Sunday, November 29, 2009

I reckon we've had just about enough of this bullshit

Shorter Harper : If you point the war crimes finger at me, I'll deflect it at the troops.

Faced with mounting condemnation for government ass-covering over Richard Colvin's testimony about Afghan detainees, Harper resorts to an oblique slight-of-tongue blackmail :

"There were allegations of Canadian troops involved in torture. We’ve been very clear that's not the case."
So who is pointing fingers at the troops?
No one. No. One. But. Steve.

Least of all Richard Colvin, as he made abundantly clear right away at the beginning of his Nov. 18th testimony before the Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan :
"I was very proud to have served in Afghanistan alongside the courageous and professional men and women of the Canadian Forces, including Canada's military police. The focus of our attention, in my view, should not be on those who obeyed their chain of command, which soldiers are obliged to do. Instead, any responsibility for Canada's practices toward detainees lies, in my view, with the senior military officers, senior civilian officials, and the lawyers who developed the legal framework, designed the policies and practices, and then ordered that they be implemented."
Well that seems clear enough.

Evidently not clear enough though for warporner Christie Blatchford :
In condemning with the same brush highly professional Canadian soldiers, and to complain that they were complicit in breaches of the law of armed conflict and knowingly buried his reports, it is Mr. Colvin who has some explaining left to do.
but certainly clear enough for anyone not looking to turn Colvin's words upside down and pretend that any criticism of the HarperCons and their public service camp followers equals a danger to the troops and military police, as Harper does here today:
"... in a time when some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you."
Steve bravely champions the troops by hiding behind them and pointing a finger at them.
Are people gonna fall for this bs?

Impolitical handily deconstructs Harper's nonsense

while Contrarian takes down Blatchford.
And yes, why was Christie Blatchford leaked information deemed too sensitive for the Parliamentary Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan?


Friday, November 27, 2009

Amy Goodman stopped at Canadian border

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now was stopped at the Canada-US border on Wednesday and questioned for 90 minutes by Canadian Border Services Agency. She was on her way to the Vancouver Public Library to launch her new book Breaking The Sound Barrier as a benefit for community radio stations.
What's your speech about? they asked.
"Tommy Douglas," she said.
What else?
"US healthcare debate."
What else?
"Copenhagen, the global economy, the wars in the mideast."
What else?
" - - - - ?"
Are you speaking about the Olympics?
"What about the Olympics? Oh, you mean when President Obama went to Copenhagen to push for the Olympics in Chicago?"
No. I am talking about the Olympics here in 2010.
Not being much of a sports fan and not wanting to hurt his national pride, Amy elects not to admit she wasn't aware Vancouver was hosting the 2010 Olympics.
You're saying you're not talking about the Olympics?
Eventually, after searching her books and laptop and asking for a copy of her speech and clearly still not believing this wasn't about the Owelympics, CBSA allowed her to enter Canada but returned her passport with a document demanding she leave the country within 48 hours.
You can listen to her speak about it later at the library here.
Thanks to CBSA, she does mention the Owelympics after all.

How's that CBC poll on Colvin's credibility doing?

Hmmm ... 94% to 6% in favour of Colvin's testimony on an unfreepable one-vote-per-IP poll.
Ok, just checking.
I was wondering how that parade of generals appearing before the Afghan parliamentary committee was going over.
Everyone impressed the generals had access to Richard Colvin's reports but the committee members doing the investigation are denied the same access?
Hell, it's just one more Con puppet-head show now.
Watch Peter MacKay's one minute smirking response about it here :

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dragging the goalposts right off the field

Then : October 19, 2009

"MacKay said Monday that neither he nor his deputy minister ever saw diplomat Richard Colvin's reports, which were circulated widely within the Foreign Affairs and National Defence departments, as well as among senior military commanders."

.October 16, 2009

"Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he never saw a former diplomat's reports containing allegations of torture of detainees transferred by Canadians to Afghan prisons. MacKay, who was foreign minister at the time, insisted Thursday that he knew nothing of the documents.

"I have not seen those reports in either my capacity as minister of National Defence or previously as minister of Foreign Affairs."

"I received briefings from the deputy minister and there were attachments to which Mr. Colvin was a contributor but I have not received direct reports from Mr. Colvin," MacKay said."

Scrape ... scrape ... scrape...

And then there's the Generals. Rather than bother dragging their goalposts off the field, they just declare them invisible. I posted this at The Beav earlier:

From Richard Colvin's reports beginning in May 2006 :

3. Of the XXX detainees we interviewed XXX said XXX had been whipped with cables, shocked with electricity and/or otherwise "hurt" while in NDS custody in Kandahar. This period of alleged abuse lasted from between XXX and XXX days, and was carried out in XXX and XXX.

