“You can’t win a person’s heart and mind when you are pointing a rifle at his or her chest”

Ferguson, Michael Brown, Mike Brown, #michaelbrown, #mikebrown

Afghanistan War veteran Paul Szoldra:

In Afghanistan, we patrolled in big, armored trucks. We wore uniforms that conveyed the message, “We are a military force, and we are in control right now.” Many Afghans saw us as occupiers.

And now we see some of our police officers in this same way. “The militarization of law enforcement is counter-productive to domestic policing and needs to stop,” tweeted Andrew Exum, a former Army infantry officer.

If there’s one thing I learned in Afghanistan, it’s this: You can’t win a person’s heart and mind when you are pointing a rifle at his or her chest.

Kyle Payne Update: Keep those letters coming!

by matttbastard

Cara @ The Curvature:

Sick fuck “feminist activist” and confessed sexual violator Kyle Payne will be sentenced on August 25th.

I’m letting you know this simply because letters in support of the victim are still needed.

Buena Vista County Courthouse, 215 East Fifth Street
P.O. Box 276
Storm Lake, IA 50588
Fax: 712-732-3397

I have been emailed by Darren, who said that on August 15th, he was told by the court that they had only received two letters in support of the victim. If this is true, it’s certainly disturbing and must be corrected. I know that I mailed mine last week [as did I – mb]. I’m also concerned because while I was searching to verify the fax number (yes, it’s correct), I also found the address above in numerous places, and it’s the first time I’ve seen a P.O. Box along with the address [ditto – mb]. So, for that reason I think I’m going to re-fax my letter today to make sure that they’ve received it. I don’t see how it could hurt.

Please write and fax a letter of support for the victim ASAP.

Cara also posts a sample form letter that she encourages folks to use as a creative jump-off, but please make sure to put it in your own words — this isn’t an astroturf campaign.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

FMSQ Considers Bill C-484 May Eliminate Decades of Social Consensus and Jurisprudence

by matttbastard

FMSQ press release:

Montreal, April 15, 2008 – The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (the FMSQ) has vigorously denounced Bill C-484, the “Unborn Victims of Crime Act”. This Private Member’s Bill, piloted by Ken Epp, an Alberta MP, was tabled on November 21, 2007 and passed the House of Commons second reading on March 5, 2008, virtually unnoticed. If the Bill passes final reading, it could have serious repercussions on the practice of medicine.

The FMSQ fully concurs that a violent crime against anyone, let alone a pregnant woman, is heinous and unacceptable. But, on the pretext of wanting to toughen sentences handed down in cases of physical attacks on pregnant women, this Bill could implicitly confer legal status on a fetus, which has none under the current legislation.

It will be remembered that on January 28, 1988 after more than twenty years of divisions, incessant and costly legal proceedings and 15 months of deliberations, the Supreme Court of Canada finally settled the matter by striking down section 251 of the Criminal Code and ruling that a woman and her fetus are considered to be a single physical person. Consequently, the woman’s legal status is the only one that applies. The FMSQ considers that Bill C-484 introduces a new legal concept that could, once again, create a conflict between the rights of the fetus and those of the pregnant woman.

In the Federation’s opinion, over and above the virtues claimed for Bill C-484, a persistent attempt can be seen on the Conservative side to relaunch a debate that ended 20 years ago and to reopen the door to the criminalization of abortion. As far back as 1989, a Bill passed by the Commons but defeated by the Senate attempted to restrict abortion to instances where it was required for health reasons and to impose a maximum term of two years’ imprisonment on physicians who contravened the law.

Endorsing this Bill would be equivalent to reopening an unwanted debate with an unpredictable outcome, yet with all the attendant consequences for medical practice
. The Federation considers that if it is desired to toughen the sentences of persons committing such crimes, this can be done by making the appropriate changes to the existing legislation. It is also perfectly possible for legislators to strengthen the impact of sentences through stricter enforcement.

Since its election, the Conservative government has tabled not one but two Bills (Bills C-291 and C-484) with the intent of amending the Criminal Code so that charges can be laid in all cases resulting in the violent death of an unborn child. At the second reading, some 147 MPs voted in favour of Bill C-484, 118 of them Conservatives. A majority of Bloc Québécois and New Democratic Party members voted their party lines against passage of the Bill.

