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police state

Whining Jet, popular Pfizer, bad drivers with red and blue lights

Un-sportsmanlike conduct

Not that the Winnipeg Jets had any chance, in my opinion, but they got their just comeuppance by being beaten four games straight in the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens. They didn’t deserve to win anything after that hit on Jake Evans by Mark Scheifele. All things considered in a high-speed part of a high-speed game, if you’re too damn slow to determine that there’s nothing you can do at that point except hit a guy when he has his head down and has already scored a goal, then you’re not NHL-calibre material, and you need to go back to the beer-hockey league from which you came.

Apparently the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is “popular”!

In a recent Global News broadcast, the teleprompter reader excitedly announced that, since the Pfizer COVID-19 has been so “popular” in this country, Pfizer, out of the goodness of their hearts, will be giving us wonderful, deserving Canadians three million more doses. (OK, the reader didn’t say anything about “out of the goodness of their hearts”, but that was the whole tone of the piece.) My chin hit the floor, and I may have drooled a little. What an asinine thing to say! First of all, it’s “popular” because people are desperate to be vaccinated and get on with their lives, not because it tastes great nine out of ten times in taste tests! And since they’re selling us (not giving us for free) so many more vaccines than the other approved manufacturers, of course their product is relatively more “popular”! My god. Don’t these people have brains?!

Tailgating a cop

Red and blue police lights bar

So I was driving along a freeway in the Greater Vancouver area a few days ago. As is pretty typical in this part of the world, our freeways are, for the most part, only two lanes wide. I suppose the government wasn’t too forward looking back in the 1940s, but neither are they today. One of the many issues exacerbated by two-lane freeways is the congestion that happens at on-ramps. In this case, as I approached an on-ramp, there actually wasn’t any congestion caused by cars moving out of the so-called slow lane into the passing lane to allow cars entering the freeway to do so unimpeded.

As I approached the on-ramp I observed three vehicles on the on-ramp entering the freeway. The middle one was a dirty, blue pick-up truck with a canopy. I maintained my speed — which, I admit, was slightly over the speed limit, but not a speed that was out of line with other traffic on freeways — as I intended to pass the slower vehicles entering the freeway. No problem, right? Except, as happens so often, the pick-up truck decides his wishes are far more important (or he didn’t bother to check his side-view mirror), and he (I assume it was a he, for reasons that will become obvious) pulled into the passing lane with little or no obvious attempt to accelerate past the vehicle that had been in front of him on the on-ramp.

I immediately disengaged the cruise control, and allowed myself to coast up behind the pick-up truck. It is not my practice to overreact to the idiotic behaviour of other drivers, so I did not slam on the brakes and immediately establish a two-second following distance behind an asshole who had impeded my progress on a freeway. As my speed bled off, I guess “he” (the driver of the pick-up truck) didn’t like my following distance. Instead of accelerating as he should have, he flicked on his red and blue police lights. OK, so instead of driving like a reasonable person and not impeding the flow of traffic on a freeway, you’re going to fucking turn on your red-and-blues and show me what a big dick you have, and how you own me. Congratulations, you win!

I again did not slam on the brakes; I just continued to let my speed bleed off until I had established the aforementioned two-second following distance, and we both carried on. I wasn’t going to start flashing my headlights at the moron.

I suppose I’m lucky I didn’t get pulled over and ticketed for following too closely or for speeding, but I have encountered this kind of asshole behaviour by cops in unmarked vehicles before. It just reinforces my view that if you’re a cop, you can do whatever the hell you want, and if you’re not, well … you can’t. One rule for the ruled, and no rules for the rulers.

Enough about COVID

Except to say that Ontario seems to have overstepped the mark, turning themselves into a Draconian society where everyone is pissed off by measures that don’t have any measurable impact. So much for being driven by science. (Doug Ford seems to have woken up since.)

Safeway fraud

Useless Safeway coupon (2019)

Useless Safeway coupon (2019).

This has bothered me for a long time, at least a couple of years but maybe more. (I first scanned one of these coupons in 2019 for this post, but the first website screenshot is from 2018.) Safeway prints out a fuel coupon for “4 cents off/litre” with just about every receipt. But where can I, as a resident of the Greater Vancouver area, use this coupon? According to their own website, the only Safeway with a “gas bar” (as of yesterday) is at “South Trail Crossing” in Calgary! There did used to be a gas bar in Aldergrove, but if I’m out that way I’m usually driving further east, in which case I drive a couple of miles further and I’m out of the Vancouver fuel tax area (or whatever it’s called) and I save even more at one of the fuel stations deliberately set up there. However, according to their website the Aldergrove store doesn’t exist any more.

