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*edit, April 18, 2015 – I intended to sift through my TPAC emails to see what might be pertinent to to this post. That would be a big job. On the other hand, much of what is covered in the totality of those emails would be relevent. The carding issue is discussed throughout many of the emails. As is the subject of racism. What will be become apparent to the reader who visits the TPAC website and reads a half dozen bulletins or more is the way the police just don’t want to be told what to do. No one does. However… (The police services board, the civilian oversight body, seems also to be dysfunctional.) That would be fine if they were an outstanding organization with a great record. I don’t know how TPAC would rate the Toronto Police force, but I don’t rate it highly.
And in any case, Police forces whose members don’t get into trouble still serve the 1%, not the people, contrary to claims made by them. That’s how it is in a class divided nation in which class warfare rages. When push comes to shove (as happened during the G20), the reality of class warfare and the problem of captured governments that won’t hesitate to use the state’s instruments of force to push the people around and put them in their place in order to carry out it’s neoliberal agenda (which robs and abuses the people and causes them to resist) with the least amount of resistance from the people, will become clear.
This last email that I received from TPAC is, by chance, probably the best choice I might make in deciding which bulletin to attach to this post, owing to the inclusion in it (item 9) of part of a speech given by a TPAC member who just happened to receive a Lincoln Alexander Memorial Award. I will apply bold formatting to that item. I will post the entire bulletin, below, under the TPAC logo. Chris Williams’s speech is titled “The Currency Of Shared Struggle.” You will, in fact, find the entire bulletin interesting. They usually are.
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Edward Keenan follows:
Police Chief Bill Blair’s career has long been defined by his determination to confront racism inside the force. Shameful then, that he ends that career with an “insubordinate” act of defiance defending the force’s “carding” practices. His decision to do so not only incinerates his own legacy of goodwill, but will make his successor’s tenure harder…
Correction- April 16, 2015: This column was edited from a previous version that said police chief Bill Blair is ending his career with an act of “insubordination” and that police board chair Alok Mukherjee had characterized Blair’s intransigence as actionable insubordination in a previous interview with another Toronto Star columnist. In fact, Mukherjee was talking about options available to the board, which included charging the chief with insubordination.
My online response to another poster’s response to the above linked-to article by Edward Keenan follows. That poster seemed to be suggesting that the Star, by reporting on Blair and the racially charged issue of carding here in Toronto, was stirring things up. Interestingly, When I just went to grab that poster’s comment in order to show it to you, it (and my response) was gone, along with most of the posts that had been there. The Star is a fake friend of the people. Have no doubt about it. That is why gatekeepers are welcome there and allowed to do things like take a discussion with 63 comments attached to it and disappear, in one fell swoop, 43 of them:
@canoedave – I’m reading “Defending White Democracy” right now. I’m not a fan of the Toronto Star, but I applaud it’s series on racial profiling. Southerners (US) back in the 30s & 40s reaped an economic benefit from segregation. Not to mention, they just simply believed in inequality. And said so plainly. They viewed Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the fight for civil rights, as a threat to their (Southern Conservative) segrationist status quo, which it was. Other racists and sympathizers criticized the militant racists when they felt that their rabble rousing and might cause chaos that ‘all’, including business people, would regret.
The rabble rousers weren’t rabble rousers because they were racists, but because they were stirring up the blacks. Is that your beef with the Star?
War created a problem for racists due to the difficult to enforce violations of official segregation among officers. The defeat of Hitler actually inflamed the main social problem in the US, mainly in the South, because blacks were learning equality. Take the case of Moultrie Georgia.
“The feud in Moultrie revealed that southern whites frequently resisted attempts to adapt Jim Crow to wartime exigencies…
“”Is it true,” the mayor grilled the officers, “that they take our southern negro soldiers up north and teach them the same as northern soldiers in way of equality?” [nearby] Spence Field officers denied that the military indoctrinated black soldiers with subversive racial ideas, but Moultrie officials persisted with complaints and investigations. Later claiming that base officials had dismissed two civilian employees for disprespecting black soldiers, the city council concluded that “the teaching of social equality is bringing on all this trouble with the negroes here in Moultrie.”” -pg 43
Toronto Police Accountability Bulletin No. 89, March 18, 2015:
1. A dysfunctional police board
2. Stopping Carding stalls, again
3. Lapel camera pilot project proceeds
4. Encrypting police radios
5. Tasers in the GTA
6. Strip search discussion frustrated
7. Pan Am Games security
8. Occasional name tags
9. TPACer honoured
10. Subscribe to the Bulletin
1. A dysfunctional police board
In November the Toronto Police Services Board decided it would not review the police service budget in its detailed form, but instead simply approve a global spending limit of $957 million recommended by the chief. When the detailed budget was finally released three weeks later, it was learned that it called for cutting 172 front line officers – about 10 officers from each of the 18 divisions – something the chief had not mentioned in his brief report. There were many other differences between the chief’s report to the Board and the detailed budget, which has led some to think that the detailed budget was not a real budget that will be followed in 2015.
It would be difficult to think of anything more irresponsible for a manager than not reading the detailed budget. But that’s the story at the Police Board. And things then go further downhill as we report in this Bulletin.
The Board refuses to reveal what it is doing in mediated talks with the chief about the future of carding. The Board chair has refused to permit discussion at the board on the important matter of transparency as the service restricts radio access to the media. The Board is unwilling to monitor an important pilot project of the police service on lapel cameras. The Board refused to continue a discussion about strip searches from one meeting to the next by not correcting a mistake in the Board minutes.
