The October Crisis Remembered: Le dominionisme du Canada

On October 5, 1970, the Front de libération du Québec kidnapped UK Trade Commissioner James Cross. Many call this the beginning of the October Crisis, but that is like saying the attacks on September 11, 2001 were the beginning of US trouble with islamic nations. It is a whitewash of history and ignores all the things that Canada and the US did for years before each event happened.  (I will be making the October Crisis / 911 comparison again later.)

Canada’s white occupationist history begins with the landing of Jacques Cartier, continues with the first French settlements, the Hudson’s Bay company and many other events that are too numerous to mention. The key moment in the history of the October Crisis happened in 1760, when the British took over the French colony (read: seized control by force), beginning 210 years of English domination of the country.

Canada is often officially referred to as “The Dominion of Canada”, but the dominionism of Canada might be a better title considering what the English did to the First Nations people and to the French. Over the next two centuries, English was the only official language, the one predominantly used in government, law, policing, schools, courts, commerce and anywhere else. French might well have been eradicated if not for the will of French speakers to preserve their language.

This is the first of five parts on the October Crisis.  There is more below the fold.

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Teachers Wanted: Except nobody’s that desperate

Ontario’s inept premier government wants to “reopen” schools – in-person teaching – but has a shortage of qualified teachers.  Ontario is so desperate for warm bodies that people I know in the ESL trade from Ontario are receiving emails and messages like this:

Teaching in person?  In an era of COVID-19?  With Ford and Ontario’s incompetent response to the pandemic?  And that’s before we talk about budget gouges (they’re not cuts).  And the failure to provide basis maintenance of schools.

Then there’s the issue of non-union wages (as if Ontario would pay them decent wages, let alone union wages) that likely won’t include hazard pay, safety equipment or benefits.  There’s no word on how the Ontario Teachers’ Federation feels about hiring non-union staff, but the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation sounds ready to toe the line in order to keep it a union shop.  Those I’ve talked to who are qualified teachers and have ambitions of unionized jobs when they eventually return home are saying, “Not just no, HELL no!” Nobody wants to go back.

From the World Socialist (WSWS) Web Site:

Ontario teachers union leader emphatically opposes job action to stop reckless school reopening

By Matthew Richter

8 September 2020

In an interview with Toronto-based CP24 television last week, the head of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), Harvey Bischof, admitted that the government-big business drive to reopen schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic is endangering teachers’ health and even lives.

He pointed to the lack of social distancing measures, the Ontario Conservative government’s refusal to reduce class sizes, and the failure of the government and school boards to provide teachers with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to substantiate this assessment.

Yet when Bischof was asked what the trade unions intend to do about these life-threatening work conditions, his answer was unequivocal. “If the question is whether we are planning some illegal job action, the answer is a flat out no,” he asserted.

At the end of July, Beau of the Fifth Column did this “light hearted” video about a shortage of teachers in the US.  Ontario may not be recruiting Canadian military members, but a lot of this still rings true.

Numbers Game: One million dead

According to Worldometers, the one millionth death from COVID-19 happened at approximately 16:00 UTC on September 27, 2020.  The total only reflects the deaths reported, not those misattributed to flu, other medical conditions, or false numbers reported under orders of republican politicians in the US.  The real daily and total death count could be much higher.

Ten times in September there were 300,000 new infections in one day. In July and August, there were twenty days with at least 250,000 new infections. There was no days with over 250,000 before July 1.

Ideas Forged: Steel is a lot older than you think

A paper in the Journal of Archaeological Science reports the first confirmed existence of chromium iron (aka stainless steel) not as a 20th century creation, but the 11th century in Persia.

Chromium crucible steel was first made in Persia


For more than a century, evidence for the production of crucible steel in Central and Southern Asia, prior to the European Industrial Revolution, has fascinated and challenged material scientists, historians and archaeologists. At the same time, chromium-alloyed stainless steel was developed in the early 20th century, building upon 19th century experiments with low chromium steel. Here we demonstrate new evidence of the intentional addition of chromium to steel nearly a millennium earlier, as part of the Persian crucible steel (pulad) tradition including the production of low-chromium crucible steel in early 2nd millennium CE Persia. We analysed archaeological finds from the 11th c. CE site of Chahak in Iran showing the intentional and regular addition of chromium mineral to the crucible charge, resulting in steel containing around 1 wt% chromium.

My immediate response to reading this was to remember the Mehrauli Iron Pillar in Delhi, India, which dates back to the 5th or 6th century CE.  It wasn’t stainless steel, but the pillar does not rust.  More than spices and cloth were traded along the silk road, so were ideas.  Travellers carried books, and it is less than 3000 kilometres from Mehrauli to Iran.  Is this an example of ideas taken from one place and improved upon by others?

Histrionics Repeats: It’s the Salem old thing

September 22, 1692 was the height of the Salem witch trials, the night when eight people were murdered for “the crime of witchcraft”, along with another twelve victims around the same time.  It was the height of religious depravity and depths of religious ignorance, the belief that false accusations made for political, social or financial gain shouldn’t be questioned.

Remembering the Victims of the Salem Witch Executions

On September 22, 1692, eight people were hanged for their alleged crimes as witches. They were among 20 who were killed as a result of the hysteria that took place in the New England village of Salem where fear of demonic possession struck panic among the Puritans and led to more than 200 accusations against anyone suspected of witchcraft.

The witch hunts resulted in the arrests of 150 people

In Massachusetts in the late 1600s, a few young girls (including Elizabeth Parris, age 9, Abigail Williams, age 11) claimed to be possessed by the devil and blamed local “witches” for their demons. This sent panic throughout the Village of Salem and led to accusations of more than 200 local citizens over the next several months, including Dorothy “Dorcas” Good who was by far the youngest accused at age 4 (she spent eight months in the prison’s dungeon before being released) along with her mother, Sarah Good (who was later executed).

Sometimes described as “witch hunts” (as also seen in Europe from the 1300s-1700s), this hysteria resulted in the arrests of nearly 150 people, multiple court hearings, and the guilty convictions of dozens. Those found guilty were often chained to the walls in the prison’s basement, known as the “witch jail:” a perpetually dark, cold, and wet dungeon infested with water rats. While in prison, the accused, many of them women, were repeatedly humiliated by being forced to strip naked and undergo physical examinations of their nude bodies.

About 20 years after the convictions, in 1711, the colony passed a bill pardoning those accused and granted monetary restitution to the surviving victims and their families. However, hundreds of lives were damaged by the Salem witch hunts. A total of 24 innocent people died for their alleged participation in dark magic. Two dogs were even executed due to suspicions of their involvement in witchcraft.

See also:, “Salem Witch Trials”

Witch hunts were the original “satanic panic”.  But they were as much an attack on women as an exhibition of ignorance.  Women who had status, education, or wealth could become targets of accusations, or just as easily those who rejected unwanted advances.

That sounds a lot like today and certain individuals.

Proctor’s Lodge in Salem, Massachusetts is a memorial to those murdered 328 years ago, the names of nineteen innocents engraved into a monument.  This link provides an online tour of the site.

Salem Memorializes Those Killed During Witch Trials

July 19, 2017

The 19 men and women who were hanged at Proctor’s Ledge during the Salem witch trials 325 years ago have been memorialized at the site of their deaths in Salem, Mass.

The city of Salem, Mass., has opened a memorial to commemorate the people who were convicted and killed during its notorious series of “witch trials” in 1692.

The memorial stands at the site where 19 innocent women and men were hanged. According to the city, the memorial opened on the 325th anniversary of the first of three mass executions at the site, when five women were killed: Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Wildes.

I consider today to be the beginning of Hallowe’en.  It’s forty days (inclusive) from September 22nd to October 31st.  Normally I view this as the first day of fun, but not this year as the extreme right keeps trying to drag the world backwards into the dark ages.

Homonationalism Exists, And It Kills

Last week, dating app company Hornet published a dubious survey of 10,000 gay men on the 2020 US election.  I say dubious because it was a self-reported survey, not scientific: those who were willing, motivated, had time to participate, and knew about and use Hornet, not gay men in general or a random selection.  And I suspect the respondents were predominantly white and English speaking.  Even so, the numbers are similar to official polls, and I suspect similar to the attitudes of cisgender gay white men.  (Given how rampant racism and ableism is in the gay dating scene I can guess the disparity of pro- and anti-trump voices.)

Hornet Asked 10,000 Gay Men to Weigh In on the Upcoming U.S. Election, Donald Trump

On Sept. 4, just shy of two months before the 2020 U.S. election, Hornet asked 10,000 queer men from every continent to weigh in on their candidate of choice, Donald Trump or Joe Biden, and also polled their level of support for Trump and his term in office. The survey’s results offer valuable insights — not just into how a subsection of the American queer male community says it will likely vote come November, but they also act as an ‘international report card’ of sorts on Trump’s time as president.

Of the 10,000 men Hornet surveyed, 12% identified themselves as U.S. citizens. Of those 1,200 American men, 51% answered they would be voting for Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election, while 45% — just shy of one-half — said they would be casting their ballot for Donald Trump. Asked about their level of support for Trump’s term as president, 49% responded, “I do not support him at all”; 11% responded, “I disagree with him on most issues”; 9% responded, “I disagree with him on some issues and agree with him on others”; 11% responded, “I agree with him on most issues”; and 16% responded, “I fully support him.”

This data on the self-reported, self-predicted voting habits of American queer men is interesting when compared to national U.S. poll data, which as of September 2020 place Biden’s support between 49–51% and Trump’s support between 42–43%*. While the percentage of Biden-supporting queer men who took Hornet’s survey falls within that range of national polling, the percentage of Trump-supporting queer men who took the survey is higher than what’s seen in national polls. This percentage of Trump-supporting queer men is also higher than what Hornet saw from queer men worldwide; among all 10,000 Hornet users surveyed, 66% support Joe Biden and 34% support Donald Trump.

Emphasis in the text is mine.  Much more below the fold.

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The Wind Cries: Has it really been fifty years?

Jimi Hendrix died on September 18, 1970, fifty years ago.  He was only 27.  And yet despite how short his life and the length of time that has passed, his influence and music still resonate.  I was three when he died so I had no knowledge of the world, but I grew up with a generation of music and musicians influenced by him.

Hendrix’s music and career mirrors Robert Johnson who died 82 years ago, also age 27. Hendrix recorded only four albums (three studio, one live) and Johnson wrote only 29 songs.  And yet, the influence and shadow both cast over popular music of the last century is larger than nearly everyone else.

Many retrospective obituaries on Hendrix have appeared this week: Deutsche Welle, The Atlantic, Guardian, among others.  Benorce Blackmon (of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band) reminisced about having Hendrix as his guitar tutor.  The Sydney Morning Herald has an inteview with Dr. John Bannister, the Australian doctor then working in London who tried to save Hendrix’s life.

The tragedy is that we never heard what was to come.  Hendrix had attracted the admiration and attention of Jazz legends Miles Davis and Gil Evans.  Hendrix had always played by ear and came from a Blues and Rock background.  But Evans taught him how to read music, and the two talked about working and recording together.  Sadly that never came to pass.  Imagine the sparks.


Ultimate Classic Rock has a list of quotes attributed to Hendrix worth reading.

“I think religion is just a bunch of crap. It’s only man-made stuff, man trying to be what he can’t. And there’s so many broken-down variations, all trying to say the same thing, but they’re so cheeky, all the time adding in their own bits and pieces. Right now, I’m working on my own religion, which is life.”

“[T]hat’s what the establishment’s waiting for, for people to start fighting against their own selves, like for instance black against white, yellow against pink and all that. But that’s not the idea of the thing. … The idea is against the new and the old, and the establishment causes this by playing games, by turning different colors against each other to make the younger generation weak.”

“There’s no such things as age brackets; not in my mind, ‘cause a person’s not actually old in numbers of years, but how many miles he’s traveled, you know? How he keeps his mind active and creative.”

A very popular comparison of quotes appeared a few years ago.  It’s not hard to guess where I stand on the issue (i.e. if you’re not playing instruments, you’re not a musician).

They Finally Spoke: Scientific American breaks with tradition

Scientific American has existed for 175 years.  In all that time, the journal has strenuously avoided politics because science must be objective and impartial, not cater to partisan politics.

For the first time, SA has broken tradition and has chosen to endorse Joe Biden for president.  I read this as an admission by SA that objectivity and education is no longer possible on one side, and that scientists have to speak for the survival of the planet, not party politics.

The Guardian: Prestigious US science journal to back Biden in first endorsement in 175-year history

In a break with its 175-year tradition, the prestigious US magazine Scientific American has for the first time endorsed a candidate in a US presidential election – the Democratic party nominee, Joe Biden.

The magazine has taken the line because, it says, “Donald Trump has badly damaged the US and its people – because he rejects evidence and science.”

Excerpts from the Scientific American editors’ statement are below the fold, the link in the title.

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Make Believe: Cops co-opt and bootlickers lick

Defunding cops is a necessity, primarily in the US but also elsewhere, and the justification for it is obvious. So what are cops doing to justify the budgetary waste and make the public side with them?  They have started lying and fearmongering.  In response to the call to defund cops, I see a disturbing trend three fictions being told.

1) “They want to defund cops AND THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!”

Not one Black Lives Matter statement has advocated defunding fire departments. But cops (and some fire departments) are spreading this lie. Less money for cops would mean more for fire and ambulance services, more for social workers.

2) “If they defund cops, fire fighters will be at risk!”

Bootlickers within fire departments are spreading this lie. It’s probably union astroturfing, not a genuine thing. How often are fire fighters and their trucks targeted at the scene of a fire? Has that ever even happened?

I’ve searched and can’t find a single news item.  But finding willing liars is easy.

What ‘defund the police’ means for Firefighters

Asking, again, for people to consider how vital Firefighters and Medics are in the long run, and how much they do for the community.

Because if you consider defunding the police, it will mean defunding the fire department.

That goes so far beyond a non sequitur that there isn’t a term in Latin, English, German or any other language.  Considering how many cops have perpetrated violence against fire fighters doing their jobs, I can’t fathom a reason for fire fighters to support cops other than corrupt unions and systematic and systemic racism.  And considering how many racist fire fighters there are, that doesn’t surprise.

3) Cities are claiming that “fire and police budgets are linked”

Sacramento is threatening citizens with an all-or-nothing proposition: “if we defund cops, we’ll defund fire departments”. They are using fear to intimidate people into supporting cops.

Sacramento City Council rejects call to ‘defund’ public safety agencies

The Sacramento City Council appears to be moving forward with a plan to redirect money from the city budget toward a new “participatory budget” fund.

However, it appears unlikely the council will reduce its public safety budgets to support the new fund, despite recommendations from a citizen committee and requests by some activists. The city’s two largest public safety unions sent a letter to the council on Tuesday opposing reductions to their budgets.

The city’s Measure U Community Advisory Committee recommended the council remove $15 million from the city budget to put into a new fund to allow the public to decide how to spend it. The committee suggested the money come from the police and fire budgets, or from money set to fund capital improvement projects and pay down debt.

Seattle is trying to kill people in BLM protests. The city refuses to sent ambulances to the CHOP area “without police backup”. Why would they need “police backup” when it is the cops who are shooting people, when BLM protesters have not perpetrated any violence?

If police are defunded, Seattle firefighters could face a new reality

In the early hours of Saturday, June 20, volunteer medics called 911 to inform dispatchers of a shooting in the Black Lives Matter protest zone known as CHOP. “We need an ambulance. He needs to go to the hospital,” one caller can be heard telling a dispatcher a little before 2:30 a.m.

For the next 20 minutes, a series of callers implored 911 dispatchers to help transport the victim. “He’s bleeding out on the table,” one caller said. “We’ll be there as soon as we can,” the dispatcher responded.

But dispatchers also made clear fire officials would not venture into the CHOP without a police presence. Instead, volunteer medics would have to carry the patient a block away to meet the ambulance.

New Jersey’s chief bootlicker/toady in the fire department also pretends that cutting police budgets in favour of fire and ambulance services is a “threat to public safety”. This while many fire departments have budget shortfalls and need money diverted away from egregious police budgets.

Council Members Say ‘No’ to Effort to Defund Police

Jersey City Fire Department Chief Steven McGill also spoke, saying that cuts to public safety are unwise at any time, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is exactly the wrong time to defund public safety,” he said, praising Fulop’s efforts to build professional departments that have created a safer city.

Where Modern Gaming Began: Ultima IV turns 35

Richard Garriott (aka Lord British) created the Ultima game series beginning with Akalabeth and Ultimas I, II and III. But it was his next effort, “Ultima IV, Quest Of The Avatar”, that would change everything.  Released by Origin Systems on September 16, 1985, it was a groundbreaking game then and remains one of the most influential today.

Ultima I, II and III were among the first “open world” computer games, with entire planets to explore, along with towns and even flying in space. But prior to Ultima IV, games were primarily “hack and slash”: read the background story, buy equipment, kill monsters, level up, repeat until you fight the final battle. In the days of minimal computer resources (e.g. 48KB of RAM and running off floppy disks), these and others like Elite were the most expansive games on offer.

Then Ultima IV came along. It didn’t just break the mould, it smashed the entire potter’s wheel. This wasn’t a game of killing and looting, because there was no “big bad” to defeat. It was a moral tale and adventure, about the player fulfilling the “eight virtues”, learning and deciding right from wrong. It changed game narratives and forced companies to create much more immersive gaming experiences, design realistic worlds to explore, write dialogue, storylines, give NPCs with far more depth.

The New Yorker: The Computer Game That Led to Enlightenment

The healer, as well as the sorcerer and his legion of resurrected bones, were little more than four-color graphics, crudely animated against the simple playing screen of the computer game Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, which is turning thirty-five this year. Compared with contemporary games, this two-dimensional adventure is an anachronism. From an aesthetic point of view, there is little to recommend it, save for the invigorating nostalgia that it induces in those old enough to remember the original. Nevertheless, the journey to fulfill my character’s spiritual destiny was starting to feel a little personal. Over video chat, the game’s developer, Richard Garriott, explained that this feeling was exactly what he wanted players to experience. “You yourself are the character—it is not an alter ego,” Garriott said. “It is your moral compass guiding their actions.”

[. . .]

Garriott was an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons and a compulsive reader of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy; he wanted his next game to feel like a living world with its own mythos and history. [. . .] By the mid-eighties, the phenomenon known as the Satanic Panic was reaching its peak, with many conservative and religious leaders viewing role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons as corrupting influences, turning young people toward witchcraft and violence. The mother of one Ultima player was so horrified by the image of a demon on the cover art for Ultima III—which Garriott told me is based on the devil Chernabog from the Walt Disney film “Fantasia”—that she sent a letter to Garriott, who was twenty-two, calling him “the Satanic perverter of America’s youth.”

It was the fan mail that set Garriott on a path toward reimagining what a computer role-playing game (C.R.P.G.) could do. In these letters, people described how they played the first three Ultimas, which were open-world games that did not require a linear path to complete, giving players the freedom to steal from shops or kill townsfolk. The letter writers explained, according to Garriott, that “the easiest way to gain power was not to play as a good guy.” He was despondent. “I inadvertently made games that drove the players to act dishonorably, as this was the path of least resistance.” What if, he wondered, there were a game in which your moral choices had consequences? He wanted the next installment of Ultima to reward honor and courage, and to penalize players for casual depravity. Garriott’s family and colleagues warned him that players might feel as if they were being punished for having admitted to enjoying robbing and murdering, but Garriott ignored them. “This was the art I was compelled to make,” he said.

More below the fold….

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A Feedback Loop Feeds Back: “Predictive AI” is predictably bad

A Florida sheriff’s office is repeatedly harassing certain families within a county, abusing authority and writing up people for false charges, filing multiple nuisance charges like “disorderly conduct” repeatedly against the same people.  He claims his “predictive AI” says certain people have committed crimes, so he’s targeting them.  That’s bad enough, but his false arrests are fed into that AI and used as “data” or proving they’re committing more crimes.

That’s not “evidence”, that’s self-fulfilling prophecy.  It’s the ignorant assuming they have knowledge when they don’t even understand how it’s supposed to work.

Everyone who reads this story keeps saying “Minority Report”, but I hated that movie.  I prefer to quote Arthur Conan Doyle from “The Sign of Four”:

You can, for example, never foretell what any one man will do, but you can say with precision what an average number will be up to. Individuals vary, but percentages remain constant. So says the statistician.

Predictions and trends are only guides, not proof.  And no matter how good a model, or how much you know about human behaviour, you cannot convict people for things they haven’t done.  A serial criminal who commits the same crime a hundred times still can’t be assumed guilty until you prove they did it the 101st time.  It is possible for repeat offenders to stop.

Some of those harassed in Florida have no criminal history or arrest record before this.

A sheriff launched an algorithm to predict who might commit a crime. Dozens of people said they were harassed by deputies for no reason.

  • A Florida sheriff’s office deployed a futuristic algorithm that uses crime data to predict who is likely to commit another crime.

  • In a sweeping six-month investigation published this week, the Tampa Bay Times reported that the algorithm relied on questionable data and arbitrary decisions and led to the serial harassment of people without any evidence of specific crimes.

  • According to the report, former sheriff’s office employees said officers went to the homes of people singled out by the algorithm, charged them with zoning violations, and made arrests for any reason they could. Those charges were fed back into the algorithm.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I can imagine a conversation with a journalist going something like this:

Reporter: “Why did you arrest them?”

Sheriff: “Our AI said to because they were arrested before.”

Reporter: “Why were they arrested previously?”

Sheriff: “Because our AI said they would commit crimes.”

Reporter: “But what crimes did they actually commit in the past?”

Sheriff: “That doesn’t matter, this is about prevention.”

Reporter: “So you’re arguing that you can arrest people because you’ve arrested them before?  That your unjustified arrests in the past are justification for repeatedly arresting them in the future?”

Sheriff: “Maybe I should feed your name into the database.”

I was expecting Marcus Ranum to post this story first.

Another Has Passed: Shere Hite, 1942-2020

Shere Hite (November 2, 1942 – September 9, 2020) was a naturalized German citizen (born in the US), a sex educator and feminist.  Her book The Hite Report (1976) was a groundbreaking effort, focusing and advocating women’s sexual pleasure for the benefit of women.  Playboy (one of Bill Cosby’s favourite hangouts) referred to her as “Shere Hate”.

From the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University:

Author, sex educator, and feminist, Shere Hite is known for her groundbreaking research on female sexuality. From 1972 to 1982, she directed the feminist sexuality project for the National Organization for Women, New York Chapter. In 1976, she published her influential study The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, which was based on anonymous responses to questionnaires in which women detailed their sexual experiences. She later published additional studies based on responses to questionnaires, including The Hite Report on Male Sexuality (1981), The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up under Patriarchy (1994), and The Hite Report on Women Loving Women (2007), among others. Hite lectured internationally, became a regular columnist for several newspapers, and in the late 1990s, founded the Hite Research Foundation to increase the visibility and potential of women around the world.

I usually link to obituraries in the media, but all those I’ve seen about Hite are quoting known TERF trash Julie Bindel.


The One That Matters: Commemorating September 11th

One of the worst terrorist and political attacks in modern history occurred on September 11th, 1973.  The CIA overthrew Salvador Allende’s popular and democratically elected government in a country with a long history of democracy, replacing it with fascist and mass murderer Augusto Pinochet.

Democracy Now: Sept. 11, 1973: A CIA-backed Military Coup Overthrows Salvador Allende, the Democratically Elected President of Chile

September 11, 2003

We turn now to another September 11: September 11, 1973.

30 years ago today, the democratically elected President of Chile Salvador Allende was overthrown and died in a bloody CIA backed military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.

Pinochet oversaw the killing of at least 3,000 Chileans during a brutal 17-year military reign, which lasted until 1990.

The coup was backed by then-President Nixon and Secretary of State National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger. Salvador Allende was honored yesterday in a ceremony at the palace were he died 30 years ago.

In 1998, Pinochet was arrested in London on torture and genocide charges on a warrant issued by a Spanish judge. British authorities later released Pinochet after doctors ruled him physically and mentally unfit to stand trial.

ITV: The other September 11th: Families looking for answers 45 years after Chile coup

More below the fold.

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