Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Free Gary McCullough, the first G20 arrest

Remember that guy who was busted at G20 in June for having all his worldly possessions strapped to the roof of his car? Not even a protester, he was in Toronto to get a car window fixed. Two months later CBC reports he is still in freaking jail!

The original G&M booga booga headline : "Police arrest man with arsenal of weapons near G20 zone", with a police officer at the scene calling it "pretty scary stuff", was already downgraded to "nothing to do with G20" by police a few hours later.

But by then they had already freaked about his possessions - tools, an axe, a baseball bat, a sledgehammer, a chainsaw, a crossbow, water and gas cans, a laptop, - and a scruffy white little dog called Marley.
As McCullough sat in handcuffs at the side of the road, Greg Weston of the Toronto Sun wrote:
"He had tears in his eyes, and looked clearly distraught. There was no hint of anger or aggression."My dog," he said plaintively to no one in particular. "Please someone do something with my dog."

So then we heard he is a hermit living on his secluded rural property and his mental health issues precluded his answering the police questions to their satisfaction :
"He wasn't forthcoming initially with his information" and exhibited "some disorientation," Toronto police Const. Hugh Smith said at the time. "It's lawful to have them in your possession … but with close proximity to the summit, we are going to relate it, you know, to the G20 and the safety. So there was more than enough to arrest."

Right. And then later the police made a mockery of their "G20 weapons seizure" display by including his crossbow, along with some fantasy medieval chainmail.

So why is McCullough still in jail?
At his bail hearing, Justice of the Peace Paul Kowarsky stated :

"If the conditions of his health, which apparently lie at the root of his criminal behaviour and the allegations before the court, are not addressed, then the danger to the community of his presence in the community while on bail is great.

I see no sense that he had to bring all the items for the sole purpose of being in Toronto and running an errand." In denying bail, the justice added: "The inference is he carried all these items for a purpose dangerous to the public."

And then he remanded him till Oct 6th.
Jesus fucking christ. I guess that judge has never lived outside of a city. I remember my rural neighbours and I noting that McCullough's stuff was pretty much the identical list of stuff we carry around in our vehicles, minus the crossbow, which at any rate the police said McCullough had secured properly.

Meanwhile we learn today McCulloch has been beaten up in jail, with several broken ribs, and his health is deteriorating.
Under today's CBC article, this comment :
"I know Gary as I was his caregiver at one time . He is quite harmless, but since he suffers from schizophrenia and shall we say is a might eccentric, his actions and possession of some off beat items could be easily misinterpreted by uneducated and paranoid police officers as being " dangerous" . His being held in custody is simply put disgusting and disrespectful. He is a victim of of the g20 police state mentality ( which was more psychotic than he) and should be released before he is hurt."

As Skdadl said, quoting someone at Rabble, this is the criminalization of mental illness in a creeping police state - first by police abetted by the media, then by Justice Kowarsky. By the time McCullough's trial date comes up and despite the fact he has committed no crime, he will have spent three and a half months in prison over an illegal police search and seizure.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Q & A with Mr.Bin Laden and Mr. William Elliott

Last October, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott addressed a meeting of security intelligence peeps about Canada's current terrorism environment :

"As far as Al-Qaeda is concerned, Canada is the enemy.
We recall Osama Bin Laden’s famous communiqué to America’s allies in November of 2002, in which he asked:

“Why are your governments, especially those of Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany and Australia, allying themselves with America in its attacks on us in Afghanistan? This is injustice. The time has come to settle accounts. Just as you kill, so you shall be killed; just as you bomb, so you shall be bombed. And there will be more to come.”

To answer Mr. Bin Laden's question, here's David Rothkopf, Bill Clinton's Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce and former managing director of Kissinger Associates, from Empire : Superclass, posted here on Saturday (mark 18:31) :
"If there were no oil in the Middle East, the United States wouldn't care about the Middle East, it wouldn't care about Israel, it wouldn't care about Palestine, it wouldn't care about social development in Iraq, it wouldn't care about the Taliban. If there were no oil and the interests who benefit from that oil and advocate for that oil, and who have done so and who have shaped American policy over the course of the past 70 years as a consequence of that oil, are big businesses."
Call me crazy, Mr. Elliott, but I think not helping the US occupy a country for oil bidness would go some distance towards not attracting unwanted attention from Mr. Bin Laden and his new friends here at home.
Back to Elliott's address :

Canada does suffer an image problem with some Americans as a safe haven for terrorists. We must work to overcome that perception ... demonstrate a more proportional and comprehensive commitment to not only fighting terrorism but to advancing our shared security interests more broadly.

I note that this year the RCMP’s strategic priority of “Terrorism” will be expanded to “National Security” which is consistent with this broader objective.

