Thursday 31 January 2013

No Point

In perennially NON-breaking news, Canadians feel much the same about abortion as they have for years.

Which is basically: All's swell. Now can we please all STFU about it?

Only 23% of us know there are no legal restrictions on abortion at any time. That's actually an improvement. In 2010, just 21% of Canadians knew there are no restrictions.

And, still and forever, a tiny number of nutbars want to ban abortion altogether, nationally just 5%. But the regions are interesting. Atlantic Canada comes in as least banny at 1%, followed by Quebec at 2%, BC at 3%, and Saskitoba at 4%. Alberta is most prohibitionist at 10% with Ontario following at 7%.

There's a 'not sure' option to this question and, oddly, Atlantic Canada is least sure at 12%. Nationally, 6% are unsure.

The funding question -- always the best one for fetus fetishists -- remains evenly split with 43% in favour of always funding and 42% for funding only in medical emergencies. Those who want it completely defunded are again in the teensy minority -- 7%, beaten in this case by the 'not sures' at 8%. (Note for the Defund crowd Ontario Chapter: in this province, 9% want it defunded.)

Where Canadians are most united is in the 'Oh Shit Do We Have to Debate This Agaaaaain?' whine category.

Fifty-nine percent of us say there's no point (that was actually the phrase), while 30% are in the 'long overdue' crowd, with 11% not sure.

Again, the regions are interesting. BC is the most sick and tired of it at 67%, while surprisingly Quebec ranks highest in 'long overdue' at 35%.

And that's what DJ! and others have been saying: Fuck the debate. There is no point.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Home Abortion: Quick and Cheap

Fetus fetishists really really hate medical abortion.

First, it's done very early -- up to 9 weeks -- so women can act quickly and get it over with.

It's private. One doesn't necessarily have to go to a special clinic. Any doctor can prescribe the pills. One can even buy them over the Internet to get around idiotic laws.

It's safe and effective.

And it's cheaper than surgical abortion, but still quite a lot of dough to find on short notice.

For all those reasons, zygote zealot are pushing hard to demonize and/or place unnecessary restrictions on the procedure.

Today, there are three stories about medical abortion.

From Prince Edward Island, which anti-choicers like to style as 'North America's lone life sanctuary' because no abortions are done there, comes a story of -- SHRIEEEEEK!-- a woman who had a medical abortion right there in the green little sanctuary.

She found a doctor who wrote the prescription.

So, while the Fetus Lobby is working to out the damn doctor (PEI is a pretty small place after all), the provincial health authority shows no interest in it.
Richard Wedge, acting CEO of Health PEI, said the agency does not track this kind of procedure in the province, but he believes it is uncommon.

"I'm not aware of actually any physicians that are actively promoting this kind of treatment," said Wedge.

"It's quite likely that somebody could learn about it, keep the medications in their office or provide prescriptions for women to go to the stores, but we don't track it and we don't have any organized clinic for medical abortions."
(By the way, there's a poll at that last link, now running 86% in favour of both surgical and medical abortions being done on the Island.)

In Ireland, where the Catlick church is having paroxysms over the possible loosening of abortion law in the case of imminent death of the woman, there comes this sad, infuriating tale.
In fact, Claire’s dire financial situation is such that, having decided to end her pregnancy, she quickly discovered that she couldn’t afford the €1,000 cost of travelling to the UK to get one. The only other option for previous generations would have been a backstreet abortion but Claire searched online for a website from which she could buy drugs to induce a medical abortion, and stumbled across a website of a non-profit group that offers assistance to women in countries where abortion is illegal. Completing the online consultation, which is then forwarded to a licensed doctor who makes a decision about whether the drugs (which can only be taken up to nine weeks’ gestation) are a suitable treatment, Claire encountered another problem.

The website no longer posts drugs to Ireland because of the number of seizures by customs officials. Instead, women are advised to have the drugs sent to nearby jurisdictions where they can be collected.

Claire, who was seven weeks’ pregnant, ordered the drugs for €100 [$135 CAD] and had them sent to the North. She collected them on Wednesday and took them at home the next day.

“I felt awful for about three hours — severe cramp and nausea — but then it was over and I felt instant relief,” she said.
Yup. Officials in Ireland go through the mail to seize drugs.
In 2009, 1,216 tablets were discovered while this figure dropped to 671 tablets in 2010 and 635 in 2011, although it remains unclear if this fall coincided with the decision of the website to stop delivering to Ireland.
That price seems pretty reasonable. In the US, Planned Parenthood says costs range from $300 to $800. That would include consultation and after-care, but still, rather a lot.

So, the Fetus Lobby will go nuts if this proposal in Australia is successful.
The federal government will consider subsidising controversial abortion drugs - allowing women to end pregnancies for as little as $12 [$12 CAD].
. . .
Reproductive health group Marie Stopes International Australia has lodged an application with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) Advisory Committee in the hope the drugs will become taxpayer funded.

Only 187 authorised medical clinics were approved to distribute the two drugs, and campaigners claim the current $300 cost has been prohibitive for many women on lower incomes seeking a non-surgical abortion.
Twelve bucks.


Image source.

Sunday 27 January 2013

It's just temporary genocide

After years of denial that Israeli health officials were practising blatant racism in the small matter of injecting Ethiopian immigrant women with a long-acting and controversial contraceptive, they have now admitted to it.
A government official has for the first time acknowledged the practice of injecting women of Ethiopian origin with the long-acting contraceptive Depo-Provera.

