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Passengers behaving badly: Miss Clare Irby

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Unlike the male codfish, which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons.

— Wodehouse, P.G. Heavy Weather.  London:  Herbert Jenkins, 1933.

That prejudicial view is well-founded, apparently.  Once upon a time the plutocrats took it upon themselves to be decorous in public; those days are long past.

On March 26th Miss Irby, a descendant of the well-known Guinness clan, was a passenger aboard Kingfisher Airlines Flight 001, an Airbus A330-200 flying from Bombay to London.  She is alleged to have become drunk, publicly amorous with a fellow passenger (who was travelling with his girlfriend), and ignored her crying child, whose diapers had to be changed by the cabin crew.  The fellow’s girlfriend woke up, saw Ms. Irby and her boyfriend canoodling, and freaked out, causing the flight crew to request the Metropolitan Police attend the aircraft’s arrival.

Shivaneji Sharma, a flight attendant, told the jury Miss Irby had drunk three to four glasses of wine in the first 90 minutes of the flight and added: “Her speech was slurred. She was asking for more and more red wine.

“She had absolutely no clue about the child and the way she was behaving was not tipsy, but drunk.”

[Prosecutor Mr. Bill] McGivern said that at one point Miss Irby took off her skirt, revealing her black G-string, before changing into a pair of leggings in her seat in row 26 near the back of the aircraft.

…[Flight attendant Ms. Arpita Mehra] said: “She was travelling with her kid and she was not in a state that could take care of her child.

“The child was all on his own and was crying in the cabin. She was busy with the guest sitting behind her.

“They were having a conversation and getting personal with each other and the child was crying.

“The man was leaning forward and grabbing hold of her breast and they were kissing each other.”

…Saloni Khanna, director of the crew on flight number IT001, said that at one point she saw Miss Irby sprawled across four seats and added: “Her skirt had risen up to the waist and her underpants were visible. The child had dirtied his diapers and she wasn’t aware. I told the crew to take care of the child. “

After four hours the captain ordered his staff to refuse to serve any more alcohol to Miss Irby.

…Cabin crew director Saloni Khanna said Miss Irby stuck up her middle finger at her. [Defence counsel] Mr Saunders suggested she had just waved her hand, which she rejected.

The prosecutor said Miss Irby repeatedly pushed the button to call members of staff, and at one stage called one of them a “bitch”.

Miss Irby was arrested when the flight landed. A police officer believed that she was still drunk when he attended, the jury heard.

— Rayner, Gordon.  “Drunken socialite ‘stripped to her knickers and cavorted with fellow passenger’ on flight.”  Daily Telegraph, 14 September 2009.

Dirty diapers flung about the cabin?  Screaming child left unattended?  Passengers might be willing to forgive two drunken idiots trying to get it on, but awkwardly getting it on while your kid roams the aisles emitting high-pitched shrieks and visible stink rays?  She’s bloody well lucky to be alive, let alone charged and in custody.

UPDATE: Bystander at The Magistrate’s Blog notes that Miss Irby has been acquitted by a UK court, on the technicality that her moronic drunken behaviour occurred aboard an Indian-registered aircraft outside of UK airspace, thus it lacked jurisdiction.

Canadian Pacific Airlines Flight 108

Canadian Pacific Airlines Douglas DC-3 CF-CUA photographed at Bagotville, Quebec by Guy Allard; August 1947.  (Jacques Trempe collection | 1000aircraftphotos.com)

Canadian Pacific Airlines Douglas DC-3A-360/C-47 (CF-CUA c/n 4518) photographed at Bagotville, Quebec by Guy Allard; August 1947. (Jacques Trempe collection | 1000aircraftphotos.com)

This aircraft, along with its 19 passengers and 4 crew, was destroyed sixty years ago today by an explosive device placed in the No. 1 forward baggage hold.  The explosive was crude but effective; several sticks of dynamite with an alarm clock as timer.  It had been set to detonate while the aircraft was over the St. Lawrence River—rendering accident investigation difficult given the methods of the time—but a 5-minute delay leaving Québec City left the aircraft over dry land when it exploded.  It was the world’s third—and deadliest—act of airline terrorism.

The perpetrator was 32-year-old Joseph-Albert Guay, a watch and jewellry salesman with a faltering business and faltering marriage.  His relationship with his wife, 28-year-old Rita Morel, was stormy at best; eventually she and their 5-year-old daughter moved back to her mother’s home.  Divorce was rare in 1940s Québec, or so we are told.  Guay, meanwhile, dated 17-year-old waitress Marie-Ange Robitaille; but she dumped him when she found out he was already married.  Guay then resolved to kill his wife, initially by poison, but then settled on an air tragedy instead; he took out a $10,000 travel insurance policy on Morel.

Lacking the skills to contruct the weapon himself, Guay asked clockmaker Généreux Ruest to build a timed explosive with dynamite, batteries and an alarm clock.  Ruest got his sister, Marguerite Pitre, to buy the dynamite from a hardware store; she was also the one to deliver the disguised bomb (as air freight) to the aircraft on that fateful day.  Guay enticed his wife to make the trip by asking her to fly to Baie Comeau to pick up a box of jewellery on his behalf.

Flight 108 had originated in Montréal and made a brief stopover in Québec City, where Mrs. Morel boarded.  Mrs. Pitre arrived at the airfield via taxi, insisting that her suspiciously overweight package go aboard.  As the plane was already starting up, the clerk relented and rushed it aboard.  The aircraft left at 10:25 local time, and went down 20 minutes later near Sault-au-Cochon, 70 kilometres north of Québec City.

Investigation initially focused on the unidentified mystery shipper, who was later identified as Pitre.  When police began questioning her, Guay encouraged Pitre to take her own life, implying that she would be prime suspect and suffer the greatest punishment.  Pitre did make a botched attempt at suicide, and while recovering in hospital, confessed the details of the plot to police.

All three conspirators were found guilty and eventually executed for their crime.  Joseph-Albert Guay was hanged on Jan. 19, 1951 in the Bordeaux Jail, outside Montreal.  Généreux Ruest, who was crippled by tuberculosis and used a wheelchair, was hanged in July of 1952.  Pitre maintained her innocence and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, but was ultimately unsuccessful.  She was the thirteenth and last woman executed in Canada, on January 9th, 1953.

Who is the bastard at the Canadian High Commission in Kenya, and why aren’t they arrested yet?

Another Canadian has been stranded in Kenya—a 25-year-old autistic man—for a leisurely three years.  Why?  Because some genius at the High Commission decided that he didn’t look like his passport photo, and he wasn’t acting sufficiently autistic.  Perhaps they thought his condition was insufficiently evocative of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, the cinematic gold standard.

OTTAWA — An autistic Canadian man, stranded in Kenya for three years, will soon be allowed to come home, and his lawyer called Thursday for an inquiry into the government’s treatment of citizens stranded abroad.

Passport Canada will give 25-year-old Abdihakim Mohamed a one-way travel document, but not a passport, to return from the East African country.
Mohamed should be back in Canada within a month.
His mother, Anab Issa, had tried to bring him back to Canada from Kenya three years ago but she was told he didn’t look like his passport photo, and that he didn’t seem to be autistic.
On doctor’s advice, Issa had returned to East Africa with her son two years earlier to be closer to extended family to help his condition.
Mohamed’s case is strikingly similar to that of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, the 31-year-old Toronto woman, who gave tearful testimony in Ottawa on Wednesday about her recent three-month confinement in Kenya because Canadian diplomats deemed her an imposter because she did not look like her passport photo.

Passport Canada will give 25-year-old Abdihakim Mohamed a one-way travel document, but not a passport, to return from the East African country.

Mohamed should be back in Canada within a month.

His mother, Anab Issa, had tried to bring him back to Canada from Kenya three years ago but she was told he didn’t look like his passport photo, and that he didn’t seem to be autistic.

On doctor’s advice, Issa had returned to East Africa with her son two years earlier to be closer to extended family to help his condition.

Mohamed’s case is strikingly similar to that of Suaad Hagi Mohamud, the 31-year-old Toronto woman, who gave tearful testimony in Ottawa on Wednesday about her recent three-month confinement in Kenya because Canadian diplomats deemed her an imposter because she did not look like her passport photo.

— Blanchfield, Mike.  “Autistic Canadian stranded in Kenya coming home soon.”  Canwest News Service, 27 August 2009. [Emphasis mine]

Indeed.  Let’s hear what extensive investigation the High Commission mounted in order to determine the young man was insufficiently autistic.

Here’s what I think.  At best we have a misguided overly-picky security zealot in the High Commission, or at worst we have somebody who is an active participant in a shakedown scam involving Kenyan airport authorities, among others.  (Remember that in the Suaad Hagi Mohamud case, it was KLM staff who solicited a bribe and, being refused, threatened to have her displaced from her flight.)  My money is on a shakedown effort.  A bureaucrat in the Foreign Service should not be able to arbitrarily sever the ties between you and your country when you are innocent of any crime, guilty only of refusing to reward corruption.

The Canadian public needs a transparent accounting of the wrongdoings, not some internal report that will get buried.  Air the dirty laundry, clean out the High Commission in Kenya, and put those responsible behind bars for a few decades.  Defrauding Canadians of their citizenship, even in error, is no small matter.

Convicts: a renewable resource

You’re not really surprised, are you?

BEIJING–The majority of transplanted organs in China come from executed prisoners, state media reported Wednesday in a rare disclosure about the country’s problem of dubious organ donations.

Despite a 2007 regulation barring donations from people who are not related to or emotionally connected to the transplant patient, the China Daily newspaper said 65 per cent of organ donations come from death row.

It quoted Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu as saying written consent is required from condemned prisoners but that they are “definitely not a proper source for organ transplants.”

…China has previously acknowledged that kidneys, livers, corneas and other organs were routinely removed from prisoners sentenced to death, but gave no figures to show how widespread the practice was.

— “Executions provide 65% of transplant organs in China.”  Associated Press (via Toronto Star), 25 August 2009.

Definitely not the proper source, but it’s the one we’ll use for now, though.

Also, it’s a bit rich to classify this scheme as organ donation.  When you’re harvesting organs from those condemned to death (and whose postmortem wishes are not really a consideration), the term is arrogation.

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The Conservative Progressive Party

Whose policies remain the same as they were 48 years ago.

  • The National Post’s Kelly McParland offers five very reasonable steps to save the NDP.  Unfortunately they will all be ignored, because Mr. McParland forgets that for the membership, these are not mere party policies.  They are a philosophy; a way of viewing the world.  If the membership actually believed in the things McParland recommends, they would already have joined the Liberals or Conservatives two or three decades ago.  So the retooling of the party will amount to a name change and not much else.
  • The NDP lobbies for former union boss Perley Holmes, convicted of drug trafficking in the United States in 2007, to serve the remainder of his sentence at home.  They conveniently leave out the organised crime connection which put Mr. Holmes in a position to move 136 pounds of coccaine at a time.  Wife, children and elderly mom back in B.C. cry brave tears and claim it’s hard having Dad so far away.  No kidding.  Perhaps he should have considered the possibility of going to jail in a foreign country before he tried to export drugs from it.  Maybe it’s also worth considering what 100 pounds of coke would do to your neighbourhood before getting all verklempt for this fella.

Dog finds coccaine in cake

coccaine-cakeA 64-year-old Toronto man was charged with importing a controlled substance after a CSBA detector dog at Pearson Airport located two kilograms of coccaine in a cake that he had brought back from Trinidad and Tobago. In his luggage.  I can see a couple of flaws in this plan already.

Isn’t sixty-four way too old to start being a drug mule?  You’ve only got a year to rise through the ranks of organised crime and attract some blue-haired moll before you have to retire.

Who packs a cake in their luggage?  I guess the guy hasn’t seen what some baggage handlers get up to.

And where’s the icing?  No wonder the dog had to pull it apart.  It’s not a real cake unless there’s icing.  Lots of it.

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Something about this just stinks

An alleged gang member gets shot in Jamaica (during a firefight in which another man died), then flies home to Canada for medical treatment.

Wouldn’t the Jamaican police want to, I dunno, interview the witness and see what he knows?  Especially since another fella at the same incident was, you know, murdered?

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Violent crime: stable, at an insanely high rate

violentcrimes1962-2007

Lawyer Bob Tarantino does yeoman work parsing the StatsCan data that really matters.

Has the violent crime rate been “stable” over the last ten years?  Kind of.  If you ignore little things like the fact that the most serious assaults have increased over the past ten years by rates of, oh, 32.3% (assault level 2 – involving use of a weapon/bodily harm) or 18.6% (assault level 3 – aggravated), or that forcible confinement/kidnappings have increased more than 100% over the last 10 years.  But that ten year period of “stability” is rather thin gruel when you realize that we’re holding “stable” at an insanely high violent crime rate – one which is roughly quadruple what it was when comprehensive statistics began to be maintained.

— Bob Tarantino, “Seriously, Serious Crime“, May 1st, 2009.

Go read the whole thing.

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