Monday, July 30, 2012

Liars believe their own lies

Corporation That Paid Nothing In Taxes For Four Years Tells Congress It Pays Too Much In Taxes, Think Progress, July 20, 2012
"Over a four years period from 2008 to 2011, Corning Inc. was one of 26 companies that managed to avoid paying any American income taxes, even though it earned nearly $3 billion during that time. In fact, according to Citizens For Tax Justice, the company received a $4 million refund from 2008 to 2010. That didn’t stop Susan Ford, a senior executive at the company, from telling the House Ways and Means Committee this week that America’s high corporate tax rate was putting her company at a disadvantage..."

"Corporate Citizenship
"At Corning Incorporated, corporate social responsibility is a proactive commitment to preserving the trust of our stakeholders. The commitment contributes to ...how we support our people, the communities in which we operate, and society at large.
"Corporate social responsibility is intrinsic to Corning’s heritage... It is also a demonstration of how we live our Values which represent the unchanging moral and ethical compass that guides everything we do..."
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

And I'm making stuffed sole for dinner

Regular readers will know that I'm involved in a home renovation project, one that is just beginning. Presently, the 20 foot shipping container in the driveway is being filled with our stuff.

George Carlin knew about stuff. He said,
"If you didn't have so much god damned stuff, you wouldn't need a house. That's all your house is is a pile of stuff with a cover on it. ... Your house is a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.

"Sometimes... you gotta get a bigger house. Why? Too much stuff. You gotta move all your stuff and, maybe, put some of your stuff in storage."
Yeah, I know.

Carlin asks if you've ever noticed that someone else's stuff is shit and your shit is stuff. After 43 years married, Gwen and I each have our own piles of one or the other, depending on who is doing the identification.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Fascinating reads about sports and human behaviour

In Honor of the Olympics, the Best Investigative Reporting on Sports, by Cora Currier and Suevon Lee, ProPublica, July 27, 2012
"The 30th Summer Olympics officially opened today in London. In honor of the Games, we’ve rounded up some great sports muckreads, from college sports to racetracks..."

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Pit stop

Posting will be somewhat irregular during the summer as my attention is diverted to a renovation project at home. We haven't even begun and we're already over budget and behind schedule. The unhappy reality is that a choice made to resolve one issue typically results in new issues arising - issues previously unforseen.

This week I'm learning about venting and tempered air make-up systems. Apparently, many people selling high output cooking equipment know little about building code requirements for ventilation. That suggests a fair number of installed appliances don't meet code.

I've noted that Canadian prices are substantially above those faced by Americans for the same items. This applies to appliances, furniture, electronics, flooring, paint and almost every component needed by homeowners. For example, a Miele wall oven can be had for about $1,000 less south of the border. A floor tile offered here at $6 a square foot can be purchased in Washington State for 40% less.

I priced a Waste King L8000 food waste disposer this week. At a West Van appliance shop, it was $475. Amazon Canada offered it at $316.93. I bought the same machine from an American source that will ship it without added cost to Point Roberts for pick-up. The price paid: $103.61. When picking up the device, I`ll top up the gas tank. Even though Point Roberts gas is 25% higher than in Bellingham, I`ll save money compared to Canadian prices.

We can thank the Harper government for softening competition laws, thus enabling distributors to keep prices high for Canadian consumers. Anyone still remember BC Liberal promises that HST would result in lower prices?

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Friday, July 20, 2012

A bubble of deference and flattery

Pathos of the Plutocrat, Paul Krugman, New York Times, July 19, 2012
"...Mr. Obama always bends over backward to declare his support for free enterprise and his belief that getting rich is perfectly fine. All that he has done is to suggest that sometimes businesses behave badly, and that this is one reason we need things like financial regulation. No matter: even this hint that sometimes the rich aren’t completely praiseworthy has been enough to drive plutocrats wild.

"...Not only do many of the superrich feel deeply aggrieved at the notion that anyone in their class might face criticism, they also insist that their perception that Mr. Obama doesn’t like them is at the root of our economic problems. Businesses aren’t investing, they say, because business leaders don’t feel valued.

