Marina Silva (Português), Marina Silva (English), Partido Verde Brasil.
David Neave: 20 years with the RCMP & admitted [presumably to the bar] in 1993.
Taser International: where "California, the left coast" is still funny.
believing neither the petty bureaucrats at Real Climate nor the even pettier bureaucrats at Copenhagen Concensus Centre, nor the mealy mouthed laywers like David Neave nor his greedy masters at Taser, nor the United Church nor CUPE nor the NDP nor any of them - but you have to believe something, it's in our nature, so it comes to personality and temperament, Marina Silva, Chico Buarque, Chico Mendes, Thomas Braidwood and his team (of probably petty bureaucrats) even Elizabeth May & Dalton McGuinty ... there are some, too bad there is no church, no place of worship where you could meet them of a Sunday and simply say ... hi.
1. Taser maker to file suit over inquiry, Ian Bailey, Friday Aug 14 2009.
2. David T. Neave, Profile - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.
3. David T. Neave, Profile - Martindale.
3a. Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.
3b. Taser International.
3c. 2009 Conference Video, Slick!
3d. CTV News Video Graham Richardson 1.
3e. CTV News Video Graham Richardson 2 with Ujjal Dosanjh.
4. William Elliott Responds, Globe Letters, August 14 2009 - for some reason not included on-line(?).
5. In Dresden, High Culture and Ugly Reality Clash, Michael Kimmelman, August 14 2009.
6. The silent treatment, Joe Friesen, Saturday Aug 15 2009.
7. Minc acredita que candidatura de Marina Silva à Presidência fortaleceria debate ambiental, 15/08/2009.
8. Climate engineering: It's cheap and effective, Bjorn Lomborg, Monday Aug 17 2009.
8a. A biased economic analysis of geoengineering, Real Climate.
8b. Bjorn Lomborg, Wikipedia.
8c. Copenhagen Consensus Center - Geoengineering.
8d. An Analysis of Climate Change as a Response to Global Warming, Eric Bickel & Lee Lane, August 7 2009.
9. A radically different greenhouse gas strategy, Neil Reynolds, Wednesday Aug 19 2009.
Taser maker to file suit over inquiry, Ian Bailey, Friday Aug 14 2009.
Manufacturer going to B.C. Supreme Court in an effort to overturn initial Braidwood findings on the tasering of Robert Dziekanski, saying stun gun is safe and inquiry was biased
Vancouver — Stun-gun manufacturer Taser International is going to B.C. Supreme Court Friday to try to overturn the initial conclusions of the Braidwood inquiry because it believes those rulings are unfair.
David Neave, the Vancouver-based lawyer for the company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., told CTV he will file documents outlining the company's grievances.
The main concerns of the company, he said, are that the inquiry's rulings, announced last month, will place law enforcement and the public at greater risk. Taser International argues that stun guns are safe.
“The grounds for the judicial review application are numerous. However, it appears upon a review of the report itself that the commission did not consider or refer to a substantial body of scientific and medical literature concerning the safety of the devices that Taser itself provided to the commission,” Mr. Neave said.
He referred, among other concerns, to 25 studies on the testing of the devices on people Taser provided that were not used. “The assertion is that commission breached basic principles of fairness and fundamental justice,” Mr. Neave said in an interview with CTV at his Vancouver office. “They were biased in the sense that a substantial body of science and medical study we provided to the commission was not considered.”
The B.C. government recently adopted the 19 recommendations of Thomas Braidwood, a retired justice of the B.C. Appeal Court, as standard practice for B.C. police forces.
Mr. Braidwood looked at the police use of stun guns as the first part of a process that is now looking at the October, 2007, death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski.
Mr. Dziekanski, 40, died following a confrontation with four Mounties at Vancouver International Airport. Mounties used a stun gun on him for more than 30 seconds. He died of cardiac arrest following a struggle with officers. Although his death has not been conclusively linked to the use of the taser, his demise has raised questions about the use of the stun guns.
Mr. Braidwood's recommendations included tougher standards for the use of tasers, a five-second time limit on the deployment of the devices and a call for province-wide standards for their use.
“Those recommendations are based on incomplete information with respect to the medical and scientific information that was available and that we provided to the commission,” said Mr. Neave.
Officials with the Braidwood inquiry were not available for comment.
David T. Neave, Profile - Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.
Partner, Vancouver Office, Telephone 604-631-3338, david.neave [at] blakes.com
David Neave is a Partner practising corporate commercial litigation and criminal law, including defending white collar crime offences. He has extensive experience in defending class proceedings and individual claims brought in competition, restraint of trade, products liability, securities and banking cases. Some examples of recent cases include defending:
* An international manufacturer of computer memory chips and other electrical componentsDavid regularly appears before all levels of British Columbia courts and various regulatory tribunals. He is recognized as a leading practitioner in class actions in The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory 2009. He is a member of the Class Action, Civil Litigation and Securities Subsections of the Canadian Bar Association.
* International pharmaceutical companies in products liability actions with respect to a number of prescription drugs
* International medical device manufacturers in products liability cases pertaining to heart valves, pacemakers and breast implants
* Various financial institutions pertaining to credit card charges and criminal interest allegations
* A securities brokerage in various actions pertaining to marketing of securities and investment suitability
* A securities brokerage in an action to enforce a C$40-million default judgment
* An international manufacturer of conducted energy weapons in various products liability cases
* Individuals charged with securities offences, including insider trading
David joined Blakes after a 20-year career with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. As part of its commercial crime section for 11 years, he conducted stock market manipulation investigations and a variety of complex fraud and theft investigations. Just before leaving the R.C.M.P., David acted as in-house counsel to the senior management of the R.C.M.P. in British Columbia.
David T. Neave, Profile - Martindale.
Partner, Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP
Three Bentall Centre, Suite 2600, 595 Burrard Street, P.O. Box 49314
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
#417 in weekly profile views out of 4,114 lawyers in Vancouver, British Columbia
#186,036 in weekly profile views out of 937,841 total lawyers Overall
Experience & Credentials
Practice Areas Litigation; Class Actions (Class Action); Criminal
Education University of British Columbia, LL.B., Trent University, B.Sc.
William Elliott Responds, Globe Letters, August 14 2009 - for some reason not included on-line.
Despite the fact the RCMP welcomed the report from the Commission for Public Complaints, agrees with a number of its findings, and that I am on record saying we would prefer never to have to investigate our own members, your headline stated the force rejects the report (RCMP Reject Watchdog Report On Internal Investigations – Aug. 12).
The RCMP finds a great deal positive in the report. We are proud it concludes our members' conduct was professional, timely and free of bias in all the investigations reviewed. Our concerns centre on the methodology that led to some of the conclusions, and the practicality of some recommendations. The report reviews cases, some more than seven years old, using the lens of new criteria developed for the report.
Based on those criteria, it calls RCMP conduct inappropriate in some cases. Considering the CPC's findings that our officers' conduct was free of bias in all of these cases, that is strong language indeed. It creates an inaccurate picture.
We have always supported having others investigate the RCMP where there is a regime in place to do so. However, time is critical and in some remote areas, it can take a day or more to fly in officers, let alone identify an available team from another force. The report's concerns and recommendations about national standards will be addressed in new RCMP policy and we are anxious for the government to introduce legislative reform. As I have so often said, the RCMP strongly supports enhanced independent oversight and review.
In Dresden, High Culture and Ugly Reality Clash, Michael Kimmelman, August 14 2009.
DRESDEN, Germany — In early July thousands of mourners took to the streets in Egypt, chanting “Down with Germany.” Thousands more Arabs and Muslims joined them in protests in Berlin. In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad added to the outcry by denouncing German “brutality.”
The provocation was the murder on July 1 of Marwa al-Sherbini, a pregnant Egyptian pharmacist here. She was stabbed 18 times in a Dresden courtroom, in front of her 3-year-old son, judges and other witnesses, reportedly by the man appealing a fine for having insulted Ms. Sherbini in a park. Identified by German authorities only as a 28-year-old Russian-born German named Alex W., he had called Ms. Sherbini an Islamist, a terrorist and a slut when she asked him to make room for her son on the playground swings. Ms. Sherbini wore a head scarf.
The killer also stabbed Elwi Okaz, Ms. Sherbini’s husband and a genetic research scientist, who was critically wounded as he tried to defend her. The police, arriving late on the scene, mistook him for the attacker and shot him in the leg.
More than a week passed before the German government, responding to rising anger across the Arab world, expressed words of sorrow while stressing that the attack did occur during the prosecution of a racist and that the accused man was originally from Russia.
Dresden is one of the great cultural capitals of Europe. It is also the capital of Saxony, a former part of East Germany that, along with having a reputation as Silicon Saxony, has made more than a few headlines in recent years for incidents of xenophobia and right-wing extremism. One wonders how to reconcile the heights of the city’s culture with the gutter of these events.
This year’s annual report of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, showed that far-right crime rose last year by 16 percent across the country. Most of these offenses were classified as propaganda crimes — painting swastikas on Jewish headstones or smashing the windows of restaurants run by immigrants — but politically motivated violent acts like murder, arson and assault accounted for 1,042 of the nearly 20,000 crimes recorded, a rise of 6.3 percent over 2007.
And these violent crimes turned out to be far more commonplace in parts of the former East Germany. Saxony, with roughly 5 percent of the country’s population, accounted for 12 percent of the violence classified as far right in nature, the report said.
These days Dresden’s center, once obliterated by Allied bombs, is a marvel of civility, a restored Baroque fairyland surrounded by Socialist-era and post-Socialist-era sprawl. The rebuilt Frauenkirche, the great Baroque cathedral where Bach played, again marks the skyline with its bell-shaped dome, as it did for centuries.
The ruin of the Frauenkirche became a gathering spot for protests against the East German regime during Communist times. In February, as usual on the anniversary of the Allied air raids, neo-Nazis marched through the streets. Some 7,500 of them carried banners condemning the “bombing holocaust.” They were outnumbered, Spiegel Online reported, by anti-Nazi demonstrators, but 7,500 was nonetheless twice as many neo-Nazis as showed up last year.
The other day only the benign clop-clop of horse-drawn carriages sounded across the cobblestone square outside the cathedral, the carriages bouncing camera-toting tourists past high-end jewelry shops and overpriced cafes. Nearby, the Zwinger palace, perhaps the most beautiful of all Baroque complexes, attracted the usual supplicants to Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, which was paired in the Gemäldegalerie with an African sculpture.
Germany is now a bastion of democracy in the heart of Europe. But the far right is on the rise across the Continent, and xenophobia is gaining in this country, not least among youth and not least singling out Muslims. A recent two-year government survey of 20,000 German teenagers classified one in seven as “highly xenophobic” and another 26.2 percent as “fairly xenophobic.”
“It was known that the figures were high,” Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said. “But I’m appalled that they’re this high.”
The newspaper Tagesspiegel reported that Alex W. asked Ms. Sherbini in the courtroom, “Do you have a right to be in Germany at all?” before warning her that “when the N.D.P. comes to power, there’ll be an end to that.”
“I voted N.D.P..,” he added.
The far-right National Democratic Party, a marginal but noisy troublemaker on the German political scene with a tiny official membership (some 7,000), is as strong in Saxony as it is anywhere. Recent polls have routinely shown its support in the state as nearing 10 percent of the population; it claims 8 seats out of the 124 in the state parliament in Dresden. On Tuesday the party issued a statement calling for a black politician, Zeca Schall, working on regional elections in Thuringia for the ruling Christian Democratic Union, “to head home to Angola.” Thuringia should “remain German,” the statement said. Mr. Schall, Angolan-born, has lived in Thuringia, another region in the former East, since 1988.
High-tech industries and research institutes like the one where Ms. Sherbini’s husband works, which recruit foreign experts, have lifted Dresden economically above much of the rest of the former East, and last year nearly 10 million tourists fattened the city’s coffers. With half a million residents, some 20,000 of them foreigners, the capital looks prosperous and charming, like its old self.
All of which gets back to the problem of reconciliation: What are the humanizing effects of culture?
Evidently, there are none.
To walk through Dresden’s museums, and past the young buskers fiddling Mozart on street corners, is to wonder whether this age-old question may have things backward. It presumes that we’re passive receivers acted on by the arts, which vouchsafe our salvation, moral and otherwise, so long as we remain in their presence. Arts promoters nowadays like to trumpet how culture helps business and tourism; how teaching painting and music in schools boosts test scores. They try to assign practical ends, dollar values and other hard numbers, never mind how dubious, to quantify what’s ultimately unquantifiable.
The lesson of Dresden, which this great city unfortunately seems doomed to repeat, is that culture is, to the contrary, impractical and fragile, helpless even. Residents of Dresden who believed, when the war was all but over, that their home had somehow been spared annihilation by its beauty were all the more traumatized when, in a matter of hours, bombs killed tens of thousands and obliterated centuries of humane and glorious architecture.
The truth is, we can stare as long as we want at that Raphael Madonna; or at Antonello da Messina’s “St. Sebastian,” now beside a Congo fetish sculpture in another room in the Gemäldegalerie; or at the shiny coffee sets, clocks and cups made of coral and mother-of-pearl and coconuts and diamonds culled from the four corners of the earth in the city’s New Green Vault, which contains the spoils of the most cultivated Saxon kings. But it won’t make sense of a senseless murder or help change the mind of a violent bigot.
What we can also do, though, is accept that while the arts won’t save us, we should save them anyway. Because the enemies of civilized society are always just outside the door.
The silent treatment, Joe Friesen, Saturday Aug 15 2009.
Mackel Peterkin was no gangster. He'd benefited from many social programs to help him make something of his life. So why, at 18, did he find himself charged with murder? It's because, where he came from, ‘no snitching' was the highest law of all
Toronto — Mackel Peterkin had lived so long suspended between condemnation and redemption that the wait had become almost normal.
Sitting outside Toronto's main criminal courthouse under a punishing sun, the brawny, square-jawed 20-year-old complained of the heat but made no attempt to move. It felt as if the afternoon would carry on forever.
For the anxious relatives sitting beside him, eternal uncertainty seemed preferable to the likely alternative – life behind bars.
It had been two years since Mr. Peterkin was arrested for allegedly planning and carrying out the execution of his friend Allen Benn. Before that, he had been seen as one of the rare kids in his rough neighbourhood who would avoid this kind of trap.
He had grown up poor, but he had been the beneficiary of countless interventions – from government programs to private-sector philanthropy – aimed at shepherding him safely to adulthood. He wasn't a gangster; he was a decent kid. And yet he was facing 25 years to life for first-degree murder.
The jury had been deliberating for three days. In 2008, 93 per cent of homicide trials in Ontario ended with guilty verdicts.
But Mr. Peterkin was confident in spite of the odds.
“If they convict me, they have to let 10 men out of jail,” he liked to say, referring to the legal principle that says it's better that 10 guilty men go free than that one innocent man be imprisoned.
In the slow stillness of the afternoon, he wrestled his arms free from his dress shirt and let it drape around his neck like a scarf. With his black pants covering black Nike Air Force Ones, he was willing to bend only so far to the formality of the court.
Then his mother's cellphone rang. It was their lawyer. The jury was coming back with a verdict. His mom grabbed him around the waist, hugging him tightly. He tried to push her aside as he gulped for words.
“Mom, it's okay, I'm coming home,” he said, trying to sound brave. He strode ahead alone.
When the jurors entered the courtroom that final time, they didn't so much as glance at Mr. Peterkin, nor did they acknowledge his best friend and co-accused, Shaun Blake.
In the back row, a lawyer whispered, “They won't look at the accused. They're done. They're going down.”
‘A mysterious kid'
Mackel Peterkin was born on a rainy night in Scarborough in the fall of 1988. His mother's fifth child, he entered the world with six fingers on each hand. His mother asked that the two additional pinkie fingers be cut away so he wouldn't be made fun of at school.
“I said, ‘This is a mysterious kid. He's a different kind,'” said his mother, Mazeline Allen.
She had grown up in Jamaica and at 14 came to Canada, where she was reunited with a mother and father she had never known. The reunion didn't go well. She didn't get along with her mom and her dad died of a stroke at 42.
Her grandmother had told her that in Canada the streets were lined with money – all you had to do was bend down to pick it up. But for Ms. Allen, Canada was a cold and lonely place, and she struggled, finding work here and there in construction. She would eventually have nine children with six different men.
She now lives in public housing in Toronto's suburban northwest at Jane Street and Finch Avenue, an area known as one of Canada's most violent neighbourhoods.
Her living-room walls are decorated with a dozen portraits of Egyptian emperor Haile Selassie, the Rastafarian king.
Ms. Allen looked fondly at a photo of Mackel in kindergarten, dressed in a red-and-black-striped cardigan. “They thought he was the child who couldn't speak. They would ask me, ‘Is he dumb?' I'd say no, that's just Mackel.”
His report card from that year said he was steadily gaining self-confidence. He liked math, puzzles, painting and cut-and-paste, and he wanted to be an astronaut. But his absence on nearly 20 per cent of school days (10 per cent is considered high) foretold a more difficult future.
Growing up in the Palisades apartment towers, Mr. Peterkin befriended a local kid named Shaun Blake with a life story very similar to his own. I met the two boys when I was reporting on the community in the summer of 2006. At the time, the city was gripped by the cascading toll of young, black homicide victims, a pattern that, with ebbs and flows, continues to play out today.
Mr. Peterkin and Mr. Blake belonged to the group of teenagers that hung around the San Romanoway Revitalization Association; they called it the Centre. They were acutely aware that, as young black men, they were perceived as a threat to peace and order. It was hard to ignore: When prime minister Paul Martin promised a major crackdown on gangs and guns in 2005, he didn't just come to their neighbourhood – he came to their building.
One evening at the Centre, a counsellor asked the boys to introduce themselves and describe their ambitions. The typical exchange went something like, “My name's Lefty. I live in Palisades, my favourite subject is science, I'm going to play in the NBA ... and I'm deadly.” Everyone would crack up.
Mr. Peterkin, though, was more mature. While his friends reacted aggressively to any perceived slight, he was a calming presence. His academic struggles placed him two years behind his age cohort, but that was not unusual in the group. When it was his turn to talk about his ambitions, he had scaled back considerably from dreams of space travel: He said he wanted to operate the jackhammer on a construction crew.
Everyone laughed. The counsellor scolded him and asked what he really wanted to do. He replied, somewhat hurt, that he was telling the truth.
For teenage boys in that area, gangs are one of life's central pillars. The group at the Palisades considered themselves Bloods. They wore the red clothing and joked around with their gang signs, but their crimes were of the theft-from-a-locker or schoolyard-fight variety, not those of gun-toting thugs.
At the time, I thought these were the kids you'd never hear about, clearly benefiting from the programs that aim to keep children from at-risk neighbourhoods out of trouble.
Every year, millions of dollars are spent on scholastic, athletic, vocational and crime-prevention programs for the hundreds of kids in the neighbourhood. At the Centre alone, they received more than $500,000 last year from donors ranging from Public Safety Canada, the City of Toronto, the Attorney-General's Ministry, the Royal Bank and the United Way.
Mr. Peterkin had participated in at least six funded programs before his 18th birthday, including the Boys and Girls Club, Y-Connect, Rising Stars, Straight Talk, Hoop to Hope and Raptor Ball.
One of his mentors was Benjamin Osei, who often led the programs. He said Mr. Peterkin “didn't have any gangster nature about him.”
But there was no getting around the fact that he and his friends came from poor families, did badly in school and had no sense of what to do with their lives. They believed the world was racist and that the odds were stacked against them from birth.
The temptation to make easy money serving the daily procession of crack and dope buyers was ever present, as was the possibility of being recruited by the serious, grown-up gangs.
Mr. Osei said they were like starfish on the beach. You could save a few by throwing them back in the ocean, but every wave brought dozens more.
Joker's last hand
On April 2, 2007, 20-year-old Allen Benn was sitting down to dinner with his family in the Grassways housing complex. His little sister didn't like the food, so Mr. Benn offered to go across the street to get some takeout chicken.
Mr. Benn, whose family came to Jane-Finch from Ghana when he was a child, hung around with the group from Palisades even though he lived on the south side of Finch Avenue. Known as Joker for his sense of humour, he had dropped out of school, but he was trying to turn his life around – he was washing dishes at a restaurant and volunteering at the Centre.
Thirteen minutes after leaving his apartment, Mr. Benn lay dying on the pavement. When paramedics arrived, he was struggling to breathe and rolling slightly from side to side. He had been stabbed five times and his small bowel was spilling out of a gash in his stomach.
The pathologist concluded that the wound that killed him sliced through his heart and liver, causing massive internal bleeding.
When Detective Sergeant Frank Skubic arrived at the homicide scene, he faced a problem endemic to criminal investigations in certain parts of Toronto.
It's a kind of parallel universe where the rule of law doesn't mean what it does elsewhere, and where citizens don't believe that the police can deliver on the promise to protect them.
As Det. Sgt. Skubic explained in court, every witness he found was the product of diligent door knocking, persuasion and cajoling. No one came forward offering information.
The “stop-snitching” campaign has been so effective in Toronto's poorest neighbourhoods that it is now very difficult to persuade anyone to help a police investigation. Many people fear that they will be killed by gangs. Some also feel that the police are a kind of army of occupation who shouldn't get their co-operation.
The slogan “stop snitching” gained cultural traction via hip-hop songs and a popular line of clothing that the mayor of Boston once tried to ban from stores. It's common to see teenagers in Jane-Finch wearing the T-shirts or having a stop-snitching logo on their MySpace or Facebook profiles.
I once saw two youth workers at the Centre, the very people whose job it was to set an example, explaining to an 11-year-old boy who had tattled on a classmate that if he continued to snitch, he would be hated.
As one gang expert testified in this case, in Jane-Finch “no snitching” means you don't talk to anyone, ever, about anything – because you're only ever a phone call away from being killed.
The Grassways public-housing complex, where the killing took place, is a labyrinth of interconnected low-rise buildings. It's known locally as Connections, partly for its shape and partly because it's a place to connect with a drug dealer.
The Crown's theory was that Mackel Peterkin and Shaun Blake conspired to kill Allen Benn with two 17-year-old youths who are being tried later this year in a separate proceeding.
Their case revolved almost entirely around surveillance video from the scene. With more than 50 video cameras throughout the complex keeping silent watch over comings and goings, the Grassways is a kind of surveillance fishbowl.
The video showed Mr. Blake and two youths, including one we'll call Jerome, hanging around the housing complex together about three hours before Mr. Benn was killed. Mr. Peterkin joined them just 20 minutes before the attack.
Mr. Benn returned from the restaurant at 4:50 p.m. and encountered Jerome. They spoke for a moment and then Mr. Benn followed Jerome toward a stairwell door out of camera view. Mr. Blake and Mr. Peterkin had disappeared in the same spot a few minutes earlier.
At 4:55 p.m., after being off-camera for four minutes, Mr. Benn emerged from the stairwell and fell to the ground. Mr. Blake, Mr. Peterkin and Jerome were not seen on camera again.
The police dragged Mr. Peterkin from his bed and arrested him three weeks later, in May, 2007. Mr. Blake was arrested at the same time by an emergency task force a few blocks south.
They were interviewed that evening by Det. Sgt. Skubic and his partner, Det. Sgt. Terry Wark. Mr. Blake was shown the surveillance videotape, but he denied that he was on it. Asked if he could identify his friend Jerome, Mr. Blake said he didn't know him.
Det. Sgt. Skubic, a genial, hulking man, patiently skewered the lie. He rhymed off the places they might find evidence – on shoes, on clothing. Mr. Blake rocked slowly back and forth in his chair, eyes cast downward.
Det. Sgt. Skubic's voice softened and he leaned in closer, offering a way out. “It takes a man to stand up and say, ‘We didn't mean for it to happen, but it happened.' … Can you give us an explanation?”
A long silence followed. Mr. Blake, his arms tightly folded, mumbled, “Not true,” and then, “No comment.”
When the police interviewed Mr. Peterkin, he described his movements on the day Mr. Benn was killed. After school, he went to the Centre at Palisades, as he did every day, but couldn't go in because its director, Stephnie Payne, had temporarily banned the older boys to discipline them. Then, he said, he went to his sister's house. But the video showed he actually went to the Grassways.
“Did you stab this man to death?” Det. Sgt. Skubic asked.
“No,” Mr. Peterkin replied.
“But you know who did?”
Mr. Peterkin said Mr. Benn had problems with “some Crip guys.”
“It wasn't the Crips who killed him, because we got the videotape,” the officer said. “Crips don't wear red.”
At the end of the questioning, Mr. Peterkin had tears in his eyes.
Both Mr. Blake and Mr. Peterkin lied consistently to police. Both said they weren't at the scene of the homicide, and the video clearly showed they were. Both said they didn't know anyone on the video, and they clearly did.
In court, the Crown argued that their lies were evidence of guilt, in particular Mr. Peterkin's feeble attempt to point the police at other suspects.
Mr. Peterkin's mother was livid. “Let me explain something to you: We live in Gangster City. If you talk to the cops, you get killed, simple as that,” she said. “The police know that. These boys aren't going to say who did it.”
Twists of fate
In fact, though, the Crown's whole case revolved around the no-snitching rule. Their theory was that Allen Benn was killed for snitching on a fellow Blood. A week earlier, Mr. Benn's friend had been robbed. Word on the street was that Mr. Benn had ratted out the robbers. It wasn't true, but, as one lawyer said, the presumption of innocence doesn't apply in the Grassways.
Bizarrely enough, the disastrous chain of events began five months earlier with a stroke of good fortune for Mr. Benn's friend Richie Poku: He won $1.1-million in the lottery. Mr. Poku moved to Brampton, bought a Mercedes and started wearing expensive clothes and jewellery. But his girlfriend still had family in Jane-Finch and one night visited her mother in the Grassways.
When Mr. Poku arrived to pick her up, he was stripped of his pants, shoes, necklace and car keys. His girlfriend, Bettina Marfo, concluded that the robbers were Jerome and another gang member named Kanadian. She called Kanadian's mother, who refused to believe that her son committed the robbery. In an attempt to bolster her accusation, Ms. Marfo said, “Even Allen warned Richie to be careful.” According to the Crown, those words sealed his fate.
Mr. Benn heard about that conversation days before he was killed. Panicked, he asked Ms. Marfo to change her story, to say it was a different Allen who warned her. “Those people don't play around with stuff like that. They call it snitching and you can get killed for it.”
Mr. Benn had never mentioned anyone by name. Nor did he have any information about a plan to rob Mr. Poku.
“All Allen Benn did was say, ‘Your boyfriend should be a little smarter about showing up in the Grassways with gold dripping off his body in a fancy car,'” said the judge, Mr. Justice David McCombs. “That's just something that any rational person would say to you. ... This boy died for nothing. He didn't break any code of any kind.”
The two boys spent nearly a year in prison. During their time at the Maplehurst jail, Mr. Blake was angry and constantly fighting. He was kept in solitary confinement for long stretches, and in one altercation a corrections officer smashed his head against a wall repeatedly, leaving him with a two-inch forehead scar.
Mr. Peterkin fared better. He knew someone on the inside who smoothed his transition and introduced him to people. Eventually he became one of the bosses on his range.
After several months, tests on their clothing came back from the forensics lab. There was very little there. One of Mr. Blake's shoes couldn't be ruled out as a match for a footprint at the crime scene, but it was a generic print from a very popular shoe (the judge ruled it inadmissible at trial).
Since the case against them was circumstantial, and neither had a criminal record, they were granted bail halfway through 2008.
Throughout the ordeal, the two boys steadfastly refused to say anything that would put them in the clear, if it meant putting others in jeopardy.
One day over lunch during the trial, Mr. Peterkin said that he had had an alibi all along: He was at his friend's apartment, just down the hall from the stairwell where Mr. Benn was attacked. The problem was that his friend, Brandon Miller, didn't corroborate his story when questioned by police.
“One thing that pisses me off, that one person didn't tell the truth, and that's Brandon Miller, because he could've got me out of all this. But I understand why he didn't. He didn't want to get himself involved,” Mr. Peterkin said. “I'd probably do the same thing.”
There were at least half a dozen other people who could have put him in the clear, he added, but none of them would speak up either.
As the trial wore on, it became increasingly evident that the Crown's view was that Jerome likely committed the murder, assisted by others who may have held Mr. Benn while he was stabbed or blocked him from escaping.
The Crown had a witness who said she saw in a brief glance a group of teenagers moving in a violent swirl in the area of the stairwell, but she couldn't identify any of them.
The pathologist, who was instructed to look for evidence of an assault on Mr. Benn, couldn't find any bruising consistent with someone being held or beaten. In fact, defensive wounds on his hands showed that they were free when he was attacked.
In conversation, Mr. Peterkin denied ever seeing what happened to Mr. Benn, but he said that even if he had been there, he wouldn't have intervened.
“People kill people sometimes. You can't necessarily stop it. I don't think I'd want to try. If I did, you might end up with two people dead,” he said. “It's only white people that think they can be the hero.”
It's common now, in the age of Barack Obama, to talk of a post-racial society. But for Mr. Peterkin and Mr. Blake, race was still central to their world view and one of their favourite topics of conversation.
Mr. Blake, out of the blue one day, asked me how he could learn to talk to white girls. “I've never talked to a white girl. Can you believe that? You've got to show me how. … You can talk to any girl. You can be like, ‘How's your hot chocolate? Is that a nice hot chocolate?' If we said that to a white girl, she'd get all scared. It couldn't happen.”
While awaiting the verdict, the men and their families spent a tense half-hour feeding the birds outside the Eaton Centre. Four black birds were gathered around Mr. Peterkin's niece as she tossed French fries in their direction. But each time a white bird would swoop in and steal the fry before any of the black birds could eat it.
No matter how close the fry was to the black bird, the white bird's size, speed and strength stole the fry every time. The group was more and more amazed with each fry thrown in the ring.
“Look at the white guy, he's just eating everything. He won't let the black guys even get a piece,” Mr. Peterkin said.
As he walked back to court, he marvelled, “That's a life lesson right there,” he said. “No matter how much of a chance you give the black guy, the white guy always gets more. He gets to eat no matter what. Just like real life.”
The accused and their families were convinced that the trial would be affected by their race. During one break in testimony, Ms. Allen and Ms. Blake were talking about how dangerous it would be for their sons to return to the neighbourhood if they were acquitted. They weren't afraid of Mr. Benn's family – they were afraid of the police. They were adamant that the police would try to injure or kill them. I said I thought it was impossible.
“You're so naive,” Ms. Allen said.
“You're too much public,” Mr. Blake said.
This was a phrase he often used to describe me. I asked what it meant.
“You're too much a Canadian citizen,” he said. Mr. Blake had spent just one week of his life outside Ontario and 12 years in Toronto public schools, yet did not consider himself part of society.
His mother still hoped that something good could come of the trial for her son: “When you come from where we do – well, they call it the ghetto – you don't know what you can be in life,” she said. “Now that he's been through this, he's been socializing with higher people, people like lawyers, and he's starting to see what he really can do himself.
“When he gets off, and he's innocent, I don't want him to even come visit me where I'm living, not even to say hi. I want him to get out, get away, get into some kind of college program,” she said.
Mr. Blake said he and his girlfriend, Kamesha, who was five months pregnant, were going to move somewhere outside the city. They hoped that he would get a job in construction and complete his high-school diploma. He and Kamesha, who was in school and working at a call centre, had been together nearly five years.
Mr. Peterkin's girlfriend, Rhoda, often skipped school to go to the trial against his wishes. He was trying to convince her that they were no longer a couple.
They had started dating shortly before his arrest. She stood by him while he was in jail, took his phone calls and visited. She even moved into his mother's home. But Mr. Peterkin told her at the end of the trial that what they had was just “jail love.”
“But you told me – you said the words,” she said.
“You don't know about jail love? Of course the guy is going to say, ‘I love you.' He's surrounded by [dozens] of guys. When you're in jail, you just want to get as much love as you can.”
Shortly after the trial began, the Crown offered Mr. Peterkin a deal: He could plead guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a sentence of nine years, 8 1/2 to be served in the penitentiary.
That was considerably better than life in prison, but it didn't appeal to him or his lawyer. They decided to take their chances with the jury.
No such deal was offered to Mr. Blake. His lawyers believed that he was in a much more precarious situation. Unlike Mr. Peterkin, Mr. Blake had hung around with Jerome, the person with the most powerful motive to kill Mr. Benn, for three hours before the attack. He was also on video pointing in the direction of Mr. Benn, evidence the Crown argued was part of a “quasi-military operation” to kill a suspected snitch.
Once the Crown closed its case, Mr. Blake's lawyers discussed strategy with their client.
“Shaun has a big decision to make,” said one of them, Daniel Brown. “He has to decide whether to take the stand and point the finger at some pretty dangerous people. I don't know. He's facing 25 years, but we may not need to put him up there.”
Mr. Blake came away from their meeting looking depressed, and slammed his headphones over his ears as he walked away.
He said there was no way he was going to testify, even if it meant jeopardizing his shot at freedom. He walked away alone, leaving his grandmother wondering what he was thinking.
“Shaun didn't sleep all night,” she said. “Yesterday, he just sat with his chin in his hands looking so worried, but he didn't want to talk about it.”
Neither Mr. Blake nor Mr. Peterkin called any evidence in their defence. It was a risk. Their lawyers would have to convince the jury that the Crown hadn't proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Day of judgment
Regina v. Peterkin and Blake was to be Judge McCombs's last case. A mountainous figure with a craggy face and wings of snowy hair encircling a bald peak, he often expressed his irritation by letting out a long, pained exhale of breath. As the trial wore on, he seemed to grow more concerned about its direction.
“I've been a judge for 17 years. This is a disturbing case for me,” he said in the trial's last week, once the jury had been excused for the day. “The reaction [of the jury] in these gangs cases is a worry. People are fed up to their teeth with gang violence. And we therefore have to guard against verdicts that are unsupported by the evidence. Nobody wants to have as his or her legacy a wrongful conviction.”
The judge's most important task was to instruct the jury on how they should reach a verdict. He cautioned them to pay little heed to the defendants' lies to police, and warned them about the unreliability of the eyewitness evidence offered by the Crown.
Almost as soon as he had finished and the jury had been sequestered, the prosecutor leaped to his feet with a list of objections. The judge had eviscerated his evidence, he said, leaving him with nothing.
“Surely you don't want this jury to convict them purely on speculation?” the judge replied.
Outside court, the wait for a verdict began. The families sat together, praying for the best.
“Jail sucks,” said Mr. Peterkin, contemplating a future in the penitentiary at Joyceville, Ont. – a boring routine of watching daytime talk shows, sports highlights and music videos. “You get frustrated. What's the word they use for people in jail – rehabilitation? That doesn't work. People who go to jail get mad and frustrated with the world, so when they come out, they're worse. How can you rehabilitate someone over 25 years? That's ridiculous.
“Sometimes I think about my situation and I get mad. But I just think I'm not going. Not think – I know. I know I'm not going. I'll be shocked. Really shocked.”
As he waited, he played Who Wants to Be a Millionaire on a cellphone, faltering as he read the questions aloud.
Mr. Peterkin recalled all the programs he had taken part in as teenager, all the summer jobs designed to set him on a path to anywhere but here: youth programs, basketball leagues, summer camps. The free meals, the adult counsel, the city's concern for the disadvantaged children of Jane-Finch.
In an attempt to use what little power they had, Mr. Peterkin and his friends used to say that if the Centre didn't get a new basketball hoop, well, they might just turn to crime. They got the new hoop, and a new paved court as well.
Generous corporations had given them tickets to movies and sports events, tickets Mr. Peterkin often scalped outside the stadium for a measly few dollars. He had been given a summer job cleaning the garbage rooms and stairwells of the towers. He had run the recording studio donated to the Centre.
All these steps were designed to give Mr. Peterkin a shot. All these steps hadn't kept him from being sucked into a mess that put him on trial for his friend's murder.
The wait for a verdict dragged on through the first day and then the second.
By Friday afternoon, the lawyers were starting to worry about a hung jury, which would mean having to do it all over again. The call finally came as they sat in the late-afternoon sun.
The jury would deliver its verdict in 10 minutes.
Mr. Peterkin said he could barely hear over the pounding of his own heart when he re-entered the courtroom that final time. His lawyer placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder and whispered, “If it doesn't go your way, we'll appeal.”
A phalanx of sheriff's deputies stood ready to take the accused into custody. The boys' mothers and sisters held tightly to one another, some of them reciting prayers.
Finally, Juror No. 6 rose to utter the words that would shape the course of their lives.
It was a unanimous verdict of not guilty on all counts for both Mr. Peterkin and Mr. Blake.
Mr. Peterkin's mother lifted her arms to the ceiling in a prayer of gratitude. She hugged Mr. Blake's mother, who was crying.
“Thank you Jesus Christ,” she said.
“I'm so happy,” a tearful Mr. Blake said. “Mackel, we're free, we're free.”
Mr. Peterkin shook his lawyer's hand. There were tears welling in his eyes, but, in the sea of joyful noise, he was quiet.
“The justice system worked,” he said.
Accident and destiny
During the trial, I asked Mr. Blake and Mr. Peterkin if they wished they had never gone to the Grassways that day. I wondered how they could reconcile wasting two years of their lives for the sake of the no-snitching code.
Mr. Peterkin said that so many things that day put him in the wrong place at the wrong time. If the Centre hadn't been locked, he never would have gone to the Grassways. If his friend Jesse hadn't been getting a haircut, he would have been at Jesse's apartment.
“Instead I went to Connections and when I got there they had locked Shaun inside this little old laundry room – it's tiny and locks from the outside – so he was banging to get out. If I had just left him in there for a while longer, maybe none of this would've happened. But we went outside.”
“And then?” I asked.
“And then,” he replied.
For his part, Mr. Blake shrugged his shoulders. “Some people say your life is written before you're born,” he said. “I believe that.”
Mr. Osei, the community worker who has known them since they were children, said Mr. Peterkin was always withdrawn – a follower, not a leader.
Jerome, however, was a different case. A refugee from Sierra Leone, he came to Canada having seen horrors that few could imagine.
His cousin, Alpha, who also belongs to the Palisades crew, recalled seeing guns held to the head of his relatives during the civil war, people having their hands chopped off, and the bellies of pregnant women carved open. He was still haunted by those images and said he knew Jerome was too.
The trial ended on a Friday afternoon in late June. This summer, Mr. Peterkin has been trying to keep a low profile, but he has returned to Jane and Finch and made contact with some of his old friends. It will never be the same, he said – the group will forever be divided by Mr. Benn's death. He has not yet followed through on his plans to find a job in construction.
What frustrated Mr. Osei most was that all of the people involved had at some point sat down at his table to ask for his help. They had all been part of the same group; they'd grown up together.
“It isn't outsiders doing this. They're doing it to themselves,” he said. “It's one friend against another.”
Minc acredita que candidatura de Marina Silva à Presidência fortaleceria debate ambiental, 15/08/2009.
O ministro do Meio Ambiente, Carlos Minc, afirmou na sexta-feira (14) que uma possível candidatura à Presidência da República da senadora Marina Silva (PT-AC) traria uma perda política para o Partido dos Trabalhadores, mas seria positiva para a discussão das questões ambientais.
“Seguramente, ela, sendo candidata, claro que o PT perde, perde um quadro importante. Mas a discussão da questão ambiental vai ser muito grande”, disse após participar do 1º Congresso da Associação Brasileira de Entidades Estaduais de Meio Ambiente (Abema).
Na avaliação do ministro, com uma candidata ligada à militância ambiental, os outros aspirantes à Presidência teriam que levar em consideração o meio ambiente em suas plataformas eleitorais. “Eu acho que a questão ambiental, caso ela venha realmente a ser candidata, vai crescer e todos os candidatos vão ter que se reportar fortemente a essa questão.”
Na opinião de Minc, apesar de Marina Silva ter sido convidada anteriormente pelo PV para integrar o partido, “tudo indica” que agora ela aceitará o convite. “Tem a ver com conflitos que ela teve com a área econômica do governo, com certeza. Tem a ver com a crise no Senado, eu suponho, porque várias vezes ela manifestou insatisfação.”
Minc substituiu Marina Silva no Ministério do Meio Ambiente. A senadora chefiou a pasta do início do governo Lula até maio de 2008. A saída do ministério teria sido motivada pelos constantes embates com a área econômica do governo. (Fonte: Daniel Mello/ Agência Brasil)
Climate engineering: It's cheap and effective, Bjorn Lomborg, Monday Aug 17 2009.
Solar radiation management and marine cloud whitening are two promising approaches
Global warming means more people will die from the heat. Sea levels will rise, and there'll be more malaria, starvation and poverty. Concern has been great, but humanity has done very little that will actually prevent these outcomes. Carbon emissions have kept increasing, despite repeated promises of cuts.
We all have a stake in ensuring that climate change is stopped. We turned to climate scientists to tell us about global warming. Now we need to turn to climate economists to enlighten us about the benefits, costs and possible outcomes from different responses to this challenge.
World leaders are meeting in Copenhagen in December to forge a new pact to tackle global warming. Should they continue with plans to make carbon-cutting promises that are unlikely to be fulfilled? What could be achieved by planting more trees, cutting methane or reducing black soot emissions? Is it sensible to focus on a technological solution to warming? Or should we just adapt to a warmer world?
Much of the policy debate remains focused on cutting carbon, but there are many ways to go about repairing the global climate. Our choices will result in different outcomes and different costs.
The optimal combination of solutions will create the biggest impact for the least money. A groundbreaking paper by economists Eric Bickel and Lee Lane is one of the first – and certainly the most comprehensive – study of the costs and benefits of climate engineering. Deliberately manipulating the Earth's climate seems like something from science fiction. But as President Barack Obama's science adviser, John Holdren, has said, it has “got to be looked at.” Many prominent scientists agree.
Dr. Bickel and Mr. Lane offer compelling evidence that a tiny investment in climate engineering might be able to reduce as much of global warming's effects as trillions of dollars spent on carbon-emission reductions.
Climate engineering has the advantage of speed. There is a significant delay between carbon cuts and any temperature drop – even halving global emissions by mid-century would barely be measurable by the end of the century. Making green energy cheap and prevalent will also take a long time. Consider that electrification of the global economy is still incomplete after more than a century of effort.
Many methods of atmospheric engineering have been proposed. Solar radiation management appears to be one of the most hopeful. Atmospheric greenhouse gases allow sunlight to pass through but absorb heat and radiate some down to the Earth's surface. All else being equal, higher concentrations will warm the planet. Solar radiation management would bounce a little sunlight back into space. Reflecting only 1 per cent to 2 per cent of the total sunlight that strikes the Earth could offset as much warming as that caused by doubling pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gases.
When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, about a million tons of sulphur dioxide were pumped into the stratosphere, reacting with water to form a hazy layer that spread around the globe and – by scattering and absorbing incoming sunlight – cooled the Earth's surface for almost two years. We could mimic this effect through stratospheric aerosol insertion – essentially launching material such as sulphur dioxide or soot into the stratosphere.
Another promising approach is marine cloud whitening, which sprays sea-water droplets into marine clouds to make them reflect more sunlight. This augments the natural process, where sea salt from the oceans provides water vapour with the cloud condensation nuclei.
It is remarkable to consider that we could cancel out this century's global warming with 1,900 unmanned ships spraying sea-water mist into the air to thicken clouds. The total cost would be about $9-billion, and the benefits of preventing the temperature increase would add up to $20-trillion. That is the equivalent of doing $2,000 worth of good with every dollar spent.
Many of the risks of climate engineering have been overstated. Marine cloud whitening would not lead to permanent atmospheric changes, and could be used only when needed. Turning sea water into clouds is a natural process. The biggest challenge is public perception. Many environmental lobbyists oppose even researching climate engineering. This is startling, given the manifold benefits. If we care about avoiding warmer temperatures, it seems we should be elated that this simple, cost-effective approach shows so much promise.
Climate engineering could remain a backup option in case of necessity. Or we could put it on the agenda today. In either case, there's a commanding case for its serious consideration. We're on track to being the generation that wasted decades bickering over carbon-emission cuts and failed to stop the harmful effects of warming. That would be a shameful legacy – one that could be avoided by rethinking climate policy.
A radically different greenhouse gas strategy, Neil Reynolds, Wednesday Aug 19 2009.
Go with the technologies that could enable a few advanced and wealthy countries to regulate the amount of solar radiation that reaches Earth
Global warming has preoccupied public policy debate in the developed countries for more than 20 years. The UN established its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the pre-eminent global authority on the subject in 1988. In the ensuing two decades, this advisory agency - part science, part government - has published a number of climate alarms, each more disturbing than the last.
In its fourth and most recent report, published in 2007, the IPCC warned that greenhouse gas emissions would confound the world (with heat waves, droughts and rising seas) for centuries. For this scare, it shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, the former vice-president of the United States who surpasses even the IPCC in cataclysmic concern.
So what have we done to lessen the destructive consequences of this impending and certain environmental disaster? In a paper released earlier this month, two climate change authorities reckon that we - meaning the world - have achieved zilch.
J. Eric Bickel is an assistant professor in the graduate program of engineering research at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas at Austin. Lee Lane is co-director of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute's non-partisan Geoengineering Project. In their paper ("An Analysis of Climate Engineering as a Response to Climate Change"), the two base a bleak assessment of future achievement - which will probably be not much - on past achievement.
"On this score, the historical record is clear," they say. They note that 2008 marked the 20th anniversary of the first meeting of the IPCC, whose mission was to devise the solution to global warming. Yet in 2008, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that global emissions of carbon dioxide were more than one-third higher than they were in 1988 - and that the rate of increase had accelerated. In fact, Prof. Bickel and Mr. Lane say, emissions grew four times more quickly between 2000 and 2007 than they did between 1990 and 1999.
"Thus, 20 years of protracted diplomatic talk and laborious scientific study," they say, "have so far failed to move the needle on emission rates." As for the countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol, "most signatories are failing to reduce emissions, much less meet their targets." The trend lines remain clear. Essentially, the authors suggest, there is no reason to think that anything will be done, notwithstanding the increase in rhetoric.
Prof. Bickel and Mr. Lane are not skeptics of man-made global warming ("It is equally clear that human activities can add to the [greenhouse gas] stocks in the Earth's atmosphere.") They simply think that there must be a better way to deal with it. They could very well be right. As long as global-warming strategies require that countries compete for progressively more highly taxed fossil fuels, an international consensus will remain elusive, and action will remain improbable.
Thus Prof. Bickel and Mr. Lane advocate a radically different greenhouse gas strategy. Based on the alternative solution they suggest, we can largely forget the various methods now promoted to ration fossil fuels. Instead, they say, go with the technologies that could enable a few advanced and wealthy countries to regulate the amount of solar radiation that reaches Earth.
This is solar radiation management (SRM), the introduction of reflective particles into the stratosphere to deflect the sun's rays and thereby offset increases in greenhouse gas emissions - or, more simply, the introduction of salt water mist into ocean clouds.
Prof. Bickel and Mr. Lane suggest that the reflection of a small amount of the sunlight that strikes Earth, perhaps 1 or 2 per cent, would cool the planet by an amount equal to the warming that can be attributed to a doubling of pre-industrial levels of greenhouse gases.
Past volcanic eruptions, they note, have proved that small amounts of matter in the upper atmosphere can significantly cool the planet.
The economics of this alternative are encouraging. Prof. Bickel and Mr. Lane conclude from a review of the scientific literature that the cost of SRM would be a fraction of the cost of rationing fossil fuel. "[S]ome of the SRM concepts," they say, "appear to have very low deployment costs." One technology - the salt water mist - appears to have a benefit-cost ratio of 5,000-to-1. With this technology, cooling the planet might cost millions or billions, rather than trillions.
Prof. Bickel and Mr. Lane are the first experts to report back in this year's Copenhagen Consensus program directed by Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish academic and author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. As he does annually, Prof. Lomborg asked 24 scientists (including Nobel winners) to answer a question that forces them to make benefit-cost policy choices. The 2009 question: "If the global community wants to spend, say, $250-billion (U.S.) per year for the next 10 years to diminish the adverse effects of climate changes, and to do the most good for the world, which solutions would yield the greatest net benefits?"
Prof. Bickel and Mr. Lane say a mere 0.3 per cent of this money ($800-million a year), along with 10 years of research, could produce the science required to deploy a fleet of automated, wind-driven sailing ships capable of spraying ocean clouds with a salt water mist - which, in turn, would reflect enough sunshine to cool the world.