Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stacy Bonds: investigation black-holed














The Ontario Special Investigations Unit has taken over the investigation of the Stacy Bonds case. The Ottawa police "internal investigation" is now history. And so is the likelihood of any quick resolution of the matter.

The SIU is notorious for finding in favour of the police 97% of the time. It also takes months, even years, for it to complete its dubious work. And even in the exceedingly rare cases when it does support the victims of police brutality, it cannot penetrate the Blue Wall, in good part because the fix is inevitably in.

So the Ottawa police are off the hook for now.

Chief Vern White had options. This did not include, however, suspending without pay the officers involved in the brutal assault on Bonds. That, as a reader correctly informed me, would have been illegal--contrary to Section 89 of the Ontario Police Services Act.

However, in a case as egregious as this, surely a mere review of the video-tape, and the opportunity for the officers to provide their lame-brained excuses for brutalizing an innocent citizen, would have been all the "internal investigation" required.

Those officers should have been criminally charged. They should have been fired. End of story. But now the SIU has its grubby mitts on the case, it's pretty well game over for any positive outcome for Bonds, unless she decides on a civil suit.* (If she does, I've already received pledges of contributions to a legal fund.)

Anyone remember Junior Alexander Manon? He was a Black youth in Toronto, who died this past May as a result of what many consider to be an act of murder by several Toronto police officers. The SIU has been "investigating" ever since.

But the Ontario Attorney General's Office is also involved in this travesty up to its wattled neck. It is strongly supporting the attempted prosecution of Bonds on a trumped-up charge of assault against the police, who were, of course, the ones who brutally attacked her. Indeed, as it turns out, the prosecutor in the case was shown the video well before the trial, but decided to press on with her further victimization.

This on-going saga has attracted front-page coverage by the Ottawa Citizen, which has also weighed in with a couple of blistering editorials, and run an equally scathing op-ed by law professor David Tanovitch questioning the Crown's decision to proceed with the bogus charge.

With respect to the latter, we might gain some insight from a telling remark by University of Ottawa law professor David Paccioco:

Prosecutors would likely feel pressure to oppose an application to stay proceedings because of an abuse of process by police, Paciocco said, because "it's going to impugn the integrity of the police officers."

And, after all, we can't have that.
_________
*UPDATE: I am reminded by reader (and lawyer) Nbob that Bonds does have another option. "It would be open to her to lay a private information and, if process is granted those involved would face criminal charges (e.g. assault, sexual assault, unlawful confinement)."

Rights and Democracy: the freak show continues









The clowns at Rights and Democracy, hoping that their quarter-million-dollar "forensic audit" would prove that the place had been horribly mismanaged until they showed up with their red noses, noisemakers and big floppy shoes, are now in a bind.

The report, due last Spring, and seen by the R&D Board several days ago, has still not been released to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs
.

It's pretty obvious that the audit has revealed nothing except their own vindictive foolishness.


Nobody can sum up this continuing travesty better than Paul Wells, who, like myself, is somewhat obsessed with this endless trainwreck. Go.
Read. Weep.

Saturday hangover











My brother emailed me in some concern about the hideous new look of Dawg's Blawg. I assume he's not alone.

Readers, be reassured: the pastels will be gone soon, and we'll be back to the old look and feel. The transition--no mean task--is continuing, through a veritable minefield of glitches.

Wish us luck, and mind your eyes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

How the universe unfolds as it should




















A few headlines from you-know-who's place. No links, given the particulars of yesterday's judgement.

28 April 2008
Good grief. Now Giacomo Vigna is threatening to sue me!

22 July 2008
CHRC lawyer threatens me with another lawsuit. (I'm still "serene")

1 August 2008
My defence in Vigna v. Levant: Vigna beclowned himself

15 March 2010
The trial of Vigna v. Levant begins in Ottawa

23 June 2010
The trial of Vigna v. Levant continues in Ottawa tomorrow

18 November 2010
Whoops!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hassan Diab: the prosecution stoops too low











After Don Bayne's masterful deconstruction of the French Record of Case and the multiple misrepresentations therein, what was left to the prosecution?

Mudslinging and personal insults.

If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell.

Way to go, Claude LeFrançois. What a confession of defeat.

Unabashed Schadenfreude














The mighty Ezra has struck out.


Defamation--as others of Levant's politics are on the way to learning--is not a matter of free speech. He'll be shelling out $25,000, and costs, to Canadian Human Rights Commission officer Giacomo Vigna for repeated defamation.

Big City Lib scooped me on this. Go read.

And here's the whole decision for your additional reading pleasure.

Don't mess with the Mafia



...er, the Pentagon.

American justice, Republican style




















Tried! Mind you, I don't object to trying him, if it's got to be done to give satisfaction; and I'll be there, and chip in and help, too; but put it off till afternoon--put it off till afternoon, for I'll have my hands middling full till after the burying--"

"Why, what do you mean? Are you going to hang him any how--and try him afterward?"

"Didn't I say I was going to hang him? I never saw such people as you. What's the difference? You ask a favor, and then you ain't satisfied when you get it. Before or after's all one--you know how the trial will go.
--Mark Twain, Roughing It
But of course you can never depend on a jury to deliver that guilty verdict. A real jury in a real court in New York (not the kangaroo job that is a Military Commission in Gitmo) found Ahmed Ghailani guilty of one count of terrorist activity--and innocent of 284 others.

Republican House Leader Mitch McConnell is outraged:


Yesterday's acquittal in a federal court ... is all the proof we need that the administration's approach to prosecuting terrorists has been deeply misguided and indeed potentially harmful as a matter of national security.


And here's another Republican a little unclear on the concept of justice--or perhaps very clear indeed:

“This is a tragic wake-up call to the Obama Administration to immediately abandon its ill-advised plan to try Guantanamo terrorists” in federal civilian courts, said Representative Peter King, Republican of New York. “We must treat them as wartime enemies and try them in military commissions at Guantanamo.”

Because, as we know, there's never any doubt about those verdicts.

Stacy Bonds: Chief White's halfway measures


















Ottawa Police Chief Vern White's
limp response to a judge's ruling that four of his officers unlawfully detained, violently assaulted and strip-searched a young Black woman:

Ottawa Police Sgt. Steve Desjourdy, the officer caught on videotape cutting a young female prisoner's shirt and bra off with a pair of scissors, will be forbidden from dealing with the public until the conclusion of an internal police investigation.


What does this tell us? Far from firing this thug, or at the very least suspending him without pay until the conclusion of his two-years-late "internal investigation," Chief White will retain him on the force at full salary.* And the other officers involved in the gang assault on the 100-pound Stacy Bonds are still out there "dealing with the public."

Not a good start, Chief.

By what he assures us is a coincidence, White has just announced measures to deal with racial profiling by his troops. The initiative was actually begun by order of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, after a well-publicized case of racist antics by the Ottawa police--six years ago. (The police cleared themselves of any blame in this incident after one of those "internal investigations." The OHRC disagreed.)

Meanwhile we await the results of another human rights hearing after another "internal investigation" cleared another cop--five years ago. What saved young Chad Aiken's version of events was an audio recording of his encounter.

The vicious police assault on Stacy Bonds took place a mere two years ago. We'll see if it leads to the same mutual back-scratching result as all those others. So far, the signs are not reassuring.

UPDATE: Some disturbing stats:

A recent Toronto Star report looked at 3,400 investigations of police misconduct in Ontario over a 20-year period. In only 95 of those cases were criminal charges laid and only 16 officers were ever convicted. Only three of those went to jail.

Will Bonds beat the odds?

_________________
*As a reader rightly points out, Section 89 of the Ontario Police Services Act does not permit suspension without pay--even in a case of murder. But Desjourdy could at least be sent home to cool his heels, if outright firing is indeed not an option even in so egregious a case. And what of his co-animals?

Ottawa Police horror [updated]














It could have been Mississippi, ca. 1950.

A woman of colour, returning home after a party. A false arrest, a sadistic police sergeant, a trumped-up charge, a prosecutor attempting to jail the victim.

But this is Ottawa, 2010. A judge called a halt to what he rightly called a "travesty." He couldn't ignore the videotape that showed a sustained assault on an unresisting prisoner by police officers, and the sexual and emotional humiliation of their victim.

Stacy Bonds, a 27-year old theatrical makeup artist, was simply walking on the street. As reported, she was stopped by Ottawa police for no reason, and held until she was run through the police computer. She was then told to proceed on her way.

But this uppity woman didn't know her place. She turned and asked them why they had stopped her.

She was immediately arrested for "public intoxication," although the judge found this an unlawful act because she was nowhere close to being drunk. She was handcuffed, thrown into the back of a police cruiser, and taken to the police station.

What then happened was recorded by a videocamera in the station. Showing no signs of resistance, Bonds was viciously kneed in the back, her hair yanked, and a hand thrust into her pants. The arresting officer, Const. John Flores, didn't once let go of her.

Bonds was then thrown to the floor with the use of a riot shield. Her shirt and bra were cut off by Sgt. Steve Desjourdy, and she was strip-searched in the presence of several male officers. She was then left in a jail cell for three hours, half-naked, and ultimately charged with that old butt-saving favourite, "assault on police."

Desjourdy has been in trouble before, for kicking and Tasering a female prisoner a mere few days before this incident. For that he was given a three-month demotion to the rank of constable in 2009. Must have stung.

He claimed that his victim had "mule-kicked" a constable behind her, justifying his use of force. But the videotape showed no such thing.

The judge berated the officers for the strip search, calling it "an extremely serious breach of [Bonds'] rights, apart from it being unlawful." Her lawyer, Matt Webber, was less restrained: "It's an appalling example of abuse of power and misconduct on the part of the police. It's a complete disregard for her dignity. It's shocking."

Yup.

What I find particularly interesting is the fact that the entire assault on Bonds was carried out under a police videocam, but the officers involved simply lied, as though no such record existed. Such is the culture of police impunity that they obviously imagined the system would save them no matter what.

The Crown's decision to proceed to a trial, once again proving the adage that police and prosecutors are stuck together with Krazy Glue, must have reassured them. But they all ran into a judge who didn't have a bandage over his eyes. He stayed the bogus charge against her, and went on a refreshing rant against her victimizers.

Police Chief Vern White has promised an "internal investigation." White does appear to be a cut above the usual police chief, regularly reaching out to the community and so forth, but that may simply indicate his mastery of effective public relations. In this case, he hedges: "If the judge's ruling is indicative of what happened, it's appalling."

If?
Roll that video for the chief, please.

We'll see what comes of this investigation, which could take months. Meanwhile, I assume that the officers involved are still on the job, serving and protecting.

For her part, Bonds says she is thinking of suing. Thinking? Here's one observer who would be willing to part with some cash to get that process started. Outside her acquittal, a lawsuit may provide the only justice she ever receives.

UPDATE: My sometime editor at the National Post, Kelly McParland, weighs in. The message? Fire. Them. All.

UPPERDATE: (November 18) Vern White's halfway measures:

Ottawa Police Sgt. Steve Desjourdy, the officer caught on videotape cutting a young female prisoner's shirt and bra off with a pair of scissors, will be forbidden from dealing with the public until the conclusion of an internal police investigation.

What does this tell us? Far from firing this thug, or at the very least suspending him without pay until the conclusion of his two-years-late "internal investigation," Chief White will retain him on the force at full salary. And the other officers involved in a gang assault on a 100-pound Black woman are still out there "dealing with the public."

Not a good start, Chief.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Excuse Our Dust...

Dear folks,

I'm helping Dr. Dawg trying to wrest his comments back from Echo, after their subscription fiasco. This may involve some template changes and some confusion in the short term, but will hopefully pay off. Until then, we apologize for any inconvenience. Just so you know.

Ping: Stacy Bonds

Please contact me. I can suggest legal counsel, and we can talk about setting up a fund to underwrite the costs of your lawsuit.

Go, Sens, Go!



















No, no, not my hometown hockey team. That bunch of unelected so-and-sos in what we laughingly call the Upper House, now stacked with assorted Tory cronies, bagpersons and hacks.

These catspaws just killed a bill on climate change that had been passed by the elected House of Commons. And once again, the Liberals helped:


Without any debate in the Red Chamber, Conservative senators caught their Liberal and unelected counterparts off-guard on Tuesday by calling a snap vote on Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act introduced by Bruce Hyer, a New Democrat who represents Thunder Bay-Superior North in the House.

--
It is the first time that the unelected Conservative senators have used their near-majority to kill a bill passed by elected politicians. The absence of more than 15 Liberals from the Senate allowed the bill to be defeated by a margin of 43 to 32. [emphasis added]

--

The bill had required the federal government set regulations to bring greenhouse gas emissions 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and to set a long-term target to bring emissions 80 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.


Just another incremental increase in our widening democratic deficit. Proof positive that we need to abolish the Senate, throw out those unelected, tax-sucking parasites, and, if necessary, replace the institution with something democratic and functional.

Readers might wish to speculate upon what the latter might be. At the moment, any such notion seems rather hypothetical, even fanciful. But that's another discussion. For now, the current Red Chamber, that diseased vestige of feudalism, needs to be razed to its foundations, and the ground sown with salt.

UPDATE: Harper's new constitutional crisis. [H/t reader Holly Stick]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Rational Discussion of Climate Change - Maybe?

Tomorrow, the Subcommittee on Energy & Environment of the US House of Representative will be holding a hearing tomorrow titled “A Rational Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response”. The hearing has been divided into three panels (I recall there were titles attached to each panel, but I can’t find it now – if you come across it, please let me know in comments).

In my experience, when looking at these types of panels one of the most interesting things to see is who has been invited to present to the hearing. Each panel has 4 presenters and it appears that the Republicans were allowed to select a presenter for each panel. The presenters are listed below along with links to give you some background of them and their positions.

Panel I
* Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone
* Dr. Heidi M. Cullen
* Dr. Gerald A. Meehl
* Dr. Richard Lindzen

Panel II
* Dr. Benjamin D. Santer
* Dr. Richard B. Alley
* Dr. Richard A. Feely
* Dr. Patrick J. Michaels

Panel III
* Rear Admiral David W. Titley
* Mr. James Lopez
* Mr. William Geer
* Dr. Judith Curry


I think it is very telling who the Republicans selected for their members: Dr. Lindzen, Dr. Michaels and Dr. Curry. Dr. Lindzen and Dr. Michaels are probably the most prominent of the doubters, but they carry with them a large amount of baggage which includes some very poor published work. The presentation I am looking forward most to is Dr. Curry’s. Dr. Curry is an interesting figure. She knows the basic science very well, but seems to have some unique views on the uncertainties associated with climate change. I think it is also telling that Dr. Wegman, their star performer from the hearing 4 years ago is absent in this one.

Now, consider the other presenters. They are not part of the group of scientists associated with Real Climate so they don’t have the baggage that – for example a Dr. Michael Mann – would have. Instead we have representatives from the leading scientific organizations, NGOs and even the military. I think that what we will see is a strong statement of the science from most of the members but the typical statements from Dr. Lindzen and Michaels (my prediction, criticism of the models will form part of Lindzen’s statement). Unknown what Curry will say. Tomorrow should be interesting.

Update: The Hearing Charter is now out which is very good reading. It gives a very brief synopsis of what each speaker will talk about (and yes, I win my bet that Lindzen will talk about models). However the background information is very well writen and presents the background science much better than I expected. This should be a very interesting hearing.

Afghanisnam:Tory rationale debunked














Professor Amir Attaran has been kind enough to pass on his thoughts on the Librocon decision to extend the Afghanistan mission. Rather than paraphrase and editorialize, I thought I should just reproduce his own words:

Please allow me to share something about the necessity (or lack thereof) of the Canadian Forces remaining deployed until 2014 to train Afghanistan’s army. In pesky professor fashion I have compiled some useful statistics on the training of the Afghan army. Rather than write an op-ed, I am sending the facts to my journalist friends to use. I don’t care whether or not you attribute this to me—just use the stats if they are helpful.

We heard today the Harper government’s rationales: i.e. that the Canadian Forces must remain deployed until 2014 to train the Afghan National Army (ANA). As Lawrence Cannon said, 950 Canadian soldiers will remain “who will help train Afghan soldiers”. The reason, according to Peter MacKay is that ANA training is lagging behind without Canada’s commitment to 2014, and “this government will not risk losing those gains that Canadian soldiers fought and sacrificed for.”

In short, Messrs Cannon and MacKay claim that unless Canada remains in a training role for the ANA until 2014, our past gains will slip away. Mr. MacKay further said that training the ANA until 2014 was “consistent with goals” of the larger Afghan mission.

However, those claims are absolutely, demonstrably false. In public documents, NATO itself offers the contrary view that ANA training is years ahead of schedule. It is not tenable that the Canadian Forces are needed through 2014 to meet targets, because NATO met them early, and anyway the current NATO targets for the ANA end in October 2011, not 2014. Below please find my evidence and sources.

NATO’S GOAL: TRAIN 134,000 ANA SOLDIERS BY 2013. NO, BY 2011. NO, BY OCTOBER 2011. UM, WE DID IT!

In contrast to the Harper government’s claim that ANA training is dangerously lagging, actually it is going better than planned. NATO recently met its targets for training and building ANA soldier numbers—significantly ahead of schedule. According to an August 2010 press release from NATO:

“In a positive development for the country's rapidly expanding security capability, the Afghan National Army announced today at the Ministry of Defense that it reached the benchmark strength of 134,000 soldiers two months ahead of schedule.” See NATO press release, “Afghan Army reaches targeted strength early”:

That’s pretty clear: the ANA’s “benchmark strength of 134,000 soldiers” is not a distant future goal, but was met “ahead of schedule.” Mind you, there’s one incorrect statement in NATO’s press release, which is that this force strength target was met two months early. Actually NATO and the ANA met their target fully 3 years early.

This is a remarkable fact, so let me explain why it’s not widely known. Back in 2008, when NATO and the Afghan government agreed on training and building an ANA of 134,000 ANA soldiers, the goal was to do so by 2013. Then, they started working, and found it going faster and better than expected. NATO quietly shifted the target date—from 2013 originally, to December 2011, to October 2010. This fact is noted in NATO’s 2009 Afghanistan Report progress report, which reads:

“Last year [i.e. 2008], the Joint Coordination Monitoring Board (JCMB) approved the increase of the ANA total strength from 82,180 to 134,000 by 2013. The efforts of the United States-led Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) have enabled the constant growth of the ANA. Since 2007, 26,000 new personnel have been trained each year and another 28,000 are foreseen for 2009. As a result, the Afghan Defence Ministry’s ANA fielding acceleration plan now advances the full-sized ANA fielding target date to December 2011.” See NATO Afghanistan 2009 report, page 12.

Notice NATO’s phrase: a “full-sized ANA” amounts to 134,000 soldiers, which is the number achieved this August. Strangely NATO buries that fact and hates discussing it, because if it were widely understood that a key milestone to transfer control in Afghanistan was achieved three years early, it would play havoc with NATO’s arguments for staying in Afghanistan until 2014—and we all know how international bureaucracies and militaries hate to downsize (but that’s a different story).

So, with the quantity target of 134,000 ANA soldiers already met, what can we say about the quality of those soldiers? Elsewhere in NATO’s 2009 Afghanistan Report (page 13), NATO writes that the majority of ANA units last year were “capable of leading operations, or have reached full operational capability.” That’s become even more true this year, and in April 2010, NATO acknowledged that fully 21 ANA battalions (kandaks) are already “capable of planning and executing operations at Battalion level with no external support”: see the NATO press release.

Thus NATO’s own public documents admit these three things:

(1) ANA training has not lagged, but rather gone faster than planned;

(2) Quantity-wise, the 134,000 ANA soldiers today comprise a “full-sized ANA”; and

(3) Quality-wise, many of those soldiers (21 battalions) can operate with “no external support”.

All this is a success, to be sure. So what’s NATO doing as a victory lap? Earlier this year NATO set a “stretch” target to achieve 171,600 ANA soldiers by October 2011: see the NATO press release. There is no reason to believe that NATO will fail to meet its “stretch” target next October, and there is no further target thereafter.

MY CONCLUSION:

NATO’s “stretch” target to achieve 171,600 ANA soldiers by October 2011 would provide a margin of safety, over and above the full-sized army that now exists. A rational argument therefore could be made to keep the Canadian Forces deployed until October 2011, and this should be debated. But there is no apparent justification for the Harper government’s claim that ANA training is lagging, such that the Canadian Forces need to be deployed until 2014 training the ANA—that is demonstrably untrue and nonsense. NATO doesn’t even have an official 2014 target for ANA training, and certainly one has never been approved by NATO and the Afghan government through the Joint Coordination Monitoring Board.

Probably PMO will say that my analysis is wrong. If that happens, please ask PMO to produce its evidence: Which NATO document sets out agreed target(s) with the Afghan government for ANA training out to 2014, further to the current target of 171,600 soldiers in October 2011? Possibly PMO will find the utterances of some generals who think there are too few ANA soldiers, or will point to US government estimates that NATO is short of ANA trainers. But those individuals do not run or speak for NATO or the Afghan government, and it seems bizarre to speak of a “shortage” of trainers when the existing resources succeeded in training up the ANA to full size years ahead of schedule.

Last, please do not take my analysis to imply that training the ANA is a cakewalk. The ANA struggles with low pay, shaky morale, and therefore high attrition. In a country of few economic opportunities, the ANA’s numbers wax and wane with the agricultural seasons. Those issues affect training demand, but are not solved by Canada boosting the training supply. Canada could do a lot more good by developing Afghanistan’s taxation and revenue base, or otherwise seeing to it that ANA soldiers are paid regularly and decently.

AND WHAT ABOUT CANADIAN POLITICS?

So where does the Harper government get the story that training the ANA requires the Canadian Forces to stay deployed until 2014? Certainly not from NATO, as we have seen. And certainly not from the Americans, either. The American Deputy Commander of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan, who blogs, has an analysis almost identical to my own.

In short, this is purely a made-in-Canada fabrication, to justify a mission extension for other undisclosed reasons. Training the ANA has nothing to do with it, and that is borne out by NATO’s own documents on training the ANA.

Warm regards,
Amir

Fear of flying

In which the temperature in Hell drops precipitously, and I agree with Ezra Levant.

US: Palin's red meat base at work and play



Man cannot live by beard alone. And, would you like fires with that?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Speaking truth to power

An articulate 14-year-old gay youth stands up to school board officials in Howell, Michigan.

Classic double-think: opposing open homophobia, according to these bigots, is intolerant. The kid blew them out of the water. Watch, listen and applaud.

UPDATE: (November 15) Reader Jim suggests writing a polite note to the school authorities. See his in the comments.

Trach this man down





















I guess I'm suddenly in a law and order mood, but what the heck--I believe in sharing.

A man with more than 30 criminal convictions was granted a day pass while serving a five-year sentence for forcible confinement, sexual assault and fraud. He had taken staff hostage in a restaurant after refusing to pay for his meal.

He walked away. Surprised?

So now there's a national alert out for Mohammed Shaleem Gafoor. And then the story veers into surrealism:


Gafoor is described as non-white, five-foot-eight, 130 pounds, with short black hair, brown eyes and glasses. He has a tracheotomy scar on his neck and another on his abdomen. He was last seen wearing a trench coat and smelled strongly of cologne.

Anyone who sees Gafoor is advised to not approach him and call 911 right away.


Especially, I guess, if you prefer a scent-free environment. But if we obey the caution, how do we get to see that tracheotomy scar on his tummy?

Echo sucks

Those bloggers who signed on to the JS-Kit commenting system and were frogmarched into Echo are discovering what it's like to be over a barrel and righteously hosed.

When Echo took over, we had to pay $10US for the coming year, after enjoying a previously free service. Now we're being notified that the cost has gone up--by 1200%. We will now be charged $10US per month. Presumably if we fail to pay, our comments will be disappeared.

So I knuckled under. My renewal date is December 14. But just as I was about to hit the "pay" button, I noticed that the li'l darlings were starting the clock at November 14. So I guess I'll renew in a month's time.

Or is it possible to get off this runaway train?

Sunday things that make you go "Hmm"

A few bits and snippets to depress and inform readers on another fair November day.

Item:
The Librocons cut an extra-Parliamentary deal on Afghanistan, and don't be fooled by all the "non-combat" malarkey. Warren the K has a good piece up on this, and buried in the comments is a reference that may (as it does in the case of the bloodstained Colombian free trade agreement) explain pretty much everything.

Item:
The Harper government makes more aboriginal women disappear. Now, from the excellent Alison, we have an update on the story behind the Tory blacklisting of Sisters in Spirit. As for the government's late-in-the-day "endorsement" of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it turns out to be just more smoke and mirrors.

Item: William "Bubbles" Elliott praises the RCMP for their "restraint" during the Toronto G20 meetings. Hell, it's not like they Tasered anyone to death, laughed at a dying man in one of their prisons, Tasered another man in his hospital bed or pepper-sprayed a baby. Concerned citizens must ask: are the Mounties going soft?

Item: And while on the subject, here's a statistic: one person dies in custody or at the hands of police every three weeks in sunny BC.

Item: There may be no truth to the rumour that Montreal's bereaved Rizzuto family is outraged at being compared to Liberals by ADQ leader Gerard Deltell.

Now it's off to do leaf-raking before the snow falls.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

“Once we had a country and we thought it fair”





















To serve and protect: the G20 police riot revisited.


There will be no punishment. And most people, in their ignorance, will support their local police with their eyes wide shut.

No matter what. No matter the laws they break. No matter whom they assault. No matter whom they kill.

In Canada, 2010, the beasts are running the zoo.


[H/t Stageleft]

Friday, November 12, 2010

Umm...vegans?
















Calm down!


Gotta go. Supper's ready. :)

Hassan Diab: the French deception 2











The courtroom demolition of France's case against Hassan Diab continued this morning.


Just as he did with the passport evidence earlier this week, Diab's lawyer Don Bayne dropped a sixteen-tonne weight on another misrepresentation in the Record of Case (ROC) certified by the wily French examining magistrate Marc Trévidic.

This time it wasn't conflicting accounts of Diab's alleged use of passport(s) to gain entry to France. It was what can only be described as deliberate deception by
Trévidic: tailoring his ROC by omitting crucial evidence that made a nonsense of his claims--evidence, furthermore, that he was fully aware of.

In the ROC,
Trévidic drew parallels between the rue Copernic bombing in Paris in 1980 and a subsequent bombing in Antwerp in 1981. In each case, a hotel had been selected that was near the target (a synagogue), and a nearby railway station for a quick getaway. The clear implication was, on so-called similar fact inference, that the same gang of terrorists, allegedly including Diab, was involved.

There was just one problem. In fact, there were four problems.

First,
Trévidic somehow failed to note that his predecessor Guy Joly, who had travelled to Beligium and upon whom he had been relying for his account of the Antwerp bombing, also named the three suspects in the case.

Guess what? Diab was not one of them. They were known to the Belgian police: Kathleen Hill, an Englishwoman married to an IRA terrorist, Hasan Akbalickci, a Turk, and Atman Yusuf.

Trévidic didn't include three other salient facts either, that distinguished the Antwerp bombing from the Paris one. First, the Belgian police were not convinced that the bombing in Antwerp had even been targeting the synagogue. It was set off in the financial district of Antwerp and could, in their view, have been an anti-capitalist attentat. Second, the bomb type was entirely different. Third, two terrorist groups immediately claimed responsibility for the Antwerp bombing: Black September and Action Direct. In Paris, no group claimed responsibility.

So much for the "clear links" alleged in the ROC between the two attacks. All we are left with is a hotel, a railway station and a synagogue in close proximity. As Bayne noted, raising Antwerp was an attempt to further implicate Diab in the rue Copernic bombing when all of the evidence to the contrary, including the the fact that the participants in the Antwerp attack has already been identified, had been adroitly excised by
Trévidic. Had that evidence been included, there would have been no argument to make--in fact there would have been no reason to talk about Antwerp at all.

So much for what the prosecution has called inconsequential errors. So much for the presumption of reliability in a Record of Case submitted by the requesting state (France). And--if the extradition case succeeds--so much for the Charter rights of any Canadian citizen being able to protect us from being framed by a foreign power.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And speaking of anti-Semitism...

Anti-Semitic imagery and stereotypes are just fine with conservatives--if it's Glenn Beck deploying them, and a progressive philanthropist is on the receiving end.

No word as yet from the authors of the Ottawa Protocol.

UPDATE: (November 12) Suing people for defamation if they incidentally happen to be supporters of Israel is apparently
yet another instance of the New Anti-Semitism™. [H/t reader Marcus]

Lest we remember

My father was a WWII vet, having led the 1st Canadian Calibration Troop through the mud of Europe. A cousin was imprisoned in Buchenwald after being captured behind enemy lines. My ex-spouse's father was a Hong Kong POW, and, like his comrades, was shamefully abandoned by the Canadian government during his captivity and after his release.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said George Santayana.

Wrong.

Remembering dooms us to repetition. We remember everything and learn nothing. We absorb and reproduce the patterns of the past. Look around.

We are losing men and women in Afghanistan, because war is still the answer. We glorify (and profit by) the production of weapons of war.

We fret about the allegedly devious aliens among us. Once it was Japanese, Germans and Italians, now it's Muslims.

We fearfully close our borders. A few decades ago it was to keep out Jews, now it's Tamils, whose mass murder at sea was recently advocated ("lock and load") by a leading Canadian newspaper.

Our vets are fighting tooth and nail for decent treatment from our "Support Our Troops" government: t
he disgracefully abandoned Hong Kong vets had to fight for their pensions too.

We're condemned to repeat history, over and over and over again--unless we forget.

I'm not advocating that we dismiss the sacrifices made to turn back fascism, or disrespect the countless men and women killed or wounded in that essential task. But in this annual attempt to confer immortality upon those and other brave young people--"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old"--we are also immortalizing old ways of thinking and acting, closing off the possibility of alternatives.

We are trapped in remembrance. We must have a radical break with the past, a strategic obliteration. Because only a deliberate act of forgetting will allow us to dream the wild new dreams that may yet save us.

Hassan Diab: the French deception











The case against the extradition of Hassan Diab, as laid out this week by lawyer Donald Bayne in a preliminary motion to stay the proceedings, has begun to look unassailable. Yesterday the credibility of crusading French examining magistrate Marc
Trévidic, who prepared the Record of Case (ROC) upon which the deportation proceedings are based, was shredded seemingly beyond repair.

Readers need to be aware of precisely how little recourse a defendant in an extradition case has available under current legislation. Any Canadian citizen may be extradited by a treaty partner merely by establishing a prima facie case. The defendant does not have full Charter rights, no right to disclosure of evidence from the accusing party, no right to cross-examine witnesses. As Bayne described it this week, mounting a defence in such a one-sided contest is "an uphill climb."

It's not a climb, in fact, that many undertake, and still fewer manage to make. But there is precedent, as Bayne showed earlier this week, for making a Charter argument for a stay. This rests upon the integrity of the ROC submitted by the requesting state--in this case, France.

That integrity doesn't have to be proven: it is generally assumed. But what if it is possible to show that the ROC is deliberately deceptive? It is in such a case, rare in the extreme, that the extradition judge has the right to exercise a residual discretion and put a stop to the proceeding. The proposition that the certifying authority for the ROC has a duty of "fairness and good faith," and of "utmost diligence and care" in ensuring the accuracy of the document, is established in a number of precedent cases.

The prosecution will attempt to show later this week that the demonstrable flaws in the ROC are merely "inconsequential errors." Here is one: judge for yourselves whether it is inconsequential, and even if it is an honest error.

The question of Hassan Diab's passport(s) is key to the case. Why do I use a possible plural? That would be because of the contradictory evidence of the French examining magistrate, Marc Trévidic.

In the defence counsel's factum supporting the motion for a stay, Bayne points out that Trévidic certified in the ROC that Diab entered France using a false Cypriot passport in the name of "Alexander Panadriyu." He didn't have a lot of choice, because the copy of Hassan's real passport, obtained in 1981, showed no entry stamps to France.

The ROC states that the "hit team" that bombed the rue Copernic synagogue, allegedly including Diab, entered France via Madrid by train, using false papers. The assertion that Diab was using a false passport is repeated seven times.

But there's a problem. On November 12, 2008, 29 days before he certified the ROC now before the Ottawa court, Trévidic told quite a different story. He was attempting to obtain an arrest warrant for Diab through an application to the Ontario Superior Court, the first step in the extradition process. And in that application, he stated that the "hit team" has used their real passports.

Well, which was it? If real passports were used, then Diab is in the clear--no entry stamps to France. It is speculated by a source close to the case that Trévidic used the "real passport" theory in this instance because it sounded more impressive ("we have his passport and it shows he entered France"). Trévidic knew that, under current law, he didn't have to produce the passport to a Canadian judge, and may have thought that a different judge would preside over the extradition hearing itself. Perhaps unluckily for him, however, Justice Robert Maranger was the judge in both instances.

But it gets worse. In the substantial ancillary material attached to the ROC, a report
turned up from a French police officer who had stopped the mysterious "Alexander Panadriyu" for an ID check.* The officer had been thorough enough to list the stamps found in that false Cypriot passport--very few, as it turns out, because the passport was only four months old. Besides, a fake passport would have only the minimum number of stamps inserted to allow it to pass for the real thing.

And guess what? He found an entry stamp through France's Lyon airport--not one for an arrival by train through the Spain-France border.

This meant that both of Trévidic's theories were bunk--and he had to have known it. To put it bluntly, he used whatever tale he thought would work best in the circumstances.

The case continues. It will be interesting, to put it mildly, to see how the prosecution copes with this clear evidence of malfeasance that goes to the very core of the extradition case.

_____________
*I am now reliably informed that much more than an ID check was involved. The French police officer examined Panadriyu's passport after he was arrested for trying to shoplift pliers from a Paris hardware store. Panadriyu was questioned and released after signing a statement admitting to the attempted theft.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Out of Africa














Or, "Stephen Harper doesn't care about Black people."


[H/t Kanye West]

Push comes to shove

Criticism of Israel will shortly become illegal in Canada.

That's the message of the "Ottawa Protocol" agreed to behind closed doors this week by a group of international parliamentarians calling themselves the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism. The Canadian wing, of course, is the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism.

Here is what is about to descend upon us:


[The Ottawa Protocol] aims to implement a series of measures to put an end to hateful propaganda in places like universities. In particular, the group aims to stop the growth in the criticism of Israel and its policies that, it says, is increasingly a vehicle for anti-Semitism. [emphasis added]

It's what some of us have been arguing all along--and we've been denounced as paranoid for doing so. But you don't get a group of parliamentarians deliberating for months and holding hearings if legislation isn't in the works.

Of course the protocol claims not to be what it is. Here's the usual sinuous language:


"Let it be clear: Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is wrong," the protocol says.

"But singling Israel out for selective condemnation and opprobrium -- let alone denying its right to exist or seeking its destruction -- is discriminatory and hateful, and not saying so is dishonest."

The first paragraph is a kind of alibi that shields, not the hapless critic of Israel, but the legislative project itself. The second one has the meat. "Selective condemnation"--I've been accused of that in this very blog because of the paucity of posts about North Korea and other hellholes. "Seeking its destruction" could mean anything from mass extermination to merely supporting a one-state solution in the Middle East. Even opposing the current loyalty oath for new citizens of Israel could be interpreted as seeking the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.

Norm Spector, a former Canadian ambassador to Israel, asks a salient question this morning: will criticism of Israeli building projects in Jerusalem be deemed "anti-Semitic" under the new expanded definition? The answer, I think, is obvious.

And here's Israel’s Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, who is ecstatic about the Ottawa goings-on:


[Edelstein] agreed with the need to expand the definition of anti-Semitism beyond the usual stereotypes, such as “having horns, killing Christ, laundering money.” He said there have been successes in combating overt anti-Semitism, such as Internet stories suggesting that Israeli military doctors in Haiti were harvesting organs. He added that criticisms of Israel that include double-standards, or de-legitimize or demonize its existence, amount to anti-Semitism.

“I think we have to be very inclusive in this definition to really fight the tendency, and not just a certain part of it,” he said.
[emphases added]

"Very inclusive," indeed. Almost anyone can be accused of employing double standards, even if most of us who criticize Israel simply want to impose one and the same standard upon it as currently applies to other nations. "De-legitimize" can refer to nearly anything. "Demonize" means whatever these political exorcists choose it to mean.

So now Israel will achieve a status in Canadian law that no other nation possesses. It will be shielded even from the silly commentary that is so much a part of popular culture. You'll continue to be able to say "Bomb Iran," but possibly go to jail if you say "Bomb Israel." The Toronto Sun can still use the phrase "lock and load" in reference to a boatload of Tamils, but a similar injudicious remark directed against Israeli settlers on the West Bank would become a criminal matter.

Make no mistake, this thing is a slam-dunk. When (not if) the Conservatives introduce legislation to outlaw criticism of Israel, likely when a federal election is in the offing, the Liberals will tamely go along, not wanting to fight accusations of anti-Semitism in the thick of an electoral contest.

No doubt the legislation will pretend to draw a non-existent distinction between "legitimate" and "illegitimate" criticism--non-existent, because the concepts are purely subjective. To some, in fact, there simply is no "legitimate" criticism of Israel. The legislation will, in word and in practice, be "very inclusive."

Such legislation would quite possibly not withstand Charter scrutiny. But that's small comfort at this point. It's on its way, and I, for one--who have fought genuine anti-Semitism for decades, on the Internet and on the ground--can feel a cold wind blowing. So should we all.


[H/t the ever-wakeful Alison]

UPDATE: Full text of the Ottawa Protocol here, via BCL.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Do police forces talk to each other?

G20 "best practices" on display in Oakland, California.

Oscar Grant was an unarmed, handcuffed Black man murdered by an Oakland cop, Johannes Mehserle. A white judge, Robert Perry, kissed the killer with a sentence of two years less time served--the minimum sentence possible. The cop had claimed that he mistook his gun for a Taser.

The judge refused to allow prior use-of-force testimony against the officer, but permitted the defence to introduce evidence about the defendant's past criminal record.


Protesting this travesty was deemed illegal. A peaceful protest led to 152 arrests: everyone was released, many after harrowing experiences in custody. The decision to charge the protesters is still up in the air.

Meanwhile, in
backwoods Canada, sundry far-Right wingnuts are howling about "white privilege." No, no, they aren't opposing it. They don't like the term, and claim that no such thing exists.

HUAC North and the missing report

While the fate of Canadian critics of Israel is being decided behind closed doors this week, perhaps a little juxtaposition might lighten the mood.

Readers may recall that the Final Report of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, which conducted one-sided "hearings" earlier this year, was due this past Spring. But somehow it hasn't surfaced, even during this week's international gabfest.

Scott Reid, the Conservative MP who chairs the CPCCA, is miffed with the critics. But let's do that juxtaposing thing:


Some critics have pointed out that Statistics Canada says there are more hate crimes directed at black people in Canada than at Jews and suggest that the focus on anti-Semitism by MPs is a crude political attempt to court the Jewish vote.

And here's the indignant yet disarmingly frank Mr. Reid:

The report will be released, he said, hopefully before the next federal election.

All we can do is smile, as we wait for the other shoe to drop.

ADDENDUM: Shriek! Campus anti-Semitism!


Just a few months ago, for example, two Carleton University students reported being attacked by fellow students wielding a machete at an off-campus bar; the attackers berated them as “Jews” and “Zionists.” Last year, Jewish students were besieged inside the York University offices of Hillel, a Jewish campus group; assailants reportedly banged on walls and floors and yelled anti-Semitic slurs. These two incidents, sadly, are part of a broader pattern of hostility that many Canadian – and American – Jewish students are reporting.

"Reported." "Reportedly."

Big City Lib has done the heavy lifting on the first "example," which he aptly names "Machetegate." The York "anti-Semitic slurs," like an earlier claim of physical assault, have never been substantiated. But here, as a reminder to readers, is how the York University's aptly-named Hasbara Fellowship rolls.

Last word to Jonathan Kay. And when I call upon him as a beacon of common sense, you just know something is way out of whack in the continuing narrative of Canadian anti-Semitism.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Calgary Social Services: "Anti-racist? We'll take your kids!"















Early this morning, five thugs broke into the home of anti-racist activists Jason and Bonnie Devine. Their four children were asleep upstairs. The goons attacked Jason and another male with hammers and bats.

The Devines are well-known in the area for their anti-Nazi activities, which most recently included leafleting an area where "Aryan Guard" members were known to hang out.

The children were not harmed--no doubt the brave Nazis were unaware that they were upstairs sleeping.

Enter Calgary Social Services.*

Unbelievably, they are threatening to apprehend the Devine children unless the Devines stop their anti-racist activity.

Here is part of the Devines' account:

We have been the victim of a hate crime. We have not broken any laws, committed any crimes,nor acted violently or ever called for violence. Yet today we were compared to gang members and drug dealers by people who say they have our best interests in mind. Social Services came into our home and began an investigation on us, not only about our parenting but on our children's safety. They stated that because of our high level of activity we have placed our children in unnecessary risk and that we should stop before they either see it or are a victim of it.

--

This was attempted murder, when 3-4 people simultaneously hit you with hammers and bats to your head and body this is not with the intention of leaving you as function [sic] person but dead. Now we are not allowed to bring our children home,our family who has our children has been advised that if we attempt to leave with our children they are to be notified. We are now living in terror that our children will be apprehended while at school and it was implied that only if we stop being active and follow everything they deem safe that our children may be returned to us, and I stress maybe as they did.

The very issue is that whether we stop now or not we will be forever targeted by Neo-nazi groups and members. They have pictures of not only us, but our children which they took while we were shopping at our local co-op grocery 4 weeks ago. We will be targets for the rest of our lives. We call to the public, family and friends to put pressure on making the Police find the true criminals in this matter and stop social services and others from dividing and separating our family and causing us further torment.


Words fail. Apparently the Devines, by engaging in anti-racist work, have been "asking for it." When they are attacked, Calgary Social Services steps in to blame them, rather than the bums who assaulted them. Perhaps--I wouldn't be surprised--they also go after the children of rape victims, threatening to apprehend the kids if their mothers insist on wearing "provocative clothing."

No wonder Calgary is the "hate capital of Canada." In what other Canadian city will Social Services line up with neo-Nazis to punish anti-racist activity?

[H/t Anti-Racist Canada]

ADDENDUM: No doubt the Free Dominion conservatives think Devine and his friend attacked themselves. There's never been any doubt, after all, where their sympathies lie.

UPDATE: (November 10) Dr.Dawg, with unprecedented traffic thanks to this post, gets results! Welcome back, kids.

_____________
*Some readers object to this shorthand. The full name of the agency is the Calgary and Area Child and Family Services Authority (CFSA). It comes under the purview of Alberta's Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Life in Tehran Toronto

As recounted by some ordinary folks--who, post G20, have a somewhat different take on "Serve and Protect" than they once did.

Can't happen here? Already has.


[H/t Let Freedom Reign]

"Ungodly to look at"

That would be the Turkish flag, pictured above.

The management of an Oshawa apartment complex has, for the second year running, ordered a Turkish-born resident to remove the flag from his balcony, where he had placed it to celebrate Republic Day.

Quoth the building manager, one "Diane":

It was a huge red flag in the middle of the living room window, in the middle of the balcony. It was very ungodly to look at."

When Mahmut Bak protested that other residents were permitted to place flags on their balconies, this is what the manager circulated to all residents of the building:


Could you please remove your flag from your balcony. This is a result of asking the person . . . to take his Turkish one down. He is yelling discrimination.

At least one tenant displaying a Canadian flag protested. Two days later, it was all a terrible mistake:

Gerald Ash was asked to take down the small Canadian flag he had affixed to the inside of his balcony with a plastic tie.

“I just had a little one, the kind you fly outside your car. I’ve been here seven and a half months and no one has said squat about it. Now, all of a sudden, some guy puts a Turkish flag up and I have to take mine down. That’s ridiculous,” Ash said.

But now, two days after the memo went out, management says it’s all a big misunderstanding. Erika Bradbury, a senior property manager for Valiant, said the policy has always been that residents cannot make holes in the building exterior to hang any object and that items cannot dangle over the balcony edge.

She sent Ash an email Thursday stating that management “does not, nor has it ever had, anything against properly displayed flags on tenant balconies.”

It’s good news for Ash who’s eager to put his flag back up for Remembrance Day in honour of his great-grandfather who fought in World War I.

Perhaps needless to say, however, Bak has received no such email. Welcome to Stephen Harper's Canada, 2010.

[H/t Emre]