Thursday, August 26, 2010

Facing Prison for Filming US Police

by Chris Arsenault

When police arrested Anthony Graber for speeding on his motorbike, the 25-year-old probably did not see himself as an advocate for police accountability in the age of new media.

But Graber, a sergeant with the Maryland Air National Guard, is now facing 16 years in prison, not for dangerous driving, but for a Youtube video he posted after receiving a speeding ticket.

The video, filmed with a camera mounted on Graber's motorcycle helmet designed to record biking stunts rather than police abuse, shows a plain clothes officer jumping out of an unmarked car and pointing a pistol at the motorcyclist.

It does not portray the policeman in a positive light.

Read on...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cutbacks force police to curtail calls for some crimes

Budget cuts are forcing police around the country to stop responding to fraud, burglary and theft calls as officers focus limited resources on violent crime.

Cutbacks in such places as Oakland, Tulsa and Norton, Mass. have forced police to tell residents to file their own reports — online or in writing — for break-ins and other lesser crimes.

"If you come home to find your house burglarized and you call, we're not coming," said Oakland Police spokeswoman Holly Joshi. The city laid off 80 officers from its force of 687 last month and the department can't respond to burglary, vandalism, and identity theft. "It's amazing. It's a big change for us."

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California's Marijuana Legalization Initiative is Already a Winner

Ten weeks from Election Day, it’s clear how much Prop. 19 has already accomplished for the drug policy reform movement.

Californians have a chance to make history in November when they vote on Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana for adults over 21. Polls collectively show voters split but leaning toward this momentous stand against failed marijuana prohibition. Ten weeks from Election Day, it’s clear how much Prop. 19 has already accomplished for the drug policy reform movement.

Conventional wisdom about changing marijuana laws previously called for waiting until at least 2012. It was assumed waiting would allow the reform movement time to build more support for the issue and to rely on the larger, younger electorate that inevitably accompanies a presidential election. Sensing the time was right this year, Oakland-based medical marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee ignored that conventional wisdom. He brought together a top notch team to carefully draft an initiative, put up his own money to collect signatures, built an impressive campaign, and took Prop. 19 to the people.

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Pain Ray, Rejected by the Military, Ready to Blast L.A. Prisoners

by Noah Schachtman

Inmates of the Pitchess Detention Center, watch your step. If you get out of line, you may get blasted with an invisible heat ray.

[An  officer with the LA County Sheriff's Department operates the  Raytheon-designed 'pain ray' gun. (Photo courtesy of the LASD)]An officer with the LA County Sheriff's Department operates the Raytheon-designed 'pain ray' gun. (Photo courtesy of the LASD)
The jail’s energy weapon is a small-scale version of the Active Denial System, the experimental crowd control device that the U.S. military brought to Afghanistan — and then quickly shipped back home, after questions mounted about the wisdom of blasting locals with a beam that momentarily puts them in agony. The pain weapon seemed at odds with the military’s efforts to appear more humane and measured in the eyes of the Afghan populace.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department not only found those concerns overblown; they used the military’s long-standing reluctance to zap Afghans as fodder for the plan to zap Pitchess’ prisoners. “I already had contacts at [Active Denial maker] Raytheon who were reeling from the short-sided, self-serving cowardice of people who were more interested in saving face than saving lives, and leveraged it right into getting it into our jails,” former LASD Cmdr. Charles “Sid” Heal tells Danger Room.

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Sounds great. Why don't the Toronto police have one? Tom

Chiefs’defence of gun registry

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair makes a compelling case for supporting Canada’s long-gun registry: we register vehicles, so why wouldn’t we register something as potentially deadly as rifles and shotguns?

“It is not a matter of ideology. It’s just a matter of public safety,” said Blair, speaking as president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

It should not fall to a police chief to explain that simple distinction between ideology and safety, but with a critical parliamentary vote approaching next month to kill the long-gun registry, Blair felt compelled to do it. In today’s political climate, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper has poisoned every national policy debate with partisanship, experts are no longer to be trusted; inconvenient facts are ignored; and critics are muzzled or sidelined.

Now, Harper’s Conservatives have attacked the association by claiming it does not “speak for Canadian police officers on this issue.”

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Walkom: The G20 protests and judicial farce

By Thomas Walkom

Those who accused the authorities of criminalizing dissent during Toronto’s ill-starred G20 summit got it only half right. As this week’s judicial farce demonstrates, the people in charge of public security during that raucous weekend went off the rails. They acted as if potential dissent were a crime.

How else to explain the numbers? During the summit, police arrested more than 1,100 people. Of those, some 800 were jailed — in some cases for more than 36 hours — yet never charged.

Of the 304 who were charged, the government now acknowledges that nine were fingered mistakenly. Another 58 more had their charges withdrawn or stayed Monday during a mass court appearance. The reason? There never was enough evidence to charge them in the first place.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guy Lafleur acquitted of giving conflicting testimony

MONTREAL—Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur has been unanimously acquitted by the Quebec Court of Appeal of giving contradictory testimony at his son’s bail hearing.

Lafleur was convicted in May 2009 and given a suspended sentence a month later.

It wasn’t immediately known whether the Crown would seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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Slow news day. Tom

Is public opinion on gay marriage ahead of the Supreme Court's?

Judicial opinions on cultural issues usually reflect settled shifts in public attitudes. What does this mean for the fate of same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court?

Courts are almost never at the vanguard of social change. In general, they have required sweeping cultural shifts such as school desegregation only when it was clear that a substantial percentage of Americans supported them. So what does this portend for same-sex marriage litigation, which is likely to end up before the Supreme Court eventually, especially in light of recent federal court rulings in Boston and San Francisco in favor of same-sex marriage?

The first same-sex marriage cases, filed by gay couples in the 1970s, were nearly laughed out of court. But by the time of last week's ruling in support of same-sex marriage, more than 40% of the nation — and an even greater percentage in California — supported it. The question now will be whether that's enough of a cultural shift to influence the Supreme Court's thinking.

Before World War II, the NAACP refused to challenge school segregation, knowing that a case would lose in court because most Americans supported the status quo. But by the time the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, half the country agreed with the outcome.

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A Death in Solitary: Did Corrections Officers Help an Inmate Kill Himself?

A convicted killer in Pennsylvania committed suicide in lock-down. His family is asking whether corrections officers helped him out.

When Matthew Bullock, a 32-year-old convicted killer, fashioned a noose from a bed sheet that he wasn't supposed to have, secured it around his neck, tied it to thin steel bars in the face-high window of his solitary confinement cell, then sat down hard in an effort to break his neck and suffocate himself, it wasn't the first time he'd attempted suicide. In fact, according to a civil lawsuit filed in November 2009 by Bullock's parents against officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) and officials and state-contracted health care providers at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas (SCI Dallas) — where Bullock's lifeless body was found hanging on Aug. 24, 2009 — Bullock, who had a long history of mental illness, psychotic episodes and auditory hallucinations, had tried to kill himself at least 20 documented times in the decade before his 2003 incarceration, and several more times since. Autopsy photos taken after Bullock's suicide showed that his forearms were covered from wrist to bicep with scars, apparently self-inflicted by razors and knives. One scar on his right inner wrist appeared to be recent, with scabs only superficially formed. The scars were both horizontal and vertical. Veins were crossed and traced while cuts intersected and mingled. The number of suicidal cuts in both arms was too high to count.

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HIV Non-Disclosure and the Criminal Law: Establishing Policy Options for Ontario

Following is an email from Eric Mykhalovskiy about his report on HIV Non-Disclosure and Criminal Law. Links to the documents follow the email. Tom

Dear Expert Advisory Committee Members,

I am writing to provide you with a final copy of the report: HIV Non-Disclosure and the Criminal Law: Establishing Policy Options for Ontario. Many thanks to you for your support of the project and a special note of gratitude to all of you who were able to provide comments and suggestions on the draft report. Also attached is a research summary of the report prepared by York University's Knowledge Mobilization Unit.

Chapter 4 of the report was recently presented in a late-breaker oral session at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna. We have also presented the report to the Ministry of the Attorney General in a meeting with a representative from the Criminal Law Division and will continue to try to open the doors at MAG with our work. We are working with the KTE Units at York University and at OHTN on future "knowledge translation and exchange" initiatives for the report which include meetings with MAG, media coverage and a possible follow-up stake-holders' dialogue project on prosecutorial guidelines.

We plan to have the report "hosted" at a few websites. Once that is firmed up i will pass along the information to you.

If you have any suggestions around KTE for the report please let me know. And please do circulate the report within your networks!!

Many thanks,

Eric

--
Eric Mykhalovskiy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator
Department of Sociology
Vari Hall
York University
4700 Keele St.
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M3J 1P3
416-736-2100 xt. 66405

Here are links to the two documents:

http://criminology.utoronto.ca/HIV_nondisclosure_snapshot.pdf

http://criminology.utoronto.ca/HIV_nondisclosure.pdf

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Taser International loses bid to quash Braidwood conclusions

Sergeant Gord McNevan demonstrates the use of a taser at police  headquarters in Peterborough, Ont.

Ian Bailey

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has rejected a Taser International challenge of the report of an inquiry into the Robert Dziekanski case, including the finding that tasers can kill.

Tuesday’s written ruling is a blow for the Arizona-based weapons company, which has frequently gone to the courts to stand up for its products. In this case, it was seeking to block some findings of the Braidwood inquiry.

The inquiry, established by the B.C. government in 2008, looked into the police use of tasers and the October, 2007, death of Mr. Dziekanski during a confrontation at Vancouver International Airport with four Mounties.

Mr. Justice Robert Sewell of the B.C. Supreme Court wrote in a ruling released Tuesday that he could find no merit in Taser’s argument on the key point about tasers causing death.

Read on...


