Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We're Off To See The Wizard....

....The Wonderful Wizard of Flaws



Why would the Canadian Press suddenly throw something like this into the whirlitzer smack-dab in the middle of one of the slowest news weekend's of the entire year:

VICTORIA (CP/Sunday May20/07) - On the day the B.C. government tabled its bill to raise the pay of provincial politicians by close to 30 per cent to $98,000 a year, Premier Gordon Campbell walked into the legislature looking like a million bucks.

A sharp, dark-coloured pin-striped suit, his greying hair appearing to shine almost pure white, Campbell exuded confidence, and looked like he'd been at an exclusive spa.
You'd never know to look at him that controversy and scandal allegations - the stuff that has slayed many a B.C. premier - are beginning to swirl like a dust devil around the six-year-old Liberal government.

He calmly answered a growing chorus of dirty tricks and political conflict-of-interest allegations the Opposition New Democrats hurled his way in question period and essentially shut them down.

That's why Campbell is the wizard, says veteran New Democrat Corky Evans, who says he's been watching the premier work on a bulletproof image while his own relatively inexperienced New Democrats struggle to find their range.

It seems the Liberals under Campbell have largely been able to snuff out what appears as the first whiffs of scandal raised by the New Democrats, says Evans. But he's seen a previously indifferent Liberal backbench taking notice of the Opposition amid the yelling and table thumping that dominates legislature debates.

The New Democrats have raised issues of conflict involving a former top Campbell deputy. Accusations of dirty tricks at pre-trial arguments at the trial of two former Liberal aides has fuelled shooting matches in question period. And the deaths of farmworkers in a highway accident has the Opposition demanding safer and better treatment of workers.

It's all part of an ongoing strategy to pull back the curtain and reveal that the wizard is a mere mortal.

"I give (Campbell) credit," says Evans, the Opposition's agriculture critic and three-term veteran of at least four NDP premiers.

"Shoot, man, one day he's drunk and behind bars and the next day he's on TV making it all better," he said about Campbell. "That is an amazing skill."

"One day, he's seen as taking away seniors' bus passes, closing down their old age home and carrying them out of their building on (expletive) TV and the next day he's all for seniors. He's got a great skill."

I mean really - why would the CP do it?

Unless, of course, the real wizards......

People, like, say, oh I dunno, Andy Orr, are no longer around to protect the faux Wizard in Pinstripe Clothing's back.

Regardless, just goes to show that, until the Opposition is willing to raise, or even re-raise, an issue (see: Drunktank/Hawaii), the press will say nothing.

Which is why a fall session of the Ledge, when the BCRailGate Trial should be riding the rails, full steam ahead (assuming it is not de-railed before it even leaves the station), will be critical if the opposition truly does decide the time has come to get up front and start driving the engines for real.



Monday, May 21, 2007

Hey Mr. Hahn......

.....We Don't Need No Stinking Cookies!


Just got back from another $200 plus round-trip family of four excursion to Vancouver Island on what used to be a ferry service we were proud to call our own.

And aside from the craptactular cookies at the ticket booth that didn't placate me one bit when I was forced to fork over that 2nd $17.50 reservation charge to make Mr. Hahn's middling minions merrier (have you ever had, say, an airline charge you extra for booking early?) , the thing that really get's me is that No Kidz Zone.

You don't know what I'm talkin' about?

Well this a place (the old coffee bar at the stern) where you are now only allowed to go if you don't have any kids and you have an extra 10 bucks that you don't care about.

Which is all fine and good, as far as it goes.

After all, we are now getting quite used to being treated like 2nd class citizens on all of these motor vessels that we bought and paid for with our own money.

But Jiminy Crickets!

(as my Grandma, she who worshipped the ground that the Wacky One walked on, and went to her grave extolling the value of BC Sugar shack shares, used to say when she was really upset)

This was the 5pm sailing from Swartz Bay back to the Mainland.

And it was packed.

Packed with families who were quite literally packed in like sardines.

In fact, many parents with strollers were forced to stand there was so little room.

And then, on our way down to Peter Toigo's liscence to print money area, I peek into that bloody lounge and I see space everywhere.

And I start cursing you all over again.

And wonder how much moola, we the people, would save if we just got rid of you and all your middling yes men?

As in immediately.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Man Who Saved Fitzmas


I must confess I never understood.......

How did a guy who was made by Rudy Giuliani, who was hired by George Bush, and who was taken under the wing of John Ashcroft ever manage to do the right thing?



Who the heckfire am I talking about?

A guy named James Comey, the former Deputy Attorney General of the United States.

Here's a capsule summary of the man written by New York Magazine's Chris Smith on the eve of his appointment as the Deputy AG in late 2003.

Comey has been savaged by William Safire and lauded by Chuck Schumer; just what kind of Republican is he, anyway?

This sets Comey howling again. “I must be doing something right!” he says. “In college, I was left of center, and through a gradual process I found myself more comfortable with a lot of the ideas and approaches the Republicans were using.” He voted for Carter in 1980, but in ’84, “I voted for Reagan—I’d moved from Communist to whatever I am now. I’m not even sure how to characterize myself politically. Maybe at some point, I’ll have to figure it out.”

Or maybe he’s being disingenuous. Because three hours later, Comey gets a phone call from Washington: President George W. Bush is nominating him as the No. 2 man to Attorney General John Ashcroft. On the surface, it’s an odd pairing: Comey—who cites liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr as a formative influence, and who can sing along with Good Charlotte pop-punk hits—and Ashcroft, a reactionary born-again Christian who breaks into spirited renditions of biblical hymns. There’s little risk Comey will lose his sense of humor in his new job.

It’s only his soul that’s up for grabs.

And this week Mr. Comey demonstrated that he kept his soul between then and now when he testified before the very same Chuck Schumer named above at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing (see testimony above and/or this fantastic capsule summary by the fabulous Marcy Wheeler) and told the whole world about how then Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales and Whitehouse Chief of Staff Andrew Card once burst in to the hospital room of a gravely ill Aschroft and tried to force him to sign off on an egregious wiretapping/evesdropping bill that everyone concerned at the Dept of Justice, including Ashcroft, Comey and all their deputies figured was completely illegal.

Comey was in that hospital room with reinforcements from his own office and the FBI because he had been alerted to Gonzales' and Card's impending arrival by Ashcroft's wife who had been informed of the coming 'visit' by, reportedly, Mr. Bush himself.

And in that hospital room Comey stared the President's men down.

As a result, Gonzales and Card left without Ashcroft's signature.

It's really quite a remarkable story that demonstrates the depths to which these people will go to steal souls.

But, clearly, they didn't get Comey's.


Now, you may have noticed that I said Mr. Comey did the right thing twice.

The second thing he did right was appoint Patrick Fitzgerald as the special prosecutor in the PlameGate/Libby Case.

