Arbitrary Detention…

Feb 16, 2021

CBC News – Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press
Canada, dozens of allies, declare arbitrary detentions immoral amid Kovrig, Spavor

In the pursuit of the release of the two Michaels (Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor) from Chinese political detention, Canada’s former foreign affairs minister Francois-Philippe Champagne has worked for over a year and has brought together 57 countries who have denounced arbitrary detention, especially in the age of Covid-19.  Current Foreign Minister Marc Garneau says: “the new declaration is “country-agnostic.” He said he wants to recruit more countries as signatories with the goal of ending the practice everywhere and to discourage other countries from taking it up….”   Further, “The new declaration — called the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations — has no actual enforcement provisions. Instead, it aims to stigmatize arbitrary detention in the same vein as the Ottawa Treaty to ban anti-personnel mines.”   Related article: HuffPost (Canada) – Mike Blanchfield, Canadian Press   57 Nations Sign Canadian Declaration Against ‘Immoral’ Arbitrary Detentions – Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained in China for over two years.

Toronto Star – Jim Bronskill, Canadian Press
Optional gun buyback programs more likely than compulsory ones to miss mark: expert

For some time, the Liberal government has been pre-occupied with gun control issues in Canada.  For the moment rather than handguns the government is considering a ban on military style automatic weapons and is ignoring all the issues raised by the proliferation of handguns.  The plan allows owners to keep these weapons under strict conditions or to turn them into government for compensation.  Experts, like Philip Alpers, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Sydney’s school of public health in Australia, say that voluntary does not work and that the buy-out needs be compulsory.

National Newswatch – Joan Bryden
Commons must decide whether to accept, reject Senate amendments to MAID bill

Under criticism that the MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying) bill is happening too fast and without adequate assessment of the implications, especially for the mentally ill and handicap, Bill C-7 may enter a disruptive tension between the House and Senate this week.  “Senators have approved amendments that would expand access even further, allowing people who fear being diagnosed with dementia or other comparable disorders to make advance requests for an assisted death. Another amendment would put an 18-month time limit on the bill’s proposed ban on assisted dying for people suffering solely from mental illnesses.”  The lack of a clear majority will force government to seek support from at least one opposition party if the bill is to pass.

National Newswatch – Rod McGirck
Major Australian media company strikes Google news pay deal

The long simmering controversy about digital media paying for the print media’s news stories has turned a corner in Australia where Seven West Media has reached a deal with Google shortly before the Australian government was to enter the issue with legislation.  Print media has claimed that digital media has used their news stories while at once clawing away the advertising revenue of the print media.  The deal appears to reflect well the terms of the government’s proposed legislation, still to go ahead shortly.

KHAK Radio (Iowa) – Bob James
Waterloo Police Officers Will Be Joined By Social Workers On Crisis Calls

Waterloo, a town of just over 68,000 in Eastern Iowa, has made a decision that social workers are an important part of the 911 response protocol and a worker will attend health calls with the police for crisis calls.   Here’s Waterloo Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald on the plan:  “The goal of this program is to decriminalize behavioral crises, and reduce stigmas, by having Crisis Specialists available 24/7 both within the Police Department and through Elevate and other service providers. Our cooperative and collaborative approach proactively addresses underlying issues that often result in law enforcement intervention, incarceration, or the application of force.”  The plan uses three social workers, one per shift, so there is always a worker on call.  Advocates say that the plan’s success will likely depend on who – the police trained to escalate for compliance or the social worker trained to de-escalate for resolution – effectively controls the crisis incident.

New York Times – Jeff Asher, Ben Horwitz and Toni Monkovic
Why Does Louisiana Consistently Lead the Nation in Murders? – It has problems common to several Southern states, like a high rate of poverty, but also an inheritance of violence.

By any number of measures and stats, current and historic, Louisiana has more murders than any other state.  “A common theme between this high rate of violence by white people, and later the high rate by Black people in the same region post-Civil War, appears to be a criminal justice system viewed as untrustworthy. People tend not to take part in a system they don’t trust, fueling cycles of retribution outside the law. Jill Leovy’s book “Ghettoside” described Black Americans as being both under-policed (not enough effort to solve murders) and over-policed (for minor infractions).”  Slow to see causation between life’s circumstances and the murder rate, New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial says “It is poverty and its twin sister or brother of mass incarceration… And it’s easy access to guns.”  Related article: New York Times – Gene B. Sperling   The New Debt Prisons – Entrapping debtors betrays the American idea. It must end.  Related article: The – Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg   New York City Has People on Parole In Jails At Rates Not Seen Since The Early Pandemic – Despite calls to reduce incarcerated populations, the number of people being detained for minor parole violations has been rising.  

Howard League (UK) – Blogger Frances Crook
Stop building women’s prisons

John Howard Society in the UK is known as the Howard League.  The link is to a common problem in women’s corrections in both the UK and Canada: a growing number of women sentenced to prison and resulting overcrowding.  Chief Executive of the Howard League Frances Crook has no tolerance for accommodating the overflow by building more prison space – mostly adding on to existing prison real estate – and advocates for social funding for non-prison alternatives.