"...Business investment has actually held up fairly well given this weakness in demand. Why should businesses invest more when they don’t have enough customers to make full use of the capacity they already have?

"But never mind. Because the rich are different from you and me, many of them are incredibly self-centered. They don’t even see how funny it is — how ridiculous they look — when they attribute the weakness of a $15 trillion economy to their own hurt feelings. After all, who’s going to tell them? They’re safely ensconced in a bubble of deference and flattery..."
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The way a 3-year old cleans spilled milk

The Cost of an Oil Spill in Burrard Inlet: $40 Billion...For Starters, Rex Weyler, The Common Sense Canadian, May 2012
"But let’s keep in mind:
  1. "There is no such thing as “cleaning up” an oil spill. Most “clean ups” get about 10 percent of the oil spilled, like the way a 3-year-old “cleans up” milk spilled on the kitchen floor.

  2. "There is no price to cover the soul of this region, the promises of indigenous rights, the food we take from this water, the childhoods on our beaches, the families of creatures and forests of fauna, the identity of this city and region, our heritage, and our dignity. There is no price for that."
While waiting for the birth Thursday of grandchild number six, our second granddaughter, Gwen and I took three other little ones to Cates Park in North Vancouver today. Here's a taste of the human activity we observed in Burrard Inlet across from Burnaby's oil lands. Even a minor spill could end all this for years to come.


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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Unwelcome hero of working people

In the preceding article It is an old and cruel tactic, a reader's comment referenced long dead miner Albert 'Ginger' Goodwin. Today, few young adults know this icon of trade unionism but he deserves a more prominent place in the history of our province.

Goodwin had been targeted in 1918, perhaps assassinated, by Canadian military police. The 31 year-old pacifist was accused of dodging conscription although he had been declared unfit for service because of black lung, a common disease of workers exposed to coal dust.

Probably, Goodwin died because he frightened Canada's establishment. Unions had been prohibited in this country until the latter part of the 19th century and the organizations were strongly discouraged for decades after legalization. Goodwin was successful both as a labour organizer and as an anti-war spokesman.

He remained controversial even at the start of the 21st century. A section of the Island Highway near Cumberland had been signed as Ginger Goodwin Way but months after anti-union BC Liberals formed government in 2001, the signs were surreptitiously removed, an action influenced by MLA Stan Hagen.

Saying removal of Goodwin's name from the highway came through an excess of political correctness and ideological zeal, Stephen Hume wrote in The Vancouver Sun:
"The story of Ginger Goodwin is what marketing dreams are made of - - tragedy, mystery, noble purposes, bounty hunters, a posse, a whole town that defied the government to protect a beloved son and then kept his story alive when the authorities tried to rub it out."
Hume noted that government had tried to silence Goodwin's message by killing him. The message was not quieted but today it remains a target of attacks orchestrated by agents of unfettered capitalism. These sponsors are the modern day equivalents of James Dunsmuir, the province's wealthiest resident in Ginger Goodwin's day. The Dunsmuirs grew wealthy partly by employing Chinese mine workers in deadly labour at half the wages of white men. Dunsmuir entered politics - briefly serving as BC Premier - to protect the supply of cheap Asian labour.

Susan Mayse wrote the book GINGER: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ALBERT GOODWIN. BC writer and arts consultant Max Wyman called it:
"A vivid, carefully researched evocation of the circumstances of Goodwin's death."
Wyman noted that BC's mines were rated among the world's most dangerous and Goodwin was a man committed to improving those deadly conditions.

Book author Mayse says Goodwin was
"a revolutionary socialist, very outspoken about the Canadian government - vocal, eloquent, aggressive and charismatic. So from the government's point of view, he was a threat."
The threat was thought real by those who worried the 1917 Russian Revolution might spread to other nations. Days after Goodwin's death, Vancouver experienced Canada's first ever general strike.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

It is an old and cruel tactic

The Battle of Blair Mountain, Chris Hedges, Truthdig
"...Reduce wages and benefits to subsistence level. Break unions. Gut social assistance programs. Buy and sell elected officials and judges. Fill the airwaves with mindless diversion and corporate propaganda. Pay off the press. Poison the soil, the air and the water to extract natural resources and leave behind a devastated wasteland.