TPAC’s attempts to intervene in each of these matters have failed. How can effective oversight of the police in Toronto be restored?
2. Carding and civilian control of the police
The Toronto Police Services Board passed a policy last April, which generally restricted the carding that officers were permitted to do, but that decision didn’t mean the officers were bound by the policy. Chief Blair was asked to report on implementing that policy, but that has not occurred. His report was to have been at the December Board meeting last year but wasn’t. Then, in early January, he announced that carding had been stopped, although it was unclear what that meant. The matter was rescheduled for the February meeting but again there was no report from the chief, then at a special meeting called for March 2.
On February 27 the Board released this enigmatic notice:
“With the help of an outside mediator, former Chief Justice Warren Winkler, the Board and the Chief are continuing to work diligently to resolve outstanding issues concerning the Community Contacts policy. For this reason, the Board will not proceed with the special public meeting scheduled for March 2, 2015 at 4 pm.
“The Board will make no further comments during the mediation. A media blackout is in effect. At the conclusion of the mediation, the Board will ensure that the community is informed of developments regarding the implementation of the Community Contacts policy.
“The Board appreciates the patience shown by all concerned as the Board and the Chief continue their work on the development of leading practices around community contacts.
TPAC’s attempt to put this on the March 19 agenda of the Board meeting was rebuffed by the Board chair. Our letter stated:
“We do not understand why the Board thinks it has the right to carry on the public’s business in private, particularly on an issue which has engaged so many individuals in this city. We think the public needs answers to the following questions: What are the terms of reference given to the mediator? Is this a matter of a personality conflict between the Board and the chief? If this is a disagreement about policy, why is this disagreement not made public? Is this a case of insubordination, where the chief is unwilling to adhere to Board policy or is there something else in play? Does the chief have reasons for wanting to continue the carding procedures, reasons which he is not willing to make public? On what date was the idea of retaining a mediator agreed to?”
No answers have been forthcoming. Chief Blair leaves his position within a month.
3. Lapel camera pilot project proceeds
The Toronto police service has begun a pilot project regarding the use of lapel cameras. TPAC was before the Toronto Police Services Board last October asking the Board to set terms of reference for any pilot project and the manner in which the project would be evaluated. The Board refused: it received our letter and took no action. Now the police service is proceeding on its own.
Meanwhile, on February 18, 2015, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (working with privacy oversight offices in all provinces and territories) issued a lengthy report on lapel cameras, identifying privacy considerations that should be taken into account to ensure compliance with privacy laws. We again asked the Board to put this item on the agenda for the March 19 meeting. Our request was denied.
Almost nothing is known about the pilot project the Toronto police service intends to conduct. Will it meet the privacy concerns that are outlined in this federal report? What are the terms of reference for the study? How will evaluation be done? Will that evaluation be done independently and by whom? What is the cost and timing of the study?
The public has answers to none of these questions. The Board has made sure they are not talked about in the forum that is charged with governing the police.
4. Encrypting police radio
On March 2, the Toronto police service implemented the encryption of police radios so that only the police can have access to the information transmitted on these radios. This is a significant change, since until this time almost anyone with a scanner could hear what was said on the radios.
Of most importance, the media could hear what calls were about and where incidents were occurring so that reporters could go to these calls and report on what was happening. `Open’ police radios provided real transparency so that reporters could see for themselves what was occurring, and relate this news to the public at large.
With encrypted messages, this transparency is gone. Reporters don’t know what calls the police have responded to or their locations.
The public needs as much information about police activities as it can get. Encryption means the police can carry out many of its activities without the public oversight which good reporting brings. What might police officers do to individuals if they know that their activities are not overseen by those who are independent, such as reporters?
Police spokespersons have said that police will provide information after events have occurred, but it is well known from past experience that police officers rarely release any information about mistakes they have made or things that they have done improperly. Relying on police alone to say what they have done is not good enough.
Toronto police in the past have never alleged that `open’ radios caused public problems. If there are such arguments, it would be good to hear them.
In Regina, the police service has provided the media with mechanisms to the encryption system so that they can listen in on police calls. At the very least, this should be done in Toronto. Our request to appear before the Board on March 19 to make this request was denied.
5. Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs) in the GTA
In late 2013, the provincial government released a new policy, which argued that police boards could equip all officers with CEWs to ensure those officers were protected from assaults. TPAC was one of the groups that argued that the Toronto force should not equip all officers with CEWs, and the Board agreed, restricting them to officers in a supervisory capacity.
But all around Toronto, the rush has been on to buy them. The Ontario Provincial Police has agreed to equip every officer with a CEW. So has York Regional Police, and Halton, and apparently Peel and Durham and Hamilton and Niagara. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on this technology – the Halton police force itself has spent $400,000 on CEWs.
Will officers be better protected? Will the public be safer? Is this a wise way to spend taxpayer dollars? We suspect the answers are No, No, and No.
6. Strip search discussion frustrated
At the January Board meeting three members of the Board made it clear they thought the police were strip searching more people than necessary. Chair Alok Mukherjee, Mayor John Tory, and Councillor Shelley Carroll all asked probing questions about the way strip searches were done and the number of times they took place. It was said that the data on 2014 strip searches would be before the February Board meeting, and Board members agreed their continued discussion would be deferred for a month.
Chair Mukherjee said, “We will receive this and discuss it again when the chief reports the statistics in one month or two. We should hold on to this [material] so when we have the chief’s report next month we will have all this information [at hand.]”
