Monday, August 2, 2010

broke my wrist - no posts for awhile - and no caps

i'm sitting at home again after fracturing my wrist and breaking my arm just below the shoulder. a very good and wonderful friend took me to emerg and stayed with me into the nexy day while they x=rayed and re-set the joint. i'm in a cast, and a sling and under heavy sedation. the pain was/is intense. i go back to the fracture clinic for more x-rays on thurs and my friend will be taking me. thank you so much dear shirley, for everything! hopefully i will be back blogging in a few weeks.
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Summer is Blockbluster time!

I admit I have turned away from the tragedy of the gulf oil spill and the mediocrity of our politicians to enjoy a little of this fleeting summer. No, I'm not relaxing outside, I'm indoors obsessing on Go Animate, the cool online cartoon creator that was used to make the famous Officer Bubbles vid. But, because it is summer, it's time for the blockbuster movie. Here'a a trailer for the fictional Avatar II - Revenge of the Bun'i Avatar II by Fillibluster

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

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Sunday, July 18, 2010


My first foray into animation. Please enjoy responsibly.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Fighter jets good - health care, not so much

Are Canadians beginning to get the message? Today it was announced that "Ottawa", ie Harper and his government of thugs and scoundrels, will spend $16 billion on an untendered contract with Lockheed Martin for 65 new fighter jets, after recently spending $2.6 billion upgrading existing jets. Does anyone still think we're going to be getting out of Afghanistan, as promised, in 2011?

At the same time, mini-minister of finance, Flim-Flam Jim scolded the provinces for their "rampant" spending on health care. "This is an issue that needs to be grappled with," he told New Brunswick's Telegraph Journal. You know what really needs to be grappled with? His boss's bullshit priorities.

All the relief I felt when the Repuglicans were defeated south of the border has been replaced by dismay over the continued presence of Harper and his goon squad of recycled Mike Harris incompetents, used car dealers, ambulance chasers, xenophobes and religious wing-nuts.

Harper's "hidden agenda" is becoming less hidden by the day. When are Canadians going to awaken from their collective stupor and bring this government down?

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cons try to block G20 hearings - it's deja vu all over again

So much so that I can barely summon the energy to write about it. But then, that would play right into their hands wouldn't it? A scenario in which people become so disgusted with politics that they simply disengage, when what we need to do is engage fully, and vote these conniving slime balls out on their collective asses at the earliest opportunity.

So, yeah, here we go again with another attempt by the Cons to block a hearing, this one into their G20 malfeasance, that saw the largest sum ever spent on security at any summit in the history of the world and the largest mass arrests in the history of Canada. Over $1 billion spent, over 1000 arrests made = $1 million per arrest. Priceless!

And wouldn't you know it, the now-standard "you must support the bad guys" canard was trotted out by former used car salesman Dean Del Maestro thusly: “I don’t agree with the NDP and the fact it seems to be lining itself up with anarchist groups that went to Toronto and caused damage.” I mean really, how do these guys manage to keep a straight face? And who are the poor benighted fools that believe this tripe?

Tory committee chairman Garry Breitkreuz allowed MPs to fill the time with incoherent ranting and refused a Liberal request for unanimous consent to move to the vote. In the end, the filibuster ran out the clock and no vote on whether to launch a probe was held.

“I think the government doesn’t want to have an inquiry, they’re hoping the summer is going to wash this all away,” said Liberal MP Mark Holland. “Their refusal to have a vote, their filibustering I think is evidence that they’ve got a lot to hide.” reports the Montreal Gazette. He added that they have already drafted the request to call a second meeting, which would then have to take place within 5 days.

The good news in all of this? Politicians unable to get away to their cottages. That calls for another beer!

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fascism in 10 easy steps

This was originally written by Naomi Wolf about the US, but I think in light of recent events we can see how well our glorious leader has been taking notes and rolling out the program. The original article appeared in the Guardian in April 2007. We're a lot closer to the endgame now.

The G20 was merely a test.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy.
"After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a 'war footing''. 

The US Patriot Act was a massive attack on civil rights, especially the right to privacy. In Canada, the response to 9/11 was not nearly as extreme as in the US. Here, the general consensus seemed to be that America was overreacting, that it couldn't happen here, and that we didn't need any special build-up of security forces. Of course, Chretien was PM then, and he had a certain disdain for Republican fear-mongering in general, and Bush in particular.

Harper, however is quite happy to follow the Republican playbook. So, enter the so-called Black Bloc, who if they didn't exist would have to be invented as I argued in this post. Naturally they were given free rein to demonstrate how dangerous they are. Otherwise there is nothing to be afraid of is there?

2. Create a gulag
"Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place."

The temporary detention center was built to house arrestee's from the G20. It was put in a large warehouse type building that lacked running water. It also lacked medical facilities, adequate food, and was kept very cold, while detainees were stripped of all but a single layer of clothing. While detained in the cages, people were deprived of basic human rights, taunted by police, threatened with rape, deprived of water for up to 12 hours, phone calls, and the reason for their detention. Yes, this was a facility outside the rule of law. Inmates in maximum security have it better than those who were detained in Torontonamo.

We also know that Stephen Harper is building prisons. Why, you ask when crime is at a 30-year low?

3. Develop a thug caste
"When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution."

Like riot cops operating outside the law, or under a law which turns out never existed.

4. Set up an internal surveillance system
"In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched."

We know that police were monitoring Facebook and other social media before and during the G20. It's no secret, they even bragged about it. Thus, our ease of communication is a double edged sword. Both the US and Chinese governments have an internet "kill switch." I've often thought of late that an alternative net of some sort is needed to circumvent government surveillance, but what do you bet that anyone who tried to start one would find themselves in contravention of "national security"?

5. Harass citizen's groups
"...the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens"

Sadly, this is nothing new. During the 70's I shared a house with 3 other women, one of whom belonged to a feminist group called Wages for Housework. There were perhaps 10 members, and they were pretty harmless and ineffectual. The house was in a kind of rough neighbourhood and our neighbour's place was broken into twice, each time stealing his stereo and tv. Our house was broken into once, but the only thing taken was the Wages for Housework files.

Before the G20 there were numerous reports from activists of harassment from police at their homes and workplaces. Additionally there were arrests just prior to the summit of leaders of several groups.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release
No explanation needed here I think, we've all seen it for ourselves by now.

7. Target key individuals
"Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors."
Richard Colvin, Linda Keen, for just two examples.

8. Control the press
"The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf, a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration."
So, we're not just talking about corporate ownership and control of the media, we're talking about the actual criminalization of journalists. I wondered why the police were targeting journalists during the G20.... now I get it.