XXX detainees still had XXX on XXX body; XXX seemed traumatized. This alleged abuse would have occurred before the new arrangement between the governments of Canada and Afghanistan was signed.

'Torture' not mentioned in Afghan detainee reports: Generals

"Three generals declared Wednesday that there was no mention of the word "torture" in reports from a senior diplomat who asserts that he repeatedly warned the government against surrendering Afghan detainees to local authorities because they would almost certainly be abused.

One of the recipients of the widely distributed reports, which Colvin says were copied to 76 government and military personnel in Ottawa and Afghanistan, was retired Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, who was then the head of oversees deployment. Gauthier told the Commons committee that none of Colvin's 2006 reports, including his May document, mentioned anything about torture.

Retired Gen. Rick Hillier, Canada's top soldier during Colvin's posting in Afghanistan in 2006-07 : "There was simply nothing there."

So there you have it - because Richard Colvin neglected to include the word "torture" in his accounts of detainees allegedly being "whipped with cables and shocked with electricity", there was no torture and the generals apparently feel justified in having failed to read his reports in the first place.
Meanwhile look for those reports under the goalposts.
Initially Harper promised to release Colvin's reports to the Afghan committee, a parliamentary committee, who so far are asking witnesses questions about reports they are barred from seeing. Wait for it...

The federal government is blocking whistleblowing diplomat Richard Colvin from giving documents to a special House of Commons committee investigating Afghan torture.

Justice Department lawyers have told Colvin - through the Foreign Affairs Department - that they do not accept the view that testimony before Parliament is exempt from national security provisions of the Canada Evidence Act. Violating Section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act can be punishable by five years in prison.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the government intends to comply with the order to produce documents, but tempered expectations by saying the records will pass through several filters before they get to MPs.
"Anything we're legally required to hand over, we'll hand over," he said Wednesday.
"We have to, of course, respect the Canada Evidence Act, The National Defence Act and rules pertaining to disclosure. And of course anything having to do with national security will have to be vetted."

Those are the same arguments the government made to the Military Police Complaints Commission, whose public hearings into the same issue were derailed by legal wrangling. The government took a year to censor and hand over records to the watchdog agency and at one point stopped releasing documents entirely.

MacKay did not explain how the Justice Department could ignore Parliament's authority when it comes to providing evidence.

The committee will now hear more government witnesses free to spout the same crap as the generals because there will be no evidence to refute it -- and the press, barring actual reporters like Murray Brewster and Tonda MacCharles, will, in the absence of any other story, report it all faithfully.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan

MacKay :
"Not a single Taliban soldier turned over by Canadian forces can be proved to have been abused. That is the crux of the issue."

Ok, how about "farmers, truck drivers, and peasants" then?

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission :
"Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are common in the majority of law enforcement institutions, and at least 98.5 per cent of interviewed victims have been tortured."

The independent study, which tracked abuse claims between 2001 and early 2008, shows the vast majority of them - 243 - were levelled in 2006 and 2007.
That is the time frame when Colvin was in Afghanistan and warning the federal government about torture. "
(h/t Cathie)

"[Colvin] says all of the prisoners Canada handed to Afghanistan’s notorious intelligence service in 2006-07 were tortured — and many of them were likely innocent … farmers, truck drivers and peasants "in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"In other words, we detained and handed over for severe torture, a lot of innocent people."

"The Conservative government was aware from the first day it took office in 2006 that Taliban suspects, rounded up by Canadian soldiers, might be tortured in Afghan prisons, says Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
The government then waited 15 months, until May 2007, before putting new safeguards in place to monitor the treatment of Afghan detainees."

Friday, November 20, 2009

CBC Question of the Day

Commenter Stephen Phillips under this CBC poll has a question of his own :
"What kind of a question is this? Mr. Colvin is a distinguished career diplomat under attack by a Government that has misled Parliament and the country about prisoner transfers and is now systematically blocking the work of the Military Complaints Tribunal. The real question is this: why is the Government trying to smear a courageous whistle-blower who has put his career on the line?"
Le Devoir Answer of the Day
October 23, 2009:

"Federal ministers Gordon O' Connor and Peter MacKay knew as of 2006 that the prisoners captured in Afghanistan were likely to be tortured in the local prisons, said Rick Hillier, former chief of staff of the Canadian Forces.".

Poll updated Monday, 5 pm.

"Michael Semple, former deputy head of the European Union's mission in Afghanistan when Colvin was second-in-command of the Canadian embassy, said his own records from his time in Kabul are littered with the same findings that the senior Canadian envoy shared with a House of Commons committee this week."

Once newspaper reports in April 2007 brought the problems to light, Colvin said he was instructed to keep quiet by David Mulroney, a senior official who had responsibilities to report on Afghanistan to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, then foreign affairs minister Peter MacKay and Gordon O'Connor, who was the defence minister before he became the first political casualty of the detainee scandal."


Peter MacKay vs the US State Dept.

Defensive Minister Peter MacKay :
"A top diplomat’s account of the rampant torture and rape of Afghan detainees is not credible, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Thursday.
MacKay dismissed testimony from Richard Colvin [First Secretary at the Canadian Embassy in Washington] as second- and third-hand information from enemy sources :
"What we’re talking about here is not only hearsay, we’re talking about basing much of his evidence on what the Taliban have been specifically instructed to lie about if captured."

US State Department :
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
"Local authorities ... continued to routinely torture and abuse detainees. Torture and abuse consisted of pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, beatings, sexual humiliation, and sodomy."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Putting a 'happy face' on war crimes

... updated below ...
A month ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time Peter MacKay , and Minister of Defence at the time Gordon O'Connor all denied ever seeing any of the 16 reports "circulated widely throughout the Foreign Affairs and Defence departments and also shared with senior military commanders in Ottawa and Afghanistan" warning that Afghan authorities were abusing detainees handed over by Canadian forces.

How did they all manage to miss all those reports from Richard Colvin, the second in command of Afghan reconstruction at the time? we asked ourselves, somewhat rhetorically.

Murray Brewster, CP :

Canadian diplomats in Afghanistan were ordered in 2007 to hold back information in their reports to Ottawa about the handling of the prisoners, say defence and foreign affairs sources.

The instruction — issued soon after allegations of torture by Afghan authorities began appearing in public — was aimed at defusing the explosive human-rights controversy, said sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

There was a fear that graphic reports, even in censored form, could be uncovered by opposition parties and the media through access-to-information laws, leading to revelations that would further erode already-tenuous public support.

(Ed. : Yeah. Requests for boots to wade through blood and feces will do that.)

The controversy was seen as “detracting from the narrative” the Harper government was trying to weave around the mission, said one official.

“It was meant to put on happy face,” he added.

The instruction was passed over the telephone by senior officials in the Privy Council Office and reinforced in follow-up conferences between Ottawa and Kabul, as well Ottawa and Kandahar, sources said."

Military Police Complaints Commissioner Peter A. Tinsley, chair of the derailed hearings looking into this, and Richard Colvin, First Secretary at the Canadian Embassy in Washington and the diplomat who sent those 16 reports three years ago, will be witnesses at the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan today.

With 6 Cons, 3 Libs, 2 Bloc, and 1 NDP on the committee, the Cons will go for that elusive war crimes 'happy face', aided in no small part by the looney antics of Laurie Goldie Hawn(Con), but Paul Dewar(NDP) uses his scant ten minutes questioning time on this committee brilliantly.
It's listed as a public meeting - wonder if they'll change that? - see you back here later after I've watched it.

UPDATE : A big storm passing through here is intermittantly knocking out the power and making listening to the committee rather difficult so in the meantime here's what others have reported :
The wonderful Murray Brewster/CP :

"[Colvin] says all of the prisoners Canada handed to Afghanistan’s notorious intelligence service in 2006-07 were tortured — and many of them were likely innocent … farmers, truck drivers and peasants "in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"In other words, we detained and handed over for severe torture, a lot of innocent people."
In a blistering indictment of Ottawa’s handling of prisoners, Colvin said the Red Cross tried for three months in 2006 to warn the Canadian army in Kandahar about what was happening to prisoners, but no one would “even take their phone calls."

He said he was ordered not to write about prisoners, and soon afterward reports from the field began to be "censored" and revised to the point where diplomats could "no longer write that the security situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating."

"all of the prisoners" That's new.
Interesting also that Gordon O'Connor's bogus and already debunked Red Cross alibi in the House was not only not an alibi but he made it while the Red Cross was attempting to bring the torture to his attention.


"Colvin said Canada was taking six times as many detainees as British troops and 20 times as many as the Dutch.
He said unlike the British and Dutch, Canada did not monitor their conditions; took days, weeks or months to notify the Red Cross; kept poor records; and to prevent scrutiny, the Canadian Forces leadership concealed this behind "walls of secrecy."

He said the most common forms of torture were beatings, whipping with power cables, the use of electricity, knives, open flames and rape."

Parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs Peter Kent said "since the new transfer agreement was signed, the government has received no complaints of torture."
L. O. fucking. L.

Kady liveblogs the committee.
WED 10:00PM PST- Colvin speaks to the committee live on CPAC right now.
Wow. More of the smearing of witnesses we've come to expect from the Cons in committee.

~ Cheryl Gallant. Although Richard Colvin took pains in his opening statement to make clear that he had nothing but admiration for the brave Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, none of whom to his knowledge had anything to do with torturing Afghans, Cheryl Gallant used her allotted time to lecture Colvin on how Canadian soldiers had nothing to do with torturing Afghans. She also chastised him for "fanning the flames of outrage" and lectured him on how "planting stories" is in the "Al Qaida handbook". Wanker.

~ Laurie Goldie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay. Colvin never witnessed torture first hand - so take that, Red Cross. Torture was probably self-inflicted and isn't it suspicious that of all the public servants who were bullied out of testifying by the Cons, Colvin is the only one with the guts to torpedo his own career by coming forward. Yes, Goldie, obviously Colvin is up to something. Wanker.

~ Peter Goldring. Ditto Goldie but more pompously. Wanker.
~ Jim Abbott. Ditto Goldie, plus if our record-keeping and monitoring of prisoners was so bad, how do we know any of this even happened? As Kady pointed out in the link above, Abbott clearly thinks this is his 'Columbo' moment on committee.

I don't know how to explain their shocking behavior other than to guess they all saw the movie High Noon as kids and somehow thought Gary Cooper was the bad guy, taking the townspeople for their role models instead.
Will the rest of Canada stand up for Richard Colvin? He's going to need it.

Why would Canadian soldiers need "urban camo uniforms"?

Tailored, according to David Pugliese, for Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver?

Scott Duncan, Defence Research and Development Canada in Suffield, Alta. :

"If you were to refer back to the Canada First Defence Strategy, one of the principal mandates that has been given to our military is that they must provide protection to the citizens of Canada and help exercise Canadian sovereignty.

Given our large urban population, should any operations be required, there's a good probability that some of them will be taking place in urban environments."

Pugliese notes that Ottawa was left off the list for the "Canadian Urban Environment Pattern".
"We're not trying to slight any city in the country," explained Duncan.

The design contract has been awarded to HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. in Maple Ridge, B.C.
Interesting site.
In addition to examples of their digital camoflage designs used around the world, it also includes "HyperStealth Golf hats with the Passive Negative Ion Generator installed within the material of the hat" in a 2002 article about using negative ions "to increase endurance levels by as much as 900%, balance coordination by 300%, and reaction time by 100%"
I know my golf game could use a little help. Maybe we should get some of those golf hats for the Canadian soldiers deployed to Canadian cities as well.

Canadian ion scientist and Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp co-founder Guy Cramer also predicts election results at his other venture, United Dynamics Corp., using "Basic Forecasted Daily Ion Polarity Data" and, if I understand correctly, the "Full Moon Effect".

The $25,000 study to come up with the Canadian city camo design is due in March next year for consideration by the Canadian military.

Saving BC Hydro from Gordon Campbell

So far, the cornerstone of Premier Gordon Campbell's green revolution consists of forcing the public utility BC Hydro to buy power at twice the market value from private independent power producers and then resell it at a loss to owners of air-conditioners in California .
A good deal for IPP investors like General Electric/Plutonic Power who get to use BC Hydro as a guaranteed market ; a bad deal for the environment and BC ratepayers who will presumably see the loss reflected in higher hydro rates.

"If this was happening in India or Pakistan," SFU Professor Douglas McArthur is quoted as saying in The Tyee, "we would be raising no end of questions."

Because this already did happen in India. Long before the Enron scam broke in the US, Enron and the US government coerced India into a contract that forced India to buy the more expensive power produced by Enron, bankrupting India's own power producers in the process. Unable to get out of the contract, India eventually decided it was cheaper to pay Enron not to produce power.

Well, as Kurt Vonnegut once said in another context, we're the Indians now.

Fortunately Marvin Shaffer at Policy Note has an idea :

IPPs don’t want to export directly. They don’t have a product they could readily sell — intermittent seasonal energy isn’t worth very much. Their bankers wouldn’t finance them without long term guaranteed prices from BC Hydro. And their shareholders don’t want to take the market risk.

Here is a modest proposal. Why doesn’t the government simply tell BC Hydro that it must sell to IPPs, at a competitive price, the transmission, back-up and other services IPPs need to export power. And then, for those projects that truly are environmentally benign, let the IPPs and their bankers and shareholders decide.

