Wednesday, September 06, 2006


from Betty

Betty waiting to retrieve her belongings outside of Alouette Women's Prisonafter her August 2nd release.

[photo credit:]

Vancouver, September 6th, 2006
by Betty Krawczyk

Okay, so maybe pissed isnt a nice word for a great-grandmother to be using but I find I dont care, nice is not what is happening. To any of us. Not to prisoners, the press, and/or the public at large. Prisoners are being mistreated at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women and the press is not allowed in to report it. Are the women being beaten?

Yes and no. Not with whips, but with privatization of the prison. Women are required to work at Alouette as do I when Im there. Prisoners pay? Two dollars and fifty cents a day. Thats a day, not an hour. Before privatization, women prisoners were paid four dollars and fifty cents a day. Cut it in half, was Campbells solution. And privatize everything. Including the food. Especially the food. Eggs? Well, we wont have to worry about cholesterol. Two eggs a week. Fruit? Four pieces a week. Milk? A little powdered milk poured out of a pitcher by an attendant on a half a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a cup (thats a cup, not a glass) of powdered milk for supper. Meat, when there is any, has been frozen for awhile (a long while, I know freezer burn when I see it) and sometimes cant even be cut with the plastic knives. And the paucity of fresh vegetables is a crime. There were ten pregnant women in that prison when I left August 2 and the diet fed to them (the regular with only slight modifications) is outrageous. But this is a private food service and the company has to make a profit out of the prisoners.

Prisons have become a business and the canteen is also privatized. All of the items on the canteen list cost more than they would outside and they are of the cheapest, poorest quality available. And the beauty of this arrangement for the private company is that the ruling of the Attorney General and Solicitor General is that they wont allow anything to be brought into the prison for the inmates, anything at all. Everything the women need or want has to be bought from the canteen or done without. Isnt this a lovely set up for the canteen company? A captive group of women who are forced to buy the crappiest brands of everything for inflated prices. And thats not all.

Due to a sweetheart deal with Telus, we at Alouette (and Ill be back there soon as my trial begins on Sept.18 and Madam Justice Brown wants to teach me a lesson) must pay ninety cents for a local phone call. Thats a local phone call, one that would cost a quarter on the outside. But women who make two dollars and fifty cents a day must pay ninety cents for a local phone call. Theres more, but I want to get to how Campbell handles members of the press who request prison interviews.

Just before I was released from Alouette a reporter from the Georgia Straight came and took some photos of me sitting in front of a blank wall. He was told by prison authorities in no uncertain terms to delete the photos and after he left I was advised that in the future there would be no more private interviews which meant that any reporter who wanted an interview would have to come in during regular visiting hours. The hitch is that there are no private visits. Visits take place in a communal hall, one crowded room, lots of noise, no privacy. And no visitor can bring in anything for the visit, not even a pencil or writing pad. And that means reporters, too.

So freedom of the press seems about like my own freedom to protest, just swallow the lies and dont do anything to upset Gordon Campbell and his offices and the courts. However, in the final analysis freedom of the press is up to the press, both main stream and alternate. To honestly have freedom of the press, the press has to demand access to wherever that want to go that is paid for by taxpayers, to investigate whatever they want to investigate that the public pays for, to film whatever they want to film that is built and paid for with taxpayer funds. Thats enshrined in our constitution, for Petes sake.

Betty Krawczyk

contact: | 604.255.4427
For up to date news by betty, please see her blog:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Four dead in Lebanon 'assassination' bid

Tuesday 05 September 2006, 21:20 Makka Time, 18:20 GMT

The bomb went off in the village of Rimaila near Sidon

A Lebanese intelligence officer investigating the murder of Rafiq al-Hariri, the former prime minister, has been wounded in an bomb attack that left four of his bodyguards dead.

Lieutenant-Colonel Samir Shehade and three other men were wounded when an explosion ripped through their convoy as it left the town of Rmeileh, about 30km south of Beirut early on Tuesday.

Ahmed Fatfat, the Lebanese interior minister, said the blast was caused by a roadside bomb loaded with nails.

The attack came 10 days ahead of the release of a report on al-Hariri's assassination, which Western countries suspect was the work of Syria.

A massive blast killed al-Hariri and 22 other people on February 14 last year.

In September last year, Shehade, the deputy director of the internal security force's intelligence unit, directed the arrest of four top Lebanese intelligence officials believed to have been involved in al-Hariri's murder.

Lebanese security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said Shehade had received threats because of his work in the al-Hariri probe.

Al-Hariri's son, Saad Hariri, a prominent lawmaker in Lebanon, called the attack a terrorist act.

"This is a message which we reject," he said.

Syrian denial

Fares Soueid, a former parliamentarian and Saad Hariri ally, said the attack was aimed at sabotaging the creation of an international tribunal over al-Hariri's assassination.

Syria has denied any responsibility for the killings, but has come under heavy international pressure to co-operate with the investigations.

An international outcry over the murder of al-Hariri forced Syria, which had dominated Lebanese politics for three decades, to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in April 2005.

Since then, relations between the two neighbouring countries have soured considerably, and leaders of the anti-Syrian majority that emerged in parliamentary elections two months later have repeatedly claimed they fear for their lives.