9. Dissent equals treason
"...most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly."

Thank god we're not there yet, but stay tuned. This has got to be on our glorious leader's agenda. And let's not forget all those comments in the HoC equating criticism of the handling of Afghan detainees with support for the Taliban. Yes, it seems like overblown rhetoric right now, but someday soon, it may be taken quite literally.

10. Suspend the rule of law
"...the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.

Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. [unless of course you were in Toronto in June 2010]

In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing..."
 ... Canada Day is being celebrated, people are watching the FIFA World Cup.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

July 10 Day of Action for Civil Liberties

For 48 hours on June 26 and 27 Toronto was turned into a police state. A place which, according to police was not part of Canada. A terrifying place called "G20 Land" where civil rights do not exist, a phantom state more like a South American dictatorship than the civilized democracy we have come to take for granted.

Under the pretext of stopping vandalism, (which they failed, utterly, to do) riot police attacked peaceful protesters and confused passers-by with disproportionate, arbitrary and excessive force, including raids, beatings, rubber bullets, tear gas and pre-emptive detentions. In total, 1,090 people were detained and denied basic human rights in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

Demonstrate your opposition to the excessive use of police force and the unprecedented curtailment of civil liberties. Demand an independent public inquiry. Join the Day of Action for Civil Liberties in towns and cities across Canada on July 10, 2010.

For more information see this Facebook Group. or email In Toronto the rally will be at Queens Park on July 10, 1 - 4 pm.

This Day of Action is called by:
Amnesty International
Canadians Advocating Political Participation (CAPP)
Canadian Arab Federation (CAF)
Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA)
Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)
Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
Canadian Peace Alliance (CPA)
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario (CUPE Ontario)
Council of Canadians
Greenpeace Canada
Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
Steelworkers’ Toronto Area Council
Toronto and York Region Labour Council

We must not allow our rights to be taken away through complacency and apathy. Come out to your local rally!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

McGuinty, closer to Nixon than Trudeau

Dalton, I hate to break it to you but you are not Trudeau. Not even close. And the G20 Summit protests are nothing like the situation in which Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act. In case your memory needs refreshing, the October Crisis involved the actual kidnapping of a British trade envoy James Cross and the kidnapping and murder of Quebec cabinet minister Pierre Laporte by the FLQ. It was not invoked because a few windows were smashed. If so, the Montreal Canadiens would have to move somewhere else, lest the whole city end up in jail. And yet the Star reports, McGuinty defended his refusal to call a public inquiry into police conduct during the G20 by making that very comparison.



Members of his caucus are unhappy with police heavy-handedness, as well as the lack of clarity from the Ontario Liberal government on the special "fake law" that was used to illegally search people all over the city. According to one incredulous MP, McGuinty “told us, ‘Just remember, the same guy who gave us the Charter also gave us the War Measures Act.’”

Good, it sounds like pressure from the public is at least getting through to MPPs if not to the pointy-headed one. We need to keep it up.

However, our boy Dalton wasn't finished. In an even more bizarre comparison, McGuinty referred to Nixon's "silent majority". Nixon. Really? He actually went there? Presumably he meant most Canadians don't mind illegal searches, illegal detentions and police brutality as long as it doesn't happen to them, or as long as you have Conservative-friendly polling companies asking the questions.

It may even be true but it's completely beside the point. The point is we have a Charter of Rights, we have laws protecting citizens from such KGB style police tactics, and those laws were repeatedly broken during that nightmare weekend.

Here's one, from the Criminal Code of Canada:
C.C.C. - Neglect by peace officer
69. A peace officer who receives notice that there is a riot within his jurisdiction and, without reasonable excuse, fails to take all reasonable steps to suppress the riot is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 70.

How about this one?
C.C.C. - Spreading false news
181. Every one who wilfully publishes a statement, tale or news that he knows is false and that causes or is likely to cause injury or mischief to a public interest is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 177.
Yes, Bill Blair, we're looking at you here, as well as every single cop who knew the Public Works Act only applied inside the security fence, not outside.

Take a look at more indictable offences committed by police and security forces over at G20 Justice, as well as a growing archive of victim statements. Will someone please tell me, what fucking country do we live in again?

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We asked them for mercy. They laughed at us. More tales from the G20

From the Real News, another account of police brutality at the G20 Summit in Toronto. "I was not there to protest. I was there to ride my bike, through the city of Toronto, which I thought was legal." Evidently not. This man ended up being charged with inciting. Also illegal: witnessing police brutality. Witnesses were threatened with charges of obstructing police.

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Christie Blatchford, "real" journalist

Christie Blatchford is what used to be commonly referred to as a "sob sister" -  a female journalist who covers human interest stories, heavy on the pathos angle. The term originated in the early 1900s when a relatively minor homicide was ramped up by a fevered press into the "crime of the century". A jealous man murdered his wife's lover. Three newspapers detailed 4 women writers to provide daily, tear-jerking coverage, and thus, the "sob sisters" monicker was born. It fits Christie, and her counterpart at the Star Rosie DiManno to a T.

It is therefore somewhat ironic that she chose to lambast "self annointed" citizen journalists in her column, taking them to task for a lack of accreditation, and I quote:

"First, journalism is not merely a collective of the self-anointed. For all that it may not be a regulated profession, neither is it just a coming together of people with cellphones, video cameras and blogs as receptacle for an apparently endless stream of unfiltered, unedited consciousness."

I see. Not a regulated profession. You just said a mouthful there Christie.

"In other words, just as you are not a physician or a lawyer merely because you say you are, much as you may want to believe it so, neither are you a journalist because you and your friends say you are or because your “writings” appear on a website."

Except that medicine and law are regulated professions, so that's not a fair comparison. Journalism is not, as you already stated. Anyone can call themselves a writer, artist, musician, car mechanic, home renovator, gardener, faith healer --  it seems there are a lot of unregulated professions, mostly in areas where the outcome is not life and death. I'm okay with that.

"You will have heard reports of various independent/alternative journalists who claim to have been illegally detained and threatened by the police."

Yes, you're right Christie, I have heard those reports. I heard a number of them in real time thanks to Twitter feeds from people who were actually there. There was also live coverage on CP24 throughout Saturday and Sunday. The attack of the riot police on peaceful demonstrators in Queen's Park, at Queen and Spadina, outside the Novotel Hotel and the detention center was well documented in real time both by real journalists from CP24 and by eyewitnesses. I was not actually there, and neither were you.