This is clear from the video tape of the January meeting, see http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=12&rid=16&sid=3431&ref=tpsb – at about the 56 minute mark.
TPAC met with Councillor Carroll a few days before the February Board meeting and pointed out that the strip search matter was not listed on the February agenda, and in fact we had been told by Board staff that the 2014 data would not be presented until September. The minutes for the January meeting incorrectly stated that the whole matter had simply been received, with no mention of the intention to continue the discussion at the next meeting. She agreed to raise this inaccuracy when the minutes were to be confirmed.
But when the minutes were presented, they were confirmed without comment by her or anyone else, and our attempt to get the matter on the agenda was frustrated. The January discussion was the most serious the Board has ever been about changing the strip search procedure – change police management has always opposed – but now change has been frustrated.
7. Pan Am Games security
The Pam Am Games will arrive in the Greater Toronto Area this summer, and they appear to offer exciting times. There are two reasons why this event will probably not be a repeat of the G20 meeting in June 2010. First, the Games are not such a political event, although some will certainly find good reasons to raise political objections to some countries.
Second, the G20 involved police forces from around the country acting together under very dubious strategic leadership. During the Pam Am Games, we have been told by the deputy minister of Community Safety for the province, each jurisdiction will only use its own officers to deal with security issues. In Toronto, only Toronto officers will be on security detail; in York Region, York officers; and so forth. Apparently this means lines of authority will be clear.
TPAC has asked that there be strong civilian control in the planning of police strategies for the Games, but that will not occur. The Ontario Provincial Police, which does not have a civilian board that governs it, has held consultation meetings with the various police boards whose officers will be involved in security. Consultation is a good thing, but it is hardly civilian control, and none of these individual boards is in control of the whole operation, nor can they hope to influence the whole operation or fully understand the way it will function. What is needed is one group of civilians which the OPP, as the master planner, reports to, so the strategies of all forces can be co-ordinated.
For example, TPAC has argued that we need basic policies such as: no kettling; an assurance that officers will not use CEW’s unless they have video cameras which come on when they are drawn; positive attitudes to demonstrations; full name badges on outwear; no use of sound cannons; independent supervision of the different police forces to report on any incident of police assaults. We also want to ensure that street-involved people in neighbourhoods near Pan Am sites and people from racialized communities are not harassed and profiled by police prior to and during the games
TPAC continues to hope that policies and procedures will be put in place to ensure the security arrangements for the Pam Am Games are free from the problems of the G20.
8. Occasional name tags
It took much slogging (mostly by TPAC), but half a dozen years ago Toronto Police officers were finally required to wear name tags on their uniforms, identifying themselves with names rather than an anonymous number. Except not always.
The regulation is clear, but contrary to it, hundreds of police officers on the streets of Toronto conceal their name tags when they wear raincoats or winter jackets. The matter was raised by TPAC at the February 19 meeting of the Police Services Board, and after virtually no discussion the Board rejected a request to require police officers to wear name tags on all items of clothing, including raincoats. Despite the fact that both the Vancouver and Montreal police forces have such a regulation, Chief Blair rejected the idea because of the “costs” involved.
So much for the principle that police officers have a responsibility to identify themselves to the public they serve.
9. TPACer honoured
Chris Williams, a member of the steering committee of TPAC, has been honoured with the Lincoln Alexander Memorial Award, presented to a student of Osgoode Hall Law School, in honour of Lincoln Alexander, Ontario’s first black Lieutenant Governor. We offer him our congratulations.
The award permitted Chris to make a short speech which he titled `The Currency of Shared Struggle.’ Here’s an excerpt:
“Diversity can clearly function as a Trojan Horse.
“The disingenuous and duplicitous dimensions of diversity are on full display within another police force, the one right here in Toronto proper, which is often praised for extending employment to previously excluded groups. And there’s no doubt that the complexion of the Toronto Police Service is not what it was, say, twenty years ago.
“Still, as one might expect, an important form of diversity – ideological diversity – is absent from their inclusive agenda. The pathetic picture that emerges is one characterized by a host of smiling black and brown faces who walk in virtual lock-step with the same racist institutional imperatives that have held sway for several decades.
“We find, more specifically, high-ranking Black deputy chiefs who earn their $250,000 salaries by attempting to neutralize the large body of evidence – both statistical and anecdotal – regarding systemic racial profiling. In 2011, for example, the Toronto police filled out 88,300 contact cards with the skin descriptor “black,” or about 1,700 per week; that’s a stunning degree of race-based targeting in a city that, in 2011, had a Black population of 220,000.
“And in affluent parts of the city like Bayview/Lawrence, Yonge/Davisville, Bloor/South Kingsway and so forth, Blacks are eight or ten or twelve times more likely to be carded than their white counterparts. It should be noted, as well, that children under the age of thirteen are not spared the coercive experience of being stopped, interrogated and entered into the contact card database.
“Despite this, or perhaps because of this, the aforementioned Black deputy chiefs are quick to defend street level officers by invoking the discourse of crime control, as if huge numbers of Black people – including Black children – are causing criminal mayhem all over the city on a weekly basis.
“Corresponding, they engage in the tried and true practice of minimizing racism by presenting the victims as delusional and the problems, if any, as miniscule.”
Eugene Talmadge, a southern Conservative politician who initially supported Roosevelt, probably only because everyone else did, campaigned against Richard Russell to be Senator. Writes Ward, “Talmadge allies charged early and often that the New Deal imported “social equality” to Georgia, and they sought to link Senator Russell to this conspiracy at every turn. White supremacy’s survival, Talmadge warned, was at stake.”
