Sunday, December 23, 2007

Fast Away the Old Year Passes

2007 - unremarkable, but a 'doozie' nonetheless.

Canada's foreign adventures continue unabated. Much as they were at this time last year, but thankfully with less traffic on 'Heroes' Highway' - east or west. CF continues to battle the Taliban in the Panjwai district as they have for the past year and a half. On the positive side, some of the residents are now 'friendly' and receiving the development aid most Canadians were happy to sign on for. The negative side is that some of the residents are not friendlies and receive the ballistic forms of aid Canadians didn't get a chance to sign on for. Prognosis for 2008: Continued work in Panjwai.

The Native protest at Caledonia continues marked by a brouhaha in one of those non-tax 'smoke shops' the indigenous folk run. This actually wound up in police charges and the case is before the courts. That means most of the charges are against white folk, as the Natives' healing circles deal with their criminal element, and provide a nice lunch. Negotiations, I think, continue.

A ray of hope in the otherwise snowy firmament of Native affairs is the new minister of said portfolio. He's gone and cut through red tape to remove the Provincial Park signs at Ipperwash (and the watchful police), to give the Stoney Point Band back their ancestral land. Amazing what somebody can do without 'Common Sense'. Amazing, too, what the application of spurious 'common sense' by a band of doofi and dunderheads can do. 9 freakin years to sort out the sorry mess made by that fatheaded wunderkind Mike 'Blow Me' Harris, and his band of merry masturbators.

To round out the year we have the Bank of Canada forking out 3 billion dollars to help Canada's chartered Banks stay afloat in the self-inflicted scuppering by sub-prime mortgage market fiasco. This should enable the deserving to get their Christmas 'performance' bonuses. Any mistakes they made couldn't have been foreseen, as all they were trying to do was make a buck for the bank. How could they be expected to know they were buying shit? The paper was issued by the finest establishments in America and the deal was too good to pass up. It must have been a tense month waiting for one of the stockholders pipe up about lack of due diligence, make some nasty comment about fiduciary responsibility. Oh well, they can breathe easy over the cigars and sherry, their labours well-rewarded.

I wonder why the Bank of Canada wasn't so generous to the mutual stock holders who lost their shirts during the dotcom meltdown a few years back when the Banks - probably due to the foresight they lacked this time, were able to 'get out' in time to post one of their most profitable years. I guess if you lose some investors you can always get new ones. Losing a bank, on the other hand, would be like losing a Bank. Prognosis for 2008: More billions to prop up the banks - if we all don't go down some US designed toilet.

(Canadians don't 'pay' for the Bank of Canada do they???? If I thought those billions were guaranteed by those ex-Harris wankers in Ottawa, I think I might take to my bed and not getup for a fortnight.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Another Police Fiasco

One of the last atrocities in the string that comprised the last round of Ireland's 'troubles' came to an end in an Ulster courtroom this week with the dismissal of the case against Sean Hooey the only man charged with the Omagh bombing.

The bombing of the market in the Northern Ireland town of Omagh on a Saturday morning in August of 1998 took the lives of 29 people. It was a final outrage at what seemed to be the end of the of the sectarian violence that had started 33 years before. Another bombing by a splinter terror group that was made more effective by faulty police communications which directed people into the blast rather than away from it. From the 'get go' it was a police cock-up.

The case against Hooey was marginal at best and based mainly on DNA evidence. Not the normal DNA evidence but a rather more iffy sort where one or two cells are built into a profile. It was apparent from the outset that the method itself was unreliable. But it was even more evident that some wishful thinking had been turned into a police reality that took little professional care in gathering evidence or in using it objectively. The police set-up Hooey, but they bungled even that.

Hooey walked out of court a free man, but in the minds of many a freed killer. The police have yet to apologize to him, let alone admit that they made errors, venial or grievous in nature. Hooey's a walking target for the payback that is yet a reality, too.

The RUC who initiated the investigation were transmogrified into the nominally less biased but equally as incompetent Ulster Police Service. Officers in command remained in command and received the promotions due their state. They were promoted despite incompetence and many are still in office.

The judge castigated them openly for their poor performance and any ramifications for improvement remain to be seen. Save to say the the UPS will be looking into all cases where such DNA, as was used against Hooey, was used against others. They won't be doing that any more.

The UPS still carries a lot of baggage from the troubles when police work became an adjunct of the military action. Intelligence gathering and involvement in 'wet jobs' on behalf of the Crown forces have been indicated but never investigated. If the RUC was paramilitary when the 'troubles' started, it was thoroughly militarized when they ended. That it was a sectarian organization at the outset and isn't any longer is only a recent development. The command staff remain largely the same.

As I've alluded in other posts the former RUC holds a cachet in police circles shared by few other organizations. Many of its members have emigrated and have taken places in other police organizations. They have brought their 'bunker mentality' with them, or inculcated it to others to combat 'terrorists'. Police services, while claiming to be more accountable than ever, have actually become the opposite, far more closed and removed from society. They only thing they don't wear is black masks - or most of them don't. No policeman wants his calling bruited abroad, or his residence, or his personal information - they take great pains to maintain 'privacy' that other public servants don't get. Police 'stations' have suddenly acquired the trappings of high security buildings. Places where people once went for help, remain closed to the public by and large. Public admittance seems restricted to the accused.

A bunker mentality in a police 'service' is a contraindication of what the job should be about.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Birds of a Kidney

Brian Mulroney takes the stand to-day in the Karl Heinz Schreiber hearing. He's expected to try to explain what he was doing taking $300 000 in cash payments from the German middleman. And that might be difficult for him, as the last time he was in the news with Schriber he was huffing and puffing about being accused of taking benefits from the sale of a fleet of Airbus Industrie's flying products.

During that last go round he huffily claimed that, like Peter outside Pilate's house, he didn't know the man, and had no business dealings with him. It wasn't known at the time, but Mulroney had already met Schreiber on more than one occasion and had entertained him at the Prime-ministerial retreat. There followed at least three other meetings where 'envelopes' changed hands. Mulroney claims it was payment for services rendered in some fast food business. Schreiber claims it had more to do with setting up an LAV production site in eastern Canada. In any case he claims the 'Mulster' provided no benefit for the expenditure and is suing to get it back.

Brian also forgot to declare the money, or pay tax on it until a much later date.

He is making a lie out of his former claims to innocence which resulted in Canadian taxpayers paying his legal bills, well over a million, and having the government of the day apologize.

It's amazing how these two birds resemble reach other, physically. They're probably much alike morally, as well, being fellows who were well paid for glorified 'pimping' jobs. Schrieber in peddling Euro-tech around the world and Mulroney doing the world's second oldest 'profession'. Both of them, and a cast of characters with whom both were associated, were featured in the book "On the Take" an expose of the grasping that went on while 'Lyin' Brian' was at the helm as Canada's 'greenest' PM. It's interesting that a guy who values his 'good name' as highly as Mulroney does, has never really done anything to get back at writers who've pilloried him. I imagine that he knows politics better than he does the ink trade, and not knowing them there's fear of a 'screw' factor with which he's not too comfortable.

Ditto Schreiber. Who'd have known the little weasel was a record-keeper. He's got it all down on paper in little diaries. His dealings with Mulroney's right-hand boys - Frank Moores and the St. FX mob. One would have to walk softly and hopefully appear to have a stick.

How Brian is going to play it, is a mystery. Probably an apology for an oversight that has poor optics but no nefarious intent. But a claim to fundamental honesty and the desire to make a decent home for his family. They'll all be there if his pals aren't to be seen. Maybe he can get a nice letter from Gorby, who has a reputation for personal honesty. The Gipper's dead but Missus Gipper might remember those Irish eye's a-smilin' and those lips just sucking shit. No harm in asking. Whatever he does it will be in the damage control mode. For once having laid down with swine, your pin stripes pick up the odor.

The Canadian taxpayer may never get his lawyers' fees back, or any of the stuff he has stored in Toronto - Mulroney's the only PM who left office with more furniture than he brought to it - multiple semi-trailer loads. But he was also, so we're told, cash poor, and that's why he wanted to help Schreiber. It's highly likely that even if the money was a business deal, and it wasn't taken to create an inner track, Mulroney's reputation will be salvaged, not unless he does a decade on the streets of Calcutta.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Willie Gets Porked

The Picton trial has come to an end. The jury found the pig farmer guilty of second degree murder in the six cases with which he was charged. That's like saying they got killed , even by Willie, but he didn't mean to do it. It's worse than manslaughter, where he really didn't mean to kill anybody, but it's not like he planned it, or anything. Bottom line, as Willie might well appreciate, as a pork producer, and a man who needed regular service, he got 'screwed'.

What else to expect. He ran party central where the denizens of Vancouver's nether parts could gather to kick back and dope up in an atmosphere free of police pressure. And this went on for a number of years without attracting undue attention from law enforcement.... Willie and his version of Swine Lake.

There is no evidence that anybody was coerced into attending the 'ballet', just that some attendees failed to return. The physical and DNA evidence makes it apparent that many met a gruesome end at the farm. But who dunnit?

The prosecution would have led us to believe that Willie Picton managed to eliminate more than 40 women - completely, in most cases, all by his slow little lonesome. Willie the special ed kid and momma's boy was shrewd enough to dispose of more than 40 corpses, some of which won't reappear until the Second Coming. But he was stupid enough, or brazen enough, to brag to a 'cellmate' he'd never met before, that he hadn't 'done fifty'. Willie did what he wanted to do for a decade without raising any suspicion? Then he brags it all away to some goof he met in a holding cell? That's entirely credible.

I think the verdict is a sop to a miserable case of policing. Don't get me wrong, I think Willie Picton was in it up to his eyeballs, how could he not be, he lived there. But the policing in this case was flawed from the day the first girl disappeared. That thing about 'not being able to track prostitutes' was an excuse for an uncaring attitude. That had a lot to do with Willie's 'success'. With a little hard work Willie might have been stopped before he hit double digits. All the 'lowlifes' in Vancouver seemed to know about him, the police didn't?

Willie's looking at life in the slammer, and I think he deserves that, but the sentence, too, is a sop to sloppy enforcement and a sloppy prosecution. Given the millions spent on this case, how could any judge with an eye to his future rule otherwise? It could be that the 'error' in instructing the jury might lead to a successful appeal and that couldn't be good.

There are probably some nervous people running around BC now, worrying if Willie, like Clifford Olsen, might be hoping to 'soften the blow' by telling what he knows about his slaughterhouse, and his parties. I think Willie had help.

The murdered girls, we trust, are in better hands, in a better place.

Friday, December 07, 2007

None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See

It’s hard for the mentally challenged to maintain a grip on reality on many occasions and it’s even more difficult for them to maintain objectivity and defer their judgements. For the normal person, and especially those normal people in positions of trust and or authority, the failure to maintain an open mind can have grave consequences for others. In the first case such errors are written-off to the condition of the ‘errer’, except when crime is involved. In the latter the mistakes are due to a ‘human error’, or ‘an honest mistake’. In either case to punish the person who made the mistake(s) is often beyond society’s power, or volition.

Some cases in point in the news of late.

The first relates to the months-old trial of Robert Picton, a pig farmer from BC accused of killing, dismembering and disposing of a significant number of “sex trade workers”. The case is now before the Jury and the evidence as presented is being weighed. Needless to say the police witnesses came off looking somewhat ‘Doowright-ish’ and the telling points against Picton came from habitues of his farm, who might, themselves, have been just as involved.

One of those with the ‘doors slammed shut’ is newspaper columnist Rosie DiManno. In her almost daily rants against Picton she tries to let her readers ‘feel the pain’ of prostitutes and those who survived them, and the hands of the wicked (substitute thesaurus entries for ‘guilty’) Robert Picton. If some errant bellhop dropped one of the newspapers carrying her ‘emoticons’ at a juror’s door by mistake, the trial might be derailed. She should save the screaming for a best-seller, after the verdict is in.

Another, on the other hand, could be the trial judge. In his haste, or whatever, to get the jury sequestered he “inadvertently” wasn’t as thorough as he should have been when preparing his instructions to them. Granted this was a lengthy and convoluted trial, but if it’s anybody’s job to ensure that evidence admitted is germane to the charge, it’s the Judge. If it’s anybody’s job to ensure that the digressions of the dramatic are minimized, it’s the Judge. If it’s anybody’s job to ensure that the jury are clear about what they are doing, it’s the Judge. If anybody in that room should maintain objectivity, it’s the Judge. Any less could be a miscarriage of justice.

We’ll have to see what happens to Picton.

Another recent case being inquired into, is that of a former Ontario provincial coroner Dr. Charles Smith, who made a career of seeing anybody related to a dead child face the courts. His ‘expert’ testimony jailed quite a few people for murdering their own, or another’s, child. A half dozen years back it was determined that his ‘expertise’ was largely verbal, as the medical part was often slipshod if not downright incompetent. He resigned and took his professional laurels to another job out west. In the interim, a number of convictions have been overturned after his testimony and the evidence he presented was reexamined by competent pathologists. The lawsuits and settlements will take years and millions to work out. Needless to say the doctor’s ‘human error’ hasn’t precluded his continued practice, or required him to face sanctions. The law might even protect him from lawsuits.

A third case of applied blinkers relates to a case involving the London (Ontario) police service and a young mother Erin O’Neill who was charged with murder a year ago after she fell down stairs while holding her infant child. Somehow the bozos in blue thought that she’d done it deliberate and so they set out to prove. She claims they had been affected by her ex-spouse and had adopted his notions of her. The result was: the better part of a year in custody including 114 days in solitary confinement, the loss of another child to Children’s Services, denial of access to family members, $400 000 in legal costs and all the mental and physical turmoil deriving from a case where the police think they have you dead to rights, but can’t prove it unless you confess. She didn’t, they couldn’t and yesterday the “Crown” withdrew the charges.

The judge admitted “some serious mistakes were made” but you can bet your bippy the ‘tec’ squad will continue to draw their pay and work toward their publicly-funded pensions. The Chief will continue to admire himself in an egg-salad laden shako with the nice ‘golden badges’. The force will continue to serve and protect and get annual budget increases. It would be nice to think that any damages Ms O’Neil might get out of them would make them any more objective about their work. It won’t. Somebody needs to look at that ‘Pleece service’ - three major ‘blips’ on their horizon in a year might be more than kismet.

And what protection do the innocent have from a Crown Prosecutor willing to go to trial with no evidence? There’s a man who might be better engaged at a lesser task. “ I was sure I had ‘er yer honour, by the short curlys, sir - but the investigators let me down! Egad!