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A 380,000 pound, 4-engine airliner will be zipping around the Statue of Liberty at 1500 feet, but you have to keep it a secret

vc25_f16_nycImage: VC-25 and F-16 escort over lower Manhattan yesterday.
From istolethetv‘s Flickr photostream.

….from who?

Jim Peters, an F.A.A. spokesman, said “the photo op was approved and coordinated with everyone.” Notification was made in advance to the mayor’s office, “including its 911 and 311 operation centers,” the New York City Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, the United States Park Police and other agencies, he said.

The Police Department confirmed that it had been notified about the event but said it had been barred from alerting the public. “The flight of a VC-25 aircraft and F-16 fighters this morning was authorized by the F.A.A. for the vicinity of the Statue of Liberty with directives to local authorities not to disclose information about it but to direct any inquiries to the F.A.A. Air Traffic Security Coordinator,” the Police Department said in a statement.

— A. G. Sulzberger AND Matthew L. Wald.  “White House Apologizes for Air Force Flyover“, New York Times [City Room], April 27th, 2009.

Certainly not very secret from the bystanders on the ground.

I’ve been trying, without much success, to find an FAA or DoD NOTAM regarding this event—anyone else have any luck?  It’s typical to keep presidential flights hush-hush and not issue a NOTAM until the last minute, but this wasn’t a presidential flight, we’re told.

(Via Castle Argghhh!)

UPDATE: As BillT asks in the comments at Argghhh!, where were the photographers?  The majority of F-16 Fighting Falcons are single-seaters, unless they specifically chose to fly a two-seat B/D/F-model trainer for this mission.

UPDATE 281902Z APR 2009: The authorities have reportedly cancelled a second VC-25 photo op, over Washington D.C.  That’s a shame.  The lesson you should have learned, fellas, is not that big planes + big cities = oh my G-d, run for your lives, it’s that unusual (but planned) events + no prior warning = what the hell are you thinking?  Next time, just let people know ahead of time.  It’s that simple.

TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS UPDATE: Currently reviewing LiveATC’s recorded traffic from yesterday, to try and isolate the VC-25 chatter to ZNY ARTCC.  It’s a lot less exciting that one might imagine.  A lot of traffic advisories from New York Approach (CAMRN) to the VC-25 (which is using 89th Airlift Wing’s “house” callsign, VENUS, as VENUS 1 HEAVY).

Here is some of the chatter as excerpted by John Croft (Americas Editor for Flightglobal.com).  Keep in mind neither the controller nor the pilots have any idea of the mayhem being generated around the Goldman Sachs Tower, for example:

UPDATE 290400Z APR 2009: Major X, an anonymous F-16 driver, makes some good comments over at Joey deVilla‘s blog, especially regarding the use of the Falcon as a camera platform.  He also asks the readers to note which other units (besides 89AW) are located at Andrews AFB.  If you listen to the LiveATC feed above, you will note that the VC-25 (Venus 1 Heavy) refers to its chase aircraft as Capital 92—which would mean an F-16 from 113FW, also based at Andrews.  That explains how the F-16 was selected as the camera platform.  Other than the execrable decision to try and keep this under wraps from the public, it looks like a very ordinary pilot currency mission gone horribly awry.

The other interesting thing the Major notes:

This whole furor is driving me a little crazy. FWIW, I actually spoke to the F-16 pilot yesterday…we go way back. As far as I know, he was the only F-16 flying chase with the photog in back. He was on a conference call THAT MORNING with about 30 different agencies, including the DHS, FBI, NYPD and others. This photo op has been in the works for THREE months. THREE! The idea that Obama or Bloomberg didn’t know is ludicrous.

I can’t say I’m too surprised that the pols appear to be hanging the military out to dry on this one.  There’s plenty of precedent for that.

One note about callsigns. I think it’s safe to say that this definitely wasn’t some kind of super-secret passenger-carrying flight, where the truth is being obscured so as to prevent a politician from being embarassed.