"Plunge workers into debt. Leave them owing more on their houses than the structures are worth. Make sure the children will be burdened by tens of thousands of dollars lent to them for an education and will be unable to find decent jobs. Make sure that everything from hospital bills to car payments to credit card fees exact increasing pounds of flesh. And when workers stumble, when they cannot pay soaring interest rates, jack up rates further and deploy predators from debt collection agencies to harass the debtors and seize their assets. Then toss them away.

"Company towns all look the same. And we live in the biggest one on earth..."
Sound a lot like Phil Hochstein's philosophy and a little like that of the Canadian Federation of Taxpayers.

Read Wikipedia's Battle of Blair Mountain

H/T Susan H. for the above, Gary L. for the following video

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Lying about telling lies is Liberal truth

Margaret MacDiarmid was pushed onto the BCLDB platform by Christy Clark and Rich Coleman and the puppet masters behind them. Standing alone in the spotlight, the ironically named minister of open government is expected to justify the sale of British Columbia's liquor distribution system to friends of powerful Liberal lobbyists.

Not having been involved until late in the process, MacDiarmid can only repeat talking points provided by the creators of this proposed private monopoly. That leads to logical breaks such as when she said that existing warehouses are not adequate for modern distribution methods then suggested that government would rent those same spaces to the new private operator.

Strange that a political party dying from an excess of voter scorn should work so hard to please the Progressive Group. That company behaves like a drunk swallowing hard from his last bottle of liquor, knowing there will soon be no more to drink. At least, they'll take pleasure from one last swig.

Beyond Liberal partisans, it is hard to find people who think the BC Liberals are on the right track on this hurried privatization. Cynicism reigns. This amusement left in comments at a CBC news site reflects a common attitude:
"In the same manner as a double negative equals a positive do Cabinet Ministers in the BC Liberal Party believe that lieing about telling lies is the same as teliing the truth?"
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Important summary of Cohen Inquiry evidence

Watershed Watch presents a “Cliff’s Notes” version of key evidence and testimony from the ongoing Cohen Sockeye Inquiry.
"Concerned that key evidence was hard to access and could become buried and forgotten, we took on the task of summarizing key evidentiary highlights on the many subjects considered during the inquiry, including harvest, habitat, management, conservation, Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy, aquaculture, diseases and other issues.

"Our Cohen Inquiry Highlights: Synopsis of Key Evidence from the Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye is thus meant to keep the story and facts on the front burner and serve as a meaningful and permanent record easily accessible to the public. To facilitate its use and to aid keeners, the report also contains hundreds of electronic links to specific exhibits and transcripts that we’ve uploaded to our website..."

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Rewards for success or failure

Paying Workers More to Fix Their Own Mess, David Leonhardt, New York Times, March 2009
" 'We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.' — Edward Liddy, chief executive, American International Group
"Ah, retention pay. It has been one of the great rationales for showering money on chief executives and bankers regardless of how well they are doing their jobs. It’s just that the specific rationale keeps changing.

"...Now comes Mr. Liddy, the government-appointed chief of A.I.G., defending multimillion-dollar bonus payments for the people who run the small division that brought down the company. If the government doesn’t let them have their money, they will walk away, Mr. Liddy says, and nobody else will know how to clean up their mess.

"We’ll get to the merits of his argument in a moment, but it’s first worth considering the damage that the current system of corporate pay has wrought. The potential windfalls were so large that executives and bankers had an incentive to create rules that would reward them no matter what. The country is now living with the consequences..."
Enbridge Execs Got Big Pay Raises After Continent's Costliest Pipeline Spill, Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, July 12, 2012
According to Enbridge's 2011 "management information circular" the company's 12 directors voted to raise their own annual retainers by $30,000 and increased compensation for CEO and president Patrick Daniel from $6 million to $8.1 million in 2010.

Stephen J. Wouri, president of liquid pipelines, also saw his income increase from $1.9 million to $2.7 million in 2010. In fact all executives received substantial raises.

Earlier in 2010, on July 25, an Enbridge pipeline carrying diluted bitumen ruptured, pouring the toxic mixture for 17 hours into the Kalamazoo River near Marshall township in Michigan. The two-year clean-up has cost $800 million.

"The Marshall incident was factored into the 2010 short-term incentive awards for all of the named executives," said the circular.

A year after the disaster the Enbridge board again upped compensation for five senior executives under a short term incentive program that increased their pay by "$4,571,730 including $2,396,000 to the president and chief executive officer." The company says that it has a "pay for performance philosophy..."
Blame spills all over Enbridge, Editorial - Detroit Free Press, July 11, 2012
"It will be very difficult to give Enbridge credibility going forward on any pipeline project. Tuesday's National Transportation Safety Board discussion of the 2010 break in the company's pipeline near Marshall was damning.

"Enbridge knew five years before the rupture that the pipeline had corrosion and cracking problems in that area. The company's response plan was inadequate for the location, with the nearest team 10 hours away in another state. Control room crews restarted the pipeline flow twice despite alarms. A tweet from the NTSB said the chairman compared Enbridge's handling of the rupture to the Keystone Kops.

"It's also becoming clearer that Michigan's pipeline disaster is making history. It is the most expensive onshore oil spill in history, in terms of cleanup costs that are now expected to exceed $800 million..."
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Trust in God, but not in Enbridge

Not long ago, an animated parody by editorial cartoonist Dan Murphy offended oil transporter Enbridge. The company tried to make Murphy's troublesome work disappear by pumping up pressure in the Postmedia boardroom.

That crude move simply ensured the cartoon enjoyed focused attention and wider distribution than if Enbridge had taken its lumps quietly or, more appropriately, answered by an act of real commitment to environmental stewardship.

Instead, Enbridge demonstrated its inept approach to public relations. That incompetence is on display again this week. American regulators issued a condemnation of the company's actions before and after the Kalamazoo River disaster in Michigan. The Alberta company's management was compared to the Keystone Cops.

Enbridge refused to comment on the draft report of the National Transportation Safety Board but did manage to offer a weak response that will be believed by no one.
"Safety has always been core to our operations."
Meanwhile, Dan Murphy applies another pointed stick in the Enbridge eye:




Since Powell River has played a large part in my life, the words and song of ten-year old Ta'Kaiya Blaney from the Sliammon First Nation have special meaning to me. Enjoy this impressive young person.
"You all have a voice, don't be afraid to speak up about what you are passionate about. You have a gift; share it."

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Hero - redefined

Bravery and drone pilots, Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, July 10, 2012
"The Pentagon is considering awarding a Distinguished Warfare Medal to drone pilots who work on military bases often far removed from the battlefield...

"So medals would be awarded for sitting safely ensconced in a bunker on U.S. soil and launching bombs with a video joystick at human beings thousands of miles away.
"Justifying drone warfare requires pretending that the act entails some sort of bravery, so the U.S. military is increasingly taking steps to create the facade of warrior courage for drone pilots..."
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Monday, July 9, 2012

Being fracked

Clark’s fracking registry: a fractionary issue, Vanessa Annand, The Martlet, Sep 22, 2011, Volume 64 Issue 7
"...Fracking, a process that allows companies to pump out hard-to-reach deposits of oil and gas by fracturing the rocks around them, has been banned in several areas of the world, including France, Quebec, New South Wales and South Africa’s Karoo region.

"...The Wilderness Committee has been vocal in raising those 'questions and concerns' about fracking in B.C.

"'It’s hard to do [fracking] without impacting fresh water and impacting peoples’ health,' says Tria Donaldson, Pacific Coast campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.

"Donaldson points to the immense amount of freshwater used in fracking as the main reason for her concern.

"'The end result is thousands of cubic metres of radioactive water,' she says, adding that, given the global uncertainty surrounding potable water, funnelling freshwater resources into fracking is 'a little outrageous.'

"Some of the chemicals, she explains used as friction reducers and scrubs are “known carcinogens” that could leach into groundwater and damage people’s health. John Horgan, the NDP energy critic and MLA for Juan De Fuca, echoes Donaldson’s concerns.

"'Disclosure does not address other legitimate issues of concern, in particular the volume of water used for fracking and the disposal of the toxic waste water produced,' wrote Horgan via email.

"One of the most contentious sources of freshwater for fracking is the Williston Lake Reservoir, which Horgan says should not be compromised. Calgary-based Talisman Energy was recently given a 20-year licence to pump out 10 000 cubic metres of water a day from the reservoir — without any public consultation, Donaldson points out..."

New Study: Fluids From Marcellus Shale Likely Seeping Into PA Drinking Water, Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, July 9, 2012
"New research has concluded that salty, mineral-rich fluids deep beneath Pennsylvania's natural gas fields are likely seeping upward thousands of feet into drinking water supplies.

"Though the fluids were natural and not the byproduct of drilling or hydraulic fracturing, the finding further stokes the red-hot controversy over fracking in the Marcellus Shale, suggesting that drilling waste and chemicals could migrate in ways previously thought to be impossible.

"The study, conducted by scientists at Duke University and California State Polytechnic University at Pomona and released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tested drinking water wells and aquifers across Northeastern Pennsylvania. Researchers found that, in some cases, the water had mixed with brine that closely matched brine thought to be from the Marcellus Shale or areas close to it.

"No drilling chemicals were detected in the water, and there was no correlation between where the natural brine was detected and where drilling takes place.

"Still, the brine's presence – and the finding that it moved over thousands of vertical feet -- contradicts the oft-repeated notion that deeply buried rock layers will always seal in material injected underground through drilling, mining, or underground disposal..."
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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Deregulation and privatization - a cautionary tale

Terrance Heath writes a story of frequent and ruinous power outages in territory served by The Potomac Electric Power Company, a utility supplying electricity to Washington, D.C. and surrounding communities in Maryland. For reasons that should be obvious, Business Insider ranked Pepco the most hated company in America.

Powerless: Conservative Failure Returns Us To The Dark Ages, Terrance Heath, Campaign for America's Future, July 5, 2012
"Actually, we were lucky this time. The latest blackout happened the night before we were due to leave on a week long family vacation. After living through at least one extended outage per year — usually in the winter, spent shivering in a home without heat. This time we spent it sitting in an air conditioned hotel, checking power restoration updates, instead of sitting in our now overheated home, in 100-plus degree heat, with the kids.

"Five days. That's how long we would have spent sitting, sweating, and waiting. That's how long it took before we finally got confirmation that our home had power again.

"Once we get home, we'll have to throw out the food in the fridge, order Chinese, and make sure our son's goldfish survived. We'll probably wonder when the next outage will hit us.

"You see, about six years ago our previous Republican governor appointed a man with close ties to the industry to the Maryland Public Services Commission who lobotomized the commission, which is supposed to regulate utilities. MPSC has never really recovered from that "lobotomy".

"...To add insult to injury, ThinkProgress reports that Pepco has made huge profits, paid big bonuses to employees, and appear to have paid no taxes.

"According to OurDC, Pepco spent more on lobbying than on taxes in 2010.

"Over four years, Pepco received over $817 million in federal tax breaks.

"There's still more. And perhaps this is the most outrageous. Last year, after the five-day "thundersnow" power outage, the Washington Post reported on a little known regulation that allows Pepco to raise rates after a power outage."

"So, to recap, we have have a government-subsidized, untaxed, virtually unregulated, corporate monopoly that has no real incentive to reduce outages or downtime, because (a) there's nowhere else for its customers to go for electricity, and (b) they get paid whether they're supplying us with power or not.

"I guess that's business friendly regulation for ya."
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Fisheries Canada: "Virus, what virus?"

450,000 salmon to be destroyed after outbreak of anemia in Newfoundland and Labrador, Globe and Mail, July 7, 2012
"Newfoundland and Labrador is dealing with its first outbreak of infectious salmon anemia at an aquaculture site...

"Guy Gravelle, senior media relations officer for the [Canadian Food Inspection] agency, said the risks the virus poses are to fish health and the economy..."
Farm Salmon Diseased, Alexandra Morton
"A major TV news station aired an investigative piece a couple of nights ago on their evening news show, about Kudoa infested farm salmon fillets for sale at COSTCOs..."
[Link to CTV's Parasite-ridden salmon sold in B.C. stores]
Note: This CTV report, along with Alexandra Morton's comments, perhaps even these, would have been illegal had the BC Liberals agriculture minister Don McRae been able to proceed with Bill 37.

Morton cautions:
"Bill 37 could rise when the BC Legislature sits again."

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Vancouver voters dodged their own disaster

The November vote was not close but Vancouver and British Columbia dodged a disaster when Susan Anton's mayoral campaign disappeared underwater. If you want to confirm that view, read David Beers July 4 article at The Tyee:

NPA's Anton pens love letter to the oil sands
"...'Thomas Mulcair's strong dislike, Dalton McGuinty's scorn, NDP leader Adrian Dix's grumbling and the Mayor of Vancouver's outright non-support all demonstrate a lack of leadership and an unwillingness to consider how important the oil sands are to Canada.'

" 'We live in an (sic) world running on oil,' Anton declares, 'and Canadian oil is as good as it gets.'

"Anton makes no mention of the high amount of energy required to extract bitumen, causing the resulting crude oil to be among the highest in total greenhouse gas emissions.

"Nor does she acknowledge concerns about a toxic spill of bitumen/condensate mixture, called "dilbit," from a pipeline or tanker..."

Photos from: The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of, Kindle edition $1.99
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Friday, July 6, 2012

Cameron Ward on RCMP, Picton and Oppal Inquiry

RCMP officer Jim Brown is a sexual sadist-so what’s the big deal? Cameron Ward, July 6, 2012
"...Willy Pickton didn’t kill up to 49 women by himself, not according to the jury who convicted him of six counts of second degree murder. The women whose remains were found at the pig farm were likely the victims of a group of sexual sadists and torturers, who likely included convicted murderer Willy Pickton himself.

"...Was Cpl. Jim Brown one of the sexual sadists frequenting Piggy’s Palace? ...Were the RCMP monitoring the gang activities, including the Angels’ visits to Piggy’s Palace? Why did the RCMP seemingly ignore a ten year string of serial murders? ...How many murderers remain at large?

"All of these questions should have been answered by the just-concluded Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. We tried our best to pry the lid off and get the evidence out, but our attempts to have Cpl. Brown, Ross Caldwell, Bev Hyacinthe and David Pickton testify (among others) were rejected, as were our attempts to get access to the records of the Organized Crime Agency of BC that would reveal the nature and extent of police surveillance and gang infiltration activities involving Piggy’s Palace.

"The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry is patently incomplete. Now it has been revealed that the Coquitlam RCMP had a sexual sadist in their ranks who was sufficiently connected to the Picktons to produce a key informant, someone who tipped the police what Willy Pickton was up to three years before he was arrested. The Commission hearings must be re-opened. If it does not re-open the hearings, it will be perpetuating a police cover-up of the circumstances surrounding Canada’s worst serial killing case..."

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What's the next dump of grungy news?

There's more bad news coming about the RCMP, including information on unprofessional conduct in the Surrey Six gangland murder investigation. In a May internal memo, Commissioner Bob Paulson warned that several salacious incidents were about to surface. He said,
"Sadly there is a lot to choose from if you want to criticize us."
As one of the principal players, Paulson was not merely guessing. He's the guy in charge of doing next to nothing.

We already covered the transfer to BC of disgraced Alberta Staff-Sgt. Don Ray and the unnamed RCMP Inspector who was moved to BC after being neither dismissed nor demoted following a February drunk-driving conviction.

In May, RCMP Sgt. Michael D. Luciak plead guilty in Saskatoon to assaulting his 14-year old daughter.

Thursday, Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew detailed a wretched story involving Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Jim Brown posing for explicit images with a female shown as a victim of kidnap, knife threats and sexual torture. Keeping in mind Coquitlam RCMP failures in the investigation of serial killer Robert Pickton, we should ask why Brown's superiors concluded that he offended no code of conduct, a conclusion reconsidered after the story began to circulate in public.

My blogging effort began in 2009, prompted by the RCMP's attitude — cover-our-asses and admit-no-wrong — after four members killed Robert Dziekanski. Since then, I've scanned thousands of pages from expert reports that recommended wholesale changes to the federal police service. Those were usually accompanied by high ranking officials promising that changes have been or will be made.

Ex-Mountie says RCMP is a toxic workplace, Carlito Pablo, Georgia Straight, February 2012
"Workplace problems have been highlighted in reports such as the one prepared by David Brown in 2007. A former head of the Ontario Securities Commission, Brown called for sweeping organizational and cultural changes in the force.

"That same year saw the release of another study regarding the force. In that paper, organizational expert and author Linda Duxbury stated that the current RCMP culture does not support change...

" 'Police people are hard-driving problem solvers,' [psychologist Mike] Webster noted. 'And sometimes they step on each other’s toes, and these conflicts arise naturally. But in the municipal-police world, there’s a process to deal with them. In the RCMP, there’s no process. And these issues just go on and on and on.' "
The apparent truth is that substantive change will not be made because RCMP management is so dysfunctional it cannot be fixed. Senior officers have little will to change and federal government overseers focus on diverting, deflecting and diminishing problems. The only serious commitment senior management and politicians have is to writing vacuous press releases and congratulating each other at ceremonies.

RCMP officer's sexually explicit photos on S&M website, Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun, July 6 2012
"An RCMP code-of-conduct inquiry is underway into a Mountie who played a big part in the investigation into serial killer Robert Pickton and appeared on an Internet website posing in sexually explicit torture images reminiscent of the pig-farmer's crimes.

"In some of the graphic pictures obtained by The Vancouver Sun, Coquitlam Cpl. Jim Brown appears to wear only his regulation-issue Mountie boots and an erection as he wields a huge knife and a bound naked woman cringes in terror..."
According to Mulgrew's report, Supt. Claude Wilcott still minimizes Brown's behaviour, saying,
"it's important to note that they [the images] appear only on an adult site catering to those who seek them out."
Young men and women hoping to join the RCMP are told:
"You should possess the following values: integrity, honesty, professionalism, compassion, respect and accountability. Our selection process will determine if your personal history, traits and characteristics are suitable for a career in policing."
We can assume that Cpl. Jim Brown is not required to measure up to those standards.


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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

The Calgary Herald, usually a loyal Conservative Party supporter, recently editorialized about the RCMP:
"When the RCMP dispatched disgraced Alberta Staff-Sgt. Don Ray to B.C., it was reminiscent of how the Catholic Church dealt with some of its priests. After a “disturbing pattern” of sexual misconduct, in which Ray exposed himself, had sex with subordinates, and kept a liquor cabinet in his crime lab, the RCMP demoted him to sergeant, docked him 10 days’ pay and shipped him to places unknown in B.C. The Catholic Church similarly had a habit of quietly shipping naughty priests to other dioceses..."
The Herald's July opinion piece then downplays troubles by assuring us that all will be well in the future:
"The RCMP and the Harper government appear to have finally gotten the message that wrist slaps are no longer acceptable.

"...Finally, a commissioner who gets it, and a politician who is willing to do something about it..."
Frankly, there is nothing in recent history that indicates the Calgary Herald is correct, except for the head-in-sand comparison to the Roman Catholic Church. There is much that suggests little or nothing has changed since new Commissioner Bob Paulson took command. The latest was written about in The Province by Sam Cooper:
"The Province has learned that this Mountie of 22 years’ experience [an Inspector] was neither dismissed nor demoted by the RCMP in a discipline hearing following a drunk-driving conviction in February 2012. Instead, he was transferred to B.C."
In Rewarding Incompetence from December 2011, I quoted a Globe and Mail piece that included:
"RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says his mandate is to “clear-cut” problems that have taken root so deeply in the police culture that some Mounties are now embarrassed to tell neighbours where they work..."
In Drowsy Canadians take note, written in January, I also quoted from a Montreal Gazette article written by Senator Colin Kenny, Muzzling of RCMP commissioner shows that control is out of control:
"...All governments, however, are at times tempted to circumvent democratic principles when those principles threaten their own grip on power. The Harper government, as many have noted before me, has succumbed to such temptation with unprecedented passion.

"The result is that control is out of control, as it were. Ministers are scripted; committees are neutered; debate is cut off; public servants are muzzled; laws and court edicts are ignored; official watchdogs are fired; bills are adulterated with agenda filling provisions unconnected to their rationale; opposition amendments are dismissed out of hand; provincial premiers are avoided; and the prime minister's communications-control team grows at a steroidal pace in an era of fiscal restraint.

"...The commissioner of the RCMP has always been a very powerful position, held at arm's length from government. The reasons are obvious. If a member of a government is alleged to have broken the law, the Mounties are the people called in to investigate. Although funded by the government, the RCMP cannot become the instrument of government..."
Neither of the source articles are available at the originating newspapers, which is unfortunate because the same problems continue, unchanged.
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Police Squad - from the Encyclopedia of Wildlife

A replay, recycled from April 2010:

Police are an extremely social animal. They exist as a social unit called a squad.  Police travel and hunt in a group and perform almost all other activities in the company of fellow police.


The squad, basic unit of police social life, is usually a tight group. It is made up of people related to each other by ties of affection and mutual aid. The core of a squad is a mated pair of police - usually two adult males although occasionally a female adult is allowed to join a hunt.

The other members of the squad are older, politically astute members who remain mostly in the den, except during awards seasons when they emerge to feed off the spoils of hunts conducted by younger members.

Packs vary, most have 6 or 7 members, although some may include as many as 15. The pack size depends on many variables including the current levels of the police population, the abundance of prey and social factors within the police squad.

Within each pack is an elaborate hierarchy. It may consist of a single pair, the Alpha male and his deputy, a lower group consisting of adults, each with its own ranking, a group of outcasts, and a group of immature police on their way up. Some of the younger police may depart for vacant territory or may stay to wash squad cars or polish Strathcona boots.

Individual police in a squad play different roles in relation to the others in the pack. The Alpha male is the leader, often the oldest member of the squad with the most experience in hunting, defending territory and other important activities.

The other squad members respect his positions and follow his leadership in almost all things. The alpha police is usually the one to make decisions for the squad such as when the group should go out to hunt or move from one place to another or circle around to cover hindquarters left exposed.

Other squad members all have positions in the hierarchy inferior to those of the alpha male. Young adults have their own special roles under the leadership. Some of them may be able to dominate their sisters and brothers because they have established themselves as superior in some way. This superiority might be physical-size or greater strength - or it can be based on personality. Dominant police in the squad usually have more aggressive and forceful ways than associates of the same age.

Probationary pups - police under one year in the squad - do not occupy permanent positions within the hierarchy. They take orders from all of their associates, but their relationships with each other change frequently. During their play and other activities, they are constantly testing one another to find out who will eventually be tops in their age group.

Relationships among those who live close together in groups are often complicated, as they are for members of a police squad. Studies of police and police squads have shown that many complex rules of behavior seem to govern the way that the police relate to each other. Most result from long held traditions. The methods that police use to communicate with fellow squad members are elaborate.

The BC Government is considering a proposal to cull or emasculate police in the province. A draft management plan has been prepared. The Canadian police coalition resists such plans and works against change. Part of their strategy may be to focus the hunt on certain undesirable prey, such as Solicitor Generals.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nobody hides evidence of innocence

BC Liberals spent millions to halt the Basi/Virk trial. They are spending more on court actions fighting the Auditor General's access to documents. They've rejected calls for public inquiry and they offer no orderly defence to the many accusation of wrongdoing in the sale of BC Rail.

DID CHRISTY CLARK’S NEW PRESS GURU COMMIT TO AN OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE THE FIRST TIME AROUND???
Alex Tsakumis challenges BC Liberal MLAs:
How much longer are you going to spit in the face of taxpayers? How much longer are you going to wait? How much more time are you going to allow the embarrassment to remain the most unqualified Premier in BC history? Do you not see that any of her defenders are unworthy of working for the people–who you all continue to disrespect with your silence and complicity???
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More Ingrid Rice

Hard Working Conservative MP
Canada Day

Ingrid Rice archives here.
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