The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Did the Asper School for Business provide the recipe for South Point Douglas?

Our heads are spinning.

Reading about the Asper plan for South Point Douglas is like taking the most exciting ride at the Red River Ex without leaving home.

Is it because the plan is so gi-normous you can't get your head around it? Or is it because of a week of effective P.R. spin? We think it's a lot of both.

The project is so huge the press can't focus on more than one aspect at a time. For once, we don't blame them. The deal is so complex it seems reporters have glommed on to the stadium as the one facet they feel the public can absorb. Imagine having a giant, steaming, home-made pie put on the table after a Thanksgiving meal and you know you can only have one delicious slice because more will make you sick, and it's your favourite pie, so you'll have one large piece and dream about the rest.

The whole Asper pie is at least ten slices:

1. A new 30-40,000 seat football stadium that will be everything and more than was proposed for the Polo Park site. More parking at the new stadium than there is currently at Polo Park. And a tram system (wheeled, not rail, so don't get too excited) to move fans from their cars to the stadium and back.

2. The relocation of Higgins Avenue six blocks north to parallel the existing railway line

3. A hotel with rooms for 1000 people. (By comparison, The Fort Garry Hotel is 240 rooms over 10 floors.)

4. A great, big waterpark that will dwarf anything previously proposed for the city.

5. River-front condominiums

6. Commercial development over the remaining land which is twice the size of the Forks.

7. A new pedestrian bridge across the Red River to Whittier Park in St. Boniface.

8. New public docks and moorings.

9. A new underpass connecting Annabella Street in the South Point with North Point Douglas.

10. And the piece-de-resistance, Asper will buy the land where the current stadium now stands and build a "lifestyle shopping village" to rival Polo Park.

Plus any of these possibilities that have already been thrown around...

11. A new Louise Bridge

12. A bridge connection to Archibald St. in St. Boniface

13. A connection to the Nairn Overpass

And if nobody is thinking about gondola/cable cars across the Red, they should be.

Whoa Nelly. Hold the walls. The room is going round and round again.

What's fascinating is the silence that's coming from City Hall.

This is a city with a resident flock of boo-birds that goes ballistic over every single proposed development. Winnipeg's own Miss Negativapeg, Genny Gerbasi, objects when the Sun rises in the East. And not a peep out of her about the Asper plan.

When lawyer Ken Zaifman wanted to replace a dumpy hotel in the Exchange District and asked for a curb cut on sleepy Albert Street, the yappy boo-birds attacked him with brickbats for months and forced him to back down.

David Asper says he wants to eliminate three city blocks to make way for his stadium, to demolish 21 occupied homes, to move a major thoroughfare (Higgins) a block over, possibly to rebuild a bridge (Louise) -- and to have the city give him the land for his project for free. And he's met with dead silence at council.

Strange, don't you think?

The reaction from the public is as predictable as the frown on Lillian Thomas's face. Winnipeggers hate change. So there's the don't-change-a-thing crowd that wants the stadium to stay at Polo Park.

There's the conspiracy crowd (the people are getting shafted and everyone's in on it) and the hate-the-rich crowd (stop them from doing anything, raise taxes and let the government spend it because government knows better than anybody). And then there's everybody else, who really, really want to believe something good can happen but who have become cynical---from experience.

They've read countless stories that said the answer to the blight of downtown Winnipeg was for more people to live downtown. Then when a developer said he would build apartments downtown, the millionaires from the Manitoba Club (stand up David Asper) stepped in to stop the project, to override the city's land development process, and to humiliate the elected mayor and city councillors who approved the apartment project. Then, to top it off, the millionaires begged children to empty their piggy banks to "save" Upper Fort Garry for the Manitoba Club.

Oh, and then the newspapers still write stories about how the answer to the blight of downtown Winnipeg is for more people to live downtown.

These Winnipeggers want to believe, but can't. Certainly one thing that turns them away is the estimated cost of the project---$400 million and counting. They could visualize a $150 million stadium. And a $70 million hotel-plus-waterpark. And a condo development on the river. And a new Louise bridge. Just not all at once.

But that's because they don't realize that there's no shortage of money. The city is awash in money. The province is awash in money. The federal government is awash in money. They can't spend it fast enough.

Money is not a problem for the South Point plan. It's just a matter of which pot do you draw it from?

There's the New Stadium money pot. There's the Rapid Transit Corridor money pot. There's the Infrastructure (bridges and roads) money pot. There's the Residential-slash-Homelessness money pot. There's the Downtown Redevelopment money pot. There's the Tourism money pot (did you know Louis Riel's birthplace is in Whittier Park, and the park hosts the Festival de Voyageur?). There's the bottomless "Green" money pot (have we mentioned the geothermal heating and cooling planned for Asperville?).

And, of course, there's always the Aboriginal Something-or-other money pot. There's the Western Diversification money pot. The Riverbank Stabilization money pot. The we-owe-you-for-Spirited Energy money pot. And we're betting we overlooked one or two or six money pots we don't even know about.

If all else fails, those kids have had time to replenish their piggy banks.

In other words, that money is there.

It will be spent.

It's just a question of whether it will be spent on the South Point or somewhere else.

"If we don't seize the moment on this one, it'll be another 40 years before another one comes around," Don Borys, who owns Border Glass on Higgins, told the Winnipeg Free Press. Like it or not, he's right.

Reporters should be beating down the doors to the Asper School of Business. If this play is based on principles being taught there, the school is turning out graduates who will change the face of this country. If not yet, it will be the basis of the core curriculum in years to come.

Nobody is talking about this yet, but the plan for Asperville is more than a bloated commercial project. It's a power play unlike anything we've seen before.

A man who controls a $400 million private enterprise project becomes the Don Correleone of the city. Everyone has to kiss his ring. He gives many favours and asks for few. But he makes offers you can't refuse.

Mayor Sam Katz has looked very bad as the Asper plan unfurled last week. He complained the plan was leaked by Gary Doer then refused to discuss details. (WFP, June 24) He pretended he didn't know a water park was part of the plan.(Wpg. Sun, June 26) He spoke of the plan in platitudes and generalities. (WFP, June 26). He never once looked like a leader who knows what's going on and who is a player at the table.

David Asper had to throw him a lifeline Saturday by telling the Winnipeg Sun he "only thought of putting the stadium there a few weeks ago after Mayor Sam Katz suggested looking for alternatives to a Polo Park site that the province and feds didn't seem too keen on spending $40 million each on."

Nice try, David, but untrue, though we won't get into details today.

Asper, Winnipeg's newest powerbroker, snookered his predecessor Leo Ledohowski at every stage of the game. Leo thought he had the inside track with the Blue Bombers. He struck a deal for a new stadium on land owned by the Red River Exhibition. It would be built next to one of his hotels and a brand, spanking new waterpark. The Bombers had a splashy news conference announcing the plan.

Then---nothing. Each level of government said it wasn't prepared to give money to a stadium way the hell out of town. The Bombers, chastened, were forced to ask for other proposals. Ledohowski regrouped with a stadium in St. Boniface on the Canada Packers site. Asper, knowing how slow to change Winnipeggers are, said he would build a stadium at the old site.

And he won.

But Asper all along was working on the South Point location. He just had to wait for the right time to announce it. The time came when Treasury Board minister Vic Toews said he couldn't give federal money to a privately owned football stadium that would benefit the owner and no one else. Hello, Vic. Have I got a deal for you?

To add insult to injury, Asper bid on a city proposal to give $7 million to anyone willing to build a "world class" waterpark in Winnipeg. He even said he would put it at the South Point, but everyone laughed and said that was a stupid idea. Who's going to go to South Point Douglas to a waterpark? Are you crazy?

So Leo bid, and won, and lost. He will get $7 million for 66,000 square foot waterpark adjacent to one of his hotels. But he has to subsidize public access for poor kids for the next 25 years.

Asper, meanwhile, got to announce his own waterpark to be "created by the design team responsible for Disneyworld, West Edmonton & Niagara Falls water parks." He won't be subsidizing anyone. His new hotel can count on (federally-funded) visits from at least 15,000 schoolchildren being brought to Winnipeg each year to visit his sister's pet project, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. And each kid will want to visit the waterpark, the cost will be built into the hotel room.

Oh, and the Fallsview Indoor Water Park at Niagara Falls is almost twice the size of the Ledohowski waterpark at 125,000 square feet including a mezzanine and outdoor activity pool. Adding marquee slides and rides would make it even bigger still. Will Asper downsize and embarass Winnipeg, or upsize and make us proud.

If 66,000 sq. ft. is "world class", what's 125,000 sq. ft. plus? Inter-planetary?

If built as planned, the Asper South Point will leave a number of losers in its wake.

- Corydon Avenue is past its prime and will suffer as the crowd moves to the new hot spot.

- The Forks will shiver as politicians begin asking why they're spending $2 million each year in subsidies when South Point Douglas is twice the size and doesn't require public money.

- The NDP will wonder why they backed a deal which only solidifies the idea that private enterprise should take the lead on urban revitalization with government standing by holding its coat.

- And Lloyd Axworthy's head will be spinning faster than Linda Blair's.

Axworthy was supposed to be Winnipeg's saviour. He was redesigning the city in his vision with the help of his bosom pal, the former CEO of the Crocus Investment Fund and soon-to-be defendant before the Manitoba Securities Commission, Sherman Kreiner. He was supposed to be showing the Left how the big boys do it.

And suddenly, its back to second-banana land because of that right-winger Asper.

Pass the Gravol.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Take the edge away from police, says Dumas lawyer

Donald Worme, the lawyer for the family of Matthew Dumas, demonstrated Thursday the absurdities a lawyer can get away with in a court of law and still be considered a reputable member of the bar.

In rejecting the evidence of an RCMP expert on police use of force, Worme suggested at the inquest into the police shooting of Dumas, that young aboriginals be given an even chance to kill police officers who try to make an arrest.

If that wasn't enough, he dismissed all of the evidence at the inquest and stated that his position was that Dumas was only wiping away pepper spray from his face when he was shot by a policeman who wrongly thought he was being threatened with a screwdriver in Dumas' hand.

“(The shooting) was consistent with training and best practices,” RCMP Cpl. Greg Gillis said. Dumas was armed with a screwdriver (an edged weapon, in police parlance) and was within a 25 foot no-go zone that police are taught to maintain by fatal force if necessary. Sad precedents have shown a person can run 25 feet and stab a policeman before being downed by a shot. The police officer who shot Dumas let him come within 2 to 3 feet before shooting.

Worme said in front of television cameras outside court that the officer should have holstered his gun and used his police baton to subdue Dumas.

In other words, he should have fought Dumas man-to-man, gladiator-style, giving Dumas an even chance at killing the officer if he couldn't be beaten into submission.

The two-week-long inquest has heard witnesses tell how Dumas sucker punched a police officer and fought with him in the back lane behind Dufferin Avenue before threatening to stab a man who came to help the policeman. And how Dumas advanced on another policeman, screwdriver in hand, boxing him in between a fence and a snowbank, refusing all demands to stop and drop his weapon.

Witnesses testified that Dumas wasn't fazed by pepper spray fired at him. And that he lunged at the boxed-in police officer, literally forcing him to fire his gun to save his life.

Ehhh. Not relevant, says Worme.

The poor boy was simply confused. He had asthma and the pepper spray wasn't good for his health. And he was just wiping it away, not threatening the policeman.

And he was carrying a screwdriver... why?
Not relevant, says Donald Worme.

And he tried to stab a witness...why?
Not relevant, says Donald Worme.

And did the pepper spray make him deaf so that he couldn't hear the entreaties to drop his weapon?
Not relevant, says Donald Worme.

Apparently, none of the evidence is relevant.

The truth is what the race baiters want it to be, and the judge must say so.

No, the judge must repudiate Donald Worme.

She must clearly, without hedging, state that requiring police officers to engage armed and threatening suspects in a "fair fight" is something that will never be contemplated in Winnipeg or anywhere else in the civilized world.

She must use a word that appears not to be in the vocabulary of Donald Worme---responsibility.

Matthew Dumas started the fight that led to his death.
He armed himself with a weapon.
He threatened to use it on a witness.
He refused all verbal demands to drop his weapon.
He kept advancing on a police officer even when he was told that he would be shot if he continued.
It was his responsibility to stop.

He didn't. He is responsible for his own death.

And the race-baiting demagogues who tried to incite hatred against the police in Winnipeg over the Dumas shooting are responsible for their words and their actions.

They must be repudiated by the politicians, the press, and the very people they claim to represent.


One of those demagogues is Terry Nelson, Chief of the Roseau River Indian Reserve, and he was in the news much of the week for wreaking havoc on his own people.

Nelson said he was responsible for not paying a bill to the Pembina Valley Water Co-operative, which this week cut off the water to the reserve. He did it deliberately, said Nelson, to make a point, which was, apparently, that somebody other than the reserve should pay the bills for the reserve.

Nelson held a news conference and called the water cut-off an act of terrorism.

"If we did this to a white community in a dispute, it would be considered terrorism," he was quoted as saying.

But what is it when the red man does it to his fellow red man?

Reporters said two patients on dialysis were transferred to a hospital 60 miles away in Morden. The reserve's seniors' centre had to buy bottled water for its residents.

If the water cut-off endangered the lives or health of these people, then Justice Minister Dave "Six Months" Chomiak should launch an investigation into charging Nelson with criminal negligence.

Nelson admits he deliberately refused to pay the $50,000 bill and he expected the water to be cut off. He had the money, as he demonstrated by writing a cheque to get the water turned back on after one day. He knew, or should have known, the risk to the ill and elderly.

Why is Chomiak turning a blind eye?

And one television station raised an important question. Was this an act of intimidation against the residents of the Roseau River reserve who rejected a proposal to lease a section of reserve land to a couple of business ventures?

The land on Highway Six hosts a gas bar, operated by Nelson's daughter, and a gaming centre. On June 12 the reserve held a referendum to "designate" the land, which is a way of semi-privatizing the land by way of a lease to a commercial venture. Reserve land is held communally and private ownership is not allowed otherwise.

The referendum failed, and Nelson he intended to hold another vote after he had time to lobby people to support it.

Was it coincidence that immediately after the vote the power was shut off, then the water was shut off, then the local school board announced it was owed money and unless it was paid the kids from Roseau River couldn't attend the fall semester?

The Department of Indian Affairs should examine whether refusing to pay for water, and Hydro, and education falls under the rubric of lobbying.

Nelson fancies himself a spokesman for aboriginal people in Manitoba and a leader. What message has his leadership sent to Manitoban?

That Indians are deadbeats who can't pay their bills?
That they are so locked into a welfare state of mind that even when they make money they expect somebody else to pay their debts?
That education is so undervalued that Nelson would rather spend money on lawyers and travel and meetings than on paying for school and community services?

Certainly that's not the view of approximately 200 Roseau River reserve residents who have signed a petition to remove Nelson as chief. They see a different future for themselves and their children.

Nelson plans to continue his challenge to white society with railroad blockades planned for June 29.

Remember how he announced his plans:
"There are only two ways to get the attention of the white man. With a gun or by standing between him and his money. On June 29 we are going to get between him and his money and shut down the rails to make our point.”

Nelson should be aware that Bill C-21 (Repeal of S. 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act) has been given Royal assent. That means the Canadian Human Rights Act is being extended to reserves.

And that means that Nelson could soon be defending himself in front of a human rights commission for statements that are "likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."

Like, say, skin colour?


Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Matthew Dumas Inquest: Truth 1, Race-baiters 0

One week into the inquest into the shooting death of teenager Matthew Dumas in 2005 and we know what happened.

And what happened is nothing like what the professional race-baiters have been peddling for the past three years.

* Winnipeg police were hot on the heels of a group of natives who had robbed a man they didn't know in his own home in East Kildonan.

The group had taken a taxi from Dufferin Avenue to the area of the man's home, and took the same taxi back to where they started. The police, knowing from the taxi driver where he dropped the robbers off, saturated the area. They knew they were only minutes behind the gang and stood a good chance of running across them.

* East Kildonan's then-community constable Jon Mateychuk was alone in his police car but joined the sweep anyway. He saw the boyish looking Matthew Dumas walking alone down either Dufferin or a street nearby (news reports have failed to make it clear). Dumas spotted the police car and caught Mateychuk's attention by trying to hide something up his sleeve.

Mateychuk, like all the police officers in the area, was looking for a group of people involved in a robbery which involved a gun of some sort, possibly a sawed-off shotgun. He had to know if the teen on the street was concealing a gun.

But before he got an answer, Dumas bolted.

* The police constable left his car and took off after the running male. If the male was one of the robbers, he could be armed and that made him dangerous and a threat to everybody in the neighbourhood. A police officer's job is to protect the community, and Mateychuk, without a thought for his own safety, ran to confront the threat in the best tradition of the profession.

He caught up to Dumas on the doorstep of Roderick Pelletier's Dufferin Avenue house.

He didn't attack him.
He didn't punch him.
He didn't beat him with a police baton.
He took him by the arm and started to lead him to his car in the back lane, to search him and to learn who the boy was.

And for his restraint, Dumas sucker-punched him, knocked him to the ground and escaped, but not before drawing a hidden screwdriver and threatening to stab a passing witness.

Now Mateychuk knew he was dealing with a dangerous suspect.

* And so did Const. Dennis Gburek who had seen the fight between Dumas and a police officer in the back lane. As Mateychuk chased Dumas between the houses on Dufferin Avenue, Gburek moved to block his escape west along Dufferin.

Dumas popped out between some houses and headed straight toward Gburek. Other police officers had caught up to Dumas and were behind him. The closest was Mateychuk who, following police procedure, used non-lethal pepper spray to stop the suspect. But he was in back of Dumas. According to testimony his first spray missed Dumas entirely and the other hit the side of his head.

The day Dumas was shot, a witness said he reached up to wipe his eyes. It's obvious now he reached up only to wipe his face. His eyes were clear, and focussed on Gburek.

* Gburek, aware he was facing a dangerous suspect who had already fought with a policeman and who was armed with a weapon, had his gun out.

But he didn't use it.

He tried to talk to Dumas first to convince him to drop his weapon and surrender.

Dumas refused both options. He closed in on Gburek despite escalating warnings he would be shot if he didn't stop.

* Gburek even bent the rules to protect Dumas. He testified police training calls for an officer to shoot a dangerous suspect at 20 feet. Gburek allowed Dumas to close to within three feet. Only then did he fire his gun.

* A day after Dumas was killed, his stepfather, Leslie Dumas, said he wanted to know why police were chasing the teen with their weapons drawn.

"They chase somebody down, you know, what are they going to do? Shoot first, ask questions later, you know," he said. "They must be trained to do something better than 'Bang! Ask 'em later.'"

Now we know there was no truth to a word the grieving stepfather said.

* Dumas' mother, Carol Chartrand, said she wanted to know who her son was with when he encountered the police.

"Why does it seem that Matthew had to get picked out of everybody that was there?... I hope you guys are feeling just as bad as I am, because now I got no kid. I got no baby boy here no more."

Now we know the initial reports that Dumas was among four aboriginal teens being questioned were wrong. And that Carol Chartrand's baby boy was responsible for his own death.


The police did everything they possibly could to investigate a potential threat to the people in the neighbourhood and do it as professionally and safely as possible.

The evidence exonerates the police from the cheap allegations of the professional race-baiters.

The officers on scene should be commended for their professionalism.

They should be recognized for putting their own lives on the line when a single officer with no backup tried to question a potentially dangerous suspect, then physically struggled to control him, and when a second officer finally allowed the armed suspect to get as close to him as humanly possible before he had to act.

Instead, the race-baiters continue to try and smear the police.

Donald Worme, the lawyer for the family, got Gburek to read a letter from former Police Chief Jack Ewatski saying Dumas was not involved in the East Kildonan robbery. But the letter is irrelevant.

The police were searching for the robbers and questioning witnesses in the area. Witnesses who might have seen the taxi disgorge the robbers, not necessarily suspects. Dumas drew attention to himself by his suspicious behavior in bolting the moment a police officer wanted to question him.

"I think it's also become abundantly clear that because of the large aboriginal population in that particular vicinity, they are all at risk, as Matthew Dumas certainly was," he said.

"Matthew Dumas was not involved in a crime of any description, but he - simply because he was an aboriginal youth - had become a suspect and as such ended up where he did." said Worme, disregarding all the evidence. (Quoted, CBC online, June 13, 2008.)

Worme asked Mateychuk if it's troubling that Dumas was "an innocent kid." (Emotional officer testifies at inquest into death of Winnipeg man shot by police June 12, 2008, Tamara King, The Canadian Press)

Perhaps Worme needs a refresher course in the law.

- Dumas, already a convicted criminal with a record for possession of a dangerous weapon, was in breach of his probation when he ran from the police.

-- He was carrying a concealed weapon, which is a crime.

- He attacked a police officer, which is a crime.

- He threatened to stab a witness, which is a crime.

- He threatened to stab a policeman, which is a crime.

He was far, far from "an innocent kid."

During a lunch recess, Worme said he had some concerns about the safety of native kids in the North End. "If I had aboriginal (youth) in the area, I would want them off the street."
(Dumas shooter 'kept in dark' by police force, June 14, 2008,Winnipeg Free Press, Carol Sanders)

About that he's right.

Rampant gang activity, drive-by shootings, reckless driving in stolen cars by teens just like Matthew Dumas have made life dangerous in parts of the North End.

And that's exactly why the residents have called for a greater police presence despite the best efforts of the race-baiters to villify and demonize the police.

The intention of the native demagogues was to force an inquiry that would focus on the police, police behavior, police training and ultimately on police failure.

Instead they got proof that police training worked as designed. The Winnipeg police officer is a highly trained professional. And Dumas was killed because he failed. He provoked a confrontation with police and he refused to surrender until he was shot.

Worme at week's end was reduced to suggesting that the police officer who shot Dumas should have retreated, should have run, should have surrendered the street to the thug with a weapon. Ain't gonna happen.

If Judge Mary Curtis is paying attention, she should turn the inquest from a focus on the police to a focus on the juvenile justice system---and its failure.

Matthew Dumas was a gold star graduate of the Manitoba justice system.

He had a criminal record and was on probation, the demonstrably most useless, most broken sanction imposed routi8nely by judges. He was carrying a screwdriver, which you can expect to find on a car thief. He was in breach of his probation. He attacked a police officer without fear of consequences. He threatened a witness as easily as breathing. He refused to drop his weapon and advanced on an armed police officer because he had been taught by the system that there was nothing they could do to him. He was taught he was inviolate.

He was wrong.

And the public should turn their attention to a focus on the news media, and how easily it is manipulated, the Terry Nelsons, the Nahanni Fontaines, and the Donald Wormes who have their own agendas which are never questioned or explained by reporters.

Following the shooting of Matthew Dumas, there was a lot of talk about the mistrust in the Dufferin neighbourhood between police and residents. But the inquest has given us a better look at what may be feeding the mistrust.

Police testified at the inquest they stopped a number of people to question in their search for the East Kildonan robbers. Three teens were stopped at the corner of Dufferin and Andrews. One was carrying a toy gun. Dumas was discovered to be carrying a screwdriver and was prepared to use it as a weapon. Another teen was stopped on Andrews by Const. Gburek who left him to go to Mateychuk's aid when he saw Dumas fighting with Mateychuk in the alley.

So, in three encounters with aboriginal youth in the space of minutes, police found two potential weapons, a gun (a toy, though hardly something carried for amusement by a teenager) and a screwdriver (certainly not carried by Dumas for emergency repairs).

If police patrolling Dufferin Avenue can expect to find weapons on two out of five teens they speak to at random, and two out of five random teens are carrying weapons and hoping to escape detection by police, you can understand where the "mistrust" arises.


Professional reporters at work…:

"Gburek said he shot him when he was less than a metre away."
Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press, June 13, 2008, Dumas shooter 'kept in dark' by police force

"Gburek said Dumas was less than two metres away when he fired two shots into the centre of his body."
Steve Lambert, June 13, 2008, Canadian Press, Winnipeg officer: there was no choice but to shoot Matthew Dumas.

"When he gets to within two feet...Const. Gburek fires two shots."
Winnipeg Sun, June 12, Tom Brodbeck, "Not a risk to take."


"Based on the description he received from police radio reports or from his partner, Gburek said he was looking for a native male, armed with a gun, wearing a blue hoodie and a white baseball cap."
Carol Sanders, Winnipeg Free Press, June 13, Dumas shooter 'kept in dark' by police force

"He said Dumas was wearing a blue hoodie and he believed that the teen matched the description of one of the home invasion suspects, although the description on the police radio described three "native males" one about 15- or 16-years-old and wearing a white puffy Nike ski jacket and possibly armed with a handgun."
Carol Sanders, June 13, Winnipeg Free Press, Officer 'didn't want to shoot' Dumas

"Gburek said he saw Dumas's grey hoodie or sweater was "right over top of me," and yelled, "I'm going to shoot you"!"
CBC News Winnipeg, June 13, 'I did not want to pull the trigger': officer at Dumas inquest

"At one point, the pair was in another man's backyard with a large guard dog and the officer had a grip on the 18-year-old's parka."
Tamara King, Canadian Press, June 12, Emotional officer testifies at inquest into death of Winnipeg man shot by police.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Matthew Dumas: We thought the public should be told

Three years ago The Black Rod scooped the pants off all the mainstream newsmedia in Winnipeg with an exclusive story on how Matthew Dumas spent the last minutes of his life.

At the Dumas inquest Thursday, the lawyer for the family cited this brief moment of time as the most important in the story next to the actual shooting of Dumas because, as Canadian Press reporter Tamara King put it, it was "the last chance to subdue the young man before it turned fatally violent."

Why did every newspaper, television and radio station ignore the story for 3 years?

The answer lies in why The Black Rod came to do the story in the first place.

1. We cared.

We cared about the facts.

What happened that day on Dufferin Avenue? Who did what in what order?

We cared about the truth.

The MSM was devoting its coverage to the blame-the-police crowd who were shouting racism at every opportunity. The Police Chief was holding secret meetings with native so-called leaders to offer them special secret access to the investigation of one of his own officers. The CBC was spearheading a campaign to accuse the police of negligence for failing to handcuff Dumas when they caught up with him and before he began his final, fatal flight.

We felt that if we knew what happened, we could determine the truth of why.

The CBC's handcuff agenda rested on an interview with Rod Pelletier who said a policeman caught up to Dumas on his doorstep and led him away by the arm. But there had to be more to learn from Pelletier, we agreed.

2. We went to the scene.

We scouted the area where Dumas was shot. We walked up and down the street trying to imagine where the police would have been, where Dumas ran from, where the snowbanks had been, what people could have seen from what angle.

We used our eyes to suss out the area. And we spoke to the neighbours. One of them showed us where all the police markers had been in the back lane.

What police markers?

None of the news accounts of the shooting mentioned the back lane any more than to say Dumas ran from the police down the back lane. The shooting took place on Dufferin Avenue. What had the police been marking in the back lane?

We went looking for Rod Pelletier. In one backyard was a dog the size of Godzilla. We were in the right place.

Pelletier told us he saw how Dumas showed up at his back door. He told us he saw the police chase Dumas up and down between the houses. He told us his daughter saw Dumas fighting with police in the back lane.

Now we knew what the markers were marking. And we knew we had a hell of an important story.

The Black Rod story "Daddy They're Beating Him Up" ran April 24, 2005.

3. We thought the public should be told.

We immediately notified all the newsrooms and offered to help them find Pelletier. We were met with silence.

They didn't care. The story that dominated the headlines a month earlier was now old news.

The Winnipeg Free Press, which would later go to court to snoop in Mayor Sam Katz's private divorce records and claim it was only doing so in the public interest, didn't think the Dumas story that had split the city in half was worth pursuing.

The CBC reporter behind the handcuff diversion contacted us to say Pelletier told him about the fight between Dumas and police in the back lane. But he didn't think it was important. And anyway it was hearsay. And against CBC policy. And the important thing was police hadn't handcuffed Dumas; it was their fault.

We were, to put it mildly, stunned. We had simply done what used to be known as reporting, Old School style.

But the new so-called journalists don't do that anymore. If it doesn't come wrapped up in the package of a news release or news conference, it's not news anymore. So they waited until it was presented to them in a nice package known as the inquest.

But the result is some of the most convoluted, disjointed, D-grade reporting we've ever witnessed.

The reporters assigned to the inquest don't have any understanding of the case, they don't know what's important and what isn't, they have no context for the evidence and worst of all from their perspective, there's nobody to spoonfeed them.

So they just spew a little bit of this witness and a little of that and hope there's something of interest in their report.

A CKY reporter spent almost as much time on Willie Sinclair's weight loss as on his testimony that Dumas almost stabbed him with a screwdriver while trying to escape from a policeman he had punched to the ground.

The day the policeman who fought with Dumas testified, the T.V. stations led with the Dumas lawyer on the steps of the Law Courts saying how much he looked forward to the testimony of the policeman who fought with Dumas.

Tamara King of CP wrote Thursday: "Police believed Dumas, 18, was a suspect in a robbery earlier that day. It was later determined that Dumas had no part in it."

It was? You could have fooled us. We thought the cab driver who drove a group of people to and from the home of a man robbed in East Kildonan testified to the exact opposite. Shown a mug shot of Dumas and the picture snapped of the passenger in the taxi, the cabbie said they looked like the same person. That was never reported, by the way.
And neither has anything that cleared Dumas of being a suspect in the robbery. So, what was the evidence that Tamara King is relying on?

Why haven't the news outlets shown readers the mug shot next to the taxi photo? Why haven't we seen the infamous screwdriver Dumas used to menace the police officer who shot him. It's an exhibit isn't it?

Why? Because that's too much like reporting.

And the MSM don't care.

The paper is piling up on The Black Rod's desks. Let's clear some of the backlog up.

Cone of Silence Drops Over Good News Story
* In a city that was prepared to hear the worst, it was good news indeed to hear that nineteen-year-old Tara-Lynn Still was found safe after being the subject of a public missing person alert. But apart from that, the news stories were strangely vague about why she went missing in the first place. Only Global News hinted at the reason. Their story slipped in the word post-partum as in post-partum depression. Still gave birth 9 months ago and later gave the child up for adoption.

But why is everyone acting like post-partum depression is still something to be ashamed of? Where are the women's groups that we fund so lavishly? Why haven't they seized on this case to promote awareness of post-partum depression? Where are the strong women of the NDP? Why haven't they stepped forward? Oh, right, they're too busy being props for NDP photo ops to actually work for women's issues.

A Crocus Inquiry At Last?
· The Manitoba Securities Commission is no longer a defendant in the Crocus Investment Fund lawsuit. So why haven't they announced a date for the hearing into charges against members of the Crocus board of directors. The hearing has been postponed for more than two years now because the commission was considered in conflict of interest. That's no longer the case. Why the delay now?

Honest Mistake or Con Job? We Report. You Decide
* And will the Manitoba Securities Commission be investigating the Canadian Museum for Human Rights for misleading statements by a charity?

Here's just a sampling of the latest news stories about CMHR fundraising:
"At last count, Gail Asper and her team were about $17 million short of their $105-million goal for private fundraising." (Human rights museum receives donations, Winnipeg Free Press, April 28)

"Second reason: three gifts of $1 million each were announced yesterday, bringing to $88 million the amount of private money raised. Asper has to raise another $17 million before turning her baby over to the federal government. (It's that our Canada includes a commitment to human rights, Martin Knelman, Toronto Star, Mar. 7, 2008)

"Asper hopes the legislation will spur a flurry of donations so that the remaining $17 million in private capital can be raised." (Tanenbaum donates $1 million to rights museum, Rhonda Spivak, Canadian Jewish News, Thursday, 13 March 2008)

But the CMHR website says they've reached 89 percent of their fundraising goal. 89 percent of $265 million leaves $29.15 million outstanding.

So which is it? $17 million or $29 million to go?

People being asked to cough up to cover the shortfall should know the facts before they open their chequebooks and get a charitable tax receipt.

Shouldn't they?


Thursday, June 12, 2008

How did reporters miss the Dumas news bombshell?

If a news bombshell goes off at an inquest and no one reports it, is it still explosive news?

The coverage of the Matthew Dumas inquest has been spotty and confusing. Carol Sanders is doing the most thorough job so far for the Winnipeg Free Press, but even she was either absent or unaware of the importance of what came out Monday.

The inquest heard from Ken Warren, who was robbed in his Martin Avenue East home in an incident that sparked the eventual shooting of Dumas by police, and from the Spring Taxi driver who inadvertently drove the gang of thieves to the Martin Ave. home and back to the North End.

Cab passengers should know by now that their picture is taken every time they enter a taxi. As you would expect, the police recovered the photos of the group that robbed Warren. And guess who's face showed up, according to the unreported testimony at the inquest.

None other than the man of the hour's, Matthew Dumas himself.

It was headline news that never made it.

Immediately after Dumas was shot, the blame-the-cops crowd was in full hue and cry that Dumas was killed in a case of mistaken identity. They insisted he had nothing to do with the robbery. He was a poor, innocent, aboriginal kid who ran from the police because all poor, innocent, aboriginal kids fear the police. Dumas became the poster boy for all the native organizations that exist to blame the police of racism. And, it appears, they were wrong, wrong, wrong and he was guilty, guilty, guilty.

We did some digging, starting with square one, the robbery on Martin Ave.

It turns out a group of four travelled by cab from Dufferin Avenue to Martin. A girl stayed in the taxi and the other three went to Warren's house. One of them, an eight-year-old boy, the inquest was told, rang the doorbell. When Warren answered, a man and a teenager popped up from around the corner of the house and confronted Warren. The man demanded to speak to someone named Ashley, and when told he had the wrong house, he snatched a chain from Warren's neck.

"Shoot him", he told the teen.

A terrified Warren slammed his door shut and phoned 911. The robbers walked back to the taxi which took them back to Dufferin Avenue.

Within minutes the police were following the trail, from E.K., over the Redwood Bridge, down Main Street, to Dufferin. The investigation of the Dumas shooting took precedence, but eventually they got the pictures of the taxi passengers and saw their prime suspects for the Warren robbery.

Other than Dumas, who was no stranger to the Youth Centre, they saw a very familiar face belonging to one Derek Bone.

It took a couple of weeks before they caught up with Bone and after a few months in the hoosegow on remand, he pleaded out---to theft. The Crown stayed the robbery charge. He was sentenced to one day in jail. He was given a lifetime suspension from owning a gun.

One year later, police announced a raft of serious charges against a man named Derek Bone. Same man? This Bone also like to hang out with teenaged boys, and also on Dufferin Avenue.

Police charged this Bone and a 17-year-old companion with a near-fatal stabbing of a sixteen-year-old boy on Lorne Avenue. And a machete attack on a 23-year-old man in the 500 block of Dufferin.

This Derek Bone, 33 years of age, was charged with Aggravated Assault, Assault Cause Bodily Harm, Assault with a Weapon, three counts of Possession of a Firearm While Prohibited X 3, and three counts of Failure to Comply with Condition of Recognizance. A search of his home turned up:
- .22 calibre semi automatic handgun (loaded)
- Two 9mm semi automatic handguns (loaded)
- Ammunition
- Machete
- 40 rocks of crack cocaine
- 12 grams of marihuana
- Two sawed off rifles

If the two Derek Bones are one and the same, then Dumas was associating with a very, very dangerous individual when he went to Martin Avenue. Suddenly the order "Shoot him" doesn't seem like an empty threat.

The MSM, particularly the CBC, has been pushing the meme that police should be blamed for failing to handcuff Dumas when they caught up with him minutes before he was shot. A heretofore unknown witness to the shooting said Tuesday he agreed with that idea. Except that his own evidence proved how impossible it was.

William Sinclair said he saw a policeman catch up to Dumas on Dufferin Avenue. The officer put Dumas' left arm behind his back in a restraining hold and started to lead him off. As he radioed for assistance Dumas sucker punched him, knocking the radio from his hand.

Question: How many arms did the police officer have?

One arm restraining Dumas, one holding a radio. Which arm was he supposed to use to slap on the cuffs.

What about the first time Dumas was caught? You mean the time he fought with two police officers in the backlane? It's pretty hard to secure the handcuffs when you're dodging punches.

And have we mentioned the knife dropped in the lane?

Oh well, let's not spoil the surprise for the reporters.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Winnipeg's MSM catches up to The Black Rod on the Dumas shooting

It's only taken the mainstream media in Winnipeg THREE YEARS to catch up to The Black Rod on the Matthew Dumas story.

And even then they've managed to mangle the story so much it's barely coherent.

After Dumas was shot to death by a policeman he had been menacing with a deadly weapon, the daily newspapers devoted reams of copy to native demagogues who accused the police of racism and of killing an innocent aboriginal boy on his way to his grandma's for tea.

Now, when the truth is coming out at the inquest, the MSM is asleep at the switch.

Witness Rod Pelletier testified police caught up to Dumas on his doorstep and lead him away. The next thing he knew, his daughter was calling that Dumas and the police were fighting. He rushed back to see Dumas on the run again.

Only Carol Sanders of the Winnipeg Free Press managed to report accurately what Pelletier said. And even then its hard to say if she recognized the importance of a witness who demolished the native community's façade of an innocent lad gunned down by police for nothing at all.

Other news outlets complained Pelletier's testimony was garbled, and they couldn't hear him. And best of all, they devoted space to explaining that police had told him not to talk to the media. Which, they hope, explains why they hadn't spoken to him in the past three year.

Pelletier wasn't garbled when he spoke to The Black Rod, nor was he intimidated by the police. His story was the missing link of the minutes between when Dumas bolted from police and when he was shot. And it spoke to his state of mind---escape at all costs---something that pundits had claimed they needed to know.

You can read our exclusive, ungarbled interview with Pelletier THREE YEARS AGO (yes, we're going to keep reminding the MSM of that) here:

Local news outlets have known for years that Dumas violently fought with police only a minute or two before he was killed. But they suppressed that news and ceded the airwaves to self-proclaimed aboriginal spokesmen who have attacked the police ever since.

The CBC did an interview with Pelletier on videotape in 2005, then canned it. Instead, their reporter at the inquest this week filed a factually inaccurate account of his evidence.

A reporter for one of the Winnipeg Free Press weeklies confirmed Pelletier's story and uncovered that Dumas had fought with the police TWICE while trying to escape. She promptly deep-sixed the information.

Witness Willie Sinclair testified Tuesday to the second fight. The Black Rod had that exclusive as well.

The suppression of uncomfortable news about Dumas was not a mistake.

The news agencies had their own agenda and inconvenient truths would not be allowed to undermine that agenda.

Remember that the CBC at the time of the shooting of Dumas was diligently promoting the argument that if police had only handcuffed Dumas when they caught him, they wouldn't have had to shoot him. The idea that Dumas resisted arrest and attacked police would not be allowed into the debate.

The CBC reporter who interviewed Pelletier reported that police led Dumas away from Pelletier's front door peacefully. But acting like a good MSM news gatekeeper, he kept out any reference of Dumas' fighting to get away.

That reporter was also aboriginal. As was the reporter for the FP weekly. Does that explain why news that contradicted the official defence of Dumas by aboriginal spokesmen never saw the light of day? It's a discussion that should be part of every journalism school in the country. Along with the fact that CBC then-host and non-native Krista Erickson was also aware of the Pelletier evidence and the story never ran on CBC news.

Over the past three years it's looked like the local news media just couldn't be bothered with something so pedestrian as reporting that involves locating and interviewing sources, following up on a major story, and accurately bringing the news to the public.

In that Media Hall of Shame belongs the Winnipeg Sun's Paul Turenne.

In 2006, he piously wrote that the public still didn't know what happened in the Dumas shooting. When informed that many of the relevant details were in The Black Rod, Turenne had a sarcastic retort.

From: PaulTurenne
To: Black Rod

I guess we'll be seeing you on the witness stand come inquest time.

Well, Paulie, you have seen us at the inquest. You've seen us with every witness.

How do you like us now?


Monday, June 09, 2008

We though the law protected us from criminals. Who protects us from judges?

So let's get this straight...

- The police get a tip that some drug dealers are about to make a delivery. - They're given the make of car and exact licence number.

- They stop the car, arrest the drug dealers at gunpoint, and find they're transporting what the newspaper describes as "a large amount" of marijuana and methamphetamine.
- A judge throws out the evidence and blames the police for stopping the drug dealers.

Yup. That pretty much summarizes the justice system in Manitoba.

To cap it off, Queen's Bench Justice Brenda Keyser said she was letting the drug dealer in her court go free because that's what the public would want. To convict him because he got caught red handed with the drugs would, in the words of the Free Press, "send the wrong message to both police and society at large."

Say what?

Is Keyser on drugs? What wrong message would convicting a meth dealer send? That justice was working?

No, silly.

"The average citizen would be disturbed to discover that he or she could be surrounded by armed police, removed from a car at gunpoint and handcuffed on the ground without proper investigatory steps being first undertaken to determine whether or not there was a legal basis for such action."

Newsflash for Brenda Keyser. The average citizen would stand up and applaud the police for arresting a meth dealer, stopping his car as quickly as possible, sticking a gun in his face, and handcuffing him in public. The average citizen wouldn't be the least worried about a warrant because the average citizen doesn't go about dealing drugs. The average citizen has nothing but contempt for judges like you who live in some airy-fairy world where you go out of your way to free criminals and attack the police for doing their job and doing it well.

Hardly a week goes by without some boneheaded judge demonstrating how out of touch with reality he or she is. Step right up trailblazer Judge Ron Meyers who gave a convicted killer one day in jail. The only time judges get tough is when one of their own gets threatened. Otherwise, they put the criminal ahead of the citizen every time.

We live in a society where judges claim the right to make law whenever they feel like it and nobody can do anything about it. Where the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Swami Bev McLaughlin searches the cosmos for unwritten laws to apply to overule Parliament whenever she feels like it, and nobody can say anything against it.

Well it's time somebody did something about it. It's past time. The tyranny of the judiciary must be ended.

The Manitoba government wants to radically overhaul the political system in Manitoba. They've even started musing about electing Senators. But confronted with major objections to their self-serving plans, they put over to the fall session of the Legislature their bills to scrap balanced budget legislation, to kneecap the Opposition and to tap taxpayers to fund the NDP's election campaigns.

This hiatus is an unexpected opportunity to truly overhaul the system and bring it into the 21st century. Instead of the phony changes the NDP wants to slip in, the Legislature should adopt something the public would embrace in a flash---ELECTED JUDGES.

The legal community would sooner endorse pedophelia than accept electing judges. But we're talking about what real people want, not lawyers.

The primary objection to elected judges is the question of independence. Judges who run for election will cater to the mob. They'll be beholden to party machines that raise money for their campaigns. They'll represent political parties rather than the law.

As if they don't already.

The purity of judges is a myth and everybody knows it.

Remember the Gomery inquiry into the Liberal Party sponsorship scandal? Benoit Corbeil, a former president of the Quebec wing of the Liberals, told reporters that up to eight Quebec lawyers who volunteered to work on Liberal election campaigns became judges.

The Ottawa Citizen did some digging. On May 6, 2004, they reported that more than 60% of the 93 lawyers who were appointed judges in Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan, after the 2000 federal election, had donated funds exclusively to the Liberal Party in the 3 to 5 years prior to their appointments. (Phew, that's a mouthfull.) As well, a majority of the 93 had served in some capacity with the governing Liberals.

"This isn't simply a freakish coincidence," said Vic Toews, the Opposition justice critic at the time. Toews, himself, is now rumoured to be in position to be named a judge.

In 1984, the Canadian Bar Association released a publication identifying ten problems with the appointment process as it existed, before vetting by the Judicial Advisory Committees was introduced, and among them were:
the public perceives that appointments are often politically motivated;
in some provinces politics have played too large a role in appointments;

So, the public has always considered the appointment of judges to be politically influenced, but lawyers don't want a process to elect judges because they're afraid the public will see the judges as politically influenced. Uh, huh.