"But let us not pretend that these folks are working journalists or that they are the equivalent. 
They aren’t, for the most part.
Their work isn’t subject to editing or lawyering or the ethical code which binds, for example, the writers at The Globe. The websites on which they appear don’t belong, as do most reputable newspapers in this province, to the Ontario Press Council, a body which hears complaints against traditional journalists and publications."

I think you can leave out the sanctimonious reference to editing now that the Globe and Mail has fired half its editors and proofreaders. Face it Christie, running an article through a spill chuck is not real editing.

"Why should an alternative journalist (self-anointed, often with a demonstrable political agenda) be automatically assumed to be an infallible truth-teller or always accurate?"

In the first place, citizen journalists posting eye-witness photos and videos were actually there. It's a concept that I realize is rather difficult for you to grasp, since you prefer to sit in glorified segregation around the fake lake and slap your byline onto press-releases from the government, or Bill Blair.

In the second place, bloggers and other citizen journo's do not answer to advertisers, ownership, or the PMO. As to your point about a demonstrable political agenda, surely you jest. The Globe and Mail has a very clear political agenda, as does the NatPo, the Sun chain, CTV, Global, and just about every mainstream media outlet you care to name. At least bloggers are clearly voicing an opinion, not couching that opinion in the illusion of factual reporting.

"... the press pass doesn’t grant even traditional journalists carte blanche access everywhere.
In the midst of a riot, it is not a shield that can be waved to keep either police or rioters at bay. It is neither an avoid-jail nor get-out-of-jail-free card."

Look, there is no reason for anyone to be arrested for being a mere observer. The law does not require bystanders to intervene in a crime, nor does is state that observers are guilty of participating in crimes they observe. This applies both to citizens and journalists. Of course if a reporter breaks the law, journalistic accreditation does not provide an out clause. I have yet to see anyone claim it does. I think the problem people have is with the whole illegally arrested thing.

"Thus, in the G20 protests, journalists, real or self-appointed, traditional or otherwise, had no special rights to go where we wanted and no special badge of protection against arrest."

You're kidding right? Since when are special rights required to walk the streets of this city? Further, it's now common knowledge that no special police powers to search were ever actually granted. That was a fabrication from your BFF Bill Blair. I'm suprised you haven't  read about that yet. Or do you only read your own column?

"...I would point out that the area north of the Ontario Legislature was indeed designed as a protest area during the summit. It was never, however, meant to function as a no-go zone, to which the darling practitioners of the Black Bloc arts could retreat unchallenged and un-interfered with by the police to change clothes so that they might blend back with the regular crowd."

The fact is, that the time for police to interfere with the Black Bloc was when they made themselves visible by detaching from the crowd. D'UH! How stupid do you have to be not to see that? There may well be vandals hiding within the civilian population, but that does not give police the right to attack and arrest the civilian population as though all are criminal, or to accuse them of harbouring criminals. When you know they hide in the crowd, then detach to wreak destruction, then go back into hiding in the crowd, when would you, in all your wisdom, have gone after them Christie?

"... since with the wisdom of hindsight it is now apparent that everyone knew that the anarchists/Black Bloc types would try to wreak havoc on the city, why are the organizers of the legitimate protests not being questioned about their accountability? They too presumably knew – as did police and security forces – that their peaceful demonstrations likely would be disrupted; what steps did they take to stop such a hijacking?"

Wisdom of hindsight? Seriously? Your buddy Bill Blair had been saying for weeks before the summit that this would happen. It happens like clockwork at every summit. Hindsight my ass. And again, it is not the responsibility of the protesters to police the vandals. That's what the taxpayers of this country paid over a billion bucks to the police to handle. They didn't.

"...since “the sweeping powers” granted the police via the “secret” law saw them, according to Toronto Chief Bill Blair, arrest exactly one (1) person under the temporary regulation to the Public Works Protection Act, isn’t the angst-ridden, hyperbolic debate rendered, as someone brighter than me remarked recently, nothing but an intellectual exercise?"

No, it's an exercise in splitting hairs. Police illegally demand to search people citing a non-existent law. Anyone who doesn't comply is arrested for breach of peace. So technically, no one was arrested under the law which didn't exist, but like I say, that's just splitting hairs.

"It would quite one thing if the 1,000 folks who were detained on G20 weekend were detained under the temporary regulation. The discussion would be meaningful."

Oh I see. The discussion is not meaningful. Right. Move on folks, nothing to see here. Largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Brutal detention conditions. Police brutality. Kettling. Rights abrogated. But don't worry. Christie says it's not meaningful.

"But when it’s all said and done, it will turn out that most of those detained were arrested for breach of the peace or to prevent a breach of the peace, which is an arrest authority, not a criminal charge."

As I said above, this is bullshit. People were declining to be searched under a law that doesn't exist and then being arrested for breach of peace.

"In my view, it’s a vile authority too, generally speaking easily misused by police, and it may have been misused here as well."

Ya think?

Does it not bother you just a teeny tiny bit that your bud Chief Bill Blair spent over a week lying about what the law was?

"Finally, how amusing it is to see Toronto, press and public alike, whip themselves into a frenzy of outrage over alleged police inaction and then alleged police overreaction, when all of this, in terms even more stark, happened in Caledonia, Ont., from 2006 onwards, and no one gave a fig."

We are not talking about Caledonia. We are talking about the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. We are talking about illegal searches, a law that the chief of police made up on the fly, police brutality, a massive failure to catch the real criminals in the act despite the presence of 20,000 police and security forces, and totally inhumane detention conditions.

Try to keep up, huh? And if you can't, move over and let the bloggers and citizen journalists take over.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

If there were no Black Bloc, it would have to be invented

How unfortunate that the vandalism of the Black Bloc turned media attention away from the legitimate messages of the peaceful demonstrators. Or so we're told by Bill Blair, Toronto's chief of disinformation and outright lies er, Police, sentiments that were echoed by several other media outlets. Oh yes, poor media, prevented from covering anything at the real protest rally by the urgency of a few burning cop cars, footage which was repeated over and over and over.

How unfortunate that the peaceful demonstrators in Queen's Park later that day had refused to specifically condemn violent forms of protest. That was all the proof police needed to accuse them of harbouring criminals, making them all de facto criminals and justifying whatever actions police took.

Several of these protesters “actually donned masks” and were carrying weapons en route to the protest site, [police spokesman] McGuire said. The others, he said, were “people who chose not to disassociate themselves” with the Bloc. Toronto Star

And wow, did they ever take action! Mounted cops trampling people underfoot, beating seated people with their batons, darting into the crowd and snatching people, then preventing anyone from seeing or recording what was happening behind police lines. The brutal kettling outside the Novotel Hotel, at Queen and Spadina, outside the detention center on Eastern Ave. and of course the single largest mass arrest in Canadian history - over 900 people, most of whom were never actually charged with anything - because they didn't do anything wrong.

