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On the Take

All but three of the 45 senators who voted against gun control measures received donations from the NRA and other pro-gun groups.

All but three of the 45 senators who torpedoed gun control measures in Congress on Wednesday have received money from firearms lobbyists, according to new analysis by the Guardian and the Sunlight Foundation.

Some, such as Indiana Republican Dan Coats, registered donations from pro-shooting groups as recently as three weeks ago, when the proposal to extend background checks was still seen as likely to pass.

President Obama and congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived a gun attack, have both accused the Senate of being in thrall to gun money following Wednesday’s vote. “They worried that the gun lobby would spend a lot of money and paint them as anti-second amendment,” said Obama.

Yet campaign disclosures show the group were also direct recipients of gun cash. The National Rifle Association alone has given $800,000 to 40 of the senators who voted against the amendment since 1990, much of it in the run-up to the last election, according to Sunlight Foundation figures.

Information for the period since the Newtown school shooting is harder to come by because many quarterly filings due out on Tuesday have been delayed by the suspected ricin attack on members of Congress.

But Guardian analysis of the data available so far for 2013 reveals that some groups have continued to be active outside the election cycle – including Safari Club International, a pro-hunting organisation which gave $1,000 to Senator Coats on 29 March, according to the filings.

Documents also show the NRA saw a surge in donations to its lobbying arm in the months following Newtown – registering a record $2.7m in cash during January and February. Further disclosures showing the scale of its recent donations, particularly to politicians in the House of Representatives, are expected on Saturday.

The Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights – two groups seen as more conservative than the NRA – have also been active in the Senate, giving $9,000 and $5,000 respectively to Ted Cruz, one of the leaders of Republican opposition to the amendment.

Gabby Giffords has this commentary

Senators say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.

On Wednesday, a minority of senators gave into fear and blocked common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms — a bill that could prevent future tragedies like those in Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Blacksburg, Va., and too many communities to count.

Some of the senators who voted against the background-check amendments have met with grieving parents whose children were murdered at Sandy Hook, in Newtown. Some of the senators who voted no have also looked into my eyes as I talked about my experience being shot in the head at point-blank range in suburban Tucson two years ago, and expressed sympathy for the 18 other people shot besides me, 6 of whom died. These senators have heard from their constituents — who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks. And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.

I watch TV and read the papers like everyone else. We know what we’re going to hear: vague platitudes like “tough vote” and “complicated issue.” I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress. I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither. These senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association, which in the last election cycle spent around $25 million on contributions, lobbying and outside spending.

Speaking is physically difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I’m furious. I will not rest until we have righted the wrong these senators have done, and until we have changed our laws so we can look parents in the face and say: We are trying to keep your children safe. We cannot allow the status quo — desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation — to go on.

I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth about the cowardice these senators demonstrated. I am asking for mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote. I am asking activists to unsubscribe from these senators’ e-mail lists and to stop giving them money. I’m asking citizens to go to their offices and say: You’ve disappointed me, and there will be consequences.

Remains from 9/11 are still sitting under a tarp on Staten Island

What in the world?

On the phone were Monica Gabrielle and Kristen Breitweiser. Their husbands died at the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 attack. This week, a new effort to find remains from the site uncovered 39 pieces of what appeared to be human bones. That was the yield from the first three days of work in a process that is expected to go on for at least two months.

It turns out that 60 dump trucks’ worth of soil from the trade center site, identified as long as two and half years ago as possibly holding human remains, has been sitting untouched beneath a tarp on Staten Island. The startling possibility exists that the remains of a large number of people could be found and identified in the months ahead, nearly 12 years after the attack.

“We are not stupid,” Monica Gabrielle said, in classic understatement. “We wouldn’t be surprised if they are finding shards and tiny pieces down there 50 years from now.”

Ms. Breitweiser jumped in. “But if they found some of this stuff two years ago,” she asked, “what is the explanation for why it is sitting so long?”

Neither woman was in a hurry to make demands for attention from a public for whom Sept. 11 is an episode of faded power. Yet their relentlessness over the last 12 years has served major civic purposes that would otherwise not have been met.

See No Evil: The Case of Alfred Anaya

A fascinating article about a compartment maker who was sentenced 24 years in jail.

