Happy 30th Anniversary, Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms

According to Louise Arbour, Canada’s internationally renowned & universally lauded Charter of Rights & Freedoms (HBD, eh?) “has transformed a country obsessed with the federal-provincial division of powers and enabled it to address its diversity in a substantive, principled way.”

Gee.

No wonder Harpercon insurrectionists can’t stand the fucking thing.

Red Meat Straight Outta Ann Coulter’s Rider

by matttbastard

No, just…no:

Even before she opened her mouth for the first of three speeches this week on Canadian soil, American right-wing antagonist Ann Coulter had already scored a victory of sorts.

Coulter, who spoke to an audience of about 800 at the University of Western Ontario on Monday night, received a pre-emptive and private caution about the limits of free speech in Canada from the provost of the University of Ottawa, where she appears Tuesday.

The letter was immediately leaked to select conservative news organizations, with Coulter telling one that the university was “threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech.”

For a strident provocateur who’s speaking on “Political Correctness, Media Bias and Freedom of Speech,” the University of Ottawa warning — however tepid — was pure oxygen for the fire.

Coulter seizes the obvious talking point (gleefully solicited by the groupies at NewsMax):

“The provost of the u. of Ottawa is threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech there on Monday — before I’ve even set foot in the country!”

Look, it’s bad enough that three Canadian campuses (including one in my hometown) have afforded a vile bigot like Coulter a stage to perform her trademark powersuit-wingnut vaudeville routine. But are they also contractually obligated to serve her up a heaping bloody plate of steak tar tar on a goddamn silver platter?

Seriously, way to feed the fucking troll, kids.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Read this Now: 7 Years in Limbo

by matttbastard

Adam Serwer of the American Prospect has been doing yeoman’s work as of late doggedly covering US detainee issues. His recent feature on former child soldier Mohammed Jawad is truly essential reading:

The story is an old one for Jawad’s lawyers — they believe the government knows it cannot justify holding him, but it doesn’t want to let him go. More galling to Jawad’s defense counsel is the fact that the government sought to include Jawad’s confessions to Afghan authorities, obtained through torture, as evidence against his release. In July, his lawyers filed a motion to suppress the confessions, which made up about 90 percent of the evidence against him. This time, the government chose not to challenge the motion — but failed to commit to his release. Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle eviscerated the government for having little cause to continue holding him. “This guy has been there seven years — seven years,” Huvelle said. “Without his statements, I don’t understand your case. I really don’t.”

At the core of the dispute over the detention of suspects like Jawad is whether or not there are, as President Barack Obama claims, “detainees at Guantánamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.” This is the so-called “fifth category” of detainees — exactly how many there are, the government has yet to determine. (Assistant Attorney General David Kris told Congress in July that half of the Guantánamo detainees’ cases had been reviewed, and none had yet been put into the “fifth category.”) “There will be some, who we have picked up and who are in Guantánamo ? who for a variety of reasons can’t be prosecuted,” says former CIA counsel Jeff Smith. “We have convincing intelligence information, but it is not enough to prosecute them.”

[Maj. David Frakt, one of Jawad’s lawyers] isn’t buying the administration’s assertion about the necessity of preventive detention — the practice of imprisoning suspected terrorists even in cases where the government cannot prove they have committed crimes. “When you look at the minimal amount of evidence required to convict someone of something like material support for terrorism, and they don’t even have that much, how is it that we know that these people are so dangerous?” he asks. Frakt’s concerns likely have a great deal to do with the way the government has treated his client — and not only because it tried to get his coerced confession admitted as evidence.
Montalvo says government officials “believe they have a guilty guy who tried to hurt Americans.”

But after seven years of failing to justify his detention, the government agreed on July 29 to release Jawad to return home to Afghanistan — though it implied he might still be subject to criminal prosecution.

Standard read-the-whole-damn-thing rules apply.

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Newsflash: Alberta Jr. Fears Teh Ghey.

by matttbastard

"Justice" = finding ways to subvert the constitution. Srsly.

Dude, WTF?! Homobigoted opt-out FAIL from Canada’s new wingnut capitol:

The Saskatchewan Party government is proposing legislation that would allow the province’s marriage commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

In a news release Friday, the government said the proposed law would ensure there are other marriage commissioners available to fill in if someone refused to perform the service because it violated his or her religious beliefs.

Provincial Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said he’ll ask the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal for an opinion on whether the proposed legislation would conform with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Two legislative options will be put to the court, he said.

“One would grandfather the existing marriage commissioners that are reluctant or unwilling to perform a same-sex marriage and the second option would grant religious exemption for not only the existing ones, but for future marriage commissioners that would have the same concerns,” he said.

As Nathan Seckinger, spokesman for the GBLUR Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity aptly notes, “Ultimately, what it comes down to is that we can’t have government officials asking for the right not to enforce law…I mean, where does that stop?”

Which begs the question: What if an SK marriage commissioner (which, last time I checked, was NOT a religious title) was “reluctant or unwilling” to perform an interracial marriage? Would they too be allowed to refuse their services due to strong personal convictions?

Inquiring minds want to know, Don.

h/t megan_eb

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

On the DRC and Rape as a Weapon of War

by matttbastard

François Grignon of the International Crisis Group on the ongoing rape epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where “[t]ens of thousands of women and children were raped in the region last year alone”:

Panzi Hospital in the town of Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo specialises in the care of rape victims. Although Panzi has 350 beds, it must send many women home before they have fully recovered because of the never-ending stream of new patients arriving for treatment.

Panzi is emblematic of the catastrophic toll sexual violence has inflicted on the people of eastern Congo over the past decade. The non-governmental organization Medecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) has reported that 75 percent of all the rape cases it dealt with worldwide were in the eastern Congo. A census by UNICEF and related medical centres reported treatment of 18,505 persons for sexual violence in the first 10 months of 2008, 30 percent of whom were children. This year, the situation deteriorated further still, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reporting a huge surge in sexual violence and rape in eastern Congo.

Reported cases represent only a fraction of the total — a vast number of cases go unreported. Women fear that they will lose all prospects for marriage or that their husbands will abandon them if they acknowledge they have been raped. In other cases, the threat of retribution — coupled with the near certainty that the perpetrators will never be held accountable — discourages women from stepping forward.

Most of the warring parties of the conflict in eastern Congo, including the Congolese Army, Rwandan Hutu rebels, and Congolese Tutsi rebels, have used rape as a weapon of war. Moreover, rape has become ingrained in Congolese civilian society and is widely used to determine power relations. Men and teenagers rape not only women and girls of all ages, but also other males. An estimated 90 percent of minors in prison in eastern Congo have been convicted of rape, according to the non-governmental North Kivu Provincial Subcommission on Sexual Violence.

[…]

The UN’s launch on April 1, 2009 of an overall strategy for combating sexual violence in the Congo was a welcome step. But this strategy and other recommendations for justice reform and for preventing sexual violence will be empty words in the absence of robust engagement at all levels of the Congolese civilian and military hierarchy.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Related: See the ICG report ‘Congo: Five Priorities for a Peacebuilding Strategy

Update 06.13: Jesurgislac, bumped from comments:

Just as a followup: Abortion is completely illegal in the DRC (though Doctors Without Borders provide abortion to women who have been raped) and it is this combination, of war rape with denial of legal abortion and often denial of treatment following an illegal abortion, that led to Amnesty International adopting the position that access to abortion and follow-up health care is a human rights issue, even if they only support access after rape.

This aspect of rape in the Congo is generally ignored by most articles on the topic. Therefore I mention it.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Quote of the Day: Inevitable Consequences

by matttbastard

The Wichita Eagle:

Warren Hern, a Colorado physician and close friend of Tiller’s — who described himself now as “the only doctor in the world” who performs very-late-term abortions — said Tiller’s death was predictable.

“I think it’s the inevitable consequence of more than 35 years of constant anti-abortion terrorism, harassment and violence,” he said.

When Obama was elected last fall, Hern predicted that anti-abortion violence would increase, he said. Because Obama supports legalized abortion, Hern said, its foes “have lost ground…. They want the doctors dead, and they invite people to assassinate us. No wonder that this happens.

“I am next on the list.”

Related: Must-read article from the always-excellent Ann Friedman, in which she puts the assassination of Dr. George Tiller into the broader context of the concerted criminal harassment (sometimes deadly) of US abortion clinic workers:

It’s apparent that we need someone at the federal level who is paying attention. After all, Tiller’s assassin was not acting in vacuum. Even if no national anti-choice group directly ordered him to fire that gun, he is a product of a culture that thrives on systematically threatening reproductive health care providers and women who seek abortions. Militant anti-choice groups like Operation Rescue — which has endorsed intimidation tactics in the past — released statements yesterday condemning Tiller’s assassination.

But after years of sending the message to its avid base that Tiller was a sub-human monster, a press release expressing dismay at the killing does little good. On the sidebar of the Operation Rescue blog, near where the press release appeared, was a small image featuring Dr. Tiller’s face, some very sinister-looking flames, and the words “America’s Doctor of Death,” linking to a detailed dossier about all of Tiller’s offenses. Other groups keep databases of reproductive health providers’ addresses and phone numbers, all but daring their members to conduct harassment campaigns.

Elsewhere: Contra the disingenuous spin (h/t Mandos) from the forced-birth set, Jill Filipovic and former Religious Right icon Frank Schaeffer both join Friedman in placing the blame for Dr. Tiller’s murder squarely on the collective shoulders of the ‘mainstream’ anti-abortion movement. As Schaeffer (who readily acknowledges his role, along with his late father Francis and former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, in establishing the anti-abortion movement) puts it:

The same hate machine I was part of is still attacking all abortionists as “murderers.” And today once again the “pro-life” leaders are busy ducking their personal responsibility for people acting on their words. The people who stir up the fringe never take responsibility. But I’d like to say on this day after a man was murdered in cold blood for preforming abortions that I — and the people I worked with in the religious right, the Republican Party, the pro-life movement and the Roman Catholic Church, all contributed to this killing by our foolish and incendiary words.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

BREAKING: Dr. George Tiller Assassinated

by matttbastard

Oh, fuck:

George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

Tiller was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. An anonymous police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.

NOW do all the pearl-clutching conservative bloggers get why that fauxtroversial DHS report on far-right activity was so goddamn pertinent?! As GallingGalla just said on Twitter, “forced-birthers are TERRORISTS on US soil.” This latest killing of a health care provider, martyred for daring to provide women with a vital medical service (in the same week that, here in Canada, the Ontario Provincial Police decided to let another anti-choice assassin evade accountability), only reinforces that all-too-clear fact.

Seriously, this is supposed to be an expression of ‘pro-life’ sentiment?! Look, Operation Rescue can offer hollow denunciations all they like. They are still morally complicit and should rightfully be held accountable for their inflammatory rhetoric and tactics.

Fuck them and their deadly, pro-natalist fanaticism.

h/t Atrios

Update: Via Ann Friedman, Cara writes at Feministe:

This is the first time an abortion provider has been murdered in over a decade. I have friends who work in abortion clinics. This is terrorism. And right now, I just don’t have the words.

As my co-blogger (and Wichita resident) Sassywho just said over IM,

[Tiller] was a prisoner to [Operation Rescue’s] tactics. And because “abortion is a divisive issue,” he wasn’t protected. I just fucking hope (!) that Obama gets that fucking message how framing it as such opens windows.

Sebelius better make sure he gets that fucking message.

Also, what Ann said:

I am also worried about what Tiller’s murder means for women in Kansas and elsewhere in the country who need the services that he provided. The simple fact is there are almost no doctors who provide late-term abortions, especially in rural parts of the country. I was in Nebraska several years ago to interview Dr. Leroy Carhart (whose challenges to abortion-restricting laws went all the way to the Supreme Court), and Carhart and Tiller were the only two late-term providers in their region. If one wanted to go on vacation or got sick, the other had to fill in. There was no one else. Perhaps it would be a fitting memorial to Dr. Tiller to contribute to Medical Students for Choice, and encourage more doctors with a deep commitment to reproductive rights to become abortion providers.

Signed. Off.

Update 2: Via Sylvia, KC Star columnist/blogger Mike Hendricks effing nails it:

At mid-day, police were still trying to figure out who pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller at his church on Sunday morning.

I’m betting they’ll find that person soon enough.

As for the murderer’s accomplices, we know them already.

They include every one who has ever called Tiller’s late term abortion clinic a murder mill.

Who ever called Tiller “Tiller the Killer.”

The groups who spent decades fomenting hate toward a man who simply believed that he was serving a purpose by being one of the few doctors in the country performing late-term abortions.

Hate. Not heated opposition. Not strong disagreement.

But blind hatred.

The kind of hate that would prompt some maniac to take a  gun into a church and shoot a man to death in front of friends and family.

The kind of hate that is on full display over in Freeperville (h/t AJ Strata, a right-of-centre individual who can smell the fucking coffee.)

Update 3: Police capture suspect in Tiller murder:

Police are not releasing the name of the suspect, but numerous media sources are reporting that a man named Scott Roeder has been arrested in connection with the crime

In addition to the links provided @ DKos, a quick google search brought forth this additional gem:

Roeder Cap

Lovely.

Update 4:  Must-read posts from Antonia & dbO.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers