Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Canadian Civil Liberties Association's Interim Report on G20 Summit Policing

G20 Toronto Riot Police
Earlier today, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association released its interim report on the police actions taken during the G20 summit in Toronto, and surprise, surprise, the security forces get a failing grade.

Here's an excerpt from the report, which is entitled "A Breach of the Peace":
There is no doubt that this weekend presented a very difficult law enforcement scenario. Nevertheless, this does not justify a mass suspension of basic civil rights. It is possible to feel outrage about acts of vandalism and at the same time recognize the importance of maintaining a free and just society committed to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and the presumption of innocence. In our view, the existence in Toronto of a cohort of the ‘black block’ does not justify a suspension of democratic rights for people in the city.

Over 900 individuals have been arrested. Hundreds have now been released without being charged with any criminal offence. In view of the unprecendent numbers of arrests, there remain very serious questions surrounding the appropriateness of policing tactics. These questions demand answers.

It is the duty of police officers to act with fairness and equanimity toward all citizens in accordance with the law of the country. The presumption of innocence and the protection against arbitrary arrests and detention are at the core of a commitment to justice. In our view, the security for the summit was inadequate because it failed to uphold our constitutional commitments.
You can find the full report here.

Photo by chris.huggins.

> Continue Reading: Canadian Civil Liberties Association's Interim Report on G20 Summit Policing

My G20 Weekend

Riot Police at Spadina Avenue and Richmond Street. This particular gentlemen from Barrie starting tapping his feet along to a drum beat that was coming from the crowd of protesters. He stopped after I noticed.

For the duration of the Toronto G20 Summit, I was on the street helping Torontoist provide live coverage (which you can check out here). And boy, was it exhausting. On Monday, my feet still kind of hurt from all the walking.

What I saw over the weekend was, for the most part, fairly peaceful. Police and protesters may not have been bestest buddies, but the majority were respectful of each other.

It's a shame the way things fell apart. This experience could have been a great learning opportunity, for everyone involved.

G20 Toronto Budget VanThe police rented numerous vehicles to help transport officers and equipment, including this Budget Rental van.

G20 Toronto Riot Police Tear GasRiot police at Richmond and John Streets prepare to confront protesters on Queen Street West.

The violence and destruction perpetrated on Saturday by Black Bloc members (for lack of a better term) was heinous, and hopefully the individuals involved will be swiftly brought to justice. Unfortunately, the extreme measures taken by police, including the use of a fictional law to search and detain individuals, will probably mean that many will end up going free. (Lawyers shouldn't have too much trouble punching holes in the dubious arrest procedures.)

G20 Toronto St. James Protesters Police WallThe wall of police the St. James Protesters met at King Street West and Bay Street.

G20 Toronto St. James Protesters Media WallThe media circus the St. James Protesters ran into at King Street West and Bay Street.

The police, well...they fucked up badly. Unnecessary arrests, intimidation tactics, brutal treatment of prisoners, assaulted journalists, kettling—the summit's security forces have a lot to answer for.

The black bloc are not a group of super genius ninjas; they're a bunch of whimpy douches. The fact that more than 15,000 officers couldn't stop them suggests either gross managerial incompetence, or that security forces somehow knowingly let things spiral out of control. Neither of which is acceptable.

Police forces faced an enormous law enforcement challenge this past weekend, but not one that justified suspending the civil rights of everyone in the city.

We need an inquiry.

You can read all of Torontoist's coverage here. (If you're looking for more in-depth coverage, I highly recommend Christopher Bird and Christopher Drost's fantastic G20 Dispatches.) Photos by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: My G20 Weekend

Monday, June 21, 2010

The G20 and the Metro Toronto Stronghold

G20 Metro Toronto Fortress
This weekend, the world's most powerful leaders will descend on Toronto for the G20 Summit to have what will likely be a series of inconsequential discussions at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (pictured above in black and white to create an ominous, spooky effect.)

According to the Toronto Star, the ten-foot-tall steel fence that surrounds the convention centre was designed by the RCMP and engineered by SNC-Lavalin with tiny centimetre-sized links to be climb-proof. The fence's final price tag is still being worked out, but it's believed that it will end up costing upwards of $5.5 million.

