Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Are You REady?

Bush's mother drops RCMP lawsuit

Ian Bush's mother drops RCMP lawsuit
April 21, 2010
CBC News
Linda Bush says she could not justify putting herself and her family though the personal turmoil of a lawsuit.Linda Bush says she could not justify putting herself and her family though the personal turmoil of a lawsuit. (CBC)

The mother of Ian Bush, a man who was shot dead in an RCMP detachment in northern B.C., has dropped her lawsuit against the Mounties.

At a news conference held Wednesday with the RCMP, Linda Bush said that she is abandoning the lawsuit in connection with the death of her son, Ian Bush, because of changes the force has undertaken.

Ian Bush, 22, was shot in the back of the head at the RCMP detachment in Houston shortly after he was arrested for having an open beer at a hockey game in October 2005.

Linda Bush said the cost of the court case would have exceeded any damages she could have hoped to win and she could not justify putting herself and her family though the personal turmoil of a lawsuit.

'The only thing we really want is not within our reach.'—Linda Bush, mother of Ian Bush

"Nothing we can do will give Ian's life back to him, so the only thing we really want is not within our reach" she said at the news conference in Vancouver.

Bush said she decided to drop her lawsuit without any settlement after B.C. RCMP showed they were committed to have future deaths in custody investigated by external investigators.

"I have great expectations here," Bush said. "I don't really feel that I need to forgive. What I need to do is concentrate on their attitudes in the future.
Police promise changes

The RCMP are awaiting provincial changes to the way in-custody deaths are investigated in B.C, said Chief Supt. Craig Callens, deputy criminal operations officer for the province.

In the meantime, the force has brought in changes to ensure deaths in custody and other serious police incidents are subject to outside investigations, Callens said.

"The RCMP wants to ensure that our operations are as transparent as possible," he said.

"Public perception of police accountability is as important as anything. We recognize that we require that public trust."

Callens also outlined an existing program to install and upgrade video monitoring equipment in all 120 RCMP stations and detachments in B.C. by 2012.
4 inquiries into death

The death of Ian Bush was the subject of four investigations by the RCMP and external agencies, said Callens

The officer involved said he was attacked by Bush and shot him in self-defence. The two were alone in the station at the time of the shooting.
Ian Bush was shot at the Houston, B.C., detachment in October 2005 by an RCMP officer. Two inquiries have concluded the officer acted in self-defence.Ian Bush was shot at the Houston, B.C., detachment in October 2005 by an RCMP officer. Two inquiries have concluded the officer acted in self-defence. (CBC)

An internal RCMP inquiry into the shooting cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.

Linda Bush later launched her lawsuit against the RCMP.

A second inquiry by the Commission for Complaints Against the RCMP concluded in 2007 that the police internal investigation into the shooting was adequate and timely and that the officer was justified in using lethal force.

After the report was released, Linda Bush said she disagreed with the commission's conclusion.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Who should care about the future of the university?

Who should care about the future of the university?

Does the University Have
a Future in the Network Society?
by Ian Angus l t r u t h o u t
Who should care about the future of the university? Why should they care?

The university used to be an elite institution that most working people rarely encountered. The training and socialization that the elite classes received prior to taking up leading positions in government and industry was arguably as much of a rite of passage as a search for enlightenment.

Of course, there were always those few for whom the love of knowledge and the reading of great texts was a consuming passion. But if one were concerned only with them, there would be few larger social issues to be raised about the university in society.

The situation is different now.

[For complete article reference links, please see source at Truthout here.]

In the United States and Canada, about a quarter of the working population has completed a university degree. Increasing attendance in higher education is an international trend that is deeply rooted in economic and technological changes. It is a trend that is not likely to reverse and countries that do not keep up will be confined to marginal status.

It has been said that we live in a knowledge society and there is no doubt that contemporary society is deeply committed to the extension of knowledge and its rapid utilization in innovations. This is true not only of scientific and technical knowledge, but also of social scientific and even humanistic pursuits to the extent that they can be oriented to the market. To this extent, the future of the university should provoke widespread social concern. Add to this the fact that the university has in recent years changed to such a degree that it hardly resembles what previous generations experienced under that name.

