Archive for the Food For Thought Category

Idle No More Victoria BC. Year end protest in pictures.

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Idle No More, Justice, Law, Photography, Politics, Racism, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by animal_static

It has been a long time since my last post!  My semester is finished and I finally have time to write something that I am not being graded on.  Not that I would expect anyone to read anything that I say without a critical lens.  I would be disappointed if that were the case.

It has been a busy couple of months and a lot of things have happened.  American elections, mass shootings, omnibus legislation, gun control, shady trade deals, attempted genocides, disastrous disaster relief, European general strikes, and the end of the Mayan Calendar just to name a few items that immediately come to mind.  It’s a lot, and arguably too much negativity on the global scale given that my last post was only in the first week of November.  Maybe it is the approach of 2013 but it feels like things are changing.  Negativity and hate are on the rise but are also accompanied by reactionary social awareness and action.  People are taking to the streets in greater numbers and at a greater frequency than I can remember.  Someone somewhere once said that things become more apparent as you immerse yourself in your reality.  Perhaps it is an increasingly critical political appraisal that comes with a personal struggle to understand what anarchism means to me that is bringing all of this action into focus or perhaps people everywhere have simply had enough.  It’s probably a little of the former and a lot of the latter.  We all have a personal and collective threshold of values which can and have seemingly been crossed for people all over the world.

Enough preamble.  I attended the Idle No More event yesterday (December 30) in Victoria BC and I wanted to share a few pictures of my last protest event of 2012.  The message is important, the weather was great, and so was the turnout.  It is always amazing witness the sense of community that emerges during such events.  The ongoing nature of Idle No More might actually give us a chance to foster this sense of community beyond the next rally, panel, action, etc., into something deservedly lasting.  Let’s hope.

I have a head cold right now and am wary of committing any more words to paper or screen so here are some pics for you.  Please ignore the time stamp. My camera is old and seems to think it is 2010.  I too found this alarming but thorough experimentation has revealed that my 8 mega pixle wonder is indeed NOT a time machine.  Alas

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Happy New Years everyone

Comments and sharing are always welcome

Static_Animal

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Defend Our Coast, Effective Protest? Perhaps Not. Lets Talk About It

Posted in Activism, Blogging, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Justice, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2012 by animal_static

This is my third post regarding the Defend Our Coast action that took place this past October in Victoria BC.  Time is a funny beast and when it gets mixed up with our notoriously fickle human brains there is a tendency to produce nostalgia or arbitrary associations with past events.  So lets recap shall we?

Very briefly,  the Defend Our Coast event was a direct action located on the legislature grounds in Victoria B.C. with the intention of giving voice to the many people who are directly opposed to the expansion of the oil and gas industry in Canada and more particularly in B.C.  Criticisms were most directly aimed at corporate and fed/prov. governments who are engaging in some pillow talk on how to best get the much contested Enbridge pipeline project put in place.  There were a number of concerns put forward including health for the present and future generations, political corruption, first nations rights, environmental issues, and several other talking points.  The direct action which included “the possibility of arrest” involved the staking of a black fabric picket the length of an oil tanker (235 meters if I am not mistaken) on the legislature grounds.  The arrestability of this seeming offense is up in the air at this point with organizers citing laws prohibiting the erection of such a structure and questioned police not really being aware of such a law.  So what we are left with is the suspicion of some publicity generation on the part of the organizers though we can’t really speak to the intentionality of this action at this point.  The end result was no arrests on the ground though the police have been reported for poaching off site protesters in such a way as to infringe on search and seizure rights mentioned in the earlier posts.  No one really expects much else from the police do they?  Nothing shocking here.

There is some valid criticism out there that this was a largely symbolic event which is often the case when this kind of action is lead by environmental NGO’s.  Well actually, there is always an open possibility for good intentions to translate into a lot of shouting and back patting with little actual “action” no matter who runs the show.  I was talking to someone about this who made the valid point that events like this are the bread and butter for NGO’s who success if often linked to the visibility of their profile and the number of supporters they can claim.  An event like the one that we were just talking about had thousands of physical participants and thousands more virtual supporters and managed to make newspapers, TV news programs and social media buzz for several days.  Impressive stuff by any standard and a home run for involved parties, but did anything tangible come out of it?

The reason for this post is that there is a D.O.C. reflection event coming up on Tuesday, November 6th which will feature a variety of panelists who are going to weigh in with their thoughts on the effectiveness of the event in general and some of the pitfalls that accompany event organizing.  Should be interesting and it can never hurt to be critical of your protesting soul.  Self reflection and critical analysis are crucial components to weighing the worth of social actions.  Click on the above poster for the event info. If there is a pod cast I will be sure to post it.

It is only Monday and it usually takes me all week to decided on blog content but my pessimistic crystal ball tells me that my next post will contain my complaints about the upcoming American election which is sure to end in tragedy no matter who wins.

Comments and sharing are always welcome

AnimalStatic

A Photo Report of the Defend Our Coast Event. Victoria BC. October 22, 2012

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, Law, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by animal_static

So the Defend Our Coast Action that I blogged about yesterday went off without a hitch today.  There was a great turnout of 3000 plus people, with a strong media presence (which can be good or bad), a reasonable police presence, and a whole slew of inspirational speakers.  The crowd is always the make or break factor in events like this.  Arrests, drugs, and violence basically make the whole effort a media write off but today was very peaceful and the act of civil disobedience went unchallenged by police.  To my knowledge there were no arrests at all at this event.  Some very irate drivers who were rerouted around the site but no arrests

We were lucky enough to be presented with a varied selection of powerful and concerned voices.  First Nations leaders from multiple provinces were present today, paying respect to the  Songhees Nation for allowing the flying of the flags of protest on their territory and providing us with powerful first hand accounts of the effects of oil production in Canada.  This was not merely a descriptive endeavor however but also a call to fight.  It was widely noted that we need to fight the present corruption of a government who are in bed with big oil to secure a livable world for future generations.  To paraphrase one speaker, “We are fighting for our childrens future and though the politicians and CEO’s don’t know it we are fighting for their childrens futures too!”

There were some incendiary political challenges to BC premier Christy Clark and Stephen Harper today as well, most notably the challenges from Green Party leader Elizabeth May to the willingness of Clark and Harper to sell the future of tomorrow for a dollar today.  Another First Nations leader also had something to say about the price tag of this project stating that their complaints to Enbridge about the this pipeline were responded to with, “here, have some money” and when complaints were then taken to the government, the result was …”here, have some money”.  Todays challenge loudly stated that you cannot throw money at us and make it all go away.  The message today was the demands of a group of people who have been pushed too far, and too often disregarded in the pursuit of profit.  BC is not for sale.  Canada is not for sale.

I just left this message for Premier Clark.  Not expecting a reply:

Other people are writing about this event with more grace than I can muster at the moment so I will conclude here and present you with a selection of the photos that I took today.

Congratulations to everyone who made it out today and braved the rain.  Special acknowledgement to all those who had to travel from out of town to make the event.  That’s dedication.  I hope everyone took some inspiration home with them today which wont wear off by the weekend.  There are many avenues available to affect positive change.  Lets explore some!

Comments and sharing are always welcome,

AnimalStatic

Some Thoughts About Tomorrows Defend Our Coast Action, Victoria BC

Posted in Activism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, Law, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by animal_static

Life is busy business when you try to balance school and reality (not synonymous).  It has been a couple of weeks since my last post but there is something interesting happening tomorrow that I have been thinking about a lot lately.  The Defend Our Coast, anti-pipeline event is happening October 22 (tomorrow) in Victoria BC.  Very basically, this is a protest to collectively speak out against the looming Enbridge oil pipeline that is looking to link Alberta oil to the Asian market via a line that will span the province of British Columbia and will see increased tanker traffic in a very fragile and very risky shipping route on our beautiful coast.

Image from rabble.ca

I fully support the anti-pipeline message but do have a few concerns around this particular event.  The most prominent criticism would probably be what comes across as a somewhat Eco-centric (nature centred) standpoint with the bulk of project criticisms revolving around environmental concerns.  Spills, climate change, habitat, forests…all that stuff.  These are obviously valid concerns but, to continue the metaphor, it is unfortunate that crucial social concerns often take a back seat when environmental NGO’s get behind the wheel.  If you are out tomorrow or supporting in spirit or text, please remember the voices that are silenced or under represented in events like this.  If there is any population that will suffer negative effects of industrial expansion, legal reform, or environmental degradation, historical statistics tell that it will be Canadian First Nations before any other.  First Nations communities shoulder the brunt of industrial fallout, feel it first,  and will suffer longer than other groups.  Here is where the silencing aspect comes in.  Critics of this statement will cite first nations involvement in the event and thus claim representation.  This is true but hardly a complete view on the matter.  Engagement of the government in the context of this event is to validate the system producing initial inequalities and therefore inadequate to address the colonial oppression that is embedded in our legal system.  Just a thought.

Also,  there is a LOT of attention around the potential arrest of participants in this event.  My advice is do not get yourself arrested at this event.  I am not against legal defiance of this sort and see the value of the statement that it makes in certain situations but I personally don’t feel that this is one of those occasions.  It needs to be considered that protests on legislature grounds are largely symbolic.  You have a right to peaceful assembly and you can do this at legislature under law but your arrest here will only fatten police coffers.  There are big wheels rolling on this pipeline project and your arrest is hardly likely to sway anyone.  The public already supports you and the government will do what it will do.  The current BC premier is a weak one and the liberal party needs your votes, you can rest assured that she is already listening to you.  Finally,  there is something wicked cooking in Ottawa right now that if passed will render useless any recent anti oil actions.  The upcoming Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) was signed overseas, quietly tabled without a public release and will, if unchallenged, pass into law on Nov 1.  If this happens, the doors will be open for the potential sale of Alberta based, Nexen Oil to the Chinese corp, CNOOC.  The wording of the agreement allows for corporations to take the provincial or federal governments to court should they undertake actions that impede corporate profits.  No pipeline equals loss of profit which equals financial cost to the offending governments which always means that your voice doesn’t matter any longer.  This is really important and very lacking in the language of this event.  Something to think about if you are considering crossing any police lines tomorrow.

Finally, BE AWARE OF YOUR RIGHTS.  Police are manipulative, will take advantage or your ignorance and WILL infringe upon your rights.

You have the right to peaceful assembly.  The legislature is a  public space.  Use it don’t abuse it.

You have the right to remain silent though you do need to identify yourself upon arrest.

You have the right to be free from search and seizure.  If you are not under arrest, committing a crime, or suspected of committing a crime, you do not have to let police search your bags.  They will try to make this seem to be otherwise but this is indeed your right.  Don’t take off your bag, gesture to your bag, or verbally engage in consenting language.  I personally would stick on this one as a matter of principle.  Be polite about this though or you are going to pay for it.  A “f*ck you pig” will result in a breach of peace offense or something worse.

Finally, you do have the right to photograph or record in a public space.  Police will often tell you to stop.  You don’t have to and please don’t.  People needs records of events and misconduct.  That said, if you are in a cops face when they are arresting someone or otherwise trying to perform their duties, you are obstructing.  This will get you into loads of trouble.  Use your head please.

My next entry will regale you with tales of conflict and courage as they unravel under the lens of my trusty camera at tomorrows event which promises to be very exciting.

here is the link to the FIPA (legalese):  http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/fipa-apie/index.aspx?view=d

Defend Our Coast page:  http://defendourcoast.ca/

Comments and sharing are always welcome,

AnimalStatic

Some Anti-Oil Protest Pics From Last Weeks CAPP Sponsered UBCM Convention in Victoria, B.C.

Posted in Activism, Blogging, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Industry, Justice, News, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by animal_static

Last week the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers sponsored a reception event for the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in Victoria BC.

Who are these people?

The UBCM is a somewhat complicated organization which aims to bring together delegates from various BC municipalities, First Nations groups, Regional Districts, etc. with the aim of providing an environment where ideas and concerns may be expressed.  This particular conference brought in roughly one thousand delegates form around the province.

If you go to the “about” page on the CAPP website you will learn that this group tout themselves as, “the voice of Canada’s upstream oil, oil sands and natural gas industry” which kind of lets you know what they are about but not really.  CAPP is basically represents Big Oil production in Canada (a very sizable industry) and acts as a lobbyist organization to the government.

Items on this years UBCM agenda included Policing Issues, Cutting services provided by the Coast Guard, Decriminalization of Marijuana, and oil tanker traffic in BC.

So we have Big Oil sponsoring a political event where OIL issues are up for vote.  Here we see a rather transparent attempt to sway votes in BC in favour of the oil industry while Enbridge is still clawing its way towards having their pipeline project go through.  Public opinion vs. corporate interest.

The Powerpoint for the CAPP presentation can be found here:  http://www.capp.ca/library/presentations/Pages/default.aspx

Note the absence of social impact, First Nations land rights, habitat fragmentation, the under representation of GHG contributions, downplaying the fact that BC sits on major fault lines and the west coast is right under the Juan de Fuca/North American subduction zone, and many other blatant issues.

That’s skinny.  About 100 people showed up to the venue to roll out the red carpet for delegates, offering a visual and vocal reminder that this is a very contentious issue which stands to do great harm to social groups and environs all across the province.  Free edibles and musical entertainment were also offered to sway any who may have been tempted by a free lunch (no such thing right?).  There were a couple of “get a job comments” and there were also some folks who obviously favoured what we were standing for with a few choosing to stay with the community rather than step inside.  One woman stopped to tell us that she was a NGO rep who actually purchased a ticket (not everyone had to buy) and was there to clog the halls and fight from inside” (AWESOME).

The end vote if you are interested was 51.3% in favour of the human race.  Did we impact the vote?  I can’t say for sure but it is certain that people need to speak out and they need to speak loudly.  Our silence is out consent.

Below we have some pics that I shot on my crappy 8 mega pixel wonder cam  supplemented by some links to other folks lovely photo reporting.  I also included a photo of the reception as shot by CAPP.  What you see is a basically empty street with a 6:11 pm posting time on twitter. This is eleven minutes after the scheduled start of the organized protest.  suspicious?  You bet. Surprising?  Not at all.

The odd twitter pic from the CAPP account:


Another photo/twitter oriented report from Liz McArthur on Storify :  http://storify.com/lizmedia/demonstrators-roll-out-the-red-carpet-for-oil-exec?utm_content=storify-pingback&awesm=sfy.co_j9mh&utm_campaign=&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=sfy.co-twitter

UBCM website: http://www.ubcm.ca/

CAPP website:  http://www.capp.ca/Pages/default.aspx

Comments and Sharing are always welcome,

Static_Animal

Lets Talk About Transformative Justice…..YAY!?

Posted in Academics, Food For Thought, Justice, Politics, Racism, Research Tools, Social Justice, Society, Sociology, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2012 by animal_static

In order to talk about Transformative Justice we need to clear a few points first in order to provide some context.

Firstly, The system that we in North America (arguably every inch of planet earth) are engaged in is capitalism.  The “capital” in capitalism is the major leverage point for most interactions outside of personal relations and family contexts (also arguable as I cannot guarantee that you are not a professional son/daughter/mother/father). Distribution of resources in most instances is sealed by social contracts.  A valid contract cannot be entered by an agent under extreme duress but it is pretty obvious that most everyone enter into contracts that are to their disadvantage at some point or another.  For example, working for the crappy wages that most jobs pay, cell phone contracts written in blood, and surrendering first and last months rent for that ground floor apartment that smells like old soup and has the security doors don’t work but you really wish they did .  These elements fall into the realm of Distributive Justice which is backed up by a large body law that has been developed to support the rights of the money holders and to “protect” the rights of the masses.  Do you feel like you are protected?  I sure don’t.

What we can now observe is the evolution of a system that has seen the increasing dominance of the top 1% of earners  while the rest of us have been left out to dry.  We have been sold the individualist dream of rat race resource attainment.  The bar of illusory social mobility has been set high and regardless of statistics that say the bottom 10% of earners have a 0.25% chance of reaching upper middle class, most of us still jump just as high as we can.  People have been stripped of any kind of supportive solidarity and set adrift in a sea of resource scarcity where our successes and failures are ours and ours alone. Scarcity breeds desperation which in turn breeds “crime”.  Resources can include, money, food, health, the absence of fear, system security, and a million other things that fit your individual “needs”.

Image obtained from: http://blog.greens.org

So the stage has been set for the incarceration of the young, the poor, uneducated, racialized, mentally ill, abused and otherwise oppressed portions of our society to fill the majority of our prisons. It is not difficult or far fetched to envision full prisons which utilize our disproportionately taxed incomes for providing three meals a day plus supervision for that one time pot dealer who couldn’t find a job for any of the above mentioned reasons, or for the dad who cheats the welfare system because his part time job at Wal-Mart pays squat and the kids need to eat.  Unless you have killed someone, it is at this point that the system decides how to “fix” you.

Up until recently, alternative programs have pursued a path of “Restorative Justice” where offenders reconcile with victims and the community gets its piece of the action too through the involvement of church groups, and neighbourhood committees, etc.  The ideal end result is the restoration of a criminally deviant individual into a contributing member of society who is ready to go out and pay some taxes while not assaulting or stealing anything.  Sound awesome? Maybe until you consider that these programs are often offered to individuals who forgo due process in favor of reduced sentences and engage with mediators whose supposed neutrality is erased by the fact that the offenders participation has been coerced through system manipulation. The only way for the offender to successfully navigate the process is to engage in language that validates the oppressing system.  The biggest point of consideration here is that an offender is being “restored” through the justice system to a normalized status within a society that is  by its nature unjust.

Relatively recently, Transformative theory has acknowledged these flaws in restorative justice and seeks to remedy its shortcomings by introducing critical analysis of the system that creates the environment within which the crime occurred in the first place.  In this type of model, you can have the same victim/offender/community interaction with a mediator who has no pretense of neutrality but instead serves as a kind of guide where a more complex understanding of the offense and its relations to the victim can be contrasted against a historical and systematic backdrop.  If you consider the percentage of the Canadian inmate population who claim first nations status, an approach that incorporates cultural sensitivity and the acknowledgment (positive) of historical oppression and  different ways of knowing has great potential.  Despite a human factor that is desperately needed in current legal process there are some holes in the practical aspects of transformative theory which negate its potential as a dominant model for justice within the legal system.  Some of the blame for certain crimes should obviously be shifted onto a system that is so stifling to vulnerable populations but until the entirety of the global capitalist system is overhauled this approach to justice seems akin to throwing small stones at a large mountain.  You can make a lot of noise but you’re not going move much.  And worse yet, if you throw that stone just right you might just attract the baleful eye of whatever bureaucrat is in charge of stamping your grant application.  Such is the peril of fighting within the system.

Comments and sharing are always welcome,

Animal_Static

Don’t Let Google Boss Your Research Efforts – A Friendly Reminder

Posted in Academics, Blogging, Food For Thought, Online, Research Tools, Technology, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by animal_static

Do you have a favourite search engine that you depend on to return those must have research resources?  If you are like the rest of the planet this favourite search engine happens to be Google.  Nothing wrong with Google (actually there is) but if you conduct research on a regular basis it is good to remember that a lot of search engines utilize personal data caches stored on your computer.  Many search engines employ search algorithms which result in a faster return of data sources that the search engine deems most useful and pleasing to you.  Sound Great?  Maybe if you are looking for a new way to add some ‘zazz’ to that potato casserole that your family keeps telling you is wonderful but ends up in the dog bowl more often than not, but if you are making a sincere effort at objective research you really need to remove your preferences from the equation and not let software add bias to your work.

If you have two computers in your home you can test this idea of cache bias by conducting identical searches at roughly the same time.  Chances are good that while there will be similarities you will also be receiving different search results.

Image borrowed from Zazzle.ca

It is a great idea to clear your cache on a regular basis, or better yet do yourself a favour and explore some of the other search options out there and don’t forget about the Deep/Dark/Invisible Web. There is a vast amount of data out there that you will never find unless you know how to look for it.

You can think of the internet as you think of the ocean; While popular engines like Google and Yahoo! skim that pretty blue or green part and show you all of the colourful fish and white sand beaches, there are some great digging tools out there such as specialized user databases and online library tools that will show you the dragon vents, giant squid, and all of the ugly fish that live in the dark that science gets really really excited about.  Dig deeper, dig differently.

This link:  http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-search-engines-explore-deep-invisible-web/ will show some quick alternatives for online searching and there are a couple in here that will do automatic meta-searching within retrieved sources which in my opinion is a pretty cool feature.  If you are a student your school will likely have a list of paid subscriptions to online data bases posted on their library page. These databases are infinitely useful when seeking credible sources. These examples are just a minute sample of the resources out there and not necessarily what you need for a particular task but rather serve as a great starting point for curious minds.

So at the very least clear that cache!  Surely you can wait the extra .16 of a second for a fresh look.

Comments and sharing are always welcome.

Animal_Static