Friday, January 29, 2010

Omar Khadr: The Supreme Court Made The Right Call


(Updated below)

Omar Khadr is not coming home yet – but the Supreme Court of Canada has moved his repatriation considerably closer (emphasis added):


In an 9-0 ruling this morning, the Court said that Canada violated Mr. Khadr's Charter rights by participating in illegal interrogation methods which included sleep deprivation.

It stressed that the constitutional breach is ongoing and “continues to this day.”

However, the court said that before stepping in to dictate a Canadian response on a sensitive question of foreign policy, the federal government must be given a chance to rectify Mr. Khadr's plight.

But should the government fail to act, the court warned that it has the power to move more overtly to aid Mr. Khadr.

The Court upheld an earlier Federal Court decision that Mr. Khadr's right to life, liberty and security had been violated, but it refused to go as far as the lower court had gone in ordering Mr. Khadr to be brought home.

“Consistent with the separation of powers and the well-grounded reluctance of courts to intervene in matters of foreign relations, the proper remedy is to grant Mr. Khadr a declaration that his Charter rights have been infringed, while leaving the government a measure of discretion in deciding how best to respond,” the Court said.

However, the judges could scarcely have been tougher in their finding that Mr. Khadr was mistreated during interrogations in 2003 and 2004.

“Canadian officials questioned Mr. Khadr on matters that may have provided important evidence relating to his criminal proceedings, in circumstances where they knew that Mr. Khadr was being indefinitely detained, was a young person, and was alone during the interrogations,” it said.

“Interrogation of a youth to elicit statements about the most serious criminal charges – while detained in these conditions and without access to counsel and while knowing the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the U.S. prosecutors – offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

Since the information obtained in the interrogation sessions may still be used against Mr. Khadr in the U.S proceedings, the Court said that, “the effect of the breaches cannot be said to have been spent.”

However, it noted that the fluid state of terrorism proceedings in the U.S at the moment dictates that courts ought to take a cautious approach and defer to government officials, who have a much broader and more nuanced sense of foreign policy considerations and the details of Mr. Khadr's case.

But if the government refuses to take adequate action to rectify the abuse of Mr. Khadr's rights, the Court warned, “courts are empowered to make orders ensuring that the government's foreign affairs prerogative is exercised in accordance with the constitution.”

Advocates for Mr. Khadr showed disappointment that the Court did not directly order Mr. Khadr's repatriation, but focused on its clear finding of a continuing rights violation.

“The government can continue to sit on its hands – and therefore look like it is being completely unresponsive to a unanimous decision from the highest court in the land,” said Alex Neve, a spokesman for Amnesty International.

Mr. Neve said that repatriation continues to be the best possible solution to remedy Canada's illegal acts.

“We are not at all naïve here,” he said. “Clearly the government has dug in its heels for several years now. We are not naïve enough to think it will happen without pressure.

“We are not going to wait six months. We are not going to wait six months. We want there to be a reaction to this decision immediately.”

Sukanya Pillay, security director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said the ruling means “in effect, they have thrown the ball back into the government's court – but with clear rules.”

“The judicial branch doesn't want to tread on the executive branch, but they have given clear signals,” she said.

“The important thing is they have said we are willing to look at whether the government action is unconstitutional...Now, the important thing is what happens next. It was vague before as to why we would have to do anything. Now it is clear why because there is a clear constitutional breach.”

Ms. Pillay declined to even discuss other options besides repatriation. “Its our constitutional law that when there is a breach of our Charter, there has to be a remedy,” she said. “It is clear now that there was a breach to Section 7 of the Charter – and the government has to act.”

If Mr. Khadr is repatriated, she said that there is no reason he cannot be tried in a Canadian court. Any evidence that was illegally obtained would be subject to Canadian rules of admissibility – as it ought to be – she said.

The Court had been presented with two starkly different options at Mr. Khadr's hearing last November. The first was to order the 23-year-old man's repatriation based on his rights having been violated during interrogation sessions.

The alternative – urged by lawyers for the federal government – was to adopt a hands-off attitude and let the U.S. go about prosecuting Mr. Khadr before a military commission.

The case was as politically-charged as any the Court has heard in recent years; a battle over the notion that judges can tie government hands on matters of foreign policy where constitutional rights are at stake.

Lawyers for a host of human rights organizations exhorted the Supreme Court to flex its constitutional muscle and come to Mr. Khadr's rescue.

The pro-Khadr groups depicted him as being not a terrorist, but a frightened child who wept for his mother after his arrest and implored his country to help him. They contended that Canada's passive stand in the case made it little better than the troops who subjected Mr. Khadr to sleep deprivation and shone bright lights for hours in his wounded eyes.

Mr. Khadr's supporters also made it clear that by insisting on Mr. Khadr's repatriation, the Court would be saying that the federal government effectively colluded in an extreme abuse of a citizen's rights abroad.

So.

The Court has stated in no uncertain terms that Omar Khadr's rights have been violated by the government - and that they continue to be so.

The Court also stated in no uncertain terms that Omar Khadr must be repatriated by the government.

The court also correctly respected the separation of powers by giving a chance to the government to act accordingly to its conclusions and rulings. However, the government has not dodged the bullet in any way whatsoever, for the Court has stated the warning in no uncertain terms that it will order Omar Khadr's repatriation nonetheless should the government either A) refuse to do so; or B) simply procrastinate on the matter.

What this all means is that Harper and his Harpies can no longer pretend that the matter lies in the hands of the US government.

Harper and his Harpies can no longer use the excuse that the government of Canada should not "interfere" in law and justice proceedings in the US.

No - they can't play politics (re: blame the Liberals) with, or lie about, this anymore ... because the ball has been put squarely in their own hands.

Where it always belonged to begin with.

The Supreme Court made the right call, folks.

It made the just, constitutional call.

This is a definite victory for our bill of rights, our constitution and our separation of powers.

