Grieve Christina with Care

Christina Taylor Greene, born at 12:50 p.m. on September 11, 2001; died at 10:10 a.m. on January 8, 2011.

Dear Christina,

I wanted to talk to you before you become a face on plastic amulets in our convenience stores, before the struggle over the meaning of your birth, life and death becomes a fight over political territory. I know I am appropriating your birth and death for myself. I do it with good intentions and in the hope that it would make you happy.

You were born in a moment of your nation’s despair, hatred, fear and rage. You knew none of that but you, as all of us, have lived in its grip for your whole life. It sounds as though your family didn’t let it hold you too hard. You were life for them when their country-people focussed on death. You were beauty and innocence and, little doubt, hope. Someone even put your face in a book called Faces of Hope, so you became a symbol for a larger circle of people than those who knew you and nurtured you.

That circle has failed you, Christina. Perhaps against our own wills we allowed your birth and the nourishment of your young life to be overtaken by our own selfish wishes for revenge, our desire to take back our own innocence by force, by our anger and rage and childishness. We moved from the terrible day of your birth too quickly, forgetting to mourn, forgetting what mourning means. We stayed in our rage and bitterness too long and polluted your environment so that it could no longer sustain you. We are famous for making this kind of mistake.

In the time since you were born we have killed many children like you. We thought we were doing that to protect you, so that you could grow up whole and strong and give us those gifts I see in your eyes. We forgot how easily and quickly we could destroy those gifts if we didn’t prepare ourselves to accept them.

We grew scabs over the pain caused us on the day of your birth. But they were scabs made of fear and a need for retribution and they allowed poisons to fester beneath them. We allowed our wounds to become fuel for violence. We have spent years spitting at each other. For all that I am against war and for peace, people have felt my spit on their faces too, I have been in such a rage about the killing. I know I am part of what killed you.

Yesterday, you went to hear and see Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords because you were interested in the workings of government and your curiosity caused a neighbour to invite you to meet her. Your interest, your neighbour’s interest in you, these are such good things. But we didn’t give you a good or safe place to explore your interests and curiosities. We gave you adults shouting inanities back and forth. We gave you insulting and hurtful and painful chatter. We made fun of people who called the rhetoric hurtful and insulting. We gave you words as weapons and vehicles to carry the poison of those festering injuries we sustained back on the day you were born. And long before that.

I’m not a romantic or an idealist, Christina. It’s become very difficult to say the words “all you need is love” and be taken seriously. Perhaps because we have never really understood what we meant when we said those words. Maybe we thought those words just meant “don’t worry, be happy”. Though even that is hardly a bad thing.

We seem to have forgotten that wise women and men (and children) have pondered the meaning of those words for centuries and only understood them fleetingly and through a dark glass. We don’t think those words are “useful” in “real” life which is harsh and hard and technical and practical and scientific and rational and emotionless. Many people sneer at those words, Christina, and think they are nice enough in a song but of no useful significance. Others think they can use them in their churches and synagogues and mosques and decide what they mean in those limited places and forget what it means to bring them out into the world – the real world that often doesn’t look as though it was made for love but was.

I’ve had a bad year myself, Christina. I watched a livestream of some very vengeful men hurting some peace-loving, gift-bearing people on a ship bound for a place called Gaza and it affected me profoundly even though I wasn’t quite sure how. I watched a bunch of vengeful men, and probably some women, intimidate, corral, beat and imprison some friends of mine in Toronto and it affected me profoundly even though I wasn’t quite sure how. It has seemed in the past year that everything I’ve always worked for and towards was in tatters and that the world was going from bad to worse. I wondered if there was anything I could really hope for, or in, any more. I’ve been pretty angry and have often felt embittered. I use that word, “embittered”, because I felt someone made me bitter, I didn’t take responsibility for choosing bitterness. That was dumb of me. I take that back. I am not bitter, I was just being stupid for awhile. You have caused me to wake up a bit.

I want this bad death that has been inflicted upon you by all of us to lead to something better, if not something good. Like a world where kids can admire and respect and actually learn some wisdom from their elders because their elders have taken the trouble to be respectable and wise. A world where it’s actually sensible to participate in the ways we govern and nurture ourselves and look after others because we do our best at it and respect ourselves and others who try. Hey Christina – a world in which we’ve taken the trouble to know ourselves and understand what a good life might be and care enough to work for it. If we got that for ourselves, if we thought enough of ourselves to demand it, we wouldn’t be able to help being good to each other, because that’s what being good to each other requires.

We need to grieve you now, child. I admit, I’m trying to get on the grief bandwagon here quickly and take over. I know I’m going to be angered by the way your death gets exploited and people tread either too hard or too lightly on your life and its meaning. I know I’m going to get it wrong too. I just hope I can stay committed to a gentle path of grieving you, one on which I don’t cling too hard and fast to anything in particular and don’t respond too nastily to others who think they know what you meant and what you mean. I do think I know something though. I’ll try to hold onto it and share it, in your honour, without wearing my rage.

You are so beautiful. I’m glad to know you. And so sad you are gone.

Canada in Afghanistan

From Graeme Wood at The National:

Over the last three years, the Canadian military and Afghan security forces have fought the Taliban to a bloody stalemate. The Afghan police and army routinely drive over roadside bombs on Highway One, Zhari’s main road, which is bumpy with filled-in craters. In Zhari’s villages (there is no settlement larger than a cluster of a few war-demolished mud buildings), insurgents mount ambushes nearly every day. The Canadians, for their part, have tried to fight the war cleanly, with at times absurd levels of attention to law and rules of engagement. And despite being a modern and impressive fighting force, with armoured vehicles and innovative counterinsurgency tactics, they have died at a rate alarming even for a war zone – over 100 since 2001, in a force of only 2,500 (many of whom are not in combat roles). That death rate exceeds not only the US death rate in Afghanistan, but also the US death rate in Iraq.   [more]

To say that it is far from clear either what Canadian troops are doing in Afghanistan or whether they are even approaching meeting their goals is obvious.  I’m outraged that Canadians are dying at a greater rate than Americans in Iraq though.  Whose war is this?

Read this whole article – it’s clear that the writer thinks that Canadian troops follow the law in a way that’s not for their own good.  I, for one, am glad that is the perception.  Surely it’s the very least we can do?

But why are Canadian and Afghan soldiers and civilians dying?  Why do we have to wait till 2011 to get out.  Who knows what harm Obama can cause between now and then by revving up the war with fresh American troops, as he seems intent on doing.

via 3 quarks daily

Hortense Calisher

The Fiction of Hortense Calisher by Kathleen Snodgrass (Google Books)

Calisher at The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation

Works of Hortense Calisher at the Authors Guild

Calisher’s political activism – co-signed letters to NYRB

Joyce Carol Oates reviewing Calisher’s novel, The Mysteries of Motion:

“Mysteries of Motion” is remarkable in its scrupulous attention to the details, both technological and psychological, of space flight: the sensations of liftoff and an attempted docking; the malaise of nongravity (“Now we desert into an element where the body can never be quite natural again”); the finicky attention to food, drink, hot water, comfort; the commingled wonder, apprehension, excitement, boredom; the necessary claustrophobic focusing upon one’s fellow travelers. Space travel begins to seem not at all visionary but merely practical, inevitable. Earth as the humanists would know it is finished. Gilpin wonders, as we do, “why even ordinary citizens still relegated so much of what was happening in the world to science fiction. They themselves were fiction, to the scientists.”

As the fated Citizen Courier approaches its destination—as the novel confronts its series of surprising climaxes—Miss Calisher’s prose becomes increasingly economic, urgent, surrealistic. Only one passenger goes mad, but all share in the hallucinatory nature of their predicament. As the novel ends, a mechanical failure prevents the spaceship’s landing. It orbits the space habitat, its passengers awaiting rescue, futilely or not they cannot know. Gilpin broods over the arcane term “Psychopannychy … All-night sleep of the soul; a state in which (according to some) the soul sleeps between death and the day of judgment.” Terror and optimism alternate. Gilpin’s logbook is addressed to us in increasingly incoherent language (“broken time, broken language, broken lives always fusing—breaking the mold?”). Long after the journey has ended for the reader, the Citizen Courier’s eloquent voices linger in the mind, haunting and prophetic. “If we are not dead—we are forestalled,” Gilpin observes, speaking, it might be surmised, for us all.

“Are we the country behind you, or the one before?” Gilpin asks rhetorically at the end of the novel and (perhaps) the end of his life. These voyagers set out in search of an ideal, a new civilization. And the fact that they find it difficult, as we all no doubt would, to abandon their earthly concerns, does not in Miss Calisher’s mind diminish the heroism of their attempt.

“Mysteries of Motion” is as demanding a novel as Miss Calisher’s “False Entry” and “The New Yorkers,” but its rewards are well worth the effort.   [more]


From Holcombe B. Noble at the New York Times:

Hortense Calisher, the novelist and short-story writer whose unpredictable turns of phrase, intellectually challenging fictional situations and complex plots captivated and puzzled readers for a half-century, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 97 and lived in Manhattan.  [more]

W.D. Snodgrass

Heart’s Needle

Child of my winter, born
When the new fallen soldiers froze
In Asia’s steep ravines and fouled the snows,
When I was torn

By love I could not still,
By fear that silenced my cramped mind
To that cold war where, lost, I could not find
My peace in my will,

All those days we could keep
Your mind a landscape of new snow
Where the chilled tenant-farmer finds, below,
His fields asleep

In their smooth covering, white
As quilts to warm the resting bed
Of birth or pain, spotless as paper spread
For me to write,

And thinks: Here lies my land
Unmarked by agony, the lean foot
Of the weasel tracking, the thick trapper’s boot;
And I have planned

My chances to restrain
The torments of demented summer or
Increase the deepening harvest here before
It snows again.


W.D. Snodgrass

I mourn his passing.

via Silliman’s Blog

“A Mother From Gaza” Reports

From blogger A Mother From Gaza:

The rains of death continue to fall in Gaza. And silently, we watch. and silently, governments plotted: how shall we make the thunder and clouds rain death onto Gaza? Egypt; the United States; Israel…

And it will all seem, in the end of the day, that they are somehow a response to something. As though the situation were not only acceptable- but normal, stable, in the period prior to whatever this is a response to. As though settlements did not continue to expand; walls did not continue to extend and choke lands and lives; families and friends were not dislocated; life was not paralyzed; people were not exterminated; borders were not sealed and food and light and fuel were in fair supply.

But it is the prisoners’ burden to bear: they broke the conditions of their incarceration. They deviated. But nevertheless, there are concerns for the “humanitarian situation”: as long as they do not starve, everything is ok. Replenish the wheat stocks immediately.

The warden improves the living conditions now and then, in varying degrees of relatively, but the prison doors remain sealed. And so when there are 20 hours of power outages in a row, the prisoners wish that they were only 8; or 10; and dream of the days of 4.

Read her posts here

War Without Outrage

We are more than five years in to the American War in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, where Canadian soldiers are dying,  has raged longer, with no end in sight.   Yesterday, Canada lost another young boy who was soldiering for “us” near Kandahar.  An unknown number of Afghan civilians died as well:

Canada suffered another loss in the grinding war against Taliban bombers yesterday with the death of a soldier in an explosion. The blast came only hours after the military claimed a victory with the killing of an insurgent suspected of masterminding deadly bomb attacks on Canadians.

The flurry of violence on Boxing Day serves as a window on the insurgents’ winter campaign of bombings and the struggle by Canadian intelligence operatives to break the secretive cells of militants who plant the explosives.

The latest blast killed a Canadian soldier and injured three others around 12:45 p.m. local time in Zhari district, about 24 kilometres west of Kandahar city. It happened roughly a dozen kilometres from the stretch of highway where six other Canadians were killed in separate blasts earlier this month.

The man believed responsible for the earlier bombings, known as Shahir Sahib, died earlier in the day as U.S. forces swept into compounds further west of the city during an overnight raid in Maywand district, according to a military statement.

But the raid ignited an angry protest on the main highway later in the afternoon, with local villagers burning tires and blocking the road for three hours, claiming that innocent people were killed in the attack. They also protested against the disappearance of a woman who they mistakenly believed had been detained. The crowd later dispersed after tribal elders explained that the woman had only been taken away for medical treatment.

At one point, witnesses described the unruly mob swelling into a crowd of hundreds and preparing to charge the heavily guarded barricades of Maywand District Centre, the main government outpost in the rebellious district.

Ustad Abdul Halim, an influential tribal leader, said Kandahar’s governor and intelligence chief called him half a dozen times, urgently asking him to help stop the unrest.

The chain-smoking former mujahedeen commander summarized the chaotic events with a simple phrase: “It’s a very bloody day.”

Few details have been released about the Canadian killed yesterday.

The military has told the soldier’s family about the death, and the family has requested a short delay before the name and personal details are publicized.

Helicopters took the three wounded soldiers to a military hospital at Kandahar Air Field, and all of them were listed in good condition last night.

The number of bombings in the districts west of the city has climbed sharply in recent weeks as the cold weather discourages large groups of insurgents from roaming the countryside and the Taliban shift toward attacks that require less manpower.

Unlike other recent bombings, the latest occurred away from the main routes. It appears the Canadians were travelling off-road, a common tactic to avoid Taliban bombs. The dusty flatlands near particularly dangerous stretches of highway are often carved up with dozens of tire tracks as the Canadians try to steer their vehicles along new paths in hopes of missing any buried explosives.

But such tactics have limits; Canadian officials have repeatedly said that better armour and the latest bomb-detecting technology will not keep soldiers completely safe from the bombers, who only adapt to new techniques.

Instead, the Canadians have recently focused on collecting tips and forensic evidence to target the bombers themselves. The military’s claim of success at finding a senior insurgent who planned the recent attacks on Canadian troops – in two blasts, on Dec. 5 and Dec. 13, near the town of Senjaray – is highly unusual because such operations are usually kept secret.

No Canadian soldiers were involved in the raid itself. A U.S. military statement said coalition forces approached a group of compounds about 75 kilometres west of Kandahar city and loudly called on the occupants to surrender peacefully.

“Disregarding these instructions, militants barricaded inside the compounds opened fire on the force using PKM machine guns and AK-47s,” the U.S. statement said.

The soldiers waited until women and children had left the compound before retaliating, the statement said. The battle finished with 11 men killed and one injured woman, who was transported to hospital. She was suffering shrapnel wounds in her leg and is expected to fully recover.

“No martyrs here, just militants who put down roadside bombs that kill innocent Afghans,” the U.S. statement said.

But local villagers said a child was killed and two other women injured and suggested that the U.S. troops had been tricked by a local man into targeting the houses as part of an ongoing feud. The owner of a house targeted in the raid, Nazar Mohammed, had a violent disagreement with his brother-in-law after a recent marriage.

This likely resulted in the tip-off about Taliban activity in the area, according to the group of disgruntled tribesmen who gathered yesterday at Mr. Halim’s house on the west side of Kandahar city.

At the flaming roadblocks farther west on the highway, young men yelled slogans against the foreign troops.

“We will help the Taliban fight and remove the infidels from our area,” one protester said. “The Americans came to kill the ordinary people, not the Taliban.”

Victory?  Defeat?  The words will always be meaningless in Afghanistan (and Iraq as well).

I had to change the word “Kandahar” after I first named the place, above.  The first time round, I said Vietnam.