Unfortunately Gordo's run-of-river buddies will never go for it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

KSM gets a real trial, Khadr gets a kangaroo

Fafblog explains : Breaking Terror Update!
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four of his friends are going to stand trial! It's taken about six and a half years for this to happen, during which they were all presumably kept waiting in the parlor of a sumptuous mansion along with the Colonel, the Countess, the jewel thief, the butler and the maid while a brilliant but eccentric sleuth attempted to discern the identity of the true culprit through the use of the deductive method, the thorough examination of evidence, and simulated drowning.

Everybody else has to stay in Special Torture Jail forever on accounta they have all come down with Schrodinger's Guilt. If they stay in the box they might be guilty, but if we open the box they might not be.

This hardly seems fair. Sure, the Americans may have had KSM's young children tortured with insects, but Omar Khadr was a child.

U.S. Special Forces shot Khadr twice in the back during his capture, and he was brought to the American-operated prison in Bagram, Afghanistan, in critical condition. During the three months before his transfer to Guantanamo, he was interrogated more than 40 times for up to eight hours a day. His chief interrogator, Joshua Claus, was later court-martialled in connection with the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram.

Khadr claims that during his questioning he was threatened with dogs, hung by his wrists or put in stress positions, despite his injuries. He also alleges he had a hood placed over his head and then soaked with water until he began to suffocate, and had LED lights shone into his eyes, injured by shrapnel.

Naturally this doesn't cut any ice with the online newspaper commenters who suggest that rather than being repatriated to Canada, Khadr should be sent back to wherever it is he came from.
Presumably none of them actually live in Toronto.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Canada's new immigration guide - There's no life like it!

Canada's new immigration guide is all very back to the fifties. Not the real fifties of course - more a 1950's Pleasantville chamber of commerce directive of prim paternalistic homilies about the value of hard work and service.
Lots of military dudes have done important manly men stuff and you too, aspiring immigrant, can join them:

Defending Canada
There is no compulsory military service in Canada. However serving in the regular Canadian Forces (navy, army, and air force) is a noble way to contribute to Canada and an excellent career choice ( You can serve in your local part-time navy, militia, or air reserves and gain valuable experience, skills, and contacts. Young people can learn discipline, responsibility, and skills by getting involved in the cadets (

Or maybe you were thinking of moving here just to go on welfare?
Taking responsibility for oneself and one's family
Getting a job, taking care of one's family and working hard in keeping with one's abilities, are important Canadian values. Work contributes to personal dignity and self-respect, and to Canada's prosperity.

This I would have no particular problem with:
The equality of women and men
In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, "honour killings", female genital mutilation, or other gender-based violence.
had the Cons themselves not recently axed the term "gender-equality" from Foreign Affairs missives, rather leaving the impression that their concept of gender equality extends only as far as being revolted by foreign practices they find icky.

And then it's back to the monarchy, the Magna Carta and the military heroes.
Although rule of law features prominantly, the Supreme Court of Canada gets 10 words while recipients of the Victoria Cross from 1854 to 1945 - "the highest honour available to Canadians"- get a whole page with pictures. The environment is almost entirely absent but the inventors of the blackberry get two separate mentions. No mention of same-sex marriage or LGBT rights.

It's not entirely awful. The bluntness of the language, the acknowledgement of separatism, residential schools, the Chinese head tax, and the internment of Japanese and Eastern European immigrants in the Great Wars, and the civics lessons are all good.
That the Cons envision the militarism and family values of the 50's as the way forward for Canada is not.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Malalai Joya - Canadian book tour

Suspended from the Afghan parliament in 2007 for speaking out against the warlords and drug traffickers who comprise Afghanistan's government, Malalai Joya, elected on a platform of womens rights, now lives like a fugitive in her own country. What does that tell you?
Joya's cross-Canada speaking tour and book release begins Friday in Vancouver at the Sun Yat Sen Gardens and then Saturday at St. Andrew's Wesley Church at Nelson and Burrard.
Update : Very good interview with Joya at The Tyee

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day 2009

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk : "The parliamentary motion directs that it will be the end of the military mission in July of 2011. I mean those are the words that are there. And for me it's pretty clear. What we do for the Canadian Forces are military missions."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Owelympics gets a sonic crowd control device

... the LRAD500X

CBC : Vancouver police get sonic crowd control device
Vancouver police have a new crowd control device capable of emitting painfully loud blasts of sound, just in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics, CBC News has learned.
The medium-range acoustic device (MRAD) can use sound as a weapon, emitting piercing sounds at frequency levels that cross the human threshold of pain and are potentially damaging to hearing, say audio experts.
But it is primarily designed as a communications device that's clearly audible up to a kilometre away, say police.

