Sunday, May 27, 2007

You Never Get Used to That...

Master Cpl. Michael McCauley holds the Canadian flag at a ramp ceremony, Saturday May 26, 2007, for Cpl. Matthew McCully, who was killed by an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–The mournful skirl of bagpipes echoed across the tarmac at Kandahar Airfield yesterday as Canadian soldiers, for the first time in more than a month, sent a fallen comrade on the first leg of his long journey home.

Eight members of Cpl. Matthew McCully's squadron, their faces taut with the physical and emotional weight of the task at hand, carried his flag-draped coffin to a waiting Hercules.

Cpl. Matthew McCully, the 55th Soldier to die in Afghanistan Mission is going home..

Read the rest of the Story and Pray for the Safety of our Soldiers and the Success of Our Mission in Afghanistan....

Friday, May 25, 2007

Shattered HAVEN!!!

Jordan Manners, 15 shot and killed inside his school, Wednesday afternoon, by an unknown assailant, the first to happen in the City.

Shattered HAVEN!!!
Today headline, today’s high 26Celcius; Front Page, "Don’t Die Jordan"... his best friend pleaded . His eyes opened but unseeing. And without saying a word Jordan collapsed at the Floor at the bottom of the stairwell inside their school in the pool of blood.

It was 2:30 PM Wednesday, May 24, the Coroner confirmed that Jordan Manners, just turned l5, a gifted student in Arts and Drama, had been felled by single gunshot to the chest and two hours later was pronounced dead at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, his mother collapsed outside when told of the dreadful news.

Toronto now has the ignominious distinction of having its first fatal shooting inside a school.

There are too many sides to the story of why this sad and tragic incident happened in a place where Children are supposed to be safe. The Police is not giving much information about the motives and the prospect of an arrest for the slaying, but here are some of the accounts from classmates, neighbours, relatives and eyes witnesses leading to the Crime, and some statements from the Police Authorities.

Also from the Star columnist Rosie Dimanno:

Some will suggest that thorough check will be done on schoolchildren backpacks, but there is already a case about to be Decided by the Supreme Court regarding an appeal by the Crown of the Decision by Lower court that the Police dog snipping of a Student backpack charged of possession of elicit drugs was Unreasonable invasion of Privacy.

The courts has been consistent that the Police can not search a person or property without reasonable ground and discovery of such search is illegal and had no force of law.

Until the Courts finally decide that checking of weapons or any other banned materials on schoolchildren or students bags or backpacks is a reasonable limit of rights to freedom from unreasonable search, some of our children will continue bringing guns and knives and drugs in schools, and we may see another incident like this one.

But one thing we have in our side, this is an isolated case, the Very First to happen in our City and we believe that all parties, our leaders, our school officials and police services and social services agencies and parents will again put their heads together and spare no efforts and money to make sure that such will never again Happen.

We mourn with the Jordan's Family and Classmates and Schoolmates and we also encourage anyone with information that they believe will be useful for the police investigations, not to withhold any.

Update:May 28. Toronto Police made an Arrest of one suspects in the slaying of Jordan and another suspect surrendered, after his name and photo was published under judicial authority as the suspect is a minor. Both suspects, 17 are charged of First Degree Murder and both go to the same school. Under the Young Offenders Act, the suspects can not be named and the authorization ended with the youth surrender.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Toronto the Good...Are we still are??

Going home at 3 am after a night at the bar with a male friend, Toronto Journalist Jessica Hume decided to take a short cut walk home across the darkened road in her neighborhood only to be confronted by three stocky "scumbags" who robbed them both with force and violence. The male friend was beaten and stabbed and Jessica was able to get free and called 911 and the arrival of Police and Paramedics within minutes prevented any more serious injuries and consequence to the criminal acts.

And the Journalist is wondering what is happening to Toronto the Good where she grow up. And I ask the same question: what is happening to the city known only not so long ago as the Toronto the Good and the Cleanest city in North America? Have we gone downhill the way of most Metropolitan cities? Are our politicians not doing their jobs? Or are we getting complacent, taking everything for granted?

It is no longer safe to walk at night or any time of day without getting confronted by streets "hustlers" and small time druggies. And there are purse snatchers lurking in the malls, subways, though not as common, but one incident just too many for this city where years ago such are unheard of. And there incidents of Gun violence in our city streets, especially among our youths.

Well, for us residents of the city we can do our part by firstly, do not be a part of the problem, secondly, report any suspicious acts or any incidents either by calling the anonymous tips line (222-tips) or report them by calling your local police, or in emergency 911. If you pretend to be blind and deaf, you maybe contributing to the problem.

And for any refuse take a little walk. There are garbage catchers everywhere, in the bus shelters, every street corners. Put those garbage in their proper places.

Let's put back our city where it was once, the Good and Clean.

For Jessica Hume’s first person account of her experience click this links:

‘Tis the season for B and E (Break and Enter) and here are the tips the Toronto Police Service how to avoid becoming the victim:

Keeping the B and E artists at bay
There are ways to protect yourself from theft. The Toronto Police Service offers the following tips:

• Avoid incentives. Keep windows clear of valuables.

• Get to know your neighbours, even when living in a high-rise.

• Away for a short time? Set lights on timers and leave a radio turned on so anyone contemplating a break-in thinks someone's at home.

• Away for a while? Have a neighbour pick up the mail, cancel newspapers, make sure the grass gets cut.

• Avoid leaving car keys by the door, and be especially careful if you have a posh car in the driveway – it provides greater incentive for thieves.

• If you live in a high-rise, report broken security cameras and parking-lot lights, and doors that are either being left propped open or aren't working.

• Don't be a victim of courtesy and allow strangers to enter a building behind you.

–Surya Bhattacharya

Now, don’t tell I don’t warn you. Have a good Spring and Summer ahead to all...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Happy Mother's Day to all moms and to all mothers dearest to me. Firstly, my very own late mother, who dearly raised the eight of us. Picture above was taken in Cainta during her 76th Birthday. Middle was with youngest and elder sisters at the Niagara Falls during her Second Visit in the early 90s. The bottom one was taken somewhere in Ontario where a town is a replica of centuries old traditions and cultures (just for tourists and cultural history).

(you may clic images to enlarge)

To my dearest baby sister (the other half of the twins) who brought us the Bibs and two wonderful boys, now all grown ups and about ready for college and university.
Above was during middle child graduation from Elementary. Middle with cousin, who now is also a mother just fooling around. At the bottom was the bibs at 6 months and chubby with kuyas and mom...

And to my two nieces, my brother's daughter with her son and daughter in-law with her daughter . Mother and daughter were vacationing from Philadelphia and were visiting uncle (my nephew who passed away suddenly at very young age) at Sta. Rosa Memorial Park.

And to my niece from Toril, my late Bro's daughter and grandson Chico showing his "treasure" to grandpa he had not seen.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Accident or Deadly Assault?

Manny Castillo, 15 years old, on life support and not expected to live from injuries suffered in a School Rugby match. A 16 year- old- boy (can not be identified under the Juvenile Justice Act) is charged of assault and maybe upgraded in the event of Manny's death.

The family of 15 year- old- boy , lying brain dead at the Sick Kids and is not expected to live from injuries suffered in a Rugby Match, is urging the Peel Police not to charge the opponent for assault causing injury and may be upgraded if and when the boy is taken off the life support.

The family already announced that they are donating the boy’s organs.

Manny Castillo, immigrated from Mexico with his family as 12 year- old- boy.
Manny is a star athlete at Lorne Park Secondary School in Mississauga, a forward for the school's Spartans rugby team and captain of the defense line for the football team, on which he plays linebacker.

In the last few seconds of a rugby game Wednesday against the Erindale Raiders, he and an opposing 16-year-old were seen grappling together.

Manny was left on the ground with critical head injuries. Last night he remained on life support at the Hospital for Sick Children with his chances of survival rated zero.

Peel Regional police have charged the opposition player with aggravated assault, charges that could be upgraded in the event of Manny's death.

The player cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice ACT.

The family is unanimous of not pressing charges.

But Peel Police said that their investigation led them to believe the altercation that resulted in injury was not part of the Game and they still are investigating for the motives.

Please note, that in Criminal cases the victims or families of the victims are not the parties to decide if criminal charges are to be laid, but the Police authorities based on evidence as a result of their investigations.

A coroner's report in the event of Manny's death may well decide the final decision of the of the police authorities.

Even in Professional sports, where violence is a part of the game, like the game of hockey, unprovoked and malicious intent to injure could also result in police laying charges.

Update: Manny Castillo has died of his injuries. Taken off life support this morning (12:00PM. May 11, 2007, Live T.V. broadcast). No news from Peel Police if they are upgrading the charges yet. The family is still firm on its decision urging the authorities not to press charges.

More of the stories go the Toronto Star:

A rare tragedy

Teenage sporting deaths remain extremely rare. Manny Castillo's life-threatening injuries at Lorne Park Secondary School recall earlier tragedies.

Feb. 23, 2007: Kyle Lamb, 13, dies while attempting a back flip off a snowboard jump in Caesarea, on Lake Scugog Feb. 12, 2007: Nicolas Lambden, 10, of Guelph, dies after being hit in the head with a puck during an outdoor shinny game.

Dec. 26, 2006: Alex Corrance, 17, a defenceman for the Mississauga Rebels, dies during the opening period of an east Toronto tournament. The coroner rules an underlying, undetected cardiac problem to be the cause of death.

May 2006: Harbord Collegiate student Frankie Chu, 18, collapses on the field during the league rugby opener. He dies a short time later.

Feb. 17, 1992: Skier Wendy Buda, 13, dies after what her family calls a "fluke" accident at Blue Mountain Ski Resort. She sustains serious head injuries while hitting a stand of trees during a Southern Ontario Juvenile Championship race.

Aug. 12, 1987: A 12-year-old Scarborough boy collapses and dies playing soccer on Midland Avenue Collegiate Institute grounds. Police say Kenneth Georgiopoulos may have died of a congenital heart defect that had gone undetected.

Compiled by Kathleen Power, Star Library:

Update: May 13: Peel Police Charged the 16-year-old from the opposing team for aggravated assault and was released to the custody of his Parents. The charge may be Up to manslaughter, but not until the investigation is completed.

Update: May 14: Toronto Star

Bereaved parents tell the Star that police should drop charges against other teen: `This is about what we really feel inside'

This is not about religion, this is about what we really feel inside," Manuel Castillo of Mississauga said quietly yesterday when asked why he might feel so forgiving toward a player making fatal contact with his 15-year-old, also named Manuel and called "Manny" by his friends.

"(The opposing player) didn't take a weapon and try to fire at my son," the father said.
"He didn't take a gun or a knife and try to kill him, absolutely not. To me, it is a terrible accident. In sports, accidents happen."

Asked if his son had any known medical condition that could have been a factor in the death, Castillo said he preferred to say nothing more abut the injury

He praised Peel regional police for their professionalism and support, and said police are prepared to interview him formally when he feels ready.

Investigation is still ongoing...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Smile, You're on Camera...

One of the 13 surveillance cameras installed by the Toronto Police for its Pilot Project to Monitor the city streets for crimes.
Look Up, High up by the Lamp Posts and Traffic Signal Poles, Big Brother is watching over you.
No, you’re not back in George Orwell "1984", but Toronto in 2007 and until challenge and declared unconstitutional the Pilot Project of Toronto Police’s surveillance cameras will be reality and if able to hurdle any challenge or absence of it, will soon be expanded and may become part of our daily existence. Brush up that smile and no middle-finger salute, you’re friendly monitors may post your misdemeanors in YouTube.

Currently there are only 13 (why always the number l3?) Cameras installed in four neighborhoods: the entertainment district (downtown), Jane and Finch area ( a section of the city famous for it’s drug and gang related crimes) and two East Toronto communities, where crime rates are high and witnesses to the crime are keeping the code of silence or are not co-operative with the authorities.

And again here are what the "smart" residents of Toronto (including me) have to say about this new episode:

From teenager Brittany Campbell, H.S. Student while browsing downtown:
"Being filmed isn't anything new." That’s it? That was all.

Perhaps the most surprising about the Cameras was not that they were installed, not in coincidence that in the same week Five Surveillance Cameras in a Private business Captured a scene of the Murder and lead the cops to the suspect. No, the most surprising about the Installation of the Police Surveillance Cameras is the Lack of the Public Outcry.

If we can remember well, it was not very long ago that Canada’s Privacy Commissioner concerned about the Trend, sued the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to prevent them from operating surveillance cameras in the park in Kelowna, British Columbia. Now, this week even the Canadian Civil Liberties Association had nothing, not a word to say about this issue. Or is it preparing a case to challenge the Installation and Operation of Surveillance Cameras in the Court?

Now back to the "smart alecks".

From Mike Pugash, Toronto Police Services spokesman:
"We've had cases where within an hour of putting out the picture, the suspect calls his lawyer and says: `I'm giving myself up’.

According to Mike, in the past month, three suspects were arrested after their recorded images were released to the Media. (Note: those images may have been recorded by private securities cameras or traffic cameras which have been installed to monitor traffic in city streets and highways.)

You’re on Camera in the Highways, (401, DVP, Gardener, 407) at city hall, ATM machines, the subway platforms, in stores, on sidewalks and in red lights. It has become impossible to venture outdoor without becoming a Star of a two seconds or if interesting a little longer, television production like; a nosepicker, a man scratching his itching balls, girl digging her purse, or a couple having their marital problems known to the city.

If you are stopped in Toronto by an OPP officer (Ontario Provincial Police), the entire exchange – including everything you say – is recorded by a camera in the cruiser. Officers wear microphones secured to their uniforms. They will tell you that you are being recorded, but you do not have the option of not being recorded.

"A lot of potentially argumentative people are less so once they find out it's being taped," says OPP Sgt. Cam Woolley of the highway safety division. "It's also become very useful in court – a lot of people will basically lie to save insurance money."
( first conviction may be forgiven, second insurance premiums will about double; e.g. paying $2000 normally a year, think about that. the third it's about the cost of an economy car. the next one, take the public transport, or get a bicycle, good exercise.)

And now for the people who monitor these cameras. The cameras could be monitored by the controllers at the control room and can be manipulated to take pictures for other than what they are for. It is known to happen.

In Tuscaloosa, Ala., state police have been accused of focusing their cameras on the breasts and buttocks of young women walking down the street. In Britain, police in a control room in the Midlands were recently caught taking close-ups of women with large breasts.

It could wind up on YouTube, where security camera footage has its own niche.

Toronto Police Service cameras have been set up to discourage abuse. The cameras are not monitored. There is no central control room. If a crime is committed in the vicinity of a camera, the recording is retrieved. Otherwise, it is erased within 72 hours. No record is kept. There is no audio.

The measures followed consultations with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, which has issued detailed guidelines for public surveillance cameras. The guidelines recommend collecting the least amount of information possible; they say that cameras should only be installed when other methods have demonstrably failed; that cameras should not be directed to look through the windows of adjacent buildings; and that if cameras are adjustable by operators, their movement should be restricted.

Asst. Privacy Commissioner Ken Anderson has this to say about the preventive measures to avoid potential abuse or misuse of surveillance cameras:

"The things that have been identified as problems ... in England ... can you poke and peek at things you shouldn't be doing, all that stuff, the police here have gone to some lengths to address that." And added that the office has not received a single complaint from the Public.

Where are the protesters denouncing the march toward a future like the one George Orwell described in 1984, where citizens are tracked everywhere they go, even in their own homes, their very thoughts monitored for compliance with the ruling party?

Do we trust our Police, our Authorities that the protests of yesteryears have suddenly disappear?

Are we tolerant to the Limitations to our rights ( our charter allows reasonable limits that can be demonstrably justified in a democratic society) without mounting a challenge?
Where are the Civil Rights movements?

Were they feed up of the crimes and the helplessness of the Authorities in dealing with these social problems in few of our city areas which are mainly caused by drugs, gangs, and illegal weapons and let’s face it, to the point of going down of being labeled as Politically Incorrect, the Tolerance of our Society for the Cultures that Breed crimes? (No details necessary).

Daniel Quinn of the Toronto Public Space Committee of the Cameras has this to say:

"We're definitely opposed, the major reason being that they're ineffective and expensive. It's an inordinate amount of power that you're granting to the police that can and has been proven in the past to be potentially abuse."
He himself was surprised at the acceptance of the cameras. The legal challenge mounted by former federal privacy commissioner George Radwanski was dismissed on procedural grounds, and the office is no longer pursuing it. But during that process, former Supreme Court Justice Gerard La Forest issued a legal opinion that general video surveillance for law enforcement purposes – recorded or not – likely infringes upon one's reasonable expectation of privacy Charter challenge on that basis could render public video surveillance illegal in Canada, according to a paper by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC). That is, if anyone can be found to challenge it.

It seems at the moment everyone one is having a wait and see attitudes toward this issue. But my bet is eventually a challenge will surface, strong probability from someone accused of crimes as a result of the images taken by the surveillance cameras. And in the end it will be up to the wisdom of our courts if we have to be in perpetual air waves as soon as we step out of our doors.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Two City Councillors in Trouble for Non-Spending.??

Two tightwads City Councillors who spent the least money for their office expense, (one reported zero, the other $ 1,471 for a year) may be subjected to investigation by the City’s Auditor General and the Integrity Commissioner for improperly spending their Own Money or someone else’s instead of the City’s. Either Way it is Against The Council Code of Conduct, contend one Councillor who led the vote for investigation..

Councillor Rob Ford, representing Ward 2, Etobicoke North, known to be a critic of other councillors’ wasteful spending reported Zero for his office expenses, while Dough Holyday, Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre, reported only the amount of $l471.

Each councillor has an expense allowance of $53,l00 a year to send out letters, rent office space in their constituencies or otherwise run their offices.

There are 44 Wards in Toronto each represented by One councillor Plus the Mayor which is elected city wide. Together they formed the City council. A deputy Mayor is picked among the councillors.

Led by councillor Mammoliti ( Ward 7, York West), maybe the BIG spender, councillors on the executive committee struck back at the frugal duo .

Councilman Mammoliti said that it’s obvious from letter sent out by the Two Councillors on their own letterheads that they are ordering Stationery and under council policy, they should be paying for them from the office budget.

Councillor Ford, the Zero expense one, said there is no mystery of who’s is paying his office expense: HE IS. And added that Mammoliti is just wasting the committee time with what seems and obsessions about how he does his job. "I don’t know why he hates me so much. I wish he would move on, and stop worrying his whole life about what Rob Ford does." He also added that the family owns a printing press.

Note: These two Veterans of the City Council had some kind of Scruple in the Past and Mr. Ford is quite a bulky guy and can stand toe to toe with any tough guy in the council. But Perish the thought, this is Toronto. Out of the council room, they’re just like you and me...

Councillor Howard Moscoe, (known to be the top spender, being chairman of Toronto Transit Commission, city biggest run service), agreed that Ford should be charging expenses. "There's a constant stream of printed material out of Councillor Ford's office, and it's completely against the bylaw to go to private sources to do that," he said.

Mammoliti has feuded with Holyday over Holyday's frequent use of space at Etobicoke City Hall. Mammoliti says Holyday uses the space as his constituency offices, but doesn't pay rent for it as he ought to.

In a letter to the executive committee, Holyday – who was out of town yesterday – says he's not required to pay for the space and would be "pleased" to have the integrity commissioner rule on the issue.