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Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 03:34 PM
Number of posts: 493

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Just a reminder as to why Rob Ford is actually dangerous (it's not the crack!):

Please see here: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2012/07/13/mayor_rob_ford_silently_votes_against_every_community_grants_program_again.html

This article from July notes that Rob Ford votes against just about every community grant that crosses his desk. Not because the city is going to provide those services and he's afraid of being double-charged, but because he doesn't figure the poor and the sick deserve to be helped.

From the article:

Mayor Rob Ford has continued his annual tradition of voting against every one of the city’s community development grants programs.

The six programs would have sailed through council unanimously on Friday, without a vote, had Ford not placed a “hold” on the items in order to vote against them. He lost the votes 34-1, 34-1, 33-1, 34-1, 35-1, and 35-1.

This is before all of the crack scandal broke, and before all of the chaos surrounding it muddied the water. Hint, everyone, it's -not about the crack!- That's really just a symptom of the bigger problem that Rob ford doesn't care about the city of Toronto as people, only as wallets. That's why he always refers to the citizens of Toronto as taxpayers, and not as citizens.

More from the article:

Rob Ford is an ardent advocate of small government. As a lone-wolf councillor, he railed against grants on the council floor and on talk radio, characterizing them as “free money” given by taxpayers to community groups running ineffective or odd programs that don’t deserve city support.

Councillor Shelley Carroll, an opponent, said Ford was “cowardly” for not explaining his votes. She also argued that his stance is at odds with his political philosophy. The community groups, she said, offer important services the city therefore doesn’t have to provide at a higher cost.

“This is contracting out, in a sense, and I do not know why that wouldn’t be attractive to someone like the mayor,” she said.

Ford voted the same way on the grants programs last July, also in silence. He lost 43-1 in votes on four programs, 42-2 on the fifth, and 41-3 on the sixth. He also lost 37-1 last July in a vote on anti-HIV/AIDS grants. He supported an HIV prevention grant this week.

Rob Ford is the very picture of wealthy white privilege. He has his, and why should the poor get a dollar from the all-important taxpayer? But he's very good at optics. The very communities he's voting against helping love him because he shows up in his SUV dropping toys off at a fundraiser, or he'll very vocally help one or two high profile people affected by his own new policies to show, yes, he really does care.

It's complete bullshit. He has no interest in helping people less fortunate in the city of Toronto. He'd have every poor person who's ever touched a crack pipe imprisoned, while in his own world, the past is the past, and why should he apologize for something he can't change?

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford "crack video" is real

Police Chief Bill Blair is holding a press conference about it, now. They've announced that they have the digital file that is consistent with the descriptions released in the media (indicated The Toronto Star and the Gawker stories about this).

What it does -not- contain is, apparently, anything that the police want to use to press charges against Rob Ford himself. They've released the entire warrant (redacted) regarding the investigation into the drug ring, including Rob Ford himself, and his friend and occasional driver Alexander "Sandro" Lisi.

So, now it's the waiting game for us in Toronto. Do we finally get to dump this right-wing buffoon of a rich privileged mayor, or will he hang on, and remain in charge until the end of his tenure? He's been a disaster in many ways for Toronto, and his entire term has been plagued with controversies.

I made a post in the Canada discussion group with links to a lot of the emerging stories, please check out here:

All the right wingers saying that it was a left-wing media conspiracy, that there was no video, that we'd do anything to get Ford out of office... well, here's vindication. The video is real, and the police have it.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's alleged crack video intensified investigation

Bill Blair is giving a press conference at this time. So far he has announced that the infamous "crack video" is in the possession of the Toronto Police, and that the emergence of the video caused them to intensify their investigation into drug-related activities of Rob ford's friend and occasional driver Alexander "Sandro" Lisi. The police have also released the search warrant that was spawned by the "crack video." The document is here:

Lots of stories emerging all at the same time right now in Toronto and Canadian media.

From the CBC:

Toronto Star:

(right wing) Toronto Sun:

Local news CP24:

It has nothing to do with what's good for the people

... it has only everything to do with ideological purity.

I've brought this up before on my journal, but right now, I feel like it bears repeating. The word "Orwellian" gets tossed around a lot, usually in the context of a surveillance state, or in terms of the thought police. I always feel like that's a simplistic reading of 1984, and that the true core of that novel is O'Brien's speech near the end of the book when Winston is in his office.

The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were- cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

We can point to the NSA wiretaps, CoIntelPro, gov't shutdowns, changing the meanings of words, etc... and say that they are Orwellian, but what I fear most is the attempt at ideological purity, mostly seen on the right and far right. The main purpose is to impose that will on the people. Another quotation from 1984:

The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything.

All you need to do is point yourself towards Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck in order to see all of these things. The general attention span of the TV public makes it hard to have a more nuanced discussion, so all they can jam into that time are the simple jingoistic buzzwords of fear, hatred, rage, and triumph.

The emperor hasn't had clothes for a long time now. Things are changing. Unrest is bubbling up from beneath the surface and showing up here and there. Occupy Wall Street. The riots in Greece. The riots in Brazil. The G20 protests. The Arab Spring. But things are going to get worse before they get better. We need to keep the conversation open and make sure that people are informed. Remember that reality has a well-established left-wing bias!

The far right Tea Partiers really are only in the game to win it. Their ideology isn't to win to help people, it's only to win because they have to win. The greatest thing about progressives is that we all tend to be progressive in our own ways. There are so many different ways to go forwards. The opposite is not true, the far right can all be regressive in the same way, and that is why it's easier for them to frame the us vs. them. We need new strategies to educate and inform. It's like the episode from The Newsroom where Will and Mac tried so hard to get the new debate format. Of course it was doomed, because they couldn't use their talking points. We all need to beg for that level of discourse, and people who are willing to hold people to a real answer.

More random ramblings that I just need to get off my chest.

Something finally occurred to me.

I see so many people who just feel stultified by the inability to act. People living hand to mouth who feel paralyzed by inability to get anything done. It's not just having not much money... there's lots of people who've been very successful coming from little or nothing. But it seems to be rarer and rarer these days, why is that? What's going on now that's different?

People still have good ideas. There's always the fear that there are no new good ideas, that everything's been done. That's not true, there are lots of great ideas that people can still accomplish. So, what is it, now? Those of us living paycheque to paycheque, getting by with increasing debt, credit card interest rates, etc... are just decried as lazy do-nothings. Takers.

With all the recent talk about the Swiss idea of giving all adults a guaranteed minimum income monthly, regardless of their employment status, it finally struck me. It's something that's happened to me, much to my dismay. I've been forced for so long to say, "Well... I just don't have the money to implement that project or this idea, I guess I'll have to put it off." And then the next idea gets put off. And the next. Until you find yourself just stultified and unable to even form ideas any longer. I used to have some great ideas for things to do. Projects for the future. But I live paycheque to paycheque. I work in a retail travel job, and don't make a whole lot of money. I pay down my credit cards when I can, I'm not super-deep in debt. But I don't have the funds to start new projects, and when I come home from working long retail hours being talked down to by many customers, I don't have any motivation left for new ideas. I read. I watch TV. I'm anesthetizing myself. So are so many of us.

Why is it? Because community is only for rich people now. No, I'm serious. The wealthy have networks that get their family members into jobs, into schools, into anywhere they need to be. And the "libertarians" and Ayn Rand worshipers have been trying to convince us for years that it's all about your own individual impetus to become a success. That we don't need the help of others, and we should not help others. But that's not how the wealthy work. Again, I'm using broad strokes here, and there are of course self-made men and women who struggled up with no wealthy benefactors, etc... but as time goes on, it's harder and harder to do that. Why? Because we're bring told that doing it on our own is the only way to do it. Getting help from community or from government is just this side of COMMUNISM! And that's the worst possible thing! How well do your know your neighbours? How well connected are you through your place of work, or your local community centre? Volunteer work?

The wealthy don't have any of these worries. They have the funds and the network and the community to accomplish all of these things without deciding, "Do I start this project, or skip meals for a couple of days?" or, "Do I gas up my car or feed my kids this week?" Income disparity may be the biggest issue currently facing us, and we're told over and over that it's no big deal. Why doesn't anyone seem to have any money? Because it's all in the holdings of the mega rich. It's not in the economy. It's only making more wealth for those that hold it.

So, this has been long and rambling. It probably doesn't make much sense, but I had to get it out and off of my chest.

Some information about income inequality (some we've seen before, I know):

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R) helps gov't shutdown, says park ranger should be ashamed

From the Washington Post:

“How do you look at them and say — how could you deny them access?” Neugebauer says at the World War II Memorial. “I don’t get it.”

“The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves,” Neugebauer says.

“I’m not ashamed,” the ranger says.

“Well, you should be,” Neugebauer says, before walking away.

He is then confronted by a man who says he is a 30-year federal government employee who is out of work. The man tells Neugebauer that the ranger is just doing her job, and that Congress is responsible for federal parks and memorials being shuttered.

Holy crap on a crap cracker. They really do want to have it both ways, don't they? They want to be able to pull the lever to shut it all down, then blame those that they've furloughed for the results. I don't understand how republicans' heads aren't just exploding from cognitive dissonance.

The good news is, it looks like they're just killing themselves on this.

Why not WalMart? - Why are people still defending them?

For some reason, I can't read an article about this without getting into an internet argument about it. Someday I'll learn, I guess.

So, here's a fellow making sort of vague hanging points about middle class vs. working class, and how WalMart is actually going to help people, because the small businesses in the Kensington Market area aren't paying better, and... aren't the local economy?

I'm sorry, I can't follow, so I'll link you to the article here:


The smug tone of it just reeks of the currently popular hipster-hate. A sneering "those hipsters are just -so awful- aren't they?" that just makes me angry. Yes, those are my fairly angry comments at the bottom down there. It's my neighbourhood, so I'm a little passionate about the situation.

I wish people would just stop defending WalMart. They a) don't need it and b) don't give a shit about you. Am I just way off base here?

Lots of people rely on homeopathy. Can they all be wrong? Yes

From the article:

Homeopathy has nothing to do with herbal remedies, many of which have legitimate uses. It is a practice hatched in the dark ages of science based on the idea that substances that cause symptoms in a healthy person can cure those same symptoms in an ill person. (So, for instance, onions, which make eyes itchy and tearful, can be used to relieve the symptoms of hay fever.) There is no logic to this, but this is not where it stops. Homeopaths, defying everything we know about toxicology, believe that diluting a solution containing a homeopathic remedy increases its potency. In fact, to potentiate the remedy, dilutions are carried out to an extent that the final product in most cases doesn’t even contain a single molecule of the original “remedy.”

Obviously it’s easy to make fun of homeopathy. The concept is absurd. But millions of people around the world do rely on homeopathic medications. Can they all be wrong? The simple answer is: Yes.

It is hard to understand how this has happened, since the directorate’s stated goal is for “all Canadians (to) have ready access to natural health products that are safe, effective and high quality, while respecting freedom of choice and philosophical and cultural diversity.”

Safety is not an issue with homeopathic products, because they contain nothing. I’m not sure what “high quality” means in this context; presumably that the pills are produced in an environment free of contaminants. But what about efficacy? There is actually no requirement that homeopathic producers demonstrate this — which is lucky for them, because no proof of efficacy is to be had for homeopathic mercury, arsenic, “Berlin Wall” or, most alarmingly, homeopathic “vaccines” and mosquito repellents.

Homeopathy isn't the same as herbal remedies or legitimate alternate therapies, it is pure snake oil. It's not unsafe in and of itself, but as indicated in the article, people are passing off homeopathic vaccines and mosquito repellants that will not actually do anything. This is actively dangerous if you're going into an area that has a danger of West Nile (the example in the article) or Malaria.

Read the article from the Montreal Gazette here: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Right+Chemistry+Debunking+homeopathy/8852871/story.html

And as Tim Minchin quotes in his fantastic poem Storm:
It's a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
Water has memory!
And while it's memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
It somehow forgets all the poo it's had in it!

Read the whole poem here: http://www.lyricsmania.com/storm_lyrics_tim_minchin.html

Stephen Harper to seek prorogation of Parliament (AGAIN!)

From the CBC article:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has confirmed he will ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament until October, when his Conservative government will introduce the next speech from the throne.

"There will be a new throne speech in the fall, obviously the House will be prorogued in anticipation of that. We will come back — in October is our tentative timing," Harper told reporters in Whitehorse Monday. Harper is in the Yukon on the second day of his annual summer tour of the North.

The Prime Minister's Office later clarified that Harper will ask for Parliament to be prorogued before the scheduled return of the House on Sept. 16, meaning Parliament will not sit again until after the throne speech in October.

It will be the third time since Harper took office in 2006 that he has sought prorogation. He first used the tactic in 2008 to successfully out-maneouvre the opposition's attempt to unseat him and form a coalition government. He prorogued again in 2010 in the midst of a controversy over Canada's treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan and ahead of Vancouver's hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Why does he need to do this? He's got a -majority government-!!! He doesn't face a vote of non-confidence! This is absurd beyond comprehension. Time to hand this man his pink slip.

Full article here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/08/19/pol-harper-commons-prorogation.html

Fracking: Meet the town that’s being swallowed by a sinkhole

From the article on Grist:

Texas Brine’s operation sits atop a three-mile-wide, mile-plus-deep salt deposit known as the Napoleonville Dome, which is sheathed by a layer of oil and natural gas, a common feature of the salt domes prevalent in Gulf Coast states. The company specializes in a process known as injection mining, and it had sunk a series of wells deep into the salt dome, flushing them out with high-pressure streams of freshwater and pumping the resulting saltwater to the surface. From there, the brine is piped and trucked to refineries along the Mississippi River and broken down into sodium hydroxide and chlorine for use in manufacturing everything from paper to medical supplies.

What happened in Bayou Corne, as near as anyone can tell, is that one of the salt caverns Texas Brine hollowed out — a mine dubbed Oxy3 — collapsed. The sinkhole initially spanned about an acre. Today it covers more than 24 acres and is an estimated 750 feet deep. It subsists on a diet of swamp life and cypress trees, which it occasionally swallows whole. It celebrated its first birthday recently, and like most 1-year-olds, it is both growing and prone to uncontrollable burps, in which a noxious brew of crude oil and rotten debris bubbles to the surface. But the biggest danger is invisible; the collapse unlocked tens of millions of cubic feet of explosive gases, which have seeped into the aquifer and wafted up to the community. The town blames the regulators. The regulators blame Texas Brine. Texas Brine blames some other company, or maybe the regulators, or maybe just God.

Bayou Corne residents need only drive a quarter mile down Highway 70 to see the worst-case scenario. On Christmas Day 2003, a methane leak from a Napoleonville Dome salt cavern storing natural gas forced residents of Grand Bayou, a neighboring hamlet, to evacuate. Dow Chemical, which owned the cavern, bought out the mostly elderly residents, leaving only concrete slabs behind. In places like Barbers Hill, Texas, similar leaks have turned once-thriving neighborhoods into ghost towns. A 2001 cavern leak in Hutchinson, Kan., spewed 30-foot-tall geysers of gas and water and caused an explosion that left two people dead.

“I hate to say, but it’s not an unusual event,” says Robert Traylor, a geologist at the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator. “These things happen. In the oil business, a million things can go wrong, and they usually go wrong.”

And the corporations in charge are just passing the buck. Not that it would make much difference if they were indicted, because the maximum fines for destroying entire towns would likely be barely a blip in their bottom line.

Read the article here:
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