When the VC-25 is carrying the President, its callsign—as we all know—is Air Force One.  When they are carrying VIPs (Cabinet officers, senators and the like) their callsigns are SAM [for Special Air Mission] 28000 and SAM 29000, depending on the tail code of the aircraft being flown.  When they are carrying relatives of VIPs, the callsign will be Executive [tail code].  And finally, when they are just doing the day-to-day proficiency and currency flights, the front-office callsign will be Venus 1 (for aircraft 28000) and Venus 2 (for aircraft 29000).

Venus, incidentally, is the “house” callsign for 89th Airlift Wing.  Plenty of other aircraft types also use that callsign: the C-20s use Venus 2x, the C-37As use Venus 4x, the (now retired) C-9A used Venus 8x, and the C-32As use Venus 9x.

Finally, because the VC-25’s gross take-off weight is over 255,000 lbs, they will have the “Heavy” suffix appended to the callsigns.  And because the front office that day was using “Venus 1” (as opposed to “SAM 28000”), we can assume there were no VIPs or relatives of VIPs aboard.

UPDATE 051716Z MAY 2009: The folks at Potomac Current and Undertow (a blog from/for/about/to the air traffic controllers at the Potomac TRACON) have published the text of a memo from Mr. James Johnston, head of the National Capital Region Coordination Center, which I will reprint here.

FROM: FAA Air Traffic System Operations Security (AJR-2)

SUBJECT: Flight Notification- New York City -Statue of Liberty Photo Op, Upper New York Bay / Newark Bay on April 27, 2009, 10:00L. (amended 4/23)

The information in this document is considered FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY, and should only be shared with persons with a need to know. Information in this document shall not be released to the public or media.

1. The Department of Defense (DOD), in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), will conduct a flying photo op in the New York City Area on April 27, 2009 involving a transport and fighter aircraft. Below are the details regarding the operation.

• Date: Monday April 27, 2009 (Primary), April 28 or April 30 (weather backup dates)
• Number / Type Aircraft: 1 VC-25 and 2 F-16s. Actual photo op will only have VC25 and 1 F16.
• Callsign: VENUS01
• Departure point: ADW
• Arrival point: ADW
• Flight Plan: Crews will file two separate IFR flight plans:
ADW-JFK: KADW.. PALEO V44 SIE CAMRN4 JFK
Requested altitude FL190B210
EWR-ADW: KEWR..EWR7.BIGGY J75 MXE V378 BAL KADW

• Planned Departure Time: 0930 approximately
• Planned Time On Photo Op Location: 10:00 -10:30L.
• Planned Photo Op Altitude: 1000-1500ft
• Number of Passes: 2, possibly 3

The aircraft will depart ADW via IFR clearance as a three (3) ship formation to Sea Isle (SIE). At SIE one (1) of the fighters will leave the flight and return to ADW IFR via SIE ATR V308 BILIT ADW.

The VC25 and 1 F16 will proceed IFR to CAMRN intersection south of JFK. In the vicinity of CAMRN intersection the aircraft will cancel IFR and proceed VFR with New York TRACON (N90) towards the Verranzano Bridge. N90 will hand the aircraft off to Newark Tower (EWR) for the flight in the Upper NY and Newark Bay. Upon completion of the final pass the aircraft will be treated as a EWR departure and pickup an IFR clearance back to ADW.

The photo op portion of the flight will be VFR in accordance with the specified ground track as per the attached map (Attachment 1). On the northbound flight segments the fighter aircraft will be offset to the east by approximately ½ mile. During the southbound flight segment the fighter will re-position to remain offset to the aircraft within the depicted box.

The operation will be monitored by FAA Air Traffic Security Coordinators (ATSC) at the Domestic Event Network at FAA Headquarters from start to finish. Any questions or issues can be directed to the FAA ATSC at the DEN. The FAA ATSC can be reached at (202) 493-5107.

The Public Affairs posture for this effort is passive. No media or press releases are planned. Please direct all media inquiries to the FAA Air Traffic Security Coordinator at (202) 493-5107. Due to the possibility of public concern regarding DOD aircraft flying at low levels, coordination with Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies, emergency operations centers and aviation units has been accomplished.

//SIGNED//
JAMES J. JOHNSTON, FAA Air Traffic
AJR-2 System Operations Security
Comm: [redacted]
Cell: [redacted]
James.J.Johnston@faa.gov
James.J.Johnston@dhs.sgov.gov

In the words of that blog’s author, “This is the type of  stupidity that FAA management creates for air traffic controllers at Potomac TRACON everyday.  We’re glad we could share our experiences with the rest of the country.”

That’s quite the string of “honest mistakes”

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre was “simply relaying information provided by another officer”—which included viewing a portion of the cellphone video shot by a bystander—and yet came up with these whoppers in front of the national media:

But many details subsequently released by Sgt. Lemaitre were wrong, and the spokesman did a string of interviews in the next couple of days that repeated the errors. For example, in one CTV interview shown to the inquiry, Sgt. Lemaitre is shown telling interviewers that Mr. Dziekanski did not respond to the first police taser, and that he struggled and fought, even while on the ground.

However, the bystander’s videotape, which was later made public, shows that Mr. Dziekanski screamed and fell to the ground after the first taser.

Sgt. Lemaitre also told reporters in October 2007 that police tasered Mr. Dziekasnki twice, when in fact four electronic shocks were delivered. And in another news briefing that October, Sgt. Lemaitre was asked point blank by a reporter if there was video of the taser struggle.

Sgt. Lemaitre told the reporter there was no video, even though he himself had already viewed it.

When asked Tuesday on the witness stand why he told reporters there was no video of the incident, Sgt. Lemaitre replied that he meant there was no airport security video of the incident.

On the witness stand, Sgt. Lemaitre insisted these erroneous statements were honest mistakes on his part. He was handed this information from a fellow Mountie, Corporal Dale Carr, the media spokesman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, which handles serious crime.

Later, when he found out the information was wrong, he was upset and said he took the matter to his boss. But by then Sgt. Lemaitre was taken off the Dziekanski file and the record wasn’t set straight.

But reporters Tuesday questioned the RCMP line that Sgt. Lemaitre was simply a messenger who was handed the wrong facts. If Sgt. Lemaitre watched the amateur video, he would have seen Mr. Dziekanski drop to the ground after the first taser hit.

“Wasn’t that a flat-out lie?” one reporter asked Sgt. Shields.

“No,” the officer said. “Sgt. Lemaitre gave the information that he had, that he had been briefed with. A police media relations officer is only as good as the information that he or she has been given. And in this case Sgt. Lemaitre made public the information had been given.

— Jane Armstrong.  “RCMP ‘sorry’ for inaccurate remarks on Dziekanski incident“, Globe & Mail, April 21st, 2009.

Even if that information contradicted the video evidence he had eyeballed himself.  So let’s see.  Sgt. Lemaitre viewed the video footage, but then went on to tell reporters no such footage existed, and contradicted it multiple times in favour of the account as reported by his fellow officer.  Then his superiors, blind to the damaging effects of having appeared to deliberately mislead the media, refused to allow him to set the record straight?  What were they thinking?  No one will notice; it’s not like tasering the fellow was an international incident or anything.

I like to believe the best of our men and women in red serge, as I know they do an exceedingly difficult job at the best of times.  But this just stinks on so many levels.  It strains credulity, to say the least.

Category: Culpae Poenae Par Esto  Tags: , ,  Comments off

Airline horror story of the century

alitalia_a320Alitalia Airbus A320-214 “Libeccio” (registry I-BIKL) at Malpensa International Airport, Milan.  From sainz‘s Flickr photostream.

Mr. Russon of Quotulatiousness links to one of the worst—actually no, it’s the worst—story of modern airline malfeasance I have ever read.  Journalist Michael J. Totten has an unforgettable journey to the Eighth Circle of Hell, which is apparently located in Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport.  A wildcat strike there stranded thousands of passengers for days.  Alitalia’s staff made no genuine attempt to placate the stranded passengers, nor to live up to their statute responsibilities.