More criminal prosecutions for terrorist offences would certainly be one step to enhancing security relations with the United States.

And just where are we going to find "more criminal prosecutions for terrorist offenses" for the benefit of the US?
Junkies rebranded as terrorist financiers for the war on drugs.

Put succinctly, Canadian criminals and Canadian drug users keep Afghan and Pakistani heroin traffickers in business and contribute to the continuation of a serious threat to the West, and to Canada and Canadian interests.

Proving such linkages in court would mean that drug couriers and their associates could face terrorism financing charges. That would help send a strong message to the world [aka the US] that we are serious about prosecuting accomplices to terror.

Perhaps it also explains why someone decided to send a strong message to the RCMP in BC to stand down from its presser with Insite one month later.

Elliott wraps up with a pitch for an expanded RCMP "capacity to conduct and support extraterritorial investigations" in national security:
I believe the time has come for law enforcement to be even more active in the realm of national security. We need greater capacity to put more terrorism cases before the courts and more terrorists in jail.
And voilà! - Project Samosa. Hope our new alleged terrorists appreciate their important role for us in "enhancing shared security relations with the US".
I know Osama Bin Laden does.

Project Samosa : The media and their sources in the war on terror

The publication ban on Project Samosa, the RCMP's latest salvo in the war on terror, has the media scrambling to get unnamed sources and security experts to augment and substitute for accounts of court proceedings. By a happy coincidence for war on terror fans, this allows for far more pants-pissingly terrorfying conjecture than mere straight news would allow.

So far, "sources" have told one security expert, an ex-RCMP and CSIS operative quoted at CTV, that the accused :

1) "would have targeted the Parliament buildings and Montreal's public transit system with bombs",
2) "that the ringleader went to Afghanistan and to Pakistan to receive training",
3) "some of their suspected accomplices could be in Iran or in Dubai."
4) "were assembling components for one or more bombs and had raised money for al Qaeda and the Taliban"
5) "the ringleader was about to take a trip abroad, maybe to deliver the money himself"

This last is the reported reason for the arrests. After a year of watching them :
"Police say a terror attack was likely still months away when they pounced on the plot, but they moved because they feared the men were about to start sending money to other terrorists in Afghanistan."

Last I heard "terrorists" in Afghanistan were already rolling in US tax dollars and drug money but whatever.
A year ago The Star ran an excellent piece on the media's relationship with their "sources" in the Arar case when he was the terrorist du jour :
Learning from media mistakes in Arar case

Canadian Press journalist Stephen Thorne quoted an official source that linked Arar to "a suspected member of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network."

Robert Fife, CanWest's Ottawa bureau chief, "cited an anonymous official who described Arar as a "very bad guy" who had received training at an Al Qaeda base and that intelligence received from Syria had helped the CIA avert an attack on the U.S. embassy in Ottawa."

Craig Oliver at CTV News was "offered a photograph of Arar training in a camp in Afghanistan" Oliver :"The source wanted me to use the information without showing me the photograph. That was a very solid source... This experience has made me more skeptical... I knew these people very well."

Ottawa Citizen's Juliet O'Neill was fed a story headlined "Canada's dossier on Maher Arar: The existence of a group of Ottawa men with alleged ties to Al Qaeda is at the root of why the government opposes an inquiry into the case."

Even after Arar's return to Canada, "Robert Fife was once more the vehicle that Canadian and U.S. intelligence officials used to inform the public that they were "100 per cent sure" that Arar trained at an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan."

Some of these reporters have since stated they were used and apologised to Arar; some have not. The point is they were all used to disseminate false information from anonymous government and police sources to the public. Something to bear in mind when "sources" are once again where we will be getting most of our information on this newest batch of alleged terrorists, given it will likely be months if not years before they go to trial.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Superclass : Governing without the shackles of government bureaucracy

A pretty frank discussion on how globalization has facilitated the revolving door between governments, think tanks, the military, arms manufacturers, media conglomerates, lobby groups, and international financial institutions and corporations to build transnational networks. Good guest spots by Christopher Hitchens.

The top 1% of the world's richest own 40% of the planet's global wealth and the top 10% control 85% of its wealth. The top 10 corporations generate 60% of the revenues and employ 59% of the workforce overseas.

One of the panelists is David Rothkopf, Bill Clinton's Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce and former managing director of Kissinger Associates. He is quoted here noting that since Kissinger was National Security Advisor at the White House under Nixon, every national security advisor since then has worked directly or indirectly for Henry Kissinger. On international corps :

"Built to be global, they've influenced the global system and the setting of the rules to assist them in their globalization, whereas countries are like dogs that have those invisible barriers around the yard, you know, they can't get out."

