sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (bat country)
I'm going out of order here, because the next Blogcember prompt was about pizza preferences (which I do want to write about!), and it felt a bit weird to have a serious post about Nelson Mandela that's getting linked to all over the place, followed by a post about pizza.

Anyway, [ profile] maeve66 asked: "What you're going to do in Morocco! Also, what is a VLPA or some gathering of similar initials?"

So! The background to this is that I've wanted to go to Morocco since I was a little kid. This is as a result of knowing someone who went and came back with photos of the architecture, and also reading way too much William S. Burroughs at far too early an age. MY CHILDHOOD TRAVEL DREAM AND I'M DOING IT, you guys.

I'm going on a tour, because that's the only reasonable way to see all the places I want to see in a short period of time and my command of French leaves much to be desired. (My command of Arabic is non-existent.) I'll be in North Morocco: Casablanca, Rabat, Fez, Chefchaouen, and Marrakech. What I'm doing? Seeing stuff. As much stuff as possible. Particularly architecture.

VLAP is the thing that makes the whole thing possible. See, when you're a teacher, you get crazy amounts of vacation (and need it). But it's only at Christmas Break (when it's expensive to fly and most people have some sort of obligation), March Break (a week long), and summer. You can't take vacation any other time. I'm not complaining, and I'm totally willing to pay more because the perks of my job are awesome, but the thing with Morocco is that the temperatures average around 90-100°F in summer. I am actually willing to endure that for the sake of my childhood dream, but the friend I'm going with is much more sensible than I am.

Now! Rewind back to the shitty contract we got enforced on us last year. As shitty as it was, like most neoliberal economic ideas, it was short-sighted and actually didn't save anyone that much money. (When we had 20 bankable sick days a year, the average teacher took 7—and I took way less than that until I got Maggie. Now we get 11 non-bankable sick days, and there is zero motivation to not take all 11, since we lose them otherwise. A supply teacher costs $250 a day. Your homework, boys, girls, and genderqueers, is to do the math.)

In another effort to save money, the Board started offering a Voluntary Leave of Absence Program (VLAP), where you can take up to five days of unpaid leave. That amounts to a substantial pay cut, but I saw that and went, "fuck it, I can attach it to my March Break and go to Morocco! Hells yeah!"

And that's what I'm doing. Because childhood dream.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fighting the man)
"Mandela once told me, son, when you're engaged in guerilla warfare, take advantage of any toilet you come across — you never know when you'll come across the next one." — Ronnie Kasrils, ANC military coordinator

 photo 988656_10151677139444304_444533083_n_zps99520772.jpg

The world lost a great man today, and while it's not a tragedy as such—living to 95 and seeing your dreams, for the most part, fulfilled is a triumph that deserves more celebration than mourning—even a long-anticipated loss of someone so incredible is still painful. I won't write a long eulogy or reflection; there will be enough of those soon enough, most of which are probably already written. (I mean, he was 95 and very ill; don't tell me that the chattering class didn't have his obituary written for years.)

What I want to write about instead is the importance of memory. Tomorrow morning, I'll find out if my kids even know who Mandela was. I certainly did at their age. I'm part of the shrinking group of people whose memory—political memory, that is—is just long enough to encompass the 80s and the anti-apartheid movement, and it's strange sometimes, and it will be stranger in the next few days.

In my earliest memories, opposition to South African apartheid was radical, subversive, and dangerous. The boycott movement was a grassroots thing; governments didn't get on board until much later. Friends of mine who were active in the movement had their phones tapped—and this was here, in Canada, where they could be little threat to a racist regime on another continent. It wasn't a popular or palatable fight, not here, not in the beginning. And yet. Many of the politicians who, over the next few days, will laud his legacy, did not support the ANC's struggle, and in fact opposed it, as the ANC were deemed uncomfortably communist. (Mandela, of course, was arrested in 1952 under the Suppression of Communism Act and found guilty of "statutory communism," though the sentence was suspended. What a thing to get charged with!)

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Now, we'll see a distortion of Mandela's struggle as world leaders clamour over each other to proclaim him a saint. Which—while he was very close to one in my eyes—is an insult to history and his memory. Did those proclaiming his greatness and that of the anti-apartheid struggle now support it then? Do they support today's liberation movements, today's struggles for justice and against white supremacy, poverty, and oppression? We will see him held up as somehow beyond politics (he was not), as a pacifist (nope); we will see his legacy simplified into convenient soundbites. Just like the American Right today claims, inexplicably, Martin Luther King Jr. as one of their own, ignoring 99% of what he ever said, the Hang Mandela lot will no doubt demand his legacy, and theirs, sanitized.

If you want to honour Nelson Mandela, and you should, don't let them. Don't let them turn him into someone bland and unobjectionable. Don't forget that the ANC were derided as violent terrorists, that they were radicals in favour of redistribution of wealth and land (at least before the struggle was won and they were quickly co-opted into the global austerity agenda) it was grassroots activists and not governments or elites who started the boycott movement outside of South Africa, don't forget that the good fight, on occasion, can be won.

Mandela can rest in peace, now. The rest of us shouldn't.

ETA: Three Fingered Fox's brilliant post on Mandela and peaceful resistance.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (the beatings will continue...)
You know about this, I'm sure, but three members of [ profile] pussy_riot got two years in jail for a political protest. Isn't it great that there's no more Soviet Union and Russian citizens are free to express their beliefs?

Here's a letter from Billy Bragg to Pussy Riot:

There was a protest today, but I missed it. At least the world is outraged? That's something, I guess.

In South Africa, police murdered 34 striking miners, because apparently we've travelled back in time to that era of labour and race relations.

In Jerusalem, dozens of Israeli youth attacked three Palestinian kids, one of whom is now in intensive care.

It's a much smaller thing and no one got killed, but apparently it's a problem to have Asians on our money. Because Canada doesn't have a problem with racism at all.


Mar. 23rd, 2012 05:12 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (teh interwebs)
My LJ has been rather repetitive lately, all B5 and spinal tumours, so I thought I'd share some interesting, inspiring, and horrifying articles and posts that have caught my eye but that I've been too preoccupied to blog about.

Most of you have probably already read The White Saviour Industrial Complex, one of the many excellent critiques out there of Kony 2012.

In addition to the library workers out on strike (and inside city workers likely joining them soon), Air Canada workers staged a wildcat strike. For obvious reasons I can't join the solidarity actions, but if you can, you should. Also, this is one industry that I feel even the most right-wing, anti-union bigot ought to agree needs to be paid well. I mean, do you want the guy who helps land your plan to be overworked and underpaid?

The largest political protest in Canadian history happened yesterday, with 200,000 students, teachers, parents, union activists, and others striking against proposed tuition hikes. (That article's in French; the English-language press has been stupid about the whole thing. Here's an English article from the CBC, but it downplays the numbers and significance.

Via [ profile] symbioid, a heartbreaking article about the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Via [ profile] hano, Robert Bales is not the victim. (Robert Bales being the murderous scum who slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians, including children.)

Via [ profile] marlowe1: Hey, frum parents! Get your daughter a facelift or she'll never find a husband. I posted some pretty shocking links above but there's something about this one that is just a special kind of wrong.

Watch Bruce Schneier trounce the former head of the TSA in a debate about security.

signal-boosting a petition against forcing American ISPs to police downloads )

ETA: Because the above is pretty grim, watch this video about a blind stray dog living in a trash dump until she's rescued by nice people. It will make you cry but it has a happy ending, I promise.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (harper = evil)
The RCMP have invaded Mohawk territory, arresting 38 people. The reason for the incursion? Pot dealing. Just as a reality check, 13.3% of Ontarians smoke weed regularly. 36% of adults between 18-29 smoke weed. Generally, police here don't care if you smoke or deal weed as long as you're white.

So maybe, maybe, there is something going on at the Rez besides a case of reefer madness. I didn't actually have to do any research. That's not the pot that's making you paranoid: Harper's actually targeting indigenous Canadians.

Information obtained by the First Nations Strategic Bulletin through Access to Information requests reveals that almost immediately upon Harper’s taking power in 2006, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was given the lead role to spy on First Nations. The goal was to identify the First Nation leaders, participants and outside supporters of First Nation occupations and protests, and to closely monitor their actions.

Expect more of this now that spiteful, racist Canadian voters have given Harper a mandate to trample on the self-determination and human rights of the First Nations.

