Monday, CrimesStoppers received an anonymous threat that Drew Butler was planning to shoot up the Mic Mac Mall, and people responded as we would expect they would: the mall closed for the day, nearby schools went into “hold and release” mode, and a police SWAT team descended upon Butler’s apartment, busting down doors and holding scary guns to people’s heads. The only problem: Butler wasn’t planning anything.
Butler had been busted for stealing over a hundred cars to joyride as a teenager, and for possession of an illegal weapon he had never used. He served six years in prison, and was profiled in a Coast piece last month about the use of solitary confinement in prison, which amounts to legalized torture. He was released from prison in December and by all appearances is now just a hapless ex-con trying to get on with his life, living with his sister, trying to find a job. Monday, he had spent most of the day playing a video game, Call of Duty.
After the cops busted down Butler’s door and brought Butler, his sister, and her boyfriend downtown to be interrogated, they figured out the CrimeStopper’s “tip” was bogus, and they released the trio, bringing them home. Writes Jacob Boon:
[Butler] knows all the details of the anonymous police tip because during the raid the cops accidentally left behind the documents. “We found them on the floor.”
I spoke with Butler around 10:30 last night when I got home. He read some of the details of the Crime Stoppers tip, which included photos of him seemingly pulled from his Facebook. We both found it strange the police would leave that information behind. Near the end of our call, there was a knock at his door. Two plainclothes officers had come back for the misplaced paperwork.
Turns out, giving bogus tips to CrimeStoppers with the goal of getting a SWAT team to descend on someone’s home is a regular thing, called “swatting.” And it’s especially associated with people playing the video game Call of Duty. Explains the Associated Press:
Authorities say the hoax that initially targeted celebrities has now become a way for players of combat-themed video games to retaliate against opponents while thousands of spectators watch. The perpetrators can watch their hijinks unfold minute by minute in a window that shows a live video image of other players.
“It’s like creating your own episode of ‘Cops,’” said Dr. John Grohol, a research psychologist who studies online behavior, referring to the long-running reality TV show that follows officers on patrol.
As we’ve learned from anonymous online commenting, anonymity leads inevitably to trolling, and now people are trolling CrimeStoppers. Needless to say, this is incredibly dangerous. A SWAT team in action presents danger all around. Even the most innocent, nonviolent person targeted by a SWAT raid might make an inadvertent motion that could result in being shot. A targeted person might be armed and not aware the people invading his house are police, and fire at them. Innocent bystanders could be endangered.
But now that people are aware of swatting, it will be used increasingly by the sorts of people cluttering up online comment sections with their ugliness. People will target their ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, the neighbour who runs the lawn mower at 7am, their political opponents — if CrimeStoppers gets a tip that Mike Savage is being held hostage in his basement, out come the stormtroopers. Cops can respond to CrimeStopper trolling in one of two ways: They can ignore CrimeStopper tips, which makes CrimeStoppers irrelevant, or they can break through the anonymity of CrimeStoppers in order to track down the swatters, in which case people will stop calling in tips. Either way, it’s the end of CrimeStoppers.
Here’s a video of a Call of Duty player named Kootra getting swatted:
2. Racial profiling
Andrella David testified before the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission yesterday, relating her experience of being racially profiled. Reports the Chronicle Herald:
The incident in question happened May 26, 2009, when David ran into the Tantallon Sobeys to buy her daughter ice cream.
While she stood in line to pay, a store employee — Jenny Barnhill —walked up and accused David of stealing from the store every Tuesday evening and threatened to have her charged if she did it again.
“You must have confused me with someone else,” David said she told Barnhill.
When the employee insisted she had caught David on video pilfering goods on May 19, David demanded to be shown the footage.
“The only thing (the woman in the security video) has in common with me is she’s black and I’m black, but she’s darker-skinned than me,” David said.
“I couldn’t believe that she couldn’t tell that wasn’t me.”
David said that while she was in the store’s security room, Barnhill suggested she was living on welfare and insulted her community.
“You people from Pockwock Road are known for stealing,” David recalled Barnhill saying.
3. Ashley MacLean-Kearse
CTV interviews Ashley MacLean-Kearse, the 18-year-old woman who was shot in a home invasion in Cole Harbour last year and paralyzed from the chest down. “That’s my goal, is to go to prom: get done up, stand up in my dress and I am going to be just like everybody else,” she said.
I talked to Jon Eppell, the engineer in charge of the Macdonald Bridge redecking project, to find out why the bridge needs to be rebuilt in the first place.
5. Pedestrian collision stats
While fewer pedestrians were struck by vehicles in January of this year than in January of last year — 24 compared to 27 — two of the pedestrians hit this January were killed, making the “improvement” not so noteworthy.
In 15 of the 27 incidents, no one was charged. In nine others, drivers were issued tickets. No pedestrians were given tickets, but a couple of years ago some kid stepped off the corner a little too early and startled you as you were driving, so let’s make this all about stupid pedestrians and their iPhones.
6. Wild Kingdom
A shift report to reporters from police sergeant Don Mosher:
At approximately 12:30 am on March 5, 2015 two Halifax Regional Police officers where conducting a patrol in the area of Bishop’s Landing in Halifax. The officers were flagged down to assist a woman whom had located a young harbor seal which had taken shelter underneath her parked vehicle. Smelling something fishy the officers took matters in hand and located the silly seal as it was taking a leisurely stroll down the middle of Lower Water Street. Concerned for its safety, the officers used some gentle persuasion and reassurance, wrapped the whiskered sushi lover in a blanket, and carefully assisted it back to its harbor home. Before swimming away it gave the officers it’s seal of approval.
1. Ocean Terminals and the South End rail cut
Using Brad Johns’ talking Christmas tree as a jumping off point, Sean Gillis talks about placemaking:
Instead of gimmicks and consumer goods, we should be working on making year round places that people love. Placemaking is all about working with communities to build great public spaces and community identity. Unlike talking trees, it takes years and decades to make a good place. You can’t just call up a placemaker and order a nice, unique place. As long as we think a quick project or two can create a good place, we’ll keep making mistakes and ending up with ho-hum places, or even places that really don’t work. This particular attempt at ‘placemaking’ is one of the sillier mistakes, but the thinking that one big thing will make a place stand out is all too common.
3. Cranky letter of the day
In response to Ranka Bulajic (School board hiding behind kids’ safety, March 4), there is a huge difference between living here and living in Fort McMurray or even Toronto.
Weather conditions can be deplorable in Atlantic Canada. We have rain, then snow, then more rain and snow. This makes for very slippery sidewalks and roads.
Although the Cape Breton Regional Municipality does its best, the sidewalks are usually the last to be cleared — and when they are, lo and behold, more rain and snow.
It is not safe for children to walk on these sidewalks, and they are forced to walk on the roads. And that’s even more dangerous.
Not all children benefit from taking a school bus
Although some parents may be able to drive their children to school, they may not be able to pick them up. Also, many parents have shifts that start earlier in the morning and are not able to drive their children to school at all
I am not a teacher. I am a grandmother who believes that the school board has been entrusted with a great responsibility — the safety of all children in the area covered by the school board.
I agree with any school cancellations made because roads are deemed too slippery, and even because of extreme temperatures.
Unfortunately, the school board does not have a crystal ball. And we sometimes end up with a fine snow day. School board officials are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
As well, if school is not cancelled and some parents decide not to send their children, the teachers have to teach a class with students missing. What would be the point of that?
I realize school cancellations are a concern for parents who have to make other child-care arrangements.
However, the safety of our children — our most precious gift — cannot be taken lightly
When school is cancelled, Grammie has three little boys to look after. It can be trying at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for looking after my precious little ones.
Anne Marie Campbell, Sydney
The archipelago of ‘100 Wild Islands’ represents approximately 7,000 acres of near-shore islands along Halifax’s Eastern Shore, between Taylor Head Provincial Park, to the north, and Clam Harbour Beach Provincial Park, to the south (see Attachment 1). The span between Provincial parks is over 30 kilometres along Highway 7.
This series of islands include boreal rainforests, bogs, barrens, white-sand beaches, coves, 250 kilometres of undisturbed shoreline, over 100 species of seabirds and songbirds, both migratory and year-round residents, among other fauna and flora. It is described by the campaign as, “one of the last remaining intact and ecologically rich island groups of its size in North America”, and which, “have been largely undisturbed by humans for over 10,000 years.”
In addition to environmental, park and open space benefits, the islands are deemed (by the Nature Trust) to be an asset through which ecotourism, economic development, and health and wellness objectives, may be leveraged along the eastern shore. The Nature Trust indicates that the tourism sector, ACOA, and the eastern shore Chamber of Commerce, are engaged in promoting the area and the islands.
Staff argues that while the Nature Trust’s campaign is worthy:
Despite the environmental benefits of preserving the 100 Wild Islands, the municipality’s participation ought to be rationalized against the fact that there is currently no budget allocated for this matter.
Standing Committee on Economic Development (9:30am, Room 233A, Johnston Building)—Jordi Morgan, from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and Nancy Conrad, from the Chamber of Commerce, will tell the committee we should do away with business taxes and regulations and become a free market paradise, like Somalia.
Fishes (Thursday, 3:30pm, 5th floor Biology Lounge, LSC)—Jeff Hutchings will talk about “Correlates of Rate and Uncertainty of Recovery in Marine Fishes.”
CNIB Dining in the dark (Thursday, 5pm, Dalhousie McInnes Room, 6136 University Ave)—To reserve a seat, contact Laura Kennedy at 902.453.1480 ext. 5727.
Biomedical Visions (Thursday, 7pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery)—next in the ongoing series, Richard Brown will discuss “Art and Neuroscience” and Jock Murray will talk about “Teaching the History of Medicine using Great Art Works.”
Energy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Auditorium, McCain building)—next in the ESS lecture series:
Simon Sylvester-Chaudhuri is the founder of TechFlo, a commercialization startup aimed at helping innovative companies make the world and its cities smarter, safer and healthier. Previously, he was an innovator with NYC ACRE — The New York City Accelerator for a Clean and Resilient Economy.
Planetarium show (Thursday, 7:15pm, Room 120, Dunn Building)—”It’s Not Spring Yet!” by Pat Kelly:
While March contains the first day of spring, as the Sun sets the winter constellations including many of the night’s brightest stars are high in sky. This March these stars are joined by two bright planets: Venus and Jupiter!
Five bucks at the door; reservations viaastronomynovascotia.ca. Well-behaved kids over eight years old are welcome, but leave the screaming sort out in the car.
Perovskite Solar Cells (Friday, 1:30pm, Chemistry Room 226)—Timothy Kelly, from the University of Saskatchewan, will talk about “Perovskite Solar Cells: from device fabrication to device degradation.” Bring your own sun.
Elmwood (Friday, 3:30pm, Marion McCain Building, Room 1170)—Martha Walls, from Mount Saint Vincent University, will talk about “History of Elmwood: Coercion, Interference, Gender and he Disestablishment of the New Germany Indian Reserve.”
I’ve driven through Elmwood before, but had no idea of its history:
In March 1934, Caroline Beeler, a student at a rural school in Elmwood, Nova Scotia, submitted to her eighth-grade teacher an assignment titled “History of Elmwood.” Part family tree and part community history, Caroline’s narrative recounts how her great-great grandfather, Englishman Thomas Hammond, the “Father of the Elmwood settlement,” founded her small Nova Scotia farming town. Beeler’s story, however, is more than a simple settler saga, and a competing narrative emerges featuring her great-great grandmother, “an Indian Chief’s daughter” named Madeline Pennall In documenting her great-grandmother’s past, Beeler reveals the Mi’kmaw roots of Elmwood; it was, she wrote, home to people “alive with Indian instinct” and in whose “veins flowed the trace of Native blood.” In pages decorated with a motif of wigwams and feather-shafted arrows, Caroline simultaneously celebrates and disparages her Mi’kmaw ancestors, emphasizing their rapid transformation into hearty pioneers with “hardly any Indian Trace.”
Caroline Beeler’s project was more than merely a young girl’s weaving together of strands of her family and community histories. It also symbolized a recent legal transformation of her community. Just weeks before she submitted her project, Beeler’s community had been formally regarded as New Germany Indian Reserve 19A. Its residents, including Beeler’s family, were classified under law as “Indians” and were subject to the provisions of the federal Indian Act. By the March due date of Beeler’s school assignment, however, New Germany Reserve 19A had been disestablished – the community and its residents lost their “Indian” status and Ottawa revoked all federal services. With the 1934 sale of land to residents at $1 per acre, Indian Reserve 19A was reborn as Elmwood, a community of Canadian citizen taxpayers that was legally indistinguishable from any other Nova Scotia town.
The disestablishment of the New Germany Reserve, a process that began in the 1910s and came to fruition in 1934, offers an opportunity to investigate the myriad of forces that shaped Canadian Indian policy in the opening decades of the twentieth century.
Much more, here.
I’m going to watch/listen to this video as I do my morning social media routine.
In the harbour
I’m terribly behind on everything. Don’t take my lack of response to your email personally.