Newsflash: Public Anger Gets Results.

by matttbastard

Earlier this week, Der Spiegel published a sobering article about how the global economic crisis is battering the Friedmanite petri dish that is post-Soviet Eastern Europe:

After joining the EU, the Baltic countries in particular made enormous progress in catching up with their Western neighbors, sometimes growing at double-digit rates. Romania, a latecomer to the EU, recorded the largest number of new registrations of Porsche Cayennes worldwide in 2008. In downtown Warsaw, the Stalin-era Palace of Culture and Science, once the city’s only skyscraper, disappeared behind new steel-and-glass office towers within the space of a few years. The Czech Republic still enjoyed almost full employment in 2008.

Now the once-booming Eastern European economy has ground to an abrupt halt. The worldwide economic crisis, which began with the bursting of the real estate bubble in the United States, is now making itself felt in the former communist countries. And it is hitting them with more force and more quickly than the newcomers to capitalism, spoiled by success, had expected.

The Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians, who for years could enjoy growth rates of between 7 and 10 percent, must resign themselves to the fact that their economies are shrinking. Hungary has already tapped the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the EU for €20 billion ($27 billion), and Romania will need just as much. In the fourth quarter of last year alone, the Poles produced 5 percent less than in the same period in 2007. In the Czech Republic, unemployment has risen to 12 percent.


The fact that the crisis in the West is now pulling down the East is largely attributable to a single mistake. For years, Eastern Europeans took out loans denominated in euros, Swiss francs and Scandinavian kroner. The loans stimulated domestic consumption and allowed the economies to grow. Many new member states imported more goods than they exported. Now the mountains of debt are high, and the current account deficits of countries like Lithuania and Bulgaria are a massive 15 percent of GDP.

Capital flight and declining demand from the West have pushed down exchange rates. The currencies that are not pegged to the euro have experienced particularly drastic slumps in value. In the last six months, the Romanian leu lost more than 16 percent of its value and the Hungarian forint close to 20 percent. Private citizens and even governments can no longer service their foreign-currency loans.

Massive bankruptcies in the East are now affecting the reckless lenders in the West, which also happen to control about 70 percent of all banks in Eastern Europe. Austrian banks alone have outstanding loans in Eastern Europe worth €293 billion ($396 billion). Thomas Mirow, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London, expects that up to €76 billion ($103 billion) in Western loans will come due this year in EU members in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. Concerns about the creditworthiness of Eastern businesses could deter cash-strapped Western banks from issuing loans for investments. According to Mirow, a vicious circle is developing as Eastern European economies run out of steam and the crisis gains momentum.

At any rate, it will not be possible to fulfill the promise of the revolution of 1989 — freedom and prosperity for all Europeans — as quickly as promised. Instead, citizens in the new EU member states can expect to see their wages stagnate at lower levels compared with those in the West, assuming they have not already been cut drastically. In addition to mass layoffs, ailing Eastern European business owners have resorted to wage cuts of up to 30 percent in recent months. And someone who is out of work in the east quickly finds him- or herself in a very tight spot. Governments are out of money, and social services were cut back in many places during the boom years.

Scary shit.  But the following passage, buried in the middle of the doom and gloom, caught my attention:

Now trouble is beginning to brew in these young democracies. In Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania, angry citizens have taken to pelting government buildings with eggs, rocks and — weather permitting — snowballs. In the Latvian capital, the government of Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis was even forced to step down. Meanwhile in Hungary, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany announced Saturday he was resigning, saying he was an “obstacle” to the reforms needed to help his country overcome the financial crisis.

Chris Bowers at OpenLeft points out something that should be common fucking sense–“When people aren’t angry, politicians aren’t responsive”:

To me, as a political activist, the lesson is that we should be generating as much anger as possible, all the time, because it is about the only thing that appears to make politicians in D.C. responsible to our concerns.

Democracy doesn’t begin and end at the ballot box. Sometimes we have to remind our leaders of this–make the powerful FEAR the people. Because, quite frankly, there are more of us than them. Strength in numbers. Is why divide and conquer is a key part of their strategy. We see that in the anti-EFCA effort, with the business lobby trying to stir up the resentment of non-unionized workers towards those who are organized.

Reading about how the global economic crisis is hitting Europe is both depressing and, perversely, inspiring. Their anger isn’t impotent, expressed not in water-cooler griping, but rather abductions, rock-throwing, mass labour mobilization. Public outrage–visceral, undiluted rage–gets shit done.  Governments have stepped down after being held accountable by the will of the people; corporations have been forced to renegotiate severance packages for laid-off workers.

Anger. Gets. A. Response.

Somewhere, Emma Goldman is smiling.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

This Year’s Whitewash Model: “Sudden Death Following Restraint”

by matttbastard

What? We had THREE pathologists come up with that one. THREE!

Because ‘excited delirium’ is, like, so 2007.

Jesus wept.

Related: Alison has more regarding the Criminal Justice Branch ruling on the 2007 death of Robert Dziekanski (shorter: “It was his own goddamn fault that he died!”); make sure to also check out this post at Dawg’s place, where the good Dr. is once again calling for the RCMP to be disbanded.

Hard to argue with him this time.

Update: more from Dawg.

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

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:

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:

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


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:

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!!

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.”


(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


by matttbastard

Watch the video and The National’s report on Robert Dziekanski’s last hours alive; read pale, JJ, and Dr. Dawg;

get mad.

Demand a public enquiry. Write your MP, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day; compose a letter to the editor of your local paper.

As Dawg observes:

Dziekanski is the 267th person (no misprint) to die in the custody of, or while being pursued by, police in BC (municipal and RCMP) since 1992. That’s about 18 people a year.

Don’t allow the media narrative to be obfuscated by idle misinformation and false balance. pale swings her mighty rhetorical hammer and nails it here:

We need to address the corporate media. Their reports in this tragedy have been slanted, and meant to cause confusion and doubt. The best report was on CBC last night. They actually asked questions, and made Mr Dziekanski appear human. Lost. Scared. Unable to communicate. [emph. mine]

Above all, keep in mind a man–Zofia Cisowski’s son–lost his life as a direct result of the willful indifference of 4 RCMP officers who, in a mere 24 seconds, chose to tase first and ask questions later (and, subsequently, tried to cover up the evidence of what would appear to be fatal complicity). Hell, even Terry O’Neill of The Western Standard–The Western Standard is “appalled” that no attempt was made to resuscitate Dziekanski.

I am, too.

Watch the video; take action; demand justice for Robert Dziekanski.


Update: Dawg, bumped from comments:

Did anyone notice what looks like a baton being smashed into Dziekanski’s head at 5:36 of segment 2 of the video at the Van Sun? See for yourselves [click 2nd sidebar link]

That is definitely a baton shot; can’t say for certain what was struck, though. [edit 11.16: As several commenters in various threads have noted, the officer in question may have been collapsing his extendable baton using the concrete floor. The sound corresponding with the jab seems to support this explanation.]

Elsewhere: Dana and Boris @ The Beaver both have amazing posts up; add them to the required reading list.


Update 2: More required reading from Alison @ Creekside, Bruce @ Canuck Attitude, Purple Library Guy @ POGGE and April Reign, whose understated yet elegantly succinct post includes a very relevant point:

Had this film shown a similar number of young persons, most particularly of colour, engaging in a similar act of aggression resulting in death there would be no end of calls for justice, for lack of mercy, for lifelong imprisonment.

The act of donning a uniform, seems these days to give one carte blanche to engage in whatever thuggery one chooses in the name of the ‘greater good’. Yet no good seems to be coming from it.


Update 3 10.16: Plz to be readings Godammitkitty.


Update 4: Getting it Right points to an NZ Herald article on the taser incident that includes the following translation of Dziekanksi’s final words:

“I want to get out, help me find the way…Police! Police! Can’t you help me?”

(h/t ACR)

Related: CanWest News Service reporter Chad Skelton highlights the gap between the official story and what the video actually shows. Most definitely required reading — in the National Post, no less.

Also, the Vancouver Sun reports today that Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day “rejected demands for public hearings into Dziekanski’s death, saying that while many Canadians might find the video disturbing, several investigations were already underway.”

Yes, several investigations that, many would argue, are pretty much guaranteed to whitewash this tragedy, instead of getting to the bottom of what happened and hopefully recommend steps to insure that something similar never happens again. Get a clue, Stockboy: the death of Robert Dziekanski has further eroded confidence in the RCMP and provoked an international firestorm. Playing ostrich is not a solution.