Health Ministry Director General Prof. Ron Gamzu has instructed the four health maintenance organizations to stop the practice as a matter of course.

The ministry and other state agencies had previously denied knowledge or responsibility for the practice, which was first reported five years ago.
But it has worked well over the time the 'policy' was in effect.
The birthrate among Ethiopians in Israel decreased by a dramatic 50% in the last decade, and Israeli journalist Gal Gabai [the documentary maker who stirred things up again last December] wanted to know why. She investigated the issue for “Vacuum,” her documentary series on Israeli Educational Television, and she discovered some things that left her very uncomfortable — and will surely leave others equally so.
Fifty per cent. That's a helluva lot fewer black babies, innit?

What's this called then? 'Temporary genocide until we get caught and/or get the black birth rate halved'?

Despicable action by anyone. But Israel. . .

Thursday 24 January 2013

Catholic Church: Facts matter when money is involved.

This was in the news yesterday.  As you can imagine, it has been the topic of pro-choice discussions since, as we've written many, many times at DJ!, the US Catholic Church has been one of the best-financed and insistent organization to lobby politicians, in its opposition to abortion and birth control.  All of it involves indirect actions and proxy groups of course, as the Vatican Taliban doesn't want to imperil the tax-exempt status its churches enjoy.
The Catholic Church is on record stating that life begins at conception That is the basis of their opposition to abortion in all circumstances. It’s the basis on which they argue that Obamacare violates their (and their followers) religious freedoms (which of course trump any rights or freedoms anyone else may have.)

[...]Sometimes, actions tells us just how deep a religious conviction in the sanctity of life really is. It turns out that at least for one Catholic healthcare provider, that deeply held religious belief suddenly becomes less important when a few dollars are at stake.

This story began on New Years Day in 2006. Lori Stodghill was 31-years-old and seven months pregnant with twins. She went to St. Thomas More Hospital, suffering from nausea and shortness of breath. Her obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, was on call that night – but never answered his pager. Stodghill’s main artery to the lungs was clogged, resulting in a heart attack. She died within an hour of arriving at the hospital, as did the twins – some time later. Stodghill’s husband, Jeremy filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of the couples then 2-year-old daughter, Elizabeth and himself. Their lawyers argued that Stodges should have made it to the hospital or at least ordered the emergency room to perform an emergency c-section.
From here.

[...]when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

As Jason Langley, an attorney with Denver-based Kennedy Childs, argued in one of the briefs he filed for the defense, the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”
Above from here; text below from previously quoted.
The thing that smells in this case is the hypocrisy. On one hand, the “sanctity of life” matters when it comes to denying a woman access to reproductive health. The women’s life is secondary to that of a zygot or a fetus in the name of religious freedom. A woman’s dignity is secondary to that same religious freedom. But, when a few dollars are at stake, suddenly these deeply held religious beliefs don’t matter.

One might think that the gospel, and all those deeply held religious values really are only wallet deep.

SHRIEEEEEEEEEK!!! It's what you'd expect from the likes of SUZYALLCAPS at Blob Blogging Wingnut, right?

Curiously, no. All is silent over there, except for a short riff on a piece of glurge about the bishop of Denver SHE posted on January 22nd, the day before the damning news story above was published.  Coincidence?

We provide no click-links to BBW because if we do, SHE will re-direct all traffic to pictures of human anatomical detritus, aka fetal p0rn.

In case you think that we exaggerate when we say so-called "prolife" is pro-lies, note that in HER blogpost, SUZY states that the bishop of Denver studied medicine.  

Wrong, incorrect, false.

The man himself says that he worked as an orderly in a hospital.

Prevaricate much, SUZY?

Today's BBW blogpost demonstrates how SHE deigns to hold up a woman's exemplary choice to carry a pregnancy to term because that particular choice fits HER object lesson of the day.  Although this woman is a lesbian, SHE conveniently decides not to address that ideological inconsistency - HER Catholic homophobia has been on display in many previous posts - because shut up.

ADDED by fh on January 25: From Daily Kos
Now, lest you think that an attorney representing a Catholic organization that manages a Catholic hospital does not actually speak for the Church, and therefore, the arguments in legal documents do not represent the Church itself, au contraire, smarty pants. Let's go below the fold to review the Taco Bell rule, shall we?

The Taco Bell rule was first offered by Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, when the bishops were hissy-fitting themselves over insurance coverage of birth control. Under this rule, there is no distinction between the Catholic Church, Catholic-affiliated organizations, or privately owned companies that appear to have no religious affiliation, but that are owned or managed by someone who claims to be Catholic. Like, say, someone who opens a Taco Bell franchise. Under this rule, it's all the Catholic Church, according to the Catholic Church, and should all be afforded the exact same legal protections as the Church itself.
A trio of bishops are going to 'review' the argument.
But what's that saying about closing a barn door after the horse has left? The defendants already made the argument—and won. So what's the plan? The bishops are going to decide the legal argument is invalid and the widower is owed a payout for the wrongful death of his wife and twins? If there's one thing we know for certain it's that the Catholic Church will go to very extreme lengths to avoid legal or financial accountability, including, but not limited to, obstructing criminal investigations.

So regardless of what the bishops determine with their review, they lost this fight. It's over. A fetus is not a person and should have no rights or protections under the law, and that's how it should stay. Amen.
As they say: awkward.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Follow the money!

Where are the cops forensic accountants when we need them?

As a quick-eyed reader points out here, if the privately-held Canadian companies whose executives accompanied Harper on his Panda-hugging Tour de Chine  photo op last year did reimburse the government (as many claim they did), where did our money go?
Some of those companies, including gold company Eldorado Gold Corp., said they insisted on paying their own way throughout the trip and are surprised to hear they appear on a government expense list.
“Our CEO Paul Wright paid ALL his expenses (meals, cab fares, accommodations and any other expenses) incurred on the trip,” Nancy Woo, vice-president of investor relations, wrote in an email.

“We, too, would find it an unreasonable expense for the taxpayer.”

Financial giant Manulife said it was their corporate policy to reimburse the government for any major expenses incurred by its executives, and is addressing the matter.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper walks away following a television interview with Mike Duffy in Ottawa in February 2007.

Whose deep, deep CON pockets did those thousands of dollars surreptiously slip into?

No wonder PMSHithead and his corrupt band of cheaters, liars, fraudsters and thieves are in no hurry to staff the position of Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

CON hogs at the trough!

pigs at the trough

It comes as no surprise that the Harper government is dispensing corporate welfare, in generous acts of CON cronyism, with taxpayers' money.  

If there's money to be made by accompanying PMSHithead to China, shouldn't these profitable private companies PAY their own way and cover their own business expenses?
The Conservative government covered expenses for some of the country’s top executives as they accompanied the prime minister around China a year ago, a move business leaders and officials defend as a good investment.

The trip signalled a change of approach for Stephen Harper, who for years eschewed the idea of leading big trade offensives abroad.

Then came the China trip last February.

The delegation to three Chinese cities included 30 executives from major oil, agricultural and manufacturing companies as well as roughly two dozen members of the Chinese-Canadian cultural community.

Compare that with a 2009 trip to China — Harper’s first — when he brought along eight people, including Laureen, his stylist and four Chinese-Canadian businesspeople.

The Foreign Affairs Department says local transportation, accommodation, meals and “miscellaneous expenses” incurred by an official delegation is covered by the government. For the 2012 non-governmental participants, that meant an average of $1,200 a person.

Corporations and associations — including Bombardier, Cenovus Nuclear Energy, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Cameco — confirmed that the government paid for portions of the expenses, with the amount varying from firm to firm.
From here.

Last word to Stephen Lautens who brought this story to our attention.

"What's a Harper photo-op without a paid entourage?"

Hence the photo at the top of this blogpost.

Monday 21 January 2013

La reine du slam!

Elle est la douleur, la chaleur, le malheur, la douceur même.

She is pain, warmth, doom, sweetness itself.

She is Queen Ka.

Elkahna Talbi first came to my attention when she played the role of Maha in the play II - Deux which premiered at Le Théâtre de la vieille 17 last year.  She was cast as a forty-ish Muslim immigrant who had married a Canadian cop, a man older than her by a decade or so.

She looked and sounded impeccable in that role - luminous, really.  She conquered the audience with her capacity for expressing the complexity of emotions that a woman would feel, given the precarious conditions that assailed Maha.  (The Saskatchewan playwright Mansel Robinson's play was translated by Jean-Marc Dalpé.)

Last Friday the Fourth Stage of the NAC welcomed her back to Ottawa, in a dynamic one-woman performance of spoken word. It was an absolutely fabulous event.

Incandescent, as Queen Ka can be when she melds poetry and movement, accompanied by edgy live electronic music. Imagine Philip Glass anti-melody, mashed up with a politically judicious and vivacious Maghrebian fireball who takes no prisoners.  Unless you surrender yourself to the verb and flow of her words.

If Newfoundlander motor-mouth Rick Mercer were an ebullient second-generation Tunisian-Canadian slam poet, he would be Queen Ka.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Where men are men and women know their rightful place.

Following Robert McClelland's recommendation, I read Jonathan Kay's account of his whirlwind field trip -  well financed, and likely as comfortable as CONvenient - to *collect* examples of First Nations folks who are almost just like NatPo readers.

About 40 paragraphs into Kay's piece, I started wondering why he didn't speak to any Indigenous women in the course of his research.  Then a couple of women make an appearance; the men that Kay has exclusively chosen to interact with, introduce them. Their contribution:
“Family dynamics is a big problem,” she tells me. “There’s lots of separation and switching of partners. The kids in school are basically suffering from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]. You’ve got a 16-year-old trying to deal with their parents splitting up when he was three. And a big part of that is addiction — alcohol, drugs and gambling. When you’re high, you fool around with someone else. And the next thing you know, you’re separated. That pattern has become common.”

At this, Eva Lazarus, Ms. Moore’s mother, who’d been listening from the side of the room, jumps in: “I know a woman here with four, five, even six children, all from different fathers. Then everyone sees it, and thinks growing up like that is the norm.”
Can't trash *pagan* beliefs and the *old ways* without highlighting good old boys' - and gals' - christianist slut-shaming, can he?  Jonathan is after all, his mother's son.