Instead, they took the path of least resistance.

ITALY-AIRLINE-ALITALIA-STRIKE An Alitalia man at the counter – friendly for a change! – booked us on what he said was a British Airways flight to London.

“Is this actually a British Airways flight?” I said. “Is it operated by British Airways or by Alitalia? I can’t be booked on another Alitalia flight.”

“I understand,” he said. “Yes, it’s a British Airways flight, and it’s operated by British Airways.”

“You’re sure?” I said. I had a hard time believing anything anyone at Alitalia told me, even if they were convincing and friendly.

“I promise you, it’s British Airways.”

He lied.

It was an Alitalia flight, as I learned when I got to the check-in counter.

Sofocles, Tatiana, and I checked in together. We were basically traveling together at that point. When we got to the front of the line, we handed our tickets to the man at the counter.

“Where did you get these?” he said.

“Oh my God,” Tatiana said.

“From the rebooking counter,” I said. “Is there a problem?”

He didn’t say anything. He just tapped a few keys on his keyboard.

A woman worked the window next to him. “How many flights have you cancelled today?” I asked her.

“None,” she said.

“They’re lying again!” Tatiana said.

“You cancelled ours to Chicago,” I said.

I live in the UK, a man had said to me days ago. But I was born here in Italy. These people will do nothing but lie. Trust me. I know how this country works.

My God, he wasn’t kidding.

We didn’t have much time to get to our flight, assuming it would even take off. According to the Departures screen, it was already boarding. I was amazed to see that it was boarding since it turned out not to be a British Airways flight, after all.

I looked at my watch.

“We need our boarding passes,” Sofocles said and tapped his foot.

Suddenly the man who was processing our tickets stood up, put on his coat, and walked off the job, without handing us boarding passes and without saying a word.

“Where do you think you’re going?” I said to his back.

He turned around and glowered at me as he walked briskly away.

“We’re screwed,” Tatiana said.

One Alitalia employee after another had walked off the job right in front of me. In a way, I could hardly blame them. The airport was a zoo full of screaming people. Alitalia had clearly reached a tipping point, as had its passengers.

— Michael J. Totten.  “The Worst Airline Company in the World“, March 13th, 2009.

Unbelievable.

Category: Aeronautics  Tags: ,  Comments off

Election observers not so good at protecting privacy

That independent, non-partisan agency charged with overseeing the integrity of our elections?  Not so good at overseeing the integrity and security of its own data.

Elections Canada’s voter database out-of-date, rife with error and unsecure… Just like everyone else’s databases.  Such is the nature of the beast.

Better yet, Elections Canada keeps tabs on minors, who can’t vote:

She found that Elections Canada currently holds identity information on about 104,000 Canadians under the age of 18, even though it is not authorized to do so because they are too young to vote.

And somehow the voters list ended up in the offices of the Tamil Tigers, a designated terrorist group.

[Privacy Commissioner Jennifer] Stoddart cited one example from 2006, when RCMP discovered lists of voters’ names and addresses at an office belonging to the Tamil Tigers, classed in Canada as a terrorist organization, which was allegedly using them to find people who might help them financially.

Excellent work, fellas.

Category: Amor Patriae, What Really Grinds My Gears  Tags: ,  Comments off

This is why whisky-drinkers hate the LCBO

Before you start saying, “How can any Scotch possibly be worth that much?” remember that velcro and digital clocks were yet to be invented the last time this $30,000 bottle of The Balvenie was mere barley and water.

Also, this is the Ontario price we’re talking about. This same Scotch sells for £6,000 (about $12,000) in the U.K. — so it’s not a $30,000 Scotch; it’s a $12,000 Scotch with a 150% Ontario liquor bureaucracy markup.

— Adam McDowell, “Libation Station: $1,750 a shot“.  National Post/Libation Station, April 3rd, 2008.

[emphasis mine]

Yeeouch, one hundred and fifty percent.

Similarly one of my favourites, the (comparatively) more reasonable Macallan 18, costs £69.50 (about $140) in the U.K., but at the LCBO, it’s $279.95.

(Hat tip to Patrick Metzger of Torontoist )

Just answer one question for me

Did anyone ever learn anything in Sex Ed class that they didn’t already know before the start of the class?

From what I recall these were 3 or 4 lame 1-hour classes, whose main theme was that professional educators were far, far behind parents (and even the frequently misinformed student grapevine).

A Canadian ‘sexpert’ [Sue Johanson] says Quebec’s decision to eliminate sexual education from the classroom could leave students without the important tools they need to navigate the world of sexual intimacy.

The province has virtually cut specific sex-ed courses from the classroom, instead asking teachers to incorporate the topic in all subjects they teach.

The move will make Quebec the only province in the country without a mandatory form of sexual health education.

— “‘Sexpert’ slams Quebec’s decision to ban sex-ed“, CTV.ca, March 10th, 2008

My take is that sex ed is primarily a parental responsibility.  My own mother was quite careful to indoctrinate me on all this stuff before I was even remotely interested.  She also gave me a very informative book written by a noted sex researcher that covered the good, the bad and the ugly of teenage sex.  Several years later when I had to attend the school’s sex ed classes, I quickly found that these classes were a giant waste of time.

Now I realise that my own experience may not be representative of many or even most students.  Perhaps their folks didn’t sit down with them and explain all this junk.  I don’t think 3-4 hours of school board-mandated classes is going to remedy that one iota.  My sense is that the moral aspect of sex education is the most important, and it is also, not coincidentally, the one that is guaranteed to be absent from publicly-funded sex ed.  Why?  Because the most important part of sex ed has nothing at all to do with the act itself and everything to do with the character and integrity of the partners involved.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who have received mandatory sex ed classes and yet continue to contract STIs.  I sincerely doubt the majority are ignorant to the risks of STIs or the methods of transmission.  But realistically, not everybody is going to go to safe sex extremes and strap on a condom, latex gloves or the always-romantic dental dam.

She said chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI: one in every four students tested for STIs will test positive for chlamydia.

Heintzman said the best way to prevent STIs is to use barrier methods—condoms for acts of penetration, dental dams for oral activities and gloves for manual stimulation.

— Kerri Macdonald, “STIs on the rise“.  Queen’s Journal, February 8th, 2008.

And it will come as a surprise to absolutely no-one that latex gloves and dental dams are rather enormous mood-killers.  Very few men or women wander around with them in their purses and wallets.  So the odds of them being used for casual sex by anyone other than health-conscious  sex-trade workers is exceedingly rare.  Ergo some people are, as a matter of statistical probability, going to acquire STIs if they change partners frequently.  The only way to avoid it is to play Fake Dentist when you want to bang, or have fewer, longer-term relationships with trusted (and verified) STI-free partners.  Ideally a single, lifelong partner, in which there is a mutual meeting and striving of minds, goals, philosophies and so on, not just bumping uglies.  This is an example for parents to impart, through a healthy relationship with each other, over a lifetime of example.  It is not a conclusion the school board will draw for you, even if the data points unerringly toward it.

Just giving people the information isn’t going to formulate a change.  They have to buy into the value system that lessens the opportunity for STI infection.  If you have a kid that doesn’t particularly enjoy school, or respect his/her teachers, then the information said teachers pass on probably isn’t going to make much of an impression.  The kids may know in their heads that without the Fake Dentist getup, they are at risk for contracting an STI, but hormones and natural human desire tend to wipe out such concerns in the heat of the moment.  Character, however, is a bigger hurdle for hormones to overcome.  Very often it will intervene long before anybody gets into their skivvies.

But who shapes a young adult’s character?  Here’s a hint: it is rarely the school board.

UPDATE:  By the way, CTV… how is this banning sex ed?  Quebec has cut specialised sex ed courses but not specified that it be completely removed from all curricula.  Individual boards and schools are free to incorporate it elsewhere… like say biology class.

Category: Miscellania  Tags: ,  2 Comments

Lies, damned lies and statistics

The city of Toronto has just unveiled a website where parents can see the ratings of licensed, publicly-subsidised child care centres and agencies.  A thoroughly excellent idea, although it would be better still if it were not limited to just the centres that have a subsidy service contract.  Sadly the entire exercise has been sabotaged by the rating system Toronto bureaucrats have chosen.

Unfortunately the city has applied a conceptual "bell curve" to the 4-point rating system: the minimum passing grade is 3, and the minimum possible grade is 1.  In a brief look through the system, I could not even identify any facilities with a 1 or 2 rating.  According to the Toronto Star, "96 per cent of centres received an average score of at least 3 last year."  And if you drill down into the specifics, the citywide average for all facilities is about 3.6.  To find the really outstanding facilities, you’re looking for 3.7 to 4.0.

Well, that’s wonderful.  But I’m not interested in minimum code compliance, I’m interested in knowing, at a glance, the facility’s level of excellence.  If you hearken back to college or university days, the theoretical "average" GPA (in a 4-point system) is 2.0, but in practice it tends to be 3.0 because instructors so rarely hand out low grades to richly deserving students.  Most of academia considers 2-point-something (with no failed courses) to be the minimum non-probationary "passing grade".

In terms of child care ratings, you might think that a 1- or 2-point facility might be closed, but you’d be wrong.  Child care spaces are at such a premium that it is critical that all available facilities stay open.

[Toronto’s general manager of children’s services, Brenda] Patterson said the city would be reluctant to close a centre immediately because of the chaos it would create for parents. Instead, the city works with the centre to improve it and conducts more inspections.

— Vanessa Lu, "City daycare ratings go public".  Toronto Star, January 23, 2008.

In others words the crappy ratings are somewhat pointless, because demand far outstrips supply.  To transpose the analogy elsewhere, even the rat-infested restaurants must serve food, because there’s not enough to go around.

So what we’ve got is a 4-point system in which the majority of the scale is devoted to degrees of failure, while only 4% of the rated facilities actually received a failing grade.  The parent looking for above-average and exceptional facilities must parse the tiny range of 3.7 to 4.0 (if indeed any facility has received top marks in all areas).

This is not a rating system devoted to measuring excellence, it is a feel-good exercise in mediocrity.

The new blood libel

OTTAWA – Israel’s ambassador to Canada says it’s shocking his country was labelled a practitioner of torture in a training manual prepared for Canadian diplomats.

Alan Baker said Sunday he contacted Foreign Affairs officials in Ottawa as soon as he learned of the matter and demanded that Israel be deleted from the list of suspected human rights abusers.

“I was considerably surprised and even shocked, because it’s simply not true,” Baker said in an interview.

“Israel doesn’t engage in torture, it’s prohibited by Israeli law. Whoever had written this manual simply didn’t know, or was misguided, or didn’t understand.”

— “Israeli envoy slams torture claim as minister Bernier backtracks“,
Canadian Press, January 20th, 2008.

Welcome to the inner thoughts of the Canadian foreign service, Ambassador Baker.  Personally I would tend to discount the “didn’t know” and “didn’t understand” theories and focus on the “misguided”.  The bureaucracy rarely works in ways that may be considered rational by the average civilian.  In my own experience, the civil service is perfectly prepared to avoid any semblance of logic, rationality or objectivity.

I have seen senior bureaucrats choose survival of fiefdoms over integrity of data, personal opinions migrate into government policy, and more or less explicit disregard for the laws of the land.  The individuals who made these choices did not set out to be evil, they merely (and mistakenly) conflated personal prerogatives with the public good.  An error which is hardly unique to the civil service, of course.

Fortunately there are sane heads in the person of the Minister and, notably, his Opposition critic.

Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae saw the flap as a “question of competence” on the part of the Conservative government.

He noted the issue of whether the U.S. employs torture in fighting terrorism has been hotly debated south of the border and has found its way into the current presidential campaign.

Nevertheless, said Rae, “the idea that you would equate the government of the United States with the government of Iran with respect to the treatment of prisoners is a little hard to fathom.”

With respect to the Honourable Mr. Rae, it may be hard to fathom, but it is not at all unexpected from certain quarters.  The position of the scare quotes is highly instructive.

cbc_19jan2008

Well-known terrorists like Yasser Arafat seem to have survived Israeli incarceration without torture or lasting harm.  Unfortunately, as Kateland points out, Israelis have no such consideration from Palestinians.

Category: Foreign Affairs, Media  Tags: ,  Comments off

As if more ammunition were required

Statutory release works its magic upon another fine specimen of the Convict-Canadian community, who has, no doubt, been fully rehabilitated and represents no foreseeable danger to the general public.

A man who choked a young Korean student into permanent severe disability is getting out of prison early, to the horror of the victim’s family.

Robert Gary Wallin is slated for release Jan. 18 after serving two-thirds of his sentence, in accordance with federal law.

… The parole board found Wallin, who plans to live with his parents in
the Lower Mainland, is still willing to use violence or aggression to
achieve his goals. He has watched a television special about Park and
her life following the attack.

— Ethan Baron, “Attacker paroled, family fearful“.  Victoria Times-Colonist, December 16th, 2007.

[emphasis mine]

This guy choked a random Vancouver girl into a coma.  Before the attack, she spoke four languages, and played the piano and flute.  Today she’s in a wheelchair, unable to speak.

The victim’s family were not notified of the con’s impending release.  Why?  Because you have to register with a specific Corrections Canada program in order to get those notices.  And according to the victim’s brother, nobody bothered to tell them that this program was available.  Nice.

The best part is the excerpts of the parole board’s decision that the CanWest reporter elects to highlight.  In the story, the board appears to have a case of schizophrenia, because the statements they make are at odds.  Here’s The Bad Wallin:

Wallin has a history of psychiatric problems, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and oppositional defiant disorder, and quit taking medications because he believes he requires “no medication or any other form of treatment,” according to parole-board documents.

“You have a pattern of violent outbursts,” the parole board wrote in a decision on Wallin’s release conditions, “making demands, reporting unsubstantiated claims about your personal safety and drawing sexually inappropriate graffiti images.”

Doesn’t sound so good, does it?  Now read about The Good Wallin:

The parole board noted Wallin has supportive parents and has made positive changes.

“You are keenly aware of what led to your crime and its impact, and have taken steps to reduce your risk of repeating this behaviour,” the board wrote.

The board imposed conditions for Wallin’s release, including a prohibition on contacting Park or her family without permission from his parole supervisor. Wallin must also attend psychiatric treatment and counselling.

Well, which is it?  Is he a violent nutbag refusing to take medications and “any other form of treatment”?  Or is he conscientious con who is “keenly aware of what led to his crime” and anxious to prevent another one?  Context, anyone?

Category: Culpae Poenae Par Esto  Tags: ,  Comments off

Sure, that would help

Ottawa urged to scrap statutory release of cons—in favour of earned parole.

Maybe they could think about some kind of aptitude test for judges, too.  Nice and easy multiple-choice questions, like:

"You have convicted a defendant of aggravated assault and sexual assault against a minor.  When considering sentencing, you will:

a) Deliver a firebrand rebuke from the bench, then hand down a sentence exactly one-half the maximum that the statute permits.  After time credited for pre-trial custody, this will work out to about 3-4 years.

b) Hand down a lighter sentence because what this individual needs is rehabilitation, not retribution.  Just don’t think about any kids that might get assaulted while he/she’s out on statutory release, rehabilitating themselves.

c) Hand down a sentence of death by breaking wheel (multiple offences) or 72 lashes, Branding and fifteen years’ Transportation to the Hans Island penal colony (first offence)."