

So the real question is : Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Victoria's dirty Secret slavery

The annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is on tv right now.
M-m-m-m ....soft core pron.
Here's a little Victoria's secret for you - it takes a slave only 3.3 minutes to make each of these bikinis.
Of course the alternative of being beaten or jailed in Jordan is probably a big incentive to keep up.

Each Sri Lankan or Bangladeshi "guest worker" lives and works in a Victoria's Secret sub-contract factory compound in Jordan named D.K. Garments. They work 15 hours a day 7 days a week with mandatory overtime and a day off once every three or four months. They are regularly cheated out of their wages. The dorms in which they are housed lack both heat and hot water even though the outside temperature drops to zero in winter. Since their passports have been confiscated, they cannot leave.

According to The National Labor Committee, after a recent demand for a 43% increase in production with no raise in pay, six very brave workers went on strike.
On Nov 11, they were imprisoned and the next day their co-workers went on strike in protest.
D.K. Garments threatened to cut off food and water to the dorms.
The workers held out for 10 days but are now back at work under the same conditions. The original six strikers remain in prison.

Amazingly, these people paid from $1,500 to $3,000 to purchase the three-year work contracts in Jordan.
Now, in debt from borrowing the money to pay the contract fee and with their passports confiscated, they can't leave.

By the way, the workers' wages amount to less than 3/10ths of 1% of the $14 retail price of one of those bikinis pictured above.
Enjoy the show!

You can write to Victoria's Secret via :
Mr Leslie Wexner, CEO
Limited Brands Inc.
3 Limited Pkwy.
Columbus, Ohio 43230 United States
Phone: (614) 415-7000
Fax: (614) 415-7080

to demand the end of this abuse and the release of the six strikers from prison.
Be sure to mention that you won't be buying any of their products because in real life, evil is just not all that sexy.

h/t Marcus at Zavadil Design

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Vietnamization of Afghanistan is going well

A few days ago a NATO air strike killed 14 Afghans sleeping in tents beside the road they were building in Afghanistan. Afghan officials said they were road workers at a construction site and NATO claimed they were Taliban at a training camp.

Their employer, an Afghan-Korean construction company, insisted that all the 14 killed in the International Security Assistance Force attack late Monday had been identified as his employees :
"We have 14 names, we know their families, we have their photos and post-bombing photos of their bodies."

The ISAF spokeman said, "It is entirely possible that the construction workers are also Taliban fighters. It is very possible that they are posing as construction workers or that they are construction workers in the day and Taliban fighters at night."

"Very possible". Oh well then.

To be fair, the G&M have posted about these 14 casualties before; nonethless the link above where I found the ISAF spokesman's quote is titled : Attack kills 30 Taliban militants

Score one against the "one security perimeter"

Federal court strikes down refugee agreement

"The United States is not a safe country for refugees, the Federal Court said Thursday as it ruled that Canada will no longer have the right to turn back asylum seekers at the border.
In the surprise judgment, the court found that Safe Third Country Agreement breaches the rights of asylum seekers under the United Nation Refugee Convention or the Convention Against Torture.
The three-year-old agreement denies refugees who have landed first in the U.S. the right to later seek protection in Canada, and vice versa. It has allowed Canada to automatically send refugee claimants at the border back to the United States. There, they are usually either detained or deported."

Put another way, whether or not you are considered a refugee should not be dependent upon your mode of transport.

"... The United States' policies and practices do not meet the conditions set down for authorizing Canada to enter into a STCA," Phelan wrote in his 126-page decision.
"The U.S. does not meet the Refugee Convention requirements nor the [UN] Convention Against Torture prohibition (the Maher Arar case being one example). Further, the STCA does not comply with the relevant provisions of the Charter."

Typical judges, eh? Upholding the Canadian Charter and UN conventions we are party to.