And then as it became clear that Mr. Fitzgerald was going to go to the mat on the matter of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame in order to discredit her wife Joseph Wilson because he had exposed the bogus Whitehouse claims that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger during the run-up to the sowing of the killing fields in Iraq, I could never quite figure out how Mr. Comey managed to keep the Rovians from firing Mr. Fitzgerald.

Or, put another way, how did Mr. Comey keep the Whitehouse jackals at bay while Fitzgerald kept digging and set the stage for all that has come after, including the conviction of Scooter Libby and the exposure of the co-opting of everything by people like Mr. Cheney, Mr. Wolfowitz, Mr. Feith, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Rove and all the others who were wiping their feet daily on the U.S. Constitution?

Now, I think we know.

Because in the aftermath of Gonzales' and Card's attempt at the drive-by hospital bed extortion in March of 2004, Card attempted to browbeat Comey and the entire Dept of Justice into submission.

But Comey did not back down.

Instead, he convinced Mr. Ashcroft and all their underlings in the Dept of Justice to resign if the bill went through. He also, apparently, convinced FBI boss Robert Mueller to resign also.

Comey then went to the Whitehouse and fought back.

In the end, after a private meeting with George Bush, the Rovians backed down.

And Comey stayed, secure in the knowledge that the Rovians knew darned well that there were people with some principle, even if they were Republicans, that had his back.

And Fitzgerald was able to do his job.

And now it looks like maybe, just maybe, the United States is starting to become a nation of laws rather than men once again.

And that is very, very very good news indeed.

Written to Bruce Springsteen's Darkness, especially 'Racing In The Streets'.


Friday, May 18, 2007

We're getting more people with teaspoons all the time...


A while ago I wrote a post about a fantastic interview Pete Seeger gave to DIY progressive journalist extraordinare Amy Goodman.

Now, first off, let me say that ever since I came out of my callow shell some time ago, I have had the greatest admiration for Mr. Seeger.

Both because of all that he has done, and because of all that he still believes we can do:

"I honestly believe that the future is going to be millions of little things saving us. I imagine a big seesaw, and at one end of this seesaw is on the ground with a basket half-full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air. It's got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us got teaspoons, and we're trying to fill up sand.

A lot of people are laughing at us, and they say, "Ah, people like you have been trying to do that for thousands of years, and it's leaking out as fast as you're putting it in." But we're saying, "We're getting more people with teaspoons all the time." And we think, "One of these years, you'll see that whole seesaw go zooop in the other direction." And people will say, "Gee, how did it happen so suddenly?"

Now the fact that the government of Gordon Campbell is designed to take away as many teaspoons from people as possible is the reason that I took great exception to the following statement in the Canadian Press earlier this week that was made without a trace of irony:

(Mr. Campbell) said he'd always wanted to learn the banjo and the guitar, having been inspired by the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger."

So, rather than recount specific examples of programs that I have seen dismantled by Mr. Campbell's bean counters who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing, I thought I would instead point you towards a project that is helping fill those teaspoons.

It's the Al Gerwing Foundation the link to which you can find on the Honourable Roll on the sidebar:

The Foundation is really a local charity as all of the directors are Al's relatives and volunteer their services. As a result there is no 'bureaucracy' and all of the earnings go directly to the designated projects decided upon by Al and the directors of Rainbow of Hope for Children. They include continued work on behalf of street children and the landless poor in northeastern Brazil and recently, a teacher education centre in Guatemala to help allow the Mayans to educate their children in their native language and culture in addition to Spanish.

There's lots of great stuff there and, yes, donations are tax deductible.

And here's a quote buried deep within the site that I found pretty darned inspiring, maybe even for those who think, for whatever reason, ideological or not, that their own worldly wealth is all there is:

"When you die, the only things you can take with you are what you've given away"
- Esther Gerwing"



On The Goodship Water Carrier



Who'd a thunk it.

After CBC Radio's better-late-than-never discovery of the 'Trial of the Century' earlier in the week, this morning Bill Good almost followed suit when he decided to spend exactly one minute to devote to the subject this morning on the Ledgie Boys.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Exactly one minute.

Keith Baldrey said nothing.

Vaughn Palmer fill-in Sean Leslie did a half a cuppa momma mia culpa of sorts when he said he now wishes that he had been in Studio54 for the last three weeks covering the thing.




Mr. T. Goes To P.G.


Prince George, the Gateway to the North, is out there in the Hurtland.

Thus, even the business community is not quite living the pre-Olympic building boom dream that we are being forced to hallucinate our way through down here in the Southwestern British Columbia.

It is also a place that really benefitted from B.C. Rail, a once public asset which, thanks to Gordon Campbell's forced, and allegedly bribe-assisted, privatization putsch, no longer belongs to the people of this province.

Thus, unlike down here, where the only thing most folks think about, if they think about B.C. Rail at all, is the luridness of the growing scandal associated with the trial, up in Prince George some folks are really angry because of the harm they feel the actual deal has done to their community. Here is a short list that was enunciated recently by local pundit Ben Meisner:
  • Loss of some $15 - $18 million dollars in annual salaries in the Prince George Region.
  • Forest companies are now paying higher transportation costs making it more difficult to get their goods to market at a competitive price.
  • Loss of some $100 million dollars a year in profit that could be channeled back into the B.C. economy.
  • Loss of the ability to transport goods into Alaska (lost opportunity)

Mr. Meisner was part of a recent public panel that discussed the B.C. Rail sale in Prince George.

And our own favorite RailGate studio scribe, Bill 'Mr. T' Tieleman, was also there and, apparently, he let his virtual hair down and had some pretty interesting things to say:

Tieleman has been covering the Basi-Virk case in the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. He says the case is so bizarre “It seems like the X Files some times, you know the show’s slogan was the truth is out there, well in this case the truth is way, way, way, out there.”

Tieleman says the allegations are unbelievable. There have been allegations of dirty tricks, with planted phone calls to open line shows. There are allegations of lobby group links to some politicians, and allegations the sale (lease) to CN was a done deal from the very beginning. “There was even an alleged plan to dump manure on Jim Sinclair’s front lawn because Sinclair (head of the B.C. Federation of Labour) opposed the sale. I must say, I always knew the Liberals were full of bull, I just didn’t know they made home deliveries.”

Tielman believes the case will eventually go to trial, but he has questions. He wonders aloud why the Ministerial Aide for Gary Collins is facing charges, but no charges against the Minister. He wonders aloud why the lobbiest at the core of the case has not been charged. Tieleman says while it is not his intention to presume guilt or innocence, he is left to ask why those who are well connected or members of the Liberal party have been spared prosecution?

Gee, Mr. T.

Can't you tell us what you really think?