Kay applauds all the non-deleterious effects of religious indoctrination and how it has facilitated assimilation instilled a christian work ethic in the objects of his article - in spite of the horrific abuses inflicted at residence schools.  He only alludes to the long-range effects of PTSD suffered by adult survivors in one short poignant exchange with a non-native nurse.

But ... HOCKEY!!!  Yes. Boys playing hockey is seemingly the best hope, the most dynamic potential First Nations communities have of succeeding in Kay's rightful, paternalistic and euro-centric vision of Canada. "Balancing tradition and capitalism" ... indeed.

Kay is not alone in disregarding the dynamic role of women in Indigenous communities; he is following the "norm" established by centuries of patriarchal ideology who diminished, discredited and tried to destroy matrifocal traditions.

This is worth reading, for its insightful deconstruction of gendered contempt - specifically gynophobia - that has contaminated most news items about Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence's use of fasting as a strategy and as well, has disparaged the Idle No More movement. 

Sadly, it isn't only right wing nut jobs and CONs who disrespect First Nations, Metis, Inuit and all activist women of Indigenous ancestry. In the guise of well-intended concern, this blogger is wagging his phallic substitute at the women who originated the name of Idle No More (yet never claimed ownership of the movement) as he attacks them in his churlish screed.

In case we forget, here are some photographs of Indigenous women, from here.

 A candle light vigil for missing or murdered aboriginal women on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 4, 2009. A report released in April 2010, added 62 more names to a growing list of missing or slain aboriginal women and girls across Canada.
The next vigil for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women will be held on February 14 on Parliament Hill.  More information here.

Grand merci to Kathryn Ssedoga for the wealth of links and resources on her Twitterstream.

Friday 18 January 2013

Self-portrait with cropped hair.

Frida Kahlo. Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair. 1940

It was over three years ago that Lhasa de Sela died of cancer at the age of 37.  My post.

I have been thinking a lot about Lhasa recently; the Idle No More movement as well as the season's reminder of family members and friends who died in December and January stir these memories.

In late November, I viewed the AGO exhibition Frida and Diego  with my daughter.

It was an intense and powerful learning experience; if you're able to see it before it closes on January 20th, do go!

Frida's shorn hair self-portrait is echoed in Lhasa's performance here.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Canadian Weblog Awards 2012

2012 Canadian Weblog Awards nominee

Thanks to whoever nominated DJ! for a Canadian Weblog Award in two categories -- feminism and politics.

Yesterday we were informed that we'd made it through to the short list in both.

It's a juried competition so there's no need for unseemly begging for votes.

There are a lot of categories and a lot of blogs. Here are all the nominees.

I was thinking of doing something ruminative about the current state and future of blogging, but . . .  naw.

Just thanks to the nominator and to all our readers.

Is the Harper government funding christian missionaries abroad?

According to this reportage in La Presse, more and more CIDA funds are being directed towards christian groups and projects that have a mandate to proselytize. Few have solid experiences with humanitarian aid projects as well regarded as Kairos; most have no international credibility.
While reducing financial support to many international cooperation agencies, the Harper government is now providing more subsidies to religious NGOs, especially those that have a mission to spread the faith.

This is what emerges from research conducted by François Audet, Director of the Canadian Research Institute on humanitarian crisis and aid; its results should be published this spring in the Canadian Journal of Development Studies.

His team of researchers combed through the tax returns of 198 Canadian NGOs who shared in 2010 a budget of $366 million in funding from CIDA.

Their conclusion: from 2005 to 2010, subsidies to secular NGOs have increased by 5% - from 226 to 237 million. During the same period, the annual budget for religious NGOs increased from 90 to 129 million - an increase of 42%.

The lion's share of this increase went to a dozen NGOs in Western Canada, which received $50 million in 2010, against 29 million five years earlier - an increase of 72%. However, in addition to their humanitarian mission, these NGOs are openly dedicated to evangelization.

Some examples: Africa Community Technical Services received $ 655,000 from CIDA in 2010, almost three times more than in 2005. On its website, the NGO says it carries out its duties "under the authority of the scriptures" and "seeks to glorify our Lord Jesus."

Cause Canada says: "We pray that our identification with Jesus, our concern for justice and our practical demonstration of God's love [...] attract people to Christ," on its website. This Alberta NGO received $ 483,000 from CIDA in 2010, an increase of 32% compared to 2005.
Rough Google translation of Agnès Gruda's text.  Radio-Canada is also reporting on this; CBC will no doubt soon produce a document in English.

Santiago Mariani (right) with a Tanzanian family outside their home

Would receiving humanitarian support and the benefit of clean water, education, health care and other necessities made available through international aid projects be conditional upon conversion to fundamentalist religious christian beliefs?

It seems as though Fantino and his accolytes are enforcing have adopted the hospice model developed by Mother Teresa for the Vatican Taliban - a choice between having your soul "saved" or dying miserably in the streets.

BONUS: Dennis Gruending's post about the Office of *Religious Freedom* in John Baird's Foreign Affairs. Would there possibly be a connection to the CIDA funding?

Update regarding the CPC partisan documents Fantino did ^NOT post on the CIDA government website, at The Sixth Estate

Update: Montreal Simon wrote this in December.

Photograph found here.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

The power of music, dance and drums

 Four-year-old Lily Mervyn holds a sign at an Idle No More demonstration near Surrey, B.C., earlier this month. A teachable moment?

During the 2011 federal election campaign that Harper's CONtempt party *won* with a pathetic 39% of the popular vote (with the support of CPC fraudulent tactics that likely included voter suppression in key ridings), I wrote this review of world-reknowned Mali musician Salif Keita's concert.

As a result of political upheaval and regime changes in northern Africa, the tenuous balance of power in other countries has been disrupted, notably in Mali where civil war has been raging for months. 

Scott Taylor describes how the Harper government aided the Islamist terrorists

In a nutshell, where things stand at the moment in Mali.

One of the revealing actions taken by religious fundamentalist in Mali was to ban all public performances as well as the private expression of music. Yes, music.

There is an uplifting energy to music that fundamentalist ideologies loathe, unless its power can be controlled and directed to support religious and political hegemony or simultaneously exploited by profit-making ventures.

In contrast, the exuberant, chaotic outbreaks of round dancing in corporate public places is a judicious and brilliant manifestation of the open, inclusive and generous spirit of Idle No More.

Leanne Simpson, an Anishinaabe academic and writer, argues that a spirit of celebration has generally characterized Idle No More gatherings.

"One of the things the round dances have demonstrated to me is that there's a joyfulness to this movement," she says.

"It's strategic and it's serious and it's multifaceted but, at the foundation, it's not coming from a place of anger. It's not coming from a place of want. It's coming from a place of joy and connections to our homeland and our cultures."

Idle No More began as a series of teach-ins by four women in the Prairies, and has been spurred on by a female chief on a hunger strike. So it has been very much shaped by women.

It's an incredible thing when you see our women leading," says McMahon. "They bring a power and a balance we as men can't bring. And it's about time."
From here.

Though some may prefer to gleefully focus upon CONtempt party tactics intended to crush the human spirit, it's timely to remember this Indigenous teaching.
A Cherokee elder told a grandchild that all human beings have two wolves doing battle inside them.

One beast is armed with anger, jealousy, fear, greed, vindictiveness, scorn, lies and vanity. The other animal has joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, honesty and empathy in its arsenal. 

The child thought, then asked which creature would win. 

The elder said with twinkling eyes: "The one you feed."
In closing, a round dance exuberantly performed and joyfully expressed on December 22, 2012 at the TD centre in Calgary.

The YouTube displayed was recommended by @CopperBronzed - I am proud to be her ally and her sister in solidarity.

Monday 14 January 2013

Maintiens le droit ...

It appears that we've written quite a lot about the RCMP, at DJ!

And most of it covers the police violence within and outside its ranks - not the regrettable armed display of force required to fulfill its mandate of law enforcement - but a corrupt and despicable exploitation of its resources and its mandate that has repeatedly, unjustly harmed, damaged and killed people.

There's no end in sight, as it emerges that the Mounties do a truly negligent, incompetent job of keeping records with regard to officers that have been brought up on cases of professional misconduct, and possibly, of criminal activity.
[...]no one within the RCMP had a comprehensive list of Mounties who’d been disciplined, became obvious after CBC News asked for basic data between 2005 and 2008 that included offences and findings by internal adjudications boards.

CBC News submitted the request in November 2008. It was delivered four years later in November 2012. An officer who handled the file offered an embarrassed apology, and explained the delay was due to the list having to be created from scratch.

[...]Many of the allegations are also criminal offences, including two cases of possession of child pornography. The CBC asked for details on which cases went on to criminal prosecution, but the RCMP did not make that information available.

And while about 50 of the cases were withdrawn, in some cases due to the expiry of the statutory time limit for a hearing, more than a third were deemed so egregious the officers involved either quit, were forced to resign or had to forfeit 10 days pay — the harshest punishment under the RCMP Act short of dismissal.
Meanwhile, the RCMP old boys' club is calling the shots on the manner in which it will defend the institution from several sexual abuse and harassment lawsuits against the force and specific officers.

Moving from outright denial to counter attack, it appears that the legal strategy rests upon a campaign of discrediting the claims that have been brought forward by female officers.

RCMP Corporal Catherine Galliford;left;said she will speak on behalf of victims at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

A vulnerable female complainant has been singled out, likely to demonstrate to the others what awaits them - to intimidate them and ultimately, to silence them.
The RCMP’s statement of defence, filed earlier this week, details the results of the police investigation and the review board’s findings, and says whatever happened between Gastaldo and Pearson occurred outside of their work and has nothing to do with the force.

“If any of the Crown defendant’s employees, servants or agents engaged in the conduct alleged ... then all such conduct was outside the course and scope of the employee, servant or agent’s duties,” says the statement of defence, filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

Even if Gastaldo was harmed in any way by Pearson, the statement of defence says, it wouldn’t be the force’s fault.

“Any of the damage allegedly suffered by the plaintiff was caused solely by the unauthorized conduct of Pearson, and the Crown defendants are not responsible for that conduct,” the statement says.

Gastaldo’s lawsuit was among the first of several involving female RCMP officers who have claimed they were assaulted, harassed and abused on the job.

[...]The statements of claim and defence contain allegations that have not yet been tested in court.

The RCMP has so far issued denials in several sexual abuse and harassment lawsuits against the force and its officers.

The highest-profile case involves Cpl. Catherine Galliford, a former spokeswoman for the Air India and Robert Pickton cases. She filed a lawsuit last year alleging years of abuse by numerous officers.

Const. Karen Katz has a lawsuit alleging a colleague harassed and sexually assaulted her, as well as a second lawsuit that alleges more widespread abuse spanning her entire career.

And Janet Merlo, a 19-year veteran of the force, filed a class-action lawsuit in March alleging sexist comments, sexual pranks and derogatory remarks while on the job. Her lawyer has suggested dozens of other officers are prepared to join the case.
Aggressive "defense" tactics deployed by the RCMP display many of the elements that characterize systemic rape culture, as well as a toxic work environment.  The failure of the police force to treat its officers and other employees - male and female - with the respect they deserve as human beings, is typical of military-type organizations based on the very worst misogynist practices "tolerated" if not encouraged by the leadership.

The photo above is from here.

Saturday 12 January 2013

Why does Alabama hate women?

Yesterday my co-blogger provided an overview of the abject anti-Choice situation in the US.

Today, there's news via state media and triumphallists at Lies-Site regarding a decision from the Alabama Supreme Court.
The Alabama Supreme Court ruled today that the state’s chemical endangerment of a child law also pertains to unborn children.

The law was intended to target situations in which children were exposed to conditions such as methamphetamine labs, but women also have been prosecuted for harming their children by using drugs during their pregnancies.

The court’s ruling upheld the convictions of two of those women, Hope Ankrom of Coffee County and Amanda Helaine Borden Kimbrough of Colbert County.

While the law itself makes no mention of unborn children, the court held in its decision that “the plain meaning of the word ‘child’ in the chemical endangerment statute includes unborn children.”
Alabama is one of the most chemically polluted regions in the US.  The rate of miscarriages and mutagenic birth defects is disgusting.  The poverty level, the lack of educational and employment opportunities as well as the shameful absence of adequate health services in that state, are shocking.

Funny how that goes. Hundreds of "unborn" are affected by the greedy, profitable corporations that malevolently poison the air, the ground and the water of Alabama yet the state chooses to criminalize and prosecute individual pregnant women.

Perhaps some enterprising folks should help women and families, who provide care to children with birth defects caused by environmental "chemical endangerment", to lawyer up for the purpose of litigating against corporations that have damaged fetal development in those gestated and born in Alabama.

If that were to start happening, you can bet that "christian" legislators aka wealthy businessmen & politicians, would tweak the application of their Supreme Court decision, to ensure that corporate entities be exempt from any form of accountability, fetal harm and endangerment be damned!

Note: I had considered posting photographs of infants and babies with mutagenic birth defects, à la SUZYALLCAPS for blunt force emotional manipulative effect; after perusing some Google images, I could not.

Thursday 10 January 2013

Idle No More

A press event was held this afternoon with the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo and with regional chiefs Jody Wilson-Raybould and Perry Bellegarde.

From here:
"We are absolute in our convictions," [Atleo] said. "We need action in particular for our most vulnerable citizens." 

Referring to the number of missing and murdered aboriginal women, Atleo's voice caught as he recalled going with a family to a morgue after a 16-year-old girl was killed. 

"This is what our people are saying. That poverty is killing our people. That the history of colonization and unilateral action on the part of governments will stop now," he said. 

Atleo, along with regional chiefs Jody Wilson-Raybould and Perry Bellegarde, laid out a number of specific requests, including treaty implementation, treaty enforcement and a new financial relationship with the Crown. 

Bellegarde says one funding formula is 19 years old and hasn't kept up with either inflation or the total First Nations population. The chiefs also mentioned resource development agreements and disputes over changes to environmental legislation the Conservative government made in its two omnibus budget implementation bills in 2012. 

"Our treaties were not meant to make us poor in our own homelands."
Watch here.

Many believe Harper cannot control and manipulate the Idle No More movement, that it is powerful beyond anything his calculating, cold chess-player's mind can comprehend, and that this will be his Waterloo.

I hope that's the case.

Not One Inch

New year, new load of nutty emanating from the US. What do the sane people expect from their zygote zealots? Super-sized abortion restrictions.
[Elizabeth Nash, State Issues Manager for the Guttmacher Institute] admitted that bills in the past have become so extreme, she wouldn't be surprised if something new came out of the woodwork. But perhaps the bills we should be prepared for aren't going to be "new," but instead super-sized versions of the ones that are already in place.

Passing more extreme versions of current legislation may be the easiest way for anti-choice politicians to continue restricting abortion without incurring wrath from an electorate that has grown tired of their anti-women bills. After all, if the state already has agreed to one version of a law as being necessary to protect women, why not a more dramatic version of the same bill?

Most likely to be turned into a super-sized restriction in 2013? The forced waiting period.
Twenty-six states already have forced waiting periods, usually 24 hours. But Utah has a 72-hour forced wait, and that's the one pro-choicers fear will be the model.
With 87 percent of counties lacking an abortion provider, the spread of 72-hour waits could be a devastating blow to access, especially for women in rural areas. Abortion will inevitably become more expensive, occur later in pregnancy where it can increase complications, and force some women to give birth against their wishes.
The piece cites the Turnaway Study, a longitudinal project by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at University of California, San Francisco.

Researchers have been collecting stories of women who have carried unwanted pregnancies to term. Results are being released now. (I've been meaning to write about this.)