We were astounded to learn that the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada did not find it advisable to take an official stand on this matter and allowed party members a free vote. Some LPC members therefore voted in favour of the Bill, while others, including the Leader, Stéphane Dion, were not present on this important occasion”.

Dr. Barrette, the FMSQ President, has invited the Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons to take a clear stand on this matter. “Mr. Dion is a strong supporter of clarity: now is the time to prove it! We urge him to make his position clear and call upon his caucus to vote unanimously against Bill C-484.”

In a letter to various members of the House of Commons, including the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, the FMSQ strongly urged them to protect the gains already made and respect the social consensus by relegating Bill C-484, once and for all, to the oblivion it deserves.

The FMSQ considers that this Bill raises major political and social issues. “This tediously long process, in and of itself, calls for extreme caution. To disregard this sombre and troubled period clouding our legal, social and constitutional systems would indicate a total utter lack of concern”.

The FMSQ urges everyone who shares its point of view to make their Member of Parliament aware of that fact through the special Internet site available at: http://www.fmsq.org/c-484.

The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec numbers more than 8,000 members in Québec, representing 35 medical specialties. The sole organization recognized by government with respect to negotiating medical specialists’ collective agreements, the FMSQ is also consulted on all aspects of the organization of medical care in Québec.

Score one for the anti-fetus lobby.

h/t dbO, Joyce Arthur and Lagatta @ Bread and Roses

Update: more from fern hill and Impolitical, who gives the Liberals a well-deserved rhetorical kick in the ass for allowing C-484 (“a piece of Conservative ideological claptrap”) to pass second reading:

This issue plays poorly in progressive Quebec, not to mention with the women of Canada. C-484 needs to be defeated and the Liberals need to get on it.

Look, Stephane, we all know how much the Grits love backing down. But, as Impolitical noted, this is a motherfucking private member’s bill; it’s defeat will not bring down the government (eek!) So for once–just once–show some goddamn backbone, do your fucking job, and stand up to the Stephen Harper Party.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

King Pardons Saudi Gang Rape Victim

by matttbastard

Some good news for a change:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pardoned a Saudi woman sentenced to 200 lashes after she was gang raped.

The woman, known only as “Qatif girl” after the area where the crime occurred, was raped at knife point by seven men as a former boyfriend drove her home.

She had been sentenced in October 2006 to 90 lashes for being alone in a car with a man who was not a relative but had her [punishment] increased to 200 lashes and six months in jail after she spoke out about her case.

As noted in yesterday’s LA Times, the move was not entirely unexpected:

Saudis are used to the public beheadings of murderers and amputations of the hands of pickpockets, but the Qatif girl’s ordeal embarrassed the country at a time Riyadh is negotiating major international business deals and emerging as a potential broker in Middle East peace talks. The government has said it will review the case, an indication that the king may move to overrule Islamic fundamentalists.

But:

“Don’t expect big changes and sudden successes, but reform has taken root,” said Mishary A. Alnuaim, the vice dean of law and political science at King Saud University. “Modernizing religion is still slow. That’s the million-dollar question. You still find a lot of messages of intolerance.

Yeah, modernization sure moves at a glacial pace sometimes. Let’s hope it quickens, for the sake of all women who reside in the kingdom. Melissa further highlights the half-full aspect of the ruling:

According to the Saudi justice minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheikh, the King remains “convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair.” Saudi Arabia remains a US ally, despite its appalling treatment of women and other widespread human rights abuses.

What, you didn’t actually expect institutional mistreatment of women and “widespread” human rights violations to actually mean something, when balanced against (short term) regional stability (and, of course, that sweet, sweet crude)? But at least we can be all but assured that Dubya went to bat for the victim at some point during all this, right?

Right?

President Bush expressed anger at the sentence earlier this month, saying he wondered how he would react if it had been one of his daughters. But he said he had not made his views known directly to the Saudi king, a U.S. ally.

Feminist Peace Network acidly observes that “[e]xpressing astonishment and wondering how he would react if it was his daughters and failing to lodge a protest directly with the King himself is not an acceptable expression of “anger”, the word used by the article to describe his reaction.”

Hey, it’s the thought that counts.

Update: CAP’s Mara Rudman comments on the ruling:

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Truthful Lies, Respectable Murder

by matttbastard

“A lie repeated often enough becomes truth.”

– Vladimir Lenin

Via Alison, seeds of confusion and doubt continue to be sown through an unofficial private/public partnership that has been cultivated between law enforcement officials and the private security sector. Some believe there could be deadly consequences as a result of this convergence.

The Globe:

“Three months before Robert Dziekanski was tasered, the RCMP adopted a change in force protocol that allows officers to fire multiple shocks to control people under certain circumstances.

Until August, officers trained to use stun guns were cautioned to avoid using them more than once because of concerns about health effects. However, the force’s belief that excited-delirium symptoms can escalate and cause death outweighed their worries about the impact of multiple shocks.

But the term “excited delirium” is not formally recognized by the World Health Organization nor the American Medical Association as an actual psychological or medical condition.

However, the condition is being used increasingly by coroners tasked with attributing causes of death among victims in police custody. David Evans, Ontario’s regional supervising coroner for investigations, described it as a “forensic term” not a medical one.

“I think previous to the description of excited delirium, [it] was sometimes called custody death,” he said.

Cpl. Gilles conceded that the policy on multiple taser shots “may be hazardous. We don’t know.”

“[M]ay be hazardous. We don’t know.” Well, what the hell do we know? I’m going to quote from my November 15th post detailing the fallout from the release of the Robert Dziekanski video:

CBC News just interviewed…and posted this rather one-sided backgrounder featuring University of Miami neurology professor Deborah Mash, the designated go-to ‘expert’ on bullshit cover stories “excited delirium”. The Lede has more on Professor Mash and ‘excited delirium’, which, as noted earlier this year by an NPR report, “is not recognized by professional medical associations, and [is not] listed in the chief psychiatric reference book.” Part 2 of the report is also entirely relevant, focusing on the vested interest law enforcement officials and [TASER] International have in marketing the dubious disorder and includes the following abridged list of individuals who have died in police custody after being [shocked], with the cause of death listed as ‘excited delirium’:

  • June 13, 2005 – Shawn C. Pirolozzi, 30, of Canton, Ohio, dies after police tried to subdue him with a Taser. His death certificate listed excited delirium as the cause of death. The Taser was not listed as a contributing factor.
  • April 21, 2006 — Alvin Itula, 35, dies after a struggle with Salt Lake City police. Itula led officers on a foot chase, then fought with them when the officers caught up, according to police. Officers tased Itula and also used pepper spray and a baton. Itula stopped breathing soon after. The medical examiner found that Itula died of excited delirium brought on by methamphetamine and cocaine.
  • April 24, 2006 — Jose Romero, 23, dies in Dallas police custody. He was in his underwear, screaming and holding a knife on his neighbor’s porch. Police tased him multiple times. He died shortly thereafter. The Dallas County medical examiner ruled Romero died of excited delirium.
  • Sept. 5, 2006 — Larry Noles, 52, dies in Louisville, Ky., after a struggle with police. Noles, an ex-Marine, was standing naked in the middle of a street when police were called. Police said he was agitated. They tased him two or three times. He died a few minutes later. The Jefferson County medical examiner ruled Noles died because of excited delirium and not the Taser.
  • Oct. 29, 2006 — Roger Holyfield, 17, dies after police in Jerseyville, Ill., shocked him twice with a Taser. Holyfield had been walking down a street, holding a phone in one hand and a Bible in the other, yelling that he wanted Jesus. After policed shot him with the stun gun, Holyfield went into a coma; he died the following day. A medical examiner ruled the death was probably a result of excited delirium.
  • Dec. 17, 2006 — Terill Enard, 29, dies following a disturbance at a Waffle house in Lafayette, La. He was naked and yelling, with a broken leg bone piercing his skin. Police stunned Enard with a Taser; he died several hours later. Police said the forensic report from the Lafayette Parish coroner’s office found Enard died as a result of “cocaine-induced excited delirium.”

…[V]ia MistahTibbs in comments @ The Politic, “the RCMP said after Dziekanski’s death that he was in a state of excited delirium,” according to a Canadian Press report published October 14th.