Useless Safeway coupon (2021)

Unusable Safeway coupon (2021).

A couple of years ago I literally threw the coupon back at the cashier and told them it was a “waste of paper and a fraud”. I have to get back into that habit, as it’s dishonest of Safeway to “gift” their customers with something they can’t even use.

Shaw

Speaking of customer feedback, Shaw called me recently to renew my two-year contract with them. I immediately launched into how pissed off I am at their cable service, and how I will become an ex-customer if their merger with Rogers goes through. The guy actually had the balls to tell me that the merger was not his responsibility! So I told him how I don’t have the ear of Brad Shaw, so the only thing I can do is talk to his employees and tell them how pissed off I am. It’s then his job to tell his supervisor, whose job it is to then tell his manager, who passes it on up the line to Brad Shaw.

Are employees not taught any more how customer feedback works, or do companies rely completely on leading survey questions that always lead companies to conclude that they’re the most wonderful thing since sliced bread?

Robert Dziekanski

I noted that it would have been Robert Dziekanski’s 54th birthday on 15 April. If the RCMP hadn’t murdered him for no reason.

Racist attacks on Asians in the US

Did anyone notice a couple of weeks ago that the attacks on Asians in New York City caught on video where perpetrated by Blacks? Am I allowed to say that? I thought only Whites were racist? I’m so confused.

“Do you identify as an Indigenous person?”

Speaking of race, I noticed when registering for a COVID-19 vaccine recently that I was asked this question. It’s emblematic of Canada’s relationship with the country and people they colonised, but it exposes the weaknesses in “politically correct” use of language. I am fully supportive of trans-gendered people, but I can decide today that I “identify” as female; if I do, it will be politically incorrect to question me and ask to check my shorts, but I can guarantee that if I answered “yes” to this question, I’d be questioned at the vaccine site and sent away.

Off-duty cops pulls gun on unarmed arsonist; arsonist wins

In the keystone cops department, we recently had a case here where an arsonist set two fires at Masonic Temples in North Vancouver, in broad daylight, then drove across the bridge and did the same at another in Vancouver. He was brazen about it! At the last a bystander videoed him walking away from the front door with a jerry can back to his car. An apparently off-duty police officer approaches his with his drawn pistol. You’d think that would be the end of it, according to the NRA in the United States, where armed members of the public are supposed to keep the world safe from criminals. But no, the arsonist shrugs off the cop, and goes home to boast about his escapades on social media. He was later arrested somewhere other than one of the scene of his crimes, where he was “threatened” by the cop.

If there was an opposite of a police medal (booby prize?), this cop should get it. But first the cops should be trained on what to do in that situation. Step 1 should not be to draw your weapon. That’s going nuclear from the get-go, and we all know that cops are absolutely incapable of backing down, or de-escalating, a situation. So if you’re going to open the confrontation by drawing your gun, the only option then is to shoot the guy if he doesn’t comply with your orders. As moronic as the arsonist is, arson in and of itself is not a capital crime. (We can argue whether or not stupidity should be.) But if a cop really thinks that a brazen arsonist is just going to get on his knees and kiss his boots as soon as he has a pistol pointed at him, the cop is almost as moronic.

BBC News website

BBC registration pop-up

BBC registration pop-up.

I get my news from a variety of websites, but one of the main ones is BBC News. However, they have taken to harassing me lately with pop-ups (see image) and banners, insisting that I register … which I see as an ominous sign. One banner or pop-up states that “you can get the news you want”, or words to that effect. I don’t know how an international organisation with the reach and expanse of the BBC can’t see how fucking stupid that is. The reason the whole world is becoming and has become more polarised is precisely because people are being siloed into news bubbles, never seeing anything that “disagrees” with their view of the world. This is, apparently, how they’re trying to sell me on the concept of registering with them.

Prince Philip (10 June 1921 - April 2021), BBC

Prince Philip (10 June 1921 – April 2021), BBC.

In other BBC news, they had the dates of Prince Philip’s life as “10 June 1921 – April 2021”. Yes, no actual day in the date of his death. The BBC is good in their coverages of world news, but their Web team is letting them down.

Prince Philip

Speaking of Prince Philip, I noticed a woman (not a CBC journalist) on the CBC (I believe it was) professing, quite proudly, her ignorance of Prince Philip. This is how low the CBC has gone; they now give air time to people who are mindfully ignorant of world affairs.

