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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pasta la vista, baby

The RCMP are looking into new claims regarding Brian Mulroney and the $300,000 he was paid by arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber back in '93 to, um, promote a pasta business Schreiber was interested in. Mr.Mulroney says "he was paid the money for private business dealings and was late paying income tax on the three $100,000 payments he received from Mr. Schreiber because he was traumatized by allegations made against him by the RCMP".

He didn't actually mention the $300,000 in the first RCMP go round of course but he was still so traumatized at the time that we had to pay him a $2.1 million libel settlement.

So far the RCMP are holding a preliminary examination that might lead to opening a formal investigation, and Harper, who is also apparently mentioned in Schreiber's affadavit, is going to appoint someone to advise him on how narrow a scope a full inquiry can have while still being, uh, 'full'.

Also at issue for Steve are the two letters containing the affadavit information allegedly sent to Harper by Schreiber in March and again in September - letters that were vetted by the 35 members of the Privy Council Office, apparently hired for the express purpose of just not getting the whole stove-piping thing.
Back in January, the Justice Department prepared Airbus coaching notes for the current Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who was formerly a parliamentary secretary with Mulroney : "Neither I nor my predecessor, the Honourable Vic Toews, received any briefing material related to this issue.''
And Harper stated this week that he was not about to become Schreiber's "penpal".

Unfortunately Mulroney sounds like he's getting set to feel traumatized all over again anyway.
Here is his statement {emphasis mine}:

"Twelve years ago to the day, I was trying to deal with very grave and damaging accusations against me, contained in a letter sent to the Swiss authorities. These accusations were related to the sale in 1988 of Airbus planes to Air Canada, back then a Crown Corporation.

After a tough and lengthy battle against these false and horrendously libellous accusations, the government of the day had to admit that they had absolutely no evidence to support them, and apologized to me and my family. In addition, they had to reimburse me of all my legal and other expenses.

Twelve years later, the same people at the CBC and at certain other media organizations who were at the origin of the 1995 accusations are still conducting their vendetta. Last Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided that he needed the counsel of an independent third party to advise him on the course of action to follow after new allegations were made in an affidavit filed by Karlheinz Schreiber from his prison cell where he is detained pending the execution of an extradition order confirmed twice by the Supreme Court of Canada.

I will fully co-operate with the special adviser soon to be appointed by the Prime Minister, but I have come to the conclusion that in order to finally put this matter to rest and expose all the facts and the role played by all the people involved, from public servants to elected officials, from lobbyists to the police authorities, as well as journalists, the only solution is for the government to launch a full-fledged public commission of inquiry which would cover the period from 1988 to today.

Only then will the whole truth be finally exposed and tarnished reputations restored. I am willing to meet the special adviser to reiterate my conviction that this is the only way to prove to Canadians that I have done nothing wrong."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Steve and Sandra throw Brian under a bus

To : The Ministers of Whatever and your various meaningless minions
From : The PMO
"Effective immediately and until further notice, none of you are to utter the name Brian for any reason whatsoever. Needless to say, talking to anyone named Brian is also strictly forbidden. Some of you nobodies have displayed the unfortunate lack of foresight to name your firstborn Brian. Too bad, no exceptions.
Sandra Buckler

PSA : Steve Won't Teabag Brian No More
TGB : Trouble in the Conservative Sandbox

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day 2007

Photo by Magda Indigo, who grew up in Flanders.

We'll all meet down at the cenotaph in a little while : the veterans, their relatives, Frank from the Danish Resistance, those honouring the women and the First Nations of WWI & II, the Koreans from the General Store, and the people moved to start attending after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.


British Columbia : Nigeria North?

Royal Dutch Shell, of Niger Delta infamy, has coalbed methane extraction plans for the Sacred Headwaters Basin at Mount Klappan in B.C.

Shell Canada has striven mightily to present an image of being a good Canadian corporate citizen but if, as mentioned in this excellent video from The Dogwood Initiative, Royal Dutch Shell has now taken over Shell Canada completely, all bets are off.

Royal Dutch Shell is one of the world's worst polluters with one of the world's worst civil rights records and here they are planning to use one of the world's most destructive forms of resource extraction on the Mount Klappan headwaters. We all remember how Shell 'transformed' Nigeria.

So what can you do? You can vote this vid up at YouTube for a start. The more popular it is, and it's a very good vid, the more people will see it. Go on, off you go. For more info : Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.

A few more like this wouldn't hurt either :

Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2007 8:47 AM


Subject: Coal Bed Methane Plans in British Columbia

This is to express my extreme displeasure with your plans to extract petroleum products in the Sacred Headwaters Basin, Mount Klappan, British Columbia.
This pristine ecological area needs preservation, not industrial mining operations.
Until you can provide verification of the cessation of plans to violate this area of the world, I and my circle of contacts will not be purchasing any Shell products.


