sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (raccoons of the resistance)
Last December, 19-year-old Durham teenager Dafonte Miller was savagely beaten by an off-duty Toronto cop and his brother. A cover-up ensued, made worse by the knowledge that the poor kid is going to lose one of his eyes. It's not the only instance of police brutality against racialized people in this city, but both the young age of the victim and the blatant corruption of both the Toronto and Durham police forces have made the case a symbol for everything that needs to change here.

Earlier this summer, journalist Desmond Cole—already forced out by the Toronto Star for his involvement in Black Lives Matter—was arrested at a Toronto Police Services Board meeting and inexplicably charged with trespassing (this, despite the fact that the meetings are open to the public and press and he more or less followed procedure; the man is, after all, a respected reporter who regularly attends such meetings) and fined $65 for trying to shed light on the criminal assault on Dafonte. This raised tremendous ire amongst all decent people in the city, excepting, of course, the stalwart defenders of free speech, who were strangely silent on the issue.

For this month's meeting, Cole was prepared, and asked people on Facebook to accompany him to the meeting in case they tried something sketchy again. Determined as I am to squeeze in whatever I can do to help with sorry world before I'm once again buried in an even deeper avalanche of work, I showed up, along with a massive crowd of other concerned citizens and press.

I'm not sure I've ever set foot in TPS headquarters before; I don't think I even had to do it when I did my criminal record check, but if so, that was the only time. You need to go through a metal detector and a bag search, which is apparently new this month, and due to the fact that for some reason, members of the general public have recently decided to exercise their right to attend Toronto Police Services meetings, and the cops aren't best pleased about it. They have TV screens set up inside and outside, but the mics are very quiet, and despite the fact that the meetings are supposedly open, it's near impossible to follow the actual discussion. The agendas, while available, skip a number of items for no obvious reason.

Not that anyone was there, it must be said, to discuss The Way Forward plan, budget allocations, or what colour police cars should be. No, everyone was there for the same reason—the deputations—evidenced by a slow wave of folks writing "WE'RE HERE FOR DAFONTE" on the backs of their agendas. There were two issues, somewhat related. One: Unlike every other institution in the city, including my own, the TPS has refused to implement the Don't Ask, Don't Tell* policy issued in 2013 with regards to non-status immigrations. Two: The process into evaluating the success of School Resource Officers (SROs, a.k.a. armed and uniformed cops in schools) is deeply flawed and one-sided, right down to the paltry academic research on the subject being down through Ryerson, the only Toronto university that doesn't have a faculty of education.

At any rate, the meeting went from boring and incomprehensible to seriously exciting the second the deputations, which included Cole and a number of other interesting people, my second favourite being Gita Madan from Education Not Incarceration. The Board made every attempt to minimize Cole's ability to speak, but since he wasn't actually violating any laws, he and the others got the message out—end the SRO program, implement DADT now, and Mayor McBland should resign from the Board. There were a lot of cameras. Then he led a walkout and addressed the crowd on the steps of police HQ.

You can read all about it here.

The meeting room, the overflow room, and the halls were full of people, though again, the crowd seemed to consist of everyone but the folks that claim to believe in a principled and consistent defence of free speech. There were parents with their babies, school teachers, academics, and activists, black, white, indigenous, Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Asian. I suppose you might call the meeting "raucous"; I would term it "enthusiastic" or perhaps "engaged." It was almost as if regular people decided, together, that we should get a voice in the way "our" police force is run.

Without public pressure like this, there will be no chance at justice for young Dafonte. I feel incredibly honoured that I got to be part of something like this today.

* Americans, I can feel you cringing all the way from here. It means something different in Canada! Here it means that if you provide a public service (such as being a social worker, teacher, doctor, nurse, or theoretically a police officer) you don't ask someone their immigration status, and if you do find out that they are not here legally, you are not allowed to report them to Canadian Border Services. This ensures that no one is prevented from medical care or education, abuse victims can seek protection from their abusers, etc.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
There’s this glurgy poem about the Earth being a few feet in diameter. It’s an incredibly cheesy poem (and will you check out the cheesy website I found when I went searching for it to write this post), but I’m kind of partial to it for what it reveals about human psychology. It ends as follows:

“People would love it, and defend it with their lives because they would somehow know that their lives could be nothing without it.

