Monday, December 20, 2010

Black-Out in DC: Pay No Attention to Those Veterans Chained to the White House Fence

by Dave Lindorff

There was a black-out and a white-out Thursday and Friday as over a hundred US veterans opposed to US wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, and their civilian supporters, chained and tied themselves to the White House fence during an early snowstorm to say enough is enough.

Washington Police arrested 135 of the protesters, in what is being called the largest mass detention in recent years. Among those arrested were Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who used to provide the president's daily briefings, Daniel Ellsberg, who released the government's Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration, and Chris Hedges, former war correspondent for the New York Times.

No major US news media reported on the demonstration or the arrests. It was blacked out of the New York Times, blacked out of the Philadelphia Inquirer, blacked out in the Los Angeles Times, blacked out of the Wall Street Journal, and even blacked out of the capital's local daily, the Washington Post.

Read on...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vindication for G20 Protesters

by Linda McQuaig

In the aftermath of the G20 fiasco here last summer, one thing Torontonians agreed on was that such summits should be held in isolated venues — on military bases, on ocean-going vessels, on melting glaciers — anywhere but where lots of people reside.

But beyond being upset with the expense and disorder that weekend, many Torontonians (and city council) sided with the police, assuming that the arrest of 1,105 people must have somehow been justified, given the rampage of a small group through the downtown core.

What is now unmistakably clear — with the release of a searing report by Ontario Ombudsman André Marin and startling new video evidence of police beatings obtained by the Star’s Rosie DiManno — is that the vast powers of the state were unjustifiably used against thousands of innocent protesters, as well as against others doing nothing more subversive than riding a bike or picking up groceries.

Unbeknownst to citizens who had gathered for a peaceful march through downtown Toronto — similar to marches frequently held without incident in the city — the provincial cabinet had resurrected police powers from the 70-year-old Public Works Protection Act, enacted when the country was at war with Nazi Germany.

Read on...

Monday, December 13, 2010

"You're Going To Get Tasered"

by digby

I don't know the whole story here, but the fact that the victim was acquitted in a jury trial has to mean something:

A Hawthorn Woods man filed a lawsuit in federal courtvictim was acquitted in a jury trial Tuesday claiming Mundelein police used “excessive and unjustifiable violence” when they pulled him from a vehicle early New Year's Day and shocked him multiple times with a Taser.

Steven Kotlinski was riding in the passenger seat when his wife, Jean, the designated driver for the night, was pulled over at approximately 2:30 a.m., according to the lawsuit.

During the traffic stop, which was recorded on the squad car's video camera, Steven Kotlinski got out of the vehicle to check on his wife as police were performing sobriety tests on her, according to the lawsuit.

Read on...

The 6 Most Shocking Cases of Police Stun-Gun Abuse

Some of the most egregious examples of taser abuse by police around the country, illustrating why the willy-nilly increase of taser use is terrible for citizens.

Take a police force that’s notorious for its use of excessive force, add a massive arsenal of tasers, put those weapons in the hands of low-level patrol officers, and what do you get?

If you guessed “an awful mess of civil rights abuses and safety concerns,” then, unfortunately, you’re correct. A new report from the City of Chicago Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police misconduct cases in the city, has found that incidences of taser use by Chicago police officers increased by nearly 350% over the past year in the wake of the department’s decision to more than double its taser arsenal in the name of “increasing officer safety” and “defusing trouble.”

Here are the numbers: In March, the department decided to increase its supply of tasers from 280 to 660 and began putting them in every patrol officer’s squad car. (Previously, only sergeants and field training officers were allowed to carry tasers.) As a direct result, Chicago officers used tasers a whopping 683 times in the 12-month period ending September 30, compared to 197 times in 2009 and 163 in 2008.

Read on...

DiManno: New tape backs up protester’s beating allegation

By Rosie DiManno

When he is finally allowed up off the ground after being stomped and pummeled by cops, Adam Nobody appears to have suffered no significant facial injuries — at least none that show.

There isn’t any blood, nary evidence of wounds, and the nose — which Nobody suspects was snapped during that pile-on melee — is exactly where it’s supposed to be.

The outward evidence is fairly clear on a piece of footage given to the Star this week.

Those images — a handcuffed Nobody being led out of camera range by uniformed officers, in the process of being arrested last June 26, not a drop of blood on him — support the 27-year-old’s formal complaint that he was immediately afterwards subjected to another vicious beating by a couple of plainclothes detectives behind two parked police vans.

After this second purported assault, Nobody’s face was left bloodied, he says, his cheekbone shattered.

Within a week, he would undergo surgery to repair the damage.

Read on...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Story - Help ID This Criminal! by: Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy



On the evening of Saturday, June 26th, I was live blogging the protest at South Queen's Park on assignment for the site Torontoist. When police began randomly charging the peaceful crowd, I attempted to extricate myself as I witnessed other individuals being seized and beaten to the ground, despite being unarmed and not resisting force. As I was running out of the park, I was struck from behind by a male officer. He beat me with a baton, causing welts and bruising across my right hip and abdomen. I was unarmed at the time and had not said anything to any officers or engaged in any chanting, taunting, or aggressive behaviour. I did not know until later that a photographer was present at the event and had photographed the moment when I was hit. I have attached the image to this email, although unfortunately I do not know who took the photograph as it appeared in an anonymous facebook collection of accumulated photos from the weekend. I documented my experience on Torontoist, and photos of my bruises are available below:



You have my full permission to publish my story, photos, and full name. I am currently attempting to identify the officer that struck me so I can add the information to my formal complaint.

Thank you,

Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy


Check out lots of stories from G20 at the www.g20justice.com website. Tom

DiManno: How long can Blair stay shackled?

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair addresses the media at a press  conference held at the Empress hotel in Victoria, BC.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair addresses the media at a press conference held at the Empress hotel in Victoria, BC.

Anybody got the keys to Police Chief Bill Blair’s handcuffs?

Because Toronto’s top cop — indisputably the most powerful municipal law enforcement official in Canada — has got a bad case of the shackles.

Five officers identified by late Wednesday afternoon as cop-on-civilian combatants during the G20 Summit protests and there’s apparently precious little Blair can do about it.

Can’t fire ’em. Can’t suspend ’em without pay, pending a disciplinary hearing. Can’t compel them — if designated by the Special Investigations Unit as subject officers, which hasn’t happened yet with this quintet — to come forth for interviewing by the independent agency.

So what’s a chief for?

Read on...

Taser-inquiry judge rejects ‘excited delirium’ as cause of N.S. inmate’s death

An undated family photograph of Howard Hyde, who died after a  struggle with guards at a Halifax-area jail in November, 2007. - An  undated family photograph of Howard Hyde, who died after a struggle with  guards at a Halifax-area jail in November, 2007. | The Canadian Press

OLIVER MOORE

A Nova Scotia judge probing the death in custody of a paranoid schizophrenic man has waded into the debate over excited delirium, rejecting it as the cause, and questioning if the controversial condition even exists.

Howard Hyde died the day after he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife while off his medication. The Dartmouth man was tasered repeatedly and wrestled into submission by police in a fracas during booking. He struggled later with guards at a local jail before collapsing and dying.

The province’s chief medical examiner had concluded that Mr. Hyde’s death was due to excited delirium.

Provincial Court Judge Anne Derrick – who presided over an 11-month inquiry and tabled a massive report on Wednesday with 80 recommendations aimed at improving treatment of the mentally ill – concluded that Mr. Hyde’s death was the accidental result of being restrained.

Read on...

Toronto police chief will not resign, says officers identified in G20 beating case

JUSTINE HUNTER, ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY AND MARCUS GEE

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair says the police have identified five of the officers who are persons of interest in an alleged assault of a G20 protester.

Chief Blair held a news conference in Victoria Wednesday amid growing calls for an inquiry into police conduct into the G20, and said he has no plans to resign.

“No I am not [resigning],” he said. “I am doing my job.”

Chief Blair said his department has identified and is disciplining 91 officers for failing to display their name tags. As well, five officers accused of misconduct have been identified from photographs published in the media. He said he did not personally identify the officers.

Read on...

Top judges giving up silence to embrace the people’s court

KIRK MAKIN

A blue-chip crowd of several hundred jazz aficionados cheered and applauded at a swank Sunday night concert recently as Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler stood on stage and belted out part of an Ira Gershwin standard, I Can't Get Started.

One of the country’s top judges? Singing to a gathering of tuxedo-clad jazz freaks?

The scene, at a concert in his honour, signified more than just Chief Justice Winkler’s refined musical tastes. It was symbolic of the judiciary’s earnest attempt to shore up a shaky sense of public confidence.

In little more than a decade, judges have emerged from their cloistered chambers and – with varying degrees of discomfort – walked among the hoi polloi. Many are regulars on the speakers circuit and in classrooms. Some have taken to the airwaves to field questions and give media interviews.

Read on...

Supreme Court urged to overhaul sentencing philosophy

KIRK MAKIN

Wide disparities in sentences are precipitating a crisis of confidence in the justice system, Alberta’s top court has warned in a call aimed at the entire judiciary.

In a ruling designed to prod the Supreme Court of Canada into revamping sentencing philosophies, a five-judge Alberta Court of Appeal panel said that trial judges must be restrained from injecting their personal views and predilections into the sentencing process.

They warned that, unless the judiciary gets its own house in order and fashions a predictable regime of minimum sentences, politicians will step in and do it for them.

The majority – comprised of Chief Justice Catherine Fraser, Mr. Justice Jean Cote and Mr. Justice Jack Watson – went so far as to issue an invitation to Parliament to “consider its options” if the judiciary fails to create rational, proportionate and predictable sentences.

Read on...

Ontario Ombudsman's Report

Investigation into
The Ministry of Community Safety and
Correctional Services’ conduct
in relation to Ontario Regulation 233/10
under the Public Works Protection Act

“Caught in the Act”
André Marin
Ombudsman of Ontario
December 2010

The Link takes you to the full report. Here is a link to the Ombudsman's website. Tom

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ontario never should have enacted G20 summit security law, Ombudsman’s report says

Anna Mehler Paperny

In their haste to bump up G20 security, Ontario authorities kept silent on a convoluted amendment to 71-year-old legislation that was “illegal” and “likely unconstitutional,” abrogating the Charter rights of thousands of people in the process, says Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin.

Toronto police Chief Bill Blair, who requested the regulation, misrepresented it after officers were trained according to an incorrect interpretation of the law, Mr. Marin said. The chief then refused to speak with or provide information to the Ombudsman investigating its execution.

Police spokesman Mark Pugash argues Mr. Marin was overstepping his jurisdiction by making the request. And Chief Blair, for his part, says he did everything in his power to ensure his officers applied the law correctly.

"I certainly made no effort to deceive anyone or to withhold information," he told CTV Tuesday.

Read on...

G20 report unflattering to Toronto Police Chief

By Adam Radwanski

Amid all of André Marin’s hyperbole, someone else’s words are the most damning thing to be found in the Ontario Ombudsman’s G20 report.

The Toronto Police Service “has made many public mistakes over the last 72 hours,” one Ontario Provincial Police officer wrote to another during the controversial crackdown on protesters during last June's international summit. “The public has largely supported police security operations for G20. What is not supported is the actions by TPS and the inconsistencies of answers they continue to provide….”

The internal e-mail, which explained why the OPP and the RCMP declined to participate in a joint news conference with their municipal counterparts, is the latest indication that the Toronto force went off the rails last summer. And along with other revelations on Tuesday, it stands to put even more heat on embattled Police Chief Bill Blair.

Read on...

Beaten protester urges chief to seek out responsible officers

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is trying to identify the  man with the bicycle in this image from a video of police officers  subduing Adam Nobody on June 26, 2010 during the G20 protests in  Toronto.

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is trying to identify the man with the bicycle in this image from a video of police officers subduing Adam Nobody on June 26, 2010 during the G20 protests in Toronto.

by Jayme Poisson

Last week, a quirky G20 protester with the last name Nobody accepted an apology from Toronto’s top cop.

“Now that he’s apologized is he going to look for the people who did this?” said Adam Nobody, referring to Police Chief Bill Blair.

“Police officers will be held accountable where there is evidence of misconduct,” Blair had said earlier that day.

On the front page of the Star Tuesday, an officer’s face peeks through a raised visor. The image came from newly obtained video footage that shows the same officer repeatedly beating Nobody with a baton.

Read on...

DiManno: Make it right, Chief Blair

The officer captured beating Adam Nobody on video is shown at  centre taking down photographer Colin O’Connor June 26 at Queen’s Park

The officer captured beating Adam Nobody on video is shown at centre taking down photographer Colin O’Connor June 26 at Queen’s Park

by Rosie Dimanno

There are recognizable faces. There are identifiable names.

And that should make quick work of holding at least a few brutalizing police officers to account for their despicable conduct during the G20 Summit protests.

In the hands of so accomplished a career professional as Police Chief Bill Blair — former morality cop, former drug cop, former organized crime cop, former major criminal investigations cop and former head of detective operations — this evidence should cue up a slam-dunk piece of detecting.

Break the case wide open, as they say.

The Star has done much of the leg work for you, chief.

We are in possession of a videotape that shows cops whaling on Adam Nobody. We also have 13 still photographs of a separate incident, the tackling of National Post freelance photographer Colin O’Connor. One Toronto police officer, clearly identifiable, is a central character in both episodes.

Here is a Detecting for Dummies primer to help you get your man, chief:

Read on...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ombudsman charges G20 secret law was 'illegal'

A journalist with visible credentials is arrested by riot police  as rain pours down at the conclusion of the G20 Summit June 27, 2010 in  Toronto.

A journalist with visible credentials is arrested by riot police as rain pours down at the conclusion of the G20 Summit June 27, 2010 in Toronto.

Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson

It was “illegal” and “likely unconstitutional” for Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government to pass a secret regulation that police used to detain people near Toronto’s G20 summit of world leaders last summer, says Ombudsman Andre Marin.

In a scorching 125-page report entitled Caught in the Act, Marin said the measure “should never have been enacted” and “was almost certainly beyond the authority of the government to enact.”

“Responsible protesters and civil rights groups who took the trouble to educate themselves about their rights had no way of knowing they were walking into a trap – they were literally caught in the Act; the Public Works Protection Act and its pernicious regulatory offspring,” he told reporters.

Marin recommended that the little-known 1939 legislation should be revised or replaced and protocols developed so the public is made better aware when police powers are modified. He has given the government six months to make progress on this front.

Read on...

Prison system failing to tackle reoffending, says Ken Clarke

Justice secretary to announce plans to bring down 60%-plus reoffending rates for short-term prisoners through a 'rehabilitation revolution'

Ken Clarke Ken Clarke hopes he can reduce the prison population by 3,000 by 2014.

The justice secretary, Ken Clarke, will today detail his plans to divert thousands of offenders from prison to bring to an end the Victorian-style "bang 'em up" culture and reduce high reoffending rates.

The green paper on sentencing is expected to mark a breach with the "prison works" philosophy introduced by Michael Howard in 1992.

Clarke aims to bring down 60%-plus reoffending rates for short-term prisoners through a "rehabilitation revolution" that could result in the current prison population of 85,500 being reduced by 3,000 by 2014.

Clarke said there were "big failings" in the system, evidenced by high reoffending rates.

While prison is there to punish people, "far more" should be done to ensure they don't reoffend once they are released, as well as stop "remorseless rise" in people being sent to prison in the first place.

Read on....

SIU seeks witnesses who saw police beat protester

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is trying to identify the  man with the bicycle in this image from a video of police officers  subduing Adam Nobody on June 26, 2010 during the G20 protests in  Toronto.

Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is trying to identify the man with the bicycle in this image from a video of police officers subduing Adam Nobody on June 26, 2010 during the G20 protests in Toronto.

The province’s Special Investigations Unit said Tuesday that it’s looking for two people armed with cameras who witnessed the police beating of G20 protester Adam Nobody.

Images of the two men were captured from a YouTube video shot by web developer John Bridge.

In one frame, the SIU has singled out a young man wearing a bicycle helmet. In the other, another man wearing a baseball cap. Both are walking with bicycles.

The Star has obtained another video that shows the face of a police officer who beats Nobody with what appears to be a baton.

Read on...

Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths

Julian Assange

WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide's The News, wrote: "In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch's expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

Read on...

A just released op-ed piece from the Australian. Tom

Toronto journalist witnessed ‘police brutality’ at Toronto G20

Broadcaster Steve Paikin appears before the House of Commons'  public safety committee on Monday to discuss what he saw as police  clashed with protesters at the G20 summit in Toronto.

Broadcaster Steve Paikin appears before the House of Commons' public safety committee on Monday to discuss what he saw as police clashed with protesters at the G20 summit in Toronto.

Richard J. Brennan Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA—One of Toronto’s more respected journalists says he saw first hand the ugly face of police brutality at the June G20 summit in Toronto.

TVO’s Steve Paikin on Monday told a parliamentary committee how he watched a “chippy” journalist get punched and elbowed by police when the man objected to having his credential removed,

“If one defines police brutality as the thoroughly unnecessary, over-the-top implementation of violence to achieve something that otherwise could have been achieved without it then I saw that that night,” said Paikin, who is the anchor and senior editor of TVO’s The Agenda.

Earlier in the day the New Democrats said only a full public inquiry will get to the bottom of the overwhelming evidence of civil rights abuses at the G20 meeting in Toronto.

Read on...


Julian Assange surrenders to British police on Swedish warrant

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2010 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian  Assange, attends a news conference in London. Assange turned himself in  to British police Tuesday morning.

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2010 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, attends a news conference in London. Assange turned himself in to British police Tuesday morning.

LONDON—WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to London police Tuesday as part of a Swedish sex-crimes investigation, the latest blow to an organization that faces legal, financial and technological challenges after releasing hundreds of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Assange was due at Westminster Magistrate’s Court later Tuesday.

If he challenges his extradition to Sweden, he will likely be remanded into British custody or released on bail until another judge rules on whether to extradite him, a spokeswoman for the extradition department said on customary condition of anonymity.

Since beginning to release the diplomatic cables last week, WikiLeaks has seen its bank accounts cancelled and its websites attacked. The U.S. government has launched a criminal investigation, saying the group has jeopardized U.S. national security and diplomatic efforts around the world.

Read on...

OPP officer cleared in lethal Taser shooting

Curtis Rush Staff Reporter

An OPP officer has been cleared in the death of a 27-year-old schizophrenic man who was shot with a Taser in Collingwood last summer.

The Special Investigations Unit, an independent agency, determined that the stun gun is a lethal weapon that in this case caused the death of Aron Firman.

However, Ian Scott, head of the SIU, determined that the officer had a lawful right to fire it and the victim had underlying health conditions that could have contributed to his death.

Two OPP officers were dispatched to the Blue Mountain Residence in Collingwood on June 24 following an assault complaint.

Firman was found sitting in a chair outside one of the buildings, but when police moved in to arrest him, he became agitated. He then got up and “moved aggressively” towards one of the officers, according to the SIU.

One officer tried to intervene and Firman struck her in the face with an elbow, Scott wrote on his report.

Read on...

This headline to the same story certainly conveys a different impression. Tom

Ontario police watchdog blames Taser in man’s death

A second look at G20 police assault

Rosie Dimanno

I see you, Mr. Policeman.

I see your mustachioed face, the visor so helpfully lifted up.

I see your arm — in short-sleeve uniform shirt — pumping back and forth, brutally beating.

I see the baton in that hand.

And do you, Police Chief Bill Blair, recognize this cop? Was he one of yours, pounding on Adam Nobody that awful day, June 26, 2010, when peaceful G20 protesters were assaulted by some law enforcement thugs at Queen’s Park?

If so, what do you intend to do about it now, sir?

The Toronto Star has come into possession of a new piece of videotape shot by a bystander that afternoon. It is 12 minutes and 20 seconds long — 23 seconds of which capture a vicious cop pile-on, officers pounding on Nobody, a stage designer who changed his name two years ago from Adam Trombetta for the pun value.

Read on....

Follow the link. There is new video of the assault on Adam Nobody. Tom

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Crime of Punishment

In 2005, when a federal court took a snapshot of California’s prisons, one inmate was dying each week because the state failed to provide adequate health care. Adequate does not mean state-of-the-art, or even tolerable. It means care meeting “the minimal civilized measure of life’s necessities,” in the Supreme Court’s words, so inmates do not die from rampant staph infections or commit suicide at nearly twice the national average.

These and other horrors have been documented in California’s prisons for two decades, and last week they were before the Supreme Court in Schwarzenegger v. Plata. It is the most important case in years about prison conditions. The justices should uphold the lower court’s remedy for addressing the horrors.

Four years ago, when the number of inmates in California reached more than 160,000, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a “state of emergency.” The state’s prisons, he said, are places “of extreme peril.”

Read on...

This is a New York Times editorial. Tom

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do Not Read This Post if you Ever Want a Gov't Job

Students Warned Not To Link To Or Even Read WikiLeaks If They Want A Federal Job. Is This Still America?

Sure looks like a large and concerted intimidation campaign against WikiLeaks supporters. In addition to this, law students at Boston University were warned not to link to WikiLeaks, or even read it online, because it might keep them from getting a security clearance for a federal job.

Oh, and soldiers trying to read from Iraq get a popup warning them they're about to break the law. Can you say "whack-a-mole", Mr. Constitutional Law Professor?

From Democracy Now! with Glenn Greenwald:

AMY GOODMAN: I'm going to interrupt, because I want to get to some memos that we've been getting from around the country that are very important and interesting. University students are being warned about WikiLeaks. An email from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, that we read in headlines, reads-I want to do it again-quote,

Read on...

Stop Wikileaks? You Might as well Try to Stop Rock and Roll.

DiManno: G20 Youtube video a sorry affair indeed

Sorry chief — truly I am — but sorry just isn’t good enough.

A man of integrity, which Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is, would at least offer to resign.

And a police services board that has the authority to hire and fire this city’s top cop — no one else can do that — should think seriously about terminating Blair’s renewed contract.

Some professionals, because of the power they wield and all the moral heft they carry in our society, don’t have the luxury of being so profoundly wrong or misguided.

It is not simply about taking the blame for the misdeeds of others — officers who answer ultimately to their chief through the chain of command — because the buck stops in that brass-and-braid invested office.

Read on...

Police complaint filed after Tom Flanagan calls for assassination of Wikileaks' Julian Assange

By Charlie Smith,

Vancouver lawyer Gail Davidson filed a written complaint today (December 4) with Vancouver police and the RCMP against Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former campaign manager, Tom Flanagan.

Davidson alleged that on a November 30 CBC television broadcast, Flanagan "counselled and/or incited the assassination of Julian Assange contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada".

Assange is the founder of Wikileaks, which is releasing 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.

On the Power and Politics program hosted by Evan Solomon, Flanagan said: “Well, I think [Julian] Assange should be assassinated, actually. I think Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something.”

Read on...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Arrest Warrant for "Sex Crimes" Against Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Is for "Sex Without a Condom", NOT Non-Consensual Rape Using Force

Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for "sex crimes".

Everyone assumed it was for rape.

But it turns out it was for violating an obscure Swedish law against having sex without a condom.

As Newsweek wrote in August:

A Swedish lawyer representing two women whose allegations triggered a sexual-misconduct investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has given [Newsweek column] Declassified the first on-the-record confirmation of the allegations that led to the issuance—and then rapid cancellation—of a warrant on a rape charge and to a parallel investigation into alleged “molestation." Claes Borgstrom of the Stockholm law firm Borgstrom and Bostrom, who is representing two women who said they had sexual relationships with Assange, said his clients complained to the police of Assange's reluctance to use condoms and unwillingness to be tested for sexually transmitted disease.

***

Borgstrom said that specific details about the the allegations had not yet appeared in Swedish media. But he acknowledged that the principal concern the women had about Assange’s behavior—which they reported to police in person—related to his lack of interest in using condoms and his refusal to undergo testing, at the women’s request, for sexually transmitted disease. A detailed, chronological account of the women’s alleged encounters with Assange—which in both cases began with consensual sexual contact but later included what the women claimed was nonconsensual sex, in which Assange didn’t use a condom—was published on Tuesday by The Guardian; a Declassified item included a more explicit reference than The Guardian to Assange’s declining to submit to medical tests.

Read on...

Meanwhile, Assange's arrest is imminent but Wikileaks will continue. Assange is not acting alone and the documents he says will be released will be released. Despite Holy Joe Lieberman running around trying to shut down the Internet. Tom

New Tory MP Julian Fantino under fire for saying charter has helped criminals

OTTAWA - The Liberals are blasting a newly elected Conservative MP and potential Harper cabinet minister for saying the Charter of Rights and Freedoms has been a friend of criminals.

Liberal MP Justin Trudeau is criticizing Julian Fantino over comments the former Ontario Provincial Police commissioner made in his first interview since formally becoming a politician by winning a federal byelection Monday.

Fantino won southern Ontario's Vaughan riding, ending a 22-year Liberal hold on the seat. He brings tough-on-crime credentials to politics after a 40-year policing career, views he shared in a televised interview on CBC Wednesday night.

"In some cases, the Charter has been exploited and the rulings that have followed have, in fact, benefited some criminals, absolutely," Fantino said.

"The Supreme Court of Canada and other court rulings are trying to change some of the misinterpretations that have been given as to the reason, the purpose, and the mechanisms of the Charter."

Read on...

Collateral Costs: Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility

This is a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The report can be viewed here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ottawa cops reviewing detention policies after release of disturbing videos

OTTAWA — A beleaguered Ottawa police force is reviewing its detention policies and defending the rank-and-file after videos were released showing officers striking two prisoners and cutting a woman’s clothes off.

Chief Vern White says the videos have shaken the public’s confidence in the force.

“I’m always concerned about public confidence,” White told a news conference on Thursday.

“The public, overall, I think have tremendous confidence in what we do. And I understand they’re shaken by what they’ve seen.”

White was the chief of police for the Durham Regional Police Service before taking up the position in Ottawa.

Read on...

Maybe Canada needs something like National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project. Tom

Stay extended, prostitution laws remain in effect

Terri-Jean Bedford claps with her riding crop at an informal press  conference in September 2010.

Terri-Jean Bedford claps with her riding crop at an informal press conference in September 2010.

Laws criminalizing prostitution in Ontario will remain in place until at least until April 29, 2011.

Justice Marc Rosenberg released his ruling this morning, saying he will extend the stay on a landmark decision that would have allowed sex workers to hire bodyguards and communicate freely to sell services.

Rosenberg suggested that the appeal should be heard before the April 29 deadline.

Lawyer Alan Young, who represents dominatrix Terri Jean Bedford, said the judge was concerned with the regulatory void, meaning the lack of laws to regulate the industry.

Last week, lawyers from Ottawa and Queen’s Park argued that the Ontario Court of Appeal should extend the stay on a landmark decision that would have effectively decriminalized prostitution in the province.

Read on...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

University Of Calgary Professor And Senior Advisor To Canadian PM Calls For Julian Assange Assassination On National TV

It is not a good week for Wikileaks. Following yesterday's Interpol arrest warrant, also yesterday, Tom Flanagan, a senior advisor and strategist to the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, called for the assassination of Wikileaks director Julian Assange. On CBS News. On Live TV. As the video notes, "it is believed to be the first ever televised "fatwa" since the edict by the Iranian leadership of the late Ayatollah Khomeini against British writer Salman Rushdie in February 1989." It's a good thing western society, where due process used to mean something, is so much more evolved than that of Iran. Additionally, although news anchor Solomon afforded Flanagan the opportunity to retract his statement, Flanagan balked at doing so and instead reiterated that U.S. President should put out a "contract" on Assange or use "a drone" and that he would not be unhappy if Assange "disappeared." Flanagan who is a trusted member of PM Harper's inner circle of Tory strategists joins Sarah Palin in calling for the death of the Wikileaks director as retribution for the website's release of confidential diplomatic and intelligence "chatter" this week. How long before any senior political advisor has the freedom to issue fatwas on national TV on anyone who dares to utter or publish something that they consider offensive?




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What do you think about this? Tom

Wikileaks and the Reactionary Impulse to Repress

By Matthew Rothschild, November 30, 2010

The single biggest Wikileaks revelation is not that the Saudis are still funding Al Qaeda, or that Hillary Clinton ordered the State Department to spy on foreign diplomats and the U.N., or that many Arab countries favor an attack on Iran.

No, the real eye-opener is the reactionary impulse of people in power to repress those who disseminate information.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the disclosure “not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community.”

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Wikileaks is doing the job the mainstream media abdicated long ago. Tom

Nobody Assaulted. Nobody Arrested.

Ontario police watchdog reopens G20 'Nobody' arrest investigation

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Broken Beyond Repair

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Bob Herbert

You can only hope that you will be as sharp and intellectually focused as former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens when you’re 90 years old.

In a provocative essay in The New York Review of Books, the former justice, who once supported the death penalty, offers some welcome insight into why he now opposes this ultimate criminal sanction and believes it to be unconstitutional.

As Adam Liptak noted in The Times on Sunday, Justice Stevens had once thought the death penalty could be administered rationally and fairly but has come to the conclusion “that personnel changes on the court, coupled with ‘regrettable judicial activism,’ had created a system of capital punishment that is shot through with racism, skewed toward conviction, infected with politics and tinged with hysteria.”

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This is from the New York Times. Tom

Protecting California's prisoners

The Supreme Court should uphold a judicial panel's order that the state reduce its prison population

Ordinarily, states rely on courts and prisons to protect the citizenry from criminals, but California seems determined to turn that convention on its head: Here, we need courts to protect criminals from the state's voters.

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider Tuesday whether to overturn an order by a panel of three federal judges that the state reduce its prison population to 137.5% of capacity within two years, which would mean trimming the inmate count by about 25% from its current average of 165,000. The judges determined that medical care for inmates was so bad that it violated the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and cited overcrowding as a primary cause. California has appealed the order and is being joined by 18 other states, which are worried that their own prison systems might not pass federal muster.

To understand how California found itself in a position in which it must build more prisons, release 40,000 inmates or transfer them to other states, or some combination, it's helpful to examine the results of a recent Times/USC poll. Asked how they would close the state's $25-billion budget gap, voters strongly rejected tax hikes yet offered few suggestions on what spending programs to cut — with one exception. More than 70% wanted to cut the prison system's budget. Meanwhile, voters here have a long history of supporting tough-on-crime measures, which helped boost the prison population to unsustainable numbers.

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I don't think you could come up with a punishment that this U.S. Supreme Court would find cruel and unusual. Tom

Robert Latimer granted full parole: lawyer

Robert Latimer walks on his farm in 2001 before being sentenced to  life with no change of parole for 10 years. On Nov. 29, 2010, he was  granted full parole.

Robert Latimer walks on his farm in 2001 before being sentenced to life with no change of parole for 10 years. On Nov. 29, 2010, he was granted full parole.

VICTORIA—Robert Latimer, the Saskatchewan farmer who killed his severely disabled daughter, has been granted full parole and will be home by Christmas, says his lawyer.

Jason Gratl says Latimer was granted full parole as of Dec. 6 at a hearing on Thursday.

Gratl says Latimer does not want to discuss the conditions of his release or his current emotional state.

The 57-year-old farmer was convicted of second-degree murder and given a life sentence for the 1993 death of his severely disabled daughter, Tracy.

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Blair blasts SIU over findings of ‘probable’ excessive force

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair is lashing out at the Special Investigations Unit for saying excessive force was probably used by officers in two cases during G20 protests.

The two cases are among six investigated by the police watchdog, which then decided not to pursue charges because the officers in question could not be identified.

At the centre of Blair’s grievances, a YouTube video the SIU used as corroborating evidence of excessive force against a civilian.

Blair said the video had been “tampered with.” He said the tape had been “forensically examined” over the weekend and that it was edited in a way that offered no explanation for why force was used.

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Crimbrary applied its own forensic analysis to the video above and Crimbrary can confirm that the police officers in the video were edited into the scene by Ray Harryhausen's ghost. For more of Harryhausen's work see here. Tom

Thursday, November 25, 2010

New Briefing Paper: Deterrence – Effects of Certainty vs. Severity

We are pleased to let you know of our new publication, Deterrence in Criminal Justice: Evaluating Certainty versus Severity of Punishment by Valerie Wright, Ph.D. The report addresses a key concern for policy makers regarding whether deterrence is better achieved by increasing the likelihood of apprehension or increasing the severity of sanctions.

Overall, the report concludes that:

• Enhancing the certainty of punishment is far more likely to produce deterrent effects than increasing the severity of punishment.

• Particularly at high levels of incarceration, there is no significant public safety benefit to increasing the severity of sentences by imposing longer prison terms.

• Policies such as “three strikes and you’re out” and mandatory minimum sentences only burden state budgets without increasing public safety.

• Evidence-based approaches would require increasing the certainty of punishment by improving the likelihood of detection.

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This is from the Sentencing Project. Tom

Your Future President - Palin's Turkey Pardon Fiasco

President Obama Pardons a Turkey

Tasering The Frogs

by digby

Many of you will probably recall that story of the police who tasered the 86 year old bedridden woman, but it appears they've filed the lawsuit and the details are just ... awful:
Hearing the 911 call made by her grandson, Lonnie Tinsley, he said he was unsure what medication his grandmother had taken and that he feared she “wanted to end her life.” He requested that an emergency medical technician come to her apartment to evaluate her.

Yet according the lawsuit (PDF) that was filed in an Oklahoma federal court, it was not the paramedics or an ambulance that responded. Instead, “as many as 10 El Reno police” arrived and “pushed their way through the door.” The grandmother, Lona Varner, who was lying in bed hooked up to an oxygen machine, responded by telling police to get out of her home.

Police admitted tasering the suicidal 86-yr-old woman in her-hospital type bed to incapacitate her after she told the police to get out. According to The Oklahoman, Officer Duran wrote in a police report that Lona Varner pulled a kitchen knife from under her pillow and threatened to kill him. The officer added she raised the knife above her head and said, “If you come any closer, you’re getting the knife.” The cop allegedly tried talking to her to calm her down but “nothing would work.”

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Criminal profiling vs. racial profiling

LAPD officers will utilize crime data, including ethnicity, to identify possible suspects. But there is no place for racial profiling in law enforcement.

Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times

I was accused of racial profiling on the first traffic stop I made as a rookie LAPD officer in 1998. I had spotted a reckless driver speeding through the streets of Van Nuys in a large pickup truck, so I flipped on my lights and took up the chase. The driver eventually pulled over, but as I walked up to his car, he began shouting at me, accusing me of having stopped him because he was black.

I could not sleep that night. A liberal academic before becoming a police officer, I had joined the Los Angeles Police Department hoping to make a difference. Yet here I was, on my first traffic stop, being accused of racism.

I thought of that incident again last week, when the LAPD was accused yet again of not adequately guarding against racial profiling by its officers. This time, it was the Department of Justice making the claim. As evidence, the agency cited a recording of two officers seemingly endorsing the practice in a conversation with a supervisor. One of the men said that he "couldn't do [his] job without racially profiling."

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Different Legal System for the Rich: Imagine Getting Off Easy for Hit-and-Run Because You Run a Hedge Fund

It's not just the recession that's killing the middle class -- it's how the legal system is being used to establish a two-tiered society.
Our lopsided wealth distribution makes the U.S. look more like a banana republic than one of the richest, most highly developed nations in the world. But having a small, wealthy elite living it up among a nation of struggling workers doesn't make a country a banana republic. In a true plutocracy, you also need a bifurcated legal system, with one philosophy of justice for the wealthy and another for the little guy.

While that’s the case to (greatly) varying degrees in every justice system in human history, in a banana republic that class divide is systemic -- it’s baked into the cake. And that may be exactly what’s developing, gradually, in the United States.

Recently, a modest crime that made big headlines provided an eye-opening anecdote. In July, Dr. Steven Milo, a surgeon, was riding his bicycle on a Colorado road when he was struck from behind by a Mercedes. According to the Vail Daily, Milo “suffered spinal cord injuries, bleeding from his brain and damage to his knee and scapula,” causing “disabling spinal headaches” and requiring “multiple surgeries for a herniated disc and plastic surgery to fix the scars he suffered in the accident.” His attorney said Milo “will have lifetime pain.”

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law

by Laura Sullivan

Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz.
Laura Sullivan/NPR

Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz., says two men came to the city last year "talking about building a facility to hold women and children that were illegals."


October 28, 2010

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

"The gentleman that's the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger," Nichols said. "He's a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman."

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

"They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community," Nichols said, "the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate."

But Nichols wasn't buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

"They talked like they didn't have any doubt they could fill it," Nichols said.

That's because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona's immigration law.

Behind-The-Scenes Effort To Draft, Pass The Law

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The Bizarre Tale of Graft and Sleazy Political Opportunism That Brought Us the 'Porno Scanners'

How we got to the point of full body scans, the massive personal intrusion that represents, and the tens of millions spent for machines that irradiate us.

How did we get to the point of full body scans at airports, the massive personal intrusion that represents, and the tens of millions spent for machines that irradiate us as a consequence of merely flying from here to there?

The proximate cause is the attempted bombing of a December 25, 2009 Northwest airlines flight. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, an engineering student, attempted to mix, then detonate a bomb as Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam made its descent to Detroit's Metropolitan Airport. Mr. Abdulmutallab somehow got on the flight with the chemicals undetected, hidden in his underwear. (Image)

There was furor followed by calls for tighter airport security. Specifically, Michael Chertoff, former Bush Homeland Security chief, claimed full body scanners were the solution. One thing led to another and here we are today. Full body scanners are in 68 airports and planned for 1,000 across the United States by the end of 2011. Those who refuse the full body scans will be subject to "pat-downs, which include searches of passengers' genital areas."

The Missing Link

Right after the Christmas 2009 bombing attempt, two United States citizens, frequent world travelers, spoke up about what they'd both witnessed prior to the flight departing from Amsterdam's Schiphol International Airport. Kurt Haskell and his wife Lori, attorneys from Taylor, Michigan, were sitting near the ticket counter waiting to board Flight 253. They saw two men approached the counter and speak with the agent on duty. One of the men was later identified as Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who would later haplessly try to blow up the Northwest flight. The other was a well dressed man in his 50s (the sharp dressed man) who they took to be an Indian national:

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Toronto shut out of G8, G20 spending spree

The federal government showered $50 million on the Muskoka region to compensate residents for the “inconveniences” of hosting world leaders while Toronto — which suffered security headaches, protests and property damage — was shut out of any cash.

Bruce Campion-Smith and Les Whittington

Federal officials confirmed Thursday that much of the funding of a generous G8 “legacy infrastructure fund” was never meant for the summit but rather as payback to people in the Parry Sound-Muskoka region — a riding held by Industry Minister Tony Clement.

As Toronto cleaned up shattered glass from downtown streets and tallied up its lost business, residents across Muskoka were enjoying new sidewalks, bandshells, public washrooms, bridges and a resurfaced airport runway, all courtesy of the summit “slush” fund, opposition MPs charged Thursday.

And they questioned why Toronto — which played host to the larger G20 meeting in June and was ground zero for the protesters — has been denied similar largesse.

“The restaurant owners and the guys that got their windows smashed want some help for these things and I’m not sure they’re going to get it,” said NDP MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre).

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Toronto is getting some half priced sound cannons. Tom

Taibbi: How Can We Expect Wall St. Thieves to Stop Stealing Unless We Throw Them in Prison?

With financial fraud now so sophisticated and pervasive, we clearly need zero-tolerance solutions to change Wall Street's culture.

Often, the most provocative ideas arise after swigs of whiskey. This is especially true when a Rolling Stone reporter is around -- and, as I recently learned, it's all but guaranteed when that Rolling Stoner is Matt Taibbi, aka the heir to the magazine's gonzo throne.

I had the chance to hang with Taibbi last week after he spoke to a Denver audience about his new book, "Griftopia," which argues that Wall Street's bubble-bailout cycle has been one of the greatest -- and least prosecuted -- crimes in history. His presentation was serendipitously timed, coming the same week as a local Bonfire of the Vanities-esque scandal was underscoring the speculator class's privilege. In Colorado's own Bonfire of the Rockies, a local prosecutor had just reduced hit-and-run charges against a fund manager because the prosecutor said a felony would have "serious job implications" for the Sherman McCoy in question.

Over drinks in my living room, Taibbi and I pondered the financial Masters of the Universe and their maddening infallibility. I asked him why they never fear facing legal consequences. Do they believe they're untouchable? Or do they know law enforcement won't pursue them?

"They're not afraid because other than Bernie Madoff, when was the last time someone on Wall Street faced any real punishment?" he responded. "Sure, a few go to jail once in a while, but they're usually out in a few months and then on the speaking circuit. That's not exactly a deterrent against bad behavior that's making you millions."

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10 Ways to Outfox Cops That Are Abusing Their Powers to Trick You

What few people understand, but police know all too well, is that your constitutional rights only apply if you understand and assert them.
As a 33-year law enforcement veteran and former training commander with the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department, I know how easy it is to intimidate citizens into answering incriminating questions or letting me search through their belongings. This reality might make things easier for police looking to make an easy arrest, but it doesn't always serve the interests of justice. That's why I believe all citizens should understand how to protect their constitutional rights and make smart decisions when dealing with officers of the law.

Unfortunately, this important information has remained largely unavailable to the public, despite growing concerns about police misconduct and the excesses of the war on drugs. For this reason, I agreed to serve as a technical consultant for the important new film, 10 Rules for Dealing with Police. The 40-minute docudrama aims to educate the public about basic legal and practical survival strategies for handling even the scariest police encounters. It was produced by the civil liberties group Flex Your Rights and is narrated by former federal judge and acclaimed Baltimore trial lawyer William "Billy" Murphy, Jr.

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You can check out some video excerpts from this docudrama at the library's Facebook page. Remember this is a U.S. story. For Ontario see the Law Union of Ontario's Post G20 Action Guide. Tom

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Injustice Speaks. A Series of Dialogues on Issues of Injustice

Injustice Speaks: AIDWYC hosts a series of dialogues on issues of injustice

Join us on December 1st for a fundraising cocktail engagement featuring Omar Khadr's Canadian lawyer, Dennis Edney.

AIDWYC launches the fundraising speaker series 'Injustice Speaks'. Coinciding with our recent announcement of AIDWYC's charitable status, and designed to foster financial support for our organization and a dialogue on wrongful convictions and other human injustices, 'Injustice Speaks' will feature of-the-moment, in-the-trenches personalities and experts who fight injustice.

Our first 'Injustice Speaks' keynote, Canadian defence lawyer Dennis Edney, has spent the last 8 years defending Omar Khadr, the Canadian citizen who in July 2002 was accused of killing U.S. soldier Sergeant Christopher Speer in a firefight in Afghanistan and was sent to Guantanamo Bay detention centre. At the time of his arrest Khadr was 15 years old. His status as an alleged "child soldier" and the only Western citizen still remaining at Guantanamo Bay have led many to cry injustice and demand his repatriation to Canada.

In his own words Dennis Edney will explain why he thinks his client, caught in the crossfire of the War on Terror, has been a victim of a grave miscarriage of justice. AIDWYC is proud to foster a dialogue on the issue of injustice and welcomes Dennis Edney's contribution to the conversation.

Date & Time: December 1st, 2010, 5:00 - 7:00PM
Location: Arcadian Court, 401 Bay Street, The Simpson Tower, 8th Floor, Toronto
Price: $100 (Prices include hors d'oeuvres and wine)
A limited number of student tickets are available at the Student Rate: $35
Reserved seating is available for purchases of ten or more tickets.
Payment Methods: Cheque or Credit Card

For more information on this event please contact AIDWYC at contact@aidwyc.org or 416-504-7500 x221

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Cameras, sound cannons among G20 equipment Toronto police aim to keep

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY


Toronto police want to keep 52 of the 77 surveillance cameras they temporarily purchased for the G20 summit, more than tripling the force’s stock of CCTV equipment.

They would buy them back at half price from the federal government, which is footing the bill for G20 security.

The police also plan to buy back 400 of 5,200 sets of tactical safety gear, including helmets, gas masks and eye shields, as well as the three sound-cannon LRADs police acquired leading up to the summit.

The extra surveillance cameras, which would bring the Toronto Police Service’s total to 76 cameras, are needed in the city’s expanding entertainment district, said Police Chief Bill Blair. While he wouldn’t name specific areas he’d like to see the new cameras set up, he said areas of the city’s burgeoning, westward-expanding club district would be among the top on his list.

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Sound cannons and more surveillance equipment. I thought the police only needed that to combat the Black Block, not the citizens of Toronto. Do the police get to determine this stuff on their own? Have the police proven themselves responsible enough to handle a weapon like the sound cannon? Tom

Anti-G20 protester launches constitutional challenge

Montreal activist Jaggi Singh has launched a constitutional  challenge against his bail conditions.

Montreal activist Jaggi Singh has launched a constitutional challenge against his bail conditions.

By Antonia Zerbisias

Montreal’s Jaggi Singh, one of dozens of community organizers arrested even before last summer’s G20 protests began, has launched a constitutional challenge against his bail conditions.

Although most of his co-accused have had similar restrictions imposed on their actions and movements, Singh, a noted anti-globalization and social justice activist, is the first to take the constitutional route.

He is to appear Wednesday in Ontario Superior Court, with the support of PEN Canada which is intervening in his case, citing that Singh’s right to freedom of expression has been violated.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

G20 Trials and the War on Activism

by Naomi Klein

The following speech was made by Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein at the telethon held to raise funds the legal costs of G20 protesters. The telethon took place in Toronto on Nov. 11 and rabble.ca carried it live. It can be viewed here.

So we are here to raise money.

But more fundamentally, we are here because we know what happened in this city during the G20 and the wrong people are on trial for it.

There are police officers that should be facing charges for assault and harassment -- and so should any supervisors who enabled or covered over those abuses.

So far no one in authority has paid any price for what happened.

According to the Parliamentary Committee underway in Ottawa, the worst crime the cops committed was taking off their name tags.

And let's not forget that our outgoing city council -- lest we get too nostalgic given the incoming city council -- unanimously passed a motion to "commend the outstanding work of Chief Bill Blair, the Toronto Police Service and the police officers working during the G20 summit in Toronto."

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Does the Justice System Actually Dispense Justice?

Or Does it Serve the Powers-That-Be, Like the Other Branches of Government?

In 2000, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg did something unprecedented. In her dissenting opinion in the Bush v. Gore case (which threw the election to Bush), Ginsburg ended her opinion with the words "I dissent".

Believe it or not, this is a big deal. The standard etiquette for a judge - especially a supreme court justice - writing a dissenting opinion is to end with the phrase, "I respectfully dissent". By leaving out the word "respectfully", Ginsburg dropped normal judicial etiquette to protest an unconstitutional decision, more or less quietly declaring that a coup had occurred.

Supreme court justice Antonin Scalia said that he doesn't care what the legislature intended when it passes a law. This is contrary to hundreds of years of American law, as legislative intent is supposed to be examined whenever legislation is ambiguous, or does not appear to directly or adequately address a particular issue, or when there appears to have been a legislative drafting error.

Scalia also went duck-hunting with Dick Cheney, even though the judicial and executive branches are supposed to keep their distance as part of the separation of powers.

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The Interrogation of Omar Khadr Pt. 1

Here is the link to a trailer for a documentary "You Don't Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantanamo." The Criminology Library is ordering a copy of this documentary.
The Previous post has Part 2 of the Interrogation of Omar Khadr. The absence of a public protest against the treatment of Khadr shows how effective the war on terror has been used to silence protest, indoctrinate the public, and push a warmongering agenda.

The Interrogation of Omar Khadr Pt. 2

Friday, November 12, 2010

The 10 Best Political Cult Horror Films Ever

Social commentary shows up in the unlikeliest places. Here, our list for the most awesome films that double as political allegory.

November 12, 2010

In a new book about John Carpenter's Orwellian masterpiece, They Live, author Jonathan Lethem does some well-deserved justice to the film -- if it’s not the best-ever social commentary out there, it’s at least one of the most fun to watch. But They Live is far from the only movie to shed light on society’s woes. Directors have a long tradition of using horror as an allegory for what we most fear. Here are 10 awesome films that analogize, encapsulate -- and, in some instances, predicted -- true-life political nightmares.

1. Night of the Living Dead (1968). A classic among classics, George Romero’s debut feature not only influenced every quality cult/B-movie to come, he developed a template for political commentary in horror films that both he and his disciples follow to this day. Released in 1968, its slow pacing set the tone for the paranoia that gripped the nation the following year and never left, and the utter humanness of the voracious zombies was a reminder of humankind’s capacity for horrific acts.

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I tend to avoid gory horror films but I'm surprised I've only seen Night of the Living Dead in this list. What have you seen? Tom

Bush's Waterboarding Admission Prompts Calls For Criminal Probe

WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday joined a growing chorus in the human rights community calling for a special prosecutor to investigate whether former president George W. Bush violated federal statutes prohibiting torture.

In his new memoir and ensuing book tour, Bush has repeatedly admitted that he directly authorized the waterboarding of three terror suspects. Use of the waterboard, which creates the sensation of drowning, has been an iconic and almost universally condemned form of torture since the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Except for a brief period during which a handful of Bush administration lawyers insisted that the exigencies of interrogating terror suspects justified its use, waterboarding has always been considered illegal by the Justice Department. It is also a clear violation of international torture conventions.

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George boasts about being a war criminal and the mainstream media yawns. The U.S. has become inured to crimes by the elites going unpunished. Canada too, where the cover-up of war crimes in Afghanistan seems effortless. Tom

G20 summit unmarred by violent rallies

By Park Si-soo

No violent demonstration were reported during the G20 Seoul Summit, which ended Friday, allowing police who have been on high alert for weeks to heave a sigh of relief.

The only large-scale rally, led by the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Union, held at Seoul Station Plaza, Thursday, ended without major clashes. Around 100 anti-G20 activists from 80 civic groups from around the world took part in the protest.

Hundreds of riot police in protective gear surrounded the crowd to keep them from marching toward the summit venue, with water cannons and tear gas at the ready in case violence broke out.

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Guess the Black Block couldn't make it. Probably still in detention in Toronto. Tom

Eight Myths of Justice

Innocent Americans are routinely convicted and incarcerated. The new book False Justice explains how.

In the 2006 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Kansas v. March, Justice David Souter and Justice Antonin Scalia conducted a public debate within their opposing written opinions. Discussing the fates of death row prisoners, Souter opined that in such high stakes cases, innocent men and women are too often found guilty. The “unusually high incidence of false conviction” is probably caused by “the combined difficulty of investigating without help from the victim, intense pressure to get convictions in homicide cases, and the corresponding incentive for the guilty to free the innocent,” Souter wrote.

Scalia countered that wrongful convictions are rare in capital cases because they “are given especially close scrutiny at every level, which is why in most cases many years elapse before the sentence is executed.”

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thousands Protest in Seoul Before G20 Summit

[Protesters raise their anti-G20 banners during a rally ahead of  the G20 Seoul Summit, scheduled on November 11-12, in front of the Seoul  railway station November 6, 2010. (REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak)]Protesters raise their anti-G20 banners during a rally ahead of the G20 Seoul Summit, scheduled on November 11-12, in front of the Seoul railway station November 6, 2010. (REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak)

SEOUL, South Korea -- Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Seoul on Sunday in a largely peaceful protest against this week's G20 summit as the city went on heightened alert for the meeting of world leaders.

Authorities ramped up security at the weekend in preparation for the arrival of 10,000 participants, including 32 heads of government and leaders of international organizations, for the summit on Thursday and Friday.

South Korea is concerned about the risk of violent anti-capitalist protests -- a common feature of summits involving the world's leading economies -- and anxious its rival North Korea may try to stage an incident to embarrass it.

Security forces have been put on high alert, anti-aircraft missiles are at the ready, shipping and air routes are under heightened surveillance and airport screening has increased.

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This should be interesting. It is a never ending story. Will the public have a right to protest in Seoul? Will the police behave themselves? Stay tuned. Tom

The Prison Boom Comes Home to Roost

by James Carroll

Will the fiscal collapse that has laid bare gross inequalities in the US economic system lead to meaningful reforms toward a more just society? One answer is suggested by the bursting of what might be called the “other housing bubble,’’ for these two years have also brought to crisis the three-decade-long frenzy of mass imprisonment. If there was a bailout for bankers, can there be one for inmates?

It is commonly observed now that, beginning about 1981, during the Reagan administration, the wealth of a tiny percentage of top-tier earners sky-rocketed, while the wages of the vast majority of Americans went flat. A rapid escalation in the illusory value of homeownership soon followed. But an unseen boom began then, too — in American rates of incarceration, the housing bubble in prisons. A recent issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, lays it out. In 1975, there were fewer than 400,000 people locked up in the United States. By 2000, that had grown to 2 million, and by this year to nearly 2.5 million. As the social scientist Glenn C. Loury points out, with 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States imprisons 25 percent of all humans behind bars. This effectively created a vibrant shadow economy: American spending on the criminal justice system went from $33 billion in 1980 to $216 billion in 2010 — an increase of 660 percent. Criminal justice is the third largest employer in the country.

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