"Hey Joe, that's really burning. Think we oughta do something?"

But was this really an "unfortunate series of events" or was it the intended script from the very beginning? Was the purpose of the 20,000 strong Integrated Security Force ever really meant to keep the peace?

Consider this one little fact, gleaned from the wife of one of the officers. During summit duty training cops were shown video of a police officer being dragged into the crowd at a violent protest in Berlin and beaten to death. Now, before you go all "I completely condemn that kind of violence" let's think about what the effect of seeing such footage might have on your average cop. It sure ain't sensitivity training, folks.

Consider too what effect seeing cop cars burning and windows being smashed by black-clad "anarchists" would have on the average cop who had no idea that this was permitted to happen by their superiors. Shame? Outrage? Feelings of impotent rage?

And now consider being told that those supposed peaceful people in Queens Park actually approved of the violence, and were helping the criminals to hide within their ranks. A chance to get back at those violent "thugs", to teach the punks a lesson, to redeem oneself and one's pride.

I believe it takes a lot to get police to turn on their fellow citizens to the degree they did over that nightmare weekend. Of course it helps if they are from out of town, from places like for example Calgary. What's better than a chance to kick some spoiled, commie Toronto butt?

This ugly narrative played out exactly as it has at every recent globalization summit from Seattle, to Miami, to London, to Pittsburg and now Toronto.
1. identify groups who oppose globalization and neutralize their leaders either through intimidation or arrest
2. intimidate the general public through threats of violent riots taking place
3. intimidate protesters through illegal search and seizure
4. expand the term "weapon" to include items of protection like bandanas and gas masks
5. permit vandalism, or if there is no vandalism, instigate it
6. respond with a brutal, military style crackdown on everyone in the vicinity
7. suspend civil rights (with or without the authority to do so)
8. mass arrests

Obviously the essential trigger for this series of events is some form of violence: anarchists, terrorists, black bloc tactics. It doesn't really matter what the label is. They are the bad guys and we will smash your rights to get them and keep you safe. We know you'll understand.

The Patriot Act, the bullshit at airports all over the world, spying, wiretapping, you name it. All are justified in the name of protecting the citizens, when the real purpose is the suspension of civil rights. So let's give a big shout out to the Black Bloc for helping the powers that be, the IMF, WTO etc, to put us all under the jackboot of repression. If they didn't exist, they'd have to be invented.

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Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Three Fucking Stooges

Left to right: McGuinty, Blair, Miller.
Or maybe that should be Harper in the middle... whaddaya think?

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Why we MUST have a public inquiry

Any one of these events indicates a public inquiry is needed.

1. Police exercized powers they did not have.
2. Province did nothing to clarify police powers to the public.
3. Community activists targeted and subjected to harrassment.
4. Police ordered to stand down during only real violence.
5. Police use of agent provocateurs.
6. Hundreds of people arbitrarily arrested contrary to Charter of Rights.
7. Inhumane conditions in detention center.

1. Police exercised powers they do not have
Just prior to the G20 weekend, the public was told that police had been granted new powers in a secret meeting of the McGuinty cabinet under something called the Public Works Protection Act, a holdover from WWII. These powers were to give police the right to ask for ID and perform searches, suspending probable cause, within 5 meters of the security fence.

They immediately widened that zone to include the entire city as this man, who was correct when he stated his rights, was illegally threatened with arrest in Allan Gardens. Allan Gardens is several kilometers from the security zone.

All weekend long people were subjected to this non-existent law. Blair is splitting hairs when he says no one was charged under the law. They were charged with breach of peace when they stood up for their legal right not to submit to a search. For that matter, they were arrested even when they did comply, in the hundreds.

2. Province did nothing to clarify police powers to the public
The Globe and Mail has an excellent timeline of the law that never was.
"To counter complaints that Ontarians weren't made aware of the new law, the government directs reporters to an advertisement taken out by Toronto police in some newspapers prior to the summit. The ad, titled “What you need to know about the G20 Summit,” makes no mention of the Public Works Protection Act, any recent provincial decisions, or a five-metre rule."

3. Community activists targeted and subjected to harrassment
Numerous citizen activists were targeted by police and visited in their homes and workplaces prior to the summit in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and various other cities. Their crimes? "Oh, nothing....yet" to paraphrase the police.

4. Police ordered to stand down during only real violence
During an hour-long rampage along Queen St. W. to Yonge St. and then up to and along College St., so-called black bloc vandals smashed windows at will, with no police in sight. An independent journalist followed them for over an hour. According to Paul Warrington's article in the Sun:
The officer said that eventually there was "a clear order from the command centre saying 'Do not engage' " and, at that point, smelling weakness and no repercussions, the downtown was effectively turned over to the vandals while police, up to 19,000 strong, were ordered to stay out of it. 
The command center was run out of Barrie ON, far from media attention by the RCMP. That suggests to me that political motives were at play, and ties in with the next point.

5. Police use of agent provocateurs
After the SPP conference in Montabello it was proven, and subsequently admitted by Quebec police that they had used "undercover" police to incite violence. This, according to what's called the Miami Model is standard procedure, used to justify both the costs of security and the massive police crackdown that follows.
“They threw rocks.” That’s the line police use after tear-gassing or beating protesters most times. Urine and human feces are variations on the theme. But it’s always the protesters who triggered the violence. 

Man who trashed police cruiser at Queen and Spadina. Inset: police agent provocateur at Montebello.

6. Hundreds of people arbitrarily arrested contrary to Charter of Rights
Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects people against arbitrary arrest. And yet in the numerous roundups following the staged vandalism on Saturday, hundreds of people were arrested simply for being there. From the Miami Model again:
A popular police tactic is called “kettling.” Officers on bike or horses herd protesters into an enclosed space, so they can’t leave without trying to break through the police line. Take the bait; you provoke a beating or arrest. 

Or, in this case, sit down and sing O Canada.

7. Inhumane conditions in detention center.
In a post prior to the summit, I wondered why the detention center was served only by an outside hose for water. Hundreds of people locked up in cages begging for water for over 12 hours, denied medical treatment, denied the right to a phone call, denied a reason for their arrest, not read their rights, mocked and humiliated by their jailers, and in some cases threatened with rape.

Amy Miller - Alternative Media Centre, Independent Journalist from Darren Puscas on Vimeo.

For a chilling and heartbreaking summary of one young man's Kafkaesque arrest and nightmare detention click here.