So, we know that as a medical term ‘excited delirium’ is meaningless. What else? Well, we also know that electronic control deviceSM®OMFGWTFBBQ!!!1 manufacturer TASER International really doesn’t like having its products’ reputation tainted by suggestions of deadly complicity:

“We are taken aback by the number of media outlets that have irresponsibly published conclusive headlines blaming the TASER device and / or the law enforcement officers involved as the cause of death before completion of the investigation. These sensationalistic media reports completely ignore the earmark symptoms of excited delirium shown in the video. TASER International is transmitting over 60 legal demand letters requiring correction of these false and misleading headlines and will take other actions as appropriate. These unsubstantiated, false headlines mislead the public and could adversely influence public policy in ways which could place the lives of both law enforcement and the public at greater risk,” concluded Tom Smith, Founder and Chairman of the Board of TASER International, Inc.

“[C]ould adversely influence public policy in ways which could place the lives of both law enforcement and the public at greater risk”. Try ‘may put our bottom line at risk.’ As Randy Burton of the StarPhoenix notes, in just over a decade stun guns have grown in ubiquity, with TASER International apparently hoping to expand the market beyond law enforcement to the private sphere:

For just $349.99 American citizens can zap somebody with thousands of volts of electricity. Sorry, they’re not available in Canada yet, where Tasers are still classified as a restricted weapon.

But in the U.S. it’s open season, and the company promotion seems very empowering, too.

The Taser website shows an attractive young woman under the caption “I Will Control My Own Destiny.” If not for the pictures of stun guns in four designer colours, it could be an ad for university enrolment.

In the hands of the marketing specialists, the Taser has become just another tool for conducting a successful contemporary life, like a cellphone or a BlackBerry.

You have to get to the fine print in the legal warnings before you learn to watch out for something the manufacturer calls “Sudden In Custody Death Syndrome.” [Apparently someone didn’t get the memo re: change in terminology–mb.] This is marketing speak for “watch out you don’t kill somebody.”

Somehow the warning to “avoid torturous or other misuse” fails to reassure that the Taser will only be used by the right people in the right circumstances. Lethal technology has a way of putting itself in the wrong hands.

While it’s touted as a major step forward in law enforcement, it’s just as likely to be making life much easier for back alley muggers.

Of course, that’s the way technology works. What begins with a very specialized use soon becomes democratized to the point where it’s accessible to the masses. Inevitably, yesterday’s dangerous implement becomes today’s purse accessory.

And so it is with the Taser. You don’t have to look very far to find plenty of examples of its use or misuse, as the case may be.

The things are ubiquitous. In the last 10 years, some 11,000 law enforcement agencies in 44 countries have started to use them. Of these, 3,500 agencies equip all of their patrol officers with the powerful stun gun. As we know, not all uses end with a happy conclusion.

There’s a quote most famously attributed to Benito Mussolini that springs to mind: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Though some dispute its origins, there’s no denying the inherent truth of the statement, even if apocryphal.

JJ does the hammer/nail/head thing:

I hate to keep banging this drum, but that’s tough, because it’s true: one of the first signs of authoritarianism bullying its way into our society is apologist propaganda, including the invention of new quasi-credible-sounding terminology to rationalize inhumane treatment… .

Yeah, “apologist propaganda” and bullying authoritarianism by way of litigious threats (h/t April Reign) and obfuscating press releases. This “quasi-credible-sounding terminology” has been utilized by a corporate entity (and, in a merger of interests, further legitimized by the State) to market a product–“another tool for conducting a successful contemporary life, like a cellphone or a BlackBerry.” Of course, to my knowledge cellphones and BlackBerries have yet to be scrutinized by the United Nations’ Committee against Torture, out of fear that indiscriminate use of the aforementioned lifestyle tools “constituted a form of torture, and that in certain cases…could also cause death, as shown by several reliable studies and by certain cases that had happened after practical use.” (h/t Alison.)

Why (vehemently, boldly, zealously) rationalize inhumane treatment, with truth counted among the increasing collateral damage?

In this instance, we know they do so because it is profitable.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

Today: Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski

by matttbastard

Vancouver: Protest against RCMP using excessive force on Robert!
Host: Facebook Group – “Petition against RCMP officers involved in YVR Tazer [sic] Death”

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: Downtown Vancouver, Art Gallery (Georgia Street side)
City/Town: Vancouver, BC

Description:
A protest against the brutality shown in the video, which resulted in the death of new immigrant Robert Dziekanski, 40. Please express your interest by showing up next Saturday November 24th, downtown at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Georgia Street side. Rally will commence 12pm. Please try to wear the red/white colors of the deceased’s Polish heritage, in his memory. Remember, this is about awareness of the tragedy and a protest against the excessive use of tasers, _NOT_ an anti-police rally. THIS WILL BE A PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION!