Update 5: CBC News just interviewed [edit: 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 tased, 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.”

[Edit: via 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.]

DJ rewind:

We need to address the corporate media. Their reports in this tragedy have been slanted, and meant to cause confusion and doubt.


Update 6: via the Dawg, Aaron Unrah (!) is also mad as hell, and good on him for it. So far, the furor surrounding this tragedy appears to be nonpartisan–as it should be. Be sure to read the comments as well.


Update 7: The Man With No Point:

I am mentally ill, as many of you know. I suffer from Type One Bipolar disorder, and there have been times, when enraged, or threatened, or distressed, when I have been like Robert Dziekanski- disoriented, aggressively confused, acting out in a frantic state.

And today, I watched myself die on video.

Elsewhere: Ian Mulgrew, echoing April Reign: “Our national police force looks like a gang of thugs”; The Vancouver Province profiles Robert Dziekanski, described as “a gentle giant of a man who loved children and stargazing.” (The profile lists his height as 6’9″, not 5’10” as some have reported). The Province also reports that (surprise surprise) Taser International is denying any correlation between the use of its device and Dziekanski’s death:

“Cardiac arrest caused by electrical current is immediate,” said Steve Tuttle, vice-president of communications for Taser International in an e-mailed response to requests for an interview.

“This video indicates that the subject was continuing to fight well after the Taser application,” he wrote.

“His continuing struggle is proof that the Taser device was not the cause of his death.”

Tuttle said the incident follows the pattern of in-custody deaths.

“Historically, medical science and forensic analysis has shown that these deaths are attributable to other factors and not the electrical discharge of the Taser system,” he wrote.


We need to address the corporate media. Their reports in this tragedy have been slanted, and meant to cause confusion and doubt.


Update 8: The Toronto Star reminds us that the death of Dziekanki, a Polish national, has become an international incident:

“When I heard that scream, I screamed. I could not help it,” a weeping Maria Karulis, a member of the Polish Canadian Women’s Federation, said yesterday. “My friends and family in Poland, they tell me that they will never forget that scream. I know I will never forget seeing him fall to the ground and dying.”

Karulis said the image of RCMP officers using 50,000-volt Tasers on the agitated and erratic, but unarmed, Pole, and his obvious agony as he crashes to the floor before falling deathly silent, is jolting viewers around the globe.

This is the greatest shame Canada could put on herself to the whole world,” she said.

More from the Vancouver Sun on the response from the Polish-Canadian community; The Sun also reported Thursday that Poland’s consul general in Vancouver, Maciej Krych, is “so shocked by the video of Robert Dziekanski’s death, he has now asked his country’s Attorney General to look into the case.”

Rewind my selekta:

This is the greatest shame Canada could put on herself to the whole world“.


Update 9: Daev @ Designated Protest Zone is also ashamed. And, qua Alison, I am shamelessly pillaging the meat of his righteously awesome post because it’s just so goddamn on target:

 The terminal was basically empty, the man never posed any sort of danger to anyone (least of all four armed cops), the police readied their tasers before entering the area near Mr. Dziekanski and assessing the situation, addressed Dziekanski only in English after they had been told he did not speak the language, tasered him at least twice (the second time after they climbed on top of him) even after Dziekanski appeared relieved at the officers’ intial appearance, applied their full body weight to Dziekanski’s midsection (which can be deadly after being tasered due to respiratory muscle paralysis), and then made no attempt to revive him beyond checking for a pulse after he went totally limp. The taser in the hands of these inhuman butchers was not a “less-than-lethal” alternative, but a torture device used to shore up their own brutal authority. Repercussions? For murdering someone? Perhaps a slap on the wrist from their superiors, if we’re lucky. No thanks for the Vancouver International Airport for treating Dziekanski like some sort of caged animal for 10 hours and offering zero assistance.

And even with 8 minutes of video evidence, the RCMP have the unmitigated gall to trot this out:

“What I urge is that those watching the video, take note of that. Put what they’ve seen aside for the time being. And wait to hear the totality of the evidence at the time of the inquest,” Carr said.

Emphasis mine.


Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers