Monthly Archives: November 2011

Brutally slashing public service jobs in the execution sector

The Governor of the US state of Oregon declares he will not execute any more prisoners:

The change of heart comes as a surprise for a governor who twice before — in his first term as governor — allowed executions to go forward. Despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, Kitzhaber said he was upholding the will of the people in allowing the 1996 execution of Douglas Franklin Wright and the 1997 execution of Harry Charles Moore.

“I have regretted those choices ever since,” he said in a prepared statement. “Both because of my own deep personal convictions about capital punishment and also because in practice, Oregon has an expensive and unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice.”

The announcement is a win for death penalty activists who had asked Kitzhaber to declare a moratorium on executions until the state conducts a thorough review of its death penalty system.

Kitzhaber said his decision is not out of compassion for Haugen or other inmates. But the death penalty is not handed down fairly — some inmates on death row have committed similar crimes as those who are serving life sentences, he said. It is a criticism Haugen himself has often made and cites as a reason that he has volunteered to die, protesting the unfairness of the death penalty.

But without the killings by the occasionally reliable state, how will the victims of terrible murders be brought back to life and the wrongs committed by serious criminals be undone? How will the victims’ families get to feel the brief satisfaction of enjoying another person’s death? What about the jobs of the hardworking executioners?

A sad end to a beautiful bloodthirsty tradition.

V for vastly increased sales

Professional grumpy person, and original V for Vendetta author Alan Moore, finds something ironic in the sudden popularity of Vendetta-style Guy Fawkes masks for anti-corporate protests:

“I find it comical, watching Time Warner try to walk this precarious tightrope.” Through contacts in the comics industry, he explains, he has heard that boosted sales of the masks have become a troubling issue for the company. “It’s a bit embarrassing to be a corporation that seems to be profiting from an anti-corporate protest. It’s not really anything that they want to be associated with. And yet they really don’t like turning down money – it goes against all of their instincts.” Moore chuckles. “I find it more funny than irksome.”

Although I doubt any corporations are really ashamed of flogging stuff to anti-corporate protesters. I suspect they giggle to each other about it.

Threatening to cut off Centrelink payments from teenage mothers in disadvantaged areas

Thank God we’re finally going to cut poor teenage mothers off welfare if they won’t find the magical time they don’t have to do Year 12, so their children can grow up in cardboard boxes while their mums go to school. And until they get the message, they and their children can starve. It’s an important message – YOU’RE BLOODY FAILURES IN LIFE YOU LOSERS GO BACK TO SCHOOL YOUR BABIES DON’T NEED YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE PROBABLY CRAP MUMS ANYWAY – and if we have to sacrifice the health or lives of some poor kids (infants and teen mums) to make it clear, then that’s what we’ll do.

Young mums in NSW suburbs Bankstown, Wyong and Shellharbour will be among the first in Australia forced to take part in a federal government trial of 10 disadvantaged areas that will strip them of their benefits if they don’t finish Year 12.

About 11,000 teenage parents receive a parenting payment worth up to $641 a fortnight and 90 per cent of them have not completed Year 12.

Under the government’s welfare crackdown, teenage parents will be required to attend six-monthly interviews with Centrelink once their baby is six months old and, on the child’s first birthday, will have to have a plan for completion of school.

Serves them right for living in a disadvantaged area. They should be grateful it’s not as disadvantaged as the aboriginal communities in Central Australia. At least we’re not telling them how to spend their meagre Centrelink payment.

You know what I heard on the deranged right-wing radio I spend a lot of time listening to because I enjoy hating the people it claims are destroying this country (particularly the evil lying Prime lying Minister LIAR LIAR LIAR) because, obviously, they despise us and don’t share our values? Well, I heard that young girls – sluts, the lot of them – deliberately get pregnant for the luxurious welfare that’s made single mothers on Centrelink famous as the most privileged people in our community! It’s true! Someone said it and provided no evidence for this frankly absurd claim, and I believe them!

Those darn people poorer than me. Man, it’s just so satisfying making their lives more difficult, isn’t it?

High school student hurts Governor’s feelings

Please tell me that the blowback for Brownback on this has seriously done him some political damage:

FAIRWAY, Kan. – Eighteen-year-old Emma Sullivan never thought her tweet about a field trip would be seen by Gov. Sam Brownback. The Shawnee Mission East High School senior went to the Capitol and heard Brownback speak. She didn’t like what she heard.

“I don’t agree with a majority of the things that he is trying to pass,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan tweeted her thoughts about what she wanted to do during the speech.

Sullivan’s tweet stated: “just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”

Sullivan said she ended up in the principal’s office the next day.

“He explained to me that someone from Brownback’s office got a hold of it and sent it to someone in charge of the district,” said Sullivan.

She said her principal wants her to write an apology to Brownback

Any politician who thinks it’s okay to bully a high school student for having a political opinion should be an object of both disgust and derision.

Remember when you could have shared this?

Okay, I’m really missing being able to share posts from Google Reader with friends also using Google Reader, and see what they’ve shared in return. Google+ is just irritating, its share system is incompatible with my RSS reader, and friends aren’t using it anyway.

True for Facebook, true for Google.

So. Is there a new way to do it, now that Google has decided to act like the nasty big company we feared it was, and just remove features with which it smothered its original competitors?

Pepper Spray – the new tool for extrajudicially punishing people police don’t like

It was supposed to be a non-lethal alternative to police having to seriously injury someone. Instead, capsicum spray is regularly used instead of

When pepper spray became a mainstream law enforcement tool in the 1990s, it was hailed as a relatively peaceful alternative to harsh physical violence.

But as demonstrated by the routine spraying of Occupy Wall Street activists, culminating in the horrific assault at the University of California, Davis, pepper spray can too easily become a tool of first and excessive resort…

Far from being what one Fox News pundit called a “food product,” pepper is a dangerous and sometimes deadly weapon

Like pepper sprays, Tasers were supposed to be tools of intermediate physical force, an alternative to hitting a resisting suspect with batons or grappling them to the ground. But Tasers also became alternatives to less-violent tactics and were used in situations where suspects had not physically resisted arrest.

Rather than talking, police too often go straight to the electricity — and the same may also happen with pepper spray.

The reason is obvious, according to Ana Yáñez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition:

“When you have something that is readily available to you, something that’s on your belt like pepper spray, and you have a confrontation in front of you — the first thing you’re going to do, because you’re human, is use whatever is right there… All of the training that you might use, anything that allows you to use your other skills, goes out the door. The first thing you do is say, ‘I’m going to pepper-spray that kid.’ That’s a natural response.”

The studies discussed in the article are worth a look.

I wonder whether it’s just that O/C spray and tasers give police a greater sense of authority, a greater sense of power, and that makes them more assertive and aggressive, escalating confrontations. There’s also the fact that both O/C spray and tasers are extremely painful.

Not that any present members of our police forces would ever use such an opportunity to dole out some extrajudicial punishment to someone who, say, questioned their authority. But if some ordinary people who might succumb to that temptation were to join the force, are we certain they wouldn’t?

I think we should be very, very careful before adopting any of these new punitive weapons. Very careful.

Don’t you dare oppress my religious beliefs by wishing me a happy holiday!

I must have signed up to some loyalty program at Strandbags when I bought a briefcase some time. Tonight I received this:

Dear Jeremy,

We have received a number of complaints in relation to our ‘Happy Holidays’ promotion.

It was never our intention to offend or in any way reduce the importance of Christmas, and if it has done so, we sincerely apologise.

To this end, we have instructed our stores to remove the ‘Happy Holidays’ promotion immediately.

As always, your valued input and feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

Yours Sincerely

Rory Crawford
Chief Executive Officer

You have got to be kidding. Somebody actually complained that saying “Happy Holidays” didn’t pander sufficiently to their religion? And instead of responding with something pointing out how silly that is, and how even Christians can have happy holidays, they actually caved?

Well now you’ve pissed off people who aren’t insane fundamentalists. And there are a lot more of us. And our objection – that you think we’re some kind of theocracy where you must pander to the religious in order to do business – makes a hell of a lot more sense than theirs.

Strandbags’ contact details, if you’d like to let them know what you think of their cowardice.

PS Talking of cowardice, despite ending the email with “your valued input and feedback is welcomed and appreciated”, Rory’s email comes from the presumably not-checked “” and there’s no return email address given. Funny, that.