From “Defending White Democracy – The Making Of A Segregationist Movement & The Remaking Of Racial Politics, 1936-1965,” by Jason Morgan Ward, on pages 14, 16 & 17, the following:
Russell roundly denounced Talmadge’s attempts to inject race into their political rivalry. “Any southern white man worth a pinch of salt would give his all to maintain white supremacy,” Russell argued, “and it is a disgrace that some should constantly seek to drag the negro issue into our primaries, where as a matter of fact they do not in any way participate and cannot.” Russell made clear his committment to Jim Crow…
Irresponsible rabble-rousing, rather than federal aid, inspired black insurgency…
Ward gives us some examples in his book of how the war against the Axis powers made problems for southern American racists, due to the inadvertent desegregration that took place in the military. Consider, from page 41, the following:
…As black soldiers poured into southern army bases in early 1942, alarmed locals protested to military officials and southern politicians. White southerners frequently claimed that black troops were abusing their military privileges, but these allegations often revealed little more than a steadfast refusal to grant black servicemen and semblance of authority. After a convoy of black troops rolled through Lincolnton, Georgia, in the spring of 1942, angry whites alleged that the soldiers blew kisses and showered catcalls on white women. A Lincolnton lawyer claimed that one soldier cursed out a white road crew for refusing to salute him…
…The local newspaper, which churned out editorials blasting the “insidious work” of civil rights activists, primed whites for such a protest. “It is not necessary to go to Atlanta, Detroit, or New York, or any other metropolitan city, with their large negro populations, to see the changes taking place,” warned the editor. “It can be seen right here in Lincolnton and in hundreds of other rural towns.” Arguing that the campaign for “FULL EQUALITY” was on the march, the newspaperman stressed the urgent need to keep African Americans in their place. “The negro has his rightful place in the American way of life, and he has no friends who are as good to him as the white people of the Southy,” he argued, “but as for accepting on a plane of equality, as is being advocated by some negro leaders – it must and shall not be done.”
White Southern politicians made hay about everything, including states’ rights. Like today’s Conservatives, the principles shine like coal. They had no real beef with Roosevelt’s plan to lift the economy in their region, as elsewhere in the country, but they complained bitterly about interference in their affairs and conspiracies to change their racist status quo system, which industrialists in the southern states liked for the virtual, profitable, slavery they oversaw. And so their tirades were just as often about America and Americans, as though they spoke for all of America, which they clearly didn’t. True, White southerners sometimes qualified their statements and spoke of “true Americans,” as Ward reports on page 57 in looking at the poll tax issue. “The poll tax embodied for many Americans the fundamentally undemocratic nature of Jim Crow politics, but the campaign to abolish it represented a call to arms for southern conservatives. At the Senate hearings on anti-poll tax legislation, South Carolina’s governor invoked patriotism and states’ rights in defense of voting restrictions. “I respectfully submit,” declared Jeffries, “that the eight poll-tax States are inhabited by true Americans willing and ready to make every sacrifice for the protection of our national existence.” At he same time, Jeffries argued that the South stood ready to defend its sovereignty in the face of federal interference.”
As for slavery, Ward reports on the status quo of the deep south as seen through the eyes of the capitalist class, writing that “Less than a year into Roosevelt’s first term, conservative businessmen founded the Southern States Industrial Council (SSIC). President John Edgerton, a Tennessee mill owner and former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, argued that Roosevelt’s recovery program undermined the southern labor system. By attempting to standardize wages and working conditions with a litany of codes and regulations, the National Recovery Administration (NRA) destabilized a racialized labor ladder that assigned southern blacks to the lowest rungs. “Colored labor has always been paid less than whites,” declared an Alabama industrialist, “and for good reason.” -page 11
*edit, April 17, 2015 – I was curious where the post count stood once they decided to kill the topic, which they were going to do eventually, so I popped in and dug it up. I will append a screen shot of the count to the end of this post.
WordPress managers: Are you looking for the gatekeeper of the year award?
WordPress is being destroyed. Soon it will join Fluffbook and other diversionary social media designed not to enlighten, but delight, people, who won’t grow up, with bright colors and valueless content. Professionalism can’t be counted on in a mafia capitalist system in which it’s not about what you know and do, but who you know and what you do for them. If you know, and don’t annoy, those with the ability to protect and prosper you, then you simply work for them and don’t concern yourself with what they ask you to do. There have always been people without principles who subscribe to the ‘riches for the strongest’ philosophy. They have principles only in the sense that they know them and can manipulate people by pretending to observe, with good intentions, those principles. The period of deep darkness that we’re in now, in which neoliberal capitalism has meant the shredding of social safety nets, and fewer well paid, secure jobs and fewer and weaker unions, means that such ones are more eager to show the few with power (and therefore money, which, in a money system means life) that they can serve them well.
Professionalism is like democracy. You can’t honestly say that the world is a place where everyone is principled and socially responsible, so that they seek to work not just for their own betterment, but for society’s betterment. You can only say that ‘some’ individuals have a professional work ethic. You can’t call this world democratic. The wild beast of corporatocracy isn’t democratic. It’s vicious, like a wild beast that is always hungry and doesn’t care what it eats. And it’s bigger than any of it’s prey. It’s components, from nations states downward, are the same. Democracy resides in pockets (including a few of the larger components of corporatocracy, such as Venezuela) and in the breasts of individuals only. And often that democracy is tainted with a hate-on for God.