Province : Vancouver police deny sonic gun bought for Olympics protests

Vancouver Police Const. Lindsey Houghton admitted the machine has the capacity of sending out a "pulse-like noise" at adjustable volumes of up to 150 dB, and he couldn't rule out police using it as a crowd-control measure — which is how the LRAD is marketed by the manufacturer.

"Any suggestions that this device will be used as a weapon or characterizations of it as a 'sonic gun' are ridiculous. As you can see it looks nothing like a gun," said Houghton as he held the machine at a press conference Tuesday.

Sun : Vancouver police say new acoustic device could be used as weapon

Houghton said no special training is needed because the device is not complicated and involves just plugging in a microphone and pushing a button.

“There’s been talk about the pulsating noise,” he said. “Our sirens on our police cars emit a pulsating noise.”Asked if police would ever rule out using the noise to control crowds, responded, “This device could be used if the situation arose. ... We can’t rule out anything.”

The device was designed for the American military and first used publicly in North America in September as police in Pittsburgh tried to control anti-G20 demonstrators.

American Technology Corporation :
The LRAD 500X can be mounted on a variety of military vehicles including the HMMWV, LMTV, FMTV and MRAP, providing soldiers the critical capability of clearly broadcasting information, instructions and warnings to distances in excess of 2,000 meters from within their vehicles.
The system can also transmit powerful deterrent tones to influence behavior or determine intent of a threat.
The directionality of the LRAD device reduces the risk of exposing nearby personnel or peripheral bystanders to harmful audio levels.

"We continue to support our armed services in their peacekeeping missions around the world through increasing LRAD shipments," remarked ATC president and CEO, Tom Brown.

Yup, the 2010 Games is all about going downhill on slippery slopes really really fast.
Update : David Eby , Boris , Straight Goods , Dr. Dawg
Thanks, Aunty B.

Natty Post and B'nai Brith : Unholy Alliance

This full page ad from B'nai Brith was on the back page of the National Post's A section yesterday (h/t Big City Lib) Click to enlarge :

I guess we'll be seeing a Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Islamophobia any time now then.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Inside the Committee on Afghanistan

Doris vs Dewar ... via Thwap's Schoolyard :

Mr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP) : Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Minister.

I want to start off with your comments about communication and getting the message out. I want to be precise. In looking over the shop that you chair, the Afghanistan task force, something came up that caused me considerable concern. When I asked officials responsible for training military and police whether they were able to read the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission's report, a wonderful project that we helped fund, they told me they couldn't read it because it was in Dari. I was happy to provide a translation for them.

I looked into this, and I asked an order paper question about translation and the capacity of the task force. You talked about getting the message out, and that's fair enough. What came back was rather stunning to me. Not one person in the PCO, the Afghanistan task force, knew Dari or Pashto. In this country, I'd think we'd be able to find someone—I have. Those six communication assistants in that shop are doing something. From 2006 to 2009, the government spent a total of $4,512 on translation into Dari or Pashto, whereas in this same time period they spent $9.2 million on communications about the war.

I point that out to you because I think there are a lot of deficits. It's about priorities. I don't think we should be spending $9.2 million on getting the message out about the war. We should spend more on translation services. We have a critical role. If we can't even find people to translate the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission's report about torture by the people we're training, we have a problem, Minister.

I will leave that with you as a concern, because you asked for advice. It's not acceptable, from my point of view, and I'd like to know the response. I think it's an area where we have failed.

There's been a lot of attention paid to the transfer of prisoners. I'm going to make a motion to have this committee talk to people about this and bring people before the committee. Are the transfer agreements that the government brought in and we signed onto being followed by Afghan government officials? Are we certain that they're following the procedure we put in place?

Hon. Stockwell Day: It's my understanding that they are. I'll get back to you on how we came to that understanding and what gives us that sense of confidence. Then you can judge whether it's a good checking process we have.

On the issue of translation, there actually is a Dari speaker on our task force. This may not have been true when you asked for that information, but there is somebody there now who speaks Dari. Is one person enough? I don't know.

You've raised some good issues on translation. I'll get some information back to this committee, because I know we receive it from other sources. We get the reports of those human rights—

Mr. Paul Dewar: But you understand the disproportionate nature of the numbers.

Hon. Stockwell Day: With respect to communication itself, I'll come back to you with the costs. The cost of printing and distributing these reports—that's got to be fairly significant. There are quite a number of other communication methods that are used. More communication was one of the key recommendations of the independent panel that looked at Afghanistan. In fact, it is the reason we're here today: communication, communication, communication. It was very strong. So I'll get back to you on that.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Peter Van Loan's "recent days"

On Thursday, a reporter doggedly tried to wring from Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan exactly how long he sat on the RCMP's Firearms Commissioner's Report in favour of keeping the long-gun registry so that MPs would not have that info prior to passing the bill to scrap it. The report was released two days after the vote.
I've omitted PVL's initial 12 responses here as they bore no relation to the question asked but the entire interview is a quite extraordinary read:
"How long have you had the report from the Commissioner of Firearms?
How long have you had it?
So how long have you had it?
How long have you had it?
How long have you had the Commissioner of Firearms report?
How long have you had the Firearms Commissioner's report, sir?
This isn't a news conference, these are questions. How long have you had the Firearms report?
We're asking you a question. How long have you had this report?
How long have you had it?
Has it been weeks?
How long have you had this report?
How many days?
Peter Van Loan: It's - I received it and looked at just recently, in recent days."
"Responding by email to questions from the Star, RCMP Sgt. Greg Cox said late Friday the force submitted its 2008 firearms report on Oct. 9, four weeks ago."
As the dogged reporter - who was that woman? - put it : "That was totally useless. Thank you."

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Porking out at BC Ferries

Why does BC Ferries CEO David Hahn make over $1-million a year?

Well, because the BC Ferries Services board gets to pick their own number. They came up with $1-million after advising their consultant to consider the salaries of CEOs at large corporations like Coca Cola, Ford, Nike, and McDonald's.

The BC Ferries Services board themselves also receive compensation "three to five times the amounts set out in a provincial Treasury Board directive to Crowns," according to B.C. Transportation Minister Shirley Bond.

That's obscene. So who oversees the BC Ferries Services board?

That would be the B.C. Ferry Authority Board, all nine of whose members are also directors on the ... wait for it ... BC Ferries Services Board, on which CEO David Hahn also sits.
BC Ferries - Experience the difference™ ... that setting your own salary makes.
Thank you, Tyee. More from Laila Yuile.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Combating Anti-Semitism or Shielding Israel?

Submission to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism
by Joanne Naiman

I am writing this submission as a sociologist, a Jew, and a long-time opponent of all forms of oppression. As a person of Jewish descent, I obviously have a personal interest in seeing anti-Semitism addressed wherever it appears. However, as a social scientist I feel the term is currently being used without much precision.

You describe your mission as an attempt to “confront and combat the global resurgence of Antisemitism” and note that “Antisemitism is widely regarded as at its worst level since the end of the Second World War.” These are certainly strong statements, and, if true, require serious action. However, other than noting that students on certain campuses in Canada are “ridiculed and intimidated,” you provide no other concrete examples. (I will deal with the issue of criticism of Israel at a later point.)

Anti-Semitism can be defined as hostility directed at those of Jewish origin. Like all forms of hostility to ethno-racial groups, anti-Semitism consists of both prejudice, that is, an attitude of dislike or hostility toward people of Jewish background, as well as discrimination, which is the denial of equal treatment or opportunities to these individuals. While these two phenomena are usually connected, they can be distinguished from each other. Prejudice is distasteful and can occasionally lead to hurtful acts – including those of a violent nature. However, discrimination is generally the more serious of the two processes since it will inevitably hurt the victim’s life chances, such as getting a job or finding a place to live.

There is ample evidence to show that in Canada Jews as a group do not regularly face discrimination; in fact, they are one of Canada’s most advantaged minority groups. When examining any of the traditional variables utilized to assess socioeconomic status – such as occupation, education, and income – Jews continually come out at or near the top when compared to other ethno-racial groups. In The Encyclopedia of Canada’s Peoples (1999), Morton Weinfeld notes that “by any criterion, Jews have been successful.” According to Weinfeld, Jews in Canada have low rates of unemployment, have a high number of individuals in “desirable” occupations, have high levels of educational attainment, and “can be numbered among the wealthiest Canadians.” More recently, neither Ornstein (2006) nor Galabuzi (2006) considered Jews to be a disadvantaged group relative to others.

Moreover, the economic and social advantages that have accrued in general to the Jewish community in Canada have also been reflected in what social scientists refer to as an accumulation of social capital. Put simply, those with economic and social advantage are generally able to make important economic and political connections, i.e. to “network” with those who have influence, including those in the media. While one must tread lightly on this reality – given the anti-Semitic stereotypes often expressed about Jews and their excess of power – it would be inaccurate to assume that the Jewish population in Canada has no advantage in this area.

Continued ...
As noted in February by Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, on his return from the London Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism with Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and 10 other Lib and Con MPs :

"... the U.K. Community Security Trust (CST), which co-hosted the London conference, has developed one of the leading evidentiary methodologies for tracking and understanding anti-Semitic incidents. Last week, it noted that a decrease in anti-Semitic incidents in 2008 (for the second year running) was totally overshadowed by an unprecedented rise during and after the Gaza operations."


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Gordo's fluffer energy task forces

Gordo's four new "greenwash energy advisory task forces" will have just two months to come up with the goods to make running air-conditioners in California the "cornerstone" of BC's renewed green energy revolution.
"The short timeline shows that they are committed to sending the right signals to the investment community, which is incredibly important because other jurisdictions are beating us to the punch."
Tzeporah Berman, economist Mark Jaccard, and David Suzuki worked really hard to support Gordo's re-election this year, presumably because Gordo's environmental policies of gutting the BC Environment Ministry, supporting fish farms, building the Gateway Pacific and twin Enbridge pipelines from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat, exporting BC coal to China, expanding the oil and gas industry in the north, building more roads and bridges instead of light rail and public transit, and passing a bill to prevent municipalities from having any say in local run-of-river projects ... is but a small price to pay in exchange for forcing the publicly-owned BC Hydro to buy electricity at above-market rates from the private IPP run-of-river schemes stocked with former Liberal officials and advisors, in order to export that power to the US.
No word yet as to whether they will be on Gordo's new energy task forces, but we do know that David Emerson of Project North America will be on the committee receiving their submissions.

Monday, November 02, 2009

From the office TARDIS at VANOC

Thanks to the handy Time And Relative Dimensions In Space machine in the downtown offices of VANOC Central, Ron Judd at The Seattle Times received "an entire day's Olympic torch-relay events in great detail before they ever happened."

Naturally the TARDIS was unable to predict every single detail and Judd's copy contained the usual number of space/time anomalies :

"VICTORIA, Oct. 30 /CNW/ - The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay is officially underway with Him/Her revealed today as the first torchbearer to hold the Olympic Flame aloft on Canadian soil at the start of the historic 106-day journey celebrating Olympic Spirit and Canadian pride from coast to coast to coast.

XX, a (insert description here) was quickly joined by (short description) XX, (short description) XX, and (short description) XX who took turns carrying the flame as it left the grounds of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings in Victoria, BC, and set out on Day 1 of its odyssey across Canada.

XXX was especially chosen to kick-off the relay to highlight and celebrate (XXX)."

OK, so the office TARDIS isn't perfect and Judd was left to fill in some blanks by himself.
But despite all those XXX's, it did manage to capture some exact quotes from the future :
"The flame embodies the Olympic ideals of excellence, friendship and respect. These values resonate deeply with all Canadians," said Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, as he welcomed the flame at the public ceremony in downtown Victoria."
as well as the future emotional tone of the event :
"What a magical moment," said John Furlong, VANOC's Chief Executive Officer."
about an event which hadn't happened yet.
More VANOC TARDIS reports to come as they become available.
H/t Dave

Owelympic$ welcomes US forces to Canada

Out here in Lotusland "Exercise Gold", the full-on security rehearsal for the 2010 Owelympics, begins today and runs through Friday. It involves simulated chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive incidents in and around Vancouver.

While the Vancouver Sun excitedly pumps away on its joey smallwood - Fighter jets to buzz Vancouver! - Public Safety Canada carefully explains who is involved in Exercise Gold:

"Exercise Gold will confirm information-sharing and coordination between federal, regional, municipal and private sector organizations and will be largely out of the public eye."
Kash Heed, BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General :
"Working with our partners in the federal and local governments, we will ensure these Games are safe and secure for all."
"The Program includes participants from the federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as emergency services and private sector partners.
Security preparations for these Games, including the Integrated Exercise Program, will leave B.C. and Canada as a whole with a valuable legacy."
Not giving much public credit to the US forces involved in this "valuable legacy", are they?

DND to Commons Defence Committee via David Pugliese at Defence Watch :
Question 1: Exercise Gold, will it involve American forces?

Response: Yes. NORAD is a bi-national command that includes both Canadian and American personnel and equipment. NORAD will be participating in exercise Gold. Various US military headquarters and operations centres will be exercising with Canada Command during exercise Gold, through exercise Determined Dragon (a Canadian Forces exercise) and exercise Vigilant Shield (a US military exercise). In addition, a small number of US military liaison officers will be participating with Joint Task Force Games.

The 2010 Owelympics : Come for the war games; stay for the valuable legacy.

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