Any conclusion to the contrary is either pure hysterics, willful mendacity and/or intellectual dishonesty.

I am proud today of my constitution, of my country.

So should you be, folks.

The next step (that is, aside from securing Omar Khadr's repatriation once and for all)?

Why, find a way to bring the matter of the callous criminal negligence of the Harper government regarding the abuse of Afghan detainees - of course.

Because obviously the uncaring, ignorant callousness displayed so far by Harper and his Harpies regarding Omar Khadr's plight likewise dictated their general attitude regarding the Afghan detainee abuse issue.


Udpate 01/30/10: In the comments herein, I wrote the following:
Fortunately, SCOC's ruling was dead on - and Omar Khadr will be repatriated.

How soon this will happen now simply depends on whether the Harper government wants to be humiliated by refusing to act and be smacked down by a follow-up SCOC's order to that effect, or not.

I'm betting on the 7th principle of incompetence here and predict that a SCOC's order will be necessary.

We'll see ...
It didn't take long to be provided evidence that my bet will indeed turn out to be the right one (emphasis added):
Yet a statement from Justice Minister Rob Nicholson Friday raised the possibility that the Harper government will refuse to act or that it will give a token response.

“The government is pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized the ‘constitutional responsibility of the executive to make decisions on matters of foreign affairs in the context of complex and ever-changing circumstances, taking into account Canada's broader interests,' ” Mr. Nicholson said.

He emphasized the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Khadr and noted that the Supreme Court overturned two lower court decisions by finding that the government is not required to ask for Mr. Khadr's return from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Yeah - and again neveryoumind that Omar Khadr was a kid (child-soldier) when he was "captured" and that any confession of his was illegally/unconstitutionally coerced (if not by torture).

So ruled SCOC (see also above; emphasis added):
The court refrained from issuing a direct order to repatriate Mr. Khadr, reasoning that the fluid state of terrorism proceedings dictates a cautious approach. It said that government officials have a much broader and more nuanced sense of foreign policy considerations and the details of Mr. Khadr's case.

But the court showed that a legal fist lies beneath its velvet glove. If the abuse of Mr. Khadr's rights is proven to be continuing, it warned that, “courts are empowered to make orders ensuring that the government's foreign affairs prerogative is exercised in accordance with the constitution.”

(...) The judges could scarcely have been tougher in their finding that Mr. Khadr was mistreated during interrogations in 2003 and 2004.

“Canadian officials questioned Mr. Khadr on matters that may have provided important evidence relating to his criminal proceedings, in circumstances where they knew that Mr. Khadr was being indefinitely detained, was a young person, and was alone during the interrogations,” they said.

“Interrogation of a youth to elicit statements about the most serious criminal charges – while detained in these conditions and without access to counsel and while knowing the fruits of the interrogations would be shared with the U.S. prosecutors – offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

Since the information obtained in the interrogation sessions could still be used against Mr. Khadr in U.S proceedings, the court said, “the effect of the breaches cannot be said to have been spent.”

Mr. Khadr was severely wounded in a 2002 skirmish in which he is alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed a U.S. Special Forces medic. He was charged with murder and scheduled to go before a Guantanamo Bay military commission.
Although we are being treated with more obvious, hypocritical self-image preservation bluster/posturing on the part of the Harper government (we've become quite used to this), it looks like I may yet be proven right nevertheless - and won't be happy for it, definitely.

Then again, the Eight Principles of Incompetence appear to be always right on the money, especially in predicting how incompetents behave and/or react - unfortunately.

So I reiterate nonetheless: "We'll see" whether a follow-up SCOC's order will be required or not for the repatriation of Omar Khadr.

Over to you Prime Minister, indeed ...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Action! Action! Read All About It!


Canada's Toughest Meanest Manlyman Lawman (sorry for the confusion, folks) Prime Poseur commands - so ya'll better listen, especially where ya'll younguns are concerned (emphasis added):


Tories aim to lay down law
Plan calls for stiffer sentences for youths

The Conservative government is rekindling the controversial debate over youth justice with a plan to impose stiffer adult sentences for young murderers and rapists and lift publication bans for serious sex offenders, QMI Agency has learned.

A memorandum from the Prime Minister's Office obtained by QMI said while the government has taken steps to tackle crime with a "balanced" approach of prevention, rehabilitation and enforcement, more must be done to fix the young offenders system.

"We need to better protect our communities from violent and repeat young offenders," the confidential communications document reads. "And we need to give Canadians greater confidence that these offenders will be held accountable for their actions."

The document says right now, a youth 14 or older -- or 16 in Quebec -- who commits a heinous crime such as murder or aggravated sexual assault receives a sentence that is too often "much shorter than Canadians expect."

"We need to require the courts to consider adult sentences for those convicted of these most serious crimes, when the circumstances require it," the report reads.

All provinces and territories would maintain the discretion to set the age at which the requirement would apply, and no one under 14 would receive an adult sentence, according to the government document.

The Tory plan would also toughen rules to keep dangerous young offenders in custody while awaiting trial, arguing the system is now "powerless" to do so even when they pose a risk to society.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is set to publicly discuss the planned reforms and is expected to table legislation after Parliament resumes.
So ...

You're under 18 years old (but at least 14) and you've committed a violent crime (rape, assault, murder), then you can A) be treated as an adult like in the good old USA; B) get even stiffer sentences than before if you're found guilty (and fuck fair sentencing for da youth); and C) kiss habeas corpus, bail and due process overall goodbye.

And we just don't give a fucking shit that you're not even legal to have the right to vote or drink yourself to a puking stupor (disclosure: in Québec, the minimum legal age to drink is the same as acquiring the right to vote and the privilege of paying taxes - i.e. 18) or do sexting.

Why? Because, you know, you're a young, stupid, arrogant, dumbass, don't-know-any-better criminal punk teenager who deserves to be fucked up Big Time for your crimes, just because you are a young, stupid, arrogant, dumbass, don't-know-any-better criminal punk teenager.

And because we Canadians need to wake the fuck up and become as tough-on-youth-crime bastards as they do in the fucking Holy USA.

And of course because we've become just a bunch of fear-driven fuckers.

So fuck you, punkasses. We owe you nuthin'. Ya hear? Nuthin'!

Do rot in jail (or whatever the fuck we call "youth detention centers" these days) until you're 18, then be transferred in real, badass, you'll-be-someone's-bitch-soon adult jails to finish your (miserable) life sentences. Then you'll finally grow up to be a real man (or woman), eh?

Either way, you'll be really fucked - just da way We wants it. And like it. And applaud it. Or just don't give a shit about it. Whatever.

But we do think you deserve it anyways, youngun motherfuckers.

Again - if only just because we've become nothing more than fear-driven motherfucking, hypocritical flakes.

God Fucking Bless Prison-Nation Canada.

And, again - fuck you, ya dumbass punks.

That's all.

Everyone can move along now and feel safer, more secure. And never mind the cost of it all.

But before we do, let us proudly sing our Canadian National Anthem:
Oh-oh say, can you see?

By the dawn's early light ...
Meanwhile, back in Paris ...


(Hey, cut me some slack for trying to inject some Canadian musical diversion here - it's the first time I've ever written such an absolutely, definitely, outraged, angry, utterly pissed-off rant. I mean, what's next? Instant Youth Internment Education Camps the moment you get at the age of 14 - just in case? We are Canada! NOT the USA fercrissakes)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Authoritarian State Of The Empire


As you folks well know, President Barack Obama is making his State of the Empire (sorry) Union speech tonight. I am sure he has lots of stuff to talk about to his American People.

But I doubt he will mention the following:
Secret detention may amount to crime against humanity: UN experts

UN human rights experts warned on Wednesday that "widespread and systematic" secret detention of terror suspects could pave the way for charges of crimes against humanity.

(Read on)
Or this:
Report: Bush order allowing murder of US citizens abroad still in effect

If a United States citizen was determined to have joined a foreign terrorist group, that person could be legally murdered under orders given by President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks.

In spite of an administration change in Washington, D.C., that allowance is still in effect, according to a late-breaking report in The Washington Post on Tuesday.

(Read on)
Or that:
JAG Officer: Indefinite Detention ‘Defies Common Sense’

U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to detain 47 of the just-under 200 remaining prisoners at Guantánamo without trial indefinitely is drawing scorn from legal experts and human rights advocates, who charge that the government simply does not have enough evidence to convict the detainees it says cannot be tried but are "too dangerous to release."

David Frakt is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps Reserve, associate professor, and director of the Criminal Law Practice Center at Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif.

He is a former lead counsel for the Office of Military Commissions Defense, who successfully represented Mohammed Jawad before the military commissions and won his release in habeas corpus litigation in 2009.

Frakt told IPS, "The administration’s suggestion that they can’t try 47 detainees, not because they don’t have evidence of criminal wrongdoing, but because a criminal trial would necessarily involve disclosure of classified information, defies common sense."

(Read on)
Or this:
Presidential assassinations of U.S. citizens

The Washington Post's Dana Priest today reports that "U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people." That's no surprise, of course, as Yemen is now another predominantly Muslim country (along with Somalia and Pakistan) in which our military is secretly involved to some unknown degree in combat operations without any declaration of war, without any public debate, and arguably (though not clearly) without any Congressional authorization. The exact role played by the U.S. in the late-December missile attacks in Yemen, which killed numerous civilians, is still unknown.

But buried in Priest's article is her revelation that American citizens are now being placed on a secret "hit list" of people whom the President has personally authorized to be killed:

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush gave the CIA, and later the military, authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad if strong evidence existed that an American was involved in organizing or carrying out terrorist actions against the United States or U.S. interests, military and intelligence officials said. . . .

The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, "it doesn't really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them," a senior administration official said. "They are then part of the enemy."

Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called "High Value Targets" and "High Value Individuals," whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including [New Mexico-born Islamic cleric Anwar] Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi's name has now been added.

Indeed, Aulaqi was clearly one of the prime targets of the late-December missile strikes in Yemen, as anonymous officials excitedly announced -- falsely, as it turns out -- that he was killed in one of those strikes.

Just think about this for a minute. Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose "a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests." They're entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations. Amazingly, the Bush administration's policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges -- based solely on the President's claim that they were Terrorists -- produced intense controversy for years. That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution. Shouldn't Obama's policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind -- not imprisoned, but killed -- produce at least as much controversy?

(Read on)
Or that (h/t):

Storm clouds ahead for America

Just two and a half weeks after he was elected and before he even set foot in the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama was presented with a 120-page report that was supposed to help him to peer into the future.

The top analysts at the U.S. National Intelligence Council had spent a year surveying other experts and studying global trends in a bid to give the president-elect an over-the-horizon view of the year 2025.

The international order is in the midst of profound change, the report, Global Trends 2025, concluded.

U.S. economic and political clout will decline over the next 15 years; the world will become a more dangerous place; food, water and energy shortages could spark regional conflicts and, while the appeal of terrorism might decline, terrorists themselves will become more deadly and dangerous thanks to new technology, the report says.

(Read on)
Or this:
A Growing Underclass

Slowly but surely, longer-term unemployment seems to be becoming the norm.

While layoffs are slowing, the number of job openings relative to the unemployed population were still at a record low in November.

That means that those who have already been laid off must spend longer and longer periods looking for work.

(Read on)
Or that:
Banks Set for Record Pay

Major U.S. banks and securities firms are on pace to pay their people about $145 billion for 2009, a record sum that indicates how compensation is climbing despite fury over Wall Street's pay culture.

An analysis by The Wall Street Journal shows that executives, traders, investment bankers, money managers and others at 38 top financial companies can expect to earn nearly 18% more than they did in 2008—and slightly more than in the record year of 2007. The conclusions are based on an examination of securities filings for the first nine months of 2009 and revenue estimates through year-end.

(Read on)
Or this:
After hottest decade in history, senators attempt to outlaw science of global warming

As scientists announce that the 2000s were the hottest decade in recorded history, U.S. senators are working to outlaw the reality of global warming. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration reported yesterday that 2009 is “tied with a cluster of other years — 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2007 — as the second warmest year since recordkeeping began,” after 2005, the hottest year in history. Meanwhile, thirty-nine senators introduced a resolution to reverse the finding that global warming pollution is a threat to public health and welfare:

Ms. [Lisa] Murkowski (R-AK), joined by 35 Republicans and three conservative Democrats, proposed to use the Congressional Review Act to strip the agency of the power to limit emissions of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court gave the agency legal authority to regulate such emissions in a landmark 2007 ruling.

After years of suppression and interference by the George W. Bush White House, the Environmental Protection Agency finally found last month that “greenhouse gases taken in combination endanger both the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.” The Democrats co-sponsoring Senate Joint Resolution 26 to overturn the endangerment finding are Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).

(Read on)
Or that:
Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Torture worked, at least that was the claim made in 2007 when a CIA operative claimed that Al Quaida operatives were spilling the beans after ten seconds of water boarding. Forget the fact that there is a long demonstrated history of individuals holding out against water boarding and other forms of torture. Forget the fact that most of the techniques being used to torture prisoners were straight out of the False Confessions handbook. Forget those facts, torture worked and fuck the dirty fucking hippies who want to fellate the terrorist loving Constitution instead of keeping 'Merica safe!

Whoops, that was a lie as Foreign Policy reports:

(Read on)
Or this:
Geithner, Paulson, Fed defend AIG payments

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, his predecessor Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke denied Wednesday any wrongdoing in secretive decisions surrounding the September 2008 bailout of failing insurance giant American International Group.

Geithner, right hand raised in a swearing-in ceremony, appeared before a hostile House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to answer questions about the decision to settle at face value $62 billion in exotic bets made by Wall Street investment firms such as Goldman Sachs and foreign banks without negotiating a discount for taxpayers.

(Read on)
Or that:
Pentagon Calls for ‘Office of Strategic Deception’

Remember the Pentagon Office of Special Plans that helped collect dubious intelligence that led to the war in Iraq? Or the program where the Pentagon secretly briefed military analysts to promote the Iraq war?

Meet the would-be Office of Strategic Deception.

In a little-noticed report earlier this month, the Defense Department's powerful Defense Science Board recommended creation of an entity designed solely for "strategic deception" against US adversaries.

"Specifically," the report reads (pdf), "we recommend that the Secretary [of Defense] task both the Under Secretaries of Defense for Policy and Intelligence, and the Joint Staff, working with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to create a tiger team to lay out courses of action and a way ahead for establishing a standing strategic surprise/deception entity. Once the initial work has been completed, all parts of the interagency should be brought into this effort."

"Strategic deception has in the past provided the United States with significant advantages that translated into operational and tactical success," it continues. "Successful deception also minimizes U.S. vulnerabilities, while simultaneously setting conditions to surprise adversaries."

(Read on)
Or this:
Slavery in US Prisons

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." --13th Amendment, 1865.

(See video)
Or that:
Rule by the Rich

The election of Republican Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate by Democratic voters in Massachusetts sends President Obama a message. Voters perceive that Obama’s administration has morphed into a Bush-Cheney government. Obama has reneged on every promise he made, from ending wars, to closing Gitmo, to providing health care for Americans, to curtailing the domestic police state, to putting the interests of dispossessed Americans ahead of the interests of the rich banksters who robbed Americans of their homes and pensions.

But what can Obama do other then spout more rhetoric?

The Democrats were destroyed as an independent party by jobs offshoring and so-called free trade agreements such as NAFTA. The effect of "globalism" has been to destroy the industrial and manufacturing unions, thus leaving the Democrats without a power base and source of funding.

Obama and the Democrats cannot be an opposition party, because Democrats are as dependent as Republicans on corporate interest groups for campaign funding.

The Democrats have to support war and the police state if they want funding from the military/security complex. They have to make the health care bill into a subsidy for private insurance if they want funding from the insurance companies. They have to abandon the American people for the rich banksters if they want funding from the financial lobby.

Now that the five Republicans on the Supreme Court have overturned decades of U.S. law and given corporations the ability to buy every American election, Democrats and Republicans can be nothing but pawns for a plutocracy.

Most Americans are hard pressed, but the corporations have only begun to milk them.

Wars are too profitable for the armaments industry to ever end. High unemployment is now a permanent state in the U.S., thus coercing job seekers into military service.

The security industry profits from the police state and regards civil liberties as a hindrance to profits. By announcing that he intends to continue the Bush policy of indefinite detention, a violation of the Constitution and U.S. legal procedures, Obama has granted the Democratic Party’s consent to the Republicans’ destruction of habeas corpus, the main bastion of individual liberty.

Jobs offshoring is too profitable for U.S. corporations for Obama to be able to save American jobs and restart the broken economy.

Americans are being squeezed out of health care not only by the loss of job benefits, but also by corporate takeover of medical practice from physicians. Today medical doctors are wage slaves of corporate health providers that leverage doctors by turning them into supervisors of physician assistants, lower paid people without medical degrees who perform the services that doctors once provided. As neither doctor nor physician assistant has any independence, there is no one to represent the patient’s care against the profits of the corporation.

Even environmental concerns are being used to create "cap and trade" rights to buy and sell the ability to pollute. Wall Street is licking its lips over a new source of leveraged derivative instruments.

The American public cannot even get reliable information about their plight as the "mainstream media" has been concentrated into a few corporate hands that do not permit independent reporting. The media is as dependent on corporate money as are politicians.

(Read on)
Or this:
Welcome To The Corporate States Of America

That's right, my American friends - it is now official, thanks to your SCOTUS.

I hope you enjoy your authoritarian, corporatocracy-driven, security and surveillance state.

(Read on)
Or that:
Reloaded: The Cost Of Security (Meaning: Terror)

Well then - considering that the ever incremental costs in money and civil liberties is meant apparently to keep us safe from nefarious, evil terrorists like this s.o.b. ... I suppose it is safe to say that the results are now in - and it looks like it is indeed too late for us all.

Thus why I reiterate: we are the real problem with terrorism.

But congratulations nonetheless to the terrorists for such an unequivocal, complete and total victory.

(Read on)
Or this:
The Cost Of Security (Meaning: Terror)

The terrorists keep on winning - my point ... exactly.

In the meantime, what has been the monetary cost of "fighting terrorism and improving our security"?

(Read on)
Or that:
Welcome To Your Corporatocracy: Proof Is In Teh Money

What has happened throughout these past decades - and keeps happening - constitutes the first and foremost argument for the need to have companies and corporations to obey laws, just like every citizens. As I said above, call said laws "regulations" if you will - nevertheless, laws on due process of contract awarding through an appropriately regulated submission process, as well as rigorous boundaries imposed for the fulfillment of contracts, in addition to codified acceptable behavior by companies and corporations (as in our case) and corporate responsibility, are a matter of necessity for the continuity of our democratic societies founded upon the Rule of Law.

But corporations are quite aware of this. As much as they know themselves - that when kept unchecked, the need for maximization of profits will inevitably lead to fraud and corruption, as well as to a blatant disregard and abuse of human dignity, human civil liberties and human rights. I repeat here: no noble principles of patriotism, social obligations, moral imperatives or even basic human decency and compassion can twart this.

Hence why time and time again - any law that is passed (or watered down/rejected, depending on the interests involved) is heavily tainted with corporate influence and money.

Consequently, democracy is effectively on life support - if not dead already.

So - welcome to your corporatocracy.

(Read on)
Or this:
Obama And The First Big Lie Of The 21st Century

If by "big lie" you are thinking of the one concerning Saddam Hussein's WMDs and links with al'Qaeda, then you would be in error. That would be the second big lie of the 21st century. However, you would be correct in assuming that the first big lie of the 21st century involved Bush and Co. nevertheless.

(Read on)
Or that:
Fudging Science On Climate Change: Here We Go Again

More evidence that the "Obama Era" is changing absolutely nothing:

(Read on)
Or this:
1 in 6 Americans goes hungry

The number of Americans that have trouble putting food on the table shot up last year in an unprecedented spike to a record 17 million households, the government reported on Monday.

The Department of Agriculture report, which has been released annually since 1995, said the number of Americans that were hungry rose to 14.6%. In 2007, 13 million households or 11.1% of Americans had trouble getting enough food.

The one-year jump is all the more significant, given the number of hungry Americans had never been higher than 11.9% since these surveys began.

Of the near-15% of the nation that couldn't secure enough food last year, the USDA said one-third of them had "very low food security," meaning they reduced the amount that they ate or disrupted their eating patterns during the year. That group made up 5.7% of all U.S. households, which was also a record high.

(Read on)
Or that:
Carpetbagging At Its (Worse) Best

In the U.S., whatever shape and form health care reform will take shall not prevent Big Pharma from satisfying the bottomless pit that is their greed:

(Read on)
And definitely not this: Obama Administration, Torture And Incompetence.

But I think you folks have already got the picture, eh?

Yeah - I thought so.

WIBDI, you dare say?

Fucking indeed ...

So - enjoy your State of the Union address, my Americans friends. I'm sure it'll make you feel better and safe ... at the very least.

Better than dealing with reality, eh?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Basic, Structural Anatomy Of A Typical Incendiary Blogpost


Go read (h/t). Now. For a (much needed) laugh.

Oh - and be sure to read the comments as well, eh? ;-)

Anything Can Be Labelled As "Terrorism" Nowadays


That's right (emphasis added):


Pie tossing is terrorism, MP says

A Liberal MP says he believes the federal government should investigate whether the pieing of Fisheries Minister Gail Shea by a woman opposed to the seal hunt constitutes an act of terrorism.

Shea was delivering a speech Monday at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington, when a woman stood up and pushed a tofu cream pie squarely into the minister’s face.

The animal-rights group PETA later took responsibility for the incident. It said in a release that it was part of its campaign “to stop the government’s ill-advised sanction of the slaughter of seals.”

MP Gerry Byrne says he thinks what happened should be reviewed under the legal definition of terrorism.

“When someone actually coaches or conducts criminal behaviour to impose a political agenda on each and every other citizen of Canada, that does seem to me to meet the test of a terrorist organization,” the member from Newfoundland and Labrador said in an interview from Ottawa with radio station VOCM in St. John’s, N.L.

“I am calling on the Government of Canada to actually investigate whether or not this organization, PETA, is acting as a terrorist organization under the test that exists under Canadian law.”

A spokesman for PETA could not immediately be reached for comment.

Shea said afterward that the incident only strengthens her resolve to defend the hunt.

Emily McCoy, 37, of New York City was taken into custody and charged with assault after the pieing.

After the tofu cream pie was pushed squarely into the minister’s face, a woman started shouting as she was led away by officials.

“Shame on you Gail Shea. ... It is a shame on Canada. It is a shame that she has not denounced this bloody seal hunt,” the woman yelled.

Shea, who represents a P.E.I. riding, didn’t require medical attention and returned to the podium after wiping the pie from her face.

Former prime minister Jean Chretien was hit in the face with a pie by a protester in Prince Edward Island in 2000. His attacker initially was given jail time but eventually received a conditional sentence.

A woman who missed Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach with a pie at the annual Calgary Stampede breakfast in 2007, and hit a security official instead, was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

So was a woman who threw a pie at Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier in the summer of 2007.

In 2003, a protester who hit then-Alberta premier Ralph Klein in the face with a pie at the Stampede breakfast was convicted of assault and ordered to serve a 30-day intermittent jail sentence.

Jean Charest got it in April 2003, two days before his Liberals ousted the Parti Quebecois and he was elected Quebec premier.
Meanwhile, PETA compares meat eaters to terrorists and sociopaths (and never you mind that homo sapiens sapiens evolved its so-called "big brain" because meat-eating became a substantial part of the diet of evolutionary ancestral hominoids).

So - what's next to be labelled as a crime deserving of jail time, if not as an actual terrorist act?

Shouting at someone (especially at a political figure)?

Pulling a prank on someone (especially on a political figure)?

Giving the middle finger at someone (especially at a political figure)?

Writing letters to newspaper editors?

Blogging/expressing opinions against the government or authorities?

Peaceful protesting?

Lawful dissent?

Being embarassingly ridiculous and laughable (like Gerry Burns, PETA and too many others of our contemporaries)?

We have indeed become nothing more than fear-of-terrorism-driven flakes.

"Fear of terrorism". "Fear of terror". "Fear of fear".

Think about the sheer insanity of it all.

Case in point: as Defense Minister Peter MacKay channels Donald Rumsfeld, we are informed that 4,000 soldiers are expected to support security efforts at next month's Olympic Games.

Because, you know, we need the military to perform police security functions.

Now think about the enormity of it all.

Security - Hallowed Be Thy Name, fucking indeed ...

And that's why the terrorists have won.

Hip-Hip-Hooray.

Infamy


Words fail me:
Rape victim receives 101 lashes for becoming pregnant

A 16-year-old girl who was raped in Bangladesh has been given 101 lashes for conceiving during the assault.

The girl's father was also fined and warned the family would be branded outcasts from their village if he did not pay.

According to human rights activists, the girl, who was quickly married after the attack, was divorced weeks later after medical tests revealed she was pregnant.

The girl was raped by a 20-year-old villager in Brahmanbaria district in April last year.

Bangladesh's Daily Star newspaper reported that she was so ashamed following the attack that she did not lodge a complaint.

Her rape emerged after her pregnancy test and Muslim elders in the village issued a fatwa insisting that the girl be kept in isolation until her family agreed to corporal punishment.

Her rapist was pardoned by the elders. She told the newspaper the rapist had "spoiled" her life.

"I want justice," she said.
So.

Rapist pardoned.

Rape victim flayed and further victimized.

This is not about the ludicrous application of parochial religious dictates.

This is about ignorant, frear-driven primitive minds still exercizing sway over their equally ignorant, fear-driven primitive minded brethren.

There can be no justice for anyone under such an archaic, tribalistic way of living.

And although we in the so-called "modern" "Christian world" may not resort to corporal punishments against women, we still have more-or-less the same problem of ignorant, frear-driven primitive minds still exercizing sway over their equally ignorant, fear-driven primitive minded brethren - especially regarding women matters, from their place in society to their sexuality to their reproductive rights to, yes, even rape.

Humanity still has a long way to go.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Cost Of Fear: Losing Ourselves Beyond Redemption


(Updated below)

In a previous post, I discussed the mushrooming use of surveillance cameras in Canadian cities (and workplaces) and the startling fact that a majority of Canadians are comfortable with this - in effect welcoming the birth of the Canadian Security and Surveillance State, just as the Americans and, especially, the Britons have already welcome the transformation of their countries into likewise National Security and Surveillance States.

After all, it is a truism that fear and the need to feel secure and safe always trump unalienable civil rights, let alone humane values normally espoused by the citizens of a given nation.

Just ask the Americans. Or the Britons.

Or our very own fellow Canadians (emphasis added):


Body scanners don't faze Canadians

Canadians are apparently okay with the pending installation of full-body scanners in major airports, even though the devices can see through clothes.

An Angus Reid poll released Thursday suggests that the majority of us believe the purchase of security equipment announced this week by Transport Minister John Baird is a good thing.

In the online survey of 1,019 Canadian adults, 44 per cent of respondents said they strongly support the use of these scanners to screen all passengers travelling to and from Canada. And another 30 per cent of respondents said they moderately support relying on the new security measure.

In the survey, the respondents were shown a picture of an airport scanner’s three-dimensional outline of a woman who appears to be naked except for explosives and a gun.

Despite the intrusive nature of the machines, two-thirds of the people taking part in the survey said they would rather go through the scanner than endure a full-body pat down.

Conversely, 18 per cent of respondents would rather skip the scanner and go for the pat-down.

Mr. Baird announced on Tuesday that of 44 full-body screening machines would be installed at airports that serve as major international hubs including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax.

A dozen scanners are expected to be delivered by the manufacturer within a week, with the rest to come in six to 10 weeks.

The machines are part of the government’s response to a worldwide increase in airport security following a failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day, in which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly carried explosives onto a U.S.-bound plane after clearing security in both Nigeria and the Netherlands.

The poll, which was conducted on Jan. 5 and 6 (2010) is expected to accurately reflect to opinion of the Canadian public within a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

Fear of terror trumps civil rights of privacy - Q.E.D. yet again.

Not surprisingly, as our fear of terror remains quite strong and overwhelming, we have at the same time hardened ourselves irrationally with regards to crime overall (emphasis added):
Canadians' views on crime are hardening, poll finds

A nation that has traditionally thought of itself as liberal and forgiving is adopting a hard line on crime and punishment – including the death penalty.

This hardening attitude among Canadians is revealed in a new Angus Reid public opinion survey that found 62 per cent of respondents favour capital punishment for murderers, while 31 per cent believe that rapists should be put to death.

The figure is a significant boost from the last such survey, in 2004, when 48 per cent favoured capital punishment for murderers.

The results of the survey are sure to buoy the federal government, which has closely aligned itself with tough-on-crime policies such as mandatory minimum prison terms for a wide range of offences. However, they belie statistics that show falling crime rates and studies that say harsh sentences don't prevent people from committing offences.

The survey, one of three conducted simultaneously last fall in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, reveals a shared belief that even though mandatory minimum sentences can be unfair to people convicted of minor offences, they are an indispensable tool in fighting crime.



“There is a strong sense that punishment is an appropriate response to criminal acts, and that we are kind of cynical about reform,” said Andrew Grenville, chief research officer at Angus Reid. “There is strong support for severely punishing people. This is not the way Canadians tend to describe themselves.”

The survey found that 65 per cent of respondents had a moderate or strong feeling that mandatory minimum sentences send a tough message to criminals.

It also indicated that while Canadians believe there is a role for halfway houses, parole and rehabilitation programs in the correctional system, they are becoming distinctly skeptical about the power of these measures to change criminal behaviour.

The findings are in harmony with a mantra that has emerged from Parliament in the last couple of years. The federal government has introduced 17 bills in the justice field, most of which crack down on crime and toughen sentencing provisions.

Sanjeev Anand, a University of Alberta law professor, said that Canadians are ignoring warnings from law professors and criminologists that mandatory minimums do not deter crime. “I think they are buying Ottawa's message,” he said. “They are not thinking the way criminals think. Most criminal acts are impulsive; they are not well thought out.”

Those polled also felt strongly that while there was little chance they would become victims of crime themselves, their communities are unsafe. Almost one in two respondents felt that the prevalence and severity of violent crime are steadily rising.

University of Toronto criminologist Anthony Doob said that federal and police statistics show that in 2008, the volume and severity of crime fell by 5 per cent – a pattern that is consistent with previous years.

“At the same time as our economy is going down the tubes, you wonder why so much effort is being spent on criminal law when there is no evidence whatsoever that crime is a particular problem,” Prof. Doob said.

Craig Jones, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, said the survey results “reveal quite a stark disconnect from reality. I certainly see where the government thinks it is gaining support for its crime agenda,” he said.

Mr. Jones said that the anomaly may be a result of government crime rhetoric combined with broad public fear about the future.

“Add to that the kinds of news sources that people consume on a regular basis,” he said. “Our brains are primed to freak out faster than to deliberate.

“There is a kind of elevated, metaphysical anxiety that is disconnected to specific events or persons,” Mr. Jones said. “We are swept up in a miasma of underwear bombers, 9/11 and earthquakes in Haiti – with all of this thrown together in a kind of disarticulated confusion.”

Mr. Jones said that belief in the effectiveness of deterrence is based in a bedrock economic model: “If you increase the price of something, demand for it goes down. Crime is regarded the same way as any other market.”

In reality, Mr. Jones said that even repeat offenders pay little heed to the sentences they might face for committing crimes.

“They will tell you very specifically: ‘I wasn't thinking about the sentence. I was thinking about how best not to get caught,' ” Mr. Jones said.

The survey also showed that U.S. respondents are well aware that mandatory minimum sentences often have an unjust effect on minor offenders, but they strongly support them nonetheless.
Prison Nation Canada - anyone? Indeed.

Hence, it is now official and undeniable: Canadians = Americans = Britons.

Another finding from this poll is quite alarming, yet not completely unexpected: to the statement "I think the criminal justice system should focus, above all else, on preventing crime before it occurs", the percentage of agreement was as follows: Canadians, 88%; Americans 90%; and Britons, 91% (see image above).

Which means one thing and one thing only: Canadians, Americans and Britons alike are willing to give even more powers to our governments and law enforcement/security agencies to spy/infiltrate indiscriminately, to arrest/detain without warrants and/or due process, to perform preemptive arrests, to use torture enhanced interrogation techniques, and to invade every aspects of our private lives (whether digital, electronic, visual; at home or anywhere else) - all in order to prevent criminal acts and/or acts of terror before they occur, and consequently make us more safe and secure.

Never mind the already, steadily declining crime rates (in Canada, the USA or the UK) or the statistical rarity of being victim of an act of terrorism (whether airborn or in general).

And never mind any (inevitable) abuse of such vast powers over our lives that are willingly and eagerly handed out to our governments, as well as to our law enforcement and security agencies - ever expanding powers which they keep on asking for (or secretely usurping without notification) again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again, all the while stoking our fears and as they follow the dictates of their own paranoid mindset as convenient rationale in order to gain our subdued consent ... or silent, sheepish acceptance.

Still don't think there has been, still are, and always will be, such abuses of power? Let us have a quick run down of relevant news items over the last few years to the present, shall we?
Outlawing dissent;

8 million Americans are now listed as potentially suspect;

FBI abused power to get private records: report;

FBI apologizes for improperly accessing reporters’ phone records;

FBI Audit Exposes Widespread Abuse Of Patriot Act Powers;

FBI Cast A Wide Net For Phone Records;

FBI broke law for years in phone record searches;

Internal Report Finds Flagrant National Security Letter Abuse By FBI;

FBI Counterterrorism Unit Spies on Peaceful, Faith-Based Protest Group;

FBI wants power to investigate citizens "without any basis for suspicion";

Report: FBI Mishandles Terror Watch List;

FBI ‘manipulating’ debate on Patriot Act reform;

Peaceful activist groups put on terror watchlist;

NSA accused of spying on millions of emails;

Exclusive: Inside Account of NSA Eavesdropping on Americans;

Whistleblower: NSA spied on everyone, targeted journalists;

NSA spied on member of Congress and broke new laws, report says;

CNN reporter criticizes TSA, finds self on terror watch list;

Report Reveals CIA Conducted Mock Executions;

Author: CIA case evidence of abuse of power;

CIA ran at least two secret prisons in Lithuania;

Pentagon is keeping secret tabs on peaceful protest activities;

The End of Illegal Domestic Spying? Don't Count on It;

Threshold for Getting Onto No-Fly List Lowered;

Report: ICE using unlisted detention centers for immigrant prisoners;

'Sneak-and-peek' searches being used for regular crimes;

Feds Fail to Prevent Police Abuse;

I was Spied on by the Maryland Police;

NYPD routinely arrests students for non-crimes;

Massive police raids on suspected protestors in Minneapolis;

More Protesters Arrested in the Twin Cities;

ABC Reporter Arrested in Denver Taking Pictures of Senators, Big Donors;

Phoenix police illegally raid a blogger;

Seizing War Protesters’ Assets;

In-flight Incidents Can Lead to Terrorism Charges;

Cell Phones and Other Surveillance;

Information Is Power And Who's Controlling Our Information?

Anti-Terrorism Officials Are Regulating Us, Not Terrorists;

The Military Commissions Strike Back;

Court rules Obama’s detention powers not limited by laws of war;

Justice task force recommends about 50 Guantanamo detainees be held indefinitely;

The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle;

Canadian Military Keeping Tabs on Peace Activists;

Canada also allows spying on citizens;

Ottawa can eavesdrop on Canadians under law;

CSIS stepped over line in terror probe: watchdog;

Protests Watched by CSIS;

CSIS can spy on Canadians abroad: court;

Spy watchdog raps CSIS in Khadr affair;

Spy watchdog to probe CSIS conduct in Abdelrazik case;

CSIS defies orders on torture;

CSIS, RCMP monitor protest groups for possible Olympic threats;

RCMP stored secret files on Canadians;

Watchdog seeks review of RCMP power to break law;

ISPs must help police snoop on internet under new bill;

Privacy advocates concerned about potential internet wiretapping law;

Ottawa is collecting too much private information and failing to regulate no-fly list;

Canada’s no-fly list—who’s considered too dangerous?

House passes revised security certificate bill;

Senate approves security certificate bill;

Security certificates and secret evidence;

Ontario police avoided judge in wiretaps;

Where you've been on Net not private, judge rules;

Canadian citizen wrongly blacklisted as a terrorist and stranded in Sudan;

British MP George Galloway banned from Canada;

Torturegate Canada (Part I, II and III);

Police 'misuse' anti-terror laws;

London Met Police criticised over "stop-and-search" powers;

UK government to 'spy' on every phone call, email and web search;

Council admits spying on family;

Spy law 'used in dog fouling war';

Council used terror law to spy on fishermen;

Spying on your email;

UK ISP Service Bans, Un-Bans Wikipedia Page;

Smile, You're On Spy Tv;

Citizen snoopers recruited to spy on Londoners;

British task health inspectors with spying on families;

Taxman using terror laws 15 times a day to spy on suspects;

Spy centre will track you on holiday;

MI5 bugged people;

MI5 chief defends use of intelligence extracted through torture;

MI5 targeting the wrong people in Glasgow;

Rendition victim was handed over to the US by MI6;

MI5 and MI6 given go ahead for secret hearings into abuse;

MI5 and MI6 face 29 new allegations of torture in foreign prisons;

Too much spying on Brit citizens;

MI5, MI6 'knew of torture';

Big Brother HAS gone too far;

Because Infringing On Privacy Is A Lucrative Business;

ISPs Begin To Spy And Abuse Consumer Privacy;

Internet Censorship Coming Soon ... If Not Already Here;

Technology The Boss Uses To Spy on You.
And the preceeding constitute but a fraction sample of what has been happening during the last 4-5 years ...

No one is safe indeed.

All. Because. We. Are. Afraid.

Two years ago, I wrote the following:
The increasing erosion of our constitutions, civil rights and democracies as they are being gradually subjugated by Authoritarian Security Surveillance States. The bloating no-fly lists and terrorist watch-lists. The continuing inhumane and barbaric renditions, "enhanced interrogations" and indefinite detentions - of children, teenagers and adults alike. The continuing standing of Military Commissions, which are nothing more than politically-driven, rigged, kangaroo courts. The seemingly unending wars of choice and occupation in Afghanistan and Iraq - both based on lies to justify a vengeance operation for 9/11 and the securing of foreign oil resources. The ever mounting toll of civilian deaths, displaced refugees and soldier casualties.

This is the overall state of things today with regards to our so-called "Western civilization" - especially concerning the U.S.A., the U.K. and Canada.

(...)

We have been losing ourselves since the day after 9/11.

Looks like we have crossed the threshold of ever being able to find ourselves again.

So we keep on riding fast and hard onto that road to perdition ... well beyond redemption.
I am deeply saddened, angry and frustrated that I have been proven right.

Now all that is left is this to be added on top of that - and then we'll finally be able to kiss our democracies goodbye once and for all ...

... in the Holy Name of Security.

How the following words read hollow and empty on this dark, hopeless and foreboding day:
Let it be known ad nauseam: living in a democracy is a right and a responsibility.

Granted, this responsibility requires effort. But which is better: having your back bent by the effort required to keep on living in a democratic society, or letting leave for complacency and find yourself one day with a back bent under a totalitarian regime (however benevolent it may be)?

It is high time to remember that it is indeed we who guard all the doors and hold all the keys of our democratic values and institutions.

It is, in the end, up to us to act as the Guardians and Caretakers of our constitutions, our civil rights and our civil liberties.

It has always been up to us.
And so we have only ourselves to blame.

And so the terrorists have won.

And so we have met the enemy - only in order to realize too late that it was ourselves, all along.

So - goodbye democracy, constitution and civil rights ... know that I will hold you in my heart until the day I die.

Despite the fear-driven flakes that is the majority of my fellow citizens.

Or perhaps - in spite of them, rather.


Update 01/24/10:... and the National Security and Surveillance State takes to the skies in the UK. How long before we see this happening as well in the US and Canada? I give it 5 years max ...