The most striking feature of the vampire capitalists is their desire to replace God and enjoy the kind of power he has, giving and taking life as he sees fit. (Which is why it’s so sad to find that so many of their victims have the same attitude toward the Solution.) So they have to reject the true God in order for them to proceed in that mode. And they reject him with extreme prejudice, for he sees where they’re going and he has no intention of taking away from them the free moral agency which he gives to all his intelligent creation. So he gives them up to the darkness they choose to embrace, allowing them to fill up their measure, so that they can be judged in full righteousness for the evil that they do in their effort to call out God. They call out God because they hope he does ‘not’ answer. That’s one way for them to convince themselves that they are indeed God. How do you call out God? Knowing that he’s a God of love, you simply act with the greatest hatred and violence and lawlessness that you can get away with, figuring that if anything will get his attention, then your behavior, in effect a loud and clear condemnation of God and his standards, will do it. And rebels like moral support, so, in all they do, they attempt to sell their lie to others. Misery loves company. But you can’t prove a lie.
Here are the 25 posts that accumulated while I was sleeping today. I work at nights. I don’t remember exactly when I went to bed, but it may have been about 11am. This isn’t fun reading, and some of you will get more from it than others. Not everyone blogs. Not everyone is technically savvy or savvy to the same degree. Many of the posters here are way beyond me in proficiency with computers and WP. And that’s good, since I get ‘all’ of my fixes and workarounds from those ones. And no thanks, these days, from WP. I don’t know on an individual basis exactly who to finger for the bad stuff being done here. I’m sure that not all staff are stinky. But the buck stops with management for sure. WP volunteers who pop into the forum to help WP bloggers with issues, as far as I can tell, are awesome and not always so happy with what WP management is doing.
A few bloggers in the forum from which the screenshots above were taken provided some solutions along with lots of moral support for the community. Here’s some workarounds from one of those bloggers (named Penguin). The first link is his (or her) first offering. The second link is the result of the Penguin’s efforts to round up the workarounds we have so far and present them in a simple manner:
Are WordPress managers, and their supporters, full of attitude? The indications are not good. When I first discovered the serious problem with the editor, and started a discussion about it (see bottom of post) – the editor had been mutilated in WP’s ongoing effort to bury it and given us something much fluffier in it’s place – I didn’t know that there was a honking huge discussion of it taking place elsewhere. A poster named Galois (in the forum) directed me to the forum where the action was taking place. A couple days later, I see a response from an assistant, shawnajroberts, to my original post (in the topic I started but abandoned in order to pick up the discussion in the topic that had been started before I started mine). Who is she and why resume posting in a topic I started ‘after’ seeing that I’ve taken the suggestion to enter the proper discussion already going on? Basically, The assistant seemed to be telling me (facetiously) that my ship had come in because the fluff editor, or as some call it, the kiddy editor, is now working just fine. Check it out:
I see that some rat gatekeeper is hindering me because he or she (or…) sees that I don’t have the ‘right’ political views. (And in order to hinder me that gatekeeper(s) had to hinder someone else going by the name ‘Vlatko’.) And because it’s just too easy. Which is fine, because it gives me an excuse to point people to a fantastic documentary I saw recently. I had heard about GasLand but had not got around to watching it until a short time ago. I tend to lose track of time, but if I am to go by what the dates on the comments show, it was about February 4th that I watched the documentary, which I had already downloaded. (I must have checked into Top Documentary Films to see whether the entire doc was there before downloading the file, which I did a month or so ago. I don’t remember. Even then, I didn’t finish the download for some time. It was slow and I had other things to do, so I set it aside. I only recently finished the download and even more recently viewed the documentary.) I wanted to link to the documentary on my own blog if it was available for free online, so I popped into Top Documentary Films and looked it up. Some of TDF’s entries are free to view and some only allow you to view a trailer. I don’t know whether it’s always been that way. I don’t know much about TDF’s owners. But I do know all that I need to know about Amazon.
There is a trailer for GasLand on Top Documentary Films and a link that takes the viewer to the Amazon website so that he or she (or…) can purchase the documentary from Amazon. Please do support this, if you can, by buying the documentary. I say that even though I detest Amazon. They are two different subjects.
I tossed a comment into the discussion following the trailer on TDF about Amazon, which is an evil, but big and hard to avoid, company. Check out my screen shots. I simply said that I’m sick of progressives sending me to Amazon. (Is TDF ‘progressive’? I have no idea, even if many of their offerings are from authors who are progressive or progressive enough.) I phrased that the way I did because often enough I find the same casual re-direction to Amazon on progressive websites and it annoys me. (Usually when I’m looking up books online, I run into that. But there are alternatives to Amazon for book buyers. I only use Amazon’s site to quickly find the publisher of the book and then I buy my book directly from the publisher if I’m able to. But there are still other book sellers out there. There’s also ebay.) I wanted to make the point that progressives should avoid Amazon. If these behemoth, anti-worker, antisocial, tax evading corporations can do things like join in financial blockades against people’s champions (like Wikileaks) who irk them, then we can boycott them, not that I think it really hurts them. Maybe now and then we make one hurt – and they all see that as an acceptable cost of doing business the way they do business – but overall it won’t make a dent in the corporatocracy. Still, What’s sauce for the goose…
That comment made it into the discussion. Then someone asked me simply “Why?” Then I responded by pointing them to my blog post (or maybe it was to the Democracy Now episode about Amazon and Jeff Bezos). I don’t remember exactly. But they killed Vlatko’s question by tossing it into a purgatory called ‘Mod’. Did the moderator die?, because that status is frozen. Therefore my reply to Vlatko doesn’t show. (I will one day reply to myself a second time, posting the link I would have posted in my reply to Vlatko. But not now.) So I figured I’d toss in another comment, in response to my original, stating that I had indeed responded to Vlatko, but that comment has been disallowed (indirectly, as I explained). So far, that comment has been allowed. So, My first and third comments were allowed. My second comment, namely my reply to Vlatko’s question, was disappeared. The funny thing is, You can see Vlatko’s comment, waiting upon moderation. It’s only my reply to him that you don’t see.