ETA : Notable that all four panellists, two of whom qualify as revolving door insiders themselves, treat the notion of shadow elites as a given, not as some conspiracy theory.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

A "kill team" for random executions of Afghan civilians

Soldiers from the Stryker infantry brigade also allegedly covered up those executions - in one case planting an AK-47 beside the body - and threatened anyone who dared to report them.

No, not WikiLeaks this time.
It's an internal US military investigation as reported in The Seattle Times :
Stryker soldiers allegedly plotted to kill Afghan civilians.
Randomly. War crimes. And not really very surprising.
But what struck me in the account was this detail about one of those charged who was already suffering from "traumatic brain injury sustained in four separate explosions" :
"To help him remain in Afghanistan, he was prescribed a cornucopia of legal prescription drugs that included anti-depressants, muscle relaxers and a sleep drug frequently used by soldiers diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder."

Good god.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Russians joint air traffic coordination partners are coming!

Dimitri Soudas, yesterday : "Two CF-18 fighter jets were scrambled to intercept Russian bombers that came within 55 kilometres of Canada’s Arctic territory, just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper prepares to make a high-profile visit to the region."

Oh noes ... Steve in danger ...
Last year it was Obama who was in danger :
"On the eve of Barack Obama's visit to Ottawa, a Russian jet approached Canada's Arctic air space and had to be turned away by Canadian warplanes, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday at a news conference on Parliament Hill.
Two of Canada's CF-18 fighter jets were scrambled ..."
And just last month Airshow MacKay did his bit to resuscitate an event that happens monthly in the Arctic into a new Red Dawn :
"Two CF-18s were scrambled to intercept two Russian military planes 463 kilometres east of Goose Bay Labrador. "This was a message, clearly, to them that we will have CF-18 fighter planes there to greet them every time."
Meanwhile back in the real world ....

The Aug 10 photo above shows Russian (on the right), Canadian (on the left), and US personnel flying over the Pacific Ocean while participating in Operation Vigilant Eagle, a joint hijacking simulation exercise employing fighter jets and civilian air traffic controllers from all three countries that has been planned for three years.

The three day exercise, according to NORAD, was "designed to establish clear communication processes that would allow the forces to work together during a real crisis."

A real crisis, mind you. Not a fake-a-loo $9-billlion-plus no-bid contract F-35 fighter jet funding crisis.

Earlier this year NATO announced the Cooperative Airspace Initiative :
NATO and Russia have begun a testing phase of a joint system for air traffic coordination. The system focuses primarily on the fight against terrorism and will provide a shared radar picture of air traffic and early notification of suspicious air activities.
Joint air traffic coordination?
Where's the fun in that?

Let's give the last word back to the PMO's Dimitri Soudas today, who is presumably still dodging a summons to appear before the Ethics Committee :
"as the new, highly capable and technologically-advanced F-35 comes into service. It is the best plane our Government could provide our Forces, and when you are a pilot staring down Russian long range bombers, that's an important fact to remember."
Yeah. Stare that down, you pesky Red Menace air traffic coordination partners, you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

And now ... a message from CEO Steve

Another brilliant vid from Pale at A Creative Revolution , featuring the smooth but fuzzy blue sweater vocalizations of Reverend Paperboy from the Maple Syrup Revolution and the Beav.

Who muzzled the RCMP on Insite?

Paul Wells today on the bogus “academic” argument against Insite and the muzzling of RCMP's attempts to fix their earlier support of it.
"The only “research” the Harper government is prepared to rely on, as it fights Insite all the way to the Supreme Court, was not research; was secretly bought and paid for with federal tax dollars; contradicts the actual research; has been disowned internally by the police force that bankrolled it; and would have been disowned publicly by that police force if somebody at the RCMP’s highest ranks or outside it hadn’t put the kibosh on."

In December RCMP in BC were set to hold a presser to acknowledge :
"an extensive body of Canadian and international peer-reviewed research reporting the benefits of supervised injection sites and no objective peer-reviewed studies demonstrating harms.” As well, [Chief Superintendent] Harriman said the RCMP would admit that “reviews” commissioned by the force, which contested the centre’s research, “did not meet conventional academic standards.”
Then BC's RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass called it off on orders from ??? who exactly?

John Geddes wrote the original piece on Friday about federal RCMP or higher up interference at Maclean's, already linked by Pogge and The Jurist, and today Wells is writing to get some traction on an issue that, regardless of what anyone's opinion of Insite may be, clearly points to government data fudging. Where the hell is the rest of the media on this?

Comments under both Wells and Geddes are running to the nuancy "oh well, research, who can tell what's true?" and "who said the government interfered?"variety.
Well, you can tell a couple of things about one of those RCMP commissioned reports, written by Dr. Colin Mangham, and how government figured in them.