The coming US civil war

Quite frankly, I have lost my will to write this piece. It’s now as obvious as the nose on my face to just about everyone how bad the situation is in the United States. I don’t need to assemble all the facts and lay them out along with my prediction.

There are so many sides: you have a president who foments just about every negative, anti-government grievance a paranoid American can think of, whether it’s against the Internal Revenue Service, Democratic state governors (viz. Michigan/Whitmer/kidnapping/”liberation“), the US Postal Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Fauci himself personally, whatever organisation(s) is/are in charge of running elections (and collecting all of those “fraudulent” mail-in ballots), masks and the “China virus”, and Blacks, Latinos, anyone whose ancestry can be traced to a “shithole country”, killed and captured war veterans … the list goes on and on and grows by the day; you have ordinary Americans who just want to get on with their lives; you have members and supporters of the Democratic Party who would like nothing more than to get rid of the guy; you have the National Rifle Association; you have The Lincoln Project; you have supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement; and on and on that list goes too. What has been and is happening in various major American cities (especially Portland) are, in fact, small civil wars, just very disorganised and disjointed.

On 3 November, election day, Americans may not get the decisive results they are used to as quickly as they’re used to. This is apparently because about half the number of people who voted in the 2016 election have already voted by mail and in advance polls, and those votes won’t all be counted on election night. Trump has already sown the seeds that some will see as a green light to action of some sort, by claiming that, if he loses, the election will have been “rigged”. Any delay in the results will be seen as time for machinations to rig the vote. It will be the only possible explanation for his loss. And if you’re a “good, patriotic” American with a gun, a stockpile of ammunition and a few friends, what would you do? The country is riddled with those nutjobs; hardly a day goes by in America without some mass murderer or spree killer doing his thing.

You know, it amazes me; generally speaking, people get better at something the more they practise it. Some Americans love to refer poetically to what they call their “experiment” in democracy. (After a couple of centuries, you’d figure it wasn’t still an experiment!) And yet, to this day, they have those in power doing everything they can to make it difficult for people to exercise their democratic right to vote. We recently had an election here in British Columbia, and I voted in an early poll. I was in and out of the polling station within five minutes (including parking and walking from and back to my car), and yet, night after night on the news we see queues miles long of Americans trying to vote in their early polls. You really need to be dedicated! And in Texas, their governor has limited election drop boxes to one per county; one county had advertised twelve drop boxes over their 2000 square miles! Of course, it’s all in the name of “enhance[d] ballot security” and “the integrity of our elections,” not vote suppression at all. In most democracies the election authorities will go out of their way to make it so easy to vote they’ll even wipe your ass while you do, but in the American “experiment” they go out of their way to make it as difficult as possible!

The US might not exactly be one of Trump’s “shitholes”, but it sure is a shit show!

Canada-China prisoner swap

Protest sign calling for the release of Kovrig and Spavor.

Protest sign calling for the release of Kovrig and Spavor

It seems bizarre to me to be writing about this kind of medieval or (I suppose) Cold War-type prisoner swap in the 21st century, but it seems that some countries (namely China) are still in that kind of backwards mindset. (This is particularly ironic, given the assertion by the deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department [Zhao Lijian] that other countries [namely the US] suffer from a “Cold-War mentality“! Proof that politicians everywhere talk out of both sides of their mouths.)

I’d like to make clear a few of my assumptions and biases first:

  • I am not under the influence of China or any Chinese pressure groups, and presumably the authors of both of the letters to which I refer below are not either,
  • I travel internationally as much as I can, and although I have travelled to China, I have not (so far) knowingly travelled to any countries where my life or liberty might be in danger,
  • I am a dual citizen.

I have read the letter from the “distinguished Canadians” to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (cached copy), and I think it forms a basis on which Canada could move forward. It disgusts me that a reasonably civilised country like Canada should be in this position, but it is; it’s similarly repugnant that a country like China, who would like to present themselves to the world as being civilised (all the while acting the global bully wherever it thinks it can get away with it), would do such a thing. But they have, and here we are. And why have they taken hostages? Well, Meng Wanzhou isn’t some low-life drug trafficker or any other alleged common criminal; she seems to be about as close as you can get to royalty in China in the modern age, just without (obviously) the diplomatic immunity. Quite frankly, their taking hostages is the international equivalent of an unhappy child throwing their toys out of their cot!

Among the objections to this course of action are those of Trudeau himself (and presumably therefore the Government of Canada) and 53 signatories of an opposing letter from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. The objections seem to boil down to three primary issues, with a fourth unstated openly by the Canadian government:

  • Principles: A prisoner swap would weaken Canada’s principles. It matters not that two innocent Canadians have been deprived of their liberty for a year and a half (so far), as long as some unarticulated principle is upheld. I’ll address that shortly.
  • Giving in to hostage takers: I see the value in not giving in to the demands of hostage takers, but in my mind there is a significant difference between a hostage taker that also happens to be a state, and a hostage taker that is an individual or a group (e.g., a terrorist organisation), i.e., not a state. Quite frankly, a state that violates the norms of international practice (if not law) and takes hostages, is a pariah state, and one that should be isolated by all states. Of course, I’m no naïf, and I know that a superpower like China can’t and won’t be isolated by all states, but there are measures that Canada, and others, can take. Also more on that shortly.
  • Endangering travelling Canadians: As if Canadians are somehow magically protected when they’re travelling internationally now, the assertion is made that negotiating the release of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig will result in Canadians abroad being taken hostage with more frequency. I feel that theory holds when we’re talking about hostages taken by the aforementioned individuals or groups, but not when we’re talking about hostages taken by states. If the principles of due process, comity and international law are not strong enough to prevent states from exercising their unlimited power within their own borders to arbitrarily detain random foreigners, does anyone really think that an unspoken “disapproval” of hostage taking is going to achieve the same goal?!
  • Canada’s commitment to lawful extraditions, and in particular to the United States: While there is no doubt that following some sort of process to “free” Chinese citizen Meng Wanzhou from Canada’s legal system will royally piss of the Americans, let’s not lose sight of the fact that her arrest under an extradition request is nothing short of the United States using an extradition treaty to prosecute their global foreign policy (particularly against Iran and China in this case) through a third party (Canada), not enforcing criminal law alleged to have been broken on its own soil by one of its own citizens. Now, I don’t claim any expert knowledge of extrajurisdictionality (especially as the principle applies to international sanctions), but it seems to me that this must be considered differently to cases involving the citizens of one’s own country fleeing to other jurisdictions to avoid prosecution in the home jurisdiction. In my opinion the United States and China — their empires colliding — need to use other means to carry out their mutual attempts to exert international control, in ways that don’t compromise their so-called allies … or in the latter’s case, the country that many of their citizens now call home, and will likely be calling home to a greater extent following Beijing’s crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong.

On the part of those advocating something more expedient (so to speak) there are the principles of fairness and humanity. It’s not news to most people that communist systems tend to “[override] individual self-interest and [subjugate] the welfare of the general population to achieve [their] goals“, and it’s quite clear to any observer that the “individual self-interest” of the Two Michaels (or their families) is of no interest to the Chinese Government. Then there’s the degree to which Canada’s foreign policy (especially with respect to China) has been hobbled by their inability to speak more bluntly where China continues to abuse its own citizens ([Hong Kong] (whose refugees will shortly be flooding Canada, the UK and other countries), [Tiananmen Square], etc.), its neighbours ([India], [Taiwan], etc.), and others around the world — as they are doing to Canada right now. If a country’s policy in one area or another is hobbled by an identifiable cause, then it certainly is a matter of national interest and perhaps security to take whatever action is necessary to address the problem!

So what’s my suggestion? Glad you asked. I think Canada should negotiate and implement these points:

  • The last thing Canada should do is simply “free” Meng Wanzhou and then “hope” that China reciprocates. That’s just insanity! Even if they do reciprocate, it could still be years before the Two Michaels are released under one mechanism (also trumped up) or another, simply to show who has the power in the relationship, and to give China the ability to claim (falsely of course) that the release of the Michaels was not connected. No, if China has actually gone as far as to tacitly acknowledge that they have apprehended the Michaels on trumped-up espionage charges, then Canada should publicly state to China that we are ready to negotiate a prisoner swap, and move to begin the negotiations. (To quote China: “Zhao Lijian: … we have also seen reports of an interview with Kovrig’s wife on June 23, during which she said that the Canadian justice minister had the authority to stop Meng Wanzhou’s extradition process at any point; such options are within the rule of law and could open up space for resolution to the situation of the two Canadians.“)
  • The prisoner swap must be very public, and televised on live television in both countries. Since Canada and China don’t share a land border, I suggest that a Royal Canadian Navy ship meet with a PLA Navy ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to do the exchange, preferably over a gangplank between the ships. Alternatively, and slightly more practically I suppose, the prisoner exchange could take place on one of China’s land borders, or perhaps in the Korean DMZ.
  • Canada's Hong Kong travel advisory, 2 July 2020.

