Category Archives: Activism

Elevate the World from Mediocrity to Greatness? Lululemon? GMAFB

GMAFB john galt - atlas shrugged

Capitalism dissociates us from each other.

It makes us embrace consumerism and individualism and erodes community and cohesion.

Yet, oddly, Lululemon’s mantra of elevating the world from mediocrity to greatness is about liberating us from those shackles. Oddly, based on Ayn Rand’s whacko philosophy [see below], we need to be liberated from such an environment that is imagined to be government-controlled.

I will pardon you for not laughing at the irony of this. It’s not funny. The hyper anti-government, anti-community, pro-individualism, pro-capitalism Ayn Rand crew fears government will turn us all into mediocre wastelands of human endeavor.

But if you’ve checked out the ratings of all the reality shows lately, and the annual profits of IKEA, McDonald’s and all the other homogenizing brands that turn us into lobotomized monkeys, you’ll see that Ayn Rand missed the mark.

It’s not gulags that turn us into morons, it’s capitalism.

And Lululemon is dancing in absurdity trumpeting this as a corporate vision, particularly since yoga [in case you don't know what that is], is all about creating connections, not creating Übermensch.

In “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand describes a society where people work and reside in government-controlled environments that are tightly regimented. Without realizing it, this control created a society of mediocrity; propagating a cycle of listless, uninspired existing as opposed to living. The character John Galt encouraged all of the world’s innovators and intelligent minds to go on strike from the increasingly controlling government in order to create a vacuum of brilliance, proving that independent creativity and free-will is critical for quality of life.

blog| who is john galt? – blog| lululemon athletica.

How the Federal NDP Plans to Alienate Eco-Voters

Mulcair wants to out-Liberal the Liberals led by the charismatic son of a charismatic Liberal prime minister.

He will fail:

“I think what Canadians want are people who are realists, who understand for example the importance of our extractive industries and the creation of jobs but they also want to have a government that’s actually going to enforce rules of sustainable development like polluter pay. We can do both.”

via NDP signals move to mushy middle | Globalnews.ca.

They should do neither!

This is stunning for Mulcair to trot out.

Not only is he ignoring that green energy will create far more jobs [see the links below] than extractive industries [because he won't say the tarsands], but that polluter pay ignores the reality of climate breakdown science that indicates that if we just charge polluters for the right to destroy our environment, anything good can come from that. Nothing good comes from that.

Then he follows all that up with a desire to attend the December 2015 UN climate change summit. Why? Sigh. Harper has already muddied our reputation enough.

Voter Alienation 101.

How to Help Raise Hope, On A Monday Morning!

Gerardo Cerdas VegaBeverly Bell just posted an amazing, inspiring interview with Gerardo Cerdas at Raising Hope Across the Borders: Transnational Social Movements and Power

Gerardo Cerdas is coordinator of the Latin American- and Caribbean-wide social movement Grito de los Excluidos, Cry of the Excluded. He is also a sociologist and researcher. A native of Costa Rica, Cerdas lives in Brazil.

I often question the value of raising hope. Are we punishing people with false hopes that end up leading to little improvement in society?

The neoliberals want to beat us into compliant, consumerist submission. So I refuse to give in to that cynicism.

But still, it is hard to see hope.

Until pieces like this, that help us understand the long game, and how we’re all in this together.

One of the most powerful parts of this interview, for me, is here. Let it wash over you. Then read the rest to start the week of right!

Q: Gerardo, when you said “raise peoples’ hopes,” what did you mean by that?

I meant to really believe that transformation is possible. We are in a very tight spot – we’re screwed, you could say. There’s a great deal of poverty, a lot of exclusion, a lot of violence, a lot of injustice in our countries. Working people and our natural resources are being terribly exploited. We’re up against a huge monster, an economic, political machine of monstrous proportions. It would be very easy for us to lose hope, to lose heart, to just give up the struggle entirely and say “To hell with it. There’s no way we can overcome these massive forces, so let’s just go about our lives and forget about it.”

But we know that if we’re here today, it’s because our grandparents, our ancestors, didn’t give up the fight. They raised our hopes.

 

What Does Soft Fascism Look Like These Days?

No Pipelines Graffiti 2We don’t see brown shirts and jackboots, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t seeing the de-democratization of our society.

In Vancouver this month, armed police with guns drawn, raided a house because they suspected people inside not of being terrorists, but of spray painting “No Pipelines” all over the place.

Read Police raid house in East Vancouver, with guns drawn, on pretext of anti-pipeline graffiti | Warrior Publications.

But in Harper’s Canada, opposing pipelines is deemed by the climate change deniers as an act of economic terrorism, which we will likely see in a far more pronounced fashion if in the next week Harper presses “go” on Enbridge. I expect the police and the military will be the expedient choice of civil terrorism so the government can circumvent first nations’ court challenges to the pipeline as Harper’s dream of becoming an even greater climate criminal.

So how can we stop all this?

Well, one lesson comes from how to confront a similar soft fascist tactic used by the US Secret Service when they confronted an NYPD chaplain during a 911 memorial event, because he was an imam and someone tipped them off that he might just be, well you know…a terrorist.

Watch the imam tell that story about how he was confronted [and I'd say horribly insulted] and who stepped up to call bullshit.

We need to draw lessons from those raided by Vancouver police, the imam and the other person in his story. We need to walk a path of integrity, but assertiveness as we force our contemptuous, soft fascist government to back down on horrible economic policies like exploiting all this carbon energy.

Slut Shaming, And Other Idiocy

Welcome to the cusp of spring-summer.

Now that the weather is turning, the slut shaming and attacks on women’s clothing choices will ramp up.

In Labrador, 28 girls were sent home from school because their clothing contravened the dress code. They also sent home two boys whose shirts bared their shoulders. 47% of those voting on the CBC story’s webpoll supported the school’s decision.

But Memorial University professor Patricia Dold share some inconvenient truth about this:

Male students and teachers they apparently were distracting should be the ones under the microscope. … Dold said that the school should have an open conversation with students about the issue.

via Bra-strap furor at Labrador school made teen girls ‘scapegoats’ – Newfoundland & Labrador – CBC News.

An open conversation would be welcome, but in our society, we don’t have those open conversations. Instead…

Instead, we have slut shaming. “Society,” men and women alike, criticize women who dress like “sluts” [however people define that] and suggest that those who dress like this woman [above] are just asking to be raped. What happens to the slut shamers who disrespect women who dress like this, when this woman was raped while actually wearing sweat pants and a hoodie?

That kind of disconnect is inefficient to the slut shaming agenda. so they ignore it. It’s the substance of ignorance.

So beyond teens dressing for summer then getting punished for lude boys being distracted by them, and women being raped when they’re NOT actually weary the “slutty” clothes, women who do well in high school often don’t make as much money as white men who do worse in school.

chart

And what do our politicians do about any of this?

About as much as all the high schools that are not having open dialogues about dress codes, gender respect and slut shaming.

Indeed, our equality-champion prime minister and his crew just sits around; here’s all they are able to vomit out:

Citing the facts that aboriginal women are four times more likely to be murdered than white women, and that nearly one quarter of aboriginal women are victims of domestic abuse, the department has begun to explore new policy options: options as diverse as sighing, shaking their heads, and muttering “it’s a damn shame”.

“Is there some sort of historical context to all this?” said Prime Minister Harper. “Because it almost seems as though the conditions for this crisis might have been brought about by institutional racism.”

“Surely not, though?” Harper added.

via Feds wish someone, anyone would do something about missing aboriginal women – The Beaverton – North America’s Trusted Source of News.

It would be really great if an actual leader, any leader, would step up and convene these conversations.

And short of that [I'm not holding my breath], it’s up to us, “society,” to start walking the talk of building a less idiotic, offensive and dangerous world.

 

A Little Bit of Civil Terrorism…

friskA little bit of civil terrorism keeps the population docile, afraid of irrational and unjust behaviour from law enforcement [sic] but hey, it helps us all live more peacefully because if you’re not a terrorist, you have nothing to fear from police terrorism via unconstitutional and racially discriminatory persecution. Right?

Nope:

“We’re going to go out there and violate some rights.” Hear the secret police recordings that will take your breath away. In a bad way.

via Meet The 17-Year-Old Who Blew The Lid Off Racial Profiling With His iPod.

And if you’re in NYC, check out the NY Civil Liberties Union’s Stop and Frisk Watch app for iPhone and Android.

And in Vancouver, the police assaulted a minor at a May Day march:

So let’s remember to remind the police about their duties to US:

The Protest and Popular Assembly (Plenum) Movement in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Get up to speed with this interview with Politics, Re-Spun contributor Jasmin Mujanovic on the protest and popular assembly (plenum) movement in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Bosnia’s protest movement is already receiving less media coverage, with some declaring the end of the ‘Bosnian spring’.  But the causes behind the ongoing protests are complex, and neither the causes nor the protests have disappeared.  Heather McRobie interviews Jasmin Mujanović.

Occupy, For Democracy

Journalists protest the erosion of freedom of expression in Canada on Feb. 27 in Toronto. Photo Credit: Hiba Zayadin

When I write about soft fascism, I sometimes feel too Canadian. I don’t want to be impolite and talk about hard or old school or 20th century fascism because frankly, when people read that word, they think, “hey, is he talking about Hitler kinda stuff? Ok, then, so it’s not fascism.”

It is though. You don’t have to start a genocide for someone to consider your actions fascist.

It’s a kind, gentler, Canadian-style fascism with a hit of Tom Horton’s and a bonspiel on TV in the background.

Attempts to suppress democracy, though, ARE fascism. From the Conservative government’s voter suppression actions, and contempt of legislature and the courts, they seek totalitarian power.

This is why I Occupy.

And while we figure out what Occupy Vancouver is going to look like going forward, it is this kind of work to decriminalize journalism that we need to be mindful of. See below.

Now, more than ever, because there’s a federal election brewing and we know that the federal government will cheat again to keep its power because it thinks it’s right and they know best for all of us. Like the BC government’s election gag laws and the city of Vancouver’s pre-Olympics and Occupy era democracy suppression measures.

We can be vigilant or we can be sheep. If you want to be a sheep, fine. Stay away from me. If you want to be vigilant, sign up for email updates over there on the right. We’re all about vigilance around here. And I believe Stephen Harper is mentally ill, WITHOUT even having seen the Flanagan interview from Friday night.

And we’re about making Occupy potent, and unlike the governments, transparent and accountable and democratic.

Respect.

Culture of secrecy endangering democracy: CJFE

Listen

“Canadians have lost even more ground in one of the fundamental elements of free expression—the ability to know what their government is doing and why,” says a news release issued by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. The CJFE has just issued its 2014 Review of Free Expression in Canada and it gives the Canadian government “a failing grade.”

null
Tom Henheffer of CJFE says there is a growing culture of secrecy in government. © Andrew Williamson

Government ‘defunding’ access to information

Access to information law means any Canadian can apply for access to any government document for a fee of five dollars. “It’s something that’s absolutely critical for the functioning of Canadian democracy because it helps to keep Canadians informed. It’s crucial for investigative journalism,” says Tom Henheffer, executive director of the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

“The fact is the government is intentionally dismantling it. They’re defunding access department so when someone files a requests there’s no response. Eighty per cent of documents that do come back are censored, many of the heavily censored,” says Henherrer, noting that there has been a 51 per cent increase in complaints about missing records in the past year.

‘A growing culture of secrecy’

“Even worse than that is the fact that there is this growing culture of secrecy in government, both federally and provincially and in some municipalities,” says Henheffer. He says politicians and civil servants are deliberating not keeping records, avoiding e-mail and sending messages from BlackBerry to BlackBerry that are erased every 30 days.

“In the past Canadians have had a robust access to essentially the decision-making process that goes into forming policy in Canada and that access is being taken away.”

null
CJFE Review warns of a ‘dangerous’ decline in freedom of expression in Canada. © CJFE

Whistleblower protecting ‘ineffective’

Surveillance of citizens is another major concern listed in the review as well as a lack of any effective protection for whistleblowers. Henheffer says civil servants who flag problems in government lose their jobs. “That’s why we have such a culture of secrecy, part of the reason why, because we don’t have this protection so people aren’t coming like say Edward Snowden (American intelligence contractor who leaked documents revealing widespread surveillance of citizens by U.S. spy agency). We don’t have anyone like that in Canada because the sacrifice that they would make is too great and as a result we don’t know what we don’t know.”

- Culture of secrecy endangering democracy: CJFE.

Protest Vancouver Police Brutality, 2014 Edition

How many times do you think you deserve to be kneed in the back while you’re already subdued by police on the sidewalk, face-down?

kneejab
Vancouver Police gratuitous brutality from May 1, 2014.

Once?

Twice?

Does it make any difference if you’re a minor? Or if you were documenting police actions at a May Day march?

Well, while many of us were on The Drive Thursday night doing some May Day things and rebooting Occupy Vancouver, others were downtown. And one person was being gratuitously beaten by a VPD member.

Various video links exist here, which also happens to be the planning page for a protest against VPD violence tomorrow night at 7pm at the police station, with a march up the hill to city hall.

Stunningly, corporate media has run something about this. Mind you, they did frame the video footage by saying that video rarely tells the whole story. If you examine the various clips linked above, you’ll see far more than the several seconds that Global corporate media chose to show, before suggesting that there is more context. Idiocy. But we know that corporate de-/re-contextualizes reality for us all the time. That’s actually why Politics, Re-Spun exists.

Global also missed an opportunity to report on the unedited, raw footage of the incident that was online here.

So what are you doing tomorrow night at 7pm? Do you believe people should be able to protest, or take pictures in public or [yikes!] even just BE in public without fear of the police pinning you to the ground, kneeing you in the back and breaking your arm?

Do you think protest is your right as a citizen without the chill factor of wondering if the police will beat you for no good reason?

If so, Tuesday, 7pm is when you should join this protest at the police station, before it marches to city hall.

 

Occupy Vancouver: It Lives!

“If you build it, he will come” works out as if you put up a sign people will gather.

It was warm and sunny at Grandview Park last night when Occupy Vancouver rebooted, in a modest way with 5 people talking about what Occupy means, how to communicate with our communities and what to do next.

We talked about Occupy from 2.5 years ago to now, the Wave of Action initiative that is rebooting Occupy’s around the world, May Day actions around the world, and what Occupy Vancouver should do next.

We came up with a simple idea: people need to hear about what Occupy is. So we’re planning an information meeting.

  1. People want to know the history of how Occupy started.
  2. They want to know how Occupy Vancouver went 2.5 years ago.
  3. They want to know what is going on with the Occupy Movement around the world now.
  4. They want to know what Occupy Vancouver could be now: do we actually occupy something or work as a different kind of activist organization.
  5. They want to know, of the dozens of progressive causes to work for, what we should prioritize on and how we decide that priority list.
  6. And we need to figure out how to communicate with people beyond Facebook, Twitter, the WaveOfAction.org website and the Occupy Vancouver website. This is key since there are 3 Occupy Vancouver Facebook instances, two of which are useless: one is a mockery page and one is run by no one, literally, so it’s filled with spam. This is the real, actual Occupy Vancouver Facebook page. We also need to figure out who’s got the Occupy Vancouver Twitter and website passwords [if it's you, please get in touch with me!]. One thing we know for sure, the Occupy Vancouver page at WaveOfAction.org is reliable and real. :)
  7. And we also need to figure out how to connect with the rest of the progressive movement in/around Vancouver. And as you can see from the photo below about labour’s May Day march last night, things can pretty much only get better!

So if you would like to get involved with planning Occupy Vancouver, and its upcoming information night, please contact me or join the Wave of Action website [it's free and easy, and Looks like Facebook, but is just a full-service, full-privacy social media platform for Occupy around the world] and connect with the Occupy Vancouver page there.

Let’s get busy!

Only about 100 people marched in the BC Fed and VDLC May Day march yesterday. The median age appeared to be about 55 years old. Labour needs to start doing things better to reach/involve/engage young people. Maybe Occupy can be a part of that solution.