Flashback : In May 2008, Tony Clement, then Health Minister, turned up at the Standing Committee on Health intending to combat Insite with one doctor in tow - Colin Mangham, "Director of Research" for the Drug Prevention Network of Canada.

The Drug Prevention Network of Canada is a member org of the Canadian government's National Drug Prevention Advisory Committee and an offshoot of the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas, dedicated to "combating the drug legalization movement globally".
The current president of DPNCanada is also on the board of DPNAmericas; the Canadian vice pres is Gwen Landolt of REAL Woman. Rounding out the board of our own Canadian clonetank is founder and past president ReformaCon MP Randy White, plus a couple of Scientology Narconon graduates.
"Honorary board member" Calvina L. Fay of Drug Free America and Save Our Society From Drugs is touted as having "served as an advisor to President Bush on drug policy".
Yeah, war on drugs!

So did Clement's Dr. Maugham have any data for the Health Committee in 2008 to support his contention that 22 independent research papers in support of Insite were worthless? No, he was just offering an opinion, a "critique".

Cathie was on this back in 2007 with the publishing of Mangham's "critique". The new wrinkle is that someone muzzled the RCMP on coming clean about it.
Now who do we know that has made a career out of muzzling civil servants again?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Beware the coming police state

Part One : Paul Jay interviews constitutional/criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby, who is defending satirist Charlie Veitch, the second person charged at G20 under the Public Works Protection Act. Because that act was amended in secret just for the G20, there was no way for the public to know how to obey it.

Part Two : So do we have the right to protest, to peaceful assembly, at events like G20?

Yes. Unfortunately, we have no effective way of enforcing that right.

Hence, as Ruby says : "Beware the coming police state."


"Time" exploits victim to promote Afghan war

The August edition of Time magazine published a shocking cover picture of a young Afghan woman who had her ears and nose cut off, accompanied by the title : ‘What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan’.
The story, Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban, begins :
The Taliban pounded on the door just before midnight, demanding that Aisha, 18, be punished for running away from her husband's house. They dragged her to a mountain clearing near her village in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, ignoring her protests that her in-laws had been abusive ... Her judge, a local Taliban commander, was unmoved.
And then her husband sliced off her ears and nose.

A note from Time's managing editor explains "how Afghan women have embraced the freedoms that have come from the defeat of the Taliban — and how they fear a Taliban revival."

I would rather confront readers with the Taliban's treatment of women than ignore it. I would rather people know that reality as they make up their minds about what the U.S. and its allies should do in Afghanistan.

The much publicized release of classified documents by WikiLeaks has already ratcheted up the debate about the war. ... What you see in these pictures and our story is something that you cannot find in those 91,000 documents: a combination of emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land and the consequences of the important decisions that lie ahead.

About that "emotional truth"...
Here's RAWA, which has been fighting the Taliban a lot longer than Time magazine :
"Time" exploits victim to promote war
In return for allowing Time to publish her photo, Aisha was flown to the US for reconstructive surgery. However, although Time ensured her mutilated face was seen worldwide, they appear less keen for her voice to be heard.

"I heard Aisha's story from her a few weeks before the image of her face was displayed all over the world", Ann Jones, author of Kabul in Winter, wrote in the August 12 Nation. "She told me that her father-in-law caught up with her after she ran away, and took a knife to her on his own; village elders later approved, but the Taliban didn't figure at all in this account."

The Time story, however, attributes Aisha's mutilation to a husband under orders of a Talib commander, thereby transforming a personal story, similar to those of countless women in Afghanistan today, into a portent of things to come for all women if the Taliban return to power ...

Afghan feminist Malalai Joya : "During the Taliban’s regime such atrocities weren’t as rife as it is now and the graph is hiking each day."

The article cites a March 11, 2010 CIA document on spinning the war, published by WikiLeaks : CIA Red Cell

Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.

Media events that feature testimonials by Afghan women would probably be most effective if broadcast on programs that have large and disproportionately female audiences.

"Emotional truth".

h/t Rabble.

Friday, August 20, 2010

No science, please, we're the tar sands

Remember that two year Environment Committee study on the tarsands that was ultimately shredded because the four parties at the table couldn't agree on the wording of the witnesses' testimony? The Lib members of that committee have now released their own report on the testimony and as Andrew Nikiforuk reports at The Tyee, it is "scathing".
~ Athabasca River is being polluted
~12 barrels of freshwater required to produce one barrel of crude
~world's largest man-made dams contain 170 square kilometres of toxic mining waste and they're leaking
~steam plants could affect aquifers over an area the size of Florida, using 3½ to 6 barrels of groundwater to extract one barrel of bitumen
Most alarming is the report's contention that science-based policy has been replaced by "bureaucratic compromise", with the federal government entirely abrogatiing its responsibility to monitor and protect our water supplies. The Alberta government just flat out refused to appear before the committee at all.