I took notes when I watched GasLand. I intend to use it in a post I’ve been trying to find the time to do but haven’t succeeded in that quest. Part of the problem is that I have zero privacy at home. I hate typing at night because I live in a room and, even with a towel under my keyboard, I’m sure the fellow who share’s my wall can hear it. So I don’t work as much as I’d like to. And the quality of my work is no doubt impacted by this arrangement. I feel like someone walking alone in the woods who hears a bear grunt behind him. Do I stop and be quiet? Do I keep going and become dinner? Anyway, Here’s a few things I grabbed from that astonishing and sad documentary:
Is Dick Cheney a professed Christian? (He’s certainly not a genuine Christian.) If he is, then he should take note that the apostle Paul has no use for him. In his letter to the Romans, Paul said, about the godless crowd in his day, that “Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting. And they were filled with all unrighteousness…” and were “false to agreements…” (Romans 1:28-32) Indeed, Darkness is it’s own reward. Life and God’s approval are not the rewards for embracing darkness and becoming one who is false to agreements. Our law and order governments are filled with that sort of person.
Josh goes to Sublette County, which consists of 4,935 square miles of the state of Wyoming. Much of Sublette County is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM’s mission statement is to preserve the land for the enjoyment and use of future and present generations. Dick Cheney, as head of the Energy Task Force, asked BLM in 2001 to find ways to open up new federal lands to gas and oil leasing. (At the same time, the US, never happy with nationalized industries, was urging Iraq to let more private investment into Iraq’s oil sector. We know what happened a short while later. Because Iraq did ‘not’ possess weapons of mass destruction, it’s time was running out.) Dick persuaded BLM to lease millions of acres to gas companies for exploration and drilling. Dick’s success, in effect, constituted a betrayal of the American people by their government.
How hard is it for these players in the great game of ‘riches for the strongest’ to trample on the human rights of citizens in other countries where they have resources that those players want when they happily treat their fellow citizens with utter disdain? Cheney et al, claim that it’s all about national security and that oil is at the center of national security. ‘Now’ that might be true. But in the sense that that consideration was never what motivated these players (including players like Russia and China), it isn’t true. (Have US ruling classes ever shown a scintilla of interest, beyond rhetoric, in using it’s stature in the world, post World War 2, to steer the global community in a direction of sustainable energy and security and prosperity for all? Nope.) Cheney et al are seeking dominance within the global system that the US designed, just as Israel’s ruling class (a US proxy) seeks dominance and the freedom to attack other countries without fear of effective retaliation, while claiming it’s all about national security, as Noam Chomsky notes.
These players have all modded themselves into vicious beasts. Nations don’t have to devour each other. They don’t have to compete to see who will dominate. They choose to. But that’s history that they will not subscribe to or teach. The US, as Michael Klare (http://bit.ly/1FDdRl9 + http://bit.ly/1MM8nXo), Michael Hudson and Robert Parry clearly show, manoeuvers to stay in charge of the world. And it does so recklessly and heedless of the fact that their actions, and the actions of their private sector partners, are dooming the liveable earth. William Blum notes (chapter 18 of “America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy – The Truth About US Foreign Policy And Everything Else”) that for eight years, Al Gore was vice president and did diddly squat to encourage corporate America to embrace a vision for America and the future that didn’t include the destruction of the liveable earth. And in Gore’s documentary, “The Inconvenient Truth,” he says virtually nothing about corporations’ role in taking us all over a cliff.
Regarding the creation of the moonscape known as the Jonah Gas Field, in Sublette County (and north of Yellowstone National Park), Josh notes that some have called it the greatest giveaway of public lands to private interests ever. I’d love to find some quotes. I tried a Google and came up empty. But that’s no surprise. Google, which does evil, is only part of the problem. Google’s corporatocracy partners, political and corporate, will go to any length to get their way. In his discussion with Diane Rehm, Josh explains how the gas industry deployed vets to do psyops against him and how they even stole his name so that people Googling it would land on fake sites. You name it. The earnest pleas of innocence from the likes of Steve Everley, who is with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, are really meant for a large segment of the population that pays zero attention and only knows what the mainstream media pushes at them as they slouch in front of their television sets.
From “Trading Wyoming For Gas” by Terry Tempest Williams, the following:
The simple question “What’s in the water and how did it get there?” is becoming increasingly critical to public health in the state of Wyoming, especially since the oil and gas companies do not have to divulge to the public the names of the chemicals they are using in the fracking process. These names are protected by law — a law many in Congress are trying to change — but the petroleum lobbyists are powerfully motivated to maintain the status quo.
So when a film like Gasland comes into the public’s view, no wonder America’s Natural Gas Alliance gets defensive. The scene where a man lights his tap water on fire should give all of us pause. This is fact, not fiction, in hidden pockets of the American West, more common than we wish to believe. Bless Josh Fox for giving us the truth, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for recognizing it.
So, Dear reader, when will ‘you’ be filtered out? Because the fascists running most of the world are ramping up their war against the people. The bovine segment of the population, everywhere, won’t notice or understand if it does notice. But even it will notice once the world has been completely transformed into something like Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The opulent minority seeks the greatest high it can get. And it get’s it’s high by taking the means of survival from others. It wants to play God, holding the power of life and death over others. Nazi Earth, if it had time to completely form, would mean austerity for most of the world’s inhabitants and prosperity for the rulers and their tools. Why wouldn’t you notice it if your freedom and security and comfort were to be taken from you?
A few more tidbits from Josh’s first GasLand doc include:
* There are over 596 chemicals used in fracking. They mix with water and are blasted far below the surface of the ground so as to fracture the rocks and release the natural gas trapped within them. In total, there’s something like 40 trillion gallons of water wasted this way. That’s ‘wasted’. The industry doesn’t voluntarily tell us about those chemicals. We find out from activists, like Doctor Theo Colborn, with expertise. As Theo Colborn points out, it’s next to impossible to know the way we need to know what the gas industry is throwing at the environment because of exemptions that enable it to evade informing us about the chemicals they use, which in turn makes monitoring more difficult. (At the beginning of the document, Josh looks at the Acts that were passed to make Americans safe. The oil and gas companies, thanks to Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, gained exemptions from all of them. That’s The Clean Air Act and The Clean Water Act and the Superfund Law [Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, And Liability Act] and about a dozen other regulations.) And the EPA is too corrupt to be counted on to help here, as a whistleblower who Josh talks to explains.
* At the beginning of the documentary, a resident of Dimock, Pennsylvania, hands Josh a jar of yellowish brown liquid, and later tells him that it’s something they’ve seen the gas company dumping into creeks. Josh gives the jar to a testing lab. Near the end of his doc, he gets a call from the lab about their results. There’s scary stuff in that water, which happens to be ‘produced’ water. (Sure, Make it sound like your God, blessing us by producing water for us. Sheesh!) Produced water is the liquid concoction used to frack ‘after’ it’s been used. Two of the chemicals freak Josh out, namely MBAS (methylene blue active substance) and TKN (total kjedahl nitrogen). They discovered MBAS in Steven’s Creek in central Pennsylvania. MBAS dissolves fish gills. And they found an undisclosed Halliburton chemical in Meshoppen Creek in Dimock. (I’m not clear about what ‘undisclosed’ means, in regard to ‘one’ chemical, if the gas company is not telling us anything, let alone that it’s dumping their produced water illegally into creeks.) And that’s going on all over North America.
I’m not clear about the anonymous caller who talks to Josh about the illegal dumping near the end of his documentary. Is that someone from the testing lab? Or the nervous resident who first handed Josh the jar? But whoever she is, she asked the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection about it and said that she felt like she was talking to a tree. Here’s mafia capitalism at work. It’s not about what you know and do, but about who you know and what you do for them. She can work and get paid by going along with the criminals, the protected and powerful special interests, or she can speak out and risk losing her job. But about the same time I watched GasLand, I saw a video online that reminded me of this woman’s statement. (I forget which I saw first.) A State Department spokesperson, Jennifer (Jen) Psaki, made reporters laugh (and no doubt weep, inside) when she literally responded like a tree to questions about her perverted comments about the US never doing regime change. She literally stiffens and stares momentarily, as the below video will show. They just have no shame. (See
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Mike Blanchfield follows:
China is pressuring a committee of Canadian Parliament to rescind its invitation to the leader of Hong Kong’s democracy movement to appear before it and give testimony, The Canadian Press has learned…
Lee, a veteran pro-democracy activist, was one of several people arrested last December after more than two months of demonstrations against restrictions that the Beijing government is imposing on Hong Kong’s first election in 2017.
The protests paralyzed Hong Kong and gave rise to a new opposition movement that is seen by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a threat to his country’s stability.
My two online responses to the above linked-to article follows:
“The protests paralyzed Hong Kong and gave rise to a new opposition movement that is seen by Chinese President Xi Jinping as a threat to his country’s stability.” You can’t really twist someone’s arm to do something that they want to do, Can you? The author suggests a narrative where Stephen Harper, on principle, opposed the human rights record of the Chinese regime but then reality set in, accompanied by reminders of it from a business lobby (not to be confused with Canadian CITIZENS who want a say in matters, like the tar sands, affecting them), and he started talking nice. Are we really tossing out the ‘stability’ line here? Really? And yes, the ‘author’ is doing so by failing to point out that the Chinese President is ‘claiming’ that he’s concerned about stability. It’s not a good thing, my friend, when stability means ZERO democracy. Are we clear?
China pressuring Canadian Parliamentarians? Should we be more upset about this than the fact that the Chinese gov, through it’s oil companies (they are not private companies) has been allowed to self-regulate here in Canada[?] In other words, China has already been given, just like that, political power by this government. They already have had more to say, effectively, about matters that are very, very important to Canadians, not to mention the planet [than Canadian citizens themselves]. Are Canadian voters okay with the way neoliberal governments like Harper’s government, trample democracy and trade political power in return for being a glorious player who other players in the mafia capitalist system [can] admire?
The author had the opportunity to call readers’ attention to the use of the term ‘stability’ by people like Stephen Harper and Xi Jinping. He chose to channel their propaganda instead.