Any one of these travesties of justice and human rights should be subject to a full public enquiry. But that won't happen unless we demand it. I urge everyone to write all of these people and demand it, and demand Bill Blair's resignation as well.

David Miller, Mayor of Toronto:
Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario:
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1 
Your local federal MP

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Toronto Canada Day 2010 - we have our city back

So many things that could be said, but today we needed this holiday. A return to normal, a gathering in the park, a reminder of what democracy looks like. Happy Canada Day!
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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Toronto Sun reports cops ordered to stand down during black block rampage

Many suspected, now Paul Warrington confirms in his column: "As downtown Toronto witnessed burning police cars and a small group of thugs on a rampage, a police source tells me the only thing that stopped the officers from doing that was an order telling them not to. They tell me they could have rounded up all, or most of them, in no time."

He goes on to detail mass confusion at the command level, orders changing from engage to don't engage several times before the final order from command HQ not to engage.

"It was awful," said an officer. "There were guys with equipment to do the job, all standing around looking at each other in disbelief ... The Montreal riot guys were livid ... They just wanted to get in there and do the job but were told they are too intimidating." 

Too intimidating? Wouldn't want to intimidate any criminals now would we? Better to save that for the peaceful protesters, innocent bystanders and curiosity seekers who spent their weekend dodging mounted charges, rubber bullets, pepper spray and bizarre roundups by riot police called "kettling".

The people of the city have been lied to. The frontline cops have been lied to. I think it's time for another "riot" only this time with the cops on our side. Let's round up Blair, Miller, McGuinty, Harper and whatever anonymous spook was running this bullshit circus.

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Pressure mounts for inquiry into police conduct

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Amnesty International, Jack Layton and a Facebook group which has grown to 21,751 in a day are calling for an independent inquiry into the police conduct during the G20. As well, numerous rallies are being planned in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto over the next couple of days, with a nationwide rally scheduled for July 17. The Toronto rally will be at Queen's Park on Canada Day at 5:30 pm.

The CCLA in a preliminary report stated:
"It is the opinion of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association that police conduct during the G20 Summit was, at times, disproportionate, arbitrary and excessive. In our view, despite instances of commendable and professional conduct, the policing and security efforts, especially after 5PM on June 26 and June 27, failed to demonstrate commitment to Canada’s constitutional values.

Over the next 36 hours, over 900 people (possibly close to 1000) were arrested by police – the largest mass-arrest in Canadian history. Media, human rights monitors, protestors and passers-by were scooped up off the streets. Detained people were not allowed to speak to a lawyer or to their families. Arbitrary searches occurred in countless locations across the city, in many instances several kilometers from the G20 summit site. Peaceful protests were violently dispersed and force was used. In an effort to locate and disable 100-150 vandals, the police disregarded the constitutional rights of thousands."

Amnesty International calls for public inquiry:
In connection with the G20 leaders summit, the heavy police and security presence that has permeated the city for several days, as well as acts of vandalism and other violence by numbers of individuals, have contributed to an atmosphere of apprehension and fearfulness that has led many individuals to refrain from or limit their involvement in peaceful demonstrations and other activities.

Lessons must be learned from these events. We call on the Canadian government and the government of the province of Ontario to cooperate in launching an independent review of the security measures that were put in place for the G8 and G20 Summits. The review should include opportunities for public input and the results should be released to the public.

NDP Leader Jack Layton on Tuesday called for the Commons public safety committee to be “seized with this matter and require an accountability report on both the spending side and on the operations side” of the billion-dollar-plus meeting of world leaders.

From the Star:  
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair tried to quell the growing uproar by announcing that an internal task force will examine “all aspects” of summit policing by the municipal forces, OPP and RCMP in the G20 Integrated Security Unit. 

But the promise of a police force investigating itself, along with assurances there is a complaint mechanism for those who feel ill-treated by police, seemed unlikely to defuse anger after a weekend that saw riot police use tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters — incidents documented in thousands of photos and videos making the rounds. 

Like this, or this, or this, or this.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blair lies, citizen rights in the toilet

I have no doubt there were plenty of regular police officers who were angered and shamed by the fact that vandals were allowed to rampage for an hour and a half through Toronto on Saturday. I had an earful from one such officer last night, the partner of a close friend of mine. She was furious with me (I assume over what I've suggested about agents provocateurs), and talked about the abuse that police faced: bottles, bricks and even feces thrown, insults hurled, being spat upon etc. This is disgusting, unacceptable behaviour, and clearly intended to be provocative. Ultimately, it was. I know this officer is a fine person, calm under stress, honest to a fault -- an officer of the peace in the true meaning of the words. I have never heard her so angry, our friendship seems to be toast and I'm sorry about that. There are good cops and bad cops, just as there are good protesters and violent protesters. Good people deserve our praise and the violent, on either side deserve our condemnation.

I also spoke to a retired police officer/consultant from Michigan. I wanted to know if there could have been a mobile squad that could detach as needed to pursue these vandals. He said it was absolutely standard operating procedure to have a quick response team in place. I'm going to assume things were planned well enough that there was such a force, and that it simply wasn't deployed. Not only was this a tactical failure, but it's turning into a public relations failure as well.

"The bosses of this police force and other police forces decided to play public relations, and instead of doing their jobs, they let the city burn," said Naomi Klein on Monday.

Yep, show the public just what kind of violent elements there are, and maybe that will justify the massive expense. And in making that decision, a volatile situation was made more so. It was immediately after the vandalism that things got ugly. Decent cops were humiliated and angered, innocent people were rounded up and stripped of  their rights.

And now Bill Blair admits police never had those far-reaching powers, that he was making it all up, re-writing the law on the fly. The problem is, police believed they did have those powers, forcing people to submit to searches, to provide ID or be arrested, preventing journalists from covering arrests, not just within the 5 meters of the security fence, but all over the city. Since there never was such a law in place, all of those actions were illegal. Police were lied to by their own chief.

Don't blame the victims, blame the hidden agenda of our leaders: Harper, for overspending and over-militarizing the city, McGuinty for his secrecy, Blair for his lies, and whoever else was involved in planning and running this debacle.

We need an independent inquiry, and we need it now.

UPDATE: Facebook group demanding inquiry is here.

Thanks to Galloping Beaver for the video link.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Cops attack peaceniks - real perps get away

It's Monday morning and after a weekend spent glued to summit coverage, it now seems like a bad dream. Now that's it all over but the cleanup and the licking of wounds, the dominant image left is that of massive phalanxes of robo-cops pushing peaceful people first this way, then that, banging their shields with batons chanting "move! move!" then charging without warning, a scene that played out dozens of times. There seemed no rhyme or reason beyond a completely arbitrary show of force. This was a spectacle that despite all the high-tech security gear, was utterly primitive and utterly surreal.

The other dominant image, and I suspect the one that will live on as Steve-o's billion dollar photo op, is that of a burning police cruiser, left unattended to burn.

Here's the thing. Cops were deployed to do something they didn't need to do. The main builk of demonstrators on Saturday had their peaceful march and had returned to Queens Park, the designated protest zone. There was no need at any point for riot formations. Ludicrous.  And no need to clear the area, that had been set aside for the use of demonstrators.

Meanwhile, the only real lawbreaking was allowed to take place without a single cop in sight. While the best-equipped police that a billion bucks can buy attacked the peaceful demonstrators, the real criminals were allowed to smash and burn unchecked. There was a chance to apprehend them in the act, as their rampage went on for over 40 minutes. I wonder, would police have let real terrorists get away so easily? It's a pretty significant tactical blunder not to allow yourself the option of detaching part of your force to meet any immediate opportunities, ie perps in the act. It shows that they were completely unprepared to deal with any real threat. Bill Blair has some explaining to do.

As it is, the closest thing Toronto came to terror was at the hands of police: random arrests, beatings, pepper spraying people who were sitting down, and of course their little game of push me pull you. Activists were arrested before the fact. An innocent man was awoken in the night with a police gun pointed at his face. Young people were arrested merely for having gas masks. Others were arrested when they were unable, due to being surrounded on all sides by riot cops, to disperse. Journalists were beaten and arrested. Rights were suspended, not just within the 5 meters of the security zone, but all over the city.

And the real bad guys? The so-called Black Bloc? They were allowed to rampage with impunity. 20,000 cops could not or would not stop them.


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Gee Steve - thanks for inviting your thug parade to our city

A billion dollars spent, and for what?

Shock and awe

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

I would simply like to ask why

Why did no police follow the "black bloc" when they split off from the main group?

Why were vandals allowed to rampage for 43 minutes with not a cop in sight?

Why were police cars left unattended 4 times during the day?

Why did police stand half a block away en masse and simply watch the fires?

Why did it take Toronto Fire Department over 30 minutes to respond?

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Toronto police have some explaining to do - updated

After allowing "Black Bloc" vandals free reign to set police cruisers afire and smash store windows on Yonge St., police chief Bill Blair said he knew who those people were and that many were subsequently arrested while trying to hide in the peaceful crowd at Queens Park.

The video shows some of those arrests. Isn't it convenient for police that everyone they needed to grab was standing around at the edges of the crowd? The video ends when they took down the cameraman, who was wearing official G20 press credentials.

Later in the day, cops punched out a reporter for the Guardian and arrested peaceful protesters outside the Novotel according to eyewitness Steve Paikin, who tweeted this last night.

Today the arrests continue outside Guantanamo North the detention center on Eastern Avenue, on downtown streets and at the U of T.

"There were a group of kids walking eastbound and three vans were following them," said a man who watched the takedown on Edward St. "They weren't doing anything and they just came and took them down."

Update: thanks to Antonia Zerbasias who has been closely following events, here's a link to journalist Terry Burrows' site and his take on the "black bloc" wearing the same shoes as the police.

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Why do these vandals have the same shoes as the police?

Why were vandals allowed to smash windows on Yonge St unchecked, with no police anywhere near?

Why were police cars abandoned on Queen St W?

Why were the police cars on Queen St W. allowed to burn for almost 20 minutes before the fire dept. arrived?

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Charlie Veitch: My G20 Toronto Arrest Statement - Minutes After Release

Note: a lot of YouTube videos about the summit are being taken down within 24 hours after posting, so it's a good idea to download anything you want to save right away. Here's a useful tool to help you do that.

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Sarkozy takes dig at summit costs

Calling the accommodations "extremely sufficient and extremely reasonable", but nothing sumptuous, the French President said the upcoming French G8/20 will cost ten times less than Harper is spending. Oh snap!

The Globe comments that this "bold declaration could come back to haunt him". Really? Let's do a little simple math.

Last year's summit in London cost $30 million. This year's summits in Canada cost $1.3 billion. Now, that little .3 at the end is actually $300 million - 10 times what London spent - with a billion bucks thrown in on top.

To be fair Canada is hosting both the G8 and G20 (in two separate locations for some  reason). So, double London's cost and add another $20 million to each for inflation. That's $100 million. That is what the total should be, but Harper is spending 13 times as much.

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Hey Toronto - we can do this thing

Friday night, full moon, day one of summit down, done and in the books. Officially summer babies. Time to kick back with a tune and chill. 

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Friday, June 25, 2010

You know those civil rights you thought you had?

You don't anymore.

Apparently the Ontario Government can take them away by stealth whenever they want. Oh sure, sure it's only for the summit weekend they say. How does that change the reality that this law was enacted without any debate in the legislature, with no public scrutiny and kept secret until last night? Oh right, it doesn't.

"The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation. It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion." -- Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit

Exactly Tim. Officer discretion. That's the problem.

From the Canadian Civil Liberties website:

CCLA has just learned that streets and sidewalks within the perimeter of security zone have been designated under the Public Works Protection Act.  Importantly, this Act gives dire powers to the “guards” of the public work:  power to search without warrants, obligation of visitors to state name and purpose of the visit, power to deny entry. Most of these powers contradict current constitutional safeguards.  The Regulation which was not announced and has appeared on e-laws and will be published in its regular form on July 3rd 2010. One person has already been arrested under the Act, which provides:

A guard or peace officer,
(a) may require any person entering or attempting to enter any public work or any approach thereto to furnish his or her name and address, to identify himself or herself and to state the purpose for which he or she desires to enter the public work, in writing or otherwise;

(b) may search, without warrant, any person entering or attempting to enter a public work or a vehicle in the charge or under the control of any such person or which has recently been or is suspected of having been in the charge or under the control of any such person or in which any such person is a passenger; and

(c) may refuse permission to any person to enter a public work and use such force as is necessary to prevent any such person from so entering.

Every person who neglects or refuses to comply with a request or direction made under this Act by a guard or peace officer, and every person found upon a public work or any approach thereto without lawful authority, the proof whereof lies on him or her, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $500 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two months, or to both.

CCLA is obviously extremely concerned about the implications of this measure and will seek to challenge them.   

WARNING : The new designation changes dramatically the advice that lawyers may have been providing to protesters or the general public if they find themselves at the proximity of the fenced area.  Please consult and write to us if you are concerned about this development.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fun stuff to do at the fake lake

Steve-o demonstrates his world famous belly flop.

Shockwell Day takes a spin on his new jet ski. Whoa! Cover your drinks!

Jimbo takes a spin too.Wheeeee! Summits are FUN!

Ezra Levant?? Who let him in? That is just so wrong, on so many levels.

Cute. Too bad that water's only one inch deep.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pride Toronto un-bans "Israel Apartheid"!

Just shows you what can happen when you stand up for your rights.
Full story including Pride Toronto's press release at XTRA!

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Photos of Toronto under seige

Welcome to what used to be called "people city". Have a nice day.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Harper's G20 spending spree - he's trying too hard

Like the unpopular girl who shows up in a fancy dress to the party where everyone else is wearing jeans, Harper's summit is as embarrassingly overdressed as a trout in a top hat, a turkey in a tuxedo, a toad in a tiara.

Consider this: Canada is spending close to $1 billion in security this year and bringing in 4,500 police. Just last year, Pittsburg's security bill was $12.2 million and used 1,000 police. London spent $30 million the same year.

Meanwhile, the head of CSIS has said that terrorism is unlikely, so there goes the "in this post 9/11 world" canard. You have to wonder, how much property damage are the protesters likely to do? Could it be a billion bucks worth? But wait, there will be no compensation for property damage. Oh well.

So, while Harper overcompensates with a massive show of force to impress his G20 "friends" the city has been transformed into what looks like giant prison camp, with helicopters blackening the sky, groups of police at every street corner, and Zodiacs patrolling the harbour. (I hope no one has any ideas of starting a freedom flotilla to bring food to the residents of Toronto Island.)

And will world leaders be impressed? Or will they see it for what it is - an ugly little man trying too hard to look big.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Oh Iggy

It's taken awhile, but I'm now officially disenchanted with Ignatieff. Not that I was ever really enchanted. When he first showed up to claim the mantle of Liberal leader, the media was all in a tizzy, the kind they reserve for Canadians who've made it elsewhere. Some of us were a little leery of a man who thought he could waltz in after a 30-year absence to claim the top job in the land, (and Harper was quick to read that mood and capitalize on it). Now his Igness has been here for 6 years, but his "here" is not our "here", and the man seems totally out of touch with Canadians.

Take his recent foreign policy announcement. Really? That's the priority? Because if he had happened to read this recent Nanos poll, it's clear that it's not even on the radar for most Canadians, who list healthcare as their top priority, followed by the economy and jobs, the environment, high taxes and education.

The Nanos poll was somewhat unique in that it didn't provide a list of choices, but simply asked people to list their top concern. Nobody even mentioned foreign policy. I don't care if it is his pet project. Being PM is not about indulging your hobbies. And we certainly don't need the Liberals committing to extending the Afghan mission just because his Igness wants a higher profile on the world stage. It distresses me to think that he's more interested in impressing the US and the Brits than he is in addressing Canadian's concerns.

And then yesterday, taking a page out of Nancy Ruth's book, he told his caucus that if they couldn't contribute to victory, they should "shut up". Y'know, it's just so awkward when someone with Iggy's patrician mien tries to talk in an unfamiliar vernacular. It rings false. Not only that, it would seem to signal a willingness to adopt Harper's tight control of message. Jesus, is that what you've learned from the past 6 years Michael? If so, you can count me out.

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

How BP has destroyed the Gulf of Mexico

This very long post is an attempt to gather and collate information some of which is being actively suppressed by BP on:
1. How negligence caused the rig explosion and subsequent leak
2. The wrong place to drill?
3. Why top kill failed
4. The effects of toxic dispersants
5. What the real scenario is likely to be

BP's negligence - a tragedy of errors

Mike Williams was on the Deepwater Horizon when it exploded, as chief electronics technician. In an interview with 60 Minutes, he details corners being cut, safety standards set aside to save money, and the cascading effect of bad decisions that culminated in the blowout.

The following is excerpted and/or paraphrased from a letter from Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the congressional committee investigating BP to Tony Hayward and details the many breaches in safety procedures. You can read the full text here.

Well design compromise
time saved: 3 days

Deep water wells are drilled in sections. The basic process involves drilling through rock, installing and cementing casing to secure the well bore, and then drilling deeper and repeating the process. On April 9, 2010, BP finished drilling the last section of the well.

Subcontractor Halliburton recommended hanging a steel tube called a "liner" from a liner hanger on the bottom of the casing already in the well, and then inserting another steel liner tube called a "tieback" on top of the liner hanger. This provides protection from a blowout. Instead BP chose to use the much riskier single string of casing because it was cheaper.

Inadequate number of Centralizers
time saved: 10 hours

Centralizers are attached to the casing as it being lowered into the well to keep it centered in the borehole, prior to cementing it in place. If the casing is not centered then channels can form in the cement which allows highly pressurized gas to flow through any space around the casing. It becomes "difficult, if not impossible, to displace mud effectively from the narrow side of the annulus if casing is poorly centralized. This results in bypassed mud channels and inability to achieve zonal isolation." API Recommended Practice 65

Halliburton's computer analysis showed that 21 centralizers were needed for the job, and that fewer would result in a significant risk of gas channeling. BP elected to use only 6. Halliburton ran another computer model using 7 centralizers and concluded "well is considered to have a SEVERE gas flow problem." BP responded "who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine and we'll get a good cement job."

Cement test skipped
time saved: 9-12 hours

A "cement bond log" is an acoustic test that is conducted by running a tool inside the casing after the cementing is completed. It determines whether the cement has bonded to the casing and surrounding formations (ie the seabed). If a channel that would allow gas flow is found, the casing can be perforated and additional cement injected into the annular space to repair the cement job.

Although a crew from subcontractor Schlumberger was present to carry out the test, it was cancelled at the last minute by BP and the crew sent home.

Incomplete mud circulaton test 
time saved: 12 hours
This procedure called "bottoms up" involves circulating drilling mud from the bottom of the well all the way to the surface. It tests the mud for influxes of gas; it permits a controlled release of gas pockets that may have entered the mud, and it ensures the removal of well cuttings and other debris from the bottom of the well, preventing contamination of the cement.
Instead, to save money BP conducted only a partial circulation of mud.

Lockdown sleeve compromised
When the casing is placed in the wellhead and cemented in place, it is held in place by gravity. In a blowout the casing can be driven up the wellhead creating an opportunity for hydrocarbons to break through the wellhead seal and enter the riser to the surface. To prevent this, a casing hanger lockdown sleeve is installed.

Or not.

On June 8, 2010, after the explosion had occurred, Transocean briefed BP committee staff on its investigation into the potential causes. In the presentation, Transocean listed the lack of a lockdown sleeve as one of its "areas of investigation." Download PDF.

