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Svend Robinson acclaimed by NDP
Last Updated: Dec 5 2005 10:16 AM PST - CBC British Columbia
It's now official. Former MP Svend Robinson is the NDP candidate in Vancouver Centre after being acclaimed at a nomination meeting on Sunday.
He's running against incumbent Liberal MP Hedy Fry – in an effort to return to the House of Commons where he sat as the MP for Burnaby-Douglas for 25 years.
INDEPTH: Svend Robinson profile
The veteran politician – Canada's first openly gay MP – had been a member of Parliament since 1979 until he resigned in disgrace last year after admitting he had stolen an expensive ring from an auction house.
Saying he had been battling severe stress, he pleaded guilty in court to charge of theft over $5,000 and was given a conditional discharge, which means he has no criminal record.
He then went to work for the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union.
FROM OCT. 20, 2005: Svend Robinson ready to launch comeback
In October, he announced he was planning his political comeback, and that he planned to seek the NDP nomination to challenge Fry who has won four consecutive elections dating back to 1993.
Robinson has said the stolen ring incident wouldn't have happened if he didn't have bipolar disorder – and that there is still too much stigma attached to mental illness.
He says his own illness wouldn't prevent him from being a competent MP, and says he plans to fight for the rights of the mentally ill if elected.
FROM OCT. 26, 2005: Svend Robinson speaks about illness
Robinson comeback adds spice to B.C. race
Riding expected to be tight contest
Same-sex marriage just one issue
Dec. 5, 2005. 01:00 AM
WESTERN CANADA BUREAU - Toronto Star
VANCOUVER—Sommelier Andrew Melville knows what he likes in the world of wine.
But when it comes to the choices he's faced with in next month's election, the 25-year-old resident of Vancouver's West End is finding the selections much less palatable.
"It's not so much that I like the Liberals," Melville said of the party likely to get his vote again this time. "I just think that they're probably the best of three bad options."
Hardly a ringing endorsement. But in Vancouver Centre, one of the most hotly contested ridings in this cold-weather election, every vote will be important to the candidates.
Liberal incumbent Hedy Fry, who has held the seat since ousting Progressive Conservative prime minister Kim Campbell in 1993, is facing former long-time NDP MP Svend Robinson, attempting a comeback after his guilty plea for theft of a pricey ring last year.
Lawyer and geologist Tony Fogarassy is running for the Conservatives, who are looking to win back a seat held by the Tories from 1980 until 1993.
In a riding with one of the largest percentages of gay residents in Canada, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's commitment, made just hours into the campaign, to reopen the same-sex marriage debate and put it to another vote in Parliament could be expected to have quashed Fogarassy's chances. And, without question, the pledge has angered many in this riding, reaffirming to them Harper is the scary, intolerant guy his critics claim.
But many others argue that different issues — health care, crime, taxes, government corruption and homelessness — will have much more of an impact on how they vote. Besides, they say, it's not as though Harper's position on same-sex marriage is a surprise.
"It's a non-issue for me," said Melville, who supports the Liberals' legislation but added he'll vote for the party because of their handling of the economy, not the same-sex law.
Diana, 55, a provincial government employee who refused to give her last name, agreed the issue has no resonance with her. Punishing the Liberals for their scandals is much more of a key, she said.
"It's time to get them out for somebody new," said Diana, labelling herself undecided but noting Harper's plan to cut the GST to 5 per cent "will help out for a lot of people."
Jim Deva, a long-time gay activist and West End resident, said he thinks Harper's raising of the same-sex issue at the outset of the campaign was a smart tactical move geared to core Conservative voters.
"There's a concern about turnout, especially among seniors, in a winter campaign," said Deva, an NDP supporter. "Harper started out that way so that we in the liberal centre will kind of forget about it by the time the election comes, but those he counts on will have circled their calendar to make sure that they get out there to save the world."
Deva said he expects a close, three-way race in Vancouver Centre. Unlike the last election, when Fry won by 4,200 votes over the NDP candidate, he doesn't expect the Liberals "to be able to scare people into voting for them" by making Harper look evil.
Fogarassy, 45, a married father of two, said the desire for a change in government, the need to finally address the shortfalls in health care and getting tough on crime will prove much more important to voters here than Harper's reopening of the same-sex debate.
"Let me be clear. I support same-sex marriage and I would think that the majority of Vancouver Centre residents do as well," he said.
His opponents agree it shouldn't be an issue but make it clear Harper has made it one.
Fry, 64, who a few years ago was criticized for falsely claiming crosses were burning on lawns in Prince George, B.C., said she's relying on her "solid record" for the riding and the Liberal government's successes on the economy and social programs. She also took a shot at Harper's plans to reopen the same-sex debate, calling it "a ridiculous thing to be your number one policy announcement" of the election campaign.
Robinson, 53, who was Canada's first openly gay MP, said it's clear Harper "is out of touch with the values of Canadians" on the issue because they have put it behind them.
Website of Svend Robinson
パロディ映像制作で警官に停職処分～サンフランシスコ市警 - USフロントライン
San Francisco Chronicle
'Cops' gone wild
Friday, December 9, 2005
THE BEST that can be said for the San Francisco police officers involved in the video scandal is that they are oblivious in the extreme, which alone should disqualify them for a job that requires judgment, perceptiveness and the packing of a deadly weapon.
Even if they did think their sophomoric "spoof" on police work was show-stopping funny -- more on that disturbing notion later -- have these cops been living in a cave for the past generation? Are they really so cloistered or just plain thick that they failed to notice what has happened to others in the public eye who have tried to get cheap laughs at the expense of women and minorities?
The cops-gone-wild videos come not even six months after the San Francisco 49ers had to go into full-tilt damage control because their public-relations genius cooked up a bawdy "training video" for players that presented women as sex objects and included offensive caricatures of gays and Asians.
This video scandal is far more serious because of the nature of the profession. The 49ers are in the entertainment business, current on-field evidence notwithstanding. San Franciscans who are offended by their actions have the option to ignore them or refuse to buy tickets and memorabilia. The San Francisco Police Department is funded by taxpayers to carry out the solemn duty of protecting and serving the people of this city -- with fairness and professionalism.
Every time one of these insensitivity scandals arises, apologists for the perpetrators will invariably counter-accuse the critics of being humorless. The video-hamming cops were quick to point out that they also poked fun at themselves. Still, the suitability of jokes about sex and race is all about context. It is simply not funny for a police commander to clown about his sexual desire for his subordinates, for a male officer to banter about forcing a female driver to pose for his leering pleasure or for cops to generally treat women and minorities as fodder for ridicule.
Chief Heather Fong and Mayor Gavin Newsom were right to take a strong stand against such boorishness in the force. The immediate suspensions of the officers sent a fittingly strong message.
As Newsom noted, the video once again raises the larger question of how to break a culture of hubris that leads certain factions within the department to think they can operate within their own rules. Two years ago, the "Fajitagate" scandal -- about young cops as off-duty bullies and the efforts of high-level brass to help cover their tracks -- offered an ugly portrait of a department that had lost its way. Then-Mayor Willie Brown's shoulder-shrugging response was highly instructive about how such a culture was allowed to incubate.
Today, a new mayor and new chief are showing their seriousness about establishing a police force that earns the public's respect by showing respect for the public.
Page B - 6
Dec. 7 - SFPD
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Contact: Mayor’s Office of Communications
**** STATEMENT ***
Joint Statement from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong:
In the past several hours it has come to our attention that members of the San Francisco Police Department have engaged in gross misconduct while on duty. Specifically, members of the San Francisco Police Department created, participated and performed in a series of videos that have numerous instances of inappropriate and outrageous content. The content ranges from immature and vulgar to sexist, racist and homophobic.
Accordingly, the following actions have been taken:
* An immediate investigation has been undertaken by the San Francisco Police Department. In addition, the Mayor has directed the city’s Human Rights Commission and the Commission on the Status of Women to begin an investigation as well. Any findings will be directed to the appropriate entity for action.