If the Earth were only a few feet in diameter.”

This gap, between real things and representations of things, is at the heart of something I’ve been struggling to get my head around in recent months. The passion I see for stories, be they movies, games, or—gasp—sometimes novels, is something that I share, and yet it boggles me that as much as they affect culture in a broad sense, they seem to often have little impact on the individuals most devoted to them.
long and with pictures )


Aug. 13th, 2017 11:28 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Went to a hastily organized vigil for Charlottesville. There were maybe about 50 people and almost as many TV cameras. A blessed minimum of speeches as we all knew why we were there. We sang "The Red Flag" and "Solidarity Forever" and marched with drippy candles to City Hall.

it helps, at times like these, to be with folks that get it. There's another demo tomorrow morning but I don't think I'll make it because 8 am is very early. So I'm glad this one happened.

ETA: as I type this, I'm reading of another attack, this time at a solidarity demo in Montreal. Fortunately the victim survived. We must fight these bastards; nothing less than our survival and the survival of the most vulnerable communities is at stake.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Like many (most) of you, I'm grieving the murder of Fellow Worker Heather Heyer, a member of the IWW (an organization I was proud to be a member of for many years), the injuries of dozens of others, and the brutal assault of Deandre Harris at the hands of fascists and white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA. Unlike a lot of (white) people, I'm not surprised. This is America with its gloves off. This is what we warned against. It was always going to come to this, and I fear it will get much worse before it gets better, if it does at all.

For a good long time, I've been actively confronting local fascists who organize and demonstrate under the thin veneer of free speech. Plenty of liberals and radicals alike have informed me that this is a waste of time, that the antifa who show up reliably every time the fash demonstrate are not radical enough, are too radical, aren't diverse enough, are too militant, are not militant enough, exclude less privileged people who can't physically show up, are secretly anti-Semites despite a significant number being Jewish, and are just plain doing it wrong. I'm not into calling out individuals and groups, but I have paid careful attention to who I see there, and who I don't see there.

I can only hope that Heyer, Harris, and those standing beside them and fighting back haven't sacrificed in vain. I hope that this is the end of inaction, of false equivalence, of turning our words on each other rather than on the enemy. I hope that this is a clarion call for action.

I'll repost what I said in the Other Place:

Hey GTA people posting your outrage over Charlottesville: did you know that a group of fascists regularly demonstrate at City Hall under the guise of "free speech"? We go to oppose them and try to prevent them from marching. Sometimes we're outnumbered. If you're really angry about what happened, coming out to shut this shit down here before it becomes tiki torches and vehicular manslaughter is a concrete thing you can do.

Also, if you have $ and are not sure which crowdfunding initiatives are legit, this is a good place to start.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
Today, in a fit of pique, the following occurred to me (prompted by me posting a leftist pop culture critique, only to be told that the author of said post was being called out at the moment, though for reasons that had nothing to do with his post):

Politics, but instead of doing anything about it, we just post “your fave is problematic” over and over again.

Okay, that's not completely fair, but I'm increasingly of the opinion that the left has become even more of a toxic and humourless wasteland than it was the last time I was regularly going to protests, with less effect. Say what you will about grim Stalinist and Maoist dystopias, at least they were effective. What passes for activism these days is not, largely because call-out culture, about which many pixels have been spilled, targets our friends rather than our enemies. 

Also, I am pretty sure that there is not much overlap between "people who are heavily, or even slightly involved in real-life activism" and "people who call out problematic people over the internet." I can't prove it, though.

