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:

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hip Hop Murder?, More Twisting Taman Testimony, and the return of...

We have to admit that our decapitation story isn't as good as the Greyhound Bus decapitation story that broke Thursday.

But its still damn good---and it's a scoop.

Do we have your attention?

The investigation into last weekend's mysterious abduction in the 500 block of College Avenue is a homicide investigation.

Winnipeg police have been told the still missing, still unidentified abductee had his throat cut to the extent he was almost beheaded, his head hanging on by a thread.

The street was awash with blood when an ambulance got to the scene after a call to police that somebody was seen being stuffed into the trunk of a car.

An 18 year old "man" was charged Monday with Assault Causing Bodily Harm and Forcible Confinement. Expect the charges to be upgraded once a body is found.

The current accused has the same name (and age) as the founder of Bassment Records, a local hip hop and rap record label, who is better known by his street name, Big Fun. Bassment Records is linked by cross-membership and association with the Northside Kingz, a band whose motto is "WE MAKE TRACKS - FUHK BITCHES AND GET MONEY. WHAT ELSE CAN WE SAY . HAHA"


The following posts on the Bassment Records site may be a roadmap to what happened early Saturday morning on College Avenue near McGregor.

Lil Balla
8 weeks ago

Keep It G
is dat true da u n$k guyz joined up wit indian posse?
5 weeks ago

Carlos Roussin
N$K fucks up I.P'z but they aint around no more they all in jail making no noise cause they dead
4 weeks ago

Ashley Desmarais
2 days ago

Asleep at the switch to adult court

As usual, the daily newspapers missed the real story when they reported on the sentencing of one of Winnipeg's worst car thieves to five years in a real prison.

"Car thief heading to adult prison.
Wants access to rehabilitation: lawyer."

That was the headline in the Winnipeg Free Press. Nowhere in the story was the name Dave Chomiak mentioned. Chomiak, as you know, is the current Minister of Justice and therefore responsible for the care and handling of "young offenders" like this car thief.

But there is no greater indictment of the Youth Justice Act than the experience of this veteran of the Manitoba justice system.

Isn't rehabilitation the be-all and end-all of the entire youth justice system?

If this kid went for his entire teen years stealing cars, getting arrested, getting probation, stealing cars, getting arrested, getting probation, stealing cars, then what's that say about how well the youth justice system rehabilitates young offenders?

And who is responsible for that abject failure? Dave Chomiak.

And who is never held to account by the reporters? Dave Chomiak.
And who will be the first to cry crocodile tears the next time a car thief kills someone? Dave Chomiak.


Professional Reporters at Work

Shannon Vanraes, Winnipeg Sun, July 31, 2008
"During further cross-examination, Taman family lawyer Gene Zazalenchuk grilled Minuk about why he didn't call eyewitnesses to give evidence or use a patient report filled out by a paramedic, indicating Harvey-Zenk appeared intoxicated at the scene."

The Taman Inquiry, July 30, 2008

Q You see, Mr. Minuk, Mr. Rosser gave evidence before this tribunal and was able to produce an ambulance patient care report that he filled out, and he filled it out later on in the morning of the 25th of February, 2005. And if we turn to the second page of that report, we've got a little narrative about a quarter of the way down?
A Yes, I see it. I'm reading it.

Q The last word in the third line, and going on to the fourth line, "Patient smelled of liquor." Do you see that?
A Yes, I was aware that he had made that observation.

Q And it is made very close to the time in question?
A Yes, sir.
Q And it is good evidence of alcohol consumption?
A The report itself, perhaps not. His record -- is that what this is -- but I would have called the man to testify, and I would have introduced his document for that purpose, but I would think that his oral testimony would be as good or better than this report. These would be his notes that he made at the time, and would be required to make. And I expect in the case of an ambulance attendant, or some other person of that sort, if they didn't remember the incident, that he would use his or her report to refresh their memory and to report on what they recalled at that time. So, yes, there would have been his observations that the man smelled of liquor, and from that, the inference would be that there was some consumption of liquor.

Q But the report itself is something done in the course of business, isn't it, you will agree with me on that?
A It is a business record, yes.

Q Sure. And that's admissible as evidence?
A Well, I would have filed it through the person. I'm not -- I'm not suggesting I wouldn't have. In fact, I believe that I actually asked -- I think it was Mr. Paciocco yesterday showed me a letter where I asked for this type of record because I intended to file it if the matter had gone to trial, that's why I was looking for it.

Q But you never did get it, did you, sir?
A Today, I can't recall, sir, if I did get it.
Q Okay. We can move on.

You can see for yourself that at no time was there ever any evidence at the Inquiry that the paramedic indicated that Derek Harvey-Zenk "appeared intoxicated." That description is the reporter's own. It reflects her preconceived storyline and is contradicted by the testimony.

Another professional reporter at work.


Gasp. Has the embargo been broken?

Winnipeg Free Press arts columnist Morley Walker did the unthinkable this week. He broke the officially-sanctioned silence at the WFP over the cost of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

While the cost of construction of every single building project in Winnipeg, in Manitoba and in the country has skyrocketed, the cost of Gail Asper's human rights museum has mysteriously and magically remained fixed at $265 million for nigh on three years now. And not a soul has questioned the figure in the pages of the Free Press.

Walker did what none of the city hall reporters, legislature reporters, columnists and editorialists dared. He raised THE question.

"The CMHR is still saying that the construction costs will be $265 million, with $100 million of that from the federal government. The operating budget, proposed at $22 million, will also be a federal expense.

It's hard to believe, given the current construction climate, that building costs will not rise. Maybe the operating budget will too. After all, $22 million is about a third of what those Ottawa national museums get (though it is four times as large as our provincial flagships).

There is a tendency here to be sheepish about such apparent profligacy. But whatever gets built -- and goodness knows the contents are still up for grabs -- will be modest by Ottawa's normal standards.

And because it will be part of Manitoba's arts community, which is one big happy family, it will have no office politics.
(Office politics an art in big-budget cities, Morley Walker, Winnipeg Free Press, July 30, 2008)

Maybe its the fact he's nearing retirement age that stiffened his backbone. Or maybe he didn't get the memo. But he's raised the big question.

Now let's see who picks it up and runs with it.

And finally, the ever-popular Krista Report.

This just in....We WILL have Krista Erickson to kick around again.

From Stephen Taylor's blog at

we bring you the following which Krista apparently sent to friends and colleagues:

" A week ago, the union and I reached a settlement with CBC management. The details of which have been embargoed until today.

I have been reinstated in the Ottawa bureau as a parliamentary correspondent and national reporter. I will spend the fall working on special projects and in January will return to daily news. My record of employment has been cleared.

I want to thank you for your support during what has been a difficult time. Indeed, I will never forget it. All the best and have a great summer!

Krista "

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