A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘crime

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross wonders–among other things–what the Trump Administration is getting done behind its public scandals.
  • blogTO notes a protest in Toronto aiming to get the HBC to drop Ivanka Trump’s line of fashion.
  • Dangerous Minds reflects on a Talking Heads video compilation from the 1980s.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reflects on a murderous attack against Indian immigrants in Kansas.
  • The LRB Blog looks at “post-Internet art”.
  • Lovesick Cyborg notes an attack by a suicide robot against a Saudi warship.
  • Strange Maps links to a map of corruption reports in France.
  • Torontoist reports on Winter Stations.
  • Understanding Society engages in a sociological examination of American polarization, tracing it to divides in race and income.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the many good reasons behind the reluctance of cities around the world to host the Olympics.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that where the Ingush have mourned their deportation under Stalin the unfree Chechens have not, reports that Latvians report their willingness to fight for their country, looks at what the spouses of the presidents of post-Soviet states are doing, and notes the widespread opposition in Belarus to paying a tax on “vagrancy.”
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at the linguistic markers of the British class system.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO notes that the redevelopment of Toronto’s Port Lands is continuing.
  • Crooked Timber argues that climate denialism exposes the socially constructed nature of property rights.
  • D-Brief notes the reburial of Kennewick Man.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes there is no sign of a second planet around Proxima Centauri.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at life in Texas.
  • The LRB Blog analyzes Milo’s stumble.
  • Marginal Revolution considers the levels of disorderliness different societies, like Sweden, can tolerate.
  • The NYRB Daily reports on the poisoning of a Russian dissident.
  • The Planetary Society Blog suggests Voyager 1 picked up Enceladus’ plumes.
  • Peter Rukavina writes of his mapping of someone’s passage on the Camino Francés.
  • Supernova Condensate looks at the United Arab Emirates’ plan to build a city on Mars in a century.
  • Torontoist reported on a protest demanding action on the overdose crisis.

  • Towleroad describes the plight of Mr. Gay Syria in Istanbul and reports on the progress of same-sex marriage in Finland.
  • Understanding Society considers the complexity of managing large technological projects.
  • Window on Eurasia links to one Russian writer arguing Putin should copy Trump and links to anotehr suggesting the Russian Orthodox Church is overreaching.

[URBAN NOTE] Raizel Robin in Toronto Life on the Toronto South Detention Centre

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Raizel Robin’s long-form article in Toronto Life, “The $1-Billion Hellhole”, makes the case that the very new Toronto South Detention Centre–only three years old!–is already terribly dysfunctional thanks to any number of problems from staff issues to design flaws, this after having been built at tremendous financial cost to the province.

Before the South opened on January 27, 2014, Ontario’s provincial jails were notorious for being overcrowded, medieval, violent places. The second Don Jail, completed in 1958, wasn’t much better than the original: rats and cockroaches scurried about and black mould grew on walls. Three inmates were often crammed into four-by-eight-foot cells meant for two, with the third man sleeping on the floor, his head next to the toilet. The Toronto West Detention Centre in Rexdale, built in 1976 and retrofitted in the 1990s, was almost as overcrowded and had become a money pit.

In 2008, the Liberals under Premier Dalton McGuinty approved plans for a new, more progressive facility. McGuinty wanted Ontario’s jails to reflect modern incarceration philosophy, which emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment. The new superjail, the Toronto South Detention Centre, would be capable of housing 1,650 inmates—50 per cent more capacity than the Don and the West combined­—making it Canada’s second-largest jail, after the Edmonton Remand Centre. When it came to selecting an architect, the Liberals chose Zeidler, the prestigious firm behind the Eaton Centre’s soaring galleria and the old Ontario Place.

Visit the South today and, were it not for the receptionists seated behind protective glass or the chairs bolted to the floor, the airy three-storey reception area, with its exposed brick and skylit entryway, could pass for a condo lobby. The 73,000-square-metre building, which is LEED Silver certified with a ground-source heat exchanger and low-flush toilets, occupies the site of the former Mimico Correctional Centre in south Etobicoke. Behind the main building are three seven-storey, sand-coloured towers, set off from each other at slight angles. The effect is more chic New Mexico college than imposing superjail.

Inside, there are spaces for Aboriginal inmates to hold sweat lodge or smudging ceremonies, two multi-faith spaces with footbaths for Muslim inmates, a state-of-the-art 35-bed infirmary and a 26-bed mental health assessment unit. The seven-by-16-foot cells are spacious compared to the Don. The units, made up of 20 cells each, are split into two floors and arranged around a communal living room like motel suites surrounding a pool.

Initially, the South seemed like a double-pronged victory for the Liberals: the facility was praised for its design, and the construction process was relatively cost-effective—an important consideration for a government trying to slay a $10.5-billion deficit and manage the fallout from the gas plant scandal. Still, the total bill to the taxpayer was hefty: $1.1 billion, which was to be paid out over 30 years.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO reports on the history of Toronto’s Wellington Street.
  • Dangerous Minds introduces me to the grim American gothic that is Wisconsin Death Trip. What happened to Black River Falls in the 1890s?
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to hypotheses about KIC 8462852, one suggesting KIC 8462852 has four exoplanets, another talking about a planet’s disintegration.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper modeling the mantles of icy moons.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at small city NIMBYism in the Oregon city of Eugene.
  • The LRB Blog reports on toxically racist misogyny directed towards Labour’s Diane Abbott by Tory minister David Davis, “misogynoir” as it is called.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on the elections in Indonesia, a country increasingly important to Australia.
  • Peter Rukavina describes how the builders of his various indie phones, promising in their own rights, keep dropping them.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer is optimistic that NAFTA will survive mostly as is.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy examines the ruling against Trump’s immigration order on the grounds that its planners explicitly designed it as an anti-Muslim ban.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the treaty-based federalism of Tatarstan within Russia is increasingly unpopular with many wanting a more centralized country.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly describes a week in her life as a freelance writer.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes how the Indus Valley Civilization did, and did not, adapt to climate change.
  • Language Log reshares Benjamin Franklin’s writings against German immigration.
  • The NYRB Daily follows one family’s quest for justice after the shooting by police of one Ramarley Graham.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the Pale of Settlement.
  • Torontoist looks at Ontario’s food and nutrition strategy.
  • Transit Toronto reports on how PRESTO officials will be making appearances across the TTC in coming weeks to introduce users to the new system.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at how ethnic minorities form a growing share of Russian emigration, looks at the manipulation of statistics by the Russian state, and suggests Putin’s actions have killed off the concept of a triune nation of East Slavs.

[URBAN NOTE] Derek Hawkins of the Washington Post on the resurgence of the “black bloc”

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Derek Hawkins’ Washington Post article describes how the “black bloc”, anarchist rioters who riot in their identity-hiding all-black uniforms, is making a comeback. I’m decidedly not impressed by this, not least since I remember what they did to downtown Toronto during the G20 protests in 2010, and how the black bloc rioters went out of their way to undermine peaceful protesters. Looking to the cowards too afraid of revealing their identities to meaningfully commit to change would be a terrible, terrible mistake.

An oft-cited history of “black bloc” tactics by Daniel Dylan Young of A-Infos, a multilingual anarchist news and information service, suggests that the practice has its roots in Germany in the late 1970s. At the time, hoards of young people had taken residence in vacant buildings in inner cities, setting up cooperative houses in the bowels of abandoned warehouses and tenements. Similar communities cropped up in the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere in Northern Europe.

In 1980, however, the city governments began to crack down. German authorities evicted and arrested thousands of squatters that winter, triggering protests across the country, one of which turned violent in Berlin, with rioters destroying an upscale shopping area, according to Young.

“In response to violent state oppression radical activists developed the tactic of the Black Bloc,” Young wrote in 2001. By masking up in black, he wrote, activists “could more effectively fend off police attacks, without being singled out as individuals for arrest and harassment later on.”

The tactic spread to Amsterdam and other cities with large squatter populations. Toward the end of the decade, protesters were making wide use of it. In summer 1987, when President Ronald Reagan delivered his famous “tear down this wall” speech in West Berlin, he was met by tens of thousands of protesters, including a 2,000-person “black bloc,” as the New York Times reported then.

It’s not clear exactly when “black bloc” tactics crossed the Atlantic, but two large protests in 1990 — one in Washington against the Gulf War, the other in San Francisco against Columbus Day — were both disrupted by black-clad groups that destroyed downtown property, according to Young.

The tactic was hardly ever more visible than it was during the massive protests against the 1999 World Trade Organization summit in Seattle. Demonstrations began peacefully, but several hundred “black bloc” activists — described by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at the time as “masked anarchists wearing black” — smashed windows, looted stores and vandalized buildings. The confrontation, dubbed the “Battle in Seattle,” delayed the start of the meeting and cast a shadow over the proceedings.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2017 at 10:00 pm

[LINK] “How a former editor allegedly used Vice Canada to recruit drug mules for a global smuggling ring”

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Sean Craig and Adrian Humphreys’s National Post article reports on criminal allegations of international drug smuggling which have the potential to harm emergent international media empire Vice Media.

A former editor with Vice Media used the Canadian headquarters of the youth-focused publishing empire as a recruiting ground to draw young journalists and artists into a transnational cocaine-smuggling ring, according to allegations by current and former Vice employees who spoke to the National Post.

Three current or former Vice journalists independently told the Post that Yaroslav Pastukhov, then Vice Canada’s music editor who went by the name Slava Pastuk, personally tried to recruit them as international drug couriers, offering each of them $10,000 to carry illicit cargo hidden in the lining of suitcases from Las Vegas to Australia. They say they did not accept the offer.

Meanwhile, Pastukhov’s one-time roommate, a promising Toronto electronic music artist named Jordan Gardner whom Vice had featured in a profile, now sits in an Australian prison, awaiting sentencing after being caught at Sydney airport with a large stash of cocaine.

Gardner, three other Canadians and one American — a New York-based model — were arrested on Dec. 22, 2015, when cocaine valued between US$5.1 million and US$6.6 million in Australia was allegedly discovered in the lining of their luggage. The Australian Federal Police described it as the work of “a transnational criminal syndicate.”

According to Gardner’s Australia-based lawyer, friends and family, he blames Pastukhov for badgering him into making the trip. When Gardner and some of his traveling companions tried to back out of the deal in Las Vegas, his lawyer told the Post, unknown men threatened Gardner with a gun.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 3, 2017 at 8:15 pm