This past Friday, I wandered around through the security zone's 3.5 kilometre latticework of fencing, checkpoints, and concrete barriers to get a first-hand impression of their impact. There's already been endless discussion of how bleak the fence looks and how bad it is for tourism, so I'll use this opportunity to point out a few other things I noticed while on my stroll.
  • Since it's difficult for drivers to see through the fences, driveways and back-alleys have become traffic hazards. To solve this problem, the summit crews have slapped up dozens of temporary hidden driveway signs.
  • A lot of the trash cans in the area have been removed, which—not surprisingly—has led to random piles of trash.
  • The bottlenecks created by the fences occasionally lead strange traffic conditions. When have you ever seen Front Street devoid of cars at 5:00 p.m. on a weekday (as pictured above)?
  • The fences largely solve downtown Toronto's jaywalking problem.
Photo by Stephen M.

> Continue Reading: The G20 and the Metro Toronto Stronghold

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lame iCoke, Pretty Lame

iCoke prizes
Pizza Pizza has started up its "peel to win" campaign again (or whatever the hell it's called), and this time they've teamed up with iCoke.ca, so you know the prizes are going to be hella fuckin balls-to-the-wall awesome. Just take a look at the iCoke website. For a mere 1,400 points, you could be rocking a sweet Coke Zero wallpaper set that features those hideous computer animated body parts, or for 2,400 points, a Powerade Winter Olympics 2010 screensaver. And best of all, for only 2,500 points, you can share your summer memories with a Coke-branded personal e-postcard. Hot damn!

Seriously Coke, these prizes are worst than Kool-Aid's. But at least when you send Kool-Aid thousands of points they give you something tangible, like a busted video game or a Kool-Aid man beach towel—not some shitty screensaver.

But wait, that's not all. If you agree to surrender your contact information and register with iCoke as a VIP member, you can get special deals on these amazing prizes. Just imagine, as a VIP you could save 250 points on a Taste of History Collectible wallpaper set that's sure to make you the coolest fucking dude (or dudette) in the office.

Screenshot from the iCoke website.

> Continue Reading: Lame iCoke, Pretty Lame

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Bird's-Eye View of Half-Life's Black Mesa Research Facility

Birds eye view Black Mesa Half LifeA bird-eye view of Half-Life's Black Mesa Research Facility. Click to Enlarge.

Ah, the Black Mesa Research Facility, arguably Half-Life's co-star (after Gordon Freeman), and quite possibly home to the most incompetent scientific team next to the Dharma Initiative. I mean, what were they thinking with this mess? Clearly not about safety, expedience, or, you know, basic logic.

I guess it makes sense though. Breen, with his god complex, probably designed Black Mesa to get his jollies by watching his hapless employees hopelessly wander through the facility's labyrinth of workplace safety violations.

3D images of Breen's clusterfuck are available here, here, and here.

Image by Per "Sterd" Borgman.

> Continue Reading: A Bird's-Eye View of Half-Life's Black Mesa Research Facility

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Toronto Archives Launch a Flickr Site

cyclists race CNE 1930 TorontoCyclists line up for a race at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition, ca. 1930).

Finally!

There's a lot of great material in the Toronto Archives, but the organization's online database, even with its improved search interface, still feels like a relic. The Archives' new Flickr page makes searching for and sorting images easier, and more intuitive.

With more than 1.2 million photographs in its collection, it would be great if the Archives could upload everything to Flickr. Unfortunately, copyright issues will probably end up killing that prospect.

Photo from the City of Toronto Archives' Flickr site.

> Continue Reading: Toronto Archives Launch a Flickr Site

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

This Story Looks Familiar...

The Monarchist Plagiarism
Well, after almost two years, it's finally happened. Some desperate sap has plagiarized The Intrepid.

The Monarchist—a blog devoted to the British Monarchy—"borrowed" several large passages from an article I wrote last year on Mackenzie King's attempt to scrub King George VI from history for an entry called "Now You See His Majesty, Now You Don't."

Beaverbrook, the author of the article, at least credits this site at the end of his post—though I never gave him permission to use my article. If he had of just asked, I probably would have let him reprint the whole thing.

Sigh. I guess Beaverbrook is just imitating the the unsavory tendencies of his namesake, Lord Beaverbrook, the infamous Canadian-British politician and philanthropist.

Screenshot from The Monarchist.

> Continue Reading: This Story Looks Familiar...