Think of the children!! (Donors Choose – Last Big Push)

Folks, the Donors Choose campaign is almost over, and while your generous contributions are flowing freely, there’s a lot of projects that are still as yet unfunded. Like this one that caught my eye early on and I’d really love to see happen even though it’s less science or mathy than my usual picks. It involves getting kids active, teaching them an important part of Native American history, and all the benefits that come from learning to work together as a team:

We are requesting the equipment needed to run Native Games. Teaching traditional sports such as Lacrosse will not only allow the students to build upon their teamwork and communication skills, but also to be given a chance to recognize the historical and cultural aspect of the sport itself. Another example of Native games that will be played is the traditional Eskimo Olympic games which will be not only challenging, but will teach the students about patience, following directions, and leadership qualities. With a curriculum that provides a full year’s worth of diversity in Native games, and with enthusiastic staff and students, all that we need is equipment.

Having the equipment to run our Native Games curriculum can be life changing. Most of our students are still trying to find their place in the world, and the Native games curriculum will focus on the development of our students’ identity and community building skills through the incorporation of a long history and culture that has much to share.

The Native Games project needs $236 still. Can you help make it happen?

Or this one, for the less sports-inclined, unless you’re into full contact chess: a project called Checkmate.

I have played chess for several years and I am excited to play chess with students in middle school. They love games and competition. Chess is an awesome way to challenge students to maximize their critical thinking and encourage a more active participation in math and science.

My students are in a high poverty inner city area. Chess sets are a luxury that their parents would not be able to provide for them. My students are enthusiastic learners and are challenged by hands on activities. Self discipline and structure needs to be encouraged through their active participation in this strategic game.

Dip into your chess tournament winnings and sponsor this project, they have $178 to go.

Or this one, which looks like it will have high impact in a needy area. Give to Scientific Fun Is Scientastic:

Have you ever wondered why about things? Science opens up a whole new window of whys.

My students are inquisitive, bright third graders. They attend their neighborhood school. They love their school, and they have great school spirit. Our school is a Title I school and 97% of the students are impoverish, but the students are eager to learn.

Hands-on activities make learning fun. Students will engage in experiments using science activities, magnets, eyedroppers, magnifiers, thermometers, and writing journals. These tools will help students discover the answers to their questions in a “scientastic” fun way.

And this project would be an awful shame if it doesn’t get the $129 it needs in the next two days — yes, they’re time limited!

If you can give, please do so. These kids deserve it. If you can’t give, direct this page to someone who can. If the idea of giving kids in impoverished areas the tools needed to learn to work in a team, learn to use logic and math, and discover the scientific method isn’t enough, I’ll tell you what. Anyone who donates from now onward to these three projects can officially claim the title of Honorary Canadian.

(This title grants you nothing but the ability to make certain classes of people in the United States want to beat you up. But it’s yours!)

Catholic Church reappropriated 300,000 babies to more religious homes

Lawyers believe that up to 300,000 babies were taken.

The practice of removing children from parents deemed “undesirable” and placing them with “approved” families, began in the 1930s under the dictator General Francisco Franco.

At that time, the motivation may have been ideological. But years later, it seemed to change – babies began to be taken from parents considered morally – or economically – deficient. It became a money-spinner, too.

The scandal is closely linked to the Catholic Church, which under Franco assumed a prominent role in Spain’s social services including hospitals, schools and children’s homes.

Nuns and priests compiled waiting lists of would-be adoptive parents, while doctors were said to have lied to mothers about the fate of their children.

Words fail. This reminds me of the boarding school debacle wherein healthy First Nations children in Canada were regularly taken from their parents and sent to religious boarding schools with sick kids and then buried on-site without their parents’ permission or even knowledge after they inevitably succumbed . All to make more Catholics out of the local heathenry. Disgusting.

More at the BBC.

Science dispels “vagueness” about Occupy Wall Street

One of the claims by the right-wing media about the Occupy movement is that they’re vague, e.g. they don’t know what they’re fighting for. I find this meme interesting in that it attacks the Occupy movement’s strength — the fact that the issues are so widespread and so palpable that you have to be in that 1% of advantaged folks to miss the point.
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NYPD cop: we arrested people on false drug charges to meet quotas

This is what your drug war has wrought, America.

A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.

The bombshell testimony from Stephen Anderson is the first public account of the twisted culture behind the false arrests in the Brooklyn South and Queens narc squads, which led to the arrests of eight cops and a massive shakeup.