Friday, August 6, 2010

Conrad Black drops bid to return to Canada

Theresa Tedesco, Chief Business Correspondent, Financial Post · Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010

Conrad Black leaves the Dirksen Federal Building following a  hearing detailing the terms of his bail July 23, 2010 in Chicago,  Illinois.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Conrad Black leaves the Dirksen Federal Building following a hearing detailing the terms of his bail July 23, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.

Conrad Black has withdrawn his request to return to Canada while a U.S. appeals court reviews his fraud convictions, sources say.

Lawyers for the 65-year-old former newspaper baron, who was released on bail two weeks ago, have notified U.S. Federal District Court Judge Amy St. Eve that Lord Black will not be filing additional disclosure about his finances as a pre-condition before she would entertain his request to return to his Toronto home.

Sources say Lord Black, who is said to have renewed his expired British passport and is visiting New York, is not yet prepared to file a sworn affidavit providing a complete accounting of his financial affairs.

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OPP on remote reserve chased out by rock-throwing mob

Chaotic scene that saw officers pushed and shoved as station was breached is detailed in OPP report

Christie Blatchford


The entire Ontario Provincial Police detachment at the remote Pikangikum First Nation was marched off the reserve five weeks ago by a rock-throwing mob of elected councillors and residents.

The stunning forced departure of 11 OPP members from the isolated community, reached in summer only by air or water, went publicly unacknowledged by the force until now.

It was also almost entirely unreported, with only a couple of small stories, none with any detail, appearing locally about a week after the June 30 incident.

These stories either mentioned that “some officers” had been forced to leave or described the incident as a protest in which no one was hurt.

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Most want to decriminalize or legalize and tax pot: poll

By Kathleen Harris, QMI Agency

OTTAWA — More than half of Canadians want laxer pot laws.

An exclusive Leger Marketing poll for QMI Agency found 21% think the federal government should decriminalize soft drugs like marijuana, while 34% say legalize it and tax it just like tobacco and alcohol.

But 20% of Canadians take an opposite view and think there should be even tougher penalties for people caught with cannabis.

The chronically contentious issue divides Canadians along lines of age, gender and geography — and only 16% think current laws are adequate.

Men are more likely to think marijuana should be legalized — 39% compared to 29% of women — and youth are more open to slacker laws than seniors. About 23% of respondents aged 18-34 think weed should be decriminalized, while 28% of those 65 or older want harsher penalties for smoking dope.

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Senate confirms Elena Kagan's nomination to Supreme Court

By Paul Kane and Robert Barnes

The Senate confirmed U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan on Thursday as the 112th justice to the Supreme Court, making her the fourth woman to sit on the court.

On a vote of 63 to 37, Kagan, who will succeed retired justice John Paul Stevens, became the second member President Obama has placed on the high court. One year ago, Sonia Sotomayor won confirmation as the court's first Latina.

Some Democrats have said they hope that the lifetime appointment of Kagan, a consensus-building liberal, will nudge the court slightly to the left.

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Mexico Looks to Legalization as Drug War Murders Hit 28,000

President joins calls for debate after figures reveal extent of violence since launch of military offensive against cartels in 2006


by Jo Tuckman in Mexico City

Mexico's president, Felipe Calderón, has joined calls for a debate on the legalization of drugs as new figures show thousands of Mexicans every year being slaughtered in cartel wars.

[Alleged drug traffickers stand behind packages of seized marijuana  as they are presented to the press in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday July  21, 2010. According to the army, the suspects were arrested and the  drugs seized from them in Tecate after a joint operation by the army and  state police, and more than 100 tons of marijuana have been seized in  2010.  (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)]Alleged drug traffickers stand behind packages of seized marijuana as they are presented to the press in Tijuana, Mexico, Wednesday July 21, 2010. According to the army, the suspects were arrested and the drugs seized from them in Tecate after a joint operation by the army and state police, and more than 100 tons of marijuana have been seized in 2010. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)
"It is a fundamental debate," the president said, belying his traditional reluctance to accept any questioning of the military-focused offensive against the country's drug cartels that he launched in late 2006. "You have to analyze carefully the pros and cons and key arguments on both sides." The president said he personally opposes the idea of legalization.

Calderón's new openness comes amid tremendous pressure to justify a strategy that has been accompanied by the spiraling of horrific violence around the country as the cartels fight each other and the government crack down. Official figures released this week put the number of drug war related murders at 28,000.





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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

John Ivison: Nothing baffling about Day’s crime comments




It had all the hallmarks of a classic Stockwell Day gaffe, a highlight reel moment comparable to his comment during the 2000 election that Canadian jobs were flowing south “just like the Niagara River,” which actually flows north.

The Treasury Board Secretary held a news conference in Ottawa to talk about the economy but reporters were more interested in why the government is intent on spending $9-billion on prisons at a time of declining crime rates and fiscal restraint.

“We’re very concerned about the increase in the amount of unreported crimes that surveys clearly show are happening,” replied Mr. Day.


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No comment. Tom