The Amazing Racists? Aryan Idol?

There is stupid, there is the outright idiotic, and then there's reality television.

Despite its overwhelming popularity with everyone who apparently matters, this page has never liked the reality TV genre, and now has even more reason to remain in the exile of Sportsnet and Turner Classic Movies: The latest edition of perennial CBS cash cow Survivor.

Survivor: Cook Islands premieres on September 14 with this pathetic attention grabber: the competing teams (tribes) are segregated by race. This page is particularly galled by Jeff Probst's noxious scenario. We just sat through a FIFA World Cup where commentators repeatedly labeled Latin American teams "passionate", European teams "mechanical" and African teams "athletic". Why watch the same stereotypes be played out by struggling actors? (yep, most reality show contestants are really actors). The segregation also insults people like Negro League legend Buck O'Neil, who not only stole the show at the recent Baseball Hall of Fame inductions, but at the age of 94, became the second oldest professional ballplayer ever when he was intentionally walked in the Northern League all-star game in July.

It was just over 70 years ago this month that Jesse Owens showed the world how stupid it is to paint competition with a racist brush. It's too bad Jeff Probst and CBS don't remember that, or for that matter, what happened after because somebody thought one race could be better than another.


I've got your Happy Meal right here

"do you want fries with that military-industrial complex?"


Seattle Yuppies hooked on Fortified Whine

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is contemplating a ban on cheap beer and fortified wine in Seattle's city centre. This page considers this move as little more than a sop to the influx of upscale and uppity condo buyers who move downtown but demand that everything should feel like the suburbs. They want 'someone' to do 'something' about the number of homeless and working poor putting back a little Colt 45 on the corner, but it better not be the government - at least not until they're done dishing out tax breaks and building a few more roads out of downtown to make it easier to avoid the poor people.

Here's what going to happen if the WSLCB implements their 'Alcohol Impact Area' policy: Instead of buying the $1.50 malt liquor, panhandlers will just get more aggressive because they now have to raise a dollar or two more to get a can of 'premium' beer (if one can call Budweiser 'premium'). The yuppies will get more skittish, and start screaming about a bigger alcohol sales ban. After that you start to get street people drinking whatever household cleaning products they can get their hands on, much like this page saw in Edmonton's Boyle Street area when he lived there twenty years ago.

Here comes the scary part: once somebody can't afford a drink, and realizes the Lysol he's been drinking tastes awful and has been killing his friends, he's fresh meat for the Devil's Amway. Drug dealers are more than happy to cut you a break on the price of bad heroin if you're willing to do some of the pushing for them. Vancouver's Downtown Eastside has no liquor stores save for a couple of pub outlets, which may very well explay why it's home to the largest open drug market in North America. Once you've seen a body or two being pulled out of an alley and into the ambulance for a toe tag, that guy sipping Eight Ball on the other side of the street isn't so repulsive after all.


New breed of super-homeless terrifies local merchants

Last week, while community activists were marshalling their forces to save Vancouver's Insite harm reduction production, the Canwest Global propaganda machine decided the time was ripe for a summertime beatdown on the homeless in Vancouver and Victoria. 'Aggressive' pandhandlers (i.e. any panhandlers) were attributed with powers and abilities beyond those of ordinary men, able to drive conventions away from Vancouver with a single outstretched worn-out baseball cap. The identical diatribe against the city's less fortunate ran in the Vancouver Sun, Province, and Victoria Times Colonist. Global BC and CH Television ran identical infomercials masquerading as newscasts about how these alleged undesirables are destroying BC's urban tourist industry.

This page hates to break this sad news to the Vancouver Board of Trade and the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, but in every major city in North America, there are people who are poor, addicted, mentally ill, on the run from an abusive relationship, or just haven't figured out what colour their parachute is. However, unlike other major cities in North America, there are a substantial number of people in Vancouver and Victoria who don't believe in beating the sh*t out of them like you do.

Do you remember how many of us cheered when Lorne (Safe Streets) Mayencourt was beat up by a homeless person? Don't you even remember why some of you convinced James Green to run for Mayor in 2005 to steal votes from Jim Green and let the NPA (minus that junkie-loving Philip Owen, of course) take back control of City Hall? It's not the homeless that's the real problem for you guys, it's the compassionate types who have a big enough view on homelessness and addiction to know the market won't solve these problems.

What you really need to do is have your boy Gordon Campbell whip up another 'structural deficit' to fire more teachers, health care workers and public servants who tend to believe in such outdated crap as social democracy and "whatever you do unto the least of my brothers, so do you unto me". After they're gone, you'll be done beating down and locking up the addicted, impoverished and homeless sooner than you can say "Closed Safe Injection Site!"


Arrogant Ignorant Dumbass Stephen

Stephen Harper and Tony Clement don't want their Conservative government to do anything to help fight AIDS right now, because they feel the issue has become "too politicized".

Remember Canada's last Conservative Prime Minister? If you're scoring at home, it wasn't Brian Mulroney. During the 1993 election campaign she remarked that it "was not the right time" to talk about social issues. Harper's refusal to act continues those Tory traditions of ignorance and arrogance: Refusing to acknowledge the public's stake in an issue, and their own accountability by branding it as "too political". If you're so afraid of doing anything political, why did you get into politics?

What's particularly disgusting with Harper's latest dirty handwashing is the fact that hundreds of Downtown Eastside users of the Insite program and their neighbours (like this page) are directly affected. Insite's exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act ends on September 12. If the Harper Conservatives are intent on playing to their backwater holier-than-thou zealot partisans, Insite is forced to close, and a lot of addicts will be going back to shooting up with dirty needles on the street, and risk spreading HIV among themselves and the neighbouring community.

That's a disgusting prospect, but what's also disgusting is a government that comes out and says that we're deliberately sitting on our hands while lives are at stake because a few people who don't like us are meeting in Toronto. Here's some breaking news for Conservatives: MOST PEOPLE ACROSS CANADA DON'T LIKE YOU. You only have a MINORITY government because people know what a bunch of self-righteous pr*cks you are, not because you cater this country's MINORITY of self-righteous pr*cks.


The United Church pours it on

Believing that it's a step towards the privatization of water systems, the General Council of the United Church of Canada (UCC) is debating a resolution to ask its members to boycott bottled water. This page is certain that over the next few days, this resolution will be met with the usual screaming indignity of the nation's right-wing media. It's not because someone wants to stop the most vital resource in the world from ending up in the corporate trough that feeds the bully pulpit pilots, it's because the resolution is coming from the United Church of Canada.

As any true believer of the National Post, Global TV, Sun Newspapers or most talk radio can tell you, the UCC is a faggot-loving, anti-semitic socialist conspiracy. They will tell you it's no coincidence that the Church's position on water privatization, same sex marriage, AND justice for Palestinians is the same as the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Canada's other faggot-loving, anti-semitic socialist conspiracy. For those of you scoring at home, this page is a former member of the former, and an active member of the latter.

A boycott of bottled water is a good idea, as it's the one product that best represents the dysfunction of our times: It's a public good taken for free by private companies. It's sold to people who've been brainwashed by media accounts that just like flying (or anything that isn't shopping) North American tap water isn't safe. Also, it comes in containers which will litter the planet for future generations. Unfortunately, the taps won't be turned off for the bottled water barons anytime soon because big media wants to keep anyone who speaks truth to power from spilling anything really important.


Recommended Check-in time for YVR travelers: now

Employees of Securigard, the company that handles security at Vancouver International Airport, have voted 98% in favour of strike action, potentially shutting down YVR. Their Union, the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM) cites working conditions as the biggest issue in this dispute.

While the strike vote was already being planned by the news of last week's alleged terror plot in London, that incident did illustrate the importance of having trained, professional security staff at airports across the country. If the airport is the United States, the airport has federal agents from the Transportation Security Agency running security. In Canada, the work of protecting the flying public is contracted out to private companies with a vested interest in keeping costs (especially labour) as low as possible. Why are the people charged with stopping another 9/11 from taking place over Canadian skies treated no differently than shopping mall security guards?

If Securigard staff are expected by their employer and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authourity (CATSA) to handle increasing volumes of volatile passengers carrying apparently volatile materials, they should be getting a level of respect to match the difficulty of the job. America's TSA agents are being subjected to cutbacks from Homeland Security in a drive reprivatize aiport security. When does the race to the bottom start bringing down passenger jets?


Survey says....bye!

Some of Canada's most prominent
Universities have told MacLean's they will no longer be participating in the magazine's annual University rankings. This page says it's about time, and it's a good time since MacLean's has undergone an editorial makeover which makes the National Post look like The New Internationalist.

The rankings have never worked, throwing disproportionate praise on old money schools like Queens and McGill and trashing the relatively newer kids on the block like Simon Fraser and Calgary. To win the MacLean's survey, a school needs to have lots of well-heeled alumni and a three-year Arts degree. Schools that relied more on reduced public funding in the face of increasing enrollment perpetually rank further down the list.

Students are repeatedly told that some kind of post-secondary education is essential to survive in today's job market. In the face of a sizeable demographic shift, employers are desperate to recruit new talented and educated staff. If such is the case, is it not in the country's best economic interest to create a national University system which has schools cooperating rather than competing to develop those talented and educated individuals? Canada needs all of its Universities doing whatever it is they're best at, and it needs to be accessible to students, rather than a race to the bottom for research grants and tuition fees.

The MacLean's rankings of Universities are as instructive as the Fraser Institute's rankings of high schools: both are manipulative attempts to destroy public education by making it a commodity. This page is happy to see the Universities boycott, and would also like to see a University release rankings for which Canadian magazines the public should bother with.


When the Lights Went Out

While everyone is gearing up for 9/11 Plus Five in just a few weeks, let's not forget that three years ago today, a major blackout cut power to about 50 million people across the U.S. Northeast and Ontario. While by no means was the blackout as catastrophic as a terrorist attack, it did have its own iconic moments (like volunteer traffic cops showing up at every intersection). Actually, given time, some moments have become even more meaningful, like Bill Graham appearing on The National cluelessly standing outside in the dark...The blackout also briefly raised the issue of energy privatization and consumption. At the time, too many private producers were overloading the continental electrical grid for too many people using too many air conditioners. Today...more of the same, and it's reached the point where Ontario now uses more electricity during the summer than they do during the winter months*.

However, that message was heard in places like British Columbia, where, despite some dickering with independent production, publicly-owned BC Hydro keeps rates down by aggressively encouraging conservation through such initiatives as the Power Smart program: Less profit motive, less consumption. After the blackout, plans to push further privatization were quietly shelved, especially when higher profile industries like Forest Products warned of mill closures throughout BC if electric bills started to jump. While Utilities can't guarantee there won't be any more blackouts, in BC it's because BC Hyrdo can't control the forces of nature, like high winds knocking out power lines. For other utilities, it's the forces of the market they can't control, and the manual has yet to be written about how to fix that kind of damage.

*The Weather Network


Carry-on liquids prohibited, solids and gases to follow

Just in time for U.S. Congressional Elections and the release of Oliver Stone's World Trade Center, British authourities announce they have shut down production of the sequel. This page is taking the official rhetoric about preventing a catastrophe worse than 9/11 with a grain of salt. Remember, it wasn't long ago that 17 Islamic Terrorists were about to reduce Toronto to a smoking cinder until it became apparent that they were a bunch of kids who were duped by the RCMP. You don't need a movie ticket to see the September 11 story retold, because the same stupidity is playing out in public once more. Rather than do something to actually prevent terrorist attacks (like chucking a foreign policy based on SUV sales and the Book of Revelations), the Just Us League of Hysteria are wrongfully taking the fight to the airport check-in counter, again.

The ban of liquid items in carry-on baggage is not about making passengers safer, it's about to intimidating passengers to make governments look like they're in control. They can't stop the Iraqi insurgency, they can't shut down Al-Qaida, but they can make you take off your shoes, have people go through your belongings, and frisk you with an electronic wand. If you can think of any other place where people submit to this kind of activity, you're probably reading this while wearing a jumpsuit with a number on it...or a raincoat.

Actually, the Powers that Be could actually care care less about your security. The Seattle Times reported this week that a three-hour backlog at the border crossing in Blaine, Washington was waved through because an inspection team from the Congressional Homeland Security Committee was on its way. Also this week, The Globe and Mail's Lawrence Martin revealed that Stephen Harper had a charter pilot fired for backing up a flight attendant who asked the Prime Minister to switch off his blackberry just before takeoff.

Remember these two illustrations when you're paying $15.00 for a tiny bottle of hand lotion or $5.00 for a bottle of water to keep from dehydrating on a long flight because they won't let you bring your own anymore. You might be able to barter something with cigarettes or a lighter, because those items weren't even prohibited after 9/11, thanks to your friends in the tobacco lobby. Temporary measures, you say? Wasn't the occupation of Iraq supposed to last six months? Weren't Canadian troops supposed to be home from Afghanistan by now? Wasn't income tax supposed to be repealed after the First World War?


Ask your Doctor

Next weekend the Canadian Medical Association meets in Charlottetown to select its new President. The CMA represents 60,000 doctors and is pretty much the only health care lobby federal and provincial governments listen to, despite the fact that Canada's health care system involves millions of nurses, health care technicians, physical and occupational therapists, administrators, support workers, unionized residents, medical students, and that troublesome group nobody ever listens to called patients.

Brian Day is the British Columbia Medical Association's nominee for the CMA Presidency. Brian Day sees nothing wrong with private, for-profit health care. Brian Day likes to compare Canada's universal public health care system with totalitarian regimes like North Korea and the former Soviet Union. Brian Day wants to perform the same kind of surgery on Medicare that Stepehen Harper is performing on Childcare.

Fortunately, someone from the usually closed CMA ranks is offering a much-needed Second Opinion and will challenge Day on the Convention floor. Dr. Jack Burak is a former BCMA President who challenged Day for the BC nomination in April, but fell short. Of course Gordon Campbell took Day on a high profile mission to "investigate" European health care systems, and softpedalled the moratorium on private clinics by letting them set up shop in hospital "Ambulatory Care Centres" like the one coming to VGH this fall. The Brian Days of the world hate public health care, but they sure love public money to bankroll private health care.

Day is crying foul over Burak's challenge, claiming that it's "undemocratic". Apparently, it's democratic that Day gets to be President just because it's British Columbia's turn to pick the President. Day says that Burak losing at the BCMA then trying to come back and win over the 300 delegates in Charlottetown is "disrespectful of the democratic process", like something in North Korea or Cuba. For the record Dr. Day: Democracy happens when people exercise their rights, not when they shut up and follow along in whatever direction they're being bullied. If Day insists on an analogy, maybe he should use Connecticut instead.

This page has homework for anyone who clicked in here today: Book an appointment to see your doctor. Ask your doctor who they're supporting for the CMA Presidency, and ask them why. There's no time like now to remind doctors that in a real democracy, the majority should prevail, and that majority is a Canadian public that needs a Canadian Public Health Care System.


Are we headed for WWII?

Another War in the Woods is shaping up on Vancouver Island, as a provincially-appointed board has approved logging of 90,000 hectares of pristine forest in Clayoquot Sound.

So much for a quiet summer for Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals. Contracts with public sector unions had been ratified, The GVRD was starting to play ball on the Gateway Project, and Carole James was out of sight recovering from cancer surgery. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, the Liberal bagmen from Big Timber felt it was too quiet and opted to pick a fight with BC's well organized and media savvy environmental movement.

The decision to poke through loopholes in the 2000 United Nations Biosphere Reserve agreement and fire up the chainsaws makes little to no sense. The Clayoquot Sound Central Region Board, i.e. the Big Timber operatives who made the decision, are hiding behind First Nations and claiming that impending treaties mean that sooner or later, somebody will be logging there anyway. Nothing spells gutless like dishing out back handed blame for an international disgrace well in advance.

Why does BC need to export even more raw logs from pristine watersheds? Has there been any real consultation with First Nations beyond the 5 Aboriginal Central Region Board members who represent 14 tribes on the island? Does BC really want Greenpeace and other eco-warriors rushing to the blockades (and the microphones) with the 2010 Winter Olympics and a worldwide audience on the way?


Hold your breath

The Ontario Medical Association predicts that smog-related deaths among seniors will nearly double over the next 20 years. The Baby Boomers who reaped the economic benefits of post-World War II industrial expansion and never met a gas pedal they didn't like are clearly at the wrong end of the tailpipe on this one.

One would think that subsequent generations would have been wise to avoid making the unhealthy and wasteful mistakes of the past. However, when it comes to the children of boomers and their favourite toys, it appears this would not be the case.


Los Buitres de Miami

While Fidel Castro recovers from intestinal surgery, the Republicubans in Miami are dancing in the streets. Scanning the CNN footage, this page was hard pressed to find anyone who resembled (i.e. was old enough) to be a Cuban exile. This crowd looked more like second or third generation gamberros who've seen Buena Vista Social Club a few too many times and believe the ancianos' right-wing fantasies of a pre-Castro paradise. For those of you scoring at home, this page has never been to Cuba, nor was this page alive in 1959. However, I still cast my doubts as to how much of a paradise a military dictatorship owned by the Mafia and United Sugar would be.

For most of the world, Fidel turning the shop over to his brother for a few weeks isn't exactly registering as long as Israel continues to sucker-punch Lebanon and pretend it's Iran. However, if one is watching CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News, Castro's operation is major news because of the concentration of Cuban Americans in Miami. If Sweden or Denmark had a Communist dictatorship whose leader was hospitalized, it's not like the cameras would be turned on jubilation in Minneapolis-St. Paul. If one thinks back to how the Republicubans inflamed the Elian Gonzalez case, we see that what international stories make the news in America depend on how they affect the noisiest ethnic voting blocs in the biggest swing states.

This page is not comfortable with people cheering for the ill health of an 80-year old man. By no means are Castro's hands clean, but he has built impressive education and health care systems: how else could he still be running the country at his age? Until Hugo Chavez showed up, Cuba was the only counterweight to American hegemony in the Western Hemisphere. Why are the Republicubans so jubilant when there are no guarantees that a post-Castro Cuba would be better? What exactly do people in Florida know about free and fair elections, or for that matter, human rights abuses in Cuba?