On November 18, as Anaya drove his Ford F-350 through a Home Depot parking lot, he noticed a dark sedan that seemed to be shadowing him in an adjacent aisle. He thought the car might belong to friends. But when the sedan stopped in front of him, the men who got out were strangers to Anaya. They identified themselves as DEA agents and ordered him out of his truck. “You know why we’re here,” one agent said to Anaya, who was bewildered to be in handcuffs for the first time in his life. “Your compartments.”

The agents took Anaya to the DEA’s office in downtown Los Angeles, where they questioned him at length. Anaya spoke freely about his traps, estimating that he had built 15 over the past year. He even boasted about his perfectionism, stressing that he was always careful to conceal his wire harnesses.

The agents told Anaya that he could avoid any potential legal complications by doing them a big favor: They wanted him to outfit his clients’ cars with GPS trackers and miniature cameras, so the DEA could build cases against suspected traffickers. They told him to take a few days to mull over the offer, then they released him from custody.

The next day, a dazed Anaya drove to his father’s grave to meditate on the choice before him. The epiphany he had while kneeling by the headstone wasn’t comforting. “I had a feeling that no matter what decision I made, something bad was going to happen,” Anaya says. “But I couldn’t do anything that would put my family in danger.” And while he felt he could handle jail time, he worried that any trafficker big enough to interest the DEA would have no compunctions about killing his children, nieces, and nephews. That made the decision clear.

It’s an interesting read about technology, ethics of the DEA (go to jail or have you and your family killed), and about a guy who was either clueless or a drug conspirator (you decide… I think he was both).  Best thing I read this week by far.

Moscow execs hire ambulances to beat the traffic

Not sure if I am appalled or am thinking of a new business opportunity

Police in Moscow are to carry out checks on ambulances after reports that emergency vehicles have been fitted with plush interiors and are being rented out to VIP commuters hoping to dodge the city’s appalling traffic jams.

They face random checks after companies advertising rides in “ambulance-taxis” for upwards of 6000 roubles ($185) an hour appeared on the internet.

The vehicles are said to use their sirens to scatter traffic and deliver harried businessman to meetings on time.

A law enforcement source told Izvestiya that one such vehicle had already been identified. “During a patrol, a medical car was stopped because it was breaking traffic rules,” the source said.

“The driver appeared strange, and did not resemble an ambulance driver at all.

“Police officers opened the automobile to check it and saw that the interior was fitted out like a high-class limousine with comfortable seats for transporting VIP passengers.”

Inside the ambulance were “not medical personnel but some people in civilian clothes who refused to identify themselves”, the source said.

Moscow’s boulevards and ring roads are often at a standstill because of badly parked cars and a lack of restrictions on driving in the city centre.

3 Women a Day Killed by a Partner in South Africa

As the AP reports

Reeva Steenkamp, the model and law graduate shot and killed by Oscar Pistorius, was statistically just one of three women killed on Valentine’s Day by an intimate partner, according to a study on violence against women that damns South Africa as having “the highest rate ever reported in research anywhere in the world.”

It’s more than just murder

Newspaper editorials and talk radio shows are examining traditional chauvinistic attitudes, gun control laws and weaknesses in the police and court systems that allow many perpetrators to walk free — thus discouraging women from reporting. This week police disclosed that they do not have enough rape kits, needed to collect evidence.

“Of all the matrics (high school graduates) in your class, one third have been raped!” says a public education announcement on Talk Radio 702, referring to statistics that estimate more than 30 percent of girls have been raped by the time they are 18.

It seems there are few places for South African girls to be safe: Many are raped in their homes by a relative or family friend; many are raped at school, often by teachers; only a quarter are raped by someone they do not know.

In South Africa, statistics say someone gets raped every four minutes. Only 66,196 incidents were reported to police last year and their investigations led to only 4,500 convictions.

“If data for all violent assaults, rapes and other sexual assaults against women are taken into account, then approximately 200,000 adult women are reported as being attacked in South Africa every year,” Lerato Moloi of the South African Institute for Race Relations said. The real figure is considerably higher, she said, since most cases never are reported.

The rate of murders of women in South Africa is equally troubling.