    Canada’s Hong Kong travel advisory, 2 July 2020

    One of the less obvious unilateral actions that Canada (and actually, all countries) should take in the current international climate is to start negotiating bilateral “non-hostage” treaties with other countries, possibly connected to extradition treaties. How would these work? Well, you simply make a pact with another country that neither of you will take each other’s citizens hostage. Of course, arrests in the course of normal law enforcement would be acceptable, but not arbitrary detentions with no evidence. If Canada doesn’t have such a non-hostage treaty with a country, then the travel advisory for that country would state, in very prominent and unambiguous wording, that a such a treaty does not exist and therefore Canada very strongly warns against travel to that country. (There is currently, as of 10 July 2020, a similar warning on the Government of Canada Hong Kong travel advisory [see screenshot] on the “laws and culture” tab, but it is neither prominent nor strong enough, and there is nothing on the China travel advisory advising against travel there except for COVID-19 reasons.) Without a non-hostage treaty, if a Canadian citizen (for the sake of this example) is arbitrarily detained (taken hostage) then Canada will make attempts to provide consular assistance, but will not try that hard. This is more likely to have a greater effect on dual citizens (of which I am one, I should make clear), especially for those for whom Canadian citizenship is a citizenship of convenience.

I have no doubt that the Government of Canada is indeed “doing” something in the background (as happened in Egypt recently), even if it’s just talking amongst themselves, but to the rest of us beer-swilling plebs in the deserted (at the moment) pubs and stalking the blogosphere, it sure looks like the safety and security of Canadians abroad is not a concern to Canada, contrary to their professions otherwise.

Canada is small potatoes to China, in probably every way you can think of except land mass, coastline and morals, but everyone learns when they are still a child that bullies can be stood up to. This is what Canada and most of the rest of the world must to do to stop, or at least ameliorate, China’s bullying tactics. I don’t in any way suggest that China needs to be stomped down as the “enemy”, but just as happens with individual humans they have become too big for their breeches, and for that there are or need to be consequences. Part of the “problem” with China is not even the fault of the Chinese; it’s the West’s constant obsession with “unlimited growth”. However, that’s a debate for another day.

Collage: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor (the Two Michaels).

Collage: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor (the Two Michaels)

Civil war in the US?

I’ve had a piece in the works since April — but actually in my mind for years — about the coming civil war in the United States of America. But holy shit, I’m not sure I’ll get around to finishing it in time for it to be predictive!

mugabe is finally dead!

Epitomising the adage, “Only the good die young,” robert mugabe has finally kicked off at 95 … in a foreign hospital, of course, since he had almost completely destroyed the medical system (along with just about everything else) in his own country. It’s nauseating to read some of the crap about him now, after being an international pariah for the better part of three decades and a domestic terrorist for many years longer than that … both before and after independence in 1980. Yes, I can see how some people benefited from his existence for a relatively short period of his life, but he was a walking, talking piece of shit. I hope he and joshua nkomo are burning fiercely in hell at this moment.

It’s a bit of an anticlimax though, after waiting all this time. And nothing will improve on the ground for ordinary Zimbabweans, as the country is still in the iron grip of a dictatorship run by mugabe’s crony and protégé, Mnangagwa. The country desperately needs younger leadership not mired in the “struggle” and old mentalities of the last century. Zimbabwe has existed for almost three times as long as Rhodesia existed, for fuck’s sake! It has the same natural wealth with which Rhodesia was blessed, and newer technology to exploit that wealth, and yet the country became the basket case of the region instead of the breadbasket of Africa it once was!

It’s time to move on.

Zimbabwe orgasms: Independence 5.0

"The Herald" front page, 22 November 2017.

“The Herald” front page, 22 November 2017

Although not in quite the same morbid manner as described in The last days of robert mugabe (which is actually based on an interview with Emmerson Mnangagwa last year), his portrait has indeed finally “fallen off the wall” in Zimbabwe! The country has come to its senses, and Zimbabweans collectively have finally grown a pair, even if the developments do not guarantee that there will be any change in the way that ZANU-PF will continue governing the country. More cojones may still be needed by the populace in the short term, not to mention patience.

The title of this brief, celebratory post makes two references: first, to the release today of emotion that has been pent up in Zim for 37 years. The scenes on the streets of Harare and Bulawayo (and I’m sure many other places in the country) were nothing short of orgasmic. Having left Rhodesia 38 years ago, I was surprised at my own emotional reaction to the news.

Secondly, some are referring to this as a new independence day, so let’s take stock of how many Zimbabwe (and Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia before it) has had:

  • 1.0 (1923): Southern Rhodesia attains “responsible government”.
  • 2.0 (1963): Southern Rhodesia attains independence from the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
  • 3.0 (1965): The Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom made by Ian Smith.
  • 4.0 (1980): In an act of theatre, a bureaucrat named Soames shows up from the UK and ushers Rhodesia (via Zimbabwe Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia once again) to the latest version of independence as Zimbabwe.
  • 5.0 (2017): Within days (ironically) of the 52nd anniversary of Independence 3.0, Zimbabwe casts off robert mugabe and a “#NewEra” is declared, many referring to it as a new “Independence Day”.

I shall optimistically keep my fingers crossed for Zim.


Updated, 24 November 2017: Pointed out that the article linked to is actually based on an interview with Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The last days of robert mugabe

Interesting article by Martin Fletcher, yet another about the “coming cataclysm” that will happen when mugabe’s “portrait falls off the wall” — a rather amusing euphemism I’ve just learnt that Zimbabweans use to refer to mugabe’s oft-predicted “imminent” death.

I’m in no position these days to agree or disagree with much of what he predicts, although it’s certainly interesting. As he points out, muggers is only 93, while his mother lived “beyond 100” so we could be in for another decade of his misrule, murder and mayhem, not to mention ongoing predictions of his death. If only there was someone in Zimbabwe with a complete set of testicles.

Anyway, being the picky bastard that I am I feel it’s my job to point out contradictions. Evoking images of Dresden, Fletcher inaccurately states that by 1980 Rhodesia “had been destroyed by 15 years of war and sanctions”, and then later in the same article states, “[m]ugabe inherited a country that, for all its faults, was blessed with fine infrastructure [and] functioning institutions …. Today it is a failed state in all but name”. When I boarded a plane leaving Salisbury on 6 June 1979, the country (Zimbabwe Rhodesia) I left behind was in no way “destroyed”. Yes, the West and the Communist World had banded together to destroy any hope of Rhodesia managing its own affairs and an orderly transition to majority rule, but my airliner did not overfly the barren, bombed out, smoking wasteland evoked by Fletcher’s first statement.

He also states that in 1980 mugabe “built schools and hospitals for black Zimbabweans and encouraged agriculture.” I have to laugh at that last part, as if people interested in self-preservation need to be “encouraged” by a dictator to grow food to feed themselves. But it is ironic that Rhodesia’s detractors in one breath accuse us of apartheid and building separate educational and medical facilities for blacks and whites, are then accuse us in the next breath of not building schools and hospitals for black people at all! Such is the nature of hyperbole.

After pointing out what fine infrastructure and institutions mugabe inherited, Fletcher goes on to give a decent — but of course woefully incomplete — summary of how mugabe has fucked Zimbabwe:

“Today it is a failed state in all but name: a nation of hawkers, foragers and scavengers. A quarter of the population has left; in other words, more Zimbabweans now work overseas than at home. The average monthly household income is $62. Life expectancy is 55 years, one of the lowest in the world. Four million of Zimbabwe’s 14 million people [30%] survive on food aid, and a quarter of its children are stunted by malnutrition.

“The country’s hospitals can no longer afford painkillers for major operations. Its embassies cannot pay their rent and utility bills. Its national airline can no longer fly to Heathrow, because of outstanding debts. It sells its elephants, giraffes and other wildlife to China. Beyond its urban centres, the country has reverted from tractors to ox-drawn ploughs, light bulbs to candles, the wheel to foot, cash to barter.

“It is also corrupt from top to bottom, ranking 150th out of 168 in Transparency International’s global corruption index. By [m]ugabe’s own admission, its leaders have siphoned $15bn from the Marange diamond fields in the east since 2008 — four times Zimbabwe’s annual budget. Several times I was stopped at police checkpoints whose purpose was not to enforce law and order but to fleece motorists. I was fined once for not having honeycomb reflectors on the front of my rental car, and a second time for not coming to a complete stop at a junction. ‘The whole system is infested with leeches sucking the remaining blood from the rotten corpse of Zimbabwe,’ a white businessman told me.”

And the West wonders why it is being inundated by refugees from Africa! I’d want to leave too. But Zimbabweans got what they wanted when they voted mugabe into power in 1980 … thirty-seven years ago! Any arriving these days on the coasts of Italy and Greece should be sent back to fix the mess that they got themselves into, not take up residence in a country ruled by the people they kicked out of theirs! And if you think it’s a mess now, wait until mugabe finally kicks off. It won’t just be a “cataclysm”; it will be a bloodbath.

Killer Cops: Surrey RCMP

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015

As I write this — 01:30 on Friday 24 July — a Surrey RCMP vehicle is sitting outside my house with its red-and-blue lights flashing. The street is quiet now, but earlier it looked like they were having someone’s vehicle taken away on a flat-bed tow truck, “they” being the occupants of at least three police cars.

Fresh in my mind is the shooting and killing of Hudson Daryl Willis Brooks — virtually a neighbour to me, I would assume, the same age as (and a student of the same university attended by) a friend of mine — on 18 July 2015, only six days ago and only six blocks from my home, right outside the RCMP office there. The media is, strangely, quite quiet on this story. I don’t know why this is.

I wasn’t there the night (about this time of the day) Hudson was shot and killed by members of the Surrey RCMP. But as someone who watches this play out in the news far too often and who sees the police on the streets of my community, I come to my own conclusions.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015: “In God’s Name WHY??? RCMP.”

We’re all familiar with the “cop type”, be they male or female: the puffed out chest, accentuated by the bullet-proof vests they feel the need to wear to protect themselves from people who don’t like cops … hard to imagine why. Whether they’re swaggering into a doughnut shop or into the middle of a “situation”, their swagger is accentuated by their utility belt bristling and jingling with equipment, and the speed with which they implement their unofficial “comply or die” policy. (Said equipment includes not just their side arm, taser, handcuffs, etc., but also all of the other stuff that gets marketed to cops by various businesses that thrive off of their desire to be kitted out with all the latest cool shit: two-way radios, flashlights that double as a weapon to beat someone down, and the ever-present cool sunglasses that mean they don’t have to make eye contact with whomever they’re beating or shooting or intimidating.) And let’s not ignore the trend in recent years to adopt American-style black-based colour schemes in uniforms and car paint jobs (with the notable exception of the RCMP, I should note); clearly nobody cared to conduct anything like a poll or a focus group among ordinary citizens, who find the adoption of such a colour to be vaguely intimidating. But, of course, the cops know this, and anything that makes them more intimidating is perfectly fine with them.

Now, I’m not suggesting the cops don’t need equipment at hand or that they shouldn’t wear bullet-proof vests, but the biggest thing that comes strutting down the street, generally speaking, is not the cop, his or her utility belt or vest, or the black race cars they think they’re driving, but their inflated fucking egos! This is what is demonstrated just about every single time you see a video of a cop behaving badly these days, whether beating an individual or trying to intimidate the crowd that gathers that, one of these days, is going to lynch a cop. This is what was on display the night that Robert Dziekanski was killed by the police at Vancouver International Airport, when “comply or die” was implemented within — what? — about 26 seconds of arrival by the four massive, 747 Jumbo-sized egos that swaggered into the airport terminal and unnecessarily vaulted over barriers they could have walked around. This was what was on display by the Vancouver Police Department when they shot and killed a mentally-challenged guy swinging what some witnesses described as a “stick”. And although it seems that there were no independent witnesses to the lonely death of Hudson Brooks that night, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that he died within seconds of the cops swaggering onto the scene with their “comply or die” attitude.

No fucking doubt in my mind.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015

And just like the character assassination the RCMP implemented in the media against Robert Dziekanski in 2007, it was quickly revealed that one of the cops was shot. Days later it was revealed that no weapons other than cop weapons were found at the scene, so Hudson wasn’t armed, it would seem. Hmm, another unarmed and probably innocent citizen — apparently calling out for help, just like Dziekanski was — gunned down by police, this time in the dead of the night (pun not intended) with nobody around to see. What lies will the cops tell about that night? No doubt they’ll say that Hudson went for a gun, or that he was resisting arrest and so had to suffer the consequences of the overarching “comply or die” directive. What kind of testosterone-laden morons (and I use that term to apply equally to all genders of the RCMP and other police forces) are we hiring these days?

Speaking of which, some of the employers of these cops — that would be the tax-paying public — expressed their disgust at their employees by spray-painting graffiti on and around the police station a couple of days later. Of course, the police are actively investigating that heinous crime, something far more serious than the killing of citizens who are more likely in need of help than a bullet.

Anyway, back to the cop who was parked in the road outside my house for anywhere between thirty and sixty minutes in a no-stopping zone this morning. Sure, it’s the middle of the night, there is another lane for traffic to go around, and traffic wasn’t exactly backing up behind him (or her). With the other cops having left the scene it looked to me like this cop was doing paperwork in his car, his bright lights flashing into the windows of all of the surrounding houses where people are trying to sleep. He certainly didn’t seem to be doing any sort of investigative work on the road itself — there was no accident — and he could easily have pulled into the side street (the corner of which he was also dangerously partially blocking) or the shopping centre across the street and turned off his flashing lights. But he didn’t.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015.

Hudson Brooks memorial, Surrey, BC, 7 August 2015

There wasn’t any actual swaggering going on, but quite clearly this cop thinks he is more goddamned important than anyone else, and it doesn’t matter to him that he is projecting his massive ego into the houses around him and blocking half the street with it. It’s this kind of attitude that he (or she) and his ilk drag into any interaction with the general public, and which results in tasers or guns being quickly drawn and used. If that was me sitting in my car blocking half the street, perhaps I’d have been on the wrong end of a Surrey RCMP member’s loaded gun tonight.

“Comply or Die”

Yet again we have Canadian police killing civilians, acting as judge, jury and — most importantly — executioner. While we wait for a thorough and impartial investigation — in our dreams — of the shooting of Sammy Yatim in Toronto, as with the killing of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver Airport in 2007 it’s certainly telling to note that the cops had apparently killed him within 39 seconds of arriving on the scene, even as he stood alone inside a tram car! Do the cops not learn anything from their past behaviour?!

Unlike the Dziekanski case though, this cop clearly shot to kill. You don’t fire nine shots into someone expecting that they’ll be providing fingerprints and a mug shot down at the cop shop later. Oh, and just for good measure (kind of a “fuck you, punk”), one of the 23 cops on the scene (because apparently all the thugs in town wanted a piece of the action) then tasered Yatim’s lifeless body, before ironic first aid was performed on him. (Actually, one can’t help but wonder if the taser was deployed only so that the cops could say that they tried to subdue Yatim with it. A little fudging of the time line in the cops’ notes would have been required of course, but that’s OK, as long as the bad guy dies.)

Part of the report on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s The National on 28 July 2013 included an interview with a former Toronto cop who, while being critical of the speed with which Yatim was executed, used the term “Comply or die.” I’d never heard the term before, but it so poetically and succinctly seems to sum up what appears to be the motto of most police forces these days.

Rather than engage the population they’re supposed to protect in order to use “minimum force” and avoid violence — yes, even apparent bad guys with knives need to be engaged unless loss of life is imminent — cops these days seem to be on a rampage, killing, tasering or pepper-spraying anybody that even dares to look at them sideways. It doesn’t even matter that you’ve managed to live for a half century or more without so much as stealing a penny candy as a kid or getting a parking ticket, you too can find yourself on the wrong end of a weapon held by a mentally unstable cop who is miffed at you for not immediately getting down and kissing his jackboots the moment he (or she in the case of “Constable 728”, aka Stefanie Trudeau) barks a command in your direction, even when you hadn’t heretofore even had a reason to note the cop’s presence.

And that last point is important to note. All sorts of people come to the defence of the cops in cases like this for all sorts of reasons, many of whom probably fit into my penny candy / parking ticket description. Based on their life experiences, it’s obvious to them that anyone who incurs the wrath — or even just the attention — of the police is obviously guilty of something. It doesn’t really matter what that “something” is; for these people you’re guilty until proven innocent, and “you must have done something to deserve being shot, tasered or pepper-sprayed.” Or, in the case of completely blameless Buddy Tavares and his assailant RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler, you must have done something to deserve having said jackboot forcibly applied to your lips to assist you in planting the kiss.

That old adage about walking a mile in someone’s shoes comes to mind.

Related to this story but with reference to my previous post about the Canadian media, I found it odd how CBC television news showed pictures of Yatim looking like something of a gangster but had a former Toronto cop on who questioned the speed of the use of force, while Global television news showed pictures of a clean-cut young kid, but had on their own “expert” who said that cops had no choice but to shoot to kill.