Friday, November 28, 2008

Change we can believe in, Canada style (video): An all new Progressive Coalition!

Remember my last post? Well, it seems like change is around the corner wherever I look, and this Getting It Right xenophile is liking it!

Much progress has been made in South America (kudos to Morales), so NOW it is time for the North to wake up. Canadians, it's time to dump the criminal and start working on PROGRESS with an all new Canadian Progressive Coalition.

Don't forget to watch the movie:

- Change we can believe in, South American style: Neoliberalism Is No Solution for Humankind
- Wikipedia: Movement toward socialism
- Canadians for a Progressive Coalition

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why Milton Friedman (and free-market orthodoxy) is OUT and Paul Krugman (and counter-counter reformation) is IN

Let's remember why big business hates unions, government regulations and restrictions:Yes, it's because big fish like to eat small fish, and is rather scared of any counter movement.

Well, the time has come: Milton Friedman is OUT and Paul Krugman is IN.

In Paul Krugman's own words, from before the credit crunch (2007):

Friedman's laissez-faire absolutism contributed to an intellectual climate in which faith in markets and disdain for government often trumps the evidence.

Developing countries rushed to open up their capital markets, despite warnings that this might expose them to financial crises; then, when the crises duly arrived, many observers blamed the countries' governments, not the instability of international capital flows.

Electricity deregulation proceeded despite clear warnings that monopoly power might be a problem; in fact, even as the California electricity crisis was happening, most commentators dismissed concerns about price-rigging as wild conspiracy theories. Conservatives continue to insist that the free market is the answer to the health care crisis, in the teeth of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

What's odd about Friedman's absolutism on the virtues of markets and the vices of government is that in his work as an economist's economist he was actually a model of restraint. [...] Why didn't he exhibit the same restraint in his role as a public intellectual?

The answer, I suspect, is that he got caught up in an essentially political role. Milton Friedman the great economist could and did acknowledge ambiguity. But Milton Friedman the great champion of free markets was expected to preach the true faith, not give voice to doubts. And he ended up playing the role his followers expected. As a result, over time the refreshing iconoclasm of his early career hardened into a rigid defense of what had become the new orthodoxy.

[There's] a good case for arguing that Friedmanism, in the end, went too far, both as a doctrine and in its practical applications. When Friedman was beginning his career as a public intellectual, the times were ripe for a counterreformation against Keynesianism and all that went with it. But what the world needs now, I'd argue, is a counter-counterreformation.

- Sound economics, but bigoted opinions: "Free to choose", as long as you stay away from choosing for government regualtions and unions (and other outdated biogotry - video)
- Democracy Now! An interview with Paul Krugman (october 2007 - video) - On Bailout talks (september 2008 - video)
- Wikipedia: Paul Krugman
- Wikipedia: bigotry

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dutch town to condone cannabis farm

Radio Netherlands

The Dutch town of Eindhoven is going to allow a farm to grow cannabis. Though the farm will be under municipal supervision, the growing of marijuana will remain illegal. The pilot experiment was agreed at a meeting of more than 30 Dutch municipalities aimed at discussing the sale of soft-drugs such as marijuana and hashish.

A number of mayors is unhappy about the ongoing drugs tourism attracted by coffee shops and the nuisance they cause. Two towns near the Belgian border recently closed all coffee shops. Just before the summit, Amsterdam announced it was shutting 43 coffee shops which under new government norms are too close to schools. The summit discussed the possibility of legalising the growing of weed, which is currently illegal, and ways of discouraging drugs tourism.

- Radio Netherlands: Dutch town to condone cannabis farm
- Wikipedia: Drug Policy of the Netherlands

Evo Morales visits Washington (video)

- The Real News: Evo Morales in his own words

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cheney charged over jail 'abuses' (video)

from BBC News

A Texas grand jury has charged US Vice-President Dick Cheney for "organised criminal activity" related to alleged abuse of private prison inmates.

The indictment says Mr Cheney - who has invested $85m (£56m) in a company that holds shares in for-profit prisons - conspired to block an investigation.

The indictment has not been seen by a judge, who could dismiss it.

Mr Cheney's spokeswoman declined to comment, saying his office had not yet received a copy of the charges.

One Texas lawyer said the charges were politically motivated.

'Conflict of interest'

The indictment was overseen by county District Attorney Juan Guerra, an outgoing prosecutor at the end of his term of office.

He cites the case of Gregorio De La Rosa, who died on 26 April, 2001 inside a private prison in Willacy County, Texas.

The grand jury in Willacy County, near the US-Mexico border, accuses Mr Cheney of committing "at least misdemeanour assaults" of inmates by allowing other inmates to assault them.

It said there was a "direct conflict of interest" because Mr Cheney had influence over federal contracts awarded to prison companies.

US grand juries weigh evidence to decide whether a case is worthy of being sent for a full trial, before issuing formal charges known as indictments.

The three-page indictment also alleges that former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "used his stop the investigations as to the wrong doings."

The grand jury wrote that it made its decision "with great sadness," but said they had no other choice but to indict Mr Cheney and Mr Gonzales "because we love our country."

Several other related indictments were brought against a host of public officials in what one lawyer called a circus act by the outgoing prosecutor, Mr Guerra, who he said was seeking revenge in his final weeks in office.
Video from The Real News:

- BBC News: A Texas grand jury has charged US Vice-President Dick Cheney for "organised criminal activity"
- The Real News: Dick Cheney Indicted

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

23 Canadians dead; we need a moratorium on the use of tasers, NOW!

The Canadian Press has a list of Canadian cases since 2003 in which people died after police use of Tasers:

Nov. 3, 2008: Gordon Walker Bowe, 30, from Castlegar, B.C., died in hospital after he was located in the basement of a Calgary home by police responding to calls about a possible break-and-enter.

Oct. 29, 2008: Trevor Grimolfson died after he was confronted by police armed with Tasers who found him running amok in an Edmonton pawn shop.

Sept. 30, 2008: Frank Frachette, 49, died after he was jolted with a Taser by police who were trying to arrest him in connection with a bank robbery in Langley, B.C.

Sept. 16, 2008: Sean Reilly, 42, died less than 12 hours after he was Tasered during a struggle in a cell at a police station in Peel Region, outside Toronto.

July 22, 2008: Michael Langan, 17, died in hospital after being shot with a Taser. Winnipeg police say the youth refused to comply with repeated requests by officers to put a knife down. The victim was believed to be involved in the theft of property from a vehicle.

June 23, 2008: Jeffrey Marreel, 36, died in custody after Ontario Provincial Police, responding to a disturbance in the town of Norfolk, near Simcoe, shocked him with a Taser. Marreel's father said the man had a history of drug use and lost his job at a flower nursery two weeks prior.

Nov. 22, 2007: Howard Hyde, 45, died about 30 hours after he was Tasered by Halifax police at a Dartmouth jail. An inquest later ruled his death accidental and the result of "excited delirium," not the Taser.

Oct. 17, 2007: Quilem Registre, 39, died in a Montreal hospital after police used a Taser on him at a police station. Police say Registre became aggressive during questioning after he was stopped for a traffic violation.

Oct. 14, 2007: Robert Dziekanski, 40, died after police used a Taser and forcibly subdued him after he became agitated at Vancouver Airport, where he had arrived from Poland.

Aug. 30, 2006: Jason Doan, 28, died in Red Deer, Alta., after police used a Taser in responding to a complaint about a man seen damaging vehicles.

Dec. 24, 2005: Alessandro Fiacco, 33; witnesses said police used a Taser to subdue an agitated Fiacco who had been running into traffic in Edmonton.

July 15, 2005: Paul Saulnier, 42, died in Digby, N.S., after police tried to keep him from leaving the detachment by using pepper spray, batons and a Taser.

July 1, 2005: James Foldi, 39, died after police used a Taser while trying to arrest him following reports of numerous break-ins in the Beamsville, Ont., area.

June 30, 2005: Gurmeet Sandhu, 41, died in Surrey, B.C., after police used a Taser while responding to complaints about a domestic dispute.

May 5, 2005: Kevin Geldart, 34, died after police tried to subdue him with a Taser outside a Moncton, N.B., bar.

Aug. 8, 2004: Samuel Truscott, 43, died in Kingston, Ont., hours after being shot with a Taser. The Ontario coroner said Truscott was killed by a drug overdose.

July 17, 2004: Jerry Knight, 29, died in hospital in Brampton, Ont., after he was shot with a Taser during a violent struggle with police. A pathologist found no proof the stun gun was to blame for his death, saying Knight died from restraint asphyxia and cocaine-related 'excited delirium'.

June 23, 2004: Robert Bagnell, 44, died at a Vancouver hotel after being shot with a Taser by police, who said Bagnell was in the throes of a potentially lethal cocaine-induced psychosis at the time.

May 13, 2004: Peter Lamonday, 33, died in London, Ont., after being pepper-sprayed, punched and shot several times with a Taser during a struggle with police. Ontario's Special Investigation Unit concluded Lamonday died from cocaine-induced 'excited delirium" and not from police action.

May 1, 2004: Roman Andreichikov, 25, died in Vancouver after he was forcibly subdued and hit with a Taser by police while reportedly high on crack cocaine.

Sept. 28, 2003: Clark Whitehouse, 34, died in Whitehorse, Yukon. RCMP reported Whitehouse fled on foot while attempting to swallow drugs. Officers used a Taser to subdue him. A short time later, he appeared to be having trouble breathing and was pronounced dead at hospital.

July 22, 2003: Clay Willey, 33, died in hospital in Prince George, B.C., 16 hours after police used a Taser on him at an RCMP detachment. Willey was arrested in the parking lot of a local mall after police received complaints about a man acting aggressively. An autopsy found he had potentially lethal amounts of cocaine in his system.

April 19, 2003: Terrance Hanna, 51, died at the North Burnaby Inn in Burnaby, B.C., after pulling a knife and hammer on police. High on cocaine, he went into cardiac arrest after police shot him with a Taser.