Civil rights, political gain…

  Dec 1, 2014

 Chronicle Herald (Halifax) – Dan Leger
Eroding civil rights for political gain  

Two bills being steamrolled through the Parliament (C-13 and C-44) are dangerous and effectively a denial of a fair trial.  The informant can be fully protected in secrecy and does not need to be identified to the accused.  Ottawa lawyer Michael Spratt says:  “Think about it, a private hearing that could result in anonymous witnesses and secret evidence,” he wrote on his blog. “So much for the ability of an accused to respond to serious allegations.”  Spratt also points out that non-disclosure has been a feature in almost every wrongful conviction in Canada, three of which have been uncovered in the last month.

 Toronto Star –
Harper spending spree leaves fed cupboard bare – Recent tax cuts and spending have whittled away projected budget surpluses 

NDP Finance critic Nathan Cullen says that the recent commitments from Stephen Harper will mean an expense of $30 billion by 2019 and the end of a surplus budget even before Canada has one.  Funds for new programs or further tax cuts will be meagre to say the least for any new government.

 Ottawa Citizen – Editorial Board
No justice for Jean-Paul Rhéaume

What is evident also in this report of a jail beating, lots of confirmation of the vents and no success in prosecution, there is abundant evidence that Jean-Paul Rhéaume with his personal medical and psychiatric history had no business being in the Ottawa-Carleton detention jail in the first place.  “Blue code” ensures that we will never hold anyone responsible, not even those who brutalized Rhéaume.

 Ottawa Citizen – Canadian Press
Canada’s homicide rate falls to lowest point since 1966 

Homicide rates for 2013 are at the lowest point since 1966 say the counters at Stats Canada.  The actual number fell by 38 to 505 with the highest rate in the North and the West, Manitoba the highest.  There were slight increases in the previous ten year lows in Newfoundland and Labrador and in PEI.  Toronto and Montreal fell below the national average.  No need to fear the stranger –  9/10 victims knew their killer.     Stats Canada PDF version:

 N.Y. Times (US) – Brent Staples, Op-ed
The Racist Origins of Felon Disenfranchisement

Nearly six million US citizens have lost the right to vote in state elections consequent to a felony conviction.  Alabama is the worse with 7.2% disenfranchised – 15% of its Black population.  Staples draws the historic connections with the white supremacist movement and compares with state practices where the Black population is less.

 Bellingham Herald (Wash state) – Jay Jordan
Middle school shows the way to keeping kids in school 

The author is principal at Bellingham’s Shuksan Middle School where there was an estimated 20% of the 4,000 days of absences – 450 days a year due to suspension or expulsion.  Satisfied that the students involved were not being helped and not learning, he set about a RJ approach and reduced the disciplinary absences by 60% and transformed the atmosphere of the school.

Huffington Post (US) – H.A. Goodman
Three Reasons Why Black Men Should Openly Carry a Gun After Trayvon, Ferguson and John Crawford 

Only somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Goodman offers the perfect murder. The “perfect crime” in America should not be killing an unarmed black man and then claiming self-defense.   He advocates arming because an open carry permit says no criminal record, because the reaction to a Black man with a gun is disproportionate, and because most Black men will never commit a crime and a weapon may force people to recognize the reality.    Related article:    Marjorie Cohn    The Strange Ferguson Grand Jury

 UC Berkeley – Sarah Yang
Greater income inequality linked to more deaths for black Americans  

Here’s a new thought on the income inequality debate.  Researchers at the International Journal of Health Research say that the wider income gap has serious implications for life expectancy.  The study suggests that income matters for everyone but it matters differently for different groups.  Further, says study author Amani Nuru-Jeter, “income inequality may be a proxy for racial segregation, particularly for black people.”  Related article: Truthout – Thom Hartmann     The Wealth Gap in the US Is Putting People Out of Work, and More    (A 7 min video from Hartmann’s TV show)