The Canadian Bar Association in a release dated March 24, 2004 declared: "The CBA is strongly opposed to any system which would expose judges to Parliamentary criticism of their judgments, or cross-examination on their belief or preferences or judicial opinions, or any measure which would give to Canadians the mistaken impression that the judicial branch answers to the legislative branch."

Well that ship has sailed.

Newsflash to the CBA...Once judges seized the power to make laws without reference to Parliament, they became PART of the Legislative Branch and subject to all the criticisms that comes with it. And the very essence of democracy is subjecting the legislative branch of government to the will of the people.

But, but, but the lawyers cry. You can't do it without a constitutional amendment.

Sez who?

Alberta held an election and the winner became the Senator-elect who was eventually appointed to represent Alberta in the Senate. No constitutional amendment was necessary. Now Saskatchewan is close to adopting Senate elections and Manitoba is at least talking about it. No constitutional amendment necessary.

A wide-open election for judge is a crapshoot; just look at the Grade Z quality of some city councillors and federal MP's. The front-runner model for electing judges is how they do it in Missouri.

In Missouri they appoint judges for one year, then let people vote on them. Then after another four years, the judge stands for re-election. In other words, its more of a vote of confidence, or non-confidence, that comes after the public has had a chance to assess the judge in action.

In Manitoba, provincial law governs the appointment and fate of provincial court judges. The attorney general has the power to appoint temporary judges. That would correspond to the one year trial period of the Missouri model. Provincial laws allow for the removal of a judge for misconduct or incapacity. It is a simple matter to add the loss of re-election to the list. No constitutional amendment required.

Higher court judges are another problem. They're appointed by the federal government and can sit until age 75. Removal of a judge for anything less than a criminal conviction is unheard of.

Old-timers in Manitoba still cringe at the memory of Appeal Court Justice Joseph O'Sullivan shuffling into court in the throes of senility, asking questions that showed he had no grasp of the matter before him, talking to himself on the bus to work. Yet nobody in the legal community or political realm thought he should be removed for the benefit of the public.
The constitution permits a federally appointed judge (Supreme court, appeal court, federal court) to be removed only with a motion from both the House of Commons and Senate. Parliament can pass a law saying that such a motion is automatically triggered whenever a judge fails to win a Missouri-style election. No constitutional amendment necessary.

The disconnect between judges, justice and the public has gone too far.

Parliament passes maximum sentences and judges declare that Parliament's will is irrelevent and the only maximum they will accept is one imposed by another judge.

Parliament passes minimum penalties and judges say they're unconstitutional or else they challenge the politicians and campaign openly against mandatory minimums as an infringement on their independence.

But when the public demands tougher sentencing for car thieves who repeatedly mock the law, judges say their hands are tied by the legislation and its up to Parliament to change it.

And if all else fails, they make up law which wasn't passed by Parliament or which expressly contradicts the intent of the elected legislators.

Criminal law exists to protect innocent citizens from criminals. Now we need someone to protect us from judges.

The answer is elected judges who will know they must answer to the public eventually.

If Brenda Keyser thinks protecting criminals from the police is supported by the public, she should have no fear of standing for a vote of non-confidence.

We've got our ballot already filled out.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

War in Afghanistan 2008 Week 22

The new government of Pakistan has capitulated to the Taliban, surrendering control of the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan through so-called peace deals. Pakistani troops are to retreat from the region, leaving the Taliban in charge. That's how peace in Pakistan is defined.

The result if that the war in Afghanistan has become a war of attrition, what the New York Times calls a see-saw war.

We can pick two days---one from each of the past two weeks--that typify the war in the summer of 2008.

Tuesday, May 27.
12 police officers and 12 civilians are killed.

Five of the policemen died in gun battles in Kandahar province as Taliban fighters attacked a remote outpost on the Pakistani border. Another four sent as reinforcements were killed when remote-controlled bombs blew up their vehicles.
Three children were killed when a Taliban insurgent planting a bomb under a bridge blew accidentally blew himself up. The children were playing nearby.
In Logar province in eastern Afghanistan a roadside bomb killed 3 policemen.

And in southern Farah province a civilian bus hit a roadside bomb and eight civilians were killed.

Friday, June 6
Airstrikes kill an estimated 32 Taliban fighters in eastern Paktika province.
A roadside bomb killed a family of three, father, mother and child on their way to a clinic.
A tribal elder supporting the ISAF was murdered in Kandahar City.
British paratroopers were fighting fierce battles in Zabul province.
A suicide bomber killed an East Indian engineer building a road in Nimroz province.

While apparently a senseless litany of death and endless fighting, the big picture is quite different.

The Taliban have conceded they can't win in a military confrontation with allied forces. Their only hope of victory is if Western countries quit.

But time is not on their side.

Missing from media reports this year are all the defiant interviews with Taliban fighters that were all-so-common in 2007. They bragged they controlled the village of Sangin; British forces drove them out. They bragged they controlled the village of Musa Qala; then they ran for the hills when allied forces moved in. They had the run of Garmsir, in the south of Helmand province---until the U.S. Marines came calling. Now, this week, Afghan authorities say they're getting information that the Garmsir Taliban are fleeing south to Pakistan to get out of the maelstrom.

Media pundits love to point out that the Taliban always return. Yes, but there's a world of difference between running the show and slinking around at night in fear. It signals to the populace who's winning---and who's not.

The Feared Taliban Spring Offensive was missing-in-action this year. Instead, NATO troops launched their own offensives. The Australians in Uruzgan province, the British in Zabul, the U.S. marines in Helmand, the Canadians in Kandahar. Even Norway spent a month sweeping Badghis province in the north. At this rate, the Taliban are going to hate spring.

And in the past two weeks clear patterns have emerged.

* Attacks on army posts and ambushes are deadly---for the attackers.

. This report from the Chinese news agency Xinhua is typical.

KABUL, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Over 15 insurgents have been killed in a failed attack on a military base of the U.S.-led Coalition forces in Uruzgan province of southern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led military said Friday. Militants attacked on Tuesday Afghan security forces at the base and the ensuing fighting between Afghan, Coalition forces and insurgents in nearby villages left several militants dead, said a statement issued from Bagram Air Field, a major Coalition base.

Hours later, the combined forces came under RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), mortar and small-arms fire near the base and in response fire and precision air strikes killed over a dozen more insurgents, it said. The Coalition said there were no casualties on civilians or Afghan and Coalition forces in the incidents.

In neighboring Helmand province, Afghan security forces and Coalition forces on Tuesday killed several militants and detained five others, according to another Coalition statement. The combined force while searching compounds in Kajaki district "identified a militant armed with a rocket-propelled grenade waiting in an ambush position and several militants consolidating for an attack," it said, adding, "Coalition forces responded with airstrikes, killing the militants."

In remote, and usually quiet, Badghis province an insurgent force of 150 tried to overrun a poice checkpoint near the border with Turkmenistan. Norwegian troops and Afghan police fought back. More than half the attackers were killed or wounded. A 50 percent casualty rate is a good deterrent for future attacks.

In Zabul, Taliban fighters ambushed a joint Afghan and ISAF patrol on the main road travelling through the province. ISAF aircraft were called in.
"Nine Taliban were killed in the aerial bombing. Their bodies were left at the battlefield and we have the bodies," said Faridullah Khan, deputy provincial police chief.

* The Americans have eyes in the sky and they don't miss much

Provincial spokesman Ghamai Khan Mohammadyar told French news agency AFP that coalition reconnaissance planes located a number of Taliban militants Thursday in Paktika province's Urgun district who had grouped for an attack.

"Friendly forces bombed the enemy location and killed all 32 Taliban who had gathered there," he said.

* The U.S. groundwork with local Afghans is paying off in spades

Baitullah Mehsud, who heads the Pakistan Taliban, was not having a good day Friday.

One of Baitullah's senior commanders told the Pakistani newspaper The News by telephone that 18 of Mehsud's fighters were among dozens of insurgents killed in airstrikes in Afghanistan. The timing suggests he was talking about the 32 killed in Paktika, as cited above.

"Dozens of Mehsud tribal militants, led by Commander Khan Ghafoor, had gone to Afghanistan to fight against the US-led forces," The News reported.

"They were staying in various houses when someone informed the US forces about their presence. The US planes bombarded their positions, killing most of them," said the Taliban commander.

"Around two dozen militants had been sent to retrieve the remaining bodies, still lying in the Afghan territory. They are most likely to be brought back tonight," said a militant commander.

The newspaper quoted a close aide to Mehsud as saying that Baitullah was extremely dejected over the incident.

And it's no wonder he's despondent. Nothing is working out for the Taliban.

British journalist Fraser Nelson, reporting for The Spectator from Helmand province observed last week:

" seems the Taliban have failed to recruit for this season. The poppy harvest ended three weeks ago, and the fighting usually starts immediately as the hired $10 Taliban” swap ploughshares for Kalashnikovs. Not this time, though. As one solider told me “the problem with the $10 Taliban is they receive $0 training and get killed.”

And the foreign fighters the Taliban is using to backstop the lack of local insurgents are either getting killed by the score, or are blowing themselves up at a record rate and not deliberately.

Along with the incident of the insurgent under the bridge (above) came this report from Pakistan. A pick-up truck carrying Taliban fighters to Afghanistan's Nuristan province blew up, killing as many as 8 fighters. As best as could be determined, someone inside the truck fumbled a hand grenade. Six men in the truck died instantly and two died of their injuries later. Explosives in the truck were ignited and blast continued for two hours. The truck was destroyed by fire.

Incidents like these are being reported weekly.

The bad news out of Afghanistan this week is the departure of U.S. General Dan McNeill as NATO commander in Afghanistan, on regular rotation of command.

McNeill has turned the situation in Afghanistan around, recovering the initiative after the disastrous leadership of British General David Richards whose plan in 2006 was to sign a series of "peace deals" giving up villages to the Taliban on their promise to be good. The first deal was in the Helmand village of Musa Qala where the Taliban imposed their terrorist rule for 10 months and local villagers pleaded for help even at the cost of airstrikes and civilian casualties.

Little known is that McNeill was the originator of the provisional reconstruction teams that are the linchpin of the Canadian mission to Afghanistan. The first team was established by the Americans in Gardez on Dec. 31, 2002.

McNeill will be succeeded by four-star U.S. Gen. David D. McKiernan, the head of American Army troops in Europe.

Canada has suffered another two fatalities in Afghanistan.

* Capt. Jon Snyder died June 8 in a freak accident. He fell into a deep well while on patrol with Afghan troops.

* Capt. Richard Leary died in combat June 3.

Canada has lost 11 soldiers in 2008 to date. Four, including Snyder's, were classified non-hostile deaths. In 2007, by this day in June Canada has 12 deaths, two non-hostile.

And we may have been given a clue into how the Taliban is using the humanitarian efforts of Canadian forces against them. It may answer our questions about why a medic Cpl. Michael Starker with 15 Field Ambulance Regiment became Canada's first non IED combat death in almost 9 months since Cpl. Nathan Horbug was killed in a mortar attack.

On June 2 four Canadian soldiers were wounded in two separate attacks. One was hit by small-arms fire and the other three were hit by an IED. None of these casualties should have happened.

Canwest News Service reported:

Both attacks occurred in the midst of the "days of tranquillity," a three-day period when international aid agencies such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization planned to blanket the southern area of conflict with mobile teams sent to inoculate children under the age of five against polio.
UNICEF officials said earlier yesterday that "access negotiators" had spoken with the Taliban to arrange a temporary cessation of hostilities in the most dangerous areas, which includes Zhari."

Obviously, to the Taliban, a cessation of hostilities means they can kill us, but we can't kill them.

Was Cpl. Stalker killed during similar "days of tranquillity"?

Canadian troops can never let their guard down. We're still shaking at how close Canadian forces came to a major tragedy last month from a huge booby-trap set for them.

As reported by Katherine O'Neill in the Globe and Mail, the soldiers were clearing a suspected Taliban hideout in Zhari district when an explosion erupted near the main door, leaving a crater the size of a small car, followed 10 minutes later by another explosion inside the compound.

"After the attack, soldiers searched the abandoned compound on the north bank of the Arghandab River southwest of Kandahar and found dozens of improvised explosive devices, including mortars, which failed to detonate. Those explosives, which were wired together by a single strand of copper wire and activated by command denotation, were sequenced to blow up so the soldiers would be trapped inside and killed. They didn't detonate because of faulty wiring.

“That place was rigged to kill everybody,” said Warrant Officer Chuck Côté, who was also inside the compound when blasts occurred."


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Fresh I.E. in Dirty Harry sequel

"You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya punk?"

Somebody give the baby a crying towel. Supersized.

Grammy loser Rob Wilson is boo-hoo-hooing all over town about being stopped by police and accused at gunpoint of driving a stolen car, which turned out to be his own and not stolen.

The beefy Christian rapper says he's a po' victim of racial profiling because he's a beefy black man driving a fancy car.

Tip to you Fresh I.E., du-u-ude. If you go out of your way to cultivate the image of a thug, to dress like a thug right down to the stupid backward baseball cap, to drive around with a yout' 15 years your junior riding shotgun and wearing shades like a thug, you shouldn't be surprised to be treated like a thug.

And man up, for Christ sakes.

The first thing the 35-year-old man-boy Wilson did is go crying to his wifey, who turns out to be CBC employee Sheila North Wilson. And the next thing you know, CBC has an "exclusive" about Robbie's run-in with the big bad po-leece.

The CBC radio item said Wilson's passenger--"a youth he mentors"--was handcuffed after being ordered out of Fresh I.E.'s car. Why the cuffs? Well, the reporter never though to ask.

Nor has it come out, until now, that 20-year-old Alex Smerchyunski is a little more than "a youth he mentors". He's Wilson's step-daughter's boyfriend. He says he has no criminal record, and we believe him, so why the bracelets? Too much attitude, perhaps?

Police said Friday that officers at a downtown Starbucks became suspicious of Wilson, not because of his ebony profile, but because he went through the drive-through a second time (to fetch a forgotten java, we're now told). It was just unusual enough for one of the officers to phone in for a check on Wilson's licence plate. A staff member ran it through a police computer and "misinterpreted" what came up on the screen, Police Chief Keith McCaskill said. The officers thought they had a stolen car in their sights, so they arranged for the take-down.
Friday they apologized.

The traumatized Rob Wilson was last seen posing for the press with his baby girl's boyfriend. 'They're leaning against Fresh's car. Their arms are crossed over their chests and Wilson delivers his best thug-menace glare for his homies in da hood. Or for wifey's scrapbook.


Note to Teenage Head, Iron Maiden and the rest of the geezer bands touring the country and stopping in Winnipeg...


Shoulder length hair doesn't make you look young-at-heart. It makes you look OLD and CREEPY like Chester the Molester.

Face it. You're not going to pull any chicks looking like a grandfather in a wig.

The stomach turns.