Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Measuring Crime in Canada: Introducing the Crime Severity Index and Improvements to the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey

Published by Statistics Canada, April 21, 2009

This report introduces the Crime Severity Index, a new tool for measuring police-reported crime in Canada that for the first time tracks changes in the severity of crime, not just volume.The report also examines how crime is measured in Canada, as well as recent improvements to statistics on crime that are gathered from the police.

The Crime Severity Index is the first major change to the reporting of police-reported crime statistics since the collection of these data began in the early 1960s. It is designed to measure change in the overall seriousness of crime from one year to the next, as well as relative differences in the seriousness of crime across the country.

The Index is an additional tool which can be used to further enhance our ability to understand the evolving nature of crime in Canada.

Torturing Judge Bybee: Make Him Eat His Own Words

by Dave Lindorff

If the day comes that Congress finally does its duty and begins an impeachment effort against 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Judge Jay Bybee, the former Bush assistant attorney general who in 2002 authored a key memo justifying the use of torture against captives in the Afghanistan invasion and the so-called "War on Terror," it would be fitting punishment to watch him squirm as his own words as a judge were played back to him.

It was as an Appeals Court Judge Bybee, sitting on a case being heard in 2006 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, that he wrote the following words:

"The only thing we have to enforce our judgements is the power of our words. When these words lose their ordinary meaning-when they become so elastic that they may mean the opposite of what they appear to mean-we cede our own right to be taken seriously." (Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1309 v. Laidlaw Transit Services, Inc.).

Read on...

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 20, 2009

UN Rapporteur On Torture: Obama’s Pledge Not To Pursue Torture Prosecutions Of CIA Agents Is Not Legal

When President Obama released the four of the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) Bush-era torture memos last week, he issued a statement promising not to pursue torture prosecutions against CIA agents who relied on the memos to justify their use of torture tactics on terrorist suspects in U.S. custody. (Notably, Obama left open the possibility of prosecuting the torture architects.) “[I]t is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution,” Obama said.

But in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Manfred Nowak, explained that Obama’s grant of immunity is likely a violation of international law. As a party to the UN Convention Against Torture, the U.S. is obligated to investigate and prosecute U.S. citizens that are believed to have engaged in torture:

Read on...

Labels: , ,

Barack Obama: Crime Boss

by Stephen Lendman / April 18th, 2009

Since taking office, Obama, wittingly or otherwise, has headed the largest criminal enterprise in history — the mass looting of national wealth to enrich his Wall Street benefactors. He assembled a rogue economic team of Clinton/Robert Rubin retreads — to fix the current crisis they engineered.

In a March 13 article, (author and former Republican strategist) Kevin Phillips called them “recycled senior (Clinton administration) Democrats (responsible for the) tech mania, deregulation binge and (1997-2000) stock market bubble and crash. (Obama) extend(ed) the (disastrous) mismanagement and pro-Wall Street bias of the 2008 Bush regime bailout.”

He called Geithner and Bernanke “hapless,” the result of their ruinous misjudgments (and, along with Alan Greenspan, complicit) with finance-sector malfeasance.”

Read on...

I'm not sure I believe the present financial crisis was consciously engineered. But Obama's team certainly got the ball rolling. The present crisis is now beyond anyone's control.

To put it mildly, Obama's torture and financial policies are unsupportable. There should be special prosecutors both for torture and for Wall Street. Tom

Labels: , ,

Torturers Won't be Prosecuted BECAUSE of Democrats' Complicity

by The Baculum King

Torturers Won't be Prosecuted BECAUSE of Democrats' Complicity

Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 01:13:06 PM PDT

Well, they slow-rolled the decisions not to prosecute anybody for the tortures committed in our names collectively, first ruling out the prosecution of the actual torturers (They thought it was legal) last week, then having Rahm Emmanuel disclose today that those who authorized that torture won't be prosecuted either.

In my opinion, a complete abdication of moral authority for political purposes.

You see, ANY prosecution of these war criminals would have a simply unacceptable side effect: the disclosure of Democratic involvement in allowing the very torture we abhor.

Read on...

Labels: , ,

The Torture Memos, Obama and the Banality of Evil

by Richard Kim

Even as President Obama acted in the name of transparency and accountabilty in releasing the Bush administration's OLC's torture memos, he made assurances that the CIA agents who used the "enhanced interrogation techniques" meticulously detailed within would not be subject to criminal prosecution. Glenn Greenwald at Salon, Jeremy Scahill on his blog, David Bromwich at Huffington Post and Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic all have good takes on why Obama's decision is wrong. I concur. However politically expedient, Obama's nearly carte blanche absolution of torture was morally wrong, and his justification of it, from a professor of constitutional law, is intellectually dishonest.

Obama's rationalizations were artfully made to the point of being obfuscatory, but they can be boiled down to three points:

Read on...

Labels: , ,

Friday, April 17, 2009

Olbermann says Obama is wrong not to prosecute CIA interrogators for torture

Olbermann makes one hell of an argument. It's worth watching. One of his best, I'd say. The problem? Olbermann's argument is moral, not political. He explains why we should proceed with prosecution, rather than how this president CAN proceed safely. Democrats are notoriously ham-handed. A Democratic president is going to prosecute Republicans for going too far in trying to protect our country? Fat chance. While owning the moral high ground, that kind of charge takes a political dexterity that Democrats simply don't have.

Read on...

Follow the link for Olbermann's comment on Youtube. Tom

Labels: , ,

Professional Courtesy

by digby

In reading the Bybee torture memo, you see that he refers constantly to the "professionals" and the medical personnel who oversaw the interrogations. He uses the fact that American military personnel who had undergone SERE training had suffered little lasting damage due to their training in these techniques. (No metion of the logical conclusion that American military personnel knew that the people who were inflicting the torture were only doing it for demonstration purposes and therefore had a completely different psychological reaction.)

Read on...

If you read the whole link you will come to this paragraph:

"They are all war criminals, from the nice looking Mormon sadists who call themselves doctors, to the twisted bureaucrats in the Justice Department who call themselves lawyers, to the top leadership of the Bush administration who sat there and watched choreographed torture sessions in the White House and have the utter gall to call themselves human."

These guys watched real torture on real humans as if they were watching an episode of 24. They probably had popcorn too. These were the leaders of the "free world".

Labels: , ,

It's Official: Obama Will Not Prosecute CIA Torturers

Obama strikes a deal with CIA torturers not to prosecute them. This is a victory for Bush’s lawyers who justified torture.

by Jeremy Scahill

The White House has announced that CIA operatives, including contractors, who followed Bush guidelines for torturing prisoners will not be prosecuted for these actions, regardless of the Obama administration’s position on the legality of the techniques they used. “[I]t is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution,” President Obama said in a statement released today. This seems to be part of a deal struck with the CIA over the release of several torture memos today and it is a victory for Bush administration lawyers who sought to provide legal cover for US government torture.

The Washington Post also reported:

For the first time, officials said that they would provide legal representation at no cost to CIA employees in international tribunals or U.S. congressional inquiries into alleged torture. They also said they would indemnify agency workers against any possible financial judgments.

Read on...

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Obama's Bad Bank Plan Could Destroy His Promising Presidency -- How Do We Push Him in the Right Direction?

By Robert Kuttner, Huffington Post. Posted April 14, 2009.

It ain't easy to play the role of loyal opposition to a progressive president who seems determined at times to be captured by Wall Street.


"Part of the Way with LBJ" --Students for a Democratic Society button, circa 1964

Progressives now find themselves in an awkward position of simultaneously wishing Barack Obama well, but feeling dismayed by his policies on some key issues, most notably the banking bailout. If this were a normal economic situation, the posture of semi-opposition would not be that big a deal. We would simply gratefully accept the decent policies and keep pressing for bolder ones. But a failure to revive the banking system would be Obama's Vietnam. It would wreck everything else.

It's a too-familiar position for progressives, one that winds back through all of the postwar Democratic administrations of my adulthood. We wanted Lyndon Johnson to push harder for civil rights and anti-poverty and not ruin it all in Vietnam. We were appalled at Jimmy Carter's attacks on government, his failure to use his large Democratic majority in Congress to press for progressive legislation, his refusal to lift a finger on behalf of labor law reform. The memories of Bill Clinton are sufficiently recent that we need little reminder of the needless tilt to the right on economic issues from NAFTA to welfare reform to financial deregulation.

Read on...


I'm afraid I have zero confidence in Obama's financial rescue plan. He's just trying to keep the Ponzi Scheme going. Hoping for a miracle. Tom

Labels: , ,

The Vatican's Perverted Sense of Justice: Pedophiles Stay in the Church, While Priests Who Ordain Women Are Excommunicated

By Bill Frogameni, Ms. Magazine. Posted April 9, 2009.

A priest who dared to ordain a woman was told he had 30 days to renounce his actions or face excommunication.

What happens if a Catholic priest molests children?

Usually, he's protected by the Church hierarchy. Maybe he'll eventually have his parish or diocese taken away, or be switched to another one -- often after years of serial abuse. But there's a good chance he'll stay in the Church.

So what happens if a Catholic priest publicly supports ordaining women? Well, then he's excommunicated on the double.

"Nearly 5,000 Catholic priests [in the U.S.] have sexually abused over 12,000 Catholic children…but they were not excommunicated," says Father Roy Bourgeois, who faced the latter scenario after helping celebrate what the Vatican considers to be an illegitimate ordination mass in August 2008. Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran with a Purple Heart who became a prominent peace activist, stood with the trailblazers of the female ordination movement in Lexington, Ky., to make Janice Sevre-Duszynska a Catholic priest.

Read on...

Labels: , ,

Legalizing Pot Makes Lots of Cents for Our Cash-Starved Government

By Paul Armentano, AlterNet. Posted April 14, 2009.

Even the most mainstream figures are now taking the idea of legalizing and taxing pot seriously -- budget-crunched governments should listen.

What could you do with an extra $14 billion dollars? Members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and other likeminded organizations will be asking government officials that very question on Wednesday, April 15th, when they present a mock check to the U.S. Treasury Office.

"We represent the millions of otherwise law-abiding cannabis consumers who are ready, willing, vocal and able to contribute needed tax revenue to America's struggling economy," says Allen St. Pierre, NORML's Executive Director. "All we ask in exchange for our $14 billion is that our government respects our decision to use marijuana privately and responsibly."

But it's not just NORML calling on lawmakers to tax and regulate marijuana. In today's economic climate, the question is: who isn't?

Read on...

Labels: , , ,

Sarah Palin Suffers Massive Political Fallout from Her Latest Nutcase Nominee

By Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast. Posted April 14, 2009.

The governor is reeling after nominating for attorney general a man who allegedly defended the right of men to rape their wives.

While priming her political machine for a likely 2012 presidential primary run, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has fomented a scandal that threatens to further erode her reputation in the Last Frontier.

In March, Palin nominated Wayne Anthony Ross for attorney general. Ross, a colorful far-right lawyer and longtime Palin ally who sports his initials, W.A.R., on his Hummer’s vanity plates, was once considered a shoo-in for confirmation. However, his nomination was thrown into grave peril when his opponents presented evidence that he called homosexuals “degenerates,” hailed the “courage” of a student who lionized the Ku Klux Klan, vowed to undermine the sovereignty of Native American tribes, and allegedly defended men who rape their wives. According to two sources close to the confirmation hearings, Palin may ask Ross to withdraw before his appointment comes to a vote.

Read on...

Just to repeat. Sarah Palin nominated this guy to be her Attorney General. Anyone thinking of visiting Alaska soon? Tom

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The best police force in the world will not bring down a high crime rate in a materialistic city

by Yik Koon Teh, International Journal of Police Science & Management, 11, 1 (2009): 1-7.

This article is available online to members of the University of Toronto community. It is also available in print at the Centre of Criminology Library.

The increasing crime rate in a rapidly developing country like Malaysia has caused its citizens to feel unsafe. The Malaysian Government has to increase the police force and review its training programmes. This paper argues that even with the best trained police force, the crime rate will remain high. This is due to the highly capitalistic and materialistic culture of the Malaysian society that has led to the occurrence of elements of Robert Merton’s (1938) theory of Anomie — excessive emphasis on monetary goals regardless of the moral status of the means used to achieve them. Steven Messner and Richard Rosenfeld’s (2001) Institutional-Anomie theory states that anomic pressure arises when there is an overemphasis on the market ethic that undermines the regulatory power of social norms. This results in individuals feeling an overriding pressure to achieve and at the same time being confronted with weak normative restraints on legitimate means to achieve. The two theories suggest that certain cultural conditions, in combination with certain structural conditions, generate anomie and a high crime rate. At present, Malaysia’s capitalistic and materialistic culture has generated cultural and structural conditions that are highly conducive to a high crime rate. Increasing the police force and improving policing will not be enough to reduce the high crime rate.

Did Paranoid Right-Wing Media Fuel the Pittsburgh Cop Killer's Rage?

By Max Blumenthal, The Daily Beast. Posted April 8, 2009.

Richard Poplawski, the man who allegedly murdered three Pittsburgh cops, was clearly influenced by Fox News's Glenn Beck and right-wing radio.

On April 6, two days after the 22-year-old Richard Poplawski allegedly murdered three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a radio host named Alex Jones settled in before a microphone in his studio in Austin, Texas to do some damage control. "The mainstream media has certainly enjoyed tying me into this story," Jones complained. "They're attacking me and saying I'm delusional and there's no New World Order The Second Amendment, what the country's founded on--it's all my fault!"

Read on...

Labels: , , ,

Unconstitutional Tasing

by digby

For thee but not for me:

A former sheriff's deputy has filed suit against his department, claiming the department violated his constitutional rights.

Former Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Ray Robert says a medical condition prevented him from being exposed to the electric current of a stun gun. Being shocked by the gun is common, mandatory training for officers to carry one in many departments. The 50,000 volts of current exchanged lets officers know first-hand exactly what kind of pain they're inflicting.

"I can't be tased, I can't take that chance," Robert said.

Read on...

Labels: , ,

Gun-Crazed: Americans armed to the teeth, paranoid as hell.

by xxdr zombiexx
Gun-Crazed: Americans armed to the teeth, paranoid as hell.
Thu Apr 09, 2009 at 05:25:19 AM PDT

The Last Person on Earth Will Carry an Assault Rifle

At the October 2008 gun show, said one of the organizers of the Jungle Walk ($35 for an Uzi and a stroll through a path of pop-up targets), "it was like a McCain-Palin rally in here. It felt like we were going to win. Then you know what happened."

Ever since the election of President Barack Obama, gun store owners have reported massive increases in sales of firearms and ammunition. Attendees and sellers at Knob Creek can confirm that. Ron Hansen, a retiree from Michigan, grumbles that the ammunition supply at the show has "declined dramatically" since the displays of only a year ago. Myron Moore, a seller making a brisk trade in pistols and clips, explains that sales spiked right after the election and have slipped only a little because people worry this will be their last chance to stock up. "I’m selling everything Obama’s trying to ban," he laughs.

Paranoid much?

What it is with wingnuts and guns I can only speculate, but limited intellectual curiosity coupled with moral retardation goes a long way in "solving for this particular"X"". And the description of the event as a "McCain-Palin Rally" solidifies my perspective that the bulk of "gun nuts" are republicans, which implies a sort of intellectual shortfall.

Read on...

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TradMed terrified of right wing role in P-burgh story

by David Waldman

TradMed terrified of right wing role in P-burgh story

Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 01:50:04 PM PDT

Earlier, I expressed my astonishment that the Pittsburgh shooter's cop killer's (Poplawski is no longer even Pittsburgh's top shooting story) motives, described by his friend in a television interview, resulted in the following rather amazing exchange:

Reporter: Did he ever say anything to you? Like, ever indicate any signs that made you concerned, or made you...

Friend: He just basically told me he didn’t like the Zionist control over our government, he didn’t like that there was about to be military policing, he didn’t believe in the fact that there was about to be a gun ban. He didn’t like anything that was going on in the political forefront, and he was basically very politically active, and he didn’t agree with what was going on right now in the United States of America. But what made him snap, I have no clue.

Reporter: So he never... there was never, when he was expressing his opinion, there was never something that went off inside, that made you [think] that there could be a situation like this?

I know I already commented on this, but I can't help doing so again, seeing it all laid out in front of me a second time.

Read on...

Yes hate talk radio, and hate talk on tv probably fueled the Pittsburg shooter of three police officers. The mainstream media prefers the "dog peed on the floor" theory. Tom

Labels: , ,

Who Should Resist, and Who Will Become Serfs?

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig. Posted April 7, 2009.

If we don't stop the rapacious looting of the public treasury, we'll be left with trillions in debts and a robust police state.


America is devolving into a third-world nation. And if we do not immediately halt our elite's rapacious looting of the public treasury we will be left with trillions in debts, which can never be repaid, and widespread human misery which we will be helpless to ameliorate. Our anemic democracy will be replaced with a robust national police state. The elite will withdraw into heavily guarded gated communities where they will have access to security, goods and services that cannot be afforded by the rest of us. Tens of millions of people, brutally controlled, will live in perpetual poverty. This is the inevitable result of unchecked corporate capitalism. The stimulus and bailout plans are not about saving us. They are about saving them. We can resist, which means street protests, disruptions of the system and demonstrations, or become serfs.

We have been in a steady economic decline for decades. The Canadian political philosopher John Ralston Saul detailed this decline in his 1992 book "Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West." David Cay Johnston exposed the mirage and rot of American capitalism in "Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill)," and David C. Korten, in "When Corporations Rule the World" and "Agenda for a New Economy," laid out corporate malfeasance and abuse. But our universities and mass media, entranced by power and naively believing that global capitalism was an unstoppable force of nature, rarely asked the right questions or gave a prominent voice to those who did. Our elites hid their incompetence and loss of control behind an arrogant facade of specialized jargon and obscure economic theories.

Read on...

Labels: , ,

Collapse psychosis: navigating the madness

by Carolyn Baker

It's happening daily now, almost hourly-rampant eruptions of violence throughout the so-called developed world. As civilization unravels, the uncivilized behavior of humans is becoming viral, and the culture of empire is quite simply going mad as its values, assumptions, and reasons for existing are evaporating with dizzying speed. For those who are and have been collapse-aware for some time, it is important not only to make sense of the epidemic violence, but to incorporate skillful responses to it.

First, I believe we need to deeply discern what is actually happening psychologically. The current outbreaks of violence are about more than unemployment and financial stressors. Yes, job loss, bankruptcy, foreclosure, homelessness, and loss of health care are breaking people and communities in pieces. Yet something even more fundamental is seething beneath the surface--something of which these losses are symptomatic.

Underlying the chaos is the reality of civilization's dissolution. But what does that actually mean?

Read on...

Puts the current random violence into context. Tom

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Queen and Michelle Obama - the story behind a touching moment

When Michelle Obama put her arm round the Queen at Buckingham Palace, some of the more excitable elements of the media - particularly the Americans - suggested she may have been guilty of a breach of protocol.

They missed the real story, however. What was far more interesting was that the Queen put her arm round the First Lady.

Read on...

There is a war in Iraq. There is a war in Afghanistan. There are riots all over Europe. There are riots at the G20 Summit. The world economy has collapsed. GM and Chrysler are on the verge of Bankruptcy. The Leafs are out of the playoffs....again. And Michelle Obama touched the Queen. And the Obamas gave her Royal Majesty a shitty IPOD as a gift. The media is on top of it. Follow the link for video. Tom

Labels: , ,

Tasers Are the New Killers: Watch Their Popularity Surge!

As protesters descend upon London's financial district to demonstrate the G-20 summit this week, they are being met by thousands of Metropolitan police officers carrying out what has repeatedly been described as the biggest police operation ever undertaken in the capital. Pre-emptive arrests were made earlier this week and despite the mainly nonviolent protests -- overshadowed by media reports of a "seige" on the Bank of England -- by Wednesday night, more than 60 people had been arrested and one man was dead.

Police in London have been gearing up for these clashes for months, attracting press attention for the “unprecedented” security deployment and the various tools at their disposal. Among them are so-called "non-lethal weapons" of the sort that have become biquitous crowd control devices. "Scotland Yard is to deploy officers armed with 50,000-volt Taser stun guns to deal with violent demonstrators," the Times Online reported earlier this week, noting that police were gearing up for any "anarchist elements" "likely to stir up trouble."

Read on...

Tasers no doubt are getting a real workout at the G20 summit. Tom

Labels: , , ,

G20 Protests: Thousands Flood Into City of London

G20 summit protesters have clashed with police after crowds flooded into central London as world leaders prepare to discuss the global economic meltdown.

Eleven arrests were reported before a tense standoff developed between rows of police holding batons and a surging crowd close to the Bank of England.

One man, bleeding from the head, was repeatedly seen to apparently goad officers, who did not respond.

At one point, a black-clad masked man in the crowd struck an officer with a long pole. The officer was pulled away by colleagues and required treatment at the scene.

Crowds reacted to rumours of police movements in an attempt to avoid being encircled, causing more surges in large numbers of people.

Read on...

This story is being downplayed in the U.S. media. The U.S. is more concerned that Michelle Obama touched the Queen. Gasp!! Follow the link for video. Tom

Labels: , ,

G20 Protests: Riot Police, or Rioting Police?

At the G20 protests in London only one group appears to be looking for violent confrontation – and it's not the protesters

by George Monbiot

The trouble-makers are out in force again. Dressed in black, their faces partly obscured, some of them appear to be interested only in violent confrontation. It's almost as if they are deliberately raising the temperature, pushing and pushing until a fight kicks off. But this isn't some disorganised rabble: these people were bussed in and are plainly acting in concert. There's another dead giveaway. They are all wearing the same slogan: Police.

The police have been talking up violence at the G20 protests for weeks. They briefed journalists and companies in the City of London about the evil designs of the climate campaigners intending to demonstrate there, but refused to let the campaigners attend the briefings and put their own side of the story. They also rebuffed the campaigners when they sought to explain to the police what they wanted to do.

Read on...

Labels: , ,