Saturday, December 31, 2011

Defense Act Affirms Indefinite Detention of US Citizens

ATLANTA, Georgia - Civil liberties groups and many citizen activists are outraged over language in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA) that appears to lay the legal groundwork for indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial.

Activists in Washington DC demand the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. (Credit:Matt Daloisio/100dayscampaign.org/CC By 2.0) David Gespass, president of the National Lawyers Guild, called it an "enormous attack on the U.S. and our heritage" and a "significant step" towards fascism, in an interview with IPS.

"For a very long time the U.S. has been moving towards what I personally think of as fascist - the integration of monopoly capital with state power, that's combined with an increased repression at home and greater aggression around the world. I don't think we're there yet, but I do see that we're going in that direction," Gespass said. "I think the... act is a significant step in that direction."

"It's quite severe. If this continues, people will not be able to count on constitutional protections at all," Debra Sweet, national director of the group World Can't Wait, told IPS.

Subtitle D of the act contains several controversial provisions on indefinite detention of terrorism suspects.

Read on...

And of course the sheeple apparently could care less. Tom

Omnibus crime bill will target gangs not teens, Justice Minister says

Canadian jail cells are not going to be filled with teenagers and college students who share marijuana with friends, according to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, who says his crime bill has been grossly misrepresented.

In a year-end interview with Postmedia News, he said mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana production are designed to target organized crime, gangs and grow-ops. They don’t apply to youths — and even new provisions that aim to penalize adults who are trafficking drugs around schools mean perpetrators would have to be caught with an “eight-pound joint” to be saddled with a mandatory minimum under the safe streets and communities act, he argued.

“For the most part the laws with respect to marijuana aren’t changed, but they are changed with respect to trafficking associated with organized crime, gangs and grow-ops for the purpose of trafficking,” he said. “I want to make that very clear because it was not clear in some of the criticisms. If somebody was thrown in jail under this bill, they were in the business of trafficking.”

Read on...

Police Tactic: Keeping Crime Reports Off the Books

Jill Korber walked into a drab police station in Queens in July to report that a passing bicyclist had groped her two days in a row. She left in tears, frustrated, she said, by the response of the first officer she encountered.

“He told me it would be a waste of time, because I didn’t know who the guy was or where he worked or anything,” said Ms. Korber, 34, a schoolteacher. “His words to me were, ‘These things happen.’ He said those words.”

Crime victims in New York sometimes struggle to persuade the police to write down what happened on an official report. The reasons are varied. Police officers are often busy, and few relish paperwork. But in interviews, more than half a dozen police officers, detectives and commanders also cited departmental pressure to keep crime statistics low.

While it is difficult to say how often crime complaints are not officially recorded, the Police Department is conscious of the potential problem, trying to ferret out unreported crimes through audits of emergency calls and of any resulting paperwork.

Read on...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bill Black's Handy Guide to Bankster Fraud, From 'Small Fraudulent Fry' to 'Septic Tank Scum'

The white collar criminologist calls out Bush and Obama for not prosecuting financial fraud and demands an end to the free pass for campaign contributors.

Sixty Minutes' December 11, 2011 interview of President Obama included a claim by Obama that, unfortunately, did not lead the interviewer to ask the obvious, essential follow-up questions.

“I can tell you, just from 40,000 feet, that some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street, in some cases, some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street, wasn't illegal.”

Obama did not explain what Wall Street behavior he found least ethical or what unethical Wall Street actions he believed was not illegal. It would have done the world (and Obama) a great service had he been asked these questions. He would not have given a coherent answer because his thinking on these issues has never been coherent. If he had to explain his position he, and the public, would recognize it was indefensible. I offer the following scale of unethical banker behavior related to fraudulent mortgages and mortgage paper (principally collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)) that is illegal and deserved punishment. I write to prompt the rigorous analytical discussion that is essential to expose and end Obama and Bush’s “Presidential Amnesty for Contributors” (PAC) doctrine. The financial industry is the leading campaign contributor to both parties and those contributions come overwhelmingly from the wealthiest officers – the one-tenth of one percent that thrives by being parasites on the 99 percent.

Read on...

Madness: Even School Children Are Being Pepper-Sprayed and Shocked with Tasers

An alarming series of incidents offers some insight into how casual police have become about deploying "less lethal" weapons.

There is something truly disturbing about a society that seeks to control the behavior of schoolchildren through fear and violence, a tactic that harkens back to an era of paddle-bruised behinds and ruler-slapped wrists. Yet, some American school districts are pushing the boundaries of corporal punishment even further with the use of Tasers against unruly schoolchildren.

The deployment of Tasers against “problem” students coincides with the introduction of police officers on school campuses, also known as School Resource Officers (SROs). According to the Los Angeles Times, as of 2009, the number of SROs carrying Tasers was well over 4,000.

As far back as 1988, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Congress of Parents and Teachers, American Medical Association, National Education Association, American Bar Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics recognized that inflicting pain and fear upon disobedient children is far more harmful than helpful. Yet, we continue to do it with disturbing results, despite mountains of evidence of more effective methods of discipline.

Read on...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Battlefield America: Is Gitmo in Your Future?

A retired top CIA analyst ponders if he could be arrested and held under the Senate's new military detention policy.

Ambiguous but alarming new wording, which is tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and was just passed by the Senate, is reminiscent of the “extraordinary measures” introduced by the Nazis after they took power in 1933.
And the relative lack of reaction so far calls to mind the oddly calm indifference with which most Germans watched the erosion of the rights that had been guaranteed by their own Constitution. As one German writer observed, “With sheepish submissiveness we watched it unfold, as if from a box at the theater.”

The writer was Sebastian Haffner (real name Raimond Pretzel), a young German lawyer worried at what he saw in 1933 in Berlin, but helpless to stop it since, as he put it, the German people “collectively and limply collapsed, yielded and capitulated.”

“The result of this millionfold nervous breakdown,” wrote Haffner at the time, “is the unified nation, ready for anything, that is today the nightmare of the rest of the world.” Not a happy analogy.

Read on...

The 13 Best Political Films of 2011

Looking back at the movies that moved us most.

We Were Here
Photo Credit: wewerehere.com
This year was defined by anxiety: the economy roiled, the GOP was increasingly hostile, the government careened towards shutdown more than once. And while these things all still seem to loom, 12 months later, there is a landscape of renewed hope and empowerment. The Arab Spring set off revolutions across the Middle East, which first inspired the Western world to rise up into Occupy Wall Street. Now the ripple effect of people power travels further, as we see the germination of the Russian Winter. Culturally, we’re gearing for a seismic shift: In 2012, expect to see the effects of the year manifested in film, music, and art. But in 2011, we felt the tremors, and a clutch of political films and documentaries both presaged and inspired the increasing awareness and resolve we’ve seen smattering across the globe. You’ll see some of these in the Oscar nomination lineup, but all of them are must-see.

