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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

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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

Why We Should Listen to What George Monbiot Has to Say, A Book Review.

Posted in Activism, Books, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2012 by animal_static

I know that I posted a book review a few weeks ago but I am trying to cram in as much extra curricular reading as possible before I get locked into another eight months of academia.  Not to say that I don’t love what I choose to study but there is something to be said for freedom of choice.  I just finished a somewhat current (2009) volume by George Monbiot entitled, “Bring on the Apocalypse, Six Arguments For Global Justice”, which is definitely worth a read.  Monbiot is of the idea that the Right Wing approach to government which is prevalent in the most powerful (Western/Northern/G8) nations has enabled and cultivated social and environmental scenarios that are contributing to the ultimate demise of the planet and creating an expanding social divide between the rich and the poor.  I agree.

Image from bookrabbit.com

The world is not what it seems, you are being lied to but the truth is out there and George would like to help you find it.  Government and media (sometimes synonymous) are experts at altering our perceived social and environmental realities.  We are stripped of collective identity and told that individualist consumer oriented goals (buy that house, car, second car, second house, lest you be left behind and find yourself worthless) are what we should be striving for.  Environmental disasters are downplayed or swept under the rug, an unsustainable auto industry is lionized as a true expression of freedom, social movements are under reported, and your governmental policies ARE being dictated by industrial lobbyist groups.  It’s all quite negatively overwhelming.  Luckily there are activists like Monbiot who are able to present us with some well thought out ideas that help to strip some of the veneer from the right-wing neoliberal agenda.  There are going to be some right-libertarians out there who will state that unbridled free markets are the ultimate expression of personal freedom but guess what;  that path has yielded enough blood and horror to prove it an inhuman pursuit.  Lets ask Chile, Argentina, and virtually every indigenous population on earth how they feel about it.

Image from redmolotov.com

The “arguments” in this book are collections of essays which fall under the categories of God, Nature, War, Power, Money, and Culture.  While not hitting the nail on the head with every single essay, Monbiot does a fantastic job of exposing some of the cracks in the informational facade that we are presented with by the government and media via popular news venues and “democratic” process .  Like all books dealing with current issues this one too shall eventually fall by the wayside but will not find itself in the tar pits of literary history.  The sentiments expressed within are valid critiques of problems that have thwarted humanity in one form or another since the arrival of surplus commodities which have freed parts of the population from the labour pool thus enabling religious/cultural pursuits and unbalanced power dynamics.  These easily accessible essays provide a decent foundation from which one can step stone to more in-depth critiques of sociopolitical factors that do affect most aspects of our lives and for that reason alone this book is quite valuable.

Not trying to be punny here but anyone willing to take on issues like the Vatican’s bigoted obsession with homosexuality, Americas love affair with oil and torture, the British governments submissive relationship with big business, shoddy climate change science, and media manipulation is OK in my book.  This is a guy who knows a lot about a lot of things that matter and has not been bought, hence a guy worth listening to, but as with all things, you decide.

I would love to hear what you think.

Cheers.

AnimalStatic

You Are What You Read About What You Eat

Posted in America, Books, Economy, Environment, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Industry, Politics, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2012 by animal_static

I recently finished a great book by Michael Pollan entitled, “In Defense of Food, An Eaters Manifesto” and I thought it was worth a share.  The authors credo: “Eat Food.  Not Too Much. Mostly Plants”, is unfolded against current eating habits and correlative social/health/industrial phenomena tied to the “Western Diet”.  What is the western diet?  According to the Author, the “real food” that we should be eating can be found on the peripheries of the grocery store and the more “western” items fill the middle majority of the store.  Sound flaky?  Like a flaked pastry wrapped in plastic? Not so much.  If you think about it, pretty much every store that you have been in is ringed by the bakery, the deli, the dairy, the fish counter, and……the produce.  So what is left?  Oreos, Stove Top, Hungry Man, Pizza Pops, and literally thousands of other items that contain hundreds of ingredients that most of us can’t identify (I am being presumptuous here but feeling secure in my assumptions).  We are presented with some good advice which states that if your grandparents or great grandparents couldn’t identify it as “food” then perhaps it is best to steer clear. The other thing that makes our diet “western” is the penchant to unbalance our plates with above average portions of meat, red, politically correct but environmentally unsustainable meat.

Pollan also gives us a breakdown of dietary trends such as vitamins and supplements, cholesterol, omega-3, trans fats, grains, and some of the effects that these trends have had on public health.  Like vitamins?  They apparently don’t do much.  The fact that you like vitamins is because you take a greater interest in your overall physical health and likely treat your body a little better than those who would sneer in derision when passing the supplements aisle on the way to the potato chips.  The truth seems to be that vitamins separated from their food sources aren’t very effective.  How about omega-3?  Comes from fish right?  Wrong.  Omega-3 is abundant in fish…that eat plants.  When you consider the health benefits of fish (protein, fats, oils, and acids) and plants as regular dietary staples it seems kind of silly to pump omega-3 into milk, eggs, and pills.  Especially when you consider that these animals would be richer in omega-3 if let to feed naturally rather than  on grain and synthetically formulated diets aimed at increasing food production.

Image sourced from Wikipedia

Pollan does a pretty decent job of laying out the rudiments of the politicalization  of our food.  Like Ethnic cuisine?  Keep it out of the White House or else.  If you aren’t a McDonald’s fan your favour in the polls might not last forever and if you want to run for office don’t dare oppose industrial farming lobbyists.  The government doesn’t want you to stray from its national nutritional policies which is backed by Big Agra and as a result we are made to feel weird and unpatriotic if we choose to support farmers who have diverse cropping methods, less than 100 000 chickens, and who might just want to sell us some real food for a real price (Probably a little more than you pay in the store but worth it).  Shop local and your chances of scoring some unique heirloom varieties that you won’t find in the box type grocery stores increases exponentially.  Purple tomatoes, red carrots, and multicoloured corn are all great.

POTATOES! Image from: http://www.specialtyproduce.com

One of my favourite aspects of this book is Pollans’ illumination of the problematic relationship between science and food.  Because food is SO complex, science, which in my humble opinion has strayed from its holistic philosophical roots, pursues a physicalist approach to food studies,isolating individual components of food.  In turn we are presented with beneficial or harmful properties of very small elements of what are in fact very complex organisms.  What you eat is equally important to what you do not eat and food can only be truly considered as a whole rather than its components.  In this regard we seem to treat food  like we treat our oceans.  We know next to nothing about how they work  but feel entitled to fill them full of garbage while appropriating individual components of a complex system in the name of self-interest but with paradoxical health effects .

Want to know who enjoys a good yoghurt enema?  Well you will just have to read the book to find out.

Check out “In Defense of Food” at Pollans website here:  http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/

Comments and sharing are welcome.

-Animal Static

Cellular Phones, Convenient Communication and Your Invisible Leash.

Posted in Activism, Apps, Food For Thought, Politics, Privacy, Security, Society, Surveillance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2012 by animal_static

Thinking about taking your cell with you to the next direct action or mass civil disobedience event?  Please reconsider.

The following article from Peter Maas and Megha Rajagopalan at ProPublica entitled, “That’s No Phone, That’s My Tracker“, provides an effective warning about how your cell phone is now better considered as your personal tracking device and that to continue regarding this device as your ‘phone’ might be a touch….simple.  One professor referenced in the article goes so far as consider them as robots which take in and communicate with the world with us (owners) acting as a vehicle for the device.  These robots log and store a LOT of potentially sensitive information.  Location, activity, communications, preferences, and travel patterns are all stored and surrendered to various agencies with an increasing frequency that SHOULD be making you squirm.

Rather than republishing the article I am providing a direct link to the original ProPublica content here:

http://www.propublica.org/article/thats-no-phone.-thats-my-tracker

The average persons social reporting or activities are not likely to land them in jail or have the eye of the government look twice (No bragging about your tax evasion, or Terabyte Pirate Bay exploits now), but do you really want to be a willing accomplice to the “frictionless” accumulation of your personal information?  The eerie feeling that you are being watched (you really are being watched), will be eased by a corporate salve of streamlined advertising and a slew of new apps designed to keep your head down.  With releases like “Turf Wars” via itunes, Companies like Apple aren’t even trying to hide this application of your device anymore.  Making a game of tracking your location? Scary stuff.  An informal statistic that I located on a user forum for this game stated that roughly a year ago there were 4.2 million accounts with 1.8 million active users.  That is a LOT of information.

Jean-Paul Sartre philosophized that we only becomes aware of ourselves when subjected to the gaze of another.  With this many eyes around you could easily visualize a hyper paranoid populace too uncomfortable in their own skins to function socially rather than the eager igeneration waiting for the next Foursquare or Angry Birds experience.

Please be aware and safe with your information.

For the sake of being thorough here are the links regarding  GPS gaming example:

Turf Wars via itunes,

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/turf-wars/id332185049?mt=8

User stats for Turf Wars,

http://turfwarsapp.com/forum/267/topic/50305515/

Please comment, critique, and share.

-AnimalStatic