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=8636840125

VICTORIA: Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski.
Express your outrage and show supprt for his family through a peaceful demonstration

Host: Facebook Group – “Petition against RCMP officers involved in YVR Tazer [sic] Death”

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Location: Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
City/Town: Victoria, BC

Description: PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION – come along and express your outrage and your disgust at the recent events resulting in the unlawful killing of Robert Dziekanski. Show Solidarity for the Dziekanski family and demand Justice so that this kind of thing NEVER happens again

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=6187158110

TORONTO: Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski Toronto Queen’s Park Protest Nov 24
Protesting Unreasonable Force/Showing Solidarity with Vancouver BC Protest Nov 24

Host: Facebook Group – “Protesting the use of Excessive force on Robert Dziekanski”

Date: Saturday, November 24, 2007
Time: 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Location: Queen’s Park
Street: University Avenue
City/Town: Toronto, ON

Protest SCHEDULE:

i) Opening Remarks by organizers & circulation of petitions.

ii) Guest Speakers:
Peggy Nash – NDP Member of Parliament for High Park
Borys Wrzesnewskyj – Liberal Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre
Peter Milczyn – City of Toronto Councilor of Etobicoke Lakeshore
Alan Borovoy – General Counsel – Canadian Civil Liberties Association
Wladyslaw Lizon – President – Canadian Polish Congress

iii) Moment of Silence and Candlelight Vigil.

iv) Musical Guests (tbc).

Description: This Protest is designed to continue raising media awareness about the mistreatment of Robert Dziekanski and protest the unreasonable use of force. We want the government to know that Canadians, regardless of their location in Canada are disgusted and heartbroken by the handling of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport. This situation involves issues of race, nationalism, violence and most significantly ethical human behaviour of kindness, patience and compassion.

More info on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=6407280731

For those who will be attending the Toronto protest:

Thank you for joining the event and showing your solidarity! The protest will begin tommorrow (Saturday) as scheduled at 12 noon on the south lawn of Queens Park.

Just two quick announcements:

1) At the end of the rally there will be a candlelight vigil, so if you are so inclined, there will be a memorial display where you can leave candles and flowers.

2) This is a very grass-roots movment so we are asking people to please bring their own home-made protest signs. It is very important to make sure tommorows protest remains peaceful, so please be counscious of any slogans that others might find offensive. Below are a few suggestions for slogans:

“Solidarity and Justice for Robert Dziekanski” (our offiical slogan)
“Pokoj, Peace”
“Accountability Now”
“Tasers are not Toys”

Thanks again for your solidarity and support!!

Sincerely,
Mike Mlynarczyk
Protest Co-chair.

Please show your support!

Related: CTV News reports that Poland will be watching:

A documentary crew from Poland is in Vancouver pursuing the story behind the death of their countryman Robert Dziekanski.

[…]

“(We’ve come) to show what happened. To tell the story, but at the very same time, to portray the reaction of Canadians themselves,” said Marcin Wojcik with TVN, a national broadcaster in Poland.

In Poland, there is no ill will towards Canada but rather questions about the country’s policing system, said Wojcik.

“Nobody is connecting the story with Canada itself,” he said.

The TVN crew members plan to stay in Canada for the next 10 days and say they’ve been promised co-operation from many of the agencies involved in the incident.

On Saturday, the crew will be filming a rally for Dziekanski on the grounds of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

More from Godammitkitty and skdadl (h/t and hugs to you both), who reminds us that “[t]he Poles know something about people who show up.”

solidarity-1.jpg

(click image for more on “The strike that changed the world.”)

Also see this rabble interview with Tania Lukasiewicz, one of the organizers of the Vancouver rally:

As a registered psychiatric nurse, I fight for my patients’ everyday, to make sure that their rights are upheld, their needs are met and their wants are considered. I felt that as a citizen of Canada it is really important that I bring this to light. And nobody else had a protest going so I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to start one.’

[…]

The first day the rally group [on Facebook] started, there were 30 people, then 35, but now there are over 430 people. It has been very inspiring to know that people care, and people from all walks of life, Canadians, immigrants, children, young people, old people – everybody. And I think they are coming out in the masses that they are because there are so many things that went wrong.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers