Ruined – part 1

from the Star:
The Star filmed pedestrians crossing at the Yonge and Dundas Sts. intersection to see how many fines could be laid if the “Phones Down, Heads Up Act” takes effect. (Toronto Star Wire Services)

“Toronto should follow Honolulu’s lead and fine distracted walkers” by Emma Teitel

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The thing I fear most when I am looking at my phone while walking down the street isn’t the possibility that I will get hit by a car or fall into a ditch. It’s that an elderly person will make eye contact with me.

I fear this more than death or sudden descent into a hole because the look that elderly people give me when I text and walk at the same time — an activity that usually leads me to lose my footing in a divot or stumble over a buried tree root — is one of profound judgment and pity. It’s a look that says, “You don’t need to use a cane or a walker to get around. All your faculties appear to be in order, and yet you still can’t manage to make it down the street in one piece because of that device in your hand. You’re a bit of a loser.” If looks could kill, in other words, this would be one of the lethal ones.

This is why I wholeheartedly support the belief that governments should issue fines to people crossing the road who have their eyes glued to the screens of their smartphones. Not only is the practice exceedingly dangerous, it provokes soul-crushing looks of disapproval from old people that no one should ever have to bear.

This wasn’t the first article I read today, in the Star, dealing with this subject. The were two others that caught my attention. To be fair, I also think that there’s a problem here. (Pedestrians are also drivers are also cyclists and they all misbehave.) But I have to thank Edward Keenan for helping to put matters into perspective. The first article I read, “The ‘zombie law’ may be coming to Ontario. Can you guess how many pedestrians we saw on cell phones at one Toronto intersection in 10 minutes?,” by staff (?), included some links to other Star writers weighing in on the matter. I then read Edward’s article, which riffed, partly, off of a few other articles by writers (Martin Regg-Cohn, Emma Teitel) at the Star. Keenan (“Distracted walking ban is a zombie idea that has infected the brains of reasonable people”) derides Teital’s stated position with this:

“Distracted walking” is the less apocalyptic term, and I see I’ve addressed it before, one year ago this week, actually. But apparently it needs addressing again, because this is kind of a “zombie idea,” in that it keeps resurfacing from the grave, and periodically feasts on the brains of decent, otherwise reasonable people.

Like Liberal MPP Yvan Baker, who proposes a private member’s bill to formally ban texting and walking, and Premier Kathleen Wynne, who may be entertaining supporting it. And like my esteemed colleagues Emma Teitel and Martin Regg Cohn, who have written supporting the idea…

Let’s take Teitel’s argument first, since it is so amusing and fun, as arguments go…

I would just point out that applying this things-some-stereotype-of-our-grandparents-disapprove-of principle more broadly would, if the chatter down at the Country Style is any indication, also mean banning “that noisy rap crap” from the radio, require most of us to hike up our pants and stop hiking up our skirts, and force us to get out of bed early on the weekend to “catch the worm.” This isn’t a legislative agenda I would welcome, really…

…As Oliver Moore of the Globe and Mail reported recently, the Toronto Police Service’s Clint Stibbe could not recall a single instance of a pedestrian being struck because they were distracted by their phone in the five years he’s served as the force’s traffic spokesperson. More pedestrians are struck and killed while standing on the sidewalk, Moore observed on Twitter…

…In my experience, laws that are “educational” or “aspirational” and rarely enforced are vulnerable to being selectively enforced, employed as a means of harassment or intimidation, or as pretext for a stop and search, or as a way of filling quotas — and employed most against certain groups of people authorities may want to target. The Star’s pages have been filled with examples of such selective enforcement for more than a decade. This is especially a potential problem with something like phone use, where whether a person was looking at the phone in their hand or not is a matter that’s usually unprovable unless there is videotape on hand.

The ruin I’m referring to in my post title is the spiritual and mental ruin of people that is so widespread and serious that it has rendered this system of things liable to destruction. My focus is on the reporter, Emma Teitel, who is reporting on what she sees as zombie citizens. (If that’s actually her concern, then she’d be berating people for reading corporate-owned media, only, and believing all that it reports. That’s not going to happen, Is it?) I think that it’s important that reporters are not zombies. I don’t know Emma Teitel. Maybe she’s done some stellar reportage. Somehow I doubt it. Why does she work at the Star?

I found the title of Keenan’s article interesting. It’s like he’s furiously trying to fight back against irrationality. There’s no cleverness in the title, just straightforward, plain, detailed English. It’s like he’s pleading with his Star colleagues to “Please be reasonable!” But he’s working at the Toronto Star. He use to work for a small, Toronto community paper and was one of my favorite writers. The Star no doubt pays more and will look better (to some) on his resume than what would have shown otherwise. But… This is the same paper that channels government propaganda shamelessly, which means that it also quite U.S. foreign policy-aligned, Daniel Dale’s amusing articles about Donald Trump notwithstanding. Make no mistake about it.

On free trade, the Toronto Star is absolutely pro. On NATO, it’s pro. On U.S. regime change operations (including Myanmar and Thailand and everywhere where a government is too weak to resist Corporatocracy trouble-making and not subservient enough for the U.S.-based 1%’s liking) and Israeli atrocities, it’s on the side of the U.S. ruling class (which is intertwined with most other ruling classes). Nazis are good but peaceful BDS advocates are dangerous extremists. Fascism, as in Ukraine, is not radical, but those trying to defend themselves from corporate predators and their allied militaries are. Head-chopping ally, Saudi Arabia, is bombing Yemen to hell just because it can and because it wants to and the U.S. is party to that and so is Canada by its support for all that the U.S. government does.

From the Toronto Star:
This combo photo shows some of the Rohingya Muslim women who say they were raped by members of Burma’s armed forces. They come from a variety of villages in Myanmar and now live spread across several refugee camps in Bangladesh. (Wong Maye-E / The Associated Press)

This is in today’s Toronto Star, along with the articles on zombie laws:

“Rape of Rohingya women by Burma’s armed forces has been sweeping and methodical” by AP reporter Kristen Gelineau

The consumer of corporate-owned media (Toronto Star for example), exclusively, can be forgiven for concluding that something (which will be what the Canadian and U.S. governments decide upon) must be done, now. But that’s the problem. The ‘something’ is already happening. It’s called destabilization and unwary, ignorant citizens, bombarded with propaganda, will be made to think that what their governments are striving for is ‘their’ (the people’s) idea of stabilization, with peace and security for ‘all’ as a central concern. But that’s not the case. Actual stability, from the people’s standpoint, is the problem, from the 1%’s standpoint, and the propaganda push that ensnares many caring people is designed to undermine it.

“The Rohingya cause has received support from hedge-fund billionaire George Soros, whose Open Society Foundations push a neoliberal agenda marketed as human rights and democracy. Some supporters of the Rohingya story have pointed out that the Burmese army has close contacts with Israel and that the violence against the Rohingya minority is being stoked up by Tel Aviv. The Burmese military certainly has close links to Israel and Israeli operatives are pushing Islamophobia in the country, but Russia and China also have close relations with Israel; does that mean that China’s crackdown on Western-backed Uighur terrorists in Qingyang Province and Russia’s ongoing war against Jihadis in the North Caucasus, are also part of a Zionist conspiracy? Hardly.

“The conflict in Myanmar is extremely complex but the narrative constructed by the military-industrial-media-intelligence- ngo complex blaming the government for all the country’s problems is reminiscent of the early stages of the Western-backed terrorist campaign against Libya, Syria and many other countries. Aung San Suu Kyi may still be operating on behalf of her former Western sponsors, or she may be following in the footsteps of her father, who betrayed his Japanese imperialist backers to pursue a nationalist line.” by Gearóid Ó Colmáin (“Mayanmar defies the “International Community””)

“Frightful abuse” in the enemy sphere equals a “return to stability” in the client state. – Edward Herman (pg 144 of “The Real Terror Network”)

More people – but never enough – now know about the incredible propaganda efforts of The U.S, the U.K. and their allies in relation to Syria. The White Helmets propaganda operation was unprecedented, going so far as to make those terrorists out to be heroes deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize! They didn’t get that – pushback was strong enough to derail it – but Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara, producers of Netflix’s “The White Helmets,” did take home an Academy Award for best documentary short. My point is, If that’s how far they’d go, and you know it, then don’t be surprised if you see reportage like the above, by the Toronto Star, detailing horrible atrocities committed by a government that the U.S.-led Corporatocracy (which wants to control and actually own as much of the world as it can, being especially motivated by the opportunity to establish more bases and so forth close to China) has targetted for swallowing down. Is Myanmar’s government decent? No doubt ‘no’. Is it so indecent that, in the most lawless, deceitful fashion, a regime with a solid record of regime-change, atrocities and lawlessness should get to destroy it in any way it wishes?

“Forget Oscar: Give The White Helmets the Leni Riefenstahl Award for Best War Propaganda Film” by Patrick Henningsen

“RASHIDEEN MASSACRE: Children Lured to their Slaughter by NATO State Terrorists” by Vanessa Beeley

“WHITE HELMETS: “A Child is Pretty Much Murdered Under the Camera Lights” ~ Maria Zakharova” by Vanessa Beeley

Reader: Links to genuinely progressive sites such as 21st Century Wire might not work because Google et al are employing algorithms that will keep the people from seeing what fascist governments don’t want the people to see. Perhaps you’d like to decide for yourself what you’ll look at, and agree or disagree with. Well, That might be a problem, now.

From the CBC website:
Mari Zambrano and Sergio Estepa in their home in St. Thomas, Ont., a day after they were attacked by a man wielding a baseball bat, yelling about ISIS and terrorists. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

“Man in southwestern Ontario charged after family attacked with bat amid shouts of ‘ISIS'” by Kate Dubinksi

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

They came to Canada to get away from war in Colombia, and are teaching their teenage son to stand up for others when he sees injustice.

But Sergio Estepa is still nursing a cracked rib and large bruise after a baseball bat attack Thursday afternoon in a busy parking lot in St. Thomas, Ont.

He and his family got little help from bystanders as a man charged at him, unprovoked, yelling about terrorists and ISIS…

Estepa was in the strip mall parking lot with his common-law partner Mari Zambrano, their son, and a friend, when the man started speaking to them. Each thought someone else in the group knew the man until it became clear he was hostile.

“He started saying we don’t belong here, that we are speaking French. But we were not speaking French, we were speaking Spanish. We don’t know him,” said Estepa in the apartment he shares with Zambrano and their 13-year-old son.

“Out of the blue this guy starts yelling at us. He called me a terrorist, that I’m ISIS, I don’t know, maybe because of my beard,” Estepa said. “At some point he started to charge my son, and I went in front.”

“Only one person helped us. It happened at 4:30, in a mall with a movie theatre and many stores. It’s quite an active mall. We were surprised that they pretended that nothing happened,” Estepa said.

Let me repeat what Sergio Estepa said: “We were surprised that they pretended nothing happened.” I mean, even if you’re too terrified to intervene, Can you not, after the fact, ask the man and his family if they are all right? One lady did. That’s it. It’s a wonder that someone didn’t ask the terrorist, Mark Phillips, if he was all right!

From the Toronto Star website:
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall at the Legislative Building in Regina in August. The licence plate fight between Alberta and Saskatchewan threatened to escalate into a much bigger trade conflict. Alberta’s economic development minister hinted that the province will invoke retaliatory measures on Saskatchewan’s plate ban, and Wall vowed that he’s ready to go toe to toe. (Mark Taylor / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

“Alberta license plates a no-no in Saskatchewan” by Gillian Steward

An excerpt from the above linked-to article by follows:

Maybe Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, one of only two conservative premiers still standing, just felt the need to lash out in frustration before he retires from politics.

Maybe he just couldn’t stomach anymore the NDP government in neighbouring Alberta, especially given that the Saskatchewan NDP is on the rise again.

Whatever the reason, he declared last week that Albertans should be very careful when they cross the Saskatchewan border. In fact, he made it clear that if they are going to work on Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure construction sites they better have Saskatchewan license plates or else they will be banished back to the other side of the border.

Gillian knows better, but she works for the Toronto Star, ergo. She states that Brad Wall is “one of only two conservative premiers still standing…” Which isn’t true. She doesn’t write Conservative Party premiers. She writes “conservative premiers.” Not only are Canada’s main political parties (Conservative, NDP, Liberal) conservative, but they are fascist and totally down with neoliberalism. Members of those parties are therefore fascist. The Star’s writers are, for the most part, ruined, as is this wonky Conservative Party premier, Brad Wall. At one time, the NDP was the least conservative of Canada’s main political parties. Now, whatever differences there are, don’t matter, as Yves Engler reminds us. See his article titled “The “N” in NDP Now Stands for Neoliberal.”

Israeli Police officers arrest an ultra-Orthodox Jew after he blocked a main road during a protest against Israeli army conscription, in Jerusalem, Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. Israeli police say they have arrested 40 people in protests by a fringe group within Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

““We Will Not Serve in Your Army!” Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem Beaten, Arrested for Refusing Draft” by Miko Peled (Mint News via Axis Of Logic)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

In an ongoing act of principled civil disobedience, the Ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem is standing strong in its resistance to serving in the Israeli army. Even as they are met with shocking police brutality, thousands of members of this community, known as the Hareidi community, chant and hold signs saying “we will not serve in your army.” Rabbi Hirsh in Jerusalem told me that the IDF is seen by the community as an army of occupation that wages needless wars and oppresses the Palestinian people…

According to sources close to the community with whom I was able to speak in Jerusalem, as many as 30 young men are detained each month from among the Hareidi public, charged with evading the draft. The community refuses to cooperate with any mechanism related to the conscription, and will not even show up to what is called “First Summon,” where young men and women go through medical examinations and an interview to determine their ability to serve.

Representatives and activists of the Hareidi community told me of instances where abuse and violence were being directed by military prison officials towards Hareidi youth. These including torture, and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Prisoners in the military jail are required to wear an army uniform, which they refuse to do; as punishment they are sent to solitary confinement, where they are even more vulnerable and exposed. The military prison is not equipped to serve the needs of the Hareidi life. This makes it impossible for them to eat and pray and observe the rituals of their faith.

In one reported case the commander of the solitary confinement wing strangled a detainee and smashed his head against the wall for not responding with “Yes, Sir.” Another report revealed that a detainee was strangled and pushed into a puddle of cold water in mid-December. In another case the jailers forced a young man’s clothes off and left him naked in the shower for other prisoners to see. Yet another detainee was handcuffed by two guards, attacked with tear gas and then pushed into a puddle of urine.

Another detainee was reportedly held in solitary confinement for over two weeks without being able to shower or change his clothes. He was also deprived of his rights to leave his cell for an hour a day, and receive phone calls and visits. Representatives of these detainees filed a complaint with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention but so far have not heard back.

*edit, July 29, 2018 – It seems Miko Peled spelled Haredi wrong here. Since I’m unfamiliar with this group, and a quick check quickly reveals great complexity (with a lot of history and groups and sub-groups all with different views), I only found out by chance that Miko’s spelling is incorrect. It sure wasn’t helpful when I tried finding information on them on Mondoweiss. The correct spelling, as I have indicated, is ‘Haredi’. Also, I have come across other information that seems so opposite to what Miko presents here that I don’t know what to think. For example, there’s this, by Michael Lesher: “Why haredi Jews should resist military service”

Are Israelis ruined? See the above excerpt. But I have never heard of this community before. Which figures. Not only the mainstream media (which Mike Robinson at 21st Century just now – as I type, I’m listening to a podcast – noted was largely controlled by Israel) kept this from us, but so has the alternative media. ‘Alternative’ and ‘progressive’ doesn’t necessarily mean progressive. I have no use for the religion of the Hareidi Jews. But their religion is their business. They should be entirely free to worship as they see fit. I am a staunch supporter of human rights, which I wouldn’t be if I wasn’t religious.

The above Orthodox community, in my view, has a chance at redemption (being willing to sacrifice oneself for peace isn’t piddly), whereas much of the world has gone too far. We will all be corrected eventually. The question, then, is, Will you remain after you’re corrected?

See my previous blog post titled “Those Who Rule Cause Ruin.”

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