Let us remember, also, that Paul Dewar, the NDP’s foreign affairs critic, belongs to a Party that is okay with the Alberta tar sands operations. Thomas Mulcair, who the mainstream media are not solidly against (unless he’s talking about Dutch Disease), wants pipelines – wherever. (See “Mulcair’s NDP: The New Liberal Party” by Murray Cooke) Therefore, He wants the tar sands operations. But he wants ‘responsible’ development of the tar sands. It’s hard to argue with being responsible, now, Isn’t it? Stability, too, just can’t be bad, Can it?
I wouldn’t vote for the Green Party, but I must say, Elizabeth May seems to be doing the job we usually look to the NDP to do. See Elizabeth’s Epoch Times article titled “China’s Stake In Canada’s Oil Sands A National Security Threat.” Why the Epoch Times feels the need to substitute ‘oil’ for ‘tar’ I don’t know. Then again, I’ve always found the Epoch Times to be not quite right.
Michael Geist is one of the good guys, even if he makes me nuts when he joins two sentences with ‘however’ on a regular basis. I also can’t follow much of what he says because he makes little effort to put his commentary into terms that non experts like myself can understand. Still…
An excerpt from the above linked-to article by Michael Geist follows:
The House of Commons debate over Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism bill, began yesterday with strong opposition from the NDP, disappointing support from the Liberals, and an effort to politicize seemingly any criticism or analysis from the Conservative government. With the government already serving notice that it will limit debate, the hopes for a non-partisan, in-depth analysis of the anti-terrorism legislation may have already been dashed. This is an incredibly troubling development since the proposed legislation has all the hallmarks of being pulled together quickly with limited analysis…
The only detailed review to date has come from Professors Kent Roach and Craig Forcese. Their ongoing work – three lengthy background papers so far (Advocating or Promoting Terrorism, new CSIS powers, expanded information sharing) – provides by far the most exhaustive analysis of the bill and is a must-read for anyone concerned with the issue…
1. Information sharing purposes
The bill opens the door to information sharing due to “activity that undermines the security of Canada.” Rather than using the CSIS Act definition, however, it creates a new expansive definition that covers:
any activity, including any of the following activities, if it undermines the sovereignty, security or territorial integrity of Canada or the lives or the security of the people of Canada: (a) interference with the capability of the Government of Canada in relation to intelligence, defence, border operations, public safety, the administration of justice, diplomatic or consular relations, or the economic or financial stability of Canada;
(b) changing or unduly influencing a government in Canada by force or unlawful means;
(c) espionage, sabotage or covert foreign-influenced activities;
(e) proliferation of nuclear, chemical, radiological or biological weapons;
(f) interference with critical infrastructure;
(g) interference with the global information infrastructure, as defined in section 273.61 of the National Defence Act; [that provision reads: ““global information infrastructure” includes electromagnetic emissions, communications systems, information technology systems and networks, and any data or technical information carried on, contained in or relating to those emissions, systems or networks.”]
(h) an activity that causes serious harm to a person or their property because of that person’s association with Canada; and
(i) an activity that takes place in Canada and undermines the security of another state. For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.
Terrorism is included within the definition, but several of these provisions would seemingly allow for information sharing for almost any investigative purpose, particularly “public safety” and the “economic or financial stability of Canada” (think of the government’s recent reaction to the proposed CP strike, which was said to have major implications for the protection of the Canadian economy).
My online response to the above linked-to article follows:
(i) an activity that takes place in Canada and undermines the security of another state. For greater certainty, it does not include lawful advocacy, protest, dissent and artistic expression.
Where’s the out for Canadian mining companies in that? Then again, Laws can always be broken by those with the ‘right’ political views or connections. Bruce Livesay’s book, “Thieves Of Bay Street,” makes the point that Canadian banks are protected from serious examination by the RCMP because of their connections to politicians. Similarly, Prime Minister Harper is protected from serious examination by any agency due to his, and their, fear of and partnership with uncle Sam. Anyone imagining that Stephen Harper, who was cited by Peter Milliken for contempt of Parliament (a finding supported later by the Procedure Committee), is all about law and order should examine Yves Engler’s book titled “The Ugly Canadian.”
Regarding Canada-based mining companies, still free to destroy ‘everywhere’ since our law and order-minded PM and other ‘honorable’ MPs killed off Bill C-300 (http://tinyurl.com/o66qddu), consider the following:
“Canadian mining corporations operate thousands of mining projects outside this country and many of these mines have displaced communities, destroyed ecosystems and provoked violence. Pick almost any country in the Global South – from Papua New Guinea to Ghana, Ecuador and the Philippines – and you will find a Canadian-run mine that has caused environmental devastation or been the scene of violent confrontations…
“Under Harper all levels of Canadian diplomacy have promoted mining. Anthony Bebbington, director of the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University, told the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in February 2012 that a “sub-secretary in a [Latin American] ministry of energy and mines” told him “as far as I can tell, the Canadian ambassador here is a representative for Canadian mining companies.” The Massachusetts-based academic also quoted an unnamed Latin American environment minister, who complained about Canadian lobbying and mining, saying: “I don’t know if Canada has been quite so discredited in its history.””
In this upside down world, and with ramped up police state laws like C-51, corporations working with governments will do much of the terrorism happening while those, including immediate, direct victims of it, will wear the (government’s) label of terrorist. It’s upside down. It’s perverse. It’s godless. But God, who they who would replace God, call by all their violence and perversity to “Bring it!,” has taken notice.
Kent Roach and Craig Forcese’s papers: