How times change…

Once upon a time a Canadian didn’t think twice about visiting the United States, but in this “war on terrah” era where American officials can take a foreigner, ship him off to Syria to be tortured, and then simply refuse to have his case for redress heard in their courts because it’s inconvenient why on earth would anyone want to take that insane risk?

When this did become acceptable?

This video is astonishing. It was taken earlier today when during student protests in Montreal. In it a police officer points his tear gas grenade launcher squarely at a protester — almost touching the guy — and fires it, with the clear intent of harming the protester and making no effort whatsoever to arrest him for anything! This is absolutely, completely unacceptable and unless the sadistic officer involved is identified and disciplined in a serious way it will be difficult to take the SPVM at all seriously.

“Lawful access” — coming very soon to a computer near you

Public Security Minister Vic Toews is planning to introduce his so-called “lawful access” bill to the House of Commons later today. So, how does it measure up?

According to Ottawa U Law professor Michael Geist, it’s going to create a panopticon society where online privacy essentially no longer exists and is replaced with a sort of Big Brother. Which is pretty funny when you consider that the Tories are also about to introduce their bill to scrap the long gun registry and proactively delete any and all data therein. Apparently guns don’t kill people, but the freedom to go about one’s own business does… that pretty much tells you what you need to know about Stephen Harper and his cronies.

And then there’s the issue of cost, which is entirely offloaded onto the ISPs themselves, who will now have to keep a record of everything you do online — well, everything you do online taking the direct route via your ISP, making it trivial to circumvent — for 90 days. I rather pity the ISPs who are going to be stuck storing all that data at their own expense. You can be certain that they’ll be glad to pass the savings onto you, of course.

So what’s the justification for this garbage? Mr. Toews, never one to shy away from stooping to scrape the bottom of the barrel, claims that either you are with him or you are siding with “the child pornographers”. Never mind that there have been a number of child porn busts recently which have not required any of the new police state powers Mr. Toews insists are absolutely crucial to fight that crime. Personally I’ve always thought that it was illegal, but apparently by senile old Vic’s reckoning it was impossible to fight this crime before! Of course it wasn’t. Mr. Toews is just pulling his Maud Flanders act, and it sells out very well out West, where evidently people ignorant or mad enough to vote for the insane old codger think “internet” is a kind of potato blight.

But why should we let Vic the impaler set the terms? I say, unless you are against this so-called “lawful access” bill, you are siding with the fascists. I guess the Conservative Party has yet another self-renaming in the works.

Assange extradition case: is the UK CPS under foreign pressure?

Like a rather large number of people I am following the legal proceedings to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden with very keen interest. It is a very unusual case indeed. The British Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is currently attempting to extradite Mr. Assange, the head of Wikileaks, to Sweden for questioning regarding something which does not appear to be considered prosecutable in any way outside of Sweden. Of course there are additional facts which make this case particularly odd for the CPS to pursue — but pursue it it has, all the way to the UK’s highest court.

One does very well to wonder why. Mr. Assange has not been charged with any crime, in the UK, Sweden, or anywhere else. Mr. Assange has offered to submit himself to questioning at the Swedish embassy in the UK. There are strong questions of prosecutorial misconduct already surrounding the case, and rumours seem to abound to the effect that the “victim” in the affair has been coerced into declaring that there was wrongdoing at all by a particularly zealous and right-wing Swedish prosecutor.

So of course inquiries have been made as to why the CPS is taking on this case. I myself cannot think of a justification to pursue extradition proceedings against a person who is not under a criminal charge for anything. It just doesn’t make sense, unless of course the entire affair is political in nature, in which case there are strong implications that the CPS is being used by another organ of the British government for purposes which, on the outside at least, seem unethical at best and downright illegal at worst.

As I have already mentioned an inquiry was made to obtain information from the CPS as to why they are conducting this campaign, and the CPS’s response can now be published, as it has been here. The CPS is refusing to answer the question, but it’s the cited reasoning which is most interesting:

Information is exempt information under s. 27(1)(a) if its disclosure under the FOIA would, or would be likely to, prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and any other State.

Now, I’m no expert in diplomacy or foreign relations myself, but it seems that the CPS itself is admitting that it is, directly or indirectly, being pressured by a foreign government into proceeding forward with the extradition. That seems highly improper. The CPS is not, nor should it be, answerable to the Foreign Office, or indeed any other body than the Home Office. And what interest does the Home Office have seeking the extradition of a man who is not charged with a crime in the UK or abroad?

And since the response hints at foreign pressure, who is behind that? Sweden has not seen it fit to charge Mr. Assange with a crime. Which country could possibly have a vested interest in getting the head of Wikileaks out of a jurisdiction where he enjoys legal protection and into international territory where he is completely unprotected? Hmm, I wonder. Not to mention that Sweden,  nice country though it may be, hardly has the clout to tell the Brits what to do. For that you have to look elsewhere. Surely it would have to be a more influential country, perhaps one which operates several military bases in the UK, to pick only one consideration out of a hat. As it is now no question can be answered as the CPS is keeping mum on the subject.

Of course one doesn’t have to spend too long reading between the lines to figure it out…

All you need to know about American cops.

Pepper Spray Cop

Pepper Spray Cop

That is all.

Plus ça change…

Daniel Ellsberg: “EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.” Ultimately things haven’t changed very much in American government in the past 40 years, and embarrassing the USG will lead to them leaning on their international partners (Sweden, the UK, Paypal, Visa, MC) to make your life hell. It’s a sorry spectacle, and exposes shortcomings in Obama’s so-called opposition to censorship and desire for an open and transparent society. Principles, it would seem, do not stand any sort of test, and should be abandoned the moment they become difficult to keep.

Obama also said he wouldn’t extend the Bush “top 2%” tax cuts, and he did. Frankly I can’t think of a politician who’s been more of a disappointment in recent memory, largely I suppose because the expectations were so low for everyone else (I always knew Harper would be an authoritarian right-winger, for example). But at this point I have to wonder where Obama thinks he’ll get votes in 2012. He’s been a huge disappointment to the left by being about the equivalent of a George W. Bush with a triple-digit IQ, and the right wing is always going to hate him. His strategy right now is probably to hope that the Republicans will nominate a lazy, attention-whoring, unqualified, monumental moron, which should bring a good cross-section of the population into the Democratic fold, but what if the GOP doesn’t nominate Sarah Palin? What then?

Li’l bundles of hate

What do Klan kids watch? Apparently it’s The Andrew Show, a show by white supremacists for white supremacists, broadcast on the web from a site called White Pride TV which bills itself as “a family friendly site”, although it’s distinctly less friendly to certain families than to others. For older kids there’s the equally not-colorful Youth Focus, which caters to racist teens, an often overlooked demographic. The article has a photo that might as well have been captioned “the family that burns crosses together stays together”. Note that the second and third links in the article go to the shows’ pages on the White Pride TV site, so you might want to not click on those.

Sometimes you just feel happy you were born somewhere else

Ever wondered what it’s like to chat with Liberian warlords, escape dangerous-looking crowds and visit a brothel in Monrovia? Well then, you should have a look at The Vice Guide to Liberia.

The crime is plain to see on video, yet no charges will be filed

When Ian Tomlinson was walking home on April 1st 2009 during the G20 summit in London, he certainly had no idea that he was starting on the last walk of his life. Tomlinson was assaulted by a riot police officer whose identity was concealed, and died of resulting injuries. The whole thing was captured on video and police lied their asses off about it until the video emerged showing their actions. Yes, in London, in the middle of the biggest protests since the poll tax riots, police managed to find the one man who wasn’t protesting in any way, and killed him.

But of course you won’t see it expressed with the term “murder”, despite it being what it was. If you take a violent action which directly results in the death of the person you committed violence towards, it is murder. That is sound and established legal principle. Except if the act was committed by a police officer, evidently, since it is now official that no criminal charges will be filed against the officer responsible for the assault, nor will the officer be identified. This is the most transparent and self-serving cover-up I have ever seen in my nearly-forty-years-long life. Basically all the police has to do in the future in order to wash their hands of responsibility for their own conduct is to hire coroners who are incompetent, like Freddy Patel (who will thankfully be struck off the rolls shortly), and automatically that negates the possibility of charges ever being laid.

This is absolutely shameful and disgusting, and a blight on the UK.

It’s kind of depressing to think that these people have a large number of nuclear weapons.

According to CNN, Americans didn’t understand a speech delivered yesterday by President Obama because he was using language that was too advanced for them to comprehend. The speech is generally accepted as having been written to a 10th grade level. On the other hand it’s now a hell of a lot easier for us foreigners to understand how George W. Bush managed to win two Presidential elections.