Monday, December 29, 2014

Police issues

Question: How do you deal with mentally disturbed persons acting out with or without a weapon if you don't have the police on hand?

There is a chance that today's police will kill the person by gunshot or some 'less lethal' device on their tool belt. Behaviour perceived as violent and the presence of a knife or some other weaponised object indicates 'threat' and the nature of threats are compared against an increasing scale of force the in the situation assessment guidelines.  I suppose that works in a purely technical, quantifiable and thereby legally defensible sense, but people still die who don't have to. The unarmed should not die as a basic given.

Under these conditions, the preservation and protection of life, even the "subject's" life is not prioritised when police weapons become involved. The choice is effectively between lethal, and less-lethal, with death remaining distinct possibility in each case. Indeed, the latter is more like Russian roulette given the high degree of uncertainty regarding the way individuals will respond to Taser-type weapons and random variability with the power of the weapons themselves.

Indeed, I wonder if the presence of police themselves might be perceived by a person as a threat to their life. I think there's an assumption that the intimidation factor will cause the individual to submit. This is wrong. There's a fight or flight instinct, and some people will respond aggressively when they feel threatened. In fact, this perception of threat is what allows the police to use violence themselves.

People who deal with the mentally ill or disturbed in the course of their jobs, including nurses, social workers, and shelter staff often encounter violent incidents that do not result in death. The absence of weapons and the presence of calm voices and established means of assessing the context that does not involve a scaled threat-force matrix, and controlling the situation and prospect of harm to others tends to win the day. There is no available recourse to Tasers, firearms, mace, or anything like that. Life is preserved. 

In the past few weeks in the wake of incidents with police in the US, I've seen a few different internet discussions and posts on social media by police and others who go on about how none of these incidents would happen if people just 'complied' with police direction, inferring that lethal violence is justified in the wake non-compliance. Hello, Judge Dredd.  This isn't a legal argument and it assumes the police are of sound mind and bias-free judgement in the knowledge and application of their powers, so we should all just jump when ordered! 

By their very nature, they are a socially cohesive organisation, police are susceptible to groupthink and therefore unable to be biased, and are publically unable to recognise their own bias. Indeed, they are unable, except in very rare cases, to remove the idiots from their ranks. No organisation can function effectively if it cannot eject or rehabilitate the problem staff. The police effectively work against themselves because public trust them is eroded. If the public trust is eroded, the police will leave themselves exposed to policymakers intent on enacting reforms they really won't like.

In any case, the relationship between police and certain communities is not good and it is changing as police militarise, weaponise, and further insulate themselves from the public. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Stealthiness and the F-35, Harper style

Back here, Dave asked:
Why is the coward bearing the title "prime minister" so hell-bent on sole-sourcing the F-35? BECAUSE HE'S MADE A DEAL HE HASN'T TOLD YOU ABOUT. He's hiding something - he always is!
Now Bill Sweetman at Aviation Week asks the same after some delicate words regarding the results of the new fighter secretariat's review in the context of the Harper government's handling of the whole affair.
One way or another, it seems Canada’s fighter procurement is headed for the competition that Ross and others maintained in 2010 would be a waste of time. If the Harper government had started a competition then, it would have a decision by now, and that does raise an interesting question. If Harper and his colleagues thought the F-35 was so great, why didn’t they want to prove it through an open contest?
The F-35 could be a photo of an Airfix model by this point and the Harper government would still be gaming it from the cupboard.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sexual crimes in the military

I am completely unsurprised by the ordeal faced by this woman.
A former military corporal who said she faced reprisals after accusing a superior of sexual assault feels vindicated after the Canadian Armed Forces extended an apology and reparations to her. StĂ©phanie Raymond said the outcome will have positive repercussions, particularly for women as well as for some men serving in the Canadian military.
I haven't met a woman in the armed forces who hasn't faced assault or harrassment to one degree or another. It's been nearly 20 years since the military took steps following Somalia and other scandals to end this despicable kind of bullshit. However, little has changed and sexual assault and harrasment, overwhelmingly but not exclusively against women, is still an abject problem.

Women leaving the armed forces I've met in recent years uniformly cite this as their reason for leaving. Many have stories of a passively defective or an outright hostile chain of command when they've sought redress.  Some just get fucking sick of it.

The issue, perhaps, might be the very nature of the armed forces. It is a legacy institution, patterned and born of another era, organised in a rigid hierarchy, insular, with deeply embedded traditions and norms, very interested in protecting and perpetuating itself. Strong parallels, I think, between the armed forces and that other institution where sexual crimes are rampant.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

UKIP's quips

Ah, I believe we're a familiar with this sort of problem with our ReformatoryCons, who are basically now required to think only in verbatim PMO talking points.
Nigel Farage is cracking down on Ukip supporters’ social media activity after a series of scandals over racist comments. The party has changed its constitution to prevent unauthorised use of the Ukip logo by supporters, members and officials, while Ukip’s chairman has warned those tempted to join Twitter: “My advice: just don’t.”
A rather scary lesson from Canada is that if UKIP can actually tighten up its game, a merger with the Conservatives is just over the horizon. I don't think there's anyway UKIP can break a certain percentage threshold without at least finding an ally. Be interesting to see how this plays out...

Friday, December 19, 2014

OK, cupboard

Well, we had to know that at some point the man would have to account for his cupboardliness in the face of danger. The excuses, sorry, reasons are apparently as follows.

1. His MPs hustled him away and stashed him with the mops and things.

2. The RCMP trained him to hide.

3. He's gets to see all the intelligence that no one else does so he alone understands the nature of the threats he faces and hid accordingly.

4. And lastly, he's simply too important to die.
"One of the things you try and do is conceal yourself if you can, but obviously the best situation is to exit," Harper said, adding the goal is for the prime minister to be able to continue to run the government.
Well, on the first and second counts, maybe. But then that suggests, especially in the context of third and fourth counts, the rest of his MPs and staff are, shall we say, expendable. Pity he didn't bother to share his apparently unique knowledge of threats with the rest of his caucus or the Oppositon. Not important enough, I guess.

None of that changes the fact that he hid in the cupboard while his peers faced death and he is now making excuses. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sydney cafe hostage: They called the army?

One gunman holding hostages in cafe. This is the exactly the sort of civilian problem that police tactical unites train for the world over and partly what's behind the rise of the warrior cop. In Australia, however, early reports indicate the cafe hostage situation was resolved by an army tactical unit (BBC is reporting RAR, which has a commando battalion but who knows, it could be SASR).  If true, one wonders why the army was brought in. One scenario comes to mind.

The hostage-taker had Islamist banners and such, making the Australian government or authorities regard it a military problem given the at this time nebulous links to Daesh/ISIS. 

Truly bizarre. The aftermath?

1. Linking a comparatively minor civilian event to problems in the Middle-East causes the powers-that-be in Australia to put troops on the streets. Nice work, there.

2. If true, much of the rationale for the New South Wales Police having a tactical capability (very much on display in the news footage) just vanished because violent hostage takings involving civilians are now an Australian military matter. So much for the warrior-cop, eh?

Osama bin Laden couldn't have dreamed this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

NEB: Rubber-stamping pipelines and boasting about it

Hostile to the public interest. Conservative Party agent. Oil sector agent. In league with Satan. Pick your description, either the formerly respectable National Energy Board, which you pay for, will not help you understand and possibly object to an oil or gas development in your neighbourhood.

Fascism. Now read this.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Con clumsiness

Oh for crying out loud.

Canada's Special Economic Measures Regulations against Iran state that "it is prohibited for any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada to … provide or acquire any financial services to, from or for the benefit of, or on the direction or order of Iran or any person in Iran." Shahrooz said it seems that some banks are interpreting the sanctions harshly, essentially applying them to anyone who has a connection to Iran — be it a residence, citizenship or even travel.  "That's a fairly aggressive reading of the legislation. It actually captures people who I don't think Canadian legislators ever intended to capture," he said.
The Canadian 'legislators' who came up with this regulation are vindictive pricks and I'd be unsurprised to learn they are well pleased with themselves over how aggressively and broadly their little bitty rulz are applied.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Out there, in the Harpercarnage

Oh, cupboardly man, I would not want to be in your shoes.

Here's the deal. As former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page put it at a talk in Victoria a couple of years ago, he's untouchable. Mr. Page lost a son, and in his mind there was nothing you or your minions could do to him after that experience that would hurt him.

Major Mark Campbell is a very capable man maimed beyond most people's comprehension on a mission you sent him. You've made him angry because you fucked him and his soldiers out of care and compensation for their wounds.

When the enemy blew away half his body, you turned around kicked the other half. You didn't support him or his brothers and sisters. You didn't withdraw them when you decided the war was pointless, and 51 were killed after that point and I don't know how many wounded. And you've cut compensation so they will spend their days 'managing' sort-of with their disabilities and horrors. What does that make you, if after the enemy has their go at the troops, you take a shot at them when they return? Seriously, what do you think that makes you?

Here's the thing: If you keep hurting people, taking things away from them, they eventually reach a point where they have much less to lose and far more to gain by taking you down. A person who can lose half their body in combat and still keep fighting is not someone you want to dick around.

Forget the useless Opposition, it'll be Maj. Campbell or someone like him who will destroy your government through the courts or the election circuit or some other very Canadian means. 

Cupboardly man, you and I don't know who you're fucking with out there.