You're shocked I'm sure.

Wait. Did I say our water supplies?
A year ago Alberta Energy spokesman Tim Markle said : "The Chinese takeover is good news for Alberta."

He was referring to tarsands in northern Alberta being developed by the Chinese state investment fund in partnership with Calgary-based Penn West Energy Trust. China National Petroleum Company obtained 11 oilsands leases and the Chinese Offshore Oil Corporation invested $150 million in Calgary-based Meg Energy. Sinopec has bought into Syncrude. PetroChina, also state-owned, holds a 60% majority stake in two oilsands projects, and has also signed a memorandum with Enbridge to take up to half the space on its proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline from Alberta to the port of Kitimat in BC.

In comments under Nikiforuk's Tyee article, commenter Ed Deak weighs in :
The opposition can jump up and down, they won't get anywhere, because they're attacking the effects and not the causes.
Attacking other political parties, this is also true for BC, and anywhere on Earth, is a waste of time, because politicians are nothing more than pimp/executioners of and for the criminal neoclassical market economic economic theory, being taught in our universities as a "science", that's destroying the Earth and humanity.
Unless our politicians will one day get enough gumption together to attack the causes
they're part of the problem, regardless of the hot air they're blowing.
The tar sands crime wave is part of the "growth" and the "GDP", without any deductions for damages and no politician would dare to question it, as it would bring panic to the almighty stockmarkets.
Then, when the Chinese bring back the money we're paying them for killing our manufacturing infrastructure, praised by economists and the WTO, to buy the country up from under our feet with our own money, it is called "wealth creating foreign investment" that helps to pay for the billions spent on "defence".

Afterthought : An Alberta Energy spokesdude says : "The Chinese takeover is good news for Alberta" and yet back in March we were all apparently shocked shocked shocked when CSIS head Richard Fadden casually mentioned China in his remarks about "foreign interference" on "possibly unwitting" Canadian public servants and politicians here in the West.

We pretty much behaved as if we were teenagers horrified to discover that our parents have sex. I mean obviously we know they must have but we don't much like to hear about it. And given the public pillorying Fadden received for it, I don't imagine it will be brought up again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

League of Extraordinary Canadians : A Few Good Men and Women

The fired, the dismissed, the muzzled, the smeared, the set up, the forced out - the ones who spoke up and lost their jobs, the ones we know about :


900ft Jesus

Next on the chopping block, according to Lawrence Martin at the G&M today, may be CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein for not rubberstamping KoryMedia Fox News North's request for a Category 1 licence last month, which would require cable companies to include Fox News North as part of a basic cable package. Finckenstein's vice-chair has already been booted.

On March 30, 2009, Stephen Harper, Kory Teneycke, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, and Roger Ailes, president of Fox News and former communications adviser to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., all sat down to lunch. We know this because it showed up in media consultant/former White House flack Ari Fleischer's mandatory disclosures with the U.S. Justice Department. Ari had a personal contract with Steve, you will recall, to grease US media wheels for him. Looks like Steve got his money's worth.

Useful link : Keeping an eye on Fox News North

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Living with the Taliban

Norwegian freelance film maker and journalist Paul Refsdal embedded with Taliban fighters. He is later kidnapped by one of them for six days and released after he converts to Islam, the same deal offered to christians in the crusades nearly a thousand years ago.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Apparently we the public are annoying to Steve now

“They don’t bother us. It’s just that they are annoying,”
a "senior Conservative official" told the G&M's Dear Jane this morning about the public's uproar in reaction to the Cons' scrapping of the compulsory long-form census.
"Census freedom," this same anonymous Conbot amusingly called it.

Apparently we the public are "annoying" to Steve now.

And not just the Lib/NDP/Green/I-don't-fucking-vote-for-any-of-those-bastards public either.
Not even Con voters support Steve's "Après moi, le déluge" style of government.

According to Angus Reid, only 31% of people who voted Con last time "side with the government's argument that the long form census is intrusive", while 53% of previous Con voters "believe that the long form census yields data that is important to make policy decisions in all areas of public service, and should remain mandatory."

Jane's column header today is Clement digs in heels and gains a supporter on census
The "supporter" turns out to be a rightwing radiohead.
Ok ... that's one.
I dunno, Jane, I don't think you're helping here.
Over the weekend Feschuk took the piss out of Jane's many columns consisting almost entirely of quotes from anonymous "seniory super-inside long-time party whatever" Con sources. Lols.
For a decent column on the census containing actual, you know, facts : the incomparable Zerb.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tamils! Terrorists! Tuberculosis!

Boris has already eviscerated Public Safety Minister Vic Toews performance on CBC, with a link to a good post by EFL also, but I was more appalled by the choice of questions CBC put to him.

490 out of the 80,000 Tamils languishing in camps in Sri Lanka made it to Canada after three months at sea and here are the questions Rosemary Barton put to Toews, after an initial mention of possible terrorism :
Australia managed to turn back this boat, and in our case we weren't able to turn back this vessel. Why can't we not do that?
Shouldn't we be able to turn back ships before they get into Canadian waters?
Are you not concerned that by welcoming this vessel ... possible terrorists ... into Canadian waters, you are sending the wrong message to deter criminals?
How confident are you that your intelligence on the people on this boat is accurate? What about these people jumping the queue?
Again, why not just keep the boats out of Canadian waters?
So, Barton, were you attempting to trap Toews into hyperbole here or was this an example of The House Organ for Bigots, Racists, and Xenophobes?
Up to 30,000 refugees are processed in Canada every year but by all means let's take this opportunity to go fucking apeshit about 490 Tamils arriving "illegally".

P.S. No tuberculosis says BC Health Authority.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Whaling away on Canada

A whale will typically repeat the same phrase over and over again for about two to four minutes.
Of course it doesn't sound like ridiculous bullshit when a whale does it.
Harper : "The economy remains the No. 1 priority for Canadians. That is why the economy is also the No. 1 priority for our government. And it is why all spring and summer, ministers and government MPs have been tightly focused on our economy."
Well, that and whaling away on the very foundations of what we call Canada. Apart from that.
(h/t waterbaby for the "new" census link)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Rethinking Alberta : Tar Sands Disaster vs Gulf Oil Spill

Four "Rethink Alberta" billboards in Denver, Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis proclaim the "Alberta Tar Sands Oil Disaster" is worse than the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster :

There's also a vid:

Alberta Preme Ed Stelmach is pledging $268,000 to mount a public relations offensive against the ads and has settled on a most unusual strategy :

"Of 350 million Americans — 330 million of them probably don't even know where Alberta is," the premier said. "Let's not ramp this up too much because that's the kind of exposure the group wants."
Of course not all of that $268,000 in public tax money is going to be spent on strategically ignoring the ads. At the alberta.ca website, Stelmach promises to counter the ads by telling "the real Alberta story" :
"disturbed land area actually smaller than London!"
He then links to nine already previously available vids on the Gov of Alberta Oil Sands page. Some quotes from those vids :

"50% of our oil in Canada is produced from oil sands and that's going to grow in the future. We think in about 10 years it will be about 75% of Canada's oil production and a large part of our exports will be oil sands derived crude."

"Virtually no more water will be used out of the Athabasca River"

"We do extensive water monitoring quality of the Athabasca River; we take thousands and thousands of water samples. We've been monitoring since the 1960's and so far we've not been able to find any impact from the tailings ponds itself."

"Over the last 10 or 15 years the air quality has been rated good 98% of the time."

"There is the perception out there that it's the largest industrial footprint on the planet. Actually it's one-tenth of 1% of global GHG emissions."

And so on and so on.
Stelmach's vids include footage of scientists gathering snow samples along a river and that reminded me of the testimony given to the Environment Committee on March 30 by Dr. David Schindler from the University of Alberta. He said he had conducted the first independent research done since 1983 on airborne tar sands contaminants found in the snow pack along the Athabasca River. Testing at 31 locations he found :

"Mercury emitted from these plants has increased three-fold in seven years, lead has increased four-fold in six years, and arsenic three-fold in six years as well."
Further, he said that although Environment Canada tests at only one location on the Athabasca, it has come up with the same numbers, as have the oil companies in their own research. Schindler contends the oil companies' reports on contaminants are duly submitted to Environment Canada, who used to do that research themselves before handing that responsibility over to Alberta and the oil companies, but he believes EC is being muzzled and prevented from making the findings public. The oil companies, whose first allegiance is to their stockholders, are of course not obliged to do so on their own.

And then the Environment Committee scuttled its own tar sands report.

Andrew Nikiforuk has an excellent article at The Tyee on what else the Environment Committee heard that it subsequently decided not to tell us about :
What Those Who Killed the Tar Sands Report Don't Want You to Know
and takes on the many claims made by the scientists and spokesies in Stelmach's vids :
Alberta Hides Dirty Truth as US Demands Tar Sands Facts

One thing's for sure in the Tar Sands vs Gulf Oil Spill Disasters comparison : our government, Environment Canada, and the Environment Committee are doing no better job at regulating the tar sands than the US Minerals Management Services did in overseeing the oil rigs in the Gulf.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Colombia's Uribe - a "Light unto the Nations"

Colombian ex-Pres Alvaro Uribe has been appointed Vice Chair to the U.N.’s four-member international committee investigating the Israeli commando attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in which nine people were killed in international waters. The other three members are an Israeli, a Turk, and a former president of New Zealand.