The STCA still holds till next January, by which time the Cons will have presumably launched an appeal.
So what's it gonna be based on? That the US is a democratic country? That's the Cons' rationale for allowing the US to execute Canadian prisoners.
Possibly. But I'm going with......"unelected activist judges"........because the US will feel more comfortable with that one.

Anyone with doubts at just how right the Federal Court is this time need look no further than the case of Benamar Benatta.

Havril does HelloKitty

Although we are still miffed that VANOC declined our own brilliant submission above for the What-a-Colossal-Waste-of-Freakin-Money™ mascot contest, we are pleased to see that, as promised, Havril has a provided an alternate set for a completely unrelated event, along with the following disclaimer :
"The phrases "Olympic", "Games", "2010", "Winter", "Cold", "Snow", "Snow Bunny", and "Baby Jesus" are, we think, registered trademarks of VANOC. So are, we assume, the phrases "We've Trademarked Everything So You Can't Say Anything", "Colossal Waste of $$$$$", and "Why, Yes, $580 Million Would Feed a Lot of Hungry Kids". Until Tuesday, we thought the phrases "Pokemon" and "Hello Kitty" weren't, but now we aren't so sure."
Heh, heh. Go.
And while some of us are in the business of direct-to-landfill marketing to children, still others are hoping to make a yuletide buck off the $500K misfortunes of others. We are only disappointed it doesn't come in a thong.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Well, HelloooooKitty!

Yesterday the folks over at What-a-Colossal-Waste-of-Freakin-$$$$$™ unveiled their above official mascots who apparently hail from Pokemon Prefecture. Yes, this is really them.

Sumi - known affectionately as SueMe by anyone expecting to use the words "winter" or "Whistler" over the next two years.

Quatchi - a raggedy homeless sasquatch. No one ever really sees a sasquatch, making Quatchi the ideal representative for those made homeless by a surprising uptick in the recent boutique hotel renovation industry.

and finally, HelloKittyMiga, the singing and lap-dancing cabaret artist, seen here naked but for her boa and mouse ears, celebrating a huge expected increase in her business profile over the two week 2010 holidays.

Not pictured is MukMuk, some sort of rare rodent who will be making the occasional appearance at important events. I think they actually meant Muckety Muck.

Havril at [insert something clever] and I were discussing these lovable munchkins over a few electrons last night and he'll be back later with a preview of his own What-a-Colossal-Waste-of-Freakin-$$$$$™ mascots plus a rundown on the runners-up who didn't make the final cut.

Oh yah, indeed he will. Looking forward to it. Later.

Meantime here's an olympian knockout post from Pretty Shaved Ape.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Steve and Sandra count their blessings

PM rejects charge that Canada is 'isolated' in its viewpoint
The Ottawa Citizen :
"A defiant Stephen Harper has rejected Liberal accusations that he embarrassed Canada on the world stage in Commonwealth climate change talks, vowing to push all countries for binding restrictions to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
"I've seen reports that suggest Canada was isolated in this position. That's not remotely true," the prime minister said.
The only country that Mr. Harper named as a supporter was Trinidad and Tobago."

Seen at Thwap's Schoolyard...

"There were only four of us, and he had a stapler."

The defence rests.

Monday, November 26, 2007

TASER™ madness

Well I guess we all have own private collections of TASER™ atrocity stories now.

Fern at Birth Pangs has a list.
There's the bride who got it twice in the abdomen while running away from the police who'd just stun-gunned her policeman dad at her reception.
And the woman dropping her son off at school who refused to sign off on a traffic ticket.
And another woman who was breaking up a fight among neighbourhood kids.

The distinguishing characteristic about Fern's list is that all these victims were pregnant at the time - one of them eight months pregnant.
I wonder if you score extra points for that.


SPP and the Canada-Israel "border"

According to The Jerusalem Post on Oct 29, in "Israel, Canada sign security accord", Stockwell Day and his Israeli counterpart Public Security Minister Ari Dichter are negotiating a Canada-Israel agreement on "homeland security matters" and have set up "three joint working teams to promote talks on counterterrorism and crime; emergency preparedness; and border-crossing security focusing on biometric identification."

The Israeli ministry referred to their press release as a "joint statement" but there was no similar press coverage in Canada nor any mention of it on the Canadian government website.

When reached for comment by the Globe and Mail on Nov 14, Stockwell Day's communications director Melisa Leclerc initially went into denial overdrive : "This is inaccurate. There is no joint statement. The minister didn't sign anything," and stated that the talks were "at early, early, stages."

A few hours later however, "she retracted the allegation of inaccuracy against the Israelis, saying that it was actually aimed at a report in The Jerusalem Post", before flakking on about how Day and Dichter merely "enjoyed a productive discussion on issues of mutual interest".

And yet what is described by Ms Leclerc as "early, early stages" in the talks is reported on Israel's Ministry of Public Security website as being pretty far along : "methods to improve the implementation of the bilateral cooperation between the two Ministries" :

"The parties have agreed to intensify future cooperation by identifying ways of direct communication in order to maximize the exchange of information, technology and operational activity. For the same reason it has been agreed to accelerate negotiations for the signing of an Arrangement Paper between the two Ministries on cooperation in home land security and counter terrorism issues."

I feel safer already.
So why all the secrecy, Ms Leclerc? Aside from your undoubted concerns about how this news will go down with the voting Canadian Arab and Palestinian public - not to mention the rest of us.

Well, you know how the Cons hate to be continually accused of being Bush poodles ...

Israel and U.S. Sign Homeland Security Pact
Rebecca Anna Stoil, Jerusalem Post, Feb 8, 2007 (Italics mine)

"Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and his US counterpart, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, signed a joint memorandum in Washington DC on Wednesday evening, setting a series of goals and terms for security collaboration between the two nations.

The joint understanding included partnership on flight security, including passenger and cargo inspection and information sharing on the topic of emergency planning, response, recovery and damage control.

Dichter, who is on a four-day diplomatic visit to North America, was recently officially appointed as Israel's diplomatic counterpart to Chertoff. The former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head is widely recognized in Washington as an expert in counter-terrorism, particularly following a nine-month stint as a fellow at the D.C. Brookings Institute think tank.

"Iran is the largest terrorist state in the world," Dichter said late Tuesday night to members of the public security committee of the Canadian parliament. Moving from discussing geopolitics to talking shop with the Canadian lawmakers, Dichter laid out what he believes to be the guidelines for Canadian-Israeli security cooperation in the future, possibly similar to the agreement that the minister signed a day later in Washington DC."

This would be hilariously funny, except for the fact that it isn't.

Brilliant sleuthing by ReWind.It at Bread n Roses

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Steve moves up to # 1 poodle

Guardian : "Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, made climate change his top priority on Sunday, seeking advice on ratifying the Kyoto pact and telling Indonesia he will go to December's UN climate summit in Bali.
Rudd, 50, presented himself to voters as a new-generation leader by promising to pull troops out of Iraq and ratify the Kyoto Protocol capping greenhouse gas emissions, further isolating Washington on both issues."

Alriiiiight! Go for it, Steve!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Out with "custody death", in with "excited delirium"

CP : Most people hit with RCMP Tasers unarmed: reports:

"RCMP Cpl. Gregg Gillis is the force's expert on Taser training and excited delirium -- the mysterious condition of heart-pounding agitation used as a kind of catch-all label by those who can't otherwise explain why a growing number of people have died soon after being zapped.
Asked about the dozens of reports that suggest police used Tasers against unarmed suspects whose behaviour prompted only verbal interventions before they were stunned, Gillis stressed the need for context."

G&M : RCMP revised taser policy to allow multiple jolts

"Three months before Robert Dziekanski was tasered, the RCMP adopted a change in force protocol that allows officers to fire multiple shocks to control people under certain circumstances.

Until August, officers trained to use stun guns were cautioned to avoid using them more than once because of concerns about health effects. However, the force's belief that excited-delirium symptoms can escalate and cause death outweighed their worries about the impact of multiple shocks.

But the term “excited delirium” is not formally recognized by the World Health Organization nor the American Medical Association as an actual psychological or medical condition.
However, the condition is being used increasingly by coroners tasked with attributing causes of death among victims in police custody. David Evans, Ontario's regional supervising coroner for investigations, described it as a “forensic term” not a medical one.
“I think previous to the description of excited delirium, [it] was sometimes called custody death,” he said.

Cpl. Gilles conceded that the policy on multiple taser shots “may be hazardous. We don't know.” "

You have to feel a bit bad for RCMP Cpl. Gilles, expert on a forensic term.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The United Nations on TASER™ weapons

Committee Against Torture Concludes 39th Session

November 23, 2007

"During this morning’s meeting, the Committee adopted its General Comment on Article 2 of the Covenant which requires States parties to take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

The Committee was worried that the use of TaserX26 weapons, provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases it could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use."

On March 23, 2006, TASER International, Inc.announced that the RCMP had ordered 216 TASER™ X26 devices at a cost of $250,000 to supplement the 1,800 ADVANCED TASER™ 26 devices already in use in Canada.

Amnesty International Canada has also called for a moratorium on their use until such time as they can be used safely.

PSA : Don't forget the rally for Robert Dziekanski at the VAG at noon tomorrow in Vancouver. A film crew from Poland will be documenting the protest.

Update : Getting It Right reports the UN story from 24 Hours

Today is Buy Nothing Day - Give it a rest!

The average North American horks down 5x more than a Mexican, 10x more than a Chinese person, and 30x more than a person from India. So says the Adbuster ad that I snagged the above image from and which MTV has declined to air again this year, presumably due to irreconcilable ideological differences - la, la, la, lol, lol, lol.

My favourite culture jammer action for Buy Nothing Day : 10 people silently drive their shopping carts around and around a store or mall in a long, inexplicable zombie conga line without ever actually buying anything.
I don't know why but that one utterly cracks me up.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Is Canada still "No Nukes!"? - Part III

Yesterday in The Star :
Push back.
Dear Minister Bernier,
I write to express my concern that Canada recently abstained from voting on an important resolution at the United Nations calling on Nuclear Weapons States to lower the operating status of nuclear weapons. Fortunately, that resolution passed even without Canadian support.
I urge you to redouble Canada’s efforts towards nuclear disarmament, by supporting global initiatives that aim to lessen the risk of nuclear use, such as working to develop a treaty prohibiting these dangerous weapons.
With 27,000 nuclear weapons still remaining on the planet, Canada must not relent in working towards a safer, nuclear-free world.
I await your reply,

TASER™ Guidelines

The rare and lovely sensibilities of the good folks over at TASER International, Inc have been sorely tried recently by the sloppy attribution of their trademark in articles about how their product kills people. In order to right this grievous injury, they have forwarded the following helpful tips in an email from their legal department :

TASER International Trademark Guidelines
“TASER” is a trademark of TASER International, Inc. and the trademark “TASER” should only be used as follows: TASER ™ electronic control device. Following are guidelines that must be followed in order to preserve the TASER trademark’s legal status as a trademark.

1. Use the TASER trademark in its proper form.
The TASER trademark should always appear as: TASER™ electronic control device
The letters in TASER should be block letters and always be capitalized
Do not display the mark in any unusual typeface or in any other manner that might blur its distinctiveness
The TASER trademark should only be used as an adjective to describe a generic product, e.g. “TASER ™ electronic control device.”

Ok, for brevity's sake I'm going to skip through the next few pointers like :"
Place the proper notice ™ immediately following the TASER trademark, without any space between the mark and the notice (i.e., TASER™)."
"For example, do not say “TASER™ holster”; but you may say, “_____holster for the TASER ™ M26 electronic control device” "
and their admonition to always use: "legible type (7 point or larger)"

and go straight to:

7. Always use the TASER trademark properly in text.
The TASER trademark indicates products and services connected with TASER International’s technology. To preserve its distinctiveness and purpose, please follow these rules when using the mark in text:
Always use the TASER trademark as an adjective, not a noun or verb.
For example, never say: “The officer shot his TASER; or, I’m going to TASER you.”

Well, you can see why they're upset - we have so been getting it all wrong.
Just look at all these recent examples of improper use of the trademark TASER™ :

-Police taser 68 year old Kelowna man for double parking
-Use of taser on children OK, police say
-Police use taser on handcuffed 9 year old girl
-Police use taser to subdue 6 year old boy
-University student tasered for non-compliance by UCLA police

So from now on , fellow bloggers, whenever you link to a headline like "Taser shocks ruled cause of death", make sure you give credit where credit is due and change that headline to conform to the proper TASER™ specifications.

After all, you don't want them TASER™ folk lying awake at night fretting, do you?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A red herring rots from the head down

As noted by Mattt, Stockboy resorted to the universally respected red herring defence to downplay the importance of Paul Pritchard's 10 minute YouTube of Robert Dziekanski's death by stun gun at YVR, now seen by millions of people all over the world :

"Drunk-driving accidents also claim the lives of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and other loved ones, "and where's the shock and horror?"
The Tories introduced new legislation last month that would see harsher fines and sentences for impaired drivers and give police more powers for roadside testing."
According to Stockboy, millions of us appear to have rather inconsiderately wandered off the main Con message here.

But following BC Premier Gordon Campbell's announcement that he would initiate a public inquiry to supplement the usual in-house no-fault internal RCMP inquiry, Stockboy took another stab at representing his own ministry :
"There's nobody can watch this without just feeling the emotions that this man's mother felt, that all of us as Canadians felt. This was a tragic incident that took place," Day said.
"We never want to see it happen again. I'm sorry it took place. I think all Canadians are sorry it took place and we want to make sure it never happens again. That's why there are a number of inquests at a variety of levels."
However it is still not entirely clear from this non-apology whether the "tragic incident" Stockboy "never wants to see happen again" is the gratuitous killing of a confused unarmed man who didn't speak English in 25 seconds by four RCMP or just the worldwide distribution of the evidence of it.

Commanding officer of the RCMP in B.C., Gary Bass has said that he "worries his officers could become "Taser shy" following public criticism", but apparently as of yesterday - no worries there.
At least this time it wasn't just for double-parking.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Steve and Sandra talk tasers

CTV : "RCMP Cpl. Gregg Gillis is the force's expert on Taser training and excited delirium -- the mysterious condition of heart-pounding agitation used as a kind of catch-all label by those who can't otherwise explain why a growing number of people have died soon after being zapped."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Candlelight vigil for Robert Dziekanski

"People become good by doing good; it is rare that a person is good by nature alone. Goodness does not exist so one can make use of it. Goodness does not flow from a place of weakness but one of power."
~ written by Robert Dziekanski on a postcard to his mom.
It was read at his memorial in Kamloops by a family friend who ended his eulogy to a man who emigrated to Canada with two suitcases full of books by saying,
"People become good by doing good, Robert said. You become good by doing good. Be good people."

Photo from community service and candlelight vigil at Vancouver Airport
Postcard link : h/t Dana

Saturday, November 17, 2007

On cowardice

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, US army desertions are up 80%.

More US veterans have committed suicide than have died in Iraq.

In 2005, 6,256 vets committed suicide at an average of 17 per day.
In the 20-24 age group, they averaged 22.9 suicides a day, four times the national US average.
One in four homeless people in the US are veterans even though they represent just 11% of the adult population. One in four!
Times Online Nov 15, 2007

I'm writing this for all you fuckwits out there chiming in to comments at CBC that Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey are cowards, that they shouldn't have signed up if they didn't want to fight, that people can't change their minds, that if they were willing to go to Afghanistan they should be willing to go to Iraq, that as war deserters they deserves to be sent back to face courts martial and jail in the US.