A woman is killed by an intimate partner every eight hours in South Africa, a probable underestimate because no perpetrator is identified in 20 percent of killings, according to a study published in August and co-authored by Professor Rachel Jewkes of the South African Medical Research Council. That is double the rate of such murders in the United States, according to the report. The study was based on a sample of deceased females aged 14 years and older at national mortuaries, since police statistics do not separate the killings of women by partners from those by strangers.

In a related story, Mother Jones points out that gun ownership puts women at a greater risk

  • In 2010, nearly 6 times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends, and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers.
  • A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if he has access to a gun.
  •  One study found that women in states with higher gun ownership rates were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in states with lower gun ownership rates.

Hunt for unknown sexual predator took Toronto police 22 months

In March 2011, Det. Paul Krawczyk began an online hunt that would last 22 months. It would end as one of the worst cases he’s ever investigated, culminating in the arrest of beloved Saint John city Councillor Donnie Snook.

Donnie Snook was as close to sainthood as it got in Saint John.

Sitting on city council for two consecutive terms, the 41-year-old former Salvation Army officer championed the razing of derelict buildings, helped drive biker gangs out of town and fed warm lunches to children through a Christian youth ministry.

“He was the soldier for the marginalized,” said former city councillor Patty Higgins.

But that image was shattered this January after a Toronto police officer sitting in a dark, windowless room 1,500 kilometres away spent 22 months tracking an unknown predator online.

Snook is now facing three counts of sexual touching related to one child, whose identity is protected by a court-ordered publication ban, dating back to December 2006. He is also charged with one count of making child pornography related to the same child and two counts each of possessing and distributing child pornography between March 2011 and January 2013.

None of the allegations against Snook has been proven in court. He has resigned his council seat and is suspended with pay from his position as executive director of the Inner City

Youth Ministry. His defence lawyer, Dennis Boyle, refused to comment when contacted by the Star.

In what may soon be one of the largest cases of alleged child abuse in recent Canadian memory, the Star has learned that since Snook’s arrest as many as 20 children and their families have come forward with allegations and further charges are pending, according to multiple sources.

A physics professor and the bikini model

Paul Frampton is a 69-year-old theoretical particle physicist who has co-authored papers with Nobel laureates. In late 2011, the absentminded professor met a Czech bikini model online. Over email and Yahoo chat, they became romantically involved and she sent him a plane ticket to come meet her at a photo shoot in Bolivia. Then she asked him to bring a bag of hers with him on his flight  The entire story is crazy.  

She looked down and cried

Mark Cherrington writes this about a teen girl he was assigned as a court worker

As a youth court worker, it has never been the high profile cases, pews filled with press and families, but more often the silence that have impacted me dearly.

Last Thursday, Parminder Johal, a lawyer with the Youth Criminal Defence Office asked me to see an eighteen year old girl in custody for breaching her probation. The girl had a minor record and was being held in custody for a warrant going back years. Her crime: Not completing an apology letter and forty hours of community service hours. A Summary Offence, she should not have been held in jail under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. I entered the interview room: a small cubicle with metal tables, a phone and wall of Plexiglas. When she entered; a petite Aboriginal girl, I could see her face was swollen, yellow and black, looking like old fruit. She threw a nervous smile and was missing a tooth. I introduced myself, “I’m here to help you and provide…”

“I’ve been raped,” she interrupted. Her lips quivered, eyes welled up, and finally she just looked down and cried.

I waited a few minutes. “Perhaps,” I finally said, “somebody else…”

She shook her head and wiped her cheeks with her sleeve. “But you said you’re here to help me? Somebody has to listen? Don’t they?”

A lot of people should have been listening!

She told me she had been at a motel room with some friends. There were drinks, “But I didn’t drink much! I think my drink was spiked,” she added and waking up, bruised, bleeding from her vagina, called her mother frantic, who called the Edmonton City Police Service . As first responders, her expectations as a victim of sexual assault were different than what transpired. The Officer/s ran her name, found she had an old warrant and arrested her.

According to the girl, the only acknowledgement by the police about being raped, was once released she could attend any police station and fill out a statement.

It gets worse you read the entire post.