The corporate university has been waging a battle for some years now against the remaining features of the public university. The major means of this battle has been fiscal. Public funding of universities has consistently fallen for decades now and major issues about the functioning and purposes of the university need to be addressed. This fall in government funding has gone hand in hand with seeing education as simply an aid to the individual in confronting the job market, so that any larger social or public purposes lose their purchase. University administrations, on the whole, have avoided addressing larger questions of the social role of education or the current restructuring of the university directly because of their bureaucratic, rather than political, approach to university functioning. They have presented the new fiscal environment as an inescapable force that has inevitably turned them toward corporate sources of funding.

The university used to exist in a complex, double relationship to the modern state and the capitalist economy - in one sense dependent on them for resources and support and in another sense independent enough to make the claim to know the whole. The university was clearly inside society as a social institution dependent on other, more powerful institutions. But it was also outside society in the sense that its partial independence provided a standpoint from which the whole of society, history and nature could be represented as a form of knowledge. Knowledge understood as an organized totality - subdivided, but unified in a structural whole - that refers to and represents the world is the specifically modern form of knowledge. Knowledge in this specifically modern form confers structure and meaning on the modern university. This location and mission of the university has changed and much discussion thus far has emphasized the social and economic, that is to say, corporate factors, that have brought this about.

In the short term, one can resist the corporate model and call on the remaining resources of regions and the nation-state to protect the legacy of the public university. But we can't turn the clock backward. The citizenship role of the public university in the national economy cannot be reinstated in the same form in a global economy. Also, changes in the storage and transmission of knowledge means that the library has passed as the center of higher learning. How can humanistic studies be saved by being transformed? How can they face these new conditions with confidence in its past and a plan for facing the future?

Corporate factors are not the only ones at work here. Institutions are also being transformed by the contemporary interpenetration of technology and science - which can be called techno-science - that has brought about changes in knowledge production and transmission. These factors are always in practice bound up with social and economic forces, but they are not reducible to them. Under any conceivable social-economic regime, the contemporary transformations of knowledge undermine the traditional structure and rationale for the university and require a new, creative response - that is to say, techno-science is a product of modern society and not just of capitalism. These changes were well summed up in the recent statement by a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) official: "the university has lost its monopoly on the creation of knowledge." But this is a negative statement, a summary of what is no longer the case. Difficult as it is in a time of transition such as our own, real understanding requires some positive, content-filled account of the transformations that are underway.

The double, inside/outside relationship of the modern university to society meant that the university was both a social institution and a relatively independent standpoint from which the whole (of society, history and nature) could be represented in the form of knowledge. The end of the double relationship means that the university is in danger of being subsumed within society to become exclusively, one-sidedly, a servant of social interests. We can see emerging a university thoroughly immersed in socio-technical networks identical with those of the society as a whole. This indistinction between university and society implies the end of a standpoint from which one can represent the whole in the form of knowledge and the beginning of the production of forms of knowledge that have a directly social function. Knowledge-production becomes an action alongside other actions rather than a representation of the whole field of action.

The classic modern university, in its commitment to teaching and research, was based in the modern concept of knowledge: knowledge divided into specialized domains and yet unified in the role of enlightenment within the individual. The educated individual thus could participate rationally as a citizen in democratic self-government. The social role of knowledge is not imposed on the university from without, but is rooted in its own mission. But the specialization of contemporary research, the multiple and diverse applications to which it gives rise, its centrality to economic gain, can no longer be held within the precarious unity of its classical form. We live in a knowledge society, not only with the knowledge-based university and, while social application is constant and unproblematic, the question becomes whether there is any standpoint from which one can think the whole of society, history and nature.

In recent years, the idea of a network has come into increasingly common use in the social sciences and humanities. It is used both as a description of new social and technical relationships and also as an image, or metaphor, for the structure of society as a whole. The network society is that society in which information has become the dominant mode for the storage, processing, transmission and reception of knowledge. Here, we must be careful to understand knowledge not in the modern way as the representation of the world, but as a constitutive component of it. Knowledge, as externalized in technologies based in information, has become a central component of the process of production. The technology of information is not an isolated phenomenon, but is the active force shaping social possibilities in its own image. Also, information is pervasive, based on a networking logic, flexible and characterized by the convergence of technologies into an integrated system. The network society relegates hierarchy, control and repression to merely local features of the system and operates on a logic of linking and horizontal transfer.

It is no accident that the network, with its transversal flows and absence of hierarchy, for many commentators represents a utopia of social equality, a utopia that seems today to be within our grasp. For others, the loss of reflexivity and the lack of a standpoint from which to judge the whole is a symptom of decline. It is commonplace these days to style the latter as simply conservative and the former as simply liberal or progressive, but the situation is actually more complex. The question of the future of the university can be honed into two issues: What is the role of the university when it becomes one of many producers of knowledge in the form of technical innovation to the network? Is there a standpoint for reflexion from which the network can be described and evaluated for what it is? In a nutshell, what remains of the university's commitment to public knowledge and to social reflexion when it is reduced to being a node within a network?

It is important to keep in mind that while the network is transversal rather than hierarchical, an open rather than a closed system, that does not mean that it has eliminated social conflict and disagreement. The network is constantly changing due to the continuous introduction of new technologies that require changes in social organization. The manner of this social organization is not predetermined and is often subject to social contestation. In short, every new addition to the network raises more than one possibility of its incorporation; the actual manner of its incorporation advantages one group over another. Network society is thus traversed by social movements that struggle with established powers over the direction of innovations. There are many of these movements. Network society is not based on one basic social struggle or conflict, but upon an open-ended series of conflicts that are pointed out and addressed by a plurality of social movements.

In fact, it is even a more basic matter than social movements. Because the network is constantly changing, it destabilizes the identities of those who work and live within it, leading to a search for a viable identity within the current state of the network. This anxiety about identity within the network is what coalesces within social movements and drives them to contest specific innovations. The network is criss-crossed by power relations such that struggles over identity influence the actual form of innovations. Each of these movements poses issues about how to understand the current state of the network. These issues have entered the university and pose interesting philosophical and political questions for thinkers. This independence yet relationship between social movements and university-based researchers and teachers is the most interesting new phenomenon that has kept the university alive as a publicly relevant institution. The notion of the public is no longer confined to the political institutions of representative democracy, but has become a space of social reflexivity over the form of innovation and its relation to established and emergent powers. The university exercises its best contemporary role when it brings thoughtful reflection to bear on such public issues.

Rather than describe the phenomena that disturb the equilibrium of the network in detail, I would like to emphasize the logic of such disruption, since it is from these sources that the contemporary university can keep alive its public relevance: Continuous innovation in the network produces an anxiety about identity that leads to a search for identity with both individual and social dimensions. Social movements raise public issues about the current state of the network that can be usefully explored by university-based researchers and influence the public through their teaching, writing and expressions in other media. While the network appears to be a seamless pattern of transversal relations, it is actually a tensional pattern in which each relationship can be opened to public debate. What is going on when this occurs?

Let us look at the bit of information from which the network society is built. The bit of information is closed in upon itself, but open to an infinity of potential relationships. Similarly, network society does not offer a stable identity to its participants, but enlists them in a constantly changing set of relationships. But simply adding on more relationships does not constitute an identity. An identity is constructed when bits of information are connected into a meaningful whole. Such a meaningful whole can only be constructed when one's specific location in the network becomes the locus of a totalization, a vision of the whole. To state it in a formula: a node becomes an identity insofar as it embraces its place. Information becomes localized as knowledge, which is ultimately self-knowledge; the infinite spatio-temporality of the network becomes the lived time in place of a specific identity. This is the contemporary form of self-reflexion that could ground a new concept of enlightenment.

Information treats knowledge as a completed thing rather than an ongoing search. Even though the production process of knowledge disappears into information, it still takes place in the network society, though off stage, as it were, in the struggle for identity. The network is parasitic on the production of knowledge that it uses as information. Actually, one needs to distinguish two notions of knowledge here: it is certainly possible to produce new innovations through following out the implications of information already present in the network. However intelligent one might have to be to do this, it is confined to the recombination of existing information. Knowledge production, in the pregnant sense in which I am describing it here, refers to the meaningful whole from which bits of information are derived. In this sense, it is inseparable from the construction of identity. The anxiety about identity produced by the network thus motivates a search for self-knowledge that can produce new knowledge and not simply recombinations of information. It is not by attempting to restore a monopoly of knowledge that the university can find a contemporary public function, but by taking seriously the anxiety about identity and entering into the production of self-knowledge. At this point, the contemporary function of the university reaches back to touch its humanistic roots. The search for self-knowledge initiated by Socrates can take on a social function in the network society.

Ian Angus is a philosopher and social critic who teaches humanities at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. This is an excerpt from his recent book "Love the Questions: University Education and Enlightenment," published by Arbeiter Ring Publishing, which can be found here. His earlier book, "Emergent Publics: An Essay on Social Movements and Democracy," is from the same publisher.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Premier Gordon Campbell's Site C dam

Premier Gordon Campbell's Site C dam is starting to look like a done deal
By Charlie Smith

Illustration shows what the 60-metre-high Site C dam would look like on the Peace River near Fort St. John.

Don't kid yourself. Premier Gordon Campbell may have decided to build the Site C hydroelectric dam around the same time as then-B.C. Progress Board chairman David Black recommended doing this in a newspaper article back in April 2004.

But it wasn't going to help Campbell's northeastern MLAs by announcing this before the 2005 or the 2009 elections.

With the last election out of the way, Campbell will likely declare on Monday (April 19) that his government is moving to the third of a five-stage process that will determine the future of the proposal.

This will create an impression among some that this is not a done deal.

This third stage, which is expected to last two years, involves dealing with regulatory issues and the environmental assessment of the project.

Keep in mind that in Campbell's B.C., environmental assessments never thwart major capital projects. Especially ones as big as the Site C dam, which will cost up to $6.6 billion and would flood the Peace River valley between the Peace Canyon Dam and the point where the Peace and Moberly rivers connect.

And if the B.C. Utilities Commission gets in the way--like it did with run-of-river power projects--a Campbell-led government will likely change the law to ensure that the Site C dam will still go ahead.

That will be followed by stage four (detailed design and engineering) and stage five (construction).

The 1,100-metre-long Site C dam would be located seven kilometres southwest of Fort St. John, and would generate enough electricity for about 460,000 homes. Behind it would be an 83-kilometre reservoir, which would flood approximately 5,340 hectares.

Even though this will be one of the biggest announcements of Campbell's political career, the Site C dam wasn't even mentioned in the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources service plan this year.

Here are some things I'll be watching for in Monday's announcement:

* Whether Campbell will admit that the power generated by the Site C dam will be used to help companies extract bitumen from the Alberta tar sands, which would belie any claims that this is a green energy project.

* Whether Campbell will provide reporters with an estimate of how much energy generated from the Site C dam will cost per kilowatt-hour.

* Whether Campbell will link the pending environmental assessment of the Site C dam to concerns about peak oil, which is a topic he has steadfastly avoided discussing while promoting the Gateway roadbuilding program in Metro Vancouver.

Related article: Peace River power play over potential Site C dam

Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at


B.C. to press ahead on Peace dam
By Tom Fletcher - BC Local News

Published: April 18, 2010 3:00 PM
Updated: April 18, 2010 3:47 PM

Premier Gordon Campbell and Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom are headed north to the W.A.C. Bennett dam Monday, for an announcement widely expected to be moving ahead with the Site C hydroelectric dam.

The announcement, set for 11:30 a.m. at the dam near Fort St. John, features a satellite feed for live television coverage.

The B.C. government signaled its intentions for the proposed third dam on the Peace River in February's throne speech, which promised major transmission line upgrades to Alberta, Saskatchewan and the United States. Extension of the grid will connect the booming natural gas industry in northeastern B.C., and allow clean energy exports, the government said in its agenda-setting speech for the year.

Lekstrom has had a report from BC Hydro since December on the project, which has been studied on and off for decades. He is expected to send the project to environmental assessment, the third stage of a five-stage process that will extend for several more years.

BC Hydro's latest estimate of the project cost is between $5 billion and $6.6 billion, but much of the engineering work was done 25 years ago. New site work and community consultations were done for phase two.

Site C would flood a reservoir more than 9,000 hectares in size, narrowly confined to the river valley downstream of the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon dams. Its 60-metre-high dam and six generating units would recover more energy from water already held upstream, and generate one third as much power as the W.A.C. Bennett dam with a reservoir one 20th the size of Williston Lake.

The B.C. government has also promised new clean energy legislation this year that will simplify the regulatory process for independent power projects. Earlier, it required BC Hydro to obtain new energy from contracted private facilities, but confirmed that if Site C is built it would be owned and operated by the Crown corporation.