1. Margin Call (dir. JC Chandor)

As Occupy Wall Street was congealing—and the scrutiny surrounding Wall Street's robbery and subsequent bailout was occupying America's consciousness—an intensely disquieting thriller called Margin Call was released. Set over the course of 24 hours inside an ostensibly fictional Wall Street firm in the hot zone that was 2008, it's an intimate look at the decision-making that precipitated the financial crisis, "inspired" by real events, including the ultimate meltdown of mortgage securities. The all-star ensemble cast is collectively brilliant at portraying the nuance of the morality, and lack of it, that these firms displayed—Zachary Quinto's troubled math genius acts as a compass against the supreme evil embodied in the CEO and other top-level employees, portrayed by Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, and Demi Moore, whose Machiavellian greed leads them to sacrifice not only company employees, but the American people. Though the technical aspects of the financial crisis can sometimes seem arcane, Margin Call threaded together an idea of how it could happen—as interpreted by writer/director JC Chandor, who'd never made a film before this one—and gave us a clearer view into what exactly we were protesting. Stunning. (Currently in theaters.)

Read on...

The Silent Treatment

Imagine serving decades in prison for a crime your sibling framed you for. Now imagine doing it while profoundly deaf.

"This is a collect call from a correctional institution," says the robotic female voice at the other end of the line. After a moment of confusion, I realize it must be Felix Garcia, whom I'd visited several weeks earlier in a northern Florida prison. He is serving a life sentence for a robbery-murder for which his own brother now admits to framing him. I'd sent him a card for his 50th birthday. It had a picture of flowers—something he probably hasn't seen in 30 years—and some lame words of encouragement. Now he's calling to thank me and to plead for help. His words seem surreal, relayed in the emotionless drone of a TTY operator: Four of his fellow deaf inmates have tried to commit suicide—one somehow managed to swallow a razor blade. It sounds like he's thinking about doing the same. "Please,'' the voice intones, "will you phone my lawyers? I can't get through to them."

Felix has been deaf, for all practical purposes, since childhood. For most of his three decades behind bars, which began when he was 19, he's been housed in the general population with few special services for his disability. His experiences are the stuff of TV prison dramas: He's ignored or taunted by guards, raped and brutalized by other prisoners. Last year, he tried to hang himself.

"Felix," I plead awkwardly. "You are not going to kill yourself. Please, please, hold on."

"I won't do it,'' he says finally. "I have Jesus."

Read on...

Private Prisons Gone Wild

Legal challenges are no match for Arizona politicians determined to privatize the state’s correctional services.

The recent dismissal of a lawsuit filed against both Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) Director Charles Ryan and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) is the latest step in the state’s hell-bent plan to roughly double its number of privately managed prison “beds.”

The suit, filed in an Arizona Superior Court by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) on September 12, sought an injunction against ADC and the governor’s pending award of 5,000 new prison beds to be operated by a for-profit vendor. The state currently contracts out more than 6,500 minimum- and medium-security beds at seven facilities with Geo Group, the nation’s second largest private prison operator, and Management and Training Corporation (MTC).

AFSC argued that ADC is negligent in its statutorily required duty to conduct biennial cost and quality assessments of the state’s private prisons. The purpose of these assessments is to determine whether the state is receiving the same quality of service from private prison operators as provided by public facilities.

Nevertheless, ADC has not completed a single survey.

Read on....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Return Of Debtor’s Prisons: Thousands Of Americans Jailed For Not Paying Their Bills

Federal imprisonment for unpaid debt has been illegal in the U.S. since 1833. It’s a practice people associate more with the age of Dickens than modern-day America. But as more Americans struggle to pay their bills in the wake of the recession, collection agencies are using harsher methods to get their money, ushering in the return of debtor’s prisons.

NPR reports that it’s becoming increasingly common for people to serve jail time as a result of their debt. Because of “sloppy, incomplete or even false documentation,” many borrowers facing jail time don’t even know they’re being sued by creditors:

Take, for example, what happened to Robin Sanders in Illinois. She was driving home when an officer pulled her over for having a loud muffler. But instead of sending her off with a warning, the officer arrested Sanders, and she was taken right to jail.And I didn’t know what it was about.” Sanders owed $730 on a medical bill. She says she didn’t even know a collection agency had filed a lawsuit against her. [...]

Read on...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stanley Cup riot proceedings should be televised: B.C. attorney general

The Crown gave notice in court Wednesday that the attorney general wants to televise proceedings involving accused Stanley Cup rioters.

Prosecutor Patti Tomasson told a judge that the Crown would apply to have the proceedings televised involving people accused of participating in the June 15 riot. B.C. Premier Christy Clark has said she wants to see riot-related court proceedings televised for the public.

The prosecutor gave notice Wednesday at the bail hearing of Ryan Dickinson, who remains in custody. His case was adjourned until Friday at 9 a.m. at Vancouver Provincial Court.

Read on....

Survey: 1 in 4 U.S. women victims of severe violence

It's a startling number: 1 in 4 women surveyed by the government say they were violently attacked by their husbands or boyfriends.

Experts in domestic violence don't find it too surprising, although some aspects of the survey may have led to higher numbers than are sometimes reported.

Even so, a government official who oversaw the research called the results "astounding."

"It's the first time we've had this kind of estimate" on the prevalence of intimate partner violence, said Linda Degutis of the centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The survey, released by the CDC Wednesday, marks the beginning of a new annual project to look at how many women say they've been abused.

Read on...

"Don't Be Fooled": The Indefinite Detention Bill DOES Apply to American Citizens on U.S. Soil

Even at this 11th hour - when all of our liberties and freedom are about to go down the drain - many people still don't understand that the indefinite detention bill passed by Congress allows indefinite detention of Americans on American soil.

The bill is confusing. As Wired noted on December 1st:

It’s confusing, because two different sections of the bill seem to contradict each other, but in the judgment of the University of Texas’ Robert Chesney — a nonpartisan authority on military detention — “U.S. citizens are included in the grant of detention authority.”

A retired admiral, Judge Advocate General and Dean Emeritus of the University of New Hampshire School of Law also says that it applies to American citizens on American soil.

The ACLU notes:

Don’t be confused by anyone claiming that the indefinite detention legislation does not apply to American citizens. It does. There is an exemption for American citizens from the mandatory detention requirement (section 1032 of the bill), but no exemption for American citizens from the authorization to use the military to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial (section 1031 of the bill). So, the result is that, under the bill, the military has the power to indefinitely imprison American citizens, but it does not have to use its power unless ordered to do so.

But you don’t have to believe us. Instead, read what one of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham said about it on the Senate floor: “1031, the statement of authority to detain, does apply to American citizens and it designates the world as the battlefield, including the homeland.”

Read on....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Film The Police

From the reaction of many police officers to being filmed, this may be more incendiary than the song that inspired it:

There has been a nationwide move to restrict the people's right to film the authorities in the course of their duties and I would expect there to be much more of that as the culture of dissent explodes across the country.

In one of the most pointed opinions yet, the U.S. First Circuit ruled unanimously against the police in one of these cases:

For those of you not familiar with Simon Glik's case, Glik was arrested on October 1, 2007, after openly using his cell phone to record three police officers arresting a suspect on Boston Common. In return for his efforts to record what he suspected might be police brutality -- in a pattern that is now all too familiar -- Glik was charged with criminal violation of the Massachusetts wiretap act, aiding the escape of a prisoner and disturbing the peace.

Read on...

Cute Little Psychokillers

Why "bad seed" films are both deeply unsettling and confoundingly popular.

Hypothetical question: What if a parasitic creature is squatting in one’s womb? What if, once born, the baby is a monster—alien and unlovable? What exactly does one do if the darkest and most unspeakable of parental fears come to terrifying fruition? These questions drive one of the classic tropes of horror: the bad seed film. Lynn Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, a psychological thriller about the relationship between Eva (Tilda Swinton) and her sociopath son, is the most recent addition to a genre that is both deeply unsettling and confoundingly popular.

In order for a film to legitimately be called a bad seed picture, it must have a strong parent-child element, and the "parent" is almost always the mother. Maternal guilt and culpability is the engine that keeps these films running, and generally, the father is at best haplessly naive and at worst complicit in the child’s misdeeds. And, as opposed to a film like Children of the Corn, in which evil children operate horrifically outside of the bounds of adult control, the bad seed movie gives us little monsters who are, at least nominally, under parental supervision. A viewer prone to identifying with characters in films, even bad horror movies, doesn’t feel sorrow over the death of lil’ Isaac, the crazed killer prophet from Children of the Corn, because his death represents the death of an aberration: a psychotic, parent-killing monster. In the evil spawn films, though, there can be no return to normal—one way or another, the order has been upended, and there is no way for these plots to end in a satisfactory manner for either the child or parent.

Read on...

Protests Boost Sales and Fears of Sonic Blaster

QUANTICO, Va.—Police deployment of sonic blasters at Occupy Wall Street and G-20 protest rallies is fueling both sales and criticism of the devices, which emit beams of sound with laser-like intensity.

In this photo taken Sept. 14, 2011, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Bevington, requirements officer with the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate, demonstrates one of the military's latest voice projection system and instant translation technologies, that can project a human voice a mile away and instantly translate from English to another language, at the Marine Base in Quantico Va. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

More U.S. police and emergency-response agencies are using the so-called Long-Range Acoustic Devices instead of megaphones or conventional loudspeakers for crowd control, according to news reports and leading manufacturer LRAD Corp. of San Diego.

But the products, which the makers developed as nonlethal options for military use, are prompting outcries from people on the receiving end, who call them "sound cannons." The city of Pittsburgh is fighting an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit claiming the piercing tone from a police blaster during the 2009 G-20 summit permanently damaged a woman's hearing. At least one Occupy Wall Street protester says New York City police also used the punishing alert tone, although police say they have used the device only to broadcast messages.

Read on...

Russian Protesters Encounter Surveillance UAV Drone

Thank goodness this sort of thing doesn’t happen in the land of the free… oh wait

Video has emerged of Russian pro Democracy protesters being watched by hovering surveillance drones overhead.

25,000 people gathered in Bolotnaya Square in Moscow Saturday, were stunned to witness the strange hovering object directly above them. Some climbed trees to take pictures and get a closer look at the “UFO”.

The craft is clearly some kind of small quadricopter drone similar to the one pictured below:

Read on...

Alex Jones is over-the-top........but........... And there is this story:

Police employ Predator drone spy planes on home front

Tom

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Canada's prisons becoming warehouses for the mentally ill

Canada’s prisons are facing a growing crisis as they become the “institutions of last resort” for people with mental illnesses, the Canadian Psychiatric Association says.

“Corrections [Canada] is not geared to deal with some of the needs of a vast population of people with major mental illnesses,” CPA board member Gary Chaimowitz told The Globe and Mail.

Dr. Chaimowitz will be on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning to ask the federal government to improve prison services for mentally ill offenders.

More than one in 10 men and nearly one in three women held in federal prisons have mental-health problems, according to 2009 figures from the Correctional Service of Canada. Those numbers represent a near-doubling in the total proportion of inmates with mental illnesses between 1997 and 2009

Read on...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Study Finds Racial Disparity in Presidential Pardons

A new study by Pro Publica finds whites are four times more likely to receive a presidential pardon than minorities.

ProPublica's review examined what happened after President George W. Bush decided at the beginning of his first term to rely almost entirely on the recommendations made by career lawyers in the Office of the Pardon Attorney.

The office was given wide latitude to apply subjective standards, including judgments about the "attitude" and the marital and financial stability of applicants. No two pardon cases match up perfectly, but records reveal repeated instances in which white applicants won pardons with transgressions on their records similar to those of blacks and other minorities who were denied.

Read on...

Alabama Agriculture Department Advances Plan To Replace Immigrant Workers With Prisoners

ThinkProgress has been reporting on the catastrophic economic consequences of Alabama’s harshest-in-the-nation immigration law. Undocumented workers are the backbone of Alabama’s agriculture industry, and their exodus has already created a labor shortage in the state. Farmers say crops are rotting in the field and they are in danger of losing their farms by next season.

GOP politicians have crowed that driving immigrants out of the state will reduce unemployment by letting native citizens fill those jobs. But they’ve quickly discovered that Americans are simply unwilling to do the back-breaking labor of harvesting crops.

To stave off the disastrous collapse of state agriculture, Alabama officials are seriously considering replacing immigrant workers with prison laborers who they could perhaps pay even less than immigrants. Earlier this year, the head of Alabama’s agriculture department floated this idea. Now, the department is actively promoting it to the state’s farmers:

Read on....

Pepper Spray, Tasers, and LRADs — What's Behind the Explosion of 'Less Lethal' Weapons for Crowd Control?

From the battlefield of Afghanistan to your local Occupation, the government has invested big bucks in weapons that don't cause permanent damage.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the research and development of more "media-friendly" weapons for everyday policing and crowd control, and as uprisings around the world spread, the demand for nonlethal weapons is increasing.

According to an October report by the Homeland Security Research Corporation, the global market for "less lethal" weapons is predicted to triple by 2020, with more than half of the current market devoted to crowd dispersal weapons like those being used against protesters at Occupy Wall Street.

Americans have a rich history of taking to the streets to demand social justice. From the labor strikes of the progressive era to the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 60s and 70s, the reaction by the powers-that-be has been the same: send in the riot police. As the Occupy Wall Street movement advances this tradition, the powerful have again reacted with overwhelming force. But the riot police of yesterday were armed much differently than they are today.

Read on...

Tory crime bill will make matters worse for mentally ill: expert

At least one group that never got a chance to make its pitch before a Commons committee reviewing the omnibus crime bill is now coming forward to voice its concerns after Conservatives used their majority Monday night to push the bill through the House of Commons.

Forensic psychiatrist and Canadian Psychiatric Association board member Gary Chaimowitz will be in Ottawa Wednesday to put forward a series of recommendations aimed at addressing the problem of mental illness in provincial and federal prisons — something critics have argued is completely ignored in Bill C-10.

“The issue exists notwithstanding this bill, but the bill will likely exacerbate the crisis for patients with mental illness in the criminal justice system,” Chaimowitz said in an interview Tuesday, noting that in some parts of the country as much as half the inmate population could be suffering from mental illness and not receiving proper treatment.

“It is timely.”

Read on...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Even Bahrain's Use of 'Miami Model' Policing Will Not Stop the Uprising

Bahraini leaders have hired the architect of Miami's brutal policing methods, showing their disregard for reform

In 2003, as a photography student in Chicago, I travelled to Miami to cover protests by trade unionists and other activists at a meeting of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. I had just returned from witnessing the repressive tactics of the Israeli army against Palestinians – invasions, curfew, violent crackdown on unarmed protests – but never expected to see them deployed at home in a US city.

I was shocked when I reached Miami and found it similar to a West Bank town under occupation. The city was largely empty save for police vehicles speeding in every direction and helicopters hovering above. Once the protests began, it was impossible to move more than a few feet in any direction without confronting the police and their brutality. The thousands of police dressed in full riot gear and armed with teargas, rubber bullets, batons, electric tasers – all of which were used against protesters and journalists – were everywhere around Miami.

The "model", as Miami public officials called it at the time, was the brainchild of police chief John Timoney. After leading the head-bashing of protesters as Philadelphia's police commissioner during the Republican party's national convention in 2000, Timoney was hired by Miami and given more than $8m to introduce a level of police brutality unlike any we had ever seen in the US.

Read on...

Five things about crime and doing the time in Canada

Colin Price

The Post’s Sarah Boesveld lists five things you should know about the Statistics Canada Report on Cases in Adult Court by Province 2009-10:

1. Cases on the decline
Canada’s courts heard far fewer criminal cases during the period of 2009-10 than the year prior, dropping to 262,616 criminal cases from the 392,907 disposed of by judges in the 2008-09 period. The number of cases was almost the same the year before that, but about 3% higher than in 2006-07. Before that, criminal court case loads had been dropping for four years.

Read on...


Former Mountie paints picture of near daily harassment

RCMP Constable Janet Merlo says she felt compelled to respond when a supervising officer made a sexist remark to her in the company of a high-ranking official from the force.

“You know, if I were to make a complaint, I could probably retire on just what you say to me alone,” she said.

“What was that?” her boss replied. “Did you say you want to retire on me? Does that mean you like it on top?”

It was at this point that the senior RCMP officer in the room interjected.

“If you’re going to talk to her like that, do it somewhere else,” he said to the male officer. “I don’t want to be a witness to stuff like that.”

It was at that moment that Janet Merlo realized just how little hope there was for women in the force who, like her, were dealing with harassment of various forms on a near daily basis. In Ms. Merlo’s case, she says that would include everything from sex toys left in her desk drawer to a scolding for getting pregnant that came with the advice to “keep your ... legs closed” the next time she considered the idea.

Read on...

Ontario jail closures will send costs soaring: critics

Plans by Ontario’s cash-strapped Liberal government to close three jails to save money will spark major court delays, send transportation costs soaring and devastate rural communities, critics charge.

Jails in Owen Sound and Walkerton will close Sunday, while a third in Sarnia is slated for the chopping block in 2013.

But it’s not too late for the Liberals to reverse a decision that will actually end up costing taxpayers more in the end, critics say.

The government insists the closures, spelled out in last spring’s budget, will save $8 million a year by moving the inmates to newer and larger facilities in Windsor and Penetanguishene, north of Barrie.

Read on...

Police sting technique questioned by panel

A legal but controversial police sting technique known as Mr. Big runs the risk of subverting justice in serious criminal cases, a panel of four familiar with the method told a University of Guelph audience Thursday.

“It increases the odds of (the target individual) making a false confession,” said York University doctoral candidate Karina Gagnier. Her thesis is on Mr. Big, in which undercover cops posing as crime figures tell their targets they must confess to crimes to be accepted into the crime underworld. They’re then arrested and charged with those offenses, up to and including first degree murder.

Asked if Guelph Police Service is involved in such stings, spokesperson Sgt. Doug Pflug said by email, “we will not comment on covert police operations in the interest of officer and public safety.”

The Ring Café crowd heard by telephone from Patrick Fischer, a British Columbia inmate convicted of murder in 2001 after confessing in a Mr. Big RCMP sting.

“I’d never heard of anything like this before,” Fischer said, urging the crowd to join other Canadians in making clear to politicians “there’s strong opposition” to such stings.

Read on...

Friday, December 2, 2011

U.S. Says Americans Are MILITARY Targets in the War on Terror … And that the Prez Alone Can Decide Who Is a Target

As everyone realizes by now, Congress' push for indefinite detention includes American citizens on American soil. As Huffington post notes:

The debate also has left many Americans scratching their heads as to whether Congress is actually attempting to authorize the indefinite detention of Americans by the military without charges. But proponents -- led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee -- say that is exactly what the war on terror requires. They argued that the bill simply codifies precedents set by the Supreme Court and removes uncertainty, which they said would better protect the country.

Here is John McCain justifying sending Americans to Guantanamo:

Read on...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twenty Examples of the Obama Administration Assault on Domestic Civil Liberties

The Obama administration has affirmed, continued and expanded almost all of the draconian domestic civil liberties intrusions pioneered under the Bush administration. Here are twenty examples of serious assaults on the domestic rights to freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, freedom of religion, and freedom of conscience that have occurred since the Obama administration has assumed power. Consider these and then decide if there is any fundamental difference between the Bush presidency and the Obama presidency in the area of domestic civil liberties.

Patriot Act

On May 27, 2011, President Obama, over widespread bipartisan objections, approved a Congressional four year extension of controversial parts of the Patriot Act that were set to expire. In March of 2010, Obama signed a similar extension of the Patriot Act for one year. These provisions allow the government, with permission from a special secret court, to seize records without the owner’s knowledge, conduct secret surveillance of suspicious people who have no known ties to terrorist groups and to obtain secret roving wiretaps on people.

Read on...

Obama is a big disappointment. Tom

Border deal fuels concerns in Canada

Armed U.S. police officers will for the first time be allowed to operate in Canada along with the RCMP as part of far-reaching changes in Canadian-American border operations to be unveiled next week by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama.

The joint action plan to be announced at the White House will also break new ground by introducing exit-entry records that will track the movements of everyone who leaves the United States or Canada, with the information available to authorities in both countries.

In the months and years ahead, the deal between Ottawa and Washington will reshape security, travel and commercial arrangements at the border in a variety of profound ways — some of which have already raised alarms among Canadians.

The agreement, which has been the subject of confidential negotiations since last winter, is intended to reverse the economically damaging border tie-ups that have been growing since Sept. 11, 2001, while upgrading anti-crime and anti-terrorist security for both countries.

Read on...

This is not a good idea. Tom

Occupy Montreal protesters "branded" by police with numbers "in" their skin

This is weird and possibly illegal. The police attitude continues to be "whatever it takes to support the 1%." Salon:

“They wrote on my hand with a permanent marker and then after I felt something pointy and metallic scraping across my skin,” wrote protester Nina Haigh on Facebook, continuing:

I immediately asked “What are you doing” and they simply said we wrote on you with a pen and showed me a bunch of various pens in her hand.

I didn’t argue about it and I was unable to look at my hands as they were tied behind my back with zipties. As soon as I was released I looked at my hands and there was no ink on them from a pen. …

This morning we tested my hands under a black light and sure enough there was a number 2! The freaky thing is this is IN my skin, washing my hands and scrubbing with abrasives will not get this off…. perhaps in several months of my skin cells renewing themselves if will eventually fade.