And, just for the record, Mr. T. is now reporting over at his place that he actually added the poop to the bull when he spoke.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Ceeb Learns That There Is A Trial Goin' On...


Finally, CBC Radio sends somebody to Studio.....errrr...Courtroom 54 so that they can tell us a whole lotta things that we who have been paying attention have known for, what, about a week?

The judge in the political corruption trial of two former B.C. Liberal ministerial aides will rule June 4 on a disclosure application by the defence that focuses on the Crown's star witness.

Lawyers for David Basi and Bob Virk — who are charged with fraud and breach of trust in connection with the sale of B.C. Rail — say the Crown hasn't given them the material they need to defend their clients.

At the top of the defence list of concerns is the deal they say the Crown had with star witness Eric Bornman, a former lobbyist in Victoria.

Michael Bolton, representing Basi, said Bornman admitted giving money to the accused in connection with the B.C. Rail deal. And he wants to know why Bornman is off the hook while Basi and Virk are not.

"It's one or the other," said Bolton. "He either did something wrong or he didn't do something wrong. If he didn't do something wrong, then our clients are not guilty."

He wants to put Bornman, his lawyer and the special prosecutor on the stand to answer questions about the agreement Bornman reached with authorities.

The Crown says there is no immunity deal with Bornman because he breached an earlier agreement.

So mark June 4th on your calendars, but in the meantime, let's start speculating and making bets......

Such as....Who's willing to give me decent odds on the possiblity that Mr. Bornmann and at least one of his former Pilothouse LINO Lobbshop colleagues are charged by the time the Summer Solstice rolls around?

Right now I'd seriously consider making book at 9-2 (which changes to 5-4 if Mr. Berardino does not show up in the Studio on June 4th).


Will The Senior and The Junior Both Get Grilled?


Yesterday we mentioned that Neal Hall had reported that the defence team in the BCRailGate Fiasco was demanding that one of the junior special prosecutors, Andrea MacKay be cross-examined over her role in the setting up of the Deal/NoDeal immunity thingy for Eric Bornmann.

You may remember the good Mr. Bormann. He is the very fine fellow and former Liberal insider who is also known, depending on who you are talking to at the time, as Spiderman, the Star Witness, the alleged self-professed bribe giver, the almost/kinda/sorta lawyer, and/or the most excellent self-exonerator.

But today, Bill Tieleman is reporting that the defence actually wants to cross-examine both the junior and the senior prosecutors in the case:

The defence wants to cross-examine the Special Prosecutor team in the B.C. Legislature raid case in order to get details on an immunity deal with key Crown witness Erik Bornmann, B.C. Supreme Court was told yesterday.

Michael Bolton, lawyer for former ministerial aide David Basi in the breach of trust and fraud case, told Justice Elizabeth Bennett that the defence needs to take the unusual step of cross-examining Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino and his associate Andrea MacKay on an unwritten agreement with Bornmann.

"I remain very, very troubled by the lack of candour and incomplete nature of the Bornmann transaction," Bolton said.

"That will require cross-examination of Mr. Berardino, unfortunately, and probably Ms. MacKay as well."

All of which sounds like a capital idea, indeed.

Except, of course, for it to happen it would mean that Mr. Berardino would actually have to show up in court once in awhile.


Oh, and just in case you were wondering, based on your earlier reading of our synopsis of the trial so far, it was, indeed, Ms. MacKay who also acted as the junior to Mr. Berardino's senior when they worked the opposite side of the street....errrrrr.....'aisle' together representing Imperial Tobacco against the people of British Columbia not so very long ago.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Will A Special Prosecutor Get Grilled?


Neal Hall got a little more time and space in the Vancouver Sun today and as a result his piece is both informative and insightful.

One small tidbit was the following:

Defence lawyer Michael Bolton, representing Dave Basi, said in court today that Bornmann claimed he bribed government officials but cut an immunity deal with police and the Crown.

He reiterated today that details of the deal have not been disclosed, so counsel can't properly prepare their defence of the three accused.

Bolton asked the court to order Bill Berardino, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, to appear in court for cross-examination.

He added the defence also wants to cross-examine Bornmann, his lawyer George Macintosh and Andi MacKay, a member of the special prosecution team.

The cross-examination of a special prosecutor would be highly unusual if allowed by the judge.

Pretty wild, eh?

Looks like the defence is trying to make the issue of the Bornmann immunity Deal/NoDeal thing stick.

Still think they should bring in a Howie Mandel look-alike to do the questioning.

Alternatively, the defense team could shave their heads and start working on their soul patches.

And/or send in a real clown like, say, J.P. Patches.......


Mr. Chase's Job Description....


Mr. Stuart Chase is a British Columbia government employee.

That means that we, the people, pay his salary.

As part of his job the good Mr. Chase apparently makes his way to BC Supreme Courtroom #54 in downtown Vancouver to sit in on the BC RailGate pre-trial hearings.

And ,according to one of BC Mary's eyewitness Anon-O-Mice, this is what the good Mr. Chase does:

Mr. Chase doesn't talk with reporters. He doesn't talk with members of the public. He sits on his own on the left hand side of the gallery.

When court rises he gathers his things and leaves directly, takes the elevator down to the Smythe street entrance, jaywalks across the street towards Hornby, crosses at the light and strides into 865 Hornby, where the Ministry of Tourism has offices. It is there, I presume, that he files his reports, twice daily.

I'd say he has more than a hundred pages of hand written notes to date to draw from. Oddly, he seems much more engaged and active in the note taking department when the defence is before the court.

According to Attorney General Wally Oppal, however, the good Mr. Chase is actually there to help the media and members of the public in the courtroom gallery and, I dunno, perhaps wayward schoolchildren and folks who get lost heading back to their cars in the courthouse parking garage after shopping on Robson St., understand the intricacies of our legal system.

Which, of course, is quite at odds with the Anon-O-Mouse's description.

But who ya gonna believe these days, anyway......

A highly respected member of the British Columbia legislature who works in the highest capacity for the Premier, Mr. Gordon Campbell, or some lowly member of the public who is just doing his or her best to find out what is really going on.

Well, luckily, we have a report from Les Leyne in the Times-Colonist who discovered what the good Mr. Chase is really up to by, get this, asking him:

At the risk of putting the young man on the outs with his boss, it was Chase himself who cheerfully set the record straight.

In an interview later, Chase said he sits in on the trial daily and sends a straight factual report on proceedings twice each day to the director and the manager of the attorney general's public affairs division. Those reports give them a sense of what's going on. He doesn't brief reporters, he doesn't talk to the public.


Looks like the highly respected, and highly respectable, Mr. Oppal has some explaining to do.

And it also looks like it is getting to the point where we, the public, may wish to consider the possibility that everything Mr. Oppal has to say about this matter from now on may actually be a highly respectable and respected attempt at, how shall we phrase it.....


Which is, of course, just a very respectable and highly respected way of saying lying.

If it is, in fact, true that the good Mr. Chase does file his reports from the Ministry of Tourism offices on Hornby St. it is hard not to recognize the irony in the fact that is the very same Ministry that released those highly respected and highly respectable 'Cultural Precinct' funds to the City of Vancouver, some of which are currently being used by that most highly respectable and even more highly respected Mr. Ken Dobell to creatively consult with, but not lobby, his former Boss in whose office he still has a desk so that he can creatively consult right back at, well, everybody else who has attained the highest level of respectability with all of whom are known to be extremely well respected.......Or some such thing.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dobrano Dirty Tricks....

...More Than Just A Few Phone Calls?

Double Secret Probation Update: 7:30pm Tuesday May 15th - Camille Bains CP story is out. In it she backs up Mr. Tielemans account and she obliquely raises the spector of the possibility that the RCMP may have held off on all of this until after the last provincial election.

Update: 6:30pm Tuesday May 15th -
CKNW is reporting that BC Fed leader Jim Sinclair is calling for a public inquiry because he thinks this dirty tricks thing was a way of discrediting the Fed when it was calling into question the then, as yet not done, BC Rail sale........Meanwhile, StoneWally says he can't say actually say anything because he must hold himself to a higher standard than does the press.....


Remember those alleged 'media monitoring contracts' between one of the accused in the BCRailGate Trial, David Basi, and the British Columbia Liberal Party?

Remember how all the pundits said, not long ago, that they didn't matter because of the well known but innocuous political party pathology known as 'everyone-does-it-itis'.

Well, according to Bill Tieleman's latest report from B.C. Supreme Court Courtroom 54 it looks like things might be getting a little stickier, not to mention stinkier, than a few prank phone calls to local talk shows:

.....there were new details on those (media monitoring contract) dirty tricks, including an allegation that Basi was involved with dumping a load of manure on the front lawn of the home of Jim Sinclair, BC Federation of Labour President and organizing phony protestors outside the 2003 Federation of Labour convention.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough alleged that BC Liberal Party Executive Director Kelly Reichert was consulted by the RCMP and told Premier Gordon Campbell that criminal charges were being recommended.

The allegations come from a previously undislosed document provided by the Special Prosecutor to the defence, an RCMP report titled: "Kelly Reichert - Do Not Disclose".

And, as you might expect, the defense has decided to try and spread the stinky stuff around as much as they possibly can.

Again from Mr. Tieleman's report:

(Defense lawyer) McCullough alleged that Reichert told Campbell that day that the RCMP was recommending charges be laid against Basi.

"When the tape was turned off, he [Reichert] didn't want charges approved against Basi because it would be embarrassing that manure was dumped on the lawn of Jim Sinclair and protestors were sent to the BC Federation of Labour," McCullough alleged.

"The wishes of the Liberal Party and Mr. Reichert, the same day he notifies the Premier, all came true," McCullough concluded, noting that charge were indeed never approved against Basi for those activities.

"We have the effort by Reichert to not have the charges approved. That reeks of political interference," McCullough alleged.

Big question is, will any of the stinky stuff stick as it spreads?

Stay tuned.......

Smaller question is: Did Mr. Campbell find about this before Mr. T. posted it on his blog from the good Mr. Chase.


Play Us A Song....

.....You're The Dobrano Man



Look, the Sarah McLachlan's Music Outreach program is a marvellous thing.


Five hundred large thrown at a special program for a photo-op and a strum of the guitar does not in any way ameliorate what Mr. Gordon Campbell's neoconnnish bashing of the VSB has done to exterminate extracurricular programs in Vancouver's schools.

Especially inner city schools where parents can't raise the thousands of dollars required that those in the creme de la creme belt can generate with a snap of their fingers.

What the heckfire am I talking about?

Here's the story from Sarah Rowlands:

Inner-city kids with dreams of gracing the cover of Rolling Stone got a helping hand from the provincial government yesterday.

Premier Gordon Campbell announced B.C. will give a $500,000 grant to Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach, an Arts Umbrella Project that offers free music lessons to underprivileged students attending select East Van schools.

"Arts touch the lives of kids in ways we can't anticipate or measure," said Campbell, who thanked McLachlan profusely for her dedication to the five-year-old after-school program.

A glowing, gracious and very pregnant McLachlan was on hand at the Arts Umbrella instructional facility to accept the donation.

"It's a huge understatement to say that music made a difference in my life," said the Canadian songstress. "It's been an amazing gift to see this program come to life."

After their respective statements, the premier and McLachlan grabbed a couple of guitars and started jamming with some of the kids.

About halfway through their Radiohead cover the bespectacled politician asked, "What chord are we playing?"

A truly surreal moment.

Oh, just so you know, the Canadian Press is reporting that:

"The premier said he'd always wanted to learn the banjo and the guitar, having been inspired by the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger."

Pete the Commie-Pinko Seeger?

The guy who has spent his entire life supporting unions and trying to really help people?

Guess this just goes to show.....

If you can't beat 'em, co-opt 'em.



Monday, May 14, 2007

The Dobranos....

.....The Plotline So Far
(Please Note: Reposted because Haloscream ate all the previous comments - sorry, especially to Mary and l.g.)

Update: Bill Tieleman now has a satire-free post on many of the same developments, with considerably greater factual detail, up at The Tyee


Not long ago, somebody, I'm not sure who, although it may have been Mr. T., suggested on a comment thread somewhere that perhaps Courtroom 54 of The Supreme Court of British Columbia, where The BC Railgate Trial is finally sputtering to life, should instead be known as 'Car 54, Where Are You?'


Because it seems that there are all kinds of people who are, for all intents and purposes, doing their best to send the entire thing hurtling down a deserted, cliff-lined back-road hidden behind the bustling metropolis of Spuzzum, British Columbia.

After all, you have lawyers for absent former cabinet ministers hanging around, not saying, but suggesting, that the public purse is paying them.

Interestingly, one former lawyered-up Minister who used to be a flight instructor of some repute actually left government before the 'Pilot' episode of 'The Dobranos: SPU' was even in the can (or the 'House', as it were) so that he could, allegedly, run a now defunct Airline that might still exist if only the former Minister had had the foresight to hire Leslie Nielsen as a spokesmodel (not to mention the possibility that the jocular personality of Mr. Nielsen may have been able to help the former Airline's owner slip free of a decidedly sticky situation recently).

You also have the investigators that were apparently interested in following the tracks leading towards the former Minister described above but who didn't actually follow those tracks. But not to worry, because this lack of follow-up most certainly/absolutely/couldn't have possibly had anything to do with the fact that this particular investigator was also related to somebody who was high up in the very same political party that the former Minister above belonged to. This is also the same political party that apparently drew up 'contracts' that were designed to win friends, influence uncles, and smear people who had the audacity to suggest that selling off one of the Province's most valuable public assets might, just might, be a bad idea (and/or, at the very least rip them new orifices).

Interestingly, some of the specifics of how those 'contracts' were implemented were apparently detailed in a taped converstion between one of the co-accused currently sitting in the back seat of Car 54 and the former Minister described above. Even more interestingly, one of those taped conversations also contained details of the current Premier's involvement in the alleged stacking of a blue ribbonesqueish commission which, was, apparently, not this one.

And, get this, apparently those contracts were also the subject of investigations by other investigators, most of whom didn't show up in court, but one of whom who did, with notes that nobody had seen before. And apparently those contracts, and who signed them, are deemed important by everybody in the Car, but nobody can actually find them, at least not at right now.

And then there are all those other investigators who were investigating all kinds of other stuff, like the laundering of drug money (no word of lawyers and guns so far however, which would be interesting if it were to happen somewhere down the road, if only because it would complete the trifecta once so aptly chronicled by Warren Zevon when he wasn't singing about werewolves which would, of course, also make a fantastic theme song for 'The Dobranos: SPU').

And, speaking of lawyers, one of them has apparently disappeared from the courtroom that is Car 54. And that lawyer can only be described as the biggest of the Big Cheeses who is, allegedly, working for 'The People' whose assets were forcibly privatized by the former Minister and the current Premier described above, but who also once most definitely did not work for 'The People' when he and one of his current littler cheeses worked instead against us (ie. The People) for Imperial Tobacco (hmmmmmm.....perhaps the producers of this series that is not-quite-good-enough for network Tee-Vee should consider changing that Dobranos:SPU theme song to 'Lawyers, Smokes and Money' instead).

At this point it is probably worth mentioning, if only in passing, that the currently missing Big Cheese is the very same Grand Fromage who apparently made a Deal that wasn't quite a Deal with the so-called 'Star' witness who used to be lobbyist and who is now a not-quite-lawyer that the Big Cheese may have once taught in law school - sort of. This former lobbyist/not-quite-lawyer, who once had, but may not now have, immunity from prosecution also used to, apparently, play tricks for the very same political party that apparently signed the contracts described above that were supposed to help 'sell' the Bigger Deal by the former Minister and the current Premier to liquidate The People's assets.

All which brings us to The Judge, who is doing her best to actually steer Car 54 back to a place where the mainstream media, especially the electronic variety, can actually find it. In doing so, she has asked all the little cheeses currently standing in for the absent Big Cheese to get the latter to come back and tell them where the suitcase is hidden that is holding the above described Deal/No Deal .

And if the Deal for Immunity is, indeed, No Deal, then why aren't the guys who apparently did the actual bribing (ie. the no longer immune former lobbyist/not-quite-lawyer and his side-kicks who have all sorts of connections with the Political Party and the former and current government officials described above) not trapped in Car 54's backseat between the co-accused who allegedly took their apparent bribes?

And finally, in a most elegant display of double-clutching designed to get a little traction under the wheels of Car 54, the Judge has also asked the little cheeses sitting in for the Big Cheese to produce any and all records of any and all involvement of a former Solicitor General, now the current Minister of Forests and Cowboys, in any and all efforts to prevent the above- mentioned investigatory multitudes from actually investigating the former minister described above, who himself apparently liked to have dinner with potential future receivers of that which was to be liquidated who were also, allegedly the very same potential receivers that bankrolled the alleged bribes that were paid to the co-accused by the non-accused former lobbyist/not-quite-lawyer/ party trickster who also goes by the moniker of 'Spiderman'.

You got all that?


Because every last tidbit came from just the first few weeks of the run of 'The Dobrano's: SPU' which is actually scheduled for at least twenty-four.

Here's hoping it gets a prime-time slot somewhere down the road.


*Mr. T. is also known as Bill Tieleman, one of the members of the press gang that has been chasing down Car 54 since the beginning. Me, I actually like the moniker 'Studio 54' a little better what with all the Dancin' and Shakin' going down, not to mention all that Snortin' (in disbelief and derision) that is going on the public gallery.
And apologies to kootcoot, who had a Car54 reference way back in ancient times, in an Apr 26 posting over at the very famous and infamous 'House of Infamy'. (kootcoot picked it up due to Mary's kind posting of the plot synopsis at the source here 'The Legistlature Raids' site.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Who Knew.....

....Moms Hate War


The "Mother's Day Proclamation" by Julia Ward Howe was one of the early calls to celebrate Mother's Day in the United States. Written in 1870, Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation was a pacifist reaction to the carnage of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War.

The Proclamation was tied to Howe's feminist belief that women had a responsibility to shape their societies at the political level.

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts,
Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
"We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Cribbed in its entirety from Wiki, but here is an even better link about the life and times of the most impressive Julia Ward Howe - she fought against slavery too!
And just so she knows, I owe my Mom a really good story. It's coming, promise......


Friday, May 11, 2007

On The Latest The Dobranos.....

.....Lets Make No Deal
(please see Update at bottom of Post)



Yesterday, we broke into our daily silence period (ie. workday) to comment on Neal Hall's report in the Sun in which he concluded that the Crown's major witness, the alleged bribemaster in the BC RailGate Fiasco, was no longer being offered immunity.

Now Bill Tieleman is reporting that the Special Prosecutor* is saying that there never was a deal, sort of:

Justice Elizabeth Bennett got the surprise answer from Special Prosecutor Janet Winteringham, who has handled most Crown duties during Berardino’s unexplained absence from the proceedings.

“The only question I had – was there an immunity agreement as outlined in Crown policy and the answer is there was not. But there’s no written agreement signed by Mr. Bornmann?” Bennett asked.

“No, there’s not, “Winteringham replied.

Now, why are we suggesting that this apparently straight answer to a very direct question that did not involve choosing between Door #1, #2 or #3 actually indicates that there may have only 'sort of' been no deal?

Because if you parse the language, which seems to be increasingly necessary in this case, and indeed in the case of everything that the Dobranos are involved in, you will notice that there is a little qualifier there in the question from the Judge that could be implied in the answer from the Special Prosecutor.

And that is the word 'written'.

The action in the Studio 54 courtroom is now adjourned until Tuesday.

Stay tuned for more on following the money trail......

*Of course, the 'senior' Special Prosecutor, Bill Berardino, was not in Court to answer the Judge. Instead, he was nowhere to be found and his 'juniors' were left to twist in the wind.
Will be interesting to see if the folks on the GoodShip Watercarrier still think that none of this is such a big deal on this morning's edition of the Ledgie Boys (notsoGiant98 @ ~ 9:00am).



It looks like we may have used the wrong Canadian Game Show host's image at the top of the post, because today Neal Hall reports that:

Earlier this week, ('junior' prosecutor Janet)Winteringham told the judge that the (currently absent 'senior) special prosecutor, Bill Berardino, could make a statement in court as to why the deal with Bornmann was cancelled in 2004.

The prosecutor has said there was no signed deal with Bornmann, so there was no document disclosed to the defence, so the terms of deal haven't been disclosed.

So, does that mean that the terms of the 'Deal/No Deal' are actually hidden away in a suitcase somewhere?

And is Howie Mandel holding said piece of luggage?



Thursday, May 10, 2007

Late Breaking, On The Dobranos.....

....In Which Things Get Curiouser And Curiouser.

Apparently, the 'immunity' for the Crown's star witness in the BC Railgate Trial, the man sometimes known as Spiderman, Eric Bornmann, who once worked for the LINO Lovin' Lobbshop called Pilothouse which allegedly acted as the middlemen for bribes paid to two of the accused, former Dobrano's Deputy Ministers David Basi and Robert Virk, has been 'breached'.

This just in from Neal Hall (one of the 'Scribes in Studio' according to Mr. T.) in today's Vancouver Sun:

The lawyer said Bornmann attended the University of B.C. law school class in April 2004, which included a lecture by (Special Prosecutor Bill)Berardino, but Bornmann was not in the breakout session taught by Berardino.

(Assistant Special Prosecutor Janet) Winteringham also told the judge (Elizabeth Bennett) the prosecution has disclosed all the documents related to Bornmann's immunity from prosecution agreement, which was later cancelled after Bornmann breached the conditions.

It remains unclear what conditions were breached by Bornmann.


Could it have something to do with a little thing some have called a 'false self-exoneration' that arose when Bornman...

".....told news media that he had been exonerated in the police investigation, which involved an unprecedented raid, in December, 2003, on the legislature offices of Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk, who were both ministerial aides at the time."

We'll have to wait and see on that.

Regardless, we're pretty sure somebody's Spidey-Sense must be glowing radioactive today.


The Best Of The Dobranos.....

.....In Which The Capos Cover Their Tracks
(please see updates at bottom)



Here's a great bit of spade work by the The Tyee's Stanley Tromp, who is fast making FOI's (or the lack thereof in B.C.) his life's obsession:

Meanwhile, the insidious shift towards "oral government" is growing. E-mails must be preserved and accessible under FOI laws. A debate is looming over Blackberry records. Yet the premier's multi-tasking assistant Ken Dobell startled an FOI conference in 2003 by announcing frankly that "I delete my email all the time as fast as I can." (Privacy commissioner David) Loukidelis later reprimanded Dobell for publicly admitting he avoids taking notes so they aren't uncovered by reporters under FOI.

Except that...... when the Capos went to meetings sometimes real ink-on-paper minutes were taken.

And sometimes unearthing those minutes can help one follow the money.

Or, in one important case at least, the suggestion of money to come sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Which turned out to be a future in which one of the biggest of the Capos would become a contented consultant using that very same suggested money that ultimately became the real thing.

Stay tuned......

And fortunately, despite their best efforts in sophisticated track covering, most actual contracts, even those of the deep-cover Dobrano kind, are still made in writing. Can't wait to see who signed this one.
Update #1: Mr. Tromp has the latest in his series of B.C. government secrecy pieces up in the Tyee today in which he deals with the dreaded 'Section 13' of our increasingly toothless FOI tiger de papier. The whole series, which you can access via links on his latest, is latest truly is a 'Must Read Anti-TeeVee for all of B.C.'
Update #2: Unlike most of his straight/journo print work, Sean Holman rarely takes his tongue out of his cheek when he writes his posts online at PublicEye. Interestingly, that appendage is most definitely nowhere to be found in today's post from Mr. Holman regarding The Dobranos' continuing claims of transparency and openness. It's another piece of worth calling a 'must read', and it is most definitely NOT gossip.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Midnight At The LotusOasis....

In Which We Ask....

Instead of us......

What if all those multihydraheaded Corporations of Greeditude that stand to make a fortune off the 2010 Olympics were forced to pay for ALL the costs, plus a coming and going 'conservation fee' (see: Ferries, B.C.) to make up the difference for all the land rapin', park destroyin' and lowcost housing eliminatin' that's going on?

Can you imagine all the things we could do with......



Yesterday On The Dobranos.....

...The Kops Get Keystonian



So, the day before yesterday we learned that rival factions within the RCMP were actually fighting over various aspects of BC RailGate including the actions (or not) of various Dobrano Government Ministers and the laundering (or not) of drug money.

But on yesterday's episode of the show we learned that it was not just two factions working on the case but - get this - FIVE!

Here is the CP's Camille Bains' take on the latest storyline:

VANCOUVER (CP) - A Crown lawyer says there were tough challenges impeding the disclosure of information to defence lawyers representing two former B.C. government aides charged with fraud and breach of trust.

Andi MacKay said Tuesday that police were conducting five separate but connected investigations, including one into the sale of Crown-owned B.C. Rail involving former Liberal aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk.


Court has heard that police began investigating Dave Basi in August 2002 for his alleged involvement in laundering drug money for his cousin Jas Bains. Basi has since been cleared of any charges in that probe.

A related proceeds of crime investigation was also going on around the same time, along with another probe involving Basi's connection to British Columbia's Agricultural Land Reserve.

Defence lawyer Kevin McCullough has told B.C. Supreme Court that he couldn't understand why some documents connected to the B.C. Rail case are included in the Agricultural Land Reserve file.

MacKay said Tuesday that the reason is that the two cases are related and documents have been included in one or both files depending on their significance.

In the Agricultural Land Reserve case, Basi faces four fraud-related charges for allegedly taking $50,000 from developers so a 700-home project near Victoria could proceed with an application to remove protected farmland from the land reserve.

Police were also conducting an anti-corruption investigation of a police officer who was handed a three-month conditional sentence last December for obstruction of justice.

Const. Ravinder Dosanjh was convicted of counselling his cousin, Mandeep Sandhu, to lie about the origin of $35,000 found at Sandhu's house during an undercover police operation on Dec. 9, 2003.

Leads from the investigation of Sandhu and Dosanjh led the RCMP to execute search warrants on Basi and Virk's legislature offices on Dec. 28, 2003.

The fifth police investigation involved the payment of $20,000 to Basi by the Liberals for two separate "media monitoring" contracts that involved him arranging for people to call radio talk shows to sway public opinion in the party's favour.

Court has heard that Collins allegedly offered a consolation prize to OmniTRAX, one of three bidders involved in the sale of B.C. Rail.

Collins has denied offering such a prize and an e-mail police seized from the lobbying firm Pilothouse Public Affairs Group suggests he didn't offer it to OmniTRAX officials.

Now amongst all that minutae it is important not to stray too far from the major plotlines.

And one of my favorites, especially for it's 'big fish hookin' potential is the last one, which is the so-called 'Consolation Prize'.

Because, don't forget, at the last minute, after the Big Swindle had already gone down, it was the still-pending Roberts Bank Spur sale that got canned.

And that was after the Ledge got raided by the Keystonian ones but before all those Dobrano-Era Ministers started running away.

Stay tuned.......


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Yesterday On The Dobranos.....

.....Every Which Way But Loose



Yesterday, on the dance floor of 'Studio 54' in downtown Vancouver, the Crown finally started to explain how an RCMP drug investigation orginally dubbed 'Project Everywhichway' veered off towards BC RailGate.

Allegedly, it was due to the family connections of the co-accused Mr. David Basi. According to Mr. T. , Bill Tieleman, Mark Hume of the Globe is one of the few local scribes that has been in Court just about every single day so far. Here is Mr. Hume's most recent take on the Disco Dance Sensation that is starting to rock the LINO* Nation:

Mr. Basi emerged as an early person of interest in a drug investigation that was triggered when informants told the RCMP that the arrest, in May, 2002, of U.S. drug dealer Cirilo Lopez had created an opening for a new drug boss on Vancouver Island.

"The word on the street was that Jas Bains was going to be the person taking over," (Crown prosecuctor) Ms. (Janet) Winteringham said.

Mr. Bains is Mr. Basi's cousin.

That drug investigation identified Ravinder Singh Dosanjh, who was then a Victoria police constable, and Mandeep Singh Sandhu as other persons of interest. Both are related to Mr. Basi.

While tapping the phones of Mr. Dosanjh and Mr. Bains, the police intercepted calls to Mr. Basi, and soon formed a suspicion that he was being used to launder money, Ms. Winteringham said.

The police drug operation later spun off several investigations, and soon, the RCMP's Vancouver Island drug team and commercial crime units were developing different theories about what was happening.

Some investigators, she said, thought that Mr. Basi's boss, Mr. Collins, was a suspect in a scenario related to the alleged leaking of confidential government information about the pending sale of BC Rail.

But other investigators argued Mr. Collins wasn't a suspect, she said, and the defence contention that he was dropped because police didn't want to implicate any politicians was incorrect.

"Different investigators had different views as to whether Mr. Collins was under investigation," she said.

RCMP Inspector Kevin DeBruyckere, a lead investigator, "held the view that Mr. Collins was under investigation and he wanted to interview him immediately," she said.

All of which is bizarre enough, as far as it goes.

But Mr. Hume also reports on another aspect of this bump-and-grind that few others have mentioned.

And that is the fact that different RCMP teams were apparently fighting over the case:

Separate RCMP teams pursuing parallel drug and breach-of-trust investigations became so intensely competitive that a mediator had to be called in to keep them both on track, a Crown attorney in a political-corruption case told the Supreme Court of British Columbia yesterday.

No word yet if any Orangutans and/or Clint Eastwood-type look-a-likes have shown up on any of the surveillance tapes - although given the way things are going every which way we wouldn't be entirely surprised if they did.

Stay tuned........

*LINO: Liberal In Name Only.
Mr. T. also filled us in another aspect
of this thing, which was the fact that when they went a searchin' the RCMP allegedly found all sorts of secret bids and cabinet documents relating to the BC Rail deal both at Mr. Basi's office and that LINO-Lovin' Lobbshop called Pilothouse. Hmmmmm.....maybe now were startin' to get a bit of an indication why it was so easy for them to turn Spiderman so fast.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Stopping News Zombies By Paying Attention


On the weekend, following Cathie's and Alison's lead, I weighed in on the propaganda efforts of a hunk of US Dept of Justice fertilized Astroturf that were clearly designed to influence Canadian drug treatment policy.

And now Paul Willcocks, who knows about a billion times more than all three of us lowly bloggers put together (at least about how the media really works), weighs in:

We're not great in the media at reporting on health and science issues, with, as always, a few exceptions like The Globe and Mail's Andre Picard.

And we demonstrated the weakness this week with a story that produced headlines like "Safe injection site a failure, study finds.'

The study attacking Vancouver's safe-injection site contradicted all the serious research projects that had found improvements in health outcomes, community safety and other benefits.

The study involved no new research and came from an online journal that has published two issues and is funded by the U.S. Justice Department, which opposes harm reduction.

A couple of things.

First, I completely agree with Mr. Willcocks about the work of Andre Picard. He is one of the few mainstream media science journalists I read who, even when he writes about my own field, tells me something I didn't already know.

Second, I think that, over all, the Canadian Press (who sent the original piece out on the wire that resulted in the headlines that followed), does a pretty good job - especially on breaking news stories. In this case, however, there was absolutely no time pressure involved whatsoever and they fell down on the job very badly. As a result, what has come flying out of the Whirlitzer can now be used by the Cons to justify a shift in policy if they are so inclined (Ha!). And that, in case you are keeping score at home, is not a good thing.


Of course, we are forever indebted to Mr. Willcocks for linking up to us (and Cathie too, sorry Alison - my mistake) on this one. Now, if only we could get him to do the same with the series of Dobranos 'Follow The Money' pieces that we are planning to write later this week (double Ha! Ha!, said we with tongue firmly planted in cheek).


Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Drink-Soaked Popinjay....

.....Pops Off Once Again



After this.......

Before the (Senate Committee) hearing began, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow (Galloway) even had some scorn left over to bestow generously upon the pro-war writer Christopher Hitchens.

"You're a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay," Mr Galloway informed him. "Your hands are shaking. You badly need another drink," he added later, ignoring Mr Hitchens's questions and staring intently ahead.

.....We were pretty sure that the Popinjay would never be heard from again.

But in this, the world of 'The Screamer', the pundits and their editors will always go back for more.

And so it was that the Globe and (nolongerEmpire) Mail's Simon Houpt caught up with Mr. Hitchens recently for a boozy, curbside lunch in one of Manhattan's few remaining smoke holes.

Hitchens refused to be photographed filling his lungs with tar or his bloodstream with nicotine but, according to Houpt, he did fill his gullet with whiskey and merlot and even resorted to eating with his hands when cutlery was momentarily wanting.

Of course, this was all about book flogging.

But, still, Mr. Hitchens took a little time out from slamming organized religion to fling invective at that which he really detests.

Which appears to be anyone, particularly if they have a progressive bone in their body, who thinks that the time has come for the nakedly aggressive occupiers and their well-paid quislings to stop killing and being killed in Iraq for no good reason at all.

To whit:

"I despise them. Really despise them. I'll never forgive it. They're prepared to let Iraq fall into the hands of the scum of the Earth

Which, based on the overwhelming evidence so far, is both bizarre and deluded in the way it grasps at that long-gone last straw of American exceptionalism that was vaporized to dust in the flash of the gigantic, white-hot crack-pipe of creative destructionism that the PNACKian paddy-whackers have been addicted to since, well, forever.

Or, put another way, it is actually zealotry, the very thing which Mr. Hitchens professes to rail against, that prevents people like him from focusing their eyes just long enough to generate that split second of clarity it would take for them to see that it is precisely that fall, into those hands, that those who are calling for the end of the occupation are trying to prevent.

Then again, in Hitchens case at least, maybe it is just the drink.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Ladder Of Scholars......

.......Knows A Top And A Bottom


And the 'Journal Of Global Drug Policy And Practice' is definitely at the bottom of that ladder.

It appears to have little in the way of peer review. It's editorial boord is stacked with hardline 'war on drugs' types, many of whom appear to be living off the avails of Bush administration abstinence fantasy programs. It has 'published' exactly two issues the latest of which serves entirely to pushback (ie. bash) any and all programs that involve harm reduction.

Oh, yes, and just so you know, it is also funded by:

Grant No. 200-JL-FX-0128 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

That would be Alberto Gonzales' very fine apolitically political department of flack-hackery.

Why does this matter?

Cathie has the story.

Oh wow, this sure does look like a really big story from Canadian Press: New report suggests Vancouver's safe-injection site a failure. But folks, it's tripe. Overblown, inaccurate, poorly researched, ideological tripe. Canadian Press should be ashamed of themselves.
Here's the story:
A new study suggests a safe-drug-injection site in Vancouver that has been hailed by scientists as a success is really a failure.
The study, published Wednesday in the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, says there are serious problems in the interpretation of findings about Insite - the first such facility in North America - which opened as a pilot project over three years ago.
. . . report author Colin Mangham, director of research with the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, refutes such claims, saying positive findings about Insite have been overstated while negative ones have been ignored.
"(The findings) give an impression the facility is successful, when in fact the research clearly shows a lack of program impact and success."
First, the study's author Colin Mangham has been publishing reports for years against "harm reduction" drug policies -- which, briefly, are policies which tolerate drug use rather than try to prevent it. The safe injection site is a prime example of just such a policy in action -- and therefore, in this man's opinion, it must be stopped. What's the harm? Well, the problem seems to be that the harm reduction "ideology" makes us "vulnerable to the drug legalization movement". Can't have that, I guess.

Second, the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice is an on-line journal which has published only two issues, with articles like "The Lure and the Loss of Harm Reduction in UK Drug Policy and Practice" and "Is it Harm Reduction Or Harm Continuation?"

Third, the Drug Prevention Network of Canada is a pretty small organization which takes a fairly conservative approach to social problems. On their website, they post articles with titles like "In defense of the drug war" and "Cannabis - A General Survey of it's (sic) harmful effects" .

Fourth, though Canadian Press acts like Mangham's article is a research study itself, it's not. It is actually a personal critique of ten research studies which Mangham says are biased, weak, overstated, misleading. Here's the list:
Wood E, Kerr T, Montaner JS, Strathdee SA, Wodak A, Hankins CA, et al. Rationale for evaluating North America’s first medically supervised safer injecting facility. Lancet 2004;4:301-6.
Wood E, Kerr T, Lloyd-Smith E, Buchner C, Marsh D, Montaner J, Tyndall M. Methodology for evaluating Insite: Canada’s first medically supervised safer injection facility for injection drug users. Harm Reduction Journal 2004; 1-5.
Wood E, Tyndall M, Li K, Lloyd-Smith E, Small W, Montaner J, Kerr T. Do supervised injecting facilities attract higher-risk injection drug users? American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2005; 29: 126-130.
Wood, E., Tyndall, M., Qui Z., Zhang, R., Montaner J., & Kerr T, Service Uptake and Characteristics of Injection Drug Users Utilizing North America’s First Medically Supervised Safer Injecting Facility. American Journal of Public Health, 2005, 5, 770-73.
Kerr T, Stoltz J, Tyndall M, Li K, Zhang R, Montaner J, Wood E. Impact of a medically supervised safer injection facility on community drug use patterns: a before and after study. BMJ 2006; 332:220-222.
Wood E, Kerr T, Stoltz J, Quia Z, Zhanga R, Montanera SG, & Tyndall MW. Prevalence and correlates of hepatitis C infection among users of North America’s first medically supervised safer injection facility. Public Health (2005) 119, 1111–1115
Wood E, Tyndall M, Stoltz J, Small W, Lloyd-Smith E, Zhang R, Montaner J, Kerr T. Factors associated with syringe sharing among users of a medically supervised safer injecting facility. American Journal of Infectious Diseases 2005, 50-54.
Wood E, Tyndall MW, Lai C, Montaner JG, & Kerr T. Impact of a medically supervised safer injecting facility on drug dealing and other drug-related crime. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2006, 1:13.
Wood E, Tyndall M, Stoltz J, Small W, Zhang R, O’Connell J, Montaner J, Kerr T. Safer injecting education for HIV prevention within a medically supervised safer injecting facility. International Journal of Drug Policy 2005; 281-284.
Kerr T, Tyndall M, Li K, Montaner J, Wood E. Safer injection facility use and syringe sharing in injection drug users. Lancet 2005; 366:316-8.
Wood E, Kerr T, Small W, Li K, Marsh D, Montaner J, et al. Changes in public order after the opening of a medically supervised safer injecting facility for illicit injection drug users. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2004; 171:731-4
Tyndall MW, Kerr T, Zhang R, King E, Montaner JG, Wood E. Attendance, drug use patterns, and referrals made from North America’s first supervised injection facility. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 83 (2006) 193–198.
Wood E et al. Attendance at Supervised Injecting Facilities and Use of Detoxification Services. New England Journal of Medicine, June 8, 2006.

Just thought I'd highlight four of the ten studies that were bashed by Abu Gonzo's propaganda arm.

Have a look at the journals they were published in......The Lancet.....The American Journal of Public Health.....The British Medical Journal......The New England Journal Of Medicine.

Those are all journals that actually have a real editoral board, rigorous and unbiased peer review (ie. not your friend who is also at the wingnut welfare trough down the hall), a track record of publishing actual research that can be repeated by others, and citation indexes which indicate that other researchers of some repute actually cite what you have published.

So how come the Canadian Press and all the other news outlets that so eagerly spun themselves into knots flinging this story into the whirlitzer didn't mention any of this?

Because they wanted the headline and because they are lazy - that's why.

And those two things, as Little Johnny Baird has demonstrated repeatedly over the last couple of weeks, are what the professional obfuscators count on.

It also demonstrates why it is so important for people to call them on it.

And Cathie did a very fine job of that.