Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dumb dumb dumb de dumb

Shorter Toronto police chief Bill Blair:
Just look at all these terrible weapons we confiscated from the G20 protests!
Well, except for the crossbow and the chainsaw, we found those Thursday in the car of a mentally ill man driving downtown by mistake.
But everything else was ...
Well, except for the arrows and the chainmail and the shields and the plastic clubs. We got those Sunday at Union Station from a guy on his way to a fantasy role-playing game in a local park.
But its absolutelytrue that everything else was taken from protesters. Really! Would I lie to you?
I finally figured out who Blair is reminding me of:


So Toronto Police chief Bill Blair thought he had played a cute trick on "criminals" when he lied about police having the authority to detain and arrest G20 protesters outside the security fence.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is still furious about the way police behaved during the G20 protests.
But the people who should also be furious are the thousands of front line police officers who actually believed they had been given temporary authority to detain and search people at will -- who now find out that they were being lied to, as well.

UPDATE: And Blair is caught lying again.

Keeping Toronto safe?

Toronto police made a big deal today about they protected Toronto from Black Bloc violence by arresting 900 people.
Except, of course, they didn't.
On Saturday, the Black Bloc vandals were allowed to throw things at police, jump up and down on those artistically-abandoned police cars and then run down Yonge Street breaking windows and uprooting bricks unimpeded.
But on Saturday night and Sunday, even though I heard no reports of projectiles being thrown at police, no broken windows, no looting, no trashed cars, the police were very busy arresting polite teenage girls, Quebecers, reporters, and people shopping for groceries.
And now they seem to think that bullying people who were too scared to fight back was what kept Toronto safe.
According to the police chief, police arrested "dozens and dozens" of anarchists with "Molotov cocktails and other weapons" on Sunday --where these people are now, I couldn't find any news stories to say. I guess at some point, maybe there will be some bail hearings, and then maybe we'll find out just how many arrests of criminals and vandals were actually made. Until then, colour me skeptical.
Torontoist reporter Chris Bird writes:
. . . The cops had a disastrous top-down management strategy, to be sure, but over and over again the story of today was that some individual police were completely and totally willing to be bastards.. . . apparently guilt by association is the next big thing in Canadian policing.
Oh, and there was another large protest today -- to object to the police overreaction. Nobody was arrested this time.

The Canadian spirit is just indomitable.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Dziekanski Lesson

Well, I guess we can conclude that the police have learned their lesson from the Dziekanski death.
And the lesson is, don't let yourself be photographed.
My friends in Toronto almost got arrested today.
They stopped to watch police arrest a teenage protester, and then they didn't "move along" fast enough to suit the police -- actually, they were talking to me on the phone at the time. So the police demanded to see the memory cards on their cameras. When one of my friends objected, the plastic cuffs came out.
To make things worse, they found my friends' arms were marked with a lawyer's phone number! And one of them had a bandana in her knapsack! That was almost enough to convince them that these were secret Black Bloc terrorist scum in disguise.
In the end, my friends were able feign docility and politeness long enough to listen to a lecture on the foolishness of being a protester, and then the police let them go -- but not before wiping the memory cards on their cameras.
The Dziekanski lesson has been learned: it doesn't actually matter how you treat the people you are arresting, as long as there is no photographic record of it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Steve Paikin tweets what happened in Toronto this evening:
# i can appreciate that the police were on edge today, after seeing four or five of their cruisers burned. but why such overreaction tonight?
# the demonstration on the esplanade was peaceful. it was like an old sit in. no one was aggressive. and yet riot squad officers moved in.
# police on one side screamed at the crowd to leave one way. then police on the other side said leave the other way. there was no way out.
# the police just started arresting people. i stress, this was a peaceful, middle class, diverse crowd. no anarchists. . .
# i have lived in toronto for 32 years. have never seen a day like this. shame on the vandals
# and shame on those that ordered peaceful protesters attacked and arrested. that is not consistent with democracy in toronto, G20 or no G20
When a friend at the protests phoned, she said the same thing happened to the group she was with, in the late afternoon in Queens Park -- they were sitting down, not threatening, when police just charged -- no warning, no bullhorns telling them to disperse, just aggressive confrontation.
The Toronto Star asked Police Chief Blair about this incident and he gave this incoherent explanation:
Blair defended a late-afternoon police effort to arrest protesters who appeared peaceful at Queen's Park, saying some were black bloc protesters who had changed clothes.
I have been following the protest coverage all day on various blogs like the Torontoist and the Globe liveblog and I had been hopeful that police were going to approach these protests with a professional attitude. The police men and women on Toronto streets during the day seemed to remember what their role was, to protect the G20 summit but not stifle protest or provoke a riot. So they held back and, in spite of some media complaining, they let the unions and the anti-poverty groups maintain order and direct 10,000 people in a peaceful march. They didn't sweat the property damage, even to their own police cars (which were, for some inexplicable reason, parked in the protest path). They didn't go charging in with nightsticks swinging just to protect a few windows on Bay Street, even when the black bloc types were trying to provoke them.
But in the late afternoon, that police attitude seemed to change -- maybe they got new orders or maybe it was just a shift change -- all of a sudden police started acting as though they wanted to turn the protest into a pissing contest.
Come tomorrow, will both sides now think they have something to prove?

UPDATE: Is it the same shoes? Again?
UPDATE 2: Simple Massing Priest has an eerie video showing how the police acted today in targeting and arresting protesters.

You know what I like

I guess The Big Bopper called it right

Let the protesters protest

Based on the news footage I saw about the Friday G20 protest in Toronto, there were more police than protesters Friday.
That will not likely be the case Saturday afternoon.
Is there any possibility that wiser heads might prevail -- that police will back off, and quit taking a paranoid us-against-them approach, and just let the protesters march?
They want to file past that damned security fence, and make their point about international corporations, poverty, climate change, and global economic initiatives, and then go home.
Any chance they could just do this?
I think Canadians have finally reached their gag limit with the security overreactions.
Even Lloyd Robertson and Lisa LaFlamme looked uncomfortable when they were talking about the new secret Ontario law that basically criminalizes dissent and would have allowed wholesale arrests of G20 protesters at tomorrow's big rally. As Marcus Gee writes:
Canadians who are simply walking along the street are under no obligation to tell police their name or agree to be searched. “Papers, please,” are not words that people in this country need to fear.
Police -- who actually must be pretty bored, with thousands of them standing around day after day with virtually nothing to do -- are already abusing their shiney new law:
. . . once the erosion of rights starts, it’s hard to stop. On Friday, Toronto police were stopping and searching people entering Allan Gardens, a public park about three kilometres from the fenced off-zone where the G20 leaders are due to arrive Saturday.
“We just want to make sure you’re not carrying anything dangerous,” one officer told me, after asking for identification, as another flipped through my notebook.
The problem, it seems, is that anti-G20 protesters were having a (perfectly legal) rally in Allan Gardens prior to setting out on a march.
“Do you have anything here that might hurt me?” the officer said as his partner looked through my glasses case.
Some entering the park with banners or flags attached to poles had the poles seized. Some did not.
I get the uncomfortable feeling that they don't know what they're doing. And this doesn't bode well for Saturday.
Here's some photos of Friday's protests, all from 680 News Radio:

Now, THAT'S a protest!

In St. Petersburg, Russia, artists have drawn a 220-foot penis on a drawbridge to protest an upcoming International Economic Forum meeting.

Apparently, when the bridge is raised, it "glistens in the light".
Too bad Toronto doesn't have any drawbridges...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's going on here?

So a year after his appointment, we are left with an uncomfortable speculation about exactly what kind of man Canada has chosen to be its CSIS chief.
Gordon Campbell says Richard Fadden's accusations that municipal and provincial politicians are Chinese agents are "unprecedented and completely unprofessional" The Toronto Star says Faddan was "bowing smoke, perhaps in order to reinforce his pitch for more funding". At the National Post, John Ivison calls the comments "extremely odd" and speculates that Fadden wants to quit his job --"If the CSIS director wanted to come in from the cold, there must be less dramatic ways of ending his career."
At Macleans, John Geddes says Fadden "made himself look ridiculous". At the Globe and Mail, Michael Posner says this isn't the first time Fadden has talked about boogeymen under the bed and Gary Mason says Fadden "got carried away trying to impress Mr. Mansbridge" The Globe editorial says the remarks are reckless, foolish and contradictory.
Mr. Fadden tried to backtrack yesterday. He issued a statement noting that foreign interference is a “common occurrence,” and saying he had not apprised the PCO of the cases, or deemed them to be of sufficient concern to alert provincial authorities.
If the cases aren't serious enough to share with his political masters, why mention them on national television? Why say he is talking to the PCO, only to later deny this?
Watch the interview and see if you can figure out what the heck Fadden thinks he is doing.
Creepiest part is when Mansbridge asks him how he knows Canadian politicians are foreign agents and he replies "Under the law we can monitor anything."
And I was wondering why I keep hearing this funny buzzing on the line when I call city hall these days...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

McChrystal is a whiner

With all the flap over the insults slathered over everyone by the general who is supposedly in charge of the Afghanistan war, what I found most offensive was the constant, childish, egotistical whining.
Here, McCrystal has to go to a diplomatic dinner -- with the French!
"The dinner comes with the position, sir," says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.
McChrystal turns sharply in his chair.
"Hey, Charlie," he asks, "does this come with the position?"
McChrystal gives him the middle finger.
And when he first met Obama, I guess the President didn't seem to know about his awesomeness:
Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. "It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his fucking war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."
He has surrounded himself with drunks, yes-men and yahoos who keep telling each other how brilliant they all are:
Though it is his and Annie's 33rd wedding anniversary, McChrystal has invited his inner circle along for dinner and drinks . . . The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. . . .By midnight at Kitty O'Shea's, much of Team America is completely shitfaced.
He seems to think he is the only person who does anything right:
In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama's top people on the diplomatic side. . . . At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.
"Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg," an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.
I hope Obama fires this guy. Our Canadian troops deserve better company.


Shorter CSIS director Richard Fadden:
So those beleaguered and unappreciated masochists who stand for municipal office so they can get phone calls at all hours of the day and night about snow clearing and sewer replacements are actually secretly working for mysterious foreign powers? Well, I'm glad SOMEBODY appreciates the work that aldermen do!

Saturday, June 12, 2010


POGGE has posted Moreland & Arbuckle's John Henry rendition and of course I was reminded of this version -- see 1:16 below:

Great line of the day

Scott links to this Greg Weston column about the latest extravagant idiocy of the Harper government -- spending a million dollars on posters of Canadian scenes to put around the Summit meeting halls:
If the insatiable Foreign Affairs decorators wanted to capture the true essence of the summits, they would have backdrops depicting a billion-dollar sinkhole.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Kentucky Vice

Does everybody else like the new show Justified as much as we do?
It reminds me of The Sopranos in its unexpectedness -- its filled with stock characters that we've all seen in police procedurals a thousand times before, but just when you think its going to get all trite and homespun and cliched, it turns around on you -- our hero lead character mouths off in a bar and gets beaten up. The stone killer who has maybe reformed, or has he, blows someone up by accident, or was it? The jerk prosecutor maybe had a heart of gold, or does he? The slut girlfriend might be moving on, or is she?
The Globe article about this show says it could be called "Kentucky Vice" It's all based on an Elmore Leonard short story, and the series maintains a true Leonard voice -- Canadian producer Graham Yost (grandson of Elwy Yost) handed out bracelets to the scripwriters marked WWED, or What Would Elmore Do? And its great theme has got everyone interested in a whole different kind of music, too -- bluegrass rap.


It's great news for women ski-jumpers

Monday, June 07, 2010

Gag reflex

Is there a point at which the cruelty and immorality of the Bush-Cheney regime is finally going to trigger Obama's gag reflex?
Maybe this will finally do it -- Digby reports
The PHR report indicates that there is evidence that health professionals engaged in research on detainees that violates the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation. Declassified government documents indicate that:
• Research and medical experimentation on detainees was used to measure the effects of large- volume waterboarding and adjust the procedure according to the results. After medical monitoring and advice, the CIA experimentally added saline, in an attempt to prevent putting detainees in a coma or killing them through over-ingestion of large amounts of plain water. The report observes: “‘Waterboarding 2.0’ was the product of the CIA’s developing and field-testing an intentionally harmful practice, using systematic medical monitoring and the application of subsequent generalizable knowledge.”
• Health professionals monitored sleep deprivation on more than a dozen detainees in 48-, 96- and 180-hour increments. This research was apparently used to monitor and assess the effects of varying levels of sleep deprivation to support legal definitions of torture and to plan future sleep deprivation techniques.
• Health professionals appear to have analyzed data, based on their observations of 25 detainees who were subjected to individual and combined applications of “enhanced” interrogation techniques, to determine whether one type of application over another would increase the subject’s “susceptibility to severe pain.” The alleged research appears to have been undertaken only to assess the legality of the “enhanced” interrogation tactics and to guide future application of the techniques.
Maybe its less disgusting in the original German.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Great post of the day

Bitch Ph.D. begins a post about Rand Paul with this great piece of writing -- which you could use to begin just about any post about Republicans, Conservatives, what have you:
Each time you think the GOP has finally perfected its stupidity, that it has reached the uppermost Everest of stupidity, that there is no summit of stupidity to overtop the height of stupidity it has currently attained, that it has ascended the last ridge of stupidity and now overlooks the broad plain of human ignorance and stupefaction, observing, with a certain smugness, the exhausted forms of the ideological sherpas and porters littering the wake of its traverse, it flings a grapple over a rocky spire rising up from the tower of stupidity above which you thought nothing could tower and begins, anew, to hoist itself to higher heights of cognitive austerity from which it may fling itself into the void of its own drooling dumb-ass-ness.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Good guys

The Rev Paperboy notes this Andrew Bacevich article about why America is fighting another pointless and immoral war in Afghanistan. The Rev asks:
Why are we so sure we are the good guys?
Good question. Is it because our hearts are pure? Because God is on our side?
There's a throw-away scene in the movie, The Longest Day, where an Allied commander is trying to deal with some battlefield problem and says to his aide "Sometimes I wonder whose side God is on." and a little later, a German commander is trying to figure out some battlefield problem and says to his aide "Sometimes I wonder whose side God is on."
So how do we decide whose side God is on?
Oh, I don't know if there's a perfect answer, really. But I think all we've got is the United Nations -- far from perfect, but at least it is something we can use to help us to determine which "side" is right.
One critical difference between Afghanistan and Iraq is that the UN sanctioned waging war in Afghanistan, and they wouldn't sanction Iraq. I know, I know, the UN is awful in many ways, but there is a kind of collective wisdom that is meaningful.
I think we can at least argue that if the UN will not sanction a war, it should not be fought. When Bush couldn't get even a substantial minority of the Security Council to agree to support the invasion of Iraq, I felt that decided it. When people talked about how difficult it was to decide whether the Iraq invasion was right or wrong, I always found it simple -- if the UN won't support it, then its wrong. And Chretien nailed that one, too.
In a case where the UN DOES support a war, like it did with Afghanistan,then we still have to look at the arguments pro and con, and make our own judgment.
Initially I could support the war in Afghanistan because it was supposed to capture Bin Laden. But like everything else Bush and Cheney did, it was basically a corrupt and incompetent enterprise that rapidly turned to shit and came back to bite us on the ass: three of the world's great democracies, the United States, Canada and Britain, used the so-called War on Terror as an excuse to abandon the constitutional protections and civil rights that we had fought for and cherished for hundreds of years. In almost half the world, we will never be the good guys again, and for what? So that we could torture some farmers and teenagers and cab drivers.
Jesus wept.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Rivalies in sports are great fun, but here's what its really all about:
With two runners on base and a strike against her, Sara Tucholsky of Western Oregon University uncorked her best swing and did something she had never done, in high school or college. Her first home run cleared the center-field fence.
But it appeared to be the shortest of dreams come true when she missed first base, started back to tag it and collapsed with a knee injury . . .
members of the Central Washington University softball team stunned spectators by carrying Tucholsky around the bases Saturday so the three-run homer would count — an act that contributed to their own elimination from the playoffs
And here's another example of how we should be playing the game
This was the first softball game in Marshall history. A middle school trying to move up to include grades 6 through 12, Marshall showed up to the game with five balls, two bats, no helmets, no sliding pads, no cleats, 16 players who'd never played before, and a coach who'd never even seen a game.
One Marshall player asked, "Which one is first base?" Another: "How do I hold this bat?" They didn't know where to stand in the batter's box. Their coaches had to be shown where the first- and third-base coaching boxes were.
That's when Roncalli did something crazy. It offered to forfeit.
Yes, a team that hadn't lost a game in 2½ years, a team that was going to win in a landslide purposely offered to declare defeat. Why? Because Roncalli wanted to spend the two hours teaching the Marshall girls how to get better