I was thirteen-years old when I started reading about that war on the front pages of  the Globe and Mail on cold mornings while I ate my toast and peanut butter.  It made me so angry.  In those days, it was possible for us to actually see the destruction done to the countryside in Vietnam, to see the burned villages and fleeing civilians, to see the bodybags holding the bodies of young boys soldiering for something-or-other in that country.  I wonder if that’s what sparked the moral outrage in my heart and soul.  I wonder if I have some sort of flashback to that when I hear of the deaths and maimings and destruction of the social, cultural fabric in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I wonder that partly because I know the outrage doesn’t come from any similar pictures on my evening news or in my daily newspaper – there are none.  Just supposedly evocative stuff like this:


It’s a sad and lonely picture beneath the news of the death of another Canadian soldier, but it doesn’t evoke carnage.  We see none of that from these blacked out war zones.  We don’t live with the blood and the shattered bones.

Is that why the world hasn’t gone, isn’t going, absolutely mad with rage and outrage over these immoral and illegal wars?  I had something in those terrible years of the Vietnam War that I don’t have now.  A whole community that was aware and against and angry and out in the streets letting their voices be heard.  Of course, there was also the draft.  Even I, living in little Willowdale, Ontario knew a kid from Gary, Indiana who had his draft card.  I had cousins in California who might have been drafted any day.  Was it because most of us knew someone who had gone or would go that we were afraid for them, so afraid that we needed a damn good reason for the bodies and lives wasted and when we didn’t get it, we just weren’t going to shut up about it? 

Maybe.  I do know that what I’m missing is the community of the outraged.  I know they’re out there, I read what they write, I donate to the peace organizations.  There’s still the feeling that everyone’s so damn far away.  I want to be out in the streets with everyone, shouting.  I want someone to hear the outrage.  I want someone physically close to express it with.  To some extent, I still don’t really understand why it’s not there.  Maybe I’m not interested in understanding.

Playright Harold Pinter, who died yesterday, thought he understood something about  it.

From his Nobel Laureate speech in 2005, Art, Truth and Politics:

… The United States no longer… sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn’t give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant.

It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain.

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days – conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead?

Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what’s called the ‘international community’. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be ‘the leader of the free world’. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally – a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man’s land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture.

What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You’re either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading – as a last resort – all other justifications having failed to justify themselves – as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it ‘bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East’.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand?

More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they’re interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.

Death in this context is irrelevant. Both Bush and Blair place death well away on the back burner. At least 100,000 Iraqis were killed by American bombs and missiles before the Iraq insurgency began. These people are of no moment. Their deaths don’t exist. They are blank. They are not even recorded as being dead. ‘We don’t do body counts,’ said the American general Tommy Franks.

Early in the invasion there was a photograph published on the front page of British newspapers of Tony Blair kissing the cheek of a little Iraqi boy. ‘A grateful child,’ said the caption. A few days later there was a story and photograph, on an inside page, of another four-year-old boy with no arms. His family had been blown up by a missile. He was the only survivor. ‘When do I get my arms back?’ he asked. The story was dropped. Well, Tony Blair wasn’t holding him in his arms, nor the body of any other mutilated child, nor the body of any bloody corpse. Blood is dirty. It dirties your shirt and tie when you’re making a sincere speech on television.

The 2,000 American dead are an embarrassment. They are transported to their graves in the dark. Funerals are unobtrusive, out of harm’s way. The mutilated rot in their beds, some for the rest of their lives. So the dead and the mutilated both rot, in different kinds of graves.

I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as ‘full spectrum dominance’. That is not my term, it is theirs. ‘Full spectrum dominance’ means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources.

The United States now occupies 702 military installations throughout the world in 132 countries, with the honourable exception of Sweden, of course. We don’t quite know how they got there but they are there all right.

The United States possesses 8,000 active and operational nuclear warheads. Two thousand are on hair trigger alert, ready to be launched with 15 minutes warning. It is developing new systems of nuclear force, known as bunker busters. The British, ever cooperative, are intending to replace their own nuclear missile, Trident. Who, I wonder, are they aiming at? Osama bin Laden? You? Me? Joe Dokes? China? Paris? Who knows? What we do know is that this infantile insanity – the possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons – is at the heart of present American political philosophy. We must remind ourselves that the United States is on a permanent military footing and shows no sign of relaxing it.

Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, shamed and angered by their government’s actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force – yet. But the anxiety, uncertainty and fear which we can see growing daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish.

I know that President Bush has many extremely competent speech writers but I would like to volunteer for the job myself. I propose the following short address which he can make on television to the nation. I see him grave, hair carefully combed, serious, winning, sincere, often beguiling, sometimes employing a wry smile, curiously attractive, a man’s man.

‘God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden’s God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam’s God was bad, except he didn’t have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don’t chop people’s heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don’t you forget it.  [Globe & Mail}

I have a fist too.  It used to be held in the air and often, opened in the “V” of peace.  I wish I could think of something to do with it.

Rest in peace Harold Pinter, artist, man of conscience.  We need to hear more voices like yours.  Or I do.

An Wright on Pinter at CommonDreams

Dziekanski Mounties Won’t Be Charged

From the Globe & Mail:

Four Mounties who used a taser to subdue Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski moments before he died of undisclosed injuries at Vancouver International Airport last year will not face criminal charges for their conduct, B.C.’s criminal justice branch will announce Friday.

CTV News is reporting that the Crown concluded there is insufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution in the case, which raised a furious debate over the police use of tasers that still continues.

The Crown’s decision caps a far-flung investigation by members of B.C.’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team that took officers as far away as Poland.

Zofia Cisowski, Mr. Dziekanski’s mother, said from her home in Kamloops Thursday night that she had been informed of the Crown’s decision by her lawyer, but that she could not comment on the matter before a news conference Friday.

The criminal justice branch of the B.C. Ministry of the Attorney-General has convened a media briefing Friday.   [more]

Most Canadians and many people around the world have seen the video of RCMP officers dealing with Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport, which ended with Dziekanski being tasered not once, but twice, before he collapsed and died.  I found what I saw deeply disturbing, perhaps as disturbing as the video of Rodney King being “subdued” by Los Angeles police.

Obviously, I haven’t reviewed all the “evidence” in the Dziekanski case; but that video is awfully difficult to explain away.

The original video has been removed from YouTube due to “terms of use violation”.  The video I’m posting below is ten minutes long and shows a female passenger talking to Mr. Dziekanski, who calms down substantially while she is doing so.  Dziekanski does pick up a small table at one point, but it looks to me that he is holding up as a shield more than anything else.  He also picks up a chair, but does nothing with it. 

Four RCMP officers approach him and he does walk away from them.  He gestures somewhat wildly at one point and is then tasered.  At this point, the video I’m posting gets difficult to watch – the picture goes sideways and several people stand in front of the camera at various points.  Nevertheless, I think you will get the idea.

Why it took four Mounties and two taserings to deal with this man, I just cannot see.  It’s also more than a little difficult to explain why the Mounties never attempted CPR on this man and why it took so long for an ambulance with paramedics to arrive.

Perhaps we’ll learn more from the inquiry into this man’s death.  But apparently, we’ll not see criminal charges being laid against the Mounties.  It’s difficult to maintain one’s “faith” in the police when we witness acts such as this.  As I see it.

UPDATE:  Nothing said by B.C.’s Crown office has changed my mind.

DR Congo

Amnesty International Call for Protection of Civilians in Democratic Republic of Congo


From The

Last year, Médecins Sans Frontières estimated that 75% of all the rape cases it dealt with worldwide were in eastern Congo. Many young women have been abducted into sexual slavery. In some villages, armed groups kill the men and rape all the women. Many are left HIV positive and pregnant. In some larger towns, such as Shabunda, Congolese human rights groups estimate seven out of 10 women have been raped.

Doctors say the onslaught against women is notable not only for its scale but for its brutality. Gang rapes are commonplace and frequently accompanied by torture in which women are mutilated by having guns or stakes thrust into their vaginas, or their genitals slashed with knives. One in four who make it to hospitals in Goma and Rutshuru require major surgery. More than a third are teenagers.

Human rights groups say that while rape is a product of many conflicts, its systematic nature in Congo makes it a “weapon of war” used to terrorise and punish communities or as a tool of ethnic cleansing.