That's not to say that we should pretend that problematic ideas and people don't exist in our movement. Of course they do. And we shouldn't tolerate sexism or racism and transphobia from our allies any more than we tolerate it from our enemies, but the perfect is the enemy of the good. A rigid adherence to standards nurtured in academia and inaccessible to the vast majority of people who feel that shit is fucked up and wrong is not productive, and it's not like we have so many friends that we can afford to alienate most of them.*

At the root of this, I think, is an overabundance of seriousness. We have focused so much on creating the perfect political terminology, actions that walk the line between confronting capital and creating a safe space**, ensuring that our meetings take place under appropriately sterile circumstances, that we have failed to create a lively, dynamic culture that extends past the protest and meeting and Facebook re-share and into our daily lives. In short, we have forgotten that this struggle should be fun.

"But wait," my straw-activist† exclaims. "You're not taking this seriously! Not everyone has the privilege of being an activist because it's fun."

Of course, no one's an activist because it's fun. It's not fun. Even when you get to fight with a Nazi, it's much more scary than anything else. I would vastly rather marathon Netflix on the couch than wake up at ass o' clock to march in the streets, and I really do it because I'm compelled, because I don't have the privilege of ignoring the world's drunken flailing towards fascism. Because if we lose, I die and my friends die. Fun isn't the end goal here; it's part of the process.

If you look at movements throughout the world and throughout history, you'll see that desperate times and privation and hard, often fatal struggles, did not stop people from having a sense of humour or building community and culture. Witness the dark satire in the plays of Brecht, the poetry of the Zapatistas, the songs of Joe Hill. What I see missing on the left is the hopeful alternative, the shared art and music and theatre, the giant puppets in the street protests, the creative actions, the meetings in pubs†† that bleed into social gatherings. The idea of fighting for and not just fighting against. Even totalitarian state communism had its enjoyable moments; strangely enough these days the only people I see really creating an active, vibrant political culture are tankies. The very people who you'd expect to be the most uptight and humourless are the ones manufacturing memes like they're boots for the revolution. And good on them; it's why I like tankies more than most people whose politics I, on paper, agree with.

It's a matter of pragmatism, not warm fuzzies. Seriousness is unsustainable. Most of the young people currently calling out this that and the other thing††† will not, long-term, be involved in activism. Anger is a good temporary fuel, but it burns out quickly once jobs and kids come into the picture. The way to retain people and to draw more into the movement is by building links that are less easily severed—those of friendship and community.

Among the most effective groups I was ever a part of had as its core members myself (then an anarchist), a Trotskyist, two MLMs, and a Cuban revolution fanboy. We did not have much political common ground with each other, much less with some of our allies. What we did have was a simple shared goal and debriefing sessions at skeezy bars that degenerated into drunken giggling that had nothing, superficially, to do with politics. I don't doubt that these types of connections are happening now, on an individual level, but I don't see it happening at a larger scale. I don't know how to make it happen—most of the new comrades I meet manage to piss me off within 30 seconds of interaction—but I think it needs to. I know it needs to.

It's worked for the far-right. Their schoolyard humour got Cheeto Benito elected. People who like the spadgebasket like him because, for whatever reason, they find him funny. They're in no small part desperate, jobless, broke, and suffering, but they can find the space for a laugh.

In other words, more giant puppets, people. More biting satire and music and graffiti and I don't care what, just lighten the fuck up and stop trying to make everything perfect and safe.

P.S. If you hadn't noticed, I'm under the same name on LJ and DW. I'm not jumping ship on the latter, ridiculous TOS or not, seeing as I have a paid account at least through next year. But if you wanna add me on DW for the same fun content and fewer icons, by all means do so.

* I say this as someone who holds a lot of grudges. There are people on the left who, for reasons of offences committed recently and otherwise, I cannot be in the same room with.

** This is impossible BTW.

† Not really. I've met loads of people like this.

†† You can't do that, Sabotabby. That's ableist!

††† Today I learned that Love Life of an Asian Guy is racist and misogynist, and that PissPigGranddad—who as far as I'm concerned is a fucking hero—is a "war tourist."

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 It was cold. It was well-attended. There were too many speeches and not enough marching, given that the temperature was minus balls.

Much too cold to take proper photos, but here are the two I managed. Note the dudes with guns on top of the US Consulate, despite the fact that it's a Saturday and it was closed:

protesters us consulate

ETA: Better picture, taken not by me, giving a sense of scale:

big crowd of protesters
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (fighting the man)
Today marks the 45th anniversary of the Attica uprising, and the beginning of a prisoners' strike across the US.

A what?

See, what a lot of people don't seem to know is that slavery never ended in the States. Oh, sure, there was that bit with the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement and post-racial Obama, but slavery is still perfectly legal. You just need to be in prison. If you're in prison, the 14th Amendment makes an exception for you. You're also stripped of voting rights and you're likely to be subjected to what we would consider cruel and unusual punishment if, say, a communist country did it. The very fact that prison rape jokes can be a thing tells you how barbaric the attitude of most North Americans is when it comes to those behind bars.

"But wait," you cry—well, not you, you know better—"aren't these rapists and murderers paying for their crimes against society?"

Not most of them. A system exists in the US where simple lawbreaking that most of us do—say, getting a traffic ticket, or having a small amount of drugs*—can compound and compound until it lands you somewhere incredibly unpleasant. Needless to say, this does not tend to happen to white people and it frequently happens to racialized people, especially black people—you know, the ones who were historically enslaved. "I'd never break the law," someone not-you might say. Chances are you have and it just wasn't caught and enforced. But when a population is as much under scrutiny as Black and Latinx Americans, if they wanna find something on you, they'll find it.

And then it's legal to make them work for free for hugely profitable corporations like Victoria's Secret, Whole Foods**, Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and AT&T. (Here's a campaign dedicated to identifying and boycotting which companies employ slaves.) You maybe saw something about that on Orange Is the New Black, but it's way worse in real life. So much so, even, that I'd wager a lot of the American economy is dependent on slave labour, the way it's dependent on under-the-table labour from non-status immigrants.†

If you're interested in learning more about why the prison strike, and why today, here's a great cartoon from the Nib that breaks down the issues and context.

And if you, like me, are interested in knowing how it's going, what's happening right now, whether there's repression or progress and whether there's anything you can do to help—well, good luck. The news is crickets. Even Twitter is crickets. If someone has any info, please share it

* Not me, CSIS. I'm clean as a whistle.
** Fuck those smug libertarian crunchy shitbags with a rusty spork.
† Canada's not any better, particularly when it comes to dependency on exploited immigrant labour, but this is specifically a post about American prisons.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
Went to the May Day rally today even though the weather was basically tiny little daggers of cold penetrating one's skin and soul. It started out a dreary affair—not enough people, speeches no one could hear—but picked up an hour or so later when there was actual marching to be done.

These guys had the best sign:

(The back said, "Capitalism ≠ super lit 100—Karl Marx." Also check out David Cameron's dream girl on the drum.)

Anyway, a lot of my friends were there, along with the predictable members of the fringe left. The Communist Party of Iran was out in full force, distributing the exact same leaflet they have at every other May Day, ever, except with some of the countries changed and now they're hailing Bob Avakian as the greatest socialist mind who ever lived. But the march was pretty spirited.

It ended up in Regent Park, which is currently experiencing the violence of gentrification. We passed the Paint Box Bistro, which is one of those well-intentioned but overpriced places that tend to be the vanguard of people getting displaced from their homes. Inside, the NDP were having a party for Linda McQuaig and just came out to cheer as we passed by. Awk. Ward. So as out of touch as the fringe left can be at times, at least we're not that out of touch.

Anyway! Happy May Day, all.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
FullSizeRender 5

Last night, there were demos in at least 18 Canadian cities and towns. I went to the one here with [ profile] misslynx. It was surprisingly large, given the two days that the organizers had to get it together. We shut down traffic at Yonge and Dundas and Yonge and Queen* and rallied outside of the Canadian Border Services Agency office.

Here's some coverage from CTV.

More photos )

Meanwhile, the Tories remain sad that all this dead baby stuff is making them look like big meanies during an election campaign and committed to taking in fewer refugees and supporting Assad (reminder: the reason the war in Syria started four years ago) by bombing anything we can.

There are a lot of horrible things in the world. I can't do anything about most of them. I can do something about this.

