Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Harkat released!

Well, sort of. Mohamed Harkat was one of the 4 men held on so-called "Security Certificates." He has been held without charge--and without knowing the "evidence" against him---since 2002! Today, a federal court decided that he could be released on $35 000 bail. It is far from over for Mohamed: he will be under very strict house arrest while he awaits a decision about possible deportation and, obviously, June's scheduled Sup. Court session on security certificates (June 13-15).

Read more about Mohamed at Brian O'Connor's site. Brian has been absolutely fantastic on this issue. Please continue to support his efforts to abolish these "security" certificates: march on May 27th, sign the petition, and spread the word!

Read on, MacDuff!

Abortions for some...miniature American flags for others!

Ok, this is beyond ridic: "MP unveils fetal homicide bill: Aims to protect unborn from violence" [TorStar, May 22, by Tonda MacCharles]
A Conservative MP has introduced a private member's bill that would make it a separate criminal offence to harm an unborn child in cases where a pregnant mother is assaulted or murdered.
The bill that pro-choice advocates say has implications for the abortion debate in this country "is not an abortion bill," says Alberta Conservative backbencher Leon Benoit, who describes himself as "pro-life."
It is restricted to cases where women are deliberately targeted for violence, he said.
"To me it's all about protecting, especially, pregnant women against violence, and where they've made the choice to keep their child, of protecting that unborn child."
This is a warmed-over version of the U.S. Laci Peterson law, or "The Unborn Victims of Violence Act" that Bush churned out during 2004. Yeah, it was an election year stunt too: Kerry voted against it noting the poison-pill language that could provide a basis for future attacks on reproductive rights. A very astute blogger at BushCampaignLies put his/her finger on the button:
Kerry opposed this bill because it codifies into law the notion that life begins at conception, which starkly contradicts the position of the pro-choice movement. [...] The fact is that Republicans exploited the Laci Peterson tragedy in order to gain support for the bill --- and demonize its opponents --- precisely so that they could pass legislation which accords the same rights to a fetus as to anyone else.
Thankfully, the Star piece included reaction from the wonderful Mary Eberts (Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, "LEAF"):
...if Parliament passes the bill, it would eventually lead down the path of arguments for more restrictions on abortions, says Mary Eberts, co-founder of the women's Legal Education and Action Fund, and a Charter equality rights litigator.
"It is quite a change philosophically, or in principle, from the foundation of the common law at the present time," Eberts said.
"I think that any such change is bound to set off ripples in future cases or in other situations."
Eberts agrees with Benoit, who cites studies of a higher rate of abuse toward women who are pregnant. But Eberts says Canada's criminal law already takes aggravating circumstances into account upon sentencing. Charging a separate offence would not necessarily lead to more jail time for a convicted offender since multiple sentences are often served concurrently, or at the same time, she adds.
"There may be a kind of symbolic significance to adding this kind of crime, but I think in practical terms if the perpetrator is charged with first-degree murder or second-degree murder, then you would get a good sentence that should satisfy even the most heartbroken of people, and that should also satisfy the conscience of the country.
"We're not just talking about the bereaved families' wish for accountability. Shooting a woman while she is pregnant — she is particularly vulnerable at that time — I would not be the least bit surprised if there was a substantial sentence, and I can't really see what adding this other crime would do except to be satisfying in a symbolic way."
Eberts/LEAF have it exactly right: attacks on women's rights "work" best when they work around the edges. Nibble at the margins until there's nothing left but a rusty coat-hanger in South Dakota. Think I'm over-reacting? Have you seen Frontline's "The Last Abortion Clinic"? Watch it now! Particularly Chapter 2: "Chipping away at Roe v. Wade"
Yes, yes, I know: we're not South Dakota. Or even Mississippi. But we do make our own nutters. Witness "REAL Women" and their campaign to dismantle the Status of Women. I received this warning back in April and didn't even bother to post about it until I was reminded by Monday's article in the Star.

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, May 19, 2006

"Road to Guantanamo" poster censored by MPAA

"Road to Guantanamo," the new movie about The Tipton Three and their experiences at GTMO, has had its advertising censored by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) [Guardian UK]:
The Guantanamo film ran into difficulties with the MPAA last month when it submitted its advertising material for customary review. To the surprise of Howard Cohen, president of Roadside Attractions which is distributing the film in the US, the association demanded that the poster for the R-rated film be toned down.
"It was the head in the burlap sack that pushed it over the edge for them," Mr Cohen said. The film will be advertised instead by a poster which shows only a pair of shackled hands and arms. "It's outrageous that they are objecting to this image ... They are saying ... children in the US should not be allowed to see what it is we are doing to people in Guantanamo." The MPAA offered no comment.
The filmmakers from "Witness Against Torture" have provided a link to the uncensored poster here. I'm posting it too...

Read more about the Tipton Three (Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed) here. [Note: other statements are provided by some other GTMO prisoners, e.g. Omar Khadr]. You can also listen to an interview with their lawyer, Victoria Brittain on Democracynow.org. Victoria is a human rights lawyer and the author of both "Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim's Journey to Guantanamo and Back" (co-author with former-prisoner Moazzam Beg, UK only) and "Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom" (available in Canada).
"Road to Guantanamo" is due in theatres June 23rd.

Read on, MacDuff!

Friday, May 05, 2006

While the cat's away: Pacific NW edition

GDkitty's packin' her bindle and heading out west for a conference. I'll be in Seattle until May 12th. And I don't yet have a laptop, so I can't post while I'm away :( I've been a delinquent blogger lately but I have been stockpiling stuff to post about and I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to recommend:
  1. "Bush turned down chances to kill Zarqawi: ex-CIA spy" Australian Broadcasting scoop
  2. "Cheney has tapped Iranian expatriate, arms dealer to surveil discussions with Iran, officials say" (Raw Story)
  3. Liberal Oasis/Bill Scher's important breakdown of the latest Iran "Chapter 7" UN Resolution stuff
  4. "G-G's husband courts controversy: Jean-Daniel Lafond's new film about an American assassin floats some damning conspiracy theories" (Toronto Star)
  5. "Rumsfeld versus Rumsfeld" By James Mann (LA Times)
  6. "Why it takes a television series to draw attention to a real-life human drama: After 180,000 deaths, American news media leave the story of Sudan to celebrities and ER" (Guardian UK)
I'm sure there were more articles that I wanted to pass along but this is all I can find in my notes from this week. Be good everybody! :)

Read on, MacDuff!

Monday, May 01, 2006

I can't believe it's not butter, Stephen

With the exception of CBC's "The Hour," I've seen nary a clip, blip or mention of Stephen Colbert's breathtakingly ballZy performance at the WH Correspondents' dinner. Oh yes: that's ballZ with a 'Zed' folks. And Stephen has them. Big ones.

Dan Froomkin--my personal favourite at WaPo.com--said it best:
With doppelganger comedian Steve Bridges alongside -- playing his inner self -- Bush poked gentle fun of his own mangling of the English language, his belligerence and his feelings about the media. Then Comedy Central satirist Stephen Colbert ripped those stitches out. [...] So was the biggest news of the night that Bush so effectively and humorously poked fun at himself? Or that a captive president -- and, to a lesser degree, the press corps -- had so sit and watch as they were subjected to devastating, vitriolic satire? Possibly because they themselves were targets, most reporters chose to downplay the Colbert part of the evening.
Enfin, the tribute: "Thank You Stephen Colbert" launched today! Replete with clips of the speech and a place to leave your thanks. Do it, Canada!

BTW, if you missed the 60 mins piece on Colbert, you can watch it here (courtesy of Crooks & Liars).

Read on, MacDuff!