Meanwhile, closer to home, our Honourable Drunken Wife-Beating Mayor is tossing the idea of branding public parks with corporate names. Now the TTC may also be following suit. In a way, you know, I look forward to this. It's very cyberpunk. I can't wait until Toronto is turned into a neon-noir dystopia, like the Manhattan of my imagination, with giant billboards awash in acid rain. Oh wait.

If you';re wondering what Canadians can do to help dissident movements in the Middle East, the answer is: Not this. Yeah, a Guelph company called Netsweeper makes sure that when the citizens of Yemen get too uppity, their internet gets turned off. Best quote:

“It’s no doubt a great market opportunity for them,” said Ronald Deibert, who heads the Citizen Lab, which examines human rights in the digital era, at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Yes, that Munk.

I hate this country.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (she)
Latest thing that Canadian-owned mining company Barrick Gold is doing to people of Tanzania and Papua New Guinea: raping them. That's not a metaphor, either.

Cracked has some astute analysis of the Twitter revolution.

Want to know how much extra the cops made for beating us all up during the G20? Millions.

Ottawa riot cops who answered a midnight call and raced to make it to Toronto by Sunday morning each billed $2,079.99 for a single day’s work.

Three police officers from the tiny township of Stirling-Rawdon made more than $25,997.66 in overtime pay alone.

One Hamilton cop earned $31,590.27 in six weeks.

My favourite quote is this:

All the officers were paid time and a half, Ford said, because they were called in on days off. He said the more than $2,000 paid to each officer was fair, because when you include travel time “the officers worked 37 hours straight.”

Travel time? The poor dears! If I got paid for travel time, everyone would be up in arms about overpaid teachers. I travel 15 hours a week for work.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (eat flaming death)
I have two doozies for you today.

The first is about Canada and our mines. Canadians like to think of ourselves as peaceful and humanitarian, but we are actually right murderous bastards when it comes down to it. Canada owns 40% of the mining companies in the world, and we are known internationally for horrific human rights abuses and environmental devastation.

In Tanzania, Barrick Gold's operations have prevented locals from making a living, stealing Tanzanian resources to profit a Canadian company. Life-threatening levels of arsenic have been found near the mine; in May 2009, 203 people became ill and 43 people died near one of Barrick Gold's sites. Some of the locals, in a desperate attempt to survive, have been invading the mine to "steal" gold (though it's not really stealing, unless one believes that Canadian gold magically got under Tanzanian soil). So naturally, we had those guys killed.

Apparently because we can't resist pouring salt in a wound, Barrick Gold then banned the families of the victims from holding a memorial at the mine.

If the police decide to use force against us, it is entirely up to them. We will hold a peaceful ceremony,” said Tundu Lissu, a lawyer who has worked on behalf of residents around the North Mara mine and who is an opposition MP in Tanzania’s parliament.

“We will not be intimidated or told how to mourn our dead by the very people who murdered them.”

Despite the ban, a van with a loud speaker still drove through the streets of Tarime inviting townspeople to attend. It was quickly followed by a police truck issuing a warning to residents against taking part in any such activities.

Disgusting. For more information on how we're fucking over people and the environment with our greed, check out Canadian Mining Watch.

Professional misogynist stooge Margaret Wente is at it again! In her latest offering, this blathering maggot has managed to spew forth the most incredible drivel that, I believe, may very well win some sort of award for the most concentrated clusterfuck of virulent racism, sexism, and homophobia ever contained within a single sentence.

The sentence in question is as follows:
Why would a man who’s married to a thoroughbred like Maria Shriver cheat on her with a plump Mexican housekeeper?

Really, you batshit drooling harpy? Really?

It gets worse, too. For some reason, the Chattering Class has decided that any mention of the adulterous Schwarzenegger must also contain a reference to violent rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn*, and vice versa. And no, not because one questions the likelihood of non-coerced, freely given consent where a rich and powerful man and a racialized, marginalized woman in his employ are concerned.

Wente makes the dubious claim that the case of Strauss-Kahn "is a tragedy of Shakespearean dimension (or, at the very least, the makings of a great novel)." Again, not because a woman in a vulnerable position was brutally assaulted. It's a "tragedy" because of its impact on European politics. Wente feigns sympathy for the women involved, but her focus, and distress, is centered around the fall of great men and how their "follies" are making us all look bad.

Anyway, that's it. I'm all for freedom of speech, but for the love of everyone's sanity, someone take away that woman's laptop.

* Okay, alleged violent rapist.


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