Interesting choice. Colombia is the US cats paw in South America in the same way Israel is in the Mid East.

On the plus side : Uribe has lots of previous experience with false positives , the practice of murdering innocents and then dressing them up as enemies of the state for a US bounty, and he has good familiarity with Israeli military equipment, commandos and espionage techniques.

On the minus side : May need time off to defend himself at the International Criminal Court over those same "false positives", along with his presidential successor Santos, who was Minister of Defense at the time of the murders.

In 2007, the American Jewish Committee presented Uribe with its “Light unto the Nations” Award: “President Uribe is a staunch ally of the United States, a good friend of Israel and the Jewish people…,” said AJC President E. Robert Goodkind, who presented the award at AJC’s Annual Dinner, held at the National Building Museum in Washington.”

Friday, August 06, 2010

Trickle up economics

From self-proclaimed former economic hitman himself, John Perkins.

In North America we've mostly been ok with this stuff happening to the rest of the world but gradually we are seeing more of it come home to roost. The Gulf spills, Katrina, the tar sands, the G20 fiasco, the increasing gap between rich and poor.

My brother just got back from a holiday in the States. The parks are untended, he said, no one is grooming the trails so they're growing back in again, and did I know that in some states schools are open less than six months of the year now to save money?

I was just reading about it in the New York Times, I said. They're also shutting down public transit systems and streetlights and libraries and auctioning off police helicopters to save money, but somehow there's still billions in tax dollars available for the GWOT and "policing" the rest of the world and handing out massive bonuses to the same banksters who wrecked the joint. Trickle up economics.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Doris' war on invisible crime stats - Part 2

Further to Doris' war on invisible crime stats ...

Yesterday's Con memo: “Let’s be clear, unlike the Liberals, we do not use statistics as an excuse to ignore Canadians’ concerns about crime. As far as our government is concerned, one victim of crime is one too many.”

Quite so. At Tuesday's presser, Doris addressed :

"crimes like home invasion with aggravated assault, which has to be one of the most grievous types of crimes you can think of, people’s houses being broken into and people, in many cases, senior citizens, being grievously assaulted"

While one senior's home invasion is indeed one senior's home invasion too many, you can see why the Cons are not too keen to use statistics in their efforts to shore up the wrinkly vote :

Statscan : Police-reported robbery in Canada, 2008

Break and enters were at their lowest level in 40 years, dropping by 9%.

In 2008, 6% of victims involved in a home invasion were 65 years or older, compared to 3% who were robbed on the street or other outdoor public location and 2% who were robbed in a commercial or institutional establishment. About 2% of victims of total violent crime in 2008 were 65 years or older."

Yeah, screw the stats, let's just go with feelings.

Day continues on about home invasions :

"...previously there were too many cases when those were addressed with what’s called conditional sentencing. That means the criminals in that case get sent home. They don’t have to go to jail."

John Geddes at Maclean's asked Day's office for material supporting his statement about conditional sentences. Amusingly they sent back StatsCan data that refutes their position :

"So far, they have only passed along the broad Statistics Canada data on criminal courts, which shows that 4.4 per cent of adult criminal convictions result in conditional sentences. There’s nothing in the data that I can see, though, to shore up Day’s version of reality."

Just another day in Day's version of reality.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Doris' war on crime stats

Doris' cheery crime shoppers philosophy on prisons seems to be : If you build them, they will come

According to Shockwell Doris and JusticeMin Rob Nicholson yesterday, we're going to need more prisons to deal with the "alarming" increase in "unreported crime" ... that was last reported six years ago.

Well, you can see their point, can't you? If more people aren't reporting crimes, then unreported crimes must be going up and we're going to need somewhere to put all the unreported criminals!

And why aren't people reporting those crimes? Via The Jurist :

"(A Statistics Canada) analyst said the No. 1 reason given by individuals for not calling the police about a crime is that they believe it was not serious enough. Only two per cent said they feared retribution, and one per cent said they felt the police may be biased.

Statistics Canada reported in their last General Social Survey (GSS) that an estimated 34% of Canadians who are victims of crime still aren't reporting the crime to police, including: - an estimated 88% of sexual assaults; - an estimated 69% of household thefts, and - and (sic) estimated 67% of personal property thefts."

Kady advises Doris is basing his claims about unreported crime on the 2004 International Crime Victimization Survey.

