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November 29, 2011

The Art of Turn of the Century Mug Shots

ART HISTORY - They're not abstract art paintings like those of Toronto artist Laura Warburton... but they're definitely interesting to look at.

The Helen McClung Gallery at the Archives of Ontario building at York University is displaying 100 striking photographs in “Arresting Images” until December 9th 2011. The photos were part of a cache of 474 turn of the century photographs from the OPP’s Niagara regional headquarters and were uncovered during some housecleaning in the 1960s.

The photos are mostly for petty crimes such as burglary and shoplifting. The one at the top here was arrested for having a tattoo of a woman on his arm. (Apparently tattoos of women were illegal in 1907.)

And if mug shots isn't your thing, check out Laura Warburton's Open House on Saturday, December 10th. 1 PM to 6 PM. It is at 55 Mill Street, Building #74, Studio #401, the Distillery District, Toronto.

Top Brass ordered False Arrests during G20

CANADA - Toronto man Jason Wall has won his lawsuit against Toronto police for his treatment during the G20. He was on his way home to go to church on Sunday, June 27th 2010, when he was "mobbed by police" and arrested for wearing a bandanna (which they considered to be a disguise). He was then verbally abused and handled roughly before being released without charge the next day. Jason Wall has settled the lawsuit against Toronto police for an undisclosed amount and terms.

Not only was his arrest illegal, but a OPIRD report on his case shows senior police command ordered officers to deliberately make illegitimate arrests, stopping people for wearing black clothing or carrying a backpack, or any number of idiotic reasons, just so police could claim to the media that they arrested suspects.

“We need to hold police accountable,” says Jason Wall, a 25-year-old Toronto graphic designer.

Wall has settled a $25,000 lawsuit against Toronto police on undisclosed terms, and will hold a news conference Tuesday.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OPIRD) report concluded that Jason Wall was arrested illegally on a charge of wearing a disguise with intent. Wearing a bandanna on its own does not show intent. Many people at the G20 wore something to protect their nostrils and eyes in event of police using teargas.

A “disguise” on its own is not enough for a charge but requires the intent to commit an indictable offence, the report said.n

Officers detaining Wall on June 27, 2010, told OPIRD investigators they were instructed to arrest people wearing bandannas, masks or gas masks concealing their identity. One officer said he was told to search anyone with a backpack, and if that person refused, he or she could be arrested for obstructing police.

The report shows the many unlawful arrests of the G20 weekend were not just the result of a few bad apples or overreaction from front-line officers. “The orders must have come from the top," says lawyer Davin Charney.

In a related story there are photos of Black Bloc members wearing police issue boots. This has sparked a theory that the so-called anarchist group was actually police in disguise the whole time. One photo shows a Black Bloc member with an arm tattoo and there are other photos of a police officer with the same build with an identical tattoo.

Increasingly it is becoming clear that all the G20 arrests was part of a carefully orchestrated plan coming from Ottawa.

Eurozone Credit Crunch

POLITICS - The European Union is facing a huge credit crunch and there really is only one solution...

Raise corporate taxes and income tax on the rich.

Instead the 17 finance ministers of the countries that use the Euro met at the EU headquarters today in a desperate bid to protect the value of the Euro and prevent a debt-induced financial tsunami that could sweep Europe.

The problem is that a number of European countries are spending beyond their means and their taxes are too low to support such spending. If they cut jobs it will cause a recession.

And you can't keep raising taxes on the poor and middle class, because that will also spark a recession.

The ONLY solution is to raise corporate taxes and income tax on the rich. Because the rich can afford it.

The problem is that the rich also make political donations and don't like extra corporate taxes. Which puts politicians in a hard place. Do they let their economy crumble (in which case the rich keep getting richer anyway) or do they become fiscally responsible?

The 17 ministers are discussing ideas that would have countries ceding fiscal sovereignty to a central authority; some kind of elite group of Euro nations that would guarantee one another’s loans — but require strong fiscal discipline from anyone wanting membership.

The question then becomes, what counts as fiscal discipline? Because cutting jobs or raising taxes on the poor would count as belt tightening, even if they're mistakes.

The fear is that the crisis — which has already forced bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal — could engulf bigger economies such as Italy, the eurozone’s third-largest. If Italy were to default on its debt of €1.9 trillion ($2.5 trillion), the financial fallout could send shock waves throughout the global economy and spark another global recession.

Italy’s borrowing rates shot up today to above 7%t, an unsustainable level on a par with rates that forced the others to seek bailouts. And those bailouts just mean more debt. Its just paying debt with more debt.

Its like defaulting on your mortgage, selling the house, buying a BIGGER house and getting a bigger mortgage with a worse interest rate.

Worse these 17 finance ministers need to push their reforms through quickly... unlike previous reforms which took years to implement due to referendums.

The 17 ministers are also to discuss jointly issuing so-called Eurobonds — an all-for-one, one-for-all way of having the different countries guarantee one another’s debts. Right now each nation issues its own bonds, meaning that while Italy pays above 7 per cent, Germany pays about 2 per cent.

Having stronger countries like Germany stand behind the general European debt would lower Italy’s borrowing rates — and prevent a debt spiral that leads to a national bankruptcy. But it would raise Germany’s cost of borrowing, hence why Germany has been fiercely opposed to the Eurobond proposal.

If the European Union fails to fix its debt woes, bank lending would freeze, Europe's stock markets would likely crash, and Europe’s economies would crater. Economists believe such a collapse could see Europe’s economic output fall temporarily by as much as 50%, according to UBS forecasters.

Such debt problems would hinder the USA and Asian economies, the same way the US Recession sparked a global recession.

November 15, 2011

Legalized suicide coming to Canada?

CANADA/HEALTH - Assisted suicide and euthanasia should be legal in Canada, concludes an expert panel in a report released today in Ottawa, adding fuel to the growing demands to legalize suicide in Canada.

The report was commissioned by the Royal Society of Canada, and the panel was made up of six Canadian and international experts in bioethics, clinical medicine, health law and policy, and philosophy.

Whether the report will spark a new, national debate on end-of-life care is the question.

The thing however is that the vast majority of people either prefer to wait for death or simply don't care enough to change the status quo. After all as long as its not them dying slowly and in horrible pain, why should the average person care?

The average person goes through high school, college or university, works for decades in some boring job, gets a mortgage, buys a house with a mortgage, car loans, credit cards, 2.2 children, and eventually dies in their 70s or thereabouts.

Thus the vast majority of people aren't exactly lining up for assisted suicide for people dying slowly in horrible pain. A torturous death, like being beaten to death with a reed switch, a rod of thumb's width or the lash.

What people would wish to do when dying a torturous death is really up to the person suffering such torment. Who amongst us can claim to have suffered such pain, without any hope of relief in sight?

Soldiers perhaps, people with injuries so dire they question their existence. Its not like accountants, Toronto mortgage brokers, real estate salesmen, production planning managers or inventory management assistants are likely to have occupational hazards that might lead to horrible painful deaths.

No, the Grim Reaper's icy grip is random and slow sometimes. It can strike any, but does so rarely. Usually death is reasonably quick, like a tax man stealing money from your pay-cheque. Its happened before you even realize it.

The Royal Society of Canada report also makes a number of recommendations related to end-of-life care, but the most important thing in the report is the proposal that the Criminal Code of Canada be amended to permit euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The panel should be decriminalized for "competent individuals who make a free and informed decision that their life is no longer worth living."

The panel calls for a "permissive yet carefully regulated and monitored system" for assisted death, and says it carefully considered Canadian values, international evidence, and legal and ethical arguments to reach that conclusion.

"The evidence does not support claims that decriminalizing voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide poses a threat to vulnerable people, or that decriminalization will lead us down a slippery slope from assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia to non-voluntary or involuntary euthanasia," the report says. "The evidence does not support claims that decriminalization will have a corrosive effect on access to or the development of palliative care."

The report was released at a press conference a day after a major legal challenge in British Columbia on assisted suicide began in the province's Supreme Court.

So there is a fire in the courts, and now there is extra fuel.

If the court cases eventually reach the Supreme Court of Canada it can overturn the Criminal Code of Canada if the Supreme Court makes a ruling in favour of euthanasia.

If euthanasia was allowed by the Supreme Court of Canada, the Canadian parliament would have no choice but to debate the merits of letting people make their own decision.

November 1, 2011

Earth's 7 Billion people set to keep expanding

POLITICS - Not even wars can slow down Earth's ever expanding population it seems. According to a variety of sources and estimates Earth now has 7 billion people. The "7 billionth baby" was supposedly born on October 31st 2011 (Halloween morning).

In reality its impossible to pinpoint who was the actual 7 billionth human to be born on Earth at this present day, it was really more symbolic of all the babies born on October 31st 2011.

The United Nations even marked the day with a series of festivals around the world.

But with 7 billion humans we also need to ask some questions:

#1. What happens when our population starts to run into food shortages? Some parts of the world are already dealing with that problem.

#2. Is there enough clean drinkable water to support this many people?

#3. Will everyone get an education or will the poor end up being treated like slaves? (Depending on where you go this is already happening.)

#4. Should more countries be promoting contraceptives and birth control pills?

#5. Will overpopulation lead to more wars over scarce resources? We're already fighting over oil and water supplies.

According to historians and demographers it was 1804 when the human population reached 1 billion. By 1927 it was 2 billion. Then 3 billion in 1959; 4 billion in 1974; 5 billion in 1987; 6 billion in 1998.

13 years later and we're already at 7 billion. We will likely reach 8 billion by 2024. Or less. It was only 11 years between 1987 and 1998 so it could just as easily be 2022.

When you factor together the birth rate (252 worldwide births per minute) and the death rate (107 worldwide deaths per minute) there is 145 more people on Earth every minute. 2.4 more per second.

In India the province of Uttar Pradesh is the most densely populated region in the world. But it could be growing even faster, were not for India's habit of aborting female fetuses. The Indian government has chosen to highlight that issue to draw attention to the growing shortage of women in India. India has 893 girls born for every 1,000 boys born.

“It would be a fitting moment if the 7 billionth baby is a girl born in rural India,” says Dr Madhu Gupta, an Uttar Pradesh gynecologist. “It would help in bringing the global focus back on girls, who are subject to inequality and bias.”

Meanwhile in China the population growth rate is at an all time low, thanks to China's one-child policy (Chinese parents can have more children, but they have to pay a tax on each additional child).

While China's policy has certainly helped their economy over the past 3 decades, eventually it will begin to hurt their economy as the older generation begins to retire and there won't be enough young Chinese to work in the factories. At some point China will have to start bringing in immigrant workers. China, like India, is also facing a shortage of women.

India's population is set to pass China by roughly 2030.

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