West End Bound

Thanks, guys.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A good start

Quite awe-inspiring, wasn't it - seeing all those lawyers out on the streets in Pakistan, getting their heads bashed for defending their constitution. Lawyers getting tear-gassed, lawyers throwing rocks, lawyers ... scuffling. Almost made me feel bad about all the lawyer jokes. After all, wasn't Gandhi a lawyer?...Hello, what's this?...
"Gasps broke out in a U.S. federal appeals court Friday as a U.S.government lawyer spoke of Maher Arar's "unequivocal membership of al-Qaida."
Right. OK, what do you call a thousand and one lawyers in chains at the bottom of the ocean?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Project Censored - News That Didn't make the News

Top 25 Censored Stories of 2008

#1 No Habeas Corpus for "Any Person"
#2 Bush Moves Towards Martial Law
#3 AFRICOM: US Military Control of Africa’s Resources
#4 Frenzy of Increasingly Destructive Trade Agreements
#5 Human Traffic Builds US Embassy in Iraq
#6 Operation FALCON Raids
#7 Behind Blackwater Inc.
#8 KIA: The US Neoliberal Invasion of India
#9 Privatization of America’s Infrastructure
#10 Vulture Funds Threaten Poor Nations’ Debt Relief
#11 The Scam of “Reconstruction” in Afghanistan
#12 Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops
#13 Immigrant Roundups to Gain Cheap Labor for US Corporate Giants
#14 Impunity for US War Criminals
#15 Toxic Exposure Can Be Transmitted to Future Generations on a “Second Genetic Code”
#16 No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11
#17 Drinking Water Contaminated by Military and Corporations
#18 Mexico’s Stolen Election
#19 People’s Movement Challenges Neoliberal Agenda
#20 Terror Act Against Animal Activists
#21 US Seeks WTO Immunity for Illegal Farm Payments
#22 North Invades Mexico
#23 Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq
#24 Media Misquotes Threat From Iran’s President
#25 Who Will Profit from Native Energy?

That's a whole lot of reading. You'll have read many of these articles or similar ones already of course but perhaps missed the authors' updates to them, which are included here.

Some of it may even be news to you.
This one, on the revolving door between Blackwater and the Bushcorp, was news to me :
"Joseph Schmitz, the former Pentagon Inspector General, whose job was to police the war contractor bonanza, has moved on to become the vice chairman of the Prince Group, Blackwater’s parent company, and the general counsel for Blackwater.
Bush recently hired Fred Fielding, Blackwater’s former lawyer, to replace Harriet Miers as his top lawyer; and Ken Starr, the former Whitewater prosecutor who led the impeachment charge against President Clinton, is now Blackwater’s counsel of record and has filed briefs with Supreme Court to fight wrongful death lawsuits brought against Blackwater.
Cofer Black, thirty-year CIA veteran and former head of CIA’s counterterrorism center, credited with spearheading the extraordinary rendition program after 9/11, is now senior executive at Blackwater."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ceiling Cat crates teh Univerz an teh Urff

and den rites Teh Buk aboudit :
Leviticats :
Teh Ceiling Cat saiz to Mozes, "O hai! Outta ur tabby-nackels, d00dthx.2
U should go saiz this to Izrulites, for to IM me, Hey Ceiling Cat, I can has stuff :) and liek that, they gotta bring me teh cheezeburgers or other good stuff for impruvin teh conneckshun winkwink."
But if U wana bring teh donutz or teh ExBockzs, thatz kewl too, but don U be bringin me no trash, Ceiling Cat will run out of happy and kiil ur d00dz.

LOLCat Bible Translation Project

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Win the Nobel and lose your funding

And as Scruffy Dan points out, the Canadian IPCC scientists are clearly pissed about it :
"Nobel Prize-winning scientists from Canada say the Harper government is failing to protect the country from the dangers of global warming because it has shut down a federal climate change research network and blocked new studies on the impact of rising greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere."

Andrew Weaver, UVic uses words like "vindictive" and "stupidity"
"Harper stands up and waffles on about trying to call for 50% emissions reductions. Where on earth is he getting those numbers from?" Weaver asked. "They're certainly not coming from Canadian scientists."

The government said that it closed the Canadian Climate Impacts and Adaptation Research Network because it had completed its federal mandate. The network and the independent Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science both sponsored peer-reviewed research that contributed to the award-winning IPCC report that is now being used by governments as a basis for international climate change negotiations.