Three years ago I had a look at that survey. Here are some of the more buckety questions in it :

Under Spousal violence : "Puts you down or calls you names to make you feel bad"

Under Stalking : "Sent you unwanted email messages"

Under Property Damage : "During the last 12 months did anyone deliberately damage or destroy any property belonging to you or anyone in your houshold, including a window or a fence?"

Put you down? Unwanted emails? Broken fences? Holy crap! Build more prisons!

Meanwhile here's the reported 2004 Statscan crime stats from the year Doris is still bleating about. Yup, going down since 1991. And if I may be so rude as to bring up something a bit more current, like for instance this year's : crime still going down. Deal with it, Doris.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Snitch hackers and the end of privacy

WikiLeaks' mandate is to make public those documents purposely hidden by information gatekeepers. Their goal is justice through transparency and, as Julian Assange recently put it : "I enjoy crushing the bastards".
At the other end of the scale you have snitch hackers like Project Vigilant - logo on left. According to Andy Greenburg at Forbes, the 600 member organization "monitors the traffic of 12 regional Internet service providers and hands much of that information to federal agencies." Its roster includes members from NSA and DARPA.
Project Vigilant Director Chet Uber announced yesterday that he was the guy who convinced one of PV's researchers, the hacker Adrian Lamo, to inform the federal government about Bradley Manning's alleged part in leaking to WikiLeaks the U.S. Apache helicopter footage of the killing of civilians and two journalists in a Baghdad suburb -what we now know as the Collateral Murder video -after Manning spilled his guts to Lamo in an online chatroom.
"In June, Uber said he learned from Lamo's father that the young researcher had identified Manning as the video's source, and pressured him to meet with federal agencies to name Manning as Wikileaks' whistleblower."
It was Uber who then contacted the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigation on behalf of Lamo.
What an amazing coincidence, eh? - that 22 year old intelligence officer Bradley Manning should happen to spill his guts to a member of Project Vigilant in a chatroom .
But how can Project Vigilant(e) legally harvest info off the internet about the rest of us?

"...because the companies (the Internet Service Providers, or ISPs) included a provision allowing them to share users' Internet activities with third parties in their end user license agreements (EULAs), Vigilant was able to legally gather data from those Internet carriers and use it to craft reports for federal agencies.

A Vigilant press release says that the organization tracks more than 250 million IP addresses a day and can "develop portfolios on any name, screen name or IP address."

So although there are some safeguards on what info the US government can collect about you - remember the stink about TIA and TIPS? - a private sector organization like Project Vigilant can take over that job for the government.
In the comments below the Forbes article, Chet Uber takes issue with Greenberg over his use of the word "employee" to describe the Project Vigilante "volunteers", and says "BBHC Global (which certainly has an interesting website ) is an NGO classified as a "Not Just for Profit" entity".
Uber is also a founding member of InfraGard. According to its website, IfraGard :
"is a partnership between the FBI and the private sector. InfraGard is an association of businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States"
What absolutely amazes me here is that a lot of people went absolutely ballistic when WikiLeaks revealed to them what their governments are up to, and yet it's apparently just fine with them when the info goes the other way and government surreptitiously outsources the collecting of private information about them .
Their motto seems to be : Knowing about your government - bad; your government knowing about you - good.
This is surely the total acceptance of living in a surveillance society - when you are willing to defend not only that surveillance, but your own complete ignorance of what it consists of.
Meantime best have another look at that end user licence agreement you signed with your ISP.
Thursday update : Greenwald : Re-visiting Project Vigilant
"... it's far more likely than not that Uter (sic) is basically engaged in a self-aggrandizing, attention-seeking campaign (not unlike Adrian Lamo), and thus, to put it mildly, is seriously hyping the importance of his group and what it does.
In sum, the dangers of the growing private surveillance industry and its increasing commercial relationship with the U.S. government are every bit as real and severe as I described. But "Project Vigilant" is probably not an example of that."
Nonetheless, as Gabriel says in comments below about Uber : "a man who claims to specialize in identifying "bad actors" is responsible for Lamo betraying Manning."
Or is at least pleased to identify himself as such. Looks like that claim from Uber may be bs too :

Sunday, August 01, 2010

PSA rocks the Beav

Rocker and blogger Lindsay Stewart, aka Pretty Shaved Ape of the late lamented Canadian Cynic, has joined the rest of us ink stained wretches at The Galloping Beaver. One of my all time favourite bloggers, PSA's first post at The Beav takes firm aim at the footling Libs and their cold feet of clay.

Take it away, PSA ...

<a href="http://lindsaystewart.bandcamp.com/album/shaken">cheater by <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_3"><span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4">lindsay</span></span> <span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_4"><span class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_5">stewart</span></span></a>

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