Saturday, October 31, 2009

Olympic Torch exchange on Victoria's Blue Bridge

the olympics are lousy houseguests

my olympic morning began like so many other fridays: a little organic tea in my cup, organic porridge in my tummy, check the email and facebook while listening to cfuv on the radio, and then head downtown for the morning coffee meeting with street newz friends. this friday, though, i packed my full media kit, was costumed in hallowe'en attire, and prepared for a full day of embedded media action.

having paid absolutely no attention to hitler's actual torch run, focussed instead on the torch protest (how did those germans allow those atrocities to happen?!?), i was not surprised to see zoe blunt walking to centennial square where the real events of the day were to take place. i was surprised to learn that there were protesters already on the bridge, and that the torch was scheduled to pass there shortly. i dropped my backpack with my friends at the solstice cafe, and proceeded to the bridge where i easily recognized the council of canadians representatives with their brightly coloured signage. there's audio from that interaction here, and video here. (check back later .... i'm off to the farmer's market ....)

click here for photos on facebook from the day ...
and here for the same photos accessible elsewhere (in backwards order)

on the bridge i learned that the torch arrived an hour and a half late into victoria and, as we waited for its official departure from the bc legislature and then wondered why it took so long to arrive at the bridge i learned that there are actually many torches and they're lit every 300 metres. can you imagine? this is the greenest games ever, they say, and there are people positioned every 300 metres around the world, each with a piece of newly made petroleum based plastic that they'll carry for maybe 10 minutes and then discard. and there i was, watching helicopters that had been in our skies since early morning, shuddering as war planes flew in formation overhead and, as the torch finally arrived, nearly asphyxiated as the slow moving coca cola and other olympic vehicles led the way through the streets where traffic idled. eventually rob reid, former mayoral candidate and, i've heard, one of the major complainants about the downtown bottle exchange (no friend to the homeless despite his token gifts of shoes which bring him publicity and acclaim), lit the torch of a man who works at the ministry of mining (or something like that, and apparently the man was an olympic athete previously) and one of many thousands, millions perhaps, of great torch passings was complete.

the event raised more questions than allegiance in my heart and mind. why are so many willing to celebrate hitler's torch? lest we forget - they don't even know?!? why, if there are so many corporate sponsors - union busting and water polluting coca cola, outrageous profits all take and no give royal bank, agent orange dow chemical, tar sands petro canada, uber-mining earth destroyers cominco - why are taxpayers still on the hook for nearly 30 million dollars? if the corporate sponsors are set to reap enormous benefits from the games, why aren't they the ones footing the bill? if taxpayers are on the hook for nearly 30 million dollars, why weren't we asked via referendum whether we support that sort of extravagant spending of our tax dollars? and, the big elephant on the bridge question, what's so green about this parade?

i learned another very important lesson, after an afternoon of music and speechifying and innovatively entertaining poverty olympic games, after marching through victoria's downtown with a loud and informed and awake and concerned crowd of anti-olympic protestors. we'd shared centennial square with a handful of trained legal observers (thanks to pivot legal society and the bc civil liberties association from vancouver) and, at one count, at least 45 police officers - including the two fellows on the roof of a nearby building. the officers had watched this colourful and vibrant and diverse band of concerned citizens peacefully gathered all afternoon in the square, i guessed they were having a lot more fun than the cops assigned to the actual torch run. we had won, i believe, a smattering of trust from these officers we'd shared the afternoon with.

when the time arrived for the march we discovered the ultimate in animal cruelty - 8 large horses forced into servitude, adorned with goggles and forced to walk through city streets with traffic and noise for the next several hours. 8 large horses working for the corporate agenda, whether they liked it or not. they followed us as we wound our way through the streets, refusing parade permits, insisting on our right to peacefully gather, chanting "whose streets? our streets," "we want homes!" and "1,2,3,4 .... fuck the olympics!" among others. we weaved through lanes of traffic and, as night fell, some of the organizers began to insist (rather militarily i thought) that we "keep tight," pull up the rear, don't let the cops get into the crowd. but they had been in the crowd, walking along with us, perhaps secretly enjoying themselves and appreciating a moment of open defiance, and i didn't understand why, suddenly, we were being yelled at to keep tight and don't let the cops in.

as we neared the legislature, i began to understand. here we were greeted with a whole new set of police. police who'd spent the day, perhaps, with the torch, forming stereotypes of "those unruly protestors," devising strategies for dealing with us lest we should disrupt the precious bread and circuses ceremony that the uninformed masses were to enjoy that night. these new police officers, rcmp among them, began to push their way into our crowd, attempting to harass and intimidate what were, by this time, tired and no doubt hungry young people just trying to share their concern that government and corporate priorities are not being set to favour any sort of a viable future for them. i heard one rcmp officer say, words to the effect, "we're just going to stand right beside you right here" and three or four of them invaded the personal space of some masked kids who held hands and moved closer into the crowd of people who will support them if the cops turn ugly.

i said to my friend carl, who was busy chatting with the woman carrying the tail of the massive big salmon, carl walking alongside as a sea louse, "these are new cops," untrained. he knew immediately what i meant. it's precisely what they did at tiananman square, he said. they got rid of all the beijing police, who lived and worked in the community, who knew some of the people, who had family nearby, and replaced them with fresh, out of town officers who would be less empathetic and more willing to clamp down on the students in the square. i could sense the fear emerge in our group, the same fear, no doubt previously formed in gatherings of this sort, that had led to the militant "tighten up" orders. these were from vancouver where they've encountered countless acts of violence at the hands of the notorious vancouver police department, and they were doing their best to stay together as a group so that nobody could be singled out and perhaps beaten or disappeared. (there are many questions remaining about how willie pickton got away with what he got away with all those years, and where are all those missing indigenous women, and what are those vancouver cops really up to?)

i stayed with the crowd, honoured and proud to be in the company of so many diverse and interesting and truly concerned and caring people. we'd achieved, as peace coalition susan suggested, secondary event status - the sidewalks of cook st. village and downtown had crowded with onlookers. and the occasional "get a job" naysayer. we lost some tired paraders along the way, and we gained newly arriving others. we were young and old, queer and straight, students, activists, business people, professors, union workers, carpenters, representing the cooperative movement, the peace movement, the environmental movement, the anti-poverty movement. we were peaceful, but we had an important message to share and we channelled our angry energy creatively.

at the very end, with my friends the salmon and sea louse, always with an escape route in sight. if these cops became violent, i wanted to remove my embedded self from the protest quickly and become the media. we wound our way through a strangely fenced off area in the middle of the street, and were then released onto the lawn of the legislature. there were thousands of people on the lawn, kids singing "we just want to be free" from the mainstage which was broadcast onto massive big screens (heaven only knows what this little party cost), and i could only feel sympathy for this obviously uninformed, or uncaring, crowd. i stood on the sidewalk with another friend, watching the giant salmon and the poverty torch wind its way onto the lawn. bread and circuses, we surmised .... give them bread and circuses and they'll never suspect, or even wonder, what's really going on.

it's not that i'm opposed to athletes and athletics. but my mother taught me to be a good house guest - clean up after myself and don't leave a mess, be grateful to my hosts and respectful of their needs for privacy and space, leave a little thank you gift in appreciation of their generosity. if the olympics weren't such lousy houseguests, barging their way in, demanding the streets be cleaned and quieted, leaving behind a public debt that's only countered by slashing social programs, perhaps they'd get invited back and wouldn't have to shop for new locations every go round.

bread and circuses. and the facade's only just begun.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Democracy at the UN

Hi Folks,
Here's this year's result on the UN's vote against the US blockade of Cuba. I don't know when the UN will do something concrete to make the US abide by these kinds of votes.
The struggle continues,
Victoria Goods for Cuba Campaign


Overwhelming Support for Cuba at UN
United Nations, Oct. 28 (Prensa Latina)

The United States has remained in almost complete isolation for the 18th consecutive year in a new rejection issued by the General Assembly against the US blockade on Cuba.

The top UN forum approved Wednesday by 187 votes in favor, three against and 2 abstentions (Micronesia and Marshall Islands) a resolution titled "Need to put an End to the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade imposed by United States of America against Cuba." In that way Cuba's support increased by two votes, in comparison with 2008, while United States remained alone in the NO column with the same partners, Israel and Palau.

The text adopted by the plenary called the US to refrain from enacting and imposing laws and measures of that type in compliance with the UN Charter and the International Rights which reaffirm freedom of trade and shipping.

Once again it urged the US which is still applying laws and rules of this type to take the necessary measures, to abolish and leave them without effect as soon as possible and according to its legal regulation.

It also includes a new analysis of the issue in the provisional program of its 65 period of sessions to be held next year.

In its first report the document reaffirmed, among other things, principles of sovereign equality of States, no interference and intervention in their internal affairs and freedom of trade and international navigation.

It recalled Ibero American Summit declarations relating to the need to eliminate the unilateral imposition of economic and commercial measures against another State that hinders free movement of international trade.

And it also expressed concern for promulgating and applying laws and rules like the so-called Helms-Burton Act whose extraterritorial effects affect the sovereignty of other States, legitimate interests of entities and peoples and freedom of commerce and navigation.

In this respect it mentioned the 17 resolutions approved by the General Assembly every year since 1992 until 2008 and declarations and agreements from different inter governmental forums, entities and governments rejecting, enacting and applying this type of measures.

The resolution also warns that it continues applying new rules aimed at strengthening and increasing the siege and expressed concern for the negative effects of those rules on the Cuban population and those Cubans leaving abroad.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

we can't believe that a company called "island timberlands" is destroying cathedral grove ....

ingmar lee (his site is currently hacked) has planted over a million seedlings in british columbia, and he knows the island's forests (and clearcuts) intimately. karen wonders has recently moved to vancouver island from germany, where she hosted ingmar as he travelled through europe with a multi-media presentation about what's happening to the last remaining ancient temperate rainforest (and all the creatures it houses) on vancouver island. the western canada wilderness committee, and its many members, have been trying to convince the bc government, for many many years, that we ought to protect ancient forests, stop shipping raw logs out of the province, and think about the implications of current logging practices on the forests and communities ..... especially in light of the global climate crisis.

we want them to stop killing cathedral grove.

* there are photos (in reverse order ... not sure why mac uploads that way) here.
* also, photos on facebook (in the order they were taken)
* i'll be broadcasting some of it, and some from the 350 day on the weekend, on the winds of change radio programme thursday october 29th. you can listen live, 11-noon pst, at or check for the podcast after the fact.
* and a video on facebook, and also here (more videos to follow, when there's time)

photosynthesis: the process whereby green things (with chlorophyll) eat sunshine and carbon dioxide, create sugar for themselves, and emit oxygen - which many humans find useful. forests are more than trees, clearcutting and heli-logging destroys entire ecosystems.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Will Olympic Torch Carriers and Athletes know or care about this?

1. Cathedral Grove, one of the last remaining stands of ancient temperate rainforest on the planet and a favourite destination for tourists from around the world, is being destroyed ....


2. Compliance Coal Corporation wants to build a new underground mine ...


For a google map to see location of logging, the park or the helicopter log dumping sites, please let me know and I will send more information via the overhead maps and photos. All photos are by Scott Tanner with permission to use freely.
Thank you,

Annette Tanner, 250 752-6585, cell 240-7470

Wilderness Committee, Mid-Island
Box 442, Qualicum Beach, BC, V9K lS9,
ph. 250 752-6585, fax: 250 752-7085 email:
Press Release
Monday, October 26, 2009- for immediate release -
„Community Rally Heading to Island Timberlands‚s Nanoose Office Tuesday Morning, as the Off-shore Company‚s Week-long Logging of Cathedral Grove Continued over the Weekend

Qualicum Beach, British Columbia ˆ The Western Canada Wilderness Committee (WCWC ) will be joined by many local community groups as its Ancient Forest Rally heads to Island Timberland‚s Nanoose Bay office this Tuesday to confront the Provincial Grovernment‚s lack of an Oldgrowth Strategy, that is allowing Island Timberlands to log one of the last remaining areas of the famous ancient forest in Cathedral Grove.

„We heard the horror of the helicopters all through the grove and in the park, all week and into the weekend, and saw how the helicopters removed one of Cathedral Grove‚s last few remaining patches of oldgrowth forest growing out of the steep, rocky terrain above the world-famous park,‰ explains Annette Tanner WCWC‚s Mid Island spokesperson.

„Repeated requests for the BC Liberal government to undertake a comprehensive provincial old-growth strategy to inventory and protect what remains, especially in a high priority, high profile and high tourist visibility area, such as the internationally famous Cathedral Grove, have gone unanswered over the past six years while Island Timberlands continues to log and flag the last remaining oldgrowth trees in the Grove,‰ Tanner continues.

„This special oldgrowth forest will be gone forever unless the provincial and federal governments take steps to support the local communities and regional governments by indicating that they care about conserving this remarkable heritage as a legacy not only for future British Columbians, but for Canadians and for the countless visitors that come here from all around the world.‰

The Ancient Forest Rally to protect Cathedral Grove starts at 11:00 am tomorrow, Tuesday, with the many speakers to include Ken Wu, executive director of Victoria‚s WCWC branch, as well as many other concerned community groups. The intersection and traffic lights at the highway in front of Island Timberlands is located one kilometre past the Esso Station on the top of the hill when travelling towards Parksville.

- 30 ˆ
- -for more information, contact Annette Tanner 250 752-6585
- - cell 240-7470 ˆ
- - photos: Scott Tanner -


Compliance Coal Corporation plans to have a new coal mine up and running in the Comox Valley within 18 months. They think the public is in favour of the mine, but Comox Valley Water Watch Coalition has a lot of unanswered questions about this mine.

In brief, the mine would be an underground mine starting above Fanny Bay and reaching to Baynes Sound, producing about 2 million tonnes a year of coal with 700,000 tonnes of waste. We must know how much water the mine will use, where they will get the water, what they will be doing with the polluted water from washing the coal, and what the mine's impact on water, wells, and aquifers will be.

The mine is having their first public open house this

Fanny Bay Community Hall from
4 PM to 9 PM.

They will be asking what they need to cover in their environmental assessment. If you put your questions on the record, they will have to answer them.

Coal's responsibility for Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming are not part of the environmental assessment, but that doesn't mean those questions should not be raised. BC has a carbon tax on heating fuel for your house, but we sell lots of coal to add to global warming.

Please attend this open house and show the company that we are concerned!

Delores Broten,

For Comox Valley Water Watch Coalition

oh, canada

Ray Nagin: Who’s In Charge? - Havana

Ray Nagin: Who’s In Charge? - Havana

HAVANA TIMES, Oct 21 - New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been in Cuba this week to get a look at the island’s civil defense system. Both Cuba and the US Gulf port city are vulnerable to seasonal hurricanes.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Livestock and Climate Change

Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are...cows, pigs, and chickens?

by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang

The environmental impact of the lifecycle and supply chain of animals raised for food has been vastly underestimated, and in fact accounts for at least half of all human-caused greenhouse gases (GHGs), according to Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, co-authors of "Livestock and Climate Change".

A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry. But recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

Read "Livestock and Climate Change," World Watch Magazine [FREE PDF]

and that's all, don't

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Art and Soul

many of the ndp are a long way from tommy douglas, founder of health care ....

Vaccines are good for business

Drugmakers, Doctors Rake in Billions Battling H1N1 Flu
October 14, 2009, ABC News

Americans are still debating whether to roll up their sleeves for a swine flu shot, but companies have already figured it out: vaccines are good for business. Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market. "The vaccine market is booming," says Bruce Carlson, spokesperson at market research firm Kalorama, which publishes an annual survey of the vaccine industry. "It's an enormous growth area for pharmaceuticals at a time when other areas are not doing so well," he says. As always with pandemic flus, taxpayers are footing the $1.5 billion check for the 250 million swine flu vaccines that the government has ordered so far and will be distributing free to doctors, pharmacies and schools. In addition, Congress has set aside more than $10 billion this year to research flu viruses, monitor H1N1's progress and educate the public about prevention. Drugmakers pocket most of the revenues from flu sales. But some say it's not just drugmakers who stand to benefit. Doctors collect copayments for special office visits to inject shots, and there have been assertions that these doctors actually profit handsomely from these vaccinations. Pharmacies also charge co-payments or full price of about $25 to those without insurance.

Note: For a great essay with concrete information on what you can do about this, click here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

how much of my income do you think i should pay in taxes?

and propaganda about cuba ... with, unfortunately, no discussion about the lack of supplies because of the nasty economic blockade ...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

it's poverty eradication week! if all goes well, it'll all be over by saturday ...

today was a special day at the new our place.

i call it the 'new' our place because i still remember when it was 'the open door,' a friendly, funky, old house where the street community (tiny, by comparison) would gather for coffee or tea or a sing-along at the piano or a game of pool. the new our place, built on the ground where the old open door lived, also has a pool table (in the basement) and a piano (on the second floor) and today, it was like the entire support community made an appearance.

there were people representing the winter shelters, and friendly folks from pacifica housing (who are delighted about the new supportive housing (some disability req
uired) on humboldt although it's years away, and the new spaces on cloverdale although they're only for very hard to house folks, and who weren't aware that bc housing, from what i've heard, have lots of money stashed away - if the olympics doesn't get it first). there were haircuts, and acupuncture, and pet care support.

the detox folk were excited that their bed numbers have increased by 300% (from 7 to 21 detox beds on the whole of vancouver island), and there were lots of other very special people who are doing their best to put the bandages on the gaping wounds that capitalism has created.

i learned that legal aid and the student law centre are still there, despite funding cuts, to help folks with legal matters, and that lawyers who work for legal aid do get paid, just not much .... only 90 dollars an hour --- which, i was told, sounds like a lot but isn't much if you're a lawyer. maybe i oughta be a legal aid lawyer .... 90 dollars an hour is about 300,000 times more than what i make in an hour.

friendly volunteers had offered up about 700 backpacks with important stuff inside, collected from all over town, but by the time i got there the only ones left were bright pink. i joked that at least those lucky recipients would be easily seen by cars, the friendly distribution woman said she'd been trying to entice folks to take them by considering they're supporting breast cancer awareness month. i suppose, as my friend suggested, backpacks of any colour are in endless need since the police consistently steal them.

two things happened today that concerned me, just little bit. three, actually. first was the 'survey.' a lovely young lady asked if i'd mind participating, and i agreed, but wa
s a little put off when her first question was "how old are you." she accepted my 'over 40' response, and went on to ask me how long i've lived in victoria and what kind of housing do i experience. then she asked whether i've ever been diagnosed with a mental illness, and whether i think i've got a drinking or drug problem and, when she suggested the coalition would like to know what sort of services i think are needed in the community, i was sure she got a complete quote about how impressed i am by the efforts of olympia's tent city and portland's dignity village which offer an opportunity for homeless people to create independent housing options for themselves. the mayor's coalition does like to collect information, don't they? i'd be asking different questions, if it were up to me, like why do you think gordon campbell's salary has increased by over 60% these past 8 years while homelessness has increased about the same amount? but i'm not a part of the coalition ... and that's why.

the second thing that concerned me was the diabetes test. the woman was very friendly, helpful, informative, easy to talk with, answered all my questions, and then asked me if i'd like to test my blood for diabetes. i agreed, and she poked my finger, put a drop of blood onto a small test stick thingy, and informed me with a smile that i do not have the disease. i was delighted, and pleased that i was able to access a bathroom afterwards to wash my hands
and hope that whatever may have been on my hands prior to the poke wasn't able to infect the new little hole in my hand. shouldn't there have been some rubbing alcohol involved in the process, or is that just too risky at a drop in shelter?

thirdly ... what's the point of all this talk about "we care for you" and "we want you to be healthy" when, outside, they're feeding people hamburgers, on white bread, with slices of processed chesse, and corporate genetically engineered ketchup and mustard, served up on paper plates?

oh, and a fourth thing .... if someone did steal my cuba flag off my bike, rather than it flying off all by itself, i thank you that's all you took, and inform you that cuba's definitely all about sharing, but not without some discussion first.

i started my morning feeling anxious after a night of fitful nightmarish sleep (it's that time of year, i guess), and felt a lot more relaxed after finalizing the november newz, visiting some of the most down to earth folk on the planet, and attending to my body's yoga requirement. today was definitely a special day for me, and for the new our place. there were a lot of very groovy things going on and, like everything, always some room for improvement.


sell the vatican, save the world (rated mature)

a cheery moment for a somewhat dreary day

Friday, October 9, 2009

on the eve of the semi-annual turkey massacre ....

i don't actually consider myself a part of the royal "we," that carolyn references, and neither do i think of animals as "food," but otherwise this is a very thought provoking piece:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

i am not a socialist

i am not a socialist.

i do not care much for anybody but myself and my immediate family, and even some of those aren't worth their salt.

i am not a socialist.

i don't share things. if i need something, i buy it, no matter what it is. i don't share gardening equipment, or rust remover, or tire gauges or anything. i own my own and don't even bother asking. if someone wants to borrow a pen, i say "what's the matter with you, socialist, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get your own damned pen."

i am not a socialist.

everything i've got, i've earned. all by myself. no help from anybody. ever.

i live alone, i own my own appliances, my own transportation, all my own tools and supplies. i don't take public transit, don't believe in it. my kids are home schooled - even private school is too socialist for me. we don't share anything. we have our own text books (i wrote them) and crayons and final exams.

i am not a socialist.

when i'm finished with my clothes, i burn them. i don't throw stuff in the trash .... those dumpster diving socialists should just get a job like i did and earn their own way in this world.

i am not a socialist. i don't share anything, and i don't ask for anything from anyone ever.

i don't rent movies, and i don't go to them. i buy them. and if the kids want to watch my movies, i tell them "go get your own movies, socialists." i don't share anything. sharing is a fundamental part of socialism, and i am not a socialist.

i'd rather all my stuff be burned to the ground than call the socialist fire department. i won't ride in an ambulance, or a cab. i think the police are way too community minded, though i appreciate that they protect me and my many possessions.

but i'm not a socialist. i have my own private security guards. i own my own doctor. and my own delivery person. i don't believe in the communist postal services.

i give to charities, for the tax breaks. i only vote for people who are not socialists, who don't share, who aren't concerned for anyone but themselves, as i am only concerned for myself.

(don't tell the wife.)

i am not a socialist.

Movement on US-Cuba Ties - Havana

Movement on US-Cuba Ties - Havana

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Cuban “CDR” Celebration - Havana

The Cubans haven't cut funding for arts, or health care, or education ... is that why the mafia convinced Obama to list them as a "terrorist" nation? Is that why we're encouraged to think of their leaders as "dictators"?

A Cuban “CDR” Celebration - Havana

With the traditional "caldosa," a stew to which each family contributes some ingredient, celebrations were held this past Sunday for the 49th anniversary of the Committees of Defense of the Revolution (CDR), the largest mass organization in Cuba. Block parties are held in which families come out to socialize, dance, drink and share the caldosa and other treats.

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don't try to

why are vancouver and victoria discouraging cyclists?

Here in Victoria, one of the most "cycling friendly cities," with two allegedly green party and one cycling advocate on city council, individual parking meters are being replaced with "environmentally friendly" solar powered ticket dispensers. The solar power thing is cool, but by removing the individual parking meters, we've also lost a lot of bike parking and I haven't seen any new bike racks yet. They're discouraging cyclists, even though we offer a big part of the global solution. Is it any wonder we lose faith in "the system"?

From Dave Olsen in Vancouver:

What a great festive atmosphere in and around the Vancouver International Film Festival Saturday.

The sun was shining and the streets were clear of cars outside the Granville 7 Theatres downtown, which hosts the bulk of the Fest's screenings.

Unfortunately, the streets were also clear of bike parking...completely. Ellie O'Day, Media Director for the Festival, briefed me before I could even open my mouth that she had informed the City's staff about the Festival's growing need for bicycle parking outside the Granville 7 Theatres weeks in advance. She was told by staff that the street is under construction and that no bicycle racks would be installed.

Bus shelters are installed. Parking meters a block away were stuffed full of coin from cars parked along both sides of Granville all day. Hmm.

I did see a sign in the window of the Granville 7 Theatre: "BIKES...Please do not store bikes on company property. If this conduct persists, bikes will be removed. Thanks, Management." Um, just where are we supposed to park them? Oh right, we must fuel the economy (read: kill the planet) by driving one tonne killing machines to the Film Festival. How silly of me. You can see photos by clicking here:

Let's see if we can change this situation, shall we? Back racks cost hundreds of dollars; the Worm/Canada Line just cost us over $2 billion, the repaving of Granville and Davie Streets just cost us millions more.

The mayor claims he's "green"; ask him to make it happen ( Geoff Meggs is supposed to be the head bicycle cheese; ask him ( Or just email the whole band at once:

There's almost 2 weeks left in the Festival (it ends October 16th) and it takes less than an hour to install a bicycle rack; a dozen racks would take about a day. The skies are forecast to be clear for the foreseeable future (well, if you ignore that pesky brown cloud that thickens hourly between rains). Is Vancouver really the world class city it aspires to be? Do our politicians really run our city or is it the suburbanite staffers who drive to their jobs at City Hall? Send 'em an email and see what happens!


Take care and if you can't take the lane, take the bus!

Feel free to check out my blog of rants and dreams, with a heavy dose of reality for today and tomorrow:

Movie lovers with a functioning mind (hopefully all of us!) might like to share their thoughts on Reel Life, Real Ideas: Movies and more...

By regularly riding through red lights and stop signs (after yielding to make sure it's safe for all), we can encourage the powers-that-be to modernize their rules (e.g., in Idaho)...we are NOT one-tonne-killing-machines!

Adam Smith, godfather of modern economics stated: "Civil in reality instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, of those who have some property against those who have none at all."

Hit by a car at 60 km/h (40mph), a pedestrian has an 85 per cent chance of being killed; at 50 km/h (30mph) s/he has a 45 per cent chance of being killed, while at 30 km/h (20mph) the risk falls to 5 per cent. Source: British Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (1996) Taking Action on Speeding

Sea Shepherd, heroes to whales and those who love them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

this is why i stay home a lot ....

With Cuba, the most amazing place on earth, again listed as a "terrorist nation," I can't help but cringe whenever I hear the word.

Intelligent and concerned citizens in Pittsburgh, trying to peacefully express their discontent with the elite control of the world this past week, were defined as "terrorists." Anti-olympic protesters here and in Vancouver are being targeted as "terrorists." Everyone, it seems, who disapproves of the continued exploitation of the earth and her peoples is considered a "terrorist." My skin crawls when I hear the word.

Tonight, I heard the word at a music concert.

I had treated myself to a night of folk music with local musical talent Qristina and Quinn Bachand. They're a very talented, and young, brother and sister duo who have gained quite a following around town, and I was interested in hearing and supporting them. I knew it would be a popular event, and I purchased the last ticket from Ivy's bookstore this morning in Oak Bay on my way to the farmer's market.

The hall was full when I arrived, and I didn't recognize a single soul. I found a seat, moved it a couple of times in an attempt to stop the man behind me from kicking it, and hoped the music would soon begin. Finally the evening's host made sure everyone was comfortable, and then introduced Qristina and Quinn with an announcement that this concert is part of an international musical event in the memory of Daniel Pearl, a musician and journalist who was killed by "terrorists."

I wanted to put up my hand and ask -- Was Daniel killed by the CIA? They're the biggest bunch of terrorists on the planet. I also wanted to know ... What country was he in when he was killed? Is it a country that the US has established a military base in? Was Daniel an embedded journalist, working on behalf of the military industrial complex to present the imperialist situation in a favourable light for the US public? Was Daniel surrounded by gunfire when he was killed, gunfire inspired by US imperialism? Who designed, built, and sold the military equipment that was used to detain and eventually kill Daniel?

But I was in a church hall, and there were no opportunities to ask any questions.

The concert was terrific. Qristina and Quinn invited other artists on stage - Dave, and Bryan, and Eric, and eventually Daniel Lapp, a very respected local fiddler. Three darling young ladies danced to the Irish Jigs, and the crowd loved it.

After the concert, about an hour and a half, the chairs were moved to the side of the hall to make room for the Ceilidh. I'd have liked to have stayed, but I didn't know anyone and I wasn't interesting in dancing with people who hear the word "terrorist" and immediately imagine a muslim man and tsk tsk support the never-ending "war on terrorism" without bothering to wonder why people are so pissed off in the first place. (I don't know that's what they thought, but I'm guessing it is ...)

I cycled home and did an (much better than google) search and learned that the "terrorists" were in their home land of Pakistan, they killed Daniel shortly after the 9/11 distraction, and these were their requests:


We still demand the following:

- The immediate release of U.S held prisoners in Guantinamo Bay [sic], Cuba.
- The return of Pakistani prisoners to Pakistan.
- The immediate end of U.S presence in Pakistan.
- The delivery of F-16 planes that pakistan had paid for and never recieved [sic].

We asure [sic] Americans that they shall never be safe on the Muslim Land of Pakistan.
And if our demands are not met this scene shall be repeated again and again....

Of course the murder of Daniel Pearl is tragic, but this list of demands doesn't actually sound unreasonable, to me. The people of Pakistan have a right to sovereignty. They want justice for political prisoners who are tortured and detained and stripped of all civil liberties. They want the US to go home and leave them alone. And they want some airplanes that they paid for and never received. I'd put up my hand and ask a few questions about that, too: Who built the airplanes? Who sold them? Why weren't they delivered? Is it really necessary to build an entire economy around war? Can you think of anything better to do?

The people of Pakistan are currently being murdered, with no apparent remorse from the Obama administration, by drones. Drones. This is the first time in human history that imperialism has been handed over to machines. Does this not freak you out?! I realize it wasn't quite this bad when Daniel's "terrorists," or misguided youth who see an invading force and do whatever they can to try and stop it, killed Daniel Pearl. There's no doubt it's tragic that Daniel Pearl was murdered - he seems to have been a decent soul. But can we please try not to blame every murder of a US citizen on "terrorists"? If the US were to invade Canada, and we were to defend ourselves, we would also be labelled as "terrorists." As the Olympic Organizing Committee invades Vancouver and Whistler this winter, those who disagree with their tactics are labelled as "terrorists." I'm not advocating violence, but I understand that someone killing someone else is more complex than simply labelling the murderer a "terrorist."

Hopefully our local protests this winter won't involve violence, though we can bet there will be provocateurs (terrorists) here to incite it. The US government is the biggest bunch of terrorists in the world, followed closely by those who would cut funding for arts so that folks like Qristina and Quinn will never rise again.

Can we think, before we react?

The discourse and the reality do not agree

• Speech given by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Cuba, during the debate in the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly

Mr. President,

I would like to congratulate you on your election and confirm our confidence in your total ability to lead our work and deliberations.

Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of CubaI also wish to recognize the excellent administration of Father Miguel D’ Escoto, president of the recently concluded session. The ethical dimension and political reach of his presidency made us advance in our determination to restore to this assembly all of its powers and they will constitute an obligatory reference in the future. With his example, it has become clearer that reforming the United Nations is to democratize it and bring it closer to the people.

Since the general debate took place here one year ago, significant events have occurred on the international stage. Climate change is the most perceptible and dangerous. The economic crisis acquired an intense and global character. Social exclusion grew.

However, the international community reacted with profound optimism to the change of government in Washington. It seemed that a period of extreme aggressiveness, unilateralism and arrogance in that country’s foreign policy was coming to an end, leaving the infamous legacy of the regime of George W. Bush sunk in repudiation.

As could be appreciated in this very hall, the innovative and conciliatory discourse coming from the White House is arousing widespread hope and its reiterated messages of change, dialogue and cooperation have been welcomed. Unfortunately, time is passing and the discourse does not appear to be sustained by concrete acts. The discourse and reality do not agree.

The gravest and most dangerous aspect of this new situation is uncertainty as to the real capacity of the current authorities in Washington to overcome the political and ideological currents that threatened the world under the previous president.

The neoconservative groups, which placed George Bush in the presidency, promoters of the use of force and domination under the protection of the colossal U.S. military and economic power; responsible for crimes that include torture, murder and the manipulation of the U.S. people, have rapidly regrouped and have conserved immense resources of power and influence against the announced change.

The torture and detention center on the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay that usurps Cuban territory has not been closed down. The withdrawal of occupation forces in Iraq has not come about. The war in Afghanistan is expanding and threatening other states.

In the case of Cuba, which has suffered the aggression of the United States for more than half a century, last April the new government announced measures to abolish one of the most brutal actions of George W. Bush, which prohibited links between Cuban residents in the United States and their family members in Cuba, in particular the possibility of visiting them and sending them aid without limitations. These measures constitute a positive step, but are extremely limited and insufficient.

The announcement included the authorization for U.S. companies to undertake certain telecommunications operations with Cuba, but other restrictions that prevent its implementation have not been modified. Neither are there any signs that the U.S. government is prepared to put an end to the immoral practice, recently extended, of robbing Cuban funds frozen in U.S. banks and other assets, under the protection of orders from corrupt judges who are violating their own laws.

The essential issue is that the economic, commercial, and financial blockade of Cuba remains intact.

Despite the existence of laws like the Helms-Burton Act, the president of the United States retains broad executive powers — such as licenses — via which he could modify the application of the blockade.

If a real will for change existed, the U.S. government could authorize the export of Cuban goods and services to the Untied States and from the United States to Cuba.

It could permit Cuba to acquire, anywhere in the world, any product that contains more than 10% of U.S. components or technology, independently of its trademark or origin.

The Treasury Department could abstain from harassing, freezing and confiscating transfers from third countries in U.S. dollars and other currencies to Cuban entities and nationals.

Washington could suspend its prohibition on ships from third countries docking in U.S. ports for 180 days after having touched a Cuban port.

It could also suspend the Treasury Department’s persecution of financial companies and entities that do business with and operate with Cuba.

President Obama could allow U.S. citizens, via licenses, to travel to Cuba, the only country in the world they are prohibited from visiting.

The report to this Assembly from the United Nations secretary general contains abundant examples. In 2009, numerous actions of fining, confiscating or impeding Cuban transactions and those of third countries with Cuba have been documented.

According to the Treasury Department itself, since January of this year, almost half the money collected by its Office of Foreign Assets Control came from penalties levied on U.S. and foreign companies for supposed violations of the economic blockade of Cuba.

The real and indisputable fact is that the new U.S. government has not as yet heeded the overwhelming demand of the international community, expressed in this General Assembly year after year, to end the blockade of Cuba.

Two weeks ago, President Obama notified the secretaries of State and of the Treasury — contrary to what the opinion surveys of the U.S. people reveal — that it is of "national interest" to maintain economic sanctions against Cuba under the Trading with the Enemy Act, passed in 1917 to deal with situations of war and applied only to Cuba.

The U.S. blockade of Cuba is a unilateral act of aggression, which should be ended unilaterally.

For many years, Cuba has expressed its will to normalize relations with the United States.

On August 1, President Raúl Castro publicly reiterated Cuba’s disposition to sustain a respectful dialogue with the United States, between equals, without any shadow over our independence, sovereignty and self-determination. He noted that we should mutually respect our differences, and that we do not recognize that country’s government, or any other, or any group of states whatsoever, as having jurisdiction over our sovereign affairs.

The Cuban government has proposed to the government of the United States the essential matters that it considers necessary to address in an eventual process of dialogue aimed at improving relations. These are the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade; Cuba’s exclusion from the spurious list of terrorist countries; the annulment of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the "wet-foot/dry-foot" policy; compensation for economic and human damages; the return of the territory occupied by the Guantánamo naval base; the end of radio and television aggression from the United States against Cuba; and a halt to its financing of internal subversion.

An essential issue on that agenda is the release of the five Cuban anti-terrorists who, for 11 years, have been suffering unjust imprisonment in the United States. President Obama has the constitutional prerogative to release them, as an act of justice and of his government’s commitment against terrorism.

We have proposed to the United States, moreover, to initiate talks for establishing cooperation to confront drug trafficking, terrorism, and human trafficking, to protect the environment and confront natural disasters.

It is in this spirit that the Cuban government has held talks with the U.S. government on migration and on the reestablishment of a direct mail service. Those talks have been respectful and useful.

Mr. President:

Cuba enjoys extensive and productive relations in every corner of the planet. With the single exception of the United States, Cuba has friendly relations with every country in this hemisphere and can count on the solidarity of the region.

We practice cooperation in solidarity with dozens of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ours is stable country, with a united, educated and healthy people, which has more than demonstrated its ability to confront, even under blockade conditions, the consequences of the global crisis and the effects of climate change, which in the past year cost the national economy 20% of its gross domestic product.

Cuba is in a position to face its own problems and find solutions to them. We do so in a just and equitable society, which rests upon its own efforts, and which has been able to advance and direct its development in the most adverse conditions.

We are prepared to continue facing those challenges with equanimity and patience, with the confidence that no citizen has been left or will be left to their own fate, and with the assurance that we are defending a cause of national independence and a social project that has great support from the Cuban people.

Anyone who tries to put an end to the Revolution or break the determination of the Cuban people is suffering from delusions. Patriotism, social justice and determination to defend independence are all part of our national identity.

Mr. President:

Latin America and the Caribbean are at a dramatic juncture, defined by the acute contradiction between the great majorities, which together with progressive governments and broad social movements, are demanding justice and equity, facing the traditional oligarchies bent on preserving their privileges.

The coup d’état in Honduras is a reflection of that. The coup-plotters and usurpers who kidnapped that country’s legitimate president are in violation of the Constitution and are brutally repressing their people, as in the dark period of military dictatorships backed by the United States in Latin America.

Hundreds of thousands of murdered, disappeared and tortured people are agitating in the awareness of "Our America" in the face of impunity.

It has yet to be clarified why the aircraft that kidnapped the constitutional president of Honduras made a stopover on the U.S. air base in Palmerola. The U.S. fascist right, symbolized by Cheney, is openly supporting and backing the coup.

President José Manuel Zelaya should be restored fully, immediately and unconditionally to the exercise of his constitutional functions.

The inviolability of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa must be respected, and the siege and aggression against its facilities must cease.

The Honduran people are resisting heroically and will have the last word.

These events coincide with the renewed and aggressive interest of the United States in establishing military bases in Latin America, and with the reestablishment of the 4th Fleet, obviously with the objective of placing U.S. troops within reach of the region in a question of hours, thus threatening revolutionary and progressive processes — particularly the Bolivarian Revolution in the sister nation of Venezuela, and procuring control of the region’s oil and other natural resources.

The slander and lies against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are brutal. It should be recalled that that is how atrocious acts of aggression against our homeland developed and were executed.

The broader and clearer that the policy toward that fraternal country becomes, the more it will contribute to the peace, independence and development of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Latin America and the Caribbean can advance, and to a certain degree they are advancing, toward new and superior forms of integration. They have water, land, forests, mineral resources and energy resources superior to any other region on the planet. Their combined population is in excess of 570 million.

The Rio Group, the Latin American and Caribbean Summit on Integration and Development (CALC) and UNASUR are bodies created by virtue of the ties that unite us.

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA-TCP) and the PETROCARIBE cooperation concept are perfect examples of that.

Mr. President:

The optimistic predictions in Pittsburgh concerning the evolution of the global economic crisis, foretelling a possible economic recovery by early next year, are not based on solid data, and in the best of cases, refer only to an easing of the drop experienced by a very small group of the most powerful economies on the planet. It is striking that objectives have been set, but not one word has been said about how to reach them.

Nobody should ignore the fact that this is an unprecedented crisis of the capitalist system that takes in—respectively—food, energy, the environment, and social and financial crises; nor should they ignore the danger of the inflation/debt combination, the bursting of other financial bubbles, or a second downturn.

The developing countries are not responsible for but are victims of the consequences of the industrialized economies’ irrational and unsustainable model of consumption, exploitation and speculation, attacks on the environment, and corruption.

While this is being debated, the number of hungry people is set to reach a record figure of 1.02 billion in 2009, one-sixth of the world’s population. This year, another 90 million people will be thrown into poverty, and a further 50 million into unemployment. Another 400,000 children are expected to die as a consequence of the crisis in these months.

The measures being adopted are simply palliative ones, preserving the serious shortcomings of an unjust, exclusive and environmentally unsustainable international economic system. An international dialogue is necessary, one that is all-embracing and inclusive, with the active participation of all developing countries.

A new international economic order needs to be established, based on solidarity, justice, equity and sustainable development. The international financial architecture should be re-founded. A central role in this effort belongs to the United Nations, and particularly this General Assembly.

Mr. President

Concluding these words, I wish to repeat Cuba’s gratitude for the traditional and invaluable solidarity that it has received from this General Assembly in its struggle against aggression and blockade. Today that solidarity remains essential.

As Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz stated on this same podium nine years ago: "nothing of that which exists in the economic and political order serves the interests of humanity. It cannot sustain itself. It must be changed. Suffice it to recall that we are now more than six billion inhabitants, of whom 80% are poor. Millenary infirmities of the countries of the Third World, such as malaria, tuberculosis, and other equally deadly diseases have not been defeated; new epidemics like AIDS are threatening to wipe out the populations of entire nations, while the rich countries are investing fabulous sums on military spending and luxuries, and a voracious plague of speculators are exchanging currencies, shares, and other real or fictional securities, for sums rising to trillions of dollars every day. Nature is being destroyed, the climate is changing before our eyes, water for human consumption is being contaminated and is in short supply; humanity’s food sources in the oceans are being exhausted; vital non-renewable resources are being squandered on luxuries and vanities…The dream of reaching truly just and rational regulations to govern human destiny seems impossible to many. Our conviction is that the struggle for the impossible should be the slogan for this institution that brings us together today!"

In spite of everything, the Cuban revolution is victoriously and securely celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Thank you very much

Translated by Granma International

Can we change those "Liberal" minds?

Arts Funding PSA from gillian greenfeld on Vimeo.