Read on....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Shocking Ways the Corporate Prison Industry Games the System

The private prison system has rebounded, growing dramatically, and making big bucks with huge help from the Feds, as large numbers of immigrants are incarcerated.



The United States, with just 5 percent of the world’s population, currently holds 25 percent of the world's prisoners, and for the last 30 years America’s business entrepreneurs have found a lucrative way to cash in on the incarceration surplus: private for-profit prisons.

While the implications of an industry that locks human beings in cages for profit is an old story, there is an important part of the history of private prisons that often goes untold.

Just a decade ago, private prisons were a dying industry awash in corruption and mired in lawsuits, particularly Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest private prison operator. Today, these companies are booming once again, yet the lawsuits and scandals continue to pile up. Meanwhile, more and more evidence shows that compared to publicly run prisons, private jails are filthier, more violent, less accountable, and contrary to what privatization advocates peddle as truth, do not save money. In fact, more recent findings suggest that private prisons could be more costly.

So why are they still in business?

Read on...


Senate Passes Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention of Americans ... Considers Bill Authorizing More Torture

The Senate passed a bill today allowing indefinite detention of American citizens living within the U.S.

While some have claimed that this is incorrect, and that American citizens would be exempted from the indefinite detention within U.S. borders authorized by the Act, the Committee chairman who co-sponsored the bill – Carl Levin – stated today in Senate debate that it could apply to American citizens.

Levin cited the Supreme Court case of Hamdi which ruled that American citizens can be treated as enemy combatants:

“The Supreme Court has recently ruled there is no bar to the United States holding one of its own citizens as an enemy combatant,” said Levin. “This is the Supreme Court speaking.“

Under questioning from Rand Paul, co-sponsor John McCain said that Americans suspected of terrorism could be sent to Guantanamo.

You can hear the statements from Levin and McCain on today’s broadcast of KFPA’s Letters and Politics.

As Raw Story notes:

Read on...

Looks like the authorities are gearing up for a revolution. Tom

Monday, November 28, 2011

Public lacked faith in riots police

Lack of confidence in the police response to the initial riots in London led to further disturbances across the country, an independent report has found.

The vast majority of people interviewed for a study of the causes of the disorder said they believed the "sole trigger" for disturbances in their areas was the perception that the police "could not contain" the scale of rioting in Tottenham, north London, and then across the capital in August.

"Lack of confidence in the police response to the initial riots encouraged people to test reactions in other areas," the Riots Communities and Victims Panel found.

"Most of the riots began with some trouble in retail areas with a critical mass of individuals and groups converging on an area.

Read on...

This will be bad news for future protesters, as the UK police will no doubt now adopt the Miami model of pain compliance. Tom


Harper’s crime bill poised to pass - and Canadians still don’t know how much it costs

Stephen Harper’s crime legislation that triggered last spring’s election could pass through the Commons this week as it makes it way to becoming the law of the land - and Canadians still don’t know how much it costs.

The irony is delicious. Opposition politicians voted to find Prime Minister Harper and his government in contempt of Parliament last March - this was a historic first - for not giving up the full costs of its so-called tough on crime legislation. Now, it is poised to pass the bill and Canadians are still no wiser.

“It is a travesty that the Conservatives have told neither the Canadian people nor the provinces what all this is going to cost - with the slowing economy and big financial pressures all 'round this is even more irresponsible,” Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae told The Globe Monday morning. “Both the jets and the jails put the lie to the Conservative line about being the party of ‘fiscal prudence.’ Ridiculous.”

In fact, it was Mr. Rae’s predecessor, Michael Ignatieff, who tabled the non-confidence motion in the government last March that ultimately led to its defeat. The opposition was also concerned about the costs of the stealth fighter jets.

Read on...

Thought Crime in Washington: No Free Speech at Mr. Jefferson’s Library

George Orwell, Philip K. Dick, and Ray Bradbury Would Have Recognized Morris Davis's Problem

Here’s the First Amendment, in full: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Those beautiful words, almost haiku-like, are the sparse poetry of the American democratic experiment. The Founders purposely wrote the First Amendment to read broadly, and not like a snippet of tax code, in order to emphasize that it should encompass everything from shouted religious rantings to eloquent political criticism. Go ahead, reread it aloud at this moment when the government seems to be carving out an exception to it large enough to drive a tank through.

As the occupiers of Zuccotti Park, like those pepper-sprayed at UC Davis or the Marine veteran shot in Oakland, recently found out, the government’s ability to limit free speech, to stopper the First Amendment, to undercut the right to peaceably assemble and petition for redress of grievances, is perhaps the most critical issue our republic can face. If you were to write the history of the last decade in Washington, it might well be a story of how, issue by issue, the government freed itself from legal and constitutional bounds when it came to torture, the assassination of U.S. citizens, the holding of prisoners without trial or access to a court of law, the illegal surveillance of American citizens, and so on. In the process, it has entrenched itself in a comfortable shadowland of ever more impenetrable secrecy, while going after any whistleblower who might shine a light in.

Read on...

Congress to Vote Next Week on EXPLICITLY Creating a Police State

IF YOU THOUGHT POLICE BRUTALITY WAS BAD … WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE WHAT CONGRESS WANTS TO DO NEXT WEEK

The police brutality against peaceful protesters in Berkeley, Davis, Oakland and elsewhere is bad enough.

But next week, Congress will vote on explicitly creating a police state.

The ACLU’s Washington legislative office explains:

The Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.

The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world.

Read on....

Boy, I hope Harper doesn't read this. Tom

UC Davis Pepper-Spray Video Shows Importance of Civilian Oversight of Police

Video of the Nov. 18 incident tells a different story. It shows a group of Occupy Davis student protesters sitting peacefully with arms interlocked while a UC Davis police officer walks back and forth, dousing them at close range with liberal amounts of pepper spray. There is an awful contemptuousness in his bearing. He could be spraying weeds in his garden or roaches in his kitchen.

The victims of this assault have described the pain in searing terms. They speak of burning skin and vomiting, of the inability to breathe, of feeling as if acid had been poured into their faces. Two cops involved with this atrocity and the chief of police have been suspended — with pay. One hopes this is preparatory to a summary dismissal.

As we grapple with this vandalism of the First Amendment, we should ask ourselves this: What if there had been no cameras on hand? What if we had only the word of the protesters and their sympathizers that this happened versus the word of authority figures that it did not? Is it so hard to imagine the students' claims being dismissed, the media attention being a fraction of what it is, the public's outrage falling along predictable ideological lines and these cops getting a walk?

Read on...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Robocops vs Occupy Wall St: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Tactics



The most aggressive policing originates in methods developed by law enforcement agencies in Miami in response to mass protests in 2003.

Since the Occupy Wall Street movement began in mid-September, protesters and reporters have been learning the hard way how diverse police departments handle large-scale street demonstrations — sometimes with rubber bullets, sometimes, as in Davis, Calif., with pepper spray in the face.

While police departments have deployed tear gas in cities including Denver, Seattle and on more than three separate occasions in Oakland, Calif., in response to Occupy street demonstrations, protesters in New York have been met with the sheer force of numbers, pepper spray, kettling nets to hold in crowds, and batons. Dozens have been hospitalized by a variety of crowd control tactics.

The tactics vary from city to city, but the most aggressive policing originates in methods developed by law enforcement agencies in Miami in response to large protests against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement in November 2003. Miami’s approach, in the words of Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle, created, “a model … for the rest of the world to emulate in the future when these sort of events take place.”

Read on...


Mounties wanted ‘low-key’ probe into G20 activities, documents show

he RCMP recommended an investigation into its G20 activities be kept “low-key,” noting that it played a limited role in the controversial mass arrests and detentions that occurred outside the summit, internal documents show.

The force’s G20 conduct is facing renewed public scrutiny following revelations that it spied on Ontario activists for a year and a half before the Toronto summit, but police still failed to stop the smashing rampage that took place in the streets that weekend.

In an August, 2010, briefing note to then RCMP commissioner William Elliott, bureaucrats suggested a proactive review of the force’s role in the G20 would be “low-key and measured.”

The note, obtained under Access to Information law, said the Commission for Public Complaints against the RCMP had proposed the review. Senior brass would have an opportunity to examine the findings and remove sensitive information, the note said.

Read on...

Police investigating police. Works every time. Tom

Happy Taserday

Another sad story in the war on the disabled:

The call came on Monday night, and it made mention of a man who had fallen off his bicycle and injured himself in a parking lot. So Officer Turner pulled up to the scene, and found Roger Anthony — a local fixture who people call "Rabbit" because he had big ears — rolling down the street on his bicycle. Turner followed Anthony in his patrol vehicle, sirens blaring, and ordered him to pull over. Anthony didn't respond.

Williams said Turner then saw Anthony take something out his pocket and put it into his mouth. At that time, Turner got out of the car and yelled for Anthony to stop. When Anthony didn't stop, the officer used a stun gun on him, causing him to fall off of his bike.

Read on...

Two Scandals, One Connection: The FBI link between Penn State and UC Davis

Two shocking scandals. Two esteemed universities. Two disgraced university leaders. One stunning connection. Over the last month, we’ve seen Penn State University President Graham Spanier dismissed from his duties and we’ve seen UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi pushed to the brink of resignation. Spanier was jettisoned because of what appears to be a systematic cover-up of assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s serial child rape. Katehi has faced calls to resign after the she sent campus police to blast pepper spray in the faces of her peaceably assembled students, an act for which she claims “full responsibility.” The university’s Faculty Association has since voted for her ouster citing a “gross failure of leadership.” The names Spanier and Katehi are now synonymous with the worst abuses of institutional power. But their connection didn’t begin there. In 2010, Spanier chose Katehi to join an elite team of twenty college presidents on what’s called the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, which “promotes discussion and outreach between research universities and the FBI.”

Spanier said upon the group’s founding in 2005, “The National Security Higher Education Advisory Board promises to help universities and government work toward a balanced and rational approach that will allow scientific research and education to progress and our nation to remain safe.” He also said that the partnership could help provide “internships” to faculty and students interested in “National Security issues.”

Read on...

"outreach between research universities and the FBI" This is insane. Please tell me there is not a similar program in Canada. Someone? Tom

Weeding Out Corporate Psychopaths

Given the state of the global economy, it might not surprise you to learn that psychopaths may be controlling the world. Not violent criminals, but corporate psychopaths who nonetheless have a genetically inherited biochemical condition that prevents them from feeling normal human empathy.

Scientific research is revealing that 21st century financial institutions with a high rate of turnover and expanding global power have become highly attractive to psychopathic individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the companies they work for.

A peer-reviewed theoretical paper titled “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” details how highly placed psychopaths in the banking sector may have nearly brought down the world economy through their own inherent inability to care about the consequences of their actions.

The author of this paper, Clive Boddy, previously of Nottingham Trent University, believes this theory would go a long way to explain how senior managers acted in ways that were disastrous for the institutions they worked for, the investors they represented and the global economy at large.

Read on...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Police remove Occupy tents from St. James Park

Dressed in rain coats rather than riot gear, dozens of Toronto police officers gathered before dawn downtown this morning for the largely non-confrontational eviction of Occupy Toronto protesters from their camp at St. James Park.

At about 6:45 a.m., officers who had earlier ringed the park began to slowly circle the 100 or so tents that remained there, looking for occupants. One lifted a tent flap and said, “Hello? Police.”

Officers posted number codes on tents, apparently to aid their later retrieval by their owners, and marked them with fluorescent orange spray paint.

As dawn broke, a big blue garbage compactor arrived. Police hoisted rubbish and trashed tents into it.

By 8 a.m., the large media tent – one of the few winterized Mongolian yurts in the encampment – was empty.

Read on...

Spray Anything: Marketing Crowd Control to Cops



Pepper spray

Pepper spray machines, monster Tasers, "pain compliance rounds," and other toys to make occupiers obey.


When Lt. John Pike pepper sprayed Occupy protesters at the University of California-Davis last week, many were outraged at a clearly disproportionate use of force in a nonviolent situation. Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore cop turned academic, wrote that even though he'd been trained to pepper spray noncompliant suspects, actually doing so would be "dumb-ass." In nonviolent situations, police officers should simply step in and haul away protesters, he argued: "[T]rying to make policing too hands-off means people get Tased and maced for noncompliance. It's not right. But this is the way many police are trained. That's a shame." The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal found Pike's actions unsurprising considering that "[o]ur police forces have enshrined a paradigm of protest policing that turns local cops into paramilitary forces."

But that shift isn't just about police departments buying body armor and tanks. It's also reflected in their increasing reliance on "less-lethal" weapons such as pepper spray, weapons designed to ensure submission while minimizing the chance of deadly injuries to both suspects and officers (as well as reducing departments' legal exposure). One industry analyst predicts that the global market for these kinds of weapons will triple by 2020; more than half of the current market is for "disperse" weapons such as pepper spray.

Read on...

The occupy movement can’t be sprayed away

Pepper spray can’t be washed off with water. The intense burning it causes — the stinging, the redness, the swelling, the coughing and gagging and gasping — will only subside with time, usually several hours. It can cause tissue damage and respiratory attacks. A study of its most commonly prescribed remedies found that none of them really work. It has been prohibited in war by the Chemical Weapons Convention, so our enemies don’t have to experience it on the battlefield. If only our citizens were so lucky.

Over the past several weeks police have been using pepper spray with alarming frequency in the United States against peaceful protesters. The injured include an 84-year-old woman, a pregnant woman, a priest and an Iraq war veteran. Over the weekend, we had to add to that list a group of college students, gathered nonviolently on the campus of the University of California at Davis.

Read on...

True Crime Finance Stories

Who’s to blame for the implosion of Greece—and the global economy?

On May 5, 2010, I open up the Wall Street Journal and I could puke. There was this photo of a man on fire, just a bunch of flames with a leg sticking out. Two others burnt with him on a pretty spring day in Athens.

The question is, who did it?

If you read the U.S. papers, the answer was obvious. A bunch of olive-spitting, ouzo-guzzling, lazy Greek workers who refused to put in a full day’s work, and retired while they were still teenagers on pensions fit for pasha, had gone on a social services spending spree using borrowed money. Now that the bill came due and the Greeks had to pay with higher taxes and cuts in their big fat welfare state, they ran riot, screaming in the streets, busting windows and burning banks with people inside.

Case closed.

Read on...

Occupy Wall Street Librarians Address Bloomberg for Destroying Books

Over 4,000 Books, Documents, Were Trashed by NYPD & Dept. of Sanitation in Raid

OWS Library Staff Recovers Books and Supplies, Less Than One-Fifth is Usable

NEW YORK - November 23 - What: Press conference to address the destruction of the OWS People's Library by Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the 11/15 raid.

*Photo Opportunity* All of the recovered, destroyed books will be at the press conference.

Where: 260 Madison Ave, 20th Floor, between 38th and 39th St

When: Wednesday, November 23, at 12:00 noon

Who: Norman Siegel will host and moderate. Speakers: Gideon Oliver of the National Lawyers Guild, Hawa Allan a Fellow at Columbia Law School, and Occupy Wall Street Librarians from the People's Library. Law professors from Columbia, members of the American Library Association, various writers and others have been invited.

Read on....

Shameful. Tom

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Police, pain and peppers


Quite a few professional police officers and criminal justice academics are weighing in on this notion of "pain compliance" in the wake of that pepper spray assault at UC Davis.

As awful as these incidents have been, I can't tell you heartened I am by the fact that people are finally speaking up on this subject. Indiscriminate tasering has been going on for years now, it's clearly documented and rarely has anyone questioned the right of the police to inflict pain for mere non-compliance. (The tasering of the mentally ill is a separate subject.) YouTubes have gone viral and the comments to them suggest that many, many people find such violence hilarious and support it fully. I won't even go into the way Hollywood uses it for cheap laughs.

Indeed, the most common arguments I hear on this topic is "if an officer tells you to do something, you don't ask questions, you do it" and "the cops first obligation is to protect his own safety and the safety of other cops." This means that a police officer essentially has the right to immediately taser/pepper spray anyone who doesn't immediately respond in order to preserve his or her own safety. And the definition of "safety" is pretty malleable, as we saw this week-end:

Read on...

Quebec minister tries again to sway Tories on crime bill

Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier is back in Ottawa Tuesday morning in a last-ditch attempt to convince the Conservatives to amend their controversial anti-crime bill.

With just two days to go before the House of Commons justice committee completes a clause-by-clause review of the bill, Mr. Fournier will meet with his federal counterpart, Rob Nicholson, to once again make his case for changes to the legislation.

The province is most concerned about the bill’s proposal to toughen penalties for young offenders, which Mr. Fournier fears would diminish the justice system’s focus on rehabilitation. He also wants Ottawa to allow the provinces to bow out of a measure to allow young offenders’ names to be published.

A spokesman said Mr. Fournier is visiting at Mr. Nicholson’s invitation so the two could discuss the amendments in person.

Read on...

How police infiltrated groups planning G20 protests

In early 2009, two strangers started mingling with the activist communities of Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.

The first was a man. Those who crossed paths with him say he ingratiated himself by chauffeuring people to protests in his white van and buying them pitchers of beer at the bar after. The second, a woman, told people she had fled an abusive relationship, acquaintances say.

Both were undercover police officers infiltrating organizations planning protests against the Toronto G20 summit in June, 2010. They were part of the Joint Intelligence Group, an RCMP-led squad with officers seconded from the Ontario Provincial Police and other forces, whose task was to gather information on threats to the summit.

The probe, which lasted a year and a half, would fail to prevent the smashed windows, burning squad cars and 1,100 arrests for which the summit would become known. But it did end with 17 people accused of conspiracy to commit mischief. For at least some of them, Tuesday is expected to be judgment day.

Read on...

Wonder what other lucky groups are being infiltrated by the police. Tom

G20 conspiracy plea deal would see 11 walk free; three from Kitchener and Guelph face jail

TORONTO — The 17 alleged co-conspirators accused of plotting the G20 mayhem have struck a plea bargain with prosecutors that would see 11 defendants walk free and the other six face jail terms of less than two years, according to the Toronto Star.

But the six pleading guilty under the deal — including three from Kitchener and Guelph — would not be pleading to conspiracy, the crime with which they were initially charged. Instead, they would be pleading to the lesser crime of counselling to commit an indictable offence.

Recommended sentences under the plea deal are between six and 20 months.

The position now being taken by the Crown is “drastically different” from how the 17 were portrayed at bail hearings, said lawyer Howard Morton, whose client, Joanna Adamiak, will see her charges dropped as part of the deal.

“This was nothing more than an attempt to create a public image that these people are terrorists,” Morton said of the prosecution’s portrayal of the 17 activists and self-described anarchists.

“These people are anything but terrorists. I mean, I wonder if any of them would even survive anarchy.”

Read on...

Charges laid against a Guelph activist over G20 blogging

KITCHENER — Julian Ichim is going to have another day in court.

The local activist, who helped lead the Occupy Guelph movement and various other recent protests in Guelph, has been charged with three counts of disobeying a court order and is scheduled to appear in a Toronto courtroom on Dec. 13. The charges were laid in relation to a post on a blog he started this month. Prior to being charged was warned by the OPP he would face charges if he didn’t excise a name in a post about an undercover officer who worked on the G20 case.

Ichim said he’s looking forward to the trial and won’t amend his blog.

“I actually thanked them for charging me,” he said. “The cops’ mouths just dropped.”

Read on...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The 'School to Prison Pipeline': Education Under Arrest



Metal detectors. Teams of drug-sniffing dogs. Armed guards and riot police. Forbiddingly high walls topped with barbed wire.

Such descriptions befit a prison or perhaps a high-security checkpoint in a war zone. But in the U.S., these scenes of surveillance and control are most visible in public schools, where in some areas, education is becoming increasingly synonymous with incarceration.

The United Nations, along with various human rights bodies and international courts, have recognised that "free education is the cornerstone of success and social development for young people".

The landmark Brown v. Board of Education court ruling, which officially desegregated U.S. schools in 1954, stated, "It is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if (he/she is) denied the opportunity of an education."

Yet hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. are being systematically stripped of their right to education and transferred from the schoolhouse to the jailhouse.

Read on....

The war at home

Shock Bullet TASER XREP
Shock Bullet TASER XREP
Another day another taser death:

The mother of Jonathan White, 29, called police yesterday, because she needed help calming her son down. Although she had always been able to manage his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, yesterday she called police because she could not stop her son from yelling, throwing things and ripping his clothes off, according to KTLA.

When police arrived, they too had trouble subduing him. White didn't attack officers but he was resisting them. They pepper-sprayed him and twice tased him, police said.

"It's possible that (the Taser) didn't complete a circuit," said San Bernardino police Lt. Gwen Waters.

Read on...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ACLU Sues Oakland Police Department to Stop Violence Against Protesters


The Oakland Police Department (OPD) was sued in federal court yesterday by the ACLU of Northern California and the National Lawyers Guild for trampling (repeatedly!) on the constitutional rights of Occupy Oakland demonstrators. The lawsuit asks for an immediate relief from the court to stop police violence against political protesters, because the OPD has shown that it will continue to violate protesters’ rights unless a court intervenes (again).

The case is before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, who immediately issued an order requiring the city to respond by 5 p.m. today. The case is only one day old, but OPD already has to start explaining to the Court why it used excessive force against protesters.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Scott Campbell, a videographer who was shot with a lead ball-filled bag (dubbed "bean bags" — a complete misnomer given the pain and injury they can inflict) while filming police presence during Occupy Oakland on the nights of Nov. 2 and 3. He has filmed repeated cases of excessive force by police.

Read on...

Quebec wants Tories to reconsider tough youth sentences

Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier has proposed amendments to the Harper government’s crime bill that would soften penalties for young offenders.

In a letter to his federal counterpart, Rob Nicholson, that he also sent to all provincial justice ministers, Mr. Fournier urged Ottawa to abandon the provisions for tougher sentences for young offenders proposed in Bill C-10.

If the Harper government is sincere about protecting the public, it needs to examine the long-term consequences of lengthy prison terms for youth crimes, Mr. Fournier said.

The letter is the latest salvo in Quebec’s battle against the legislation. Earlier this month, the province said it would refuse to pay for higher prison costs flowing from the bill.

Read on...

Guelph activist awaits arrest over blog post

GUELPH — Just three days after starting a blog, Julian Ichim is being asked by Ontario Provincial Police to change one of his posts.

“Why are they looking at my blog anyways?” he said, sounding genuinely surprised by the reaction it’s been getting.

Ichim is a local activist. He was a central participant in the recent Occupy Guelph protest and ran unsuccessfully this fall as an independent candidate in the provincial election in the Guelph riding. He was as also once suspected to be a co-conspirator in the protest violence that took place in Toronto during the G20 summit in 2010. G-20 charges laid against him were dropped last fall, to his apparent dismay.

“I was angry in November (2010) when my charges got dropped,” he said. “I never got to say my side of the story.”

Read on...

Regular Crimbrary readers will recognize Julian from his adventures at G20. What is kind of surprising in this story is that the OPP paid an agent to be Julian's best friend for over a year and not one conviction resulted. Wonder how many times that agent suggested they do something illegal? What other social activists are the OPP wasting money on trying to 'catch'. And in a similar vein see this story:

Tim Harper: Government spies on advocate for native children

Tom

Not Guilty by Reason of Neuroscience

Some people’s brains may doom them to a life of crime.


From the book Who’s in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain, by Michael S. Gazzaniga. Copyright © 2011 by Michael S. Gazzaniga. Reprinted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

On Feb. 19, 1997, a house painter called 911 in Tampa, Fla. He had returned unannounced to a client’s house and through a window saw what appeared to be a naked man throttling a naked woman. When the police arrived, they learned the man hadn’t just strangled Roxanne Hayes; he had stabbed the mother-of-three multiple times, killing her.

The murderer’s name was Lawrence Singleton; he was 69 years old, and he was notorious in California, where 19 years before, he had raped a 15-year-old hitchhiker, Mary Vincent; hacked off her forearms; and left her in a canyon to die. Two vacationers came across her the next morning, walking naked toward the interstate, the stumps of her severed arms raised to prevent further blood loss. Vincent’s description of her attacker was so vivid that it resulted in a police artist’s drawing that his neighbor recognized. Singleton was tried, found guilty, and given what was the maximum sentence at the time in California of 14 years. He was released on parole, however, after eight years of “good behavior,” even though shortly before his release a prison psychiatric evaluation read, “Because he is so out of touch with his hostility and anger, he remains an elevated threat to others’ safety inside and outside prison.” Mary’s mother, Lucy Vincent, said that Mary’s father would carry a .45-caliber pistol and often contemplated killing Singleton.

Read on...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Police State Makes Its Move: Retaining One's Humanity in the Face of Tyranny

Hundreds of NYC riot police forcibly evicted Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park early on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011.

For days now, we have endured demonstrably false propaganda that the fallen soldiers of U.S. wars sacrificed their lives for "our freedoms." Yet, as that noxious nonsense still lingers in the air, militarized police have invaded OWS sites in numerous cities, including Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, and, in the boilerplate description of the witless courtesans of the corporate media, with the mission to "evict the occupiers".

U.S soldiers died protecting what and who again? These actions should make this much clear: The U.S. military and the police exist to protect the 1%. At this point, the ideal of freedom will be carried by those willing to resist cops and soldiers. There have been many who have struggled and often died for freedom--but scant few were clad in uniforms issued by governments.

Freedom rises despite cops and soldiers not because of them. And that is exactly why those who despise freedom propagate military hagiography and fetishize those wearing uniforms--so they can give the idea of liberty lip service as all the while they order it crushed.

Read on...

Mandatory reading on mandatory minimum sentences

As Canada embraces mandatory minimum sentences for a multitude of offences, including growing as few as six marijuana plants (six months in prison), the United States Sentencing Commission has turned against that country's obligatory penalties. “Excessively severe,” the commission says. It prefers sentencing guidelines that would allow judges some leeway.

It’s a message Canada should take to heart. Partly because of the frequent use of mandatory minimums, the size of the U.S. prison population has exploded. A mind-boggling one in every four people behind bars in the world is incarcerated in the United States. In 1985, there were 700,000 in jail; today, 2.3 million.

This is bad on many counts, but the one that has captured the attention of leading U.S. conservatives is cost. In Canada, the federal prison population rose by 1,000 to 14,500, in just 18 months, partly as a result of new mandatory minimums, a federal report found in August. At an average cost of $110,000 a year per inmate, the benefits would be questionable at any time – all the more so when economies nearly everywhere are at risk.

Read on...

This is a Globe and Mail editorial. Tom

10 reasons to oppose Bill C-10

Bill C-10 is titled The Safe Streets and Communities Act — an ironic name, considering that Canada already has some of the safest streets and communities in the world and a declining crime rate. This bill will do nothing to improve that state of affairs but, through its overreach and overreaction to imaginary problems, Bill C-10 could easily make it worse. It could eventually create the very problems it’s supposed to solve.

Bill C-10 will require new prisons; mandate incarceration for minor, non-violent offences; justify poor treatment of inmates and make their reintegration into society more difficult. Texas and California, among other jurisdictions, have already started down this road before changing course, realizing it cost too much and made their justice system worse. Canada is poised to repeat their mistake.

The Canadian Bar Association, representing over 37,000 lawyers across the country, has identified 10 reasons why the passage of Bill C-10 will be a mistake and a setback for Canada:

Read on...

Ford expects Occupy protesters to leave ‘soon’

Mayor Rob Ford says protesters in the month-old Occupy Toronto camp in St. James Park will be handed notices to vacate and they’ll be gone — peacefully, he expects — “soon.”

Speaking to reporters Monday, Ford repeated comments he made last week that protesters in the makeshift camp will be asked to leave. Pressed for a time frame, the mayor said: “It’s going to happen soon. I can’t give you an exact date. . . . We’ll hand out the notices and ask these people to leave.

“It’s been a peaceful protest. I’m sure they’ll leave peacefully. . . . It’s going to happen soon.”

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday recently took up the protesters’ invitation to visit the camp, which sprang up Oct. 15 as part of the international Occupy movement protesting the growing income gap and other socio-economic ills.

Read on...