Anderson, testifying under a cooperation agreement with prosecutors, was busted for planting cocaine, a practice known as “flaking,” on four men in a Queens bar in 2008 to help out fellow cop Henry Tavarez, whose buy-and-bust activity had been low.

Waging war on recreational pharmaceuticals, and setting quotas for police to catch a set amount of criminals for certain classes of crimes (even when crime rates are low, no less!), all for what? To keep you safe? Or to keep the for-profit prison systems in the black?

Tories’ steamroller government targets Canadian autonomy from US law

Back on Talk Like a Pirate Day, our friend sinned34 posted the following, which ought to give any Canuck pause, all pirate talk aside.

Seems th’ Cons in power here been schemin’ wit’ the Prez o’ them United States to allow the Queen’s navy to cross the border soutwards, in return for allowin’ the longish arm o’ the Amerikin law to reach up in ta Canada, unner the guise o’ chasin’ down terrists an’ protectin’ the public from varyin’ forms o’piracy. He s’posedly be doin’ this inna hopes of convincin’ that Republikin lap dog Obama to open up th’ border to more trade. But the way the Yanks been tossin’ their freedoms and due process overboard to the sharks be makin’ me fear they be exportin’ even more of the US-type prison system up northwards.

To translate that for those of you who don’t speak Piratese (for shame!), Harper plans on allowing cross-border police raids. Ostensibly it’ll allow our police and/or RCMP to cross the border to the States, but given the levels of crime between our particular jurisdictions, all we’ll likely end up with is the States raiding us. So much for our more liberal laws — between this and the omnibus legislation looking to turn Canada’s copyright laws into DMCA Mk. II, they’ll all be forfeit shortly. Sinned continues:

Stephen Harper has been working to introduce minimum sentencing rules and increase the penalties for drug offenses, especially targeting cannabis, and he’s building more prisons, so one can expect that he’s planning more legislation to fill those prisons. However, due to the general Canadian acceptance of cannabis use (a 2009 Angus Reid poll had 53% of Canadians agreeing with the statement, “The use of marijuana should be legalized”), it might cost him politically if he were to pursue a drug war with too much zeal.

If the Conservatives can’t convince Canadians to embrace the war on drugs, the next best thing would be to almost literally import the American war on drugs into the Great White North. The ability of American drug enforcement to enter Canada while investigating drug crime is the simplest way to bring US drug law across the border.

He’s absolutely right in this assessment. The last set of laws that were passed to combat terrorism was used primarily for domestic cannabis cases. We’re not talking about those evil drug dealers whose money supposedly funds terrorists, either — the international drug cartels that have gained their power through the very demonization of their product. We’re talking about the local asshole growing a few plants in his basement and getting thrown in jail for a long time for possession with intent to sell.

The War on Some Drugs has, traditionally, not been about the drugs themselves at all. It has, as near as I can figure, been an effort to turn jails into a moneymaking scheme. When people call for legalization and taxation, I can’t help but chuckle. See, there is far too much money in turning an entire class of citizens into criminals in a culture with for-profit prisons; in driving a market for a specific, popular and generally harmless* recreational pharmaceutical, that happens to grow like a weed, underground. Prohibition on alcohol was too much for the system to handle, and the shock of it turned just about everyone into a criminal, in such a way that the “war on drugs” was not just a figure of speech but an actual, violent war between organized crime and police. Too many innocents were caught in the crossfire. Prohibition of marijuana seems to be a “just right” amount of war, generating enough “criminals” to warrant megajails and the likes.

This is the culture Harper evidently wants to import to Canada. This is how he shuffles the war on some drugs into Canada by the side door. Once Canada becomes a fiefdom to the States’ drug laws, we’re at the top of the slippery slope, and if anything called for a slippery slope argument, this is it. We’re about to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the war on drugs whether Canada cares about cannabis use or not.

And worse, even the FBI admits this war was never meant to be won.

* There is a large cohort study suggesting that cannabis increases risk of psychosis. I’m not going to dismiss this study outright, but it involves self-reporting, and does not control for previous family history of psychosis, each of which is a large enough flaw that I’d like to see independent verification.

The outrage over Troy Davis, vs the outrage over the Death Penalty

As I said over at X Blog, Canada has executed a “mere” 710 people in its history. We lost our taste for the death penalty in 1976, 14 years after our last killing in 1962.

Wednesday night, the US Supreme Court heard and denied an appeal for stay of execution of Troy Davis, a man convicted of killing a police officer, despite substantial evidence that he was innocent of the crime:
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