* Non-Hogtowners: The busiest part of the downtown.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (socialism with a human face)
For reasons, I have been reading extensively about the Okhrana's surveillance and infiltration of Russian émigré communities from the 1880 to early 1900s lately. It's some pretty wild stuff. One of the things that strikes me is just how disorganized and weird a lot of these operations are, like, "I seduced this guy*, drugged him, kidnapped him, and got him on a boat to Russia, without making sure that the boat had enough fuel to get to Russia without stopping at one of the many countries where public sympathies are in his favour." Or the sheer number of high-profile assassins who were actually Okhrana agents but still assassinated Tsarist officials. And the sheer number of Okhrana officers who, when given the opportunity, went "fuck it, these guys are assholes" and told the revolutionaries everything they knew. Or the ones who went, "hey, let's get some occultists involved, for reasons."

You can't make this shit up.

You can justify it somewhat because people back then didn't have the intertubes or the countless books on espionage best practices that we all have access to now. They were just kinda making it up as they went along. Surely, sting operations against leftists are smarter now?

Enter the RCMP.

RCMP tracked Toronto activists with fake Facebook profile

Has a waddle of penguins ever “liked” your Facebook page? If so, your account may have been monitored by the RCMP.
“Will there be food and drinks?” an officer wrote on the Facebook page for an anti-Novotel union rally in 2012. “Cause I am on a fixed student income and will bring some buddies to add to the numbers if we can grab some free food.”
The social media account, which went by the name of Bebop Arooney and had a profile picture of three penguins frolicking on a beach, tracked the Facebook pages of more than two dozen organizations in Toronto, ranging from Black Lives Matter Toronto and Idle No More to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Six Jewish and Palestinian groups were also monitored.

WWF wrestler Mick Foley also attracted the Mounties’ attention. A second RCMP social media account — @angrycitizen123 — followed Foley on Twitter."

So, yeah. Don't friend penguins on FB, okay. Also, the RCMP is watching all of us, but kinda badly.

* Vladmir Burtsev. Obviously.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
It was a bit on the cold side, but in the interests of being able to look my kids in the eye tomorrow and myself in the mirror tonight, I went to the Black Lives Matter Rally in front of the U.S. Consulate. It was a huge crowd (especially since, as far as I know, it was organized yesterday, and also it's Toronto in November) and very well-organized. The mic kept cutting out, unfortunately, but what I could hear of the speeches were powerful and passionate.

I have some bad cell photos to share with you. Sorry about the blurriness, but you can get an idea of the scale.

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
Part of why I'm working on refusing people who ask me to do unpaid work for them is that the municipal elections here are starting to heat up, and that's where my volunteer efforts are best directed. Specifically Paul's campaign for city councillor (check out all the new content! Also, follow him on Twitter and Facebook), but I'm also enthused at how Olivia continues to be practical and level-headed and full of energy and confidence, in stark contrast to continued revelations about the Honourable Wife-Beater's criminal activities.

Meanwhile, Sarah Thompson, unable to stay out of the spotlight for even a minute, declared her candidacy for mayor by riding in to City Hall on a horse-drawn wagon.

Toronto politics. Gotta love 'em. It's a long time until October, but right now we have the incumbent bashing into journalists and embroiled in scandal, a bunch of "sensible" conservatives who won't decide amongst themselves who's best for the job, and an experienced, left-leaning, smart person leading the polls. I'm happy, you guys.

(I mean, I'm exhausted, because activism happens around my continually expanding work hours, but after almost four years of absurdist dystopia, my beloved city might get fixed. And this directly relates to my continually expanding work hours, because I have to stay late almost every night these days and then commute anywhere between an hour to two hours home on transit, in Mars-like weather, and had it not been for Ford, I'd have a much shorter commute by now. But. I'm also optimistic for the first time about where Toronto is going.)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (red flag over TO)
A few people have asked about FordWatch and why I've stopped posting a count of how many days it's been since the Honourable Wife-Beating, Drunk-Driving, Ass-Grabbing, Bird-Flipping, Crack-Smoking, and Possibly Drug-Dealer-Murdering Mayor has done something stupid. The answer is that I designed the graphic to display only whole numbers demarcating full days, and he can't go a single day without doing multiple things that are so stupid that it breaks my brain to even think about it. [ profile] bcholmes still has it up on Under the Beret, but as you can see, the counter is permanently stuck at 0. Apparently someone asked her why there was space for four digits there. Heh.

So! What's going on with our fair city today? Well, a body was discovered in the Humber River in Etobicoke, but it appears to be that of a missing man who drowned rescuing his dog and not that of our still-missing video guys. The Star is now saying that Anthony Smith was not killed over the crack video but because of local drug feuds. I wouldn't rule out the possibility that said local drug feuds involve the Fords in some way, but the Star is, and it's kind of their business to go after Ford. So. The HWB and/or allies likely did not kill Smith, but with the whereabouts of the video guys still unknown, I'm not striking "potential murderer" off his list of crimes.

Link round-up from the Star:

Premier Kathleen Wynne, who had previously hinted that she might step in to save Toronto from its current chaos, actually can't do anything. Good. I respect her for trying, but it's best for everyone if she keeps this at arm's length and lets Doug Ford's connection with Tim Hudak take down her biggest opponent. (You know, not that I want Wynne to win the next provincial election—I'm still hoping for Andrea Horwath to do something impressive.)

The latest on Ford's popularity and chances of re-election. Unchanged. The interesting thing is why it's unchanged, and what this says about the various factions of the wingnut right.

I know if my job title was consistently prefaced by the terms "embattled" and "scandal-plauged," I wouldn't go courting any additional controversy and I'd be out there trying to make friends. But then, I'm not Rob Ford. So he's once again decided not to go to Pride. Heh. Again, good.

Here's an article about yesterday's (poorly organized and disappointing) demo calling for Ford's resignation. Hopefully we can build up some momentum—after I've sold and distributed more t-shirts. And here are some photos from the demo. Both [ profile] rbowspryte and I can be seen in some sporting said t-shirts.

I think that's about it. I don't think I posted Corey Charron's new track, "Smoking Crack With Rob Ford," so in case you haven't heard it yet, here it is:

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
As promised/threatened, I want to start a discussion about dealing with people in activist organizations and communities that make life difficult for everyone. It's not, of course, just about activists. Toxic individuals surface in every community. In my second home, geekdom, there's just as much if not more problems in this regard. But activism is a space where your sole purpose in functioning as a community is about making the world a better place, and thus it's doubly frustrating when someone's behaviour or person interferes with that.

Our troubled hypothetical activist group is above ground and not engaged in any sort of illegal or clandestine activities, but is nevertheless monitored with intermittent interest by the authorities. It is a small group, with no controls right now on membership because it's trying to grow and reach a wide audience. It doesn't operate on consensus, but votes only happen after long periods of protracted, often pointless discussion.

In an attempt to avoid singling out any one group, cause, or individual, I'm just going to go ahead and use the names of aliens from Babylon 5 to talk about the kinds of tensions that arise.

scenarios )

On a quasi-related note, interesting discussion about Readercon and what happens when someone you like does awful things.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (she)
So I was in Hampstead today, participating in the Justicia for Migrant Workers vigil commemorating the eleven people killed in a van crash six months ago. The situation today is no less dire—if anything, it's gotten worse. Six migrant workers have died in the last two weeks. The drought conditions have caused crops to fail, meaning that many of the migrants who come here to cultivate and harvest our food—often paying thousands of dollars for the privilege of doing so, earning below minimum wage and barred from unionizing—were summarily deported to their home countries. Changes to unemployment mean that many Canadians who would otherwise be eligible for EI will be forced to take jobs that previously only migrants would, pitting the reserve army of the unemployed against the already dreadfully exploited farmworkers. Part of the struggle for better working and living conditions involves recognizing that these folks even exist and reminding the country of the horrific lives they lead, just so that we can have cheap food.

The call-out from Justicia:
Six months have passed since the tragic accident that killed eleven people near Hampstead, Ontario. Amongst the dead were 9 migrant chicken catchers from Peru. The impact of this accident has been felt across the hemisphere as families struggle to cope in the wake of this accident. To commemorate the sixth month anniversary, Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is organizing a March and Vigil entitled 'Remembering the Dead, Standing up for the Living'. It will take place Sunday July 22, 2012 starting at noon.

Working with the survivors of the accident, the march and vigil is being organized to raise awareness of the thousands of migrant workers who have been injured, become or sick while working in Canada.

The survivors of the crash, Javier and Juan, wish to break the invisibility not only of their situation but to raise the profile of the conditions faced by migrant workers across Canada. Their message is clear: Federal and Provincial laws designed to protect migrant workers don't work! Fundamental steps need to be taken to ensure that migrant workers are treated with respect and dignity. Our demands are as follows:

Safe working conditions
Status upon arrival
No fees for work
Equal access to all entitlements
Modernize labour laws to reflect the realities of migrant workers
No repatriations and deportations

Where can I find more information?


"Buy Ontario" doesn't sound too wholesome now, does it?

more pictures under here )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (march)
I am a bad, bad blogger.

Like the rest of the English-language media, I've been totally crap about blogging what's been happening in Québec, which is only the most politically significant event in the country right now. I mean, I've been re-linking to a bunch of things on Facebook, but that's not the same as getting the word out about what's been going on there, what those red squares are all about, and the massive violations of civil liberties that are taking place while the rest of Canada has a long nap.

Okay, so it all started with a student strike over tuition rates. Yes, Québec tuition rates are the lowest in the country. Entitled Boomers, forgetting all about their own advantages, say that Québec students are spoiled brats for wanting them to stay that way. I say, if your city has the lowest amount of homicides, does that mean you should raise that rate to be on par with the rest of the country? A post-secondary education is mandatory for any job above minimum wage (and increasingly required for minimum wage jobs), and tuition rates are a barrier that keeps lower-income people out. Period. Québec's low tuition rates have kept the province more egalitarian (that and universal daycare).

So it's not just any strike, but the largest in Canadian history. And it's been violent. By which I mean the cops have been gassing and shooting these kids. Several young people have lost eyes because the cops are aiming for their heads.

If that's not enough to hit all your rage buttons, the government just passed an emergency law, Bill 78, drastically restricting civil liberties, particularly around campuses. It initially defined a "riot" as a gathering of 10 or more people; that was later amended to 50, which still rules out some of your more exciting dance parties. There have been mass arrests and kettling, the same techniques that, two years after the G20 here, have been deemed illegal and immoral.

And yet the movement keeps growing. The students aren't discouraged, the protests keep getting bigger, and are drawing international support. Even—and you're going to love this one—the National Post is coming around:

“Entitlement.” We hear that word associated again and again with student protesters in Quebec. Usually, it’s preceded by the words, “sense of.”

“They think someone owes them a living,” disgruntled critics harrumph. “Wait until they get into the real world.”

Setting aside the fact that this intergenerational hectoring dates back to Socrates, let us ask: Who exactly is making the charge? Quebec has had low tuition rates for a half century. That means almost every living adult in the province, having already been afforded a plum goodie, is now wagging his finger at the first generation that will be asked to pay the tab. So who really is entitled here?

So that's why a lot of us are wearing red squares. This has become much more than disgruntled students not wanting to spend half their careers repaying a massive debt. This is about class, and wealth distribution, and equal opportunities for all.

And it's kind of amazing.

cut for video that autoplays )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (iww manifesto)
If nothing else happens today, May Day 2012 will be forever remembered as the year the Left remembered about graphic design.

post 'em if you got 'em )


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 (purged!)
Hey, I haven't done a leftist sectariana post in forever. Let's change that. Check out Cause Pimps. (Warning: If you are prone to seizures, don't check it out.)

It was brought to my attention courtesy of two people who seem to be among the author's primary targets. (They're both lovely people, incidentally.) Once again, I was insulted that I have not been included in the directory of Bad People—as Wilde put it, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about—and it occurred to me that perhaps I should join the SPO just to warrant a mention. But I don't like their logo. Anyway.

Cause Pimps is an interesting site for a few reasons. I mean, the most obvious is the hilarious animated gifs and unfortunate colour choices. But politically, it's interesting because it seems to be an attack from the left, or at least from someone who was on the left at one point, but doesn't hesitate to use right-wing talking points, and occasionally swerves right into full-on conspiracy theories. I can almost guarantee that I'd know the author by face, if not by name. This is someone who has been on the wrong side of either an OCAP schism or a CKLN schism, or both. Not a hard thing to do, and however much I respect the work both groups do, it can be a painful, isolating thing, so I might have a little sympathy for our mysterious webmaster. Except, well, he's wrong, and also the site is really terrible and eye-watering.

A few highlights:

The control system seems to work at three levels. The rawest is the police/judicial complex which is widely said to be run by the Masons. The Toronto police headquarters is surrounded by Masonic symbols.

Anyone who has tried to get justice done through either the civil or criminal courts has become aware of a seamless system of denying justice. It runs from the cop on the beat through the legal aid system to the court staff to the judges to the attorney general's office. If the Masons are not the coordinating system in this, then it is some group much like them.

I can think of many, many reasons to hate Toronto cops and cops in general. The theory that they are Freemasons is not one of them.

The kind of people and organizations who you will be given intelligence about on this site are really, really not going to like it. We expect intense efforts to try to take this site down. Let them try.

If, by "take it down," you mean linking to it on their Facebook pages and directing everyone there for a good laugh, yep, that's what they're doing right now.

Should we complain to google? Anyone hitting Andy Lehrer" and "pimp" can find this page due to cross links with other pimps pages. The truth will come through despite all the efforts of the liars to throttle it.

This quote, admittedly, is a hundred times funnier if you know him. Still, I think he'd be pretty amused if people were actually Googling "Andy Lehrer" and "pimp."

The world is also full of people with unresolved mental problems, or who have serious mind circuit problems. The true crazy refuses to accept that there is something wrong with him, not with the world around her. Generally, they think the world is slighting them and sometimes they become violent.


Toronto activism is so weird, you guys. So. Weird.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (she)
If you live anywhere near southern Ontario, you can't avoid the story of the van crash that killed eleven people near Stratford.

It was the kind of accident that isn't. The police are saying that the van driver, who ran a stop sign and shouldn't have had so many people in the vehicle, was at fault for the crash. I say that the real killer here is the vicious loophole in Canadian law that allows farmers to employ seasonal migrant labourers under conditions that Canadians with status wouldn't tolerate for a second. They are brought here—and have to pay for their trip—exposed to dangerous chemicals without proper protection or training, forced to work long hours for ridiculously low wages, and forbidden to organize or unionize. They live in dorms on the farms and their personal lives are up for scrutiny by the bosses. Here's a post about what it's like inside one of the vans. Protections enshrined in Canadian labour law do not apply to them. If they complain, they're blacklisted. They were put in the situation that got them killed by an unscrupulous agricultural lobby, a government that claims to be tough on immigration but is fully willing to exploit immigrants when it's to their own advantage, and a Canadian public that simply does not give a shit about the lives of migrant farmworkers.

The victims were mostly from Peru; one was from Nicaragua. Many were members of the same family. They came here because of the economic pressures we in the First World have brought to bear on Latin America, making a desperate choice to eke out the cruelest of livings.

Here are their names:

Jose Mercedes Valdiviezo-Taboada
Cesar Augusto Sanchez-Palacios
Enrique Arturo Leon
Corsino Jaramillo
Mario Abril
Oscar Compomanes-Corzo
Juan Castillo
Elvio Bravo-Suncion
Fernando Correa
David Armando Blancas Hernandez

Justicia 4 Migrant Workers has organized a day of action (I'm working so I can't go) and is calling for a coroner's inquest.

We owe it to their memories, and to their families, and to all other migrant labourers on Canadian farms to fight the ignorance and racism that perpetuates this exploitation.

And here's a song. This is not a new story.


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