It was in fact that very IPCC report which apparently caused Harper to adopt, um, a better appreciation of the dangers of AGW and climate change. I guess we know all we need to know about it now.

Environment Minister John Baird said suggestions that his department was cutting research spending were "totally unfounded," since the government was spending a "record amount" on climate research in various departments such as Natural Resources and Industry Canada.

Industry Canada? Please. According to their website, the Industry Canada mandate is : "a fair, efficient and competitive marketplace; an innovative economy; and competitive industry and sustainable communities."
I know - they also have sciencey links. I started to read the "Related links : Science and Technology" and got as far as "The Strategy is focused on creating a more competitive and sustainable Canadian economy with the help of science and technology" when I got distracted by "BizPals" on the sidebar. I get it, John, but I'm not exactly seeing Nobel here.

Back to Baird : "I can appreciate that some people would rather (have) more (spending) on this or on that, but it's a record amount and it's informed by some of the expert officials that we have in science in the public service," he said. "We don't need the politicization of science. That's for sure."

Damn straight, John. Can't have that.

CP : Audit slaps wrist of Natural Resources for lobbyist conflict-of-interest

Apparently Natural Resources Canada spent a cool million bucks last year buying its employees expensive memberships in groups that lobby the government. Conflict of Interest? The list of lobbyists isn't available but the CP story does provide us with this reminder :

"Natural Resources is primarily responsible for the $1.5-billion ecoEnergy program, announced in January by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to promote renewable energy."

As it turns out, promoting renewable energy is the precisely the business of the agri-biz astroturf group Canadian Renewable Fuels Association - you know, the guys who promote ethanol, the practice of feeding corn to cars to produce a 1% reduction in GHG. CRFA was headed by registered federal lobbyist Kory Teneycke up till Nov1 this year when he returned to the Harper fold as Director of the Conservative Resource Group. I say returned because prior to his stint as head of CRFA, Teneycke was a Reform Party activist and campaign strategist for Preston Manning.

Baird is right. We don't need politicization of science because we already have lots of it.

Dr. Gordon McBean, a review editor of the 2007 IPCC report and the volunteer chairperson of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science : "Canada likes to think of itself as a G8 country, and we should act like one occasionally."

U.S. General Strike - Nov. 6

No going to work. No shopping. No cell phones. No driving. No TV.
From "Specific Suggestion : General Strike"
by Garret Keizer in October's Harper's :
"Of all the various depredations of the Bush regime, none has been so thorough as its plundering of hope. Iraq will recover sooner.
If someone were to suggest, for example, that we begin a general strike on Election Day, November 6, 2007, for the sole purpose of removing this regime from power, how readily and with what well-practiced assurance would you find yourself producing the words “It won’t do any good”? Plausible and even courageous in the mouth of a patient who knows he’s going to die, the sentiment fits equally well in the heart of a citizen-ry that believes it is already dead.
Any strike, whether it happens in a factory, a nation, or a marriage, amounts to a reaffirmation of consent. The strikers remind their overlords—and, equally important, themselves—that the seemingly perpetual machinery of daily life has an off switch as well as an on."

Some US broadcasters and bloggers, notably Naomi Wolf, have picked this up and are running with it - calling for an inaugural general strike today, even as they know this first one will be small.
Good luck to you today, American cousins.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Steve and Sandra have a cold one

Poilievre provided the "normal....having a cold one" quote.
As Dave says : "Welcome to the Reform agenda. It hasn't changed save for the political party name under which it exists."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Supernatural! Downtown Eastside!

United Nations envoy Miloon Kothari, on a tour of Canada to examine homelessness, said he visited Vancouver specifically to assess whether the Olympic bid's pledges "are being kept."
"Vancouver said, 'If we get the Games, we commit to leaving a positive legacy,' and we [at the UN] are taking that at face value," Kothari said. "So far in Vancouver, there aren't many results on the ground, but we still have some time to go."
Kothari said that "the resources generated by [the Olympics] should be used to improve the adverse housing situation in Vancouver."
He specified that excess funds should be spent on "people who need their lives improved" and "not go into the hands of a few individuals."

"But our mandate is to promote the development of sport in Canada, as governed by the Host City Contract and Multiparty Agreements," said Donna Wilson, Senior VP for VANOC *Human Resources* .
"It's already committed that our surplus will go towards amateur sport."

Wilson has previously enthused that "The road to 2010 is both long and wide, and there’s room for everyone."

That's nice, Donna, but what we're actually looking for here is rooms for everyone.