Hinzman enlisted in 2001 at age 22. A year later he and his wife had become Quakers. After his application for conscientious objector status was denied, he served his tour of duty as an armourer in Afghanistan. It was not till his unit was to be redeployed to Iraq that he deserted to Canada in 2004 with his wife and child.

Hinzman in 2004 : "The war on Iraq is immoral and illegal. If you are ever going to wreak havoc on a country, it would need to be justified. Every justification or rationale that we have ever offered for going to Iraq has been bogus. There were no weapons of mass destruction there. There have been no links established between Saddam and international terrorists, and then the notion that we're going to bring democracy to Iraq is -- we'll see if that comes to fruition, but I don't think we'll see it, unless it's convenient to America's agenda."

So he did his duty in Afghanistan but couldn't stomach Iraq.
How exactly does this differ from Canada's official position on Iraq?

Nonetheless the very reasons that caused Hinzman to desert are the same ones that he is not allowed to use in his application to the Immigration Board of Canada.
Hinzman on his Immigration hearing : "They raised the issue that they felt that the legality of the war in Iraq was irrelevant to our refugee claims. So, we were unable to argue that in any way."

But because he originally volunteered and did complete his tour in Afghanistan, he is not considered to be a conscientious objector so he isn't eligible for refugee status. Amnesty International disagrees.

Last week, after losing two immigration hearings and one from the Federal Court, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear their case. Their only hope now is a parliamentary intervention, one which would be certain to piss off the US. Does the Security and Prosperity Pact even allow Canada to accept war resistors now?

That protest sign behind Hinzman reads : "Canada should be a refuge from militarism - Pierre Trudeau".

Well? Are we? Or are we so thoroughly enmeshed in the illegal US war on terra that we are the cowards now?

War Resisters Support Campaign.
As usual there are some MPs email addresses there for you to write to.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ankle-deep in blood and shit

A request for desert camel boots from Stockwell Day's newly arrived leader of a Correctional Service Canada inspections team in Afghanistan in February, 2007:

"They afford the appropriate ankle support when getting in and out of the LAV/Coyote/Nyala vehicles. Additionally the colour is more appropriate in the summer heat. On a Health and Safety level we will be walking through blood and fecal matter when either on patrol or in the prison and should not be wearing our personal footwear as it will track into our personal quarters."

It's certainly tracking all over the carpets in Ottawa now.

G&M : Nov 19, 2007 "The government was forced to release the documents on detainee conditions after a federal judge ordered it to disclose them as part of a suit brought by Amnesty International Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association."

CP Nov 5, 2007 "The government had argued that the issues involved were political rather than judicial, that human rights advocates lacked any legal standing to mount a challenge, and that the case should be thrown out because it has no chance of succeeding."

Co-council to both human rights groups, Amir Attaran, has been trying to alert us and get some action on this since at least March 2006, when he and Michael Byers along with Louise Arbour, Canadian rep at the UN, all published papers on the abuse of Afghan detainees.
The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, in 2004 : "Torture continues to take place as a routine part of police procedures. The AIHRC has found torture to occur particularly at the investigation stage in order to extort confessions from detainees."

This is what Con House leader Peter Van Loan still airily refers to as "allegations by the Taliban".

Are we there yet? Could we get some grown-ups on this?
Look, we have a lot of serious issues to deal with in Canada : important stuff like fixing our debt to First Nations, stopping the sell-off of Canadian companies and the flow south of our resouces, getting serious on the environment, to name just a few.
Canada is already a signatory to the Geneva Conventions. We simply don't have time to go back and re-fight and re-argue all the battles for some semblance of civilization that we have already won. And we certainly don't have time for any government that hasn't figured this out yet.

Update : Mattt at bastard.logic links to skdadl's comment at Pogge :
"I think we call this the banality of evil. I have to walk through blood and fecal material, so I need better boots. This is the road to Nuremberg, folks. And this is being done in our name. Everyone happy to sit here quietly and be a "Good Canadian"? "

Welcome to Canada : We speak English, French, and Taser

Daev at Designated Protest Zone gives such a good synopsis of the state-sponsored execution of Robert Dziekanski that I'm just going to pillage the whole thing :

"The terminal was basically empty, the man never posed any sort of danger to anyone (least of all four armed cops), the police readied their tasers before entering the area near Mr. Dziekanski and assessing the situation, addressed Dziekanski only in English after they had been told he did not speak the language, tasered him at least twice (the second time after they climbed on top of him) even after Dziekanski appeared relieved at the officers' intial appearance, applied their full body weight to Dziekanski's midsection (which can be deadly after being tasered due to respiratory muscle paralysis), and then made no attempt to revive him beyond checking for a pulse after he went totally limp.
No thanks for the Vancouver International Airport for treating Dziekanski like some sort of caged animal for 10 hours and offering zero assistance."

And even with 8 minutes of video evidence, the RCMP have the unmitigated gall to trot this out:

"What I urge is that those watching the video, take note of that. Put what they've seen aside for the time being. And wait to hear the totality of the evidence at the time of the inquest," Carr said."

Daev ends with a biting bitter quote from Cartman at EnMasse :
"Fuck this shit. The police killed a guy because he was emotional and was breaking STUFF. They can take it out of his airport improvement fee."
Update : HOLY SHIT
From Tim in comments :
Introducing the TASER XREP, a projectile taser with a range of 100 feet that fires from a 12-gauge shotgun.
A "microprocessor controlled optimal electrode selection technology" checks 20 times a second for the best electrode connection to achieve the greatest incapacitation. It is expected that the victim will grab at it which closes another connection to prevent him/her from letting go and shocking the victim further.
100 feet? 100 feet! That's crowd control.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Another RCMP murder

Four thugs in RCMP uniforms tasered an unresisting man at least twice with 50,000 volts before handcuffing him and then kneeling on his back and his neck until he was dead. They made no attempt to revive him.

On Oct 14, Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski cleared Customs and then spent the next ten hours waiting at the baggage carousel for his mother Zophia to pick him up as they had previously arranged. Neither of them were aware when they made this arrangement that the baggage carousel was now in a secure area that she would not be allowed to enter.

Zophia made three attempts to get help from airport authorities to contact her son over nine hours before being told he was not there and that she should go home. No one at airport authority was apparently willing to walk the hundred yards to where an increasingly frantic Robert who spoke no English had now gone those nine hours without food or drink. He began to crack, yelling in Polish. A woman passenger tried to use the airport translating phone for him but discovered it did not work. Robert picked it up and smashed it to the floor and began throwing his luggage around. Airport Security called in the police.

As other passengers yelled out to them that Robert did not speak English, the four RCMP entered the room and demanded in English that Robert stand against a wall. He complied and they tasered him. And then they tasered him again. Twenty five seconds elapsed between when the RCMP arrived and when they tasered and piled on top of him. "Hit him again, hit him again," an officer called out. And then he was dead.

We have airline passenger Paul Pritchard from Victoria to thank for making this video , this very ugly and shocking video, public. He gave it to the RCMP to help them with their investigation and they promised to return it in 48 hours. When they later told him it would probably be several years before he got it back, he sued and they returned it. Presumably it did not back up their earlier bullshit cover-up stories planted in the press last month that their victim was possibly insane or a drug mule or had some rare medical condition.

Shame on you, RCMP.

Justice for Robert Dziekanski
There's some links there to people you should be writing letters to.

See also Welcome to Canada : We speak English, French, and Taser

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