These next points are from the sources appearing after each point.

Faulty blow-out preventer
On at least three occasions, BP records indicate, the blowout preventer was leaking fluid, which the manufacturer of the device has said limits its ability to operate properly. After informing regulators of their struggles, company officials asked for permission to delay their federally mandated test of the blowout preventer, which is supposed to occur every two weeks, until the problems were resolved, BP documents say.

When the blowout preventer was eventually tested again, it was tested at a lower pressure — 6,500 pounds per square inch — than the 10,000-pounds-per-square-inch tests used on the device before the delay. It tested at this lower pressure until the explosion.
Source: New York Times.

Mike Williams, in the 60 Minutes interview above told the reporter that one of the controllers in the BOP was no longer functioning, and also claimed that the blowout preventer was damaged when a crewman accidentally moved a joystick, applying hundreds of thousands of pounds of force. Pieces of rubber were found in the drilling fluid, which he said implied damage to a crucial seal. But a supervisor said it was “not a big deal" and ordered they proceed.

Early removal of drilling mud
Another survivor of the rig explosion said the mud was removed before the well was fully sealed with cement plugs.

In order to properly cap a well, drillers rely on three lines of defense to protect themselves from an explosive blowout: a column of heavy mud in the well itself and in the drilling riser that runs up to the rig; at least two cement plugs that fit in the well with a column of mud between them; and a blowout preventer that is supposed to seal the well if the mud and plugs all fail.

Scott Bickford, a lawyer for a rig worker who survived the explosions, said the mud was being extracted from the riser before the top cement cap was in place, and a statement by cementing contractor Halliburton confirmed the top cap was not installed. Source: Times Picayune

The wrong place to drill?

The well is located in block 252 of the Macondo prospect in the Mississippi Canyon. It has a very challenging geology for drilling. The seabed is composed of turbidite sand bonded with methane hydrates.

Methane hydrates are volatile compounds — natural gas compressed into molecular cages of ice. They are stable in the extreme cold and crushing weight of deepwater, but are extremely dangerous when they build up inside the drill column of a well. If destabilized by heat or a decrease in pressure, methane hydrates can quickly expand to 164 times their volume. 

Scientists are well aware of the awesome power of these strange hydrocarbons. A sudden large scale release of methane hydrates is believed to have caused a mass extinction 55 million years ago. Source: The Guardian


Additionally the hydrate/sand compound has a porosity of 26 - 30 percent. It is not only far more porous than rock, but can fall apart if the methane hydrate holding it together melts, leading to collapses in the seabed. Many believe this is already underway.

Energy and Capital reports "seismic data showed huge pools of methane gas, under tremendous pressure. Some have speculated that the pressure was up to 100,000 psi" -- that's 10 times as much as current technology is capable of handling, even if it had been functioning properly, which it was not. As mentioned above, the BOP was only tested at 6,500 psi presumably because they were afraid to test it at 10,000 psi as is federally mandated.

Anderson and Boulanger's report - PDF.

Why top kill didn't work

Top kill is the process of injecting drilling mud down into the well at high pressure in order to overcome the pressure driving oil and gas up.

It works, but only if there are no other leaks. The fact that it didn't work, and was called off early, is a good indication in itself that there are other leaks. If so, top kill can make them much worse, driving high pressure gas into the surrounding formation, eroding and weakening it further. It's like a leaky garden hose. As long as the nozzle is open, you don't notice the leaks much. But plug the nozzle, and suddenly water starts shooting from the other leaks.

Because the casing was inadequately centered and the cement never tested, it's highly likely that the casing is broken, that gas escaping under pressure from the bore hole is eroding the surrounding sea bed, which as noted above, is very vulnerable to erosion and melting. The geothermal effect of pressure means that the gas coming out of the blown well is 120 - 177 C (250 - 350 F). Methane hydrate melts at 26C (75F) and separates into methane and water. The methane will then bubble to the surface and enter the atmosphere. Methane is a 72 times more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, so not only is there oil pollution, but also methane pollution.

Here is the much-discussed post on The Oil Drum talking about the top kill failure and a whole lot more.

The effects of BP's toxic dispersant

Corexit 9500 is the dispersant BP is using to mitigate the surface slick - 1.3 million US gallons to date. It has been bannedl in the UK and Europe because it's a known carcinogen, and one the most environmentally enduring toxic chemical dispersants ever created. It is also "capable of killing or depressing the growth of a wide range of aquatic species, ranging from phytoplankton to fish." says Scientific American.

Corexit and other dispersants do not actually get rid of the oil, they only break it into smaller bits, bits that can be injested by marine life such as plankton, jellyfish, and anything that feeds on them. The dispersant itself evaporates, but that doesn't mean it goes away. It falls back to the earth as toxic rain, contaminating crops, livestock, wildlife, reservoirs and yes, us.

A class action suit has been filed in New Orleans federal court against BP and Nalco Holding Company, the manufacturer of Corexit.

I would venture to say that the main "benefit" of such a poisonous substance is purely cosmetic. It makes that ugly oil slick on the surface seem to go away. What price PR?

What the real scenario will likely be


On May 26 former Bush energy advisor Matthew Simmons said a giant plume, 22 x 6 miles wide and 3,000 ft thick (BP denies its existence by the way) is probably coming from another leak at the wellhead or from a fissure in the seabed, 5 - 6 miles away.

This jibes with a Russian report prepared by Anatoly Sagalevich of the Shirshov Institute of Oceanography warning that the sea floor above BP's leaking oil reserve has been "fractured beyond all repair". Sagalevich is an expert on Deep Submergence Vehicles who holds the world's record for a 1,637 meter dive.

It should be noted that this story is only at the Before It's News site, and there's no other confirmation as yet. In my attempts to corroborate this story I came across statements that Sagalevich had offered to help BP but been turned down, and conflicting reports that BP asked him to help. The original story is here.

The site reports that Sagalevich said oil is leaking from at least 18 other sites, one almost 11 km from the well bore site, and that currently 2 million gallons of oil per day are flowing into the guif. That's a far cry from the 5,000 barrels BP were citing just weeks ago or even the 60,000 that is being widely cited now.

As I said in this earlier post, if the seabed were to cave in around the well head, and/or elsewhere over the deposit, the entire reservoir of oil could empty into the gulf, through the Loop Current and into the Gulf Stream. No wonder this is being compared to Pandora's Box; humans opening up something that they have no real control over and setting in motion a terrible chain reaction. This certainly has the potential to become a mass extinction event, unseen in human history and the only hope of preventing it is a couple of relief wells, that may or may not work. Not to be alarmist or anything...

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