* The information has been shared with the President of the San Francisco Police Commission for appropriate action.
* Due to the obvious and egregious conduct and misuse of department resources, approximately 20 officers will be suspended, mostly officers currently or formerly stationed at the Bayview Station. In addition, any necessary termination proceedings will be enacted pending the results of the investigations. These disciplinary actions are within the purview of the Chief of the San Francisco Police Department and the San Francisco Police Commission.
* The Police Chief will immediately begin mandatory briefings regarding appropriate workplace behavior within the department. These briefings will begin tomorrow.
* Finally, Mayor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order creating an independent Blue Ribbon Commission. The Commission will be tasked with conducting a comprehensive and thorough review of the San Francisco Police Department’s personnel polices, standards of conduct and training, as well as appropriate representations of the communities they serve.
In all cases, due process will be respected. Every officer is entitled to a swift and fair hearing. However, we cannot be clearer: this administration and this department have zero tolerance for this type of behavior.
Peer education group draws praise, criticism in AIDS fight
By YOSHIKUNI OTANI
KAWAGUCHI, Saitama Pref. (Kyodo) Yumiko Kaneko was a key figure in organizing a peer education group here 10 years ago, when junior high schools starting giving children more information about sex amid growing alarm over AIDS.
Kaneko, a 49-year-old junior high school nurse and teacher, wanted to teach minors to arm themselves with accurate information about HIV and AIDS and to convey their knowledge to fellow students.
Her group, Kawaguchi Kodomo (children's) Network, has since been working to encourage young people to learn about HIV and AIDS.
But requests for the network's assistance in teaching youth about HIV/AIDS are on the decline despite the rising number of HIV carriers across the country, particularly young people, she said.
The number of people infected with HIV or AIDS surpassed 10,000 last year, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry. The year marked a record in terms of both new carriers and patients reported to the ministry, with the number totaling 1,165.
Particularly striking is the rise in the number of infected people between the ages of 20 and 34. This age group accounted for 449 new cases, or about 58 percent of the total. Twelve teenagers were reported as infected.
One 16-year-old girl learned about the virus that causes AIDS as a member of the Kawaguchi Kodomo Network while in junior high school.
Now a high school student, she shared her knowledge with her classmates after a health education class. One friend asked her if AIDS could be transmitted by a kiss on the mouth. She replied, "It's dangerous if (a person) has a mouth wound."
The girl went on to explain that while the oral infectiousness of HIV is less than that of influenza viruses, people still need to be cautious.
Peer education is said to be effective in educating minors about AIDS because it is easier for young people to talk to people their own age about sexual matters.
The effort targets junior high school students who go to the health education room instead of attending classes, students appointed as homeroom representatives on the student body health committee, and graduates currently in high school.
Kaneko's former students meet once a month to learn how to keep from getting infected with HIV and AIDS, and to discuss how men and women can establish relationships in which they respect each other's feelings and bodies.
Some members have served as lecturers at gatherings organized by public health centers.
The number of requests for the network's assistance dropped markedly, however, after criticism of some schools for teaching children that using condoms was the safest means to keep from being infected by HIV.
The critics said teaching condom use was inappropriate because it could induce children to have sex.
Kaneko said one important objective of the network is to teach minors to establish relationships with people of different age groups, and to become more involved in society and with adults.
Students from a variety of backgrounds come to Kaneko's health education room, including a girl who punches school walls because she mistrusts her parents and another who is in distress because her mother is an alcoholic.
One 16-year-old had been an honor-roll student before she stopped attending classes in her third year at junior high. After graduating and enrolling in high school this spring, she has become more outgoing.
She attributed her transformation to having been a member of the network.
Kaneko said the girl comes to see her to borrow books and pamphlets that she wants classmates interested in AIDS and sex education to read.
In the past decade, more than 100 students have taken part in Kaneko's network, to which she devotes much of her free time.
The Japan Times: Dec. 10, 2005
San Diego trans woman dies after melee with deputies- Blade
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A transsexual woman died four days after a melee with sheriff’s deputies at the downtown jail. The coroner’s office was awaiting toxicology results before announcing a cause of death. “There is nothing to indicate that the use of force caused this death,” Sgt. Rick Empson said last week. Vanessa Facen, 35, had fought with deputies and medical personnel numerous times since she was found naked and bleeding inside her neighbor’s Spring Valley home on Nov. 17. Facen apparently climbed onto the balcony, dove through a neighbor’s glass door and tumbled down a flight of stairs. Facen, who was “covered with blood from head to toe,” opened the door for deputies, told them she was HIV-positive and appeared to be cooperating, Sgt. Paul Robbins said. Empson said an unknown number of deputies fought with Facen when she was inside the jailhouse and she stopped breathing. Although Facen had breasts and lived as a woman, the department was treating her as a man because she had male genitalia, Lt. Tom Bennett said.
In Japan, youth shall be served
By Miki Tanikawa International Herald Tribune
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2005
TOKYO Haruhiko Okamoto, president of a large and fast-growing subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp., would appear to be the model of a traditional Japanese executive. A longtime employee of Mitsubishi, the largest Japanese trading house, he has benefited from corporate customs like lifetime employment and seniority-based compensation.
But Okamoto defies tradition in one significant way: He is only 41. As the top executive at Create Restaurants, an operator of restaurants that is majority owned by Mitsubishi, Okamoto is the boss of 5,000 employees, including many senior managers in their 40s and 50s.
Just 10 years ago, strict seniority customs prevented workers at Mitsubishi from reaching the rank of senior manager, and supervising maybe 10 or 20 people, until they were at least 45. But as Japan's economy picks up the pace, even the most traditional Japanese companies are looking to younger executives to lead them to new growth and into new areas of business.
The change, part of a gradual dismantling of Japanese corporate traditions in response to economic crisis at home and globalizing forces from abroad, comes at a particularly delicate demographic juncture for Japan. Along with many developed countries, Japan has an aging population, which translates for the moment into an aging work force. As these workers approach retirement age - officially 60, but in reality much later - many can expect to find themselves working for a much younger boss.
Not surprisingly, the shift toward promoting younger executives is viewed differently on the two sides of the age divide. Younger workers are encouraged by the possibility of faster ascent, but for older workers, reporting to a younger boss can be stressful.
Internet publications and chat rooms these days are full of discussions on what to do if you get a boss many years your junior. "Have you been troubled by a younger boss?" asks the headline of an Internet magazine. "That's not uncommon these days. What would you do when you actually face such a situation?"
"The conventional promotions practice based on age is crumbling," said Masaki Utsude, a career coach in Tokyo. "And the biggest worry today is having a younger boss."
As a relatively young chief executive, Okamoto already has company at the top:
Takeshi Niinami, 45, is chief executive of Lawson, a Mitsubishi affiliate and the second largest convenience store chain in Japan after 7-Eleven, with ¥250 billion, or $2 billion, in annual revenue. He got the top job in 2003, at the age of 43.
Kenji Chishiki, 42, is president of Kanebo Cosmetics, one of the largest cosmetics companies in Japan.
Tomoyo Nonaka, 51, chief executive of Sanyo, is the first woman to head a major Japanese electronics company.
To be sure, a 40-something CEO is still the exception rather than the norm in Japan. But the trend is unmistakable. Reiji Shibata, president of Mercer Human Resource Consulting in Tokyo, said the average age of a chief executives in Japan is 55, down from over 60 a decade ago. American CEOs, on the other hand, are most commonly aged between 48 and 50, he said.
The seeds of generational change were sown during Japan's economic crisis of 1997-1998. That period, which followed the collapse of the Japanese stock market in 1990, forced many companies to consider how to cope. Some Japanese companies, including some of the biggest banks and trading houses, responded by introducing 10-year programs to promote younger staff at an accelerated pace.
"If that plan is progressing as anticipated, by 2007, I am thinking that you will start seeing more CEOs in their late 40s," Shibata said.
Management analysts and experts, and the young chief executives themselves, make the case that as Japanese companies respond to improving economic conditions at home and pressures from global competition, having a younger CEO starts to look smart.
"Business decisions must be made much faster than before," said Koji Takagi, president of Celebrain, a business strategy and human resources consultancy in Tokyo. "Things like mergers and acquisitions factor in prominently in business decisions. You must make a quick decision to buy or not or you lose the opportunity forever."
A 60-something CEO is now viewed as unable to keep up with the speed of the marketplace, and might also be more risk-averse than a younger executive. "It's questionable," Shibata said, "if you are going to be able to take a gamble for the sake of the company if you are due to receive your pension in just a few years."
Kenichi Kiso, 39, chairman of Tohato, a leading food and confectionery manufacturer, noted a "strategic disconnect" between the traditional business practices and the needs of Japanese business today.
"When the economy was growing steadily, managers could follow the same old strategy established after the Second World War," Kiso said. "But as the economy matured, they had to make fundamental strategic changes. Companies had to make major adjustments from an organizational point of view as well."
Kiso, who became chief executive of Tohato at 36, said there were young workers who, given the opportunities, would reveal their potential.
Okamoto, the president of Create Restaurants, is an example of a Japanese manager who thinks outside the box. While many restaurant companies grow by inventing a format and replicating it in many locations - think McDonald's or KFC - Create company rolls out multitudes of restaurant formats to capture the fancy of fickle Japanese diners. His company has some 220 outlets in 70 formats ranging from sushi restaurants to Italian cuisine to Hawaiian food.
"Conventional restaurants will invent a product and try to sell it," Okamoto said. "We start from the location, and then consider a package or a solution that will best utilized that venue."
Okamoto makes clear he is running the company for the investors, and he has strict financial criteria. "Each restaurant will have to earn cash flow enough to pay for the all the capital investment in two years," he said.
Since 1999, when Mitsubishi and an investment partner put up the capital to start Create, the company has grown to ¥16 billion in annual revenue. Okamoto was technically on loan to Create until 2003, when he left the parent company to join the restaurant unit. Create Restaurants trades on the Mothers' section of Tokyo Stock Exchange and has a total market capitalization of ¥77 billion.
While the record of executives like Okamoto is giving encouragement to a resurgent Japanese business sector, the phenomenon of workers getting promoted regardless of their age is creating delicate problems in the psyche of corporate workers here.
"One-year difference is a big deal," Shibata of Mercer said. At Japanese organizations, a one year difference results in the younger worker being cast as kohai, or junior, and the older one cast as senpai, or senior.
Hideaki Furuta, the president of Jomon Associates, an executive search firm, said that the desire to avoid the stress of age reversal may be one reason why most big companies - even those, like Mitsubishi, that have named younger top executives - do not have programs for promoting high achievers at a younger age. If they did, "ojisan-tachi," or older Japanese men, would "lose heart," Furuta said.
Furuta often consults with companies led by founder-CEOs who are seeking their replacement. Often, he said, the founders prefer a manager in his 40s. But the companies also have older senior executives in their 50s, and the companies worry about discouraging them.
What to do about the senior staff "is the first thing they ask me about" when considering a younger chief executive, Furuta said.
Those who work under a younger boss may seem to fit in on the surface, but often there is psychological resistance.
"You may have situations where the older guy doesn't really consider the young man as his boss," Utsude said. "You may give people titles, but things won't function in reality. Many human resources managers are studying what to do about these things."
Older workers confirm the sentiment. "Nobody wants to work under people younger than you," said a senior staff member in his late 40s at a leading Japanese electronic company that follows strict seniority practices.
The staffer, who did not want his name used, disputed surveys conducted by newspapers recently indicating that the majority of Japanese workers do not mind a younger boss as long as he is capable
"Many people like to show on the surface that they wouldn't mind, because it is a trend," the staffer said.
As in many areas of business, good management makes the difference. Kiso, the chairman of Tohato, said that when a manager says and does things that are logical, consistent and reasonable, people accept him.
"Regardless of age and gender," he said, "the question is whether are you doing things that make sense to everyone."