Lessig on Aaron Swartz

Powerful read by Larry Lessig in the prosecutor’s role in Aaron Swartz’s suicide

No doubt it is a certain crazy that brings a person as loved as Aaron was loved (and he was surrounded in NY by people who loved him) to do what Aaron did. It angers me that he did what he did. But if we’re going to learn from this, we can’t let slide what brought him here.

First, of course, Aaron brought Aaron here. As I said when I wrote about the case (when obligations required I say something publicly), if what the government alleged was true — and I say “if” because I am not revealing what Aaron said to me then — then what he did was wrong. And if not legally wrong, then at least morally wrong. The causes that Aaron fought for are my causes too. But as much as I respect those who disagree with me about this, these means are not mine.

But all this shows is that if the government proved its case, some punishment was appropriate. So what was that appropriate punishment? Was Aaron a terrorist? Or a cracker trying to profit from stolen goods? Or was this something completely different?

Early on, and to its great credit, JSTOR figured “appropriate” out: They declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the “criminal” who we who loved him knew as Aaron.

Here is where we need a better sense of justice, and shame. For the outrageousness in this story is not just Aaron. It is also the absurdity of the prosecutor’s behavior. From the beginning, the government worked as hard as it could to characterize what Aaron did in the most extreme and absurd way. The “property” Aaron had “stolen,” we were told, was worth “millions of dollars” — with the hint, and then the suggestion, that his aim must have been to profit from his crime. But anyone who says that there is money to be made in a stash of ACADEMIC ARTICLES is either an idiot or a liar. It was clear what this was not, yet our government continued to push as if it had caught the 9/11 terrorists red-handed.

 

Column: Double Bunking Doesn’t Work

This week’s column in The StarPhoenix

Last week the Internet news site iPolitics reported that Iwan Zinger, the executive director of the Office of Correctional Investigations, raised a series of concerns about the double bunking of federal offenders in federal penitentiaries.

Since June 2010, inmates being held in segregation in Manitoba’s Stoney Mountain Penitentiary have been double bunked despite being confined to their cells for 23 hours a day.

In a related story, iPolitics reported that in Prince Albert inmates are being double bunked in a prison cell that is less than five-square metres.

It’s been a long-standing practice with Correctional Services to avoid double bunking. Zinger pointed out in a memo he wrote to correctional officials that Canada has long endorsed the United National Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which calls for one inmate per prison cell.

Correctional Service responded to the letter with concern, but double bunking has been on the increase for the last couple of years anyway. As far back as August 2010, CSC has posted policy notes on its website that loosen the rules for double bunking.

For the foreseeable future, however, the policy seems to be here to stay. There is an increasing number of inmates being double bunked in cells designed for a single person. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has indicated he is content with double bunking in spite of the 1,700 new cells being added to the system.

Western Canada sees the highest rate of double bunking, at about one in five inmates. As can be expected, the increased crowding leads to other problems.

In prison, it leads to a higher rate of violence and public-health problems such as the spread of infectious diseases. It also makes rehabilitation more difficult as we are housing inmates in unsafe prisons that are not designed to hold that many people.

While it may be physically possible to hold a higher number of prisoners they eventually get released, and that’s when the real problems start.

The American practice of building supermax prisons generated a lot of attention when they were opened. They were super secure for the system’s most dangerous criminals. As the reinvention of places like Alcatraz, they held prisoners such as the notorious mob boss John Gotti.

They did an amazing job of segregating inmates and stopping violence. Their failure was that some who were housed there were not given life sentences and like most offenders in Canada, they were eventually released. Authorities found that many were worse off when they were released, however, than when they were convicted.

I am all in favour of tougher prison sentences for some crimes. It takes a long time to change behaviours and be taught the new skills that can break the crime cycle. It’s staff intensive and costs money but at the same time not doing it costs a lot more in both crime and more incarceration.

Many who return to California’s famous San Quentin are arrested before they have the chance to spend the $100 bill that they are given when they are released. Released in the morning and returned later that day. Each of those crimes has a victim and of course the cost of even more incarceration. It’s in all of our best interests to get this right.

That isn’t happening now. The Conservatives have totally forgotten the “corrections” part of their crime bill in a haste of locking everyone up. While they may be correct that we need longer sentences and have more people incarcerated, locking people up without the cells to safely house them and the space to turn their lives around is a recipe for more crime and even longer sentences.

Studies have shown that for most criminals, prison isn’t a deterrent. The evidence would suggest that in most western countries, it’s not the jail time that stops people from committing crimes – most are very aware of the consequences before they do the crime.

Many can’t get by in the world without breaking the law and that is why they do it. Some are violent people who must be locked up for a long time, but most need to be taught the skills to live without crime. Treating our prisons as warehouses for criminals doesn’t do that.

While it may feel good to be tough on crime, we must break the crime cycle and that doesn’t happen in over-crowded and violent prisons.

It’s hard to care for criminals but for many, prison must be where they can change their lives. Warehousing them in small cells isn’t going to accomplish that. Best practices have to win out over Conservative ideology and politics.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

Endorsement: Darren Hill (Ward 1)

I didn’t really plan on endorsing any candidates for the Saskatoon municipal election because I wanted to dispassionately observe it but the funny thing is that when you watch city council as closely as many of us have, you develop some strong opinions on who should and who should not be elected.  While I have strong opinions on all of the wards, I’ll be posting some endorsements for only some of them.

Since I moved into Ward 1 in 1998, I have been represented by Jim Madden, Lenore Swystun, Donna Birkmairer and Darren Hill.  Of the three, only Darren HIll has been re-elected.

I had nothing to do with the first three councillors.  Hill was the first councillor to knock on our door in a campaign where he made enough of an impression on Wendy that she suggested we vote for him.  In that first term the house behind us was abandoned, started on fire, and was knocked down.  The abandoned lot quickly became overgrown with a noxious weed that Killex and Roundup won’t kill and started to take over our boulevards.  Out of frustration with my own lawn and looking at weeds that were six feet tall, Wendy emailed Councillor Hill and didn’t expect much for results.

Wendy was wrong as 20 minutes later, Hill was outside the abandoned lot with a member of Fire and Protective Services.  Over the next couple of days there was a flurry of emails that Wendy was cc:’d on keeping her up to date with the problem, the solution, and what was being done so that she never had to complain again.  While the lot is still abandoned, it s mowed and cleaned up several times each summer and it has never been a problem.  I even got rid of the noxious weed that was in our boulevard. 

That has been Darren Hill’s pattern through the last two terms in office.  When there is a problem, he acts on it whether we talk to him in person, email, or even on Twitter.  Sometimes the results are better than others but I at least know he worked hard in trying to get those results.  Of course because Hill is so transparent in how he communicates with City Hall, it has empowered Wendy and myself to contact people ourselves from time to time.  Through Hill’s interactions, City Hall is a lot less intimidating of place to dialog with.  While you can’t fight City Hall, you can navigate it and for many, that makes life a lot easier.

Some of you might ask, “don’t all councillors do this?”  The answer is no.  Some never reply to an email, respond to voice mail, or really do anything with constituent concerns.  You have no idea how many times I have been at council meetings and it is painfully obvious that a councillor hasn’t read their council package.  What makes me frustrated is that they are paid almost $60,000/year to do this job.  I can read their council package, Hilary can blog the council package, yet some councillor’s do not.  So yes this stuff matters and I appreciate a councillor that makes it matter.  Hill does that.

I don’t always agree with his votes and stances at City Council but that could be said for any of the councillors.  I have questioned some of his votes and at the end of the day, it’s well thought out and considered a lot of factors, even if I still disagree.   By in large Hill has a track record of being open to and a source of new and innovative ideas for the city while remaining a fiscal conservative.  He can dream but understands the bottom line which are two qualities that make for an effective city councillor.

When over a month ago when we heard gun shots in our alley way (and found the spent cartridges), Wendy and Mark were scared and wanted to move to someplace safer.  Hill had a series of meetings for myself and also for others with the community association and also (others met) with the Saskatoon Police Service to come up with solutions to the crime issues in Mayfair.  Hill’s work at finding the solution was one of the major reasons we didn’t move.  That’s a big deal for all of us.

Last year when a lot of (poorly informed) people asked me why I didn’t run for City Council, I would always answer back that, “Darren Hill does a really good job representing our ward”.  Not that I was inclined to run but even if I was going to be, it wasn’t going to be against a councillor that does a fantastic job both looking after the ward and city’s interests.

So what about Robin Bellamy?

Hill’s opponent is former Ward 7 public school board trustee Robin Bellamy.  Bellamy is a long time candidate for city council and the provincial legislature but his campaign platform leaves a lot to be desired and I think comes from a misreading of the ward and community.  I was at the community meetings over needle exchange and while there are a couple of ideologues that oppose needle exchange, it doesn’t represent the viewpoint of the neighbourhood, the professional opinions of the public health officers from the Saskatoon Health Region, or even reflect an understanding of the neighbourhood dynamics.  What really bothers me about is that it shows a lack of leadership in dealing with the real problem.  His platform reads like John Gormley talking points on the topic rather than anything that resembles an informed platform.

It goes on with his commitment to Cosmopolitan Industries, which ignores the requirement of the RFP, council bending backward to ensure that Cosmo receives it’s required recycling material, and the “Do No Harm” motion that council has adopted towards Cosmo, all things that Cosmo accepted.  Even Loraas made some concessions that it didn’t have to make to Cosmo to keep them supplied with guaranteed growth.  While there is a debate to be had about Cosmo, it would be great that if it could happen on the merits of what happened rather than the spin that surrounded it.

At the end of the day I am comfortable with another four years of Darren Hill as Ward 1 councillor.  He has a proven track record, seems as passionate as ever, and brings an open mind and new ideas we will face as a city.  Saskatoon and Ward 1 is a better place if he wins re-election on October 24th.

Disclaimer:

I am not part of a campaign team and I don’t sit on any committees with Hill or as far as I know, am dependent on his vote or support for any projects that I am undertaking.

The job description

Elvis Lachance (photo from Facebook)As I got home, I was hit by the news that Elvis Lachance had been murdered in the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.  I have known Elvis for years and he has been homeless or incarcerated for the entire time I have known him.  I saw him las Tuesday night as he wandered into the Rook and Raven after City Council was over and was trying to panhandle.  We didn’t have any cash for him and as he was on his way I was thinking that he would benefit from staying at The Lighthouse.  I made a not to talk to him this week before he heard that he had been picked up again and tossed back into the Correctional Centre.  I wrote a note to talk to the Community Chaplain to ask him when Elvis was getting out.   Then I heard that Elvis was found dead in his prison cell this morning.

To put Elvis’ murder in perspective;  he has a huge heart and was incredibly gentle.  He knew sign language at times came in incredibly useful at the Salvation Army when helping house deaf people.  Elvis was the guy that would help people with their plates and food and do everything that he could do to help out.  He was a small guy and was never ever aggressive with anyone.  Some guys fight all of the time on the streets but Elvis was a peacemaker.  In seven years I never saw him once make an aggressive or mean act.  It isn’t right that he is dead tonight and I suspect he is jail for something relatively minor.  As a colleague at another agency said to me tonight, “he was my bud”.

I don’t know how to process the murder of a client.  At one time I keep a significant emotional distance from most of who I deal with, yet at the same time it is guys like Elvis that motivate me to get out of bed in the morning.  I failed him years ago once and he got hurt and I have always carried that with me.  To find out that he is dead really hits me hard.

I get asked why I keep doing this and this year more than any other I ask myself the same question.   There are easier and more profitable ways to make a living than working in an emergency housing provider and I am told they don’t have the same level of stress that this does.  I spent much of the summer pondering a move to Calgary where I could go and see the Calgary Flames and Stampeders and more than anything, not have the stress of working with the hard to house.  In the end we decided to stay because I thought I could make a difference in Saskatoon.

I love Saskatoon and I love working at The Lighthouse but tonight I feel worse than I have in a long time.  It’s going to take a while to leave this behind while at the same time it’s the memory of this absolutely pointless and preventable death that will have me back at my desk tomorrow morning.

I will say that when people like Elvis die in prison, there is something wrong with the justice and correctional systems.  Elvis was maybe 100 pounds and 5’4 inches tall.  He wasn’t a threat to anyone and at the same time could not have defended himself.

The Drug Cartels Move North

Invasion of the Drug Cartels

Some are taking the law into their own hands.

Which is crazy but you kind of understand it when you think of the violence that happens in those border communities because of the drugs and gangs that are flooding across the border.  Either way, after looking at the infographic you kind of get the idea that Stephen Harper was right when he said that the War on Drugs has failed.

More than a coincidence

Still no sign of the real Pierre Poutine

This story by Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor is unbelievable.  While Elections Canada says the evidence is inconclusive, the investigation has narrowed down the people involved as for some reason they drove across Guelph and used a random unlocked wifi spot address to access the Conservative database.  The wifi connection was the same that was used to access RackNine’ servers. 

Other records obtained by Elections Canada show that five members of the Burke campaign team used that same IP address in the final weeks of the campaign to access CIMS, the Conservative Party’s central database of voter information.

Campaign manager Ken Morgan, deputy campaign manager Andrew Prescott and volunteers John White, Trent Blanchette and Christopher Crawford all logged onto CIMS from the Rogers IP, according to the document. Through the Conservative Party’s lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, Crawford told investigators that he had always accessed CIMS from the Burke campaign office.

It seems unlikely anyone in the Burke campaign headquarters, which was located northeast of Guelph’s downtown, could have connected to a Wi-Fi signal on the opposite side of the city.

But in court documents, Mathews offers no possible explanation for how or why five campaign workers all signed on from the same IP address used by Poutine — and over a Wi-Fi signal nowhere close to their office.

Indeed, Mathews suggests that the subscriber information behind IP address looks to be a dead lead, calling it “so far inconclusive.”

Instead, his latest request for court orders focuses on the relationship between the IP address and log-ins to RackNine, the Edmonton-based call company used to transmit the robocalls.

RackNine’s owner, Matt Meier, has found the robocalls were sent using his servers by a customer known to the firm as “Client 93”, who logged on with the Rogers IP. Elections Canada has already tied this account to a disposable Virgin Mobile cellphone registered by the suspect using the bogus name Pierre Poutine.

Prescott, a RackNine subscriber known as “Client 45”, used the company to send out legitimate robocalls about campaign events. Records produced by the company show that Prescott and Poutine accessed the company’s servers from the same IP address, sometimes within a few minutes.

Can anyone give me a reason why the campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, and three volunteers  would be accessing a restricted Conservative Party database from a random open wifi port across town from the campaign office and then you add on the little fact that it was the same IP address used to access the Racknine account.

The Soundtrack of New York

From the New York Times

So far this year, according to the [New York] Police Department, 957 people have been victims of shootings in the city — an increase of 7 percent in the same period in 2011 — with 144 of the shootings resulting in death. Each year since 2009, the number of shootings in the city has gone up.

This summer has been particularly dramatic, especially over the Fourth of July holiday, a traditionally crime-ridden time. Although the murder rate is down in the city so far this year, for the week of July 2 to 8, the number of shootings was up by one-third compared with the same period the previous year.

Three weeks ago in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, residents rallied to end gun violence after a 3-year-old boy, caught in the cross-fire at a playground, was shot in the leg. On July 21, the day before Lloyd Morgan was killed on the grounds of the Forest Houses, Elquinn Warner, 26, suffered a bullet wound to his abdomen from a semiautomatic 9-millimeter handgun at the McKinley Houses across the street during a dispute. He survived, but perhaps because something like this has come to seem so common, the shooting went unreported in the news media.

In its defense of loose gun laws, the National Rifle Association has seemingly had very little to say about the contingent problems gun mythology produces in cities — the perversions of civility that only guns can introduce. In parts of New York, the sound of gunfire assumes the tenor of background noise, enervating communities and drastically reordering the rhythms of ordinary life.

When talking about gunfire, residents of the Forest and McKinley Houses deploy a set of metaphors to describe its ubiquity: it’s like hearing an ice cream truck, they say, or airplanes overhead, or nearly anything else that is part of the soundtrack of existence.

“My son is 3, and he can tell the difference between a gunshot and a firecracker,” Bryant Williams, a resident of the McKinley Houses for 30 years, told me outside his building last week. “They are very similar sounds. That’s crazy.”