One of the researchers, Dr Tracy Weitz, is quoted.
Weitz recounted some interviews with women who have had difficulty accessing abortion even without a forced waiting period because of travel issues, cost and other circumstances. They eventually obtained a termination, but only because they only had to make one trip to the clinic. "When we've asked them before a waiting period went into effect if the waiting period would have stopped them from getting an abortion, there are some women who say, 'Yes, I would not have been able to get an abortion if I needed to come more than once,'" said Weitz.
Canadians cannot let this kind of crazy take root. Give 'em an inch and they'll take your right to autonomy.

Here is fetus fetishist Mark Penninga, of the Association for Reformed Political Action, backer of the faux-grassroots organization, We Need A Law, on the anti-choice mission.
And if we are blessed with restrictions, we must press on and keep working for more.
No law. No restrictions. None.

Not One Inch.

Wednesday 9 January 2013

Jules et Jim et Sarah

Stories We Tell

This evening I saw Sarah Polley's _Stories We Tell_.

It's cleverly crafted and passionate.  A lively, entertaining, intelligent film experience.

Don't read spoiler reviews of it, particularly any that would have stupid headlines like this one: "Toronto Film Critics Name Sarah Polley's Adultery Doc Best Canadian Movie".

Go see it totally unprepared. You may have to see it again. There are many people involved and many overlapping stories.

In the best of ways, it appears to have been inspired by _Rashômon_, _Jules et Jim_ and, possibly all of Norman Jewison's movies.

Highly dramatic though not tragic.  Slightly comedic in that sly, self-deprecating Canadian manner we allow ourselves to express.  Also a cinéphile's delight.

Here's my own spoiler about Polley's documentary.  There are NO branding irons bearing the letter A in the film. Not even one.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Just Like Thanksgiving. . .

. . . Canadians can celebrate two Blogging for Choice Days.

On January 22, the US Supreme Court landmark judgement Roe v. Wade is 40 years old.

Much weakened recently -- 2012 was second only to 2011 in the number of new state restrictions on abortion -- but it's still in effect.

Here are some nifty infographics to decorate your blog-post.

Then, on January 28, we celebrate 25 years of lawlessness in Canada.

But all is not rosy here either. We've still got major access issues and the perennial wanking of fetus fetishists. The current one, Warawa's Wank is slated to have some debate in March.

Mark your calendars and shine your party shoes.

The best part? No frigging turkey.

Monday 7 January 2013

The Answer: not a CON minister.

Must read from Sixth Estate today.

Question of the day: Is Theresa Spence’s Alleged Fiscal Mismanagement Serious Because She is an Indian, or Because She Is Not a Conservative Cabinet Minister? 

Everything you knew and or suspected about the odious, vile tactics of Harper's Politburo is exposed, with regard to this tactical leak to the media.

Next question of the day: Why is the "Indian" Peter Penashue getting preferential treatment from Elections Canada?

Answer: He is a CON minister.

Added: The graphic above.

Sunday 6 January 2013

On necessary forensics and foraging for survival

*Guilt* is a Eurocentric concept, as is rapacious greed - though officially denounced by christian missionaries who cajoled and coerced Indigenous folks into subjugation to the "Great White Father".

Former Crown attorney Rupert Ross developed insightful perspectives for understanding, and helpful analytical instruments for navigating the profound differences between the First Nations peoples' beliefs system and that which our ancestors bequeathed us.
He illuminates, in a coherent and easily understandable fashion, the complex set of values, principles, goals, and practices of an aboriginal justice system. Citing the efforts of Ontario’s Hollow Water community to deal with sexual abuse, Ross concludes that such a system can be practical and effective. Ross’s work gives insight into the skillful blending of aboriginal and Western thought that is guiding the development of contemporary native institutions, pointing out, along the way, native precedents for many issues the Canadian justice system is currently grappling with. Ross’s work can be interpreted as an illustration of the results that can be achieved through thoughtful interpretation of traditional aboriginal teachings, and as a critique of the European legal system as a major contributor to the continued social disorder of Western society [my emphasis].
On Friday evening I had the privilege of attending a gathering in honour of a group of Innu who traveled to Ottawa to meet with Chief Theresa. It was an amazing opportunity for hearing about the significance of Idle No More from the folks stoking, in the best possible way, a powerful and pacific surge of activist fervour. 

As I stood in line to welcome this group of weary travelers from Sept-Îles, I looked into the eyes, and held the hands of the descendants of people whose great kindness had allowed my ancestors to survive.

During the evening I sat with women from Uashat/Maliotenam who generously explained their views and posed difficult questions to me. 

Evelyne St-Onge and her sister Marcelle observed that in the past, many companies had exploited the raw resources found on Uasha/Maliotenam lands, then claimed they had lost money, and thus refused to give the people their legal share of the profits. 

Devious corporate accounting practices may have diverted and/or hidden evidence of revenues. Thorough forensics accounting investigation would allow a determination of how the Innu were cheated of their rightful share.

The Globe and Mail** Jeffrey Simpson's smug, High-Church morality - the typically self-righteous and abused standard for judging and condemning First Nations peoples actions - is very much on display here.  Imagining it read aloud, I can hear the scornful, yet plummy tones of the Entitled Class:

Much of the rhetoric surrounding Chief Spence is of the usual dreamy, flamboyant variety, a mixture of anti-capitalism and anti-colonialism, blended with the mythology (blasted by the reality of what one actually sees on too many reserves) about environmental protection and the aboriginals’ sacred link to their lands.

