Obama spoke the other day about climate change: “we’re the first generation to feel the impact of climate change; we’re the last generation that can do something about it.”
Stephen Harper denies the science.
It’s about that simple.
Get used to this.
People hate Harper and his Conservatives. We will see through his weak attempt to wedge oppositions parties by running a long election campaign because he has more money to spend.
Saturation will come fast.
We will remember how much contempt he holds for people and democracy.
We will listen to his 5 non-answers to 5 media questions each day and we will be constantly reminded of how much we can’t stand what he has done to Canada.
And we will see this. Every day:
— Matt D'Amours (@mattdamours) August 2, 2015
The EU is a powerful vehicle for neoliberalism. When democracy in Greece pushes back, we see the length the EU will go to punish and control Greece.
Neoliberalism is inherently anti-democratic. Greece deserves our support. And we need to continue to oppose neoliberalism and the soft fascism in Canada [like C-51] that the Conservative and Liberal coalition have been pushing for decades.
Viewed from either side of the political spectrum, the EU looks like a disaster right now:
- The conservatives are proven correct about the way the EU takes away national sovereignty: The Greeks voted in a referendum to reject the bailout … but were forced to accept it anyway.
- And the leftists are proven correct about the way the banks control everything, and everyone else gets screwed: The Greek economy has been brought to its knees by debt, provided first by private investment banks like Goldman Sachs and then by Europe’s ruling German-French elite in the IMF and the EU. The entire bailout is structured to benefit the lending banks the most, not the people of Greece.
Suddenly, the tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists look like they were right all along!
This is the environment into which British Prime Minister David Cameron is calling for a national in/out referendum on the EU in the UK next year.
I had a hard time reading all the way through this article, the one about Translink cops terrorizing bus passengers on Friday night.
I also had a hard time reading about the two Translink cops found guilty of assault on Friday.
I’m sure it was just a coincidence that they both happened on Friday.
And I find it astonishing that Neil Dubord, the head of the Translink police [or his social media lackeys] would choose to follow my largely apolitical personal Twitter account [unless he also likes Pink Floyd and the Baltimore Orioles].
Also on Friday. More coincidence. Maybe he expected me to weigh in on why people hate his Translink cops. So here goes. Spoiler: it’s because some of them like to assault, bully and terrorize people, over $2.75.
So more broadly, why do people hate the Translink police?
When they cease to be public servants and peace keepers and begin to be terrorists.
In the post-9/11 world when a “democratic” [sic] government in Canada can pass, let alone introduce the fascist Bill C-51, which erodes our constitution, we are all, clearly, far more tolerant of totalitarianism among our authorities.
And let’s not pretend that this is just a problem with America, highlighted with the #BlackLivesMatter instances.
Why do cops assault and beat people?
Do you remember several years ago when someone thought it was a good idea to give guns to Skytrain cops? Largely to enforce $2.75 fares and $173 fare evasion tickets? But really, it’s to shoot the bad guys.
Do you remember someone decided that Translink cops in their cars could enforce a variety of laws far away from transit services? The police and RCMP are contracted to municipalities where there is civilian oversight. The Translink cops are accountable to Translink, which is a puppet of the BC government, which has been staunchly anti-accountable for virtually all of this century.
And remember when someone thought it was a good idea as well to give Skytrain cops attack dogs to hunt down the fare evaders, or sorry, bad guys? Thank all the people who lit their hair on fire about this egregious piece of lunacy; it never happened. But maybe now it will because now, if you are poor and you ask a bus driver for a free ride, and the Translink cops with their guns get on your bus for a fare check, they may beat you up, because of the $2.75 you didn’t have to pay, and because of the $173 fine they believe they are entitled to charge you, and because of the 9+ reasons above.
Then you might see Translink trotting out this terrorism justification bullshit again [emphasis is mine]:
You just have look around the world to see what is taking place and what has been targeted to see what could happen. We already see the dogs in use right here at the airport. I have not heard any protest to that. We move close to 72 million people a year, we owe it to them to do the utmost to protect them.
But when people don’t trust the violent, rageful Translink cops, why would we want them unleashing dogs on us, or the poor, or dude who literally lost his faresaver? What kind of society do we want to live in, anyway?
So, read this careful:
When the driver allows someone to have a free ride, they are not a fare evader. They do not deserve to be taken down on the concrete.
Honk if you agree.
People ask for free rides because they are poor. Many who are poor don’t ask; many who aren’t poor, do. Drivers, I expect, have been given permission to allow free rides to avoid confrontations and escalations, particularly with people who may be dangerous, which is not synonymous with the poor. Seriously, which bus driver wants to escalate and possibly get attacked over $2.75?
So if a transit employee allows someone to get a free ride, why should another transit employee get to beat them up for that.
That’s called a mindfuck. It’s not OK. But why does it happen? See the 9+ reasons above.
And if you’re wondering about one particular reason why a lot of people didn’t vote or voted no in the Translink funding blackmail referendum, it’s because a lot of people think the Translink cops are violent thugs, looking for excuses to bully and attack people.
It’s just that lots of people don’t feel comfortable coming right out and saying that’s why they don’t want to give Translink more money. Even if it’s supposed to go to “good” things, people fear the back door police state will expand with more money. After all, how much do Translink cops make, anyway…all to enforce $2.75 fares? Dozens of them make over $100,000/year.
And before you go all “not all Translink cops are fascist bullies” on me, read about #NotAllMen and save your stupid comments to yourself. I won’t post them here. Life is too short for that; get a grip.
Where is the sense of compassion, dignity and public service these days?
Where are all the Translink cops who believe in protecting, not demeaning the public? And why do they tolerate their peers ruining their reputation?
Who told the Translink cops that a $2.75 fare and a $173 ticket were entitlements to treat other human beings like less than people?
Transit should be free, for these reasons. But it’s not. Yet. And it’s the lifeline for lots of economically struggling and marginalized people. Must it also be a place of dehumanization by our civil authorities themselves?
If the Translink organization is wondering why people hate them, it isn’t just because of Skytrain or escalator breakdowns, or buses that pass us by because they’re full. In the rain. In winter.
In part, it’s because Translink employs cops who like to beat people up. And sensible people think that’s bad, a crime and corrupt.
No one wants to be terrorized on transit. Especially by the police themselves.
Translink is known for crappy note taking and accusations of falsifying evidence, and sometimes has less than reliable recording cameras on vehicles, which makes them all look like a corrupt, dodgy, amateur police force.
So we should take a page out of the #BlackLivesMatter handbook: video record every time you see a Translink cop encounter a person. Every time! Even if nothing illegal or disrespectful happens, make them know that we are all recording them.
All. The. Time. I’m not kidding.
Since they don’t all believe they are servants of the public and keepers of the police, let’s record them all with our smart phones because apparently, they need to learn that they are not above the law.
If you wonder why police are losing respect as a credible element in a peaceful, democratic, civilized society, watch this video [the slightly longer version is here].
Not only does a white shirt pepper spray an unarmed man at almost point blank range, watch what else happens.
What does society and civilization mean to YOU?
What does dignity mean to you?
— The Daily Loud (@DailyLoud) May 4, 2015
Tuesday night in the back room of The Tipper bar/bistro/restaurant on Kingsway at Victoria we are holding our Inception Meeting for a new kind of co-working space in Vancouver, one structured as a co-op.
You can read about the project in The Georgia Straight piece last week, and on the project webpage at Incipe, the consulting workers’ co-op that is spawning this co-op. Incipe, in-CHEE-pay, is Latin for “Begin!” And you can register for the [free] meeting here. And if you want to be involved and informed, you can sign up for the e-newsletter here.
We will be starting forming the community of people eager to take part in a new way of doing co-working, as equal owners of the whole enterprise instead of clients of for-profit corporate co-working spaces, which are how most of the world’s co-working spaces are run.
But considering the fact that people who work, study, think, research, and volunteer from home are often disempowered and vulnerable, they need support.
So they gravitate to co-working spaces because of possibilities of serendipity and synergy and connecting with people to envision greatness with, over coffee. Because trying to do that in a Starbucks has a slim chance of much success.
But one of the key principles of co-working is to build community. And why do we have communities? To support each other.
And, it turns out, co-ops are all about building community and supporting each other in democratic workplaces within an intentional progressive economic climate.
So there’s a natural fit to building a co-working space that is a co-op. And it’s also natural to convene the space for people who understand this, to get to know one another and start building the community so that we can all assess our collective needs, desires, dreams, visions and capacity for mutual aid and support.
From this, we will do the heavy lifting to find our co-working space.
So, consider how precarious work has become for so many people!
It has been a rough couple generations for working people, with a notable increase in precariousness of work.
Downsizing, contracting out, layoffs, people in the middle of their working lives being flung through the windows of corporate towers only to have a difficult time finding work because employers may prefer to hire much younger people.
And while many people choose the freelance, contractor, entrepreneur consultant lifestyle, many people who’ve been canned are forced into fending for themselves, trying to leverage their skills, training and experience into something useful. They are one form of the precariat: the precarious proletariat.
Others in the precariat class include young people who typically can’t get work in their fields they have trained in, or find corporate or organizational structures grotesquely tyrannical and impediments to optimizing their work-life-activism elements of existence. They end up being precariats too. Our Incipe consulting co-op itself formed out of this very dynamic!
So our goals in creating a co-working co-op space include these:
But one of the most important goals in this whole project is to recognize that workers are disempowered, disconnected and devalued. And to fix that, we need to build support networks for people. And one of the ways to do that is to build a co-working space that is co-operatively owned, just like MEC or your credit union or Modo or other small and massive co-ops around the world.
So, scroll back up to see the links to getting more information about our co-working space in development. Get involved, because we need you and your originality!
And whether you need a 24/7 space or a desk away from home for a few hours each week that costs about as much as the coffee you need to buy to camp out on Starbucks’ wifi, this ownership model is for you.
Remember, co-working is about empowerment. And so are co-ops!
When Canadians are surveyed, a very large majority of us support these public goods. But those desires get subsumed with corporate, neoliberal, right wing government-cut rhetoric.
We need to explore the political sociology of Denmark to understand how they embraced the tax commitment to provide these public goods.
We can be Denmark, but we choose not to.
We need to respin the messages from the tax-hating corporations and make the economy serve human beings better!
I’ve been watching The Book of Negroes this week. I have no words. I only recognize justice, integrity, brutality, acknowledgement, witnessing, story telling and a myriad of other foggy responses.
It’s easy to also ponder qualities of heroes.
Then I read this from earlier this week, and nodded. Do you get it?
Anishinabe Women Protest Energy East Pipeline on Family Day
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2015
‘Protect the Water, For Future Generations’: Message being shared today with local families, starting at Market Square at noon.
Kenora—Dozens of Anishinabe Women, their families, and supporters converge today on Market Square at noon to deliver a message against the proposed Energy East Pipeline that will deliver tarsands oil right through the City and through all of Treaty 3 (and other First Nations) Territory.
Today’s Family Day demonstration, with a focus on protecting the water for future generations, is intended to be highly visible—with drumming, singing, placards and speeches—and to inform and engage the local public about the immense threats posed by the likelihood of oil spills to local water sources, ecosystems, animal habitat, and human health, as well as broader environmental impacts from proposed tarsands expansion.
Fawn Wapioke is Chief of Shoal Lake #39. She says, “I am deeply concerned about the pipeline and believe that our responsibility is to the land, the water, and future of our People. Our responsibility is upholding the law of the land to ensure survival of our Mother Earth.”
TransCanada, speaking to the possibility of a major oil spill in the area, has said that it would take a minimum 22 minutes to shut down the Energy East pipeline in case of a leak. Any spill from the pipeline could allow as much as 2.7 million litres of oil to spill in that time.
It wouldn’t be the first major industrial spill in the region.
“Being from Grassy Narrows, I know firsthand how damage to the water can poison our families and our kids, not just now, but in the future, too,” said Corrisa Swain, a Youth from Grassy Narrows where families continue to watch newborn children exhibit the brutal symptoms of mercury poisoning, a Dryden pulp and paper mill having dumped over 9000 kgs of Mercury into the English and Wabigoon River System over 40 years ago. “We know from our own experience how these kinds of projects can have terrible impacts on future generations and how unlikely it is that government or companies will ever clean up afterwards,” says Swain.
The environmental impacts from the Energy East Pipeline also extend far beyond the local effects on the Winnipeg River, Lake of the Woods and local ecosystems.
“The project is a climate nightmare, demanding as much as a 40% expansion of tarsands extraction, releasing millions of tonnes more carbon pollution, just when we’ve been told that 75% of tarsands oil needs to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate impacts in the next century,” said Teika Newton, a representative of Kenora Transitions Initiative (TIK), a Kenora-based environmental advocacy group. “There is also the reality that tarsands extraction, like pipeline spills, have terrible impacts on downstream communities across the continent,” Newton says.
Trancanada’s new pipeline project has already been opposed across the entirety of its route, from local tarsands impacted communities to the Mohawk community of Kanesatake and Mi’qmak communities on the East Coast. In Treaty 3 Territory, Grand Chief Warren White has already clearly stated that the pipeline will not carry tarsands oil across the territory without express consent from affected First Nations. Local grassroots communities have echoed those sentiments.
“The Energy East Pipeline is going to affect us all, we together as Peoples need to prevent this project. For the sake of the water, wildlife, and land,” says Alicia Kejick, a Youth from Shoal Lake #39. “For our Peoples and future grandchildren,” Kejick says, “it is momentous that we protect what is ours to begin with. We will be out on Family Day, not just to raise awareness, but to speak for those who can’t.”
Contact: Chrissy Swain, 807 407 1468
Pink Shirt Day is almost upon us. The annual campaign to raise money and “awareness” on the issue of “bullying” takes place on February 25. As this date approaches, I’m sure you’ve noticed an inundation of bright pink. Even at this very moment, I am sipping my tea from a Blenz paper cup, wrapped in a festive Pink Shirt Day cardboard sleeve. Blenz is one of “a bunch of great businesses [that] are holding fundraisers during the month of February with proceeds going to Pink Shirt Day.” Blenz doesn’t actually give money; they just provide us consumers with a number to text, so that we can “have $5 added to [our] monthly mobile bill, to be donated to support anti-bullying programs.” For their effort, Blenz can piggyback on the all the symbolic glory of philanthropic pink.
The colour pink ties in nicely with the Valentine’s Day displays around the city. This is the season of love and compassion, or at least the symbols of love and compassion. Pink also works well as the spokes-colour for anti-homophobia, which brings us to the Pink Shirt Day origin story: Two high school students in Nova Scotia witnessed a male classmate being harassed by a fellow student for wearing pink, a colour associated with the antithesis of masculinity. The witnesses went to a discount store after school, purchased 50 pink t-shirts, distributed them to their classmates the following day and stood in solidarity with their previously demeaned classmate. This display of empathy, solidarity, and community action was inspiring! The Premier of Nova Scotia declared the day officially and momentum has been growing ever since.
This type of origin story is familiar. Without it, Pink Shirt Day might be read as a superficial government/corporate campaign to boost their image as community-based philanthropic entities, as well as a gross simplification of the real and complex problem of inter-student violence in schools. The origin story works to root the event in an authentic action, thereby lending perceived authenticity to the entire “movement.”
This tactic is nothing new. The Pink Ribbon Campaign for Breast Cancer “awareness”, introduced in 1992, has an authentic origin story of its own behind all the colour-coded marketing. Charlotte Haley is the “granddaughter, sister, and mother of women who had battled breast cancer.” She made peach-coloured ribbons by hand in her dining room, and distributed them at the local supermarket. This origin story does not have such a happy ending, as Haley rejected Estee Lauder’s request for her ribbon, saying they were “too commercial.” Estee Lauder lawyers suggested changing the colour of the ribbon to avoid a lawsuit and proceed without Haley’s involvement. Voila! The pink ribbon was born!
Both the Brest Cancer and Anti-Bullying campaigns involve the corporate appropriation of authentic political and community action. This can be called “Pink Washing”, and it functions similarly to Green Washing. Just as we are reassured that using reusable shopping bags will save the planet without any real effort or sacrifice on our part, so are we reassured wearing the official pink T-shirt, posting a selfie #pinkshirtday, or participating a dance flash mob will bring an end to inter-student violence, oppression, and harm. I love a good dance flash mob, but is this the type of action that facilitates meaningful discussion and problem solving, or is the effect more so one of surface appearances?
I am not here to claim that Pink Shirt Day offers nothing of value to those who participate. The colour pink itself can help youth question gender norms, and I’m sure some deeper conversations of empathy and community do arise. What I do propose is that Pink Shirt Day serves to simplify a complex issue. One way this is done is through the use of language.
We use the word “bullying” as a catchall. Why do we call a harmful act or series of acts “bullying” rather than homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, and classism? These more specific and political words can help us more deeply understand the various forms of power and oppression rampant in our schools and broader communities. An awareness of interlocking systems of oppression can help us work to dismantle these oppressions from an educated and empathetic perspective. Calling homophobia by its real name can help young people make sense of their own felt experiences. This is the first step in talking openly and constructively about the systemic injustices they face, and working towards a place of safety and empowerment. Painting all oppressions with the wide brush of “bullying” undermines the intelligence of children and youth by artificially simplifying complex problems.
One reason I think we are so drawn to Pink Shirt Day and other similar campaigns is that it offers us a feel-good “solution” to a known problem, without us having to give anything up. All we are asked to do is wear pink and donate a little money and we can go about our day believing the problem is solved. If we are forced to abandon the word “bullying” and talk openly about patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, and the exploitation inherent in capitalism, we will be forced to acknowledge our own relative privileges within these power relations. When Amanda Todd committed suicide in 2012, the community was outraged at the horrific “bullying” she had been subjected to. The use of the word “bully” in this instance works to evade discussion of patriarchy and rape culture. We’re told the solution is to “stop bullying now” rather than work towards dismantling rape culture, problematizing male privilege, and empowering young women.
While we’re on the subject of language and how it can be used to obscure the truth, let’s consider who exactly a “bully” is. “Bully” is a word we use to call a human being. Naming a person “Bully” allows us to dehumanize that person and ignore the possible reasons behind their violent behaviour. How many times have we heard the tale of a school bully getting abused at home? This child is rendered powerless by his parents, and therefore seizes power in the only place he can – on the playground – and in the only way he has been taught how – through violence. If we really wish to eliminate bullying, we must look closely at the deeper causes.
People don’t often fit into distinct categories of “bully” or “victim”. Many of us do find ourselves in both of these roles depending on the situation and the specific power dynamics involved. Using language that enforces this binary is overly simplistic.
Pink Shirt Day does give the problem of inter-student violence status in the classroom and in the national consciousness, but I worry that the campaign elevates the image of solidarity above actual acts of solidarity. Perhaps wearing pink on February 25 is a step in the right direction; or perhaps it is a shallow distraction from considering the complex power relationships that underscore violence. Either way, the question must be asked: Does this pink shirt say enough?
Harper’s terrorist legislation doesn’t protect us from the REAL menace!
Stephen Harper’s Anti-Terror Bill C-51 needs to be expanded to give CSIS the authority to thwart the mad cow threat and beef up Farmland Security.