In other Olympics news...
Dan Rather is here filming : "A neighbourhood of abject poverty surrounded by the five-star hotels that will be booked solid during the Olympics"
[Ed.: No way he's gonna miss all those dead First Nations sex-trade workers, Donna]
and the UN Population Fund notes the Downtown Eastside is "a two-kilometre-square stretch of decaying rooming houses, with a hepatitis C rate of just below 70 % and an HIV prevalence rate the same as Botswana's."

Well, Donna, I'm guessing free hockey sticks and being assured of adequate practice time down at the rink is not only not a burning issue with the majority of our local world-class ghetto residents, but it isn't likely to be one with the international journalists filing Olympics human interest stories either.
Light an Olympic torch under someone's Tourism Canada ass, Linda - ya still got two years to turn this thing around.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Is Canada still "No Nukes"? - Part II

Politics 'n Poetry noticed that Canada abstained on a UN vote on depleted uranium two days ago.

UN : "The Assembly, taking into consideration the potential harmful effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium on human health and the environment, would request the Secretary-General to seek the views of Member States and relevant international organizations on the subject and to submit a report to the Assembly at its next session."

Not a ban on the use of DU, mind you - just a resolution asking for further study.
It passed 122 in favour, with 6 against and 35 abstentions. Canada was one of those abstentions.

WTF? What could we possibly have against studying the 'potential' dangers of DU.......

UN : "The representative of the United States said that she would vote “no” on draft resolution “L.18/Rev.1”. That draft called for action by the Secretary-General, based on the harmful environmental and health effects of depleted uranium. The draft ignored scientific information on that subject. That subject had been investigated by the Defence Department, NATO and UNEP, among others, and none of those studies had documented environmental or health effects of those munitions."

So. The US Defense Dept investigated DU, didn't find any health or environmental problems, and so the rest of us should just shut up about it. DU is apparently the new AGW.
In all, there were 13 resolutions on nukes and the US voted against all of them.

Canada also abstained on a resolution to "recognize that the maintenance of nuclear weapons systems at a high level of readiness increased the risk of the use of such weapons, including the unintentional or accidental use" ~ 124 in favour to 3 against with 34 abstentions; and a "Vote on Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace" ~ 120 in favour to 3 against with 45 abstentions

Is Canada still "No nukes!" Six weeks ago, UBC Prof. Michael Byers noted that the message on Canada's Foreign Affairs and Int Trade website calling for "the complete elimination of nuclear weapons...through steadily advocating national, bilateral and multilateral steps" had been amended to say that Canada's nuclear weapons policy is now "consistent with our membership in NATO and NORAD, and in a manner sensitive to the broader international security context."

Uh - oh.

Friday, November 02, 2007

We still have a border. Let's use it.


Canada did not support the illegal invasion of Iraq. Why would Canada reject war resisters who ask for asylum here because they also share this opinion? Three US war resisters are currently being processed by the Canadian government for return across the border to US authorities. We still have a border. Let's use it.

Canadian Cynic has a piece up on the stall-out at the current Senate confirmation hearings of Michael Mukasey for U.S. Attorney-General. Seems the spineless incompetent Dems are unable to come up with a definition of torture that Mukasey can agree to renounce. It's just all too 'theoretical' for Mike. CC has a suggestion. I would just like to add that there is no such thing as 'simulated drowning' - unless you happen to be using simulated water.

Remind me again why Canada should send war resisters back to this rogue state?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Vancouver Boondoggle Centre expansion

Initial projected cost of Vancouver Trade and Convention Center expansion - $495 million
Current projected cost - $883.2 million
Is this the last and final increase - No

Reason for over-runs - Project was begun before design or budget was completed.
What's the big rush? - 2010 Olympics

Who was Chair of Convention Center Committee up till April - Ken Dobell
Who is he again? - Gordon Campbell's top advisor and former chief of staff, Mayor Sam Sullivan's contracted advisor on homelessness and cultural projects for the City of Vancouver, and Chair of Vancouver Organizing Committee for 2010 Olympics
What the fuck? - Yeah, he lobbies both governments on the same projects he's drawing a salary from both of them for. Under investigation.
And who has Dobell been replaced with? - David Podmore of Concert Properties who spearheaded the successful Yes campaign for the 2010 Olympics.

Where did the land for the Convention Centre expansion come from? - Marathon Realty, Premier Gordon Campbell's previous employer, sold the land to the province for $27.5 million in 2003.
But like the Sea-to-Sky Highway expansion to Whistler Village and the RAV line, this Convention Center expansion isn't being counted as an Olympic cost, is it? - Nope.

How's the original Convention Center doing? - Between 1997/98 and 2003/04, the convention delegate attendance declined 43%.

So who actually is benefitting from this expansion then?......Hello...... Hello?.....

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