To this is then added a desire to protect “traditional” ways, which in some cases means hunting, fishing and trapping, noble ventures that can lead economically to something only slightly better than subsistence. Without a wage economy beyond these “traditional” ways, the path lies clear to dependence on money from somewhere else, namely government, which, in turn, leads to the lassitude and pathologies that plague too many aboriginal communities.

Of course, there are some communities that offer the antithesis of dependency. They benefit from participating directly in the exploitation of natural resources near their communities, which should be the driving thrust of all public policy.
Ah yes, the "the driving thrust of all public policy" which, in the crudest and also the most *refined* manner, has always ensured that those with religious and political power were those who controlled deadly weapons and the biological equipment necessary for compliance and punishment - in brutal economical, political and physical ways.  Rape and plunder in all its manifestations.

One-percenters didn't earn their wealth through ethical means, nor was it divinely bestowed upon them - though various theological constructs seemingly support their familial corporate mythology - and their unrelenting opportunism.

They got rich the old-fashioned way: by lying, cheating, grifting, stealing and exploiting.  Just as "old money" was founded on the labour of people forced into slavery, systemic genocide and ethnocide enabled the robber barons of the "New World" to establish their empires and maintain it.

It takes political and legal collusion - supported by religious ideology - to create and perpetuate systems that deprive human beings of rights the wealthy flaunt so very freely, and that deplete the material resources which would justly be theirs to enjoy.  

To paraphrase Mark Steyn, it must be CONvenient to have an ideological imperative that obliges all your greed and ill-gotten gains.

More about Innu traditions, here.

Excellent additional reading resources; The treaty relationship must evolve, What is the Idle No More Movement ... Really?, First Nations: The Long Shadow of Assimilation.

Photograph of Evelyne St-Onge from here. 

**corrected earlier version said NatPo. Funny how rightwing Globe has become... merci for spotting that, AZ! 

Saturday 5 January 2013

Kind of Ironic

I got my first new 20-dollar bill yesterday.

Good timing, eh? Just as First Nations people and their supporters are fasting and drumming and dancing and generally raising long-overdue hell, this gorgeous image:

is replaced by this militaristic bullshit.

When we succeed in throwing these CONtemptuous incompetents out, we've got a lot to do to restore Canada. We can start with putting Bill Reid's glorious work back on the 20.

Friday 4 January 2013

In Canada, Pro-Choice Is Winning

If you've been wondering about fetus fetishists crowing about winning and pro-choice losing lately, this TIME magazine cover story is what it's about.

Amanda Marcotte responds.
There's much to like about Kate Pickert's Time cover story (hidden behind a paywall) on abortion rights 40 years after Roe v. Wade. Unlike the majority of big media stories on this issue, this one actually portrays abortion patients accurately, particularly pointing out how most of them are grown adults with children at home and notes the wide range of feminist activism—from fighting for women's economic rights to promoting contraception access—that actually results in lower abortion rates. Pickert even mentions the phrase "reproductive justice," a framework that takes a more holistic approach to improving people's reproductive lives and one that appeals strongly to younger activists, especially activists of color.

Too bad, then, that Pickert portrays the increasing restrictions on abortion access as the result of the failings of the pro-choice movement, a narrative which inevitably leads to blaming pro-choicers for being "hard line," "tone deaf," and lacking "nuance."
She tries to pass the whole deal off as 'business as usual'.
Two-steps-forward-one-step-back is the ugly reality of progressive politics.
That's often true, but not necessarily.

In Canada, we did it differently.

Merkin feminists won the right to abortion on January 22, 1973 with the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

Immediately legislatures around the country started enacted restrictions.
In response to Roe v. Wade, most states enacted or attempted to enact laws limiting or regulating abortion. . . Congress in 1976 passed the Hyde Amendment, barring federal funding of abortions (except in the case of rape, incest, or life of the woman) for poor women through the Medicaid program. The Supreme Court struck down several state restrictions on abortions in a long series of cases stretching from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, but upheld restrictions on funding, including the Hyde Amendment, in the case of Harris v. McRae (1980).
Merkin feminists have been fighting -- and largely losing -- rearguard skirmishes ever since.

Canadians watched in horror as the huge victory got nibbled to death by ducks.

We were like the younger sister. We got to watch Big Sis make terrible mistakes. And like the smart younger sister, we learned. We vowed to ourselves the political equivalent of 'blue eyeshadow is NEVER a good idea'.

It took 15 more years in Canada, until January 28, 1988, to achieve our victory, R. v. Morgentaler.

But because we watched and learned, we were ready for the ducks. Every time -- every fucking time -- the fetus fetishists show signs of screwing around with our rights, we act.

Recently, with Ken Epp's Kicking Abortion's Ass Bill, we were a little slow off the mark.

So when Woodworth's Wank, aka Motion 312 surfaced, we were ready.

And we are ready for its sequel, Warawa's Wank, aka Motion 408.

As a matter of fact, the more the so-called debate heats up here in Canada, the more support we gain.

So, bring it, fetus fetishists.

We watched Big Sis fuck up.

We won't.

ADDED: Joyce Arthur's excellent Rabble piece on The Benefits of Decriminalizing Abortion.