Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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Went to a protest today

Against what: A new federal bill, C-51, which smooths the road toward a police state in Canada. The bill is currently winding its way through Parliament.

C 51 protest

Photo: Canadian Press

After protests across the country and from many sources, the ruling Conservative regime has made a show of amending the bill.  Like paint slapped on a rotting house, the proposed changes will have minimal impact on the bill’s nightmarish potential.

So, today’s protest.

Where: At the Belleville constituency office of Daryl Kramp, the local Member of Parliament. He’s a Conservative, ie a Northern Republican, and he’s chairing the committee currently sliding the bill through Parliament. Kramp was absent from the Belleville office today, being rather busy in Ottawa.

Who: 40 – 50 people from the area who are alarmed enough by what they’ve learned about this bill to protest it in public. The rally was called on short notice, in response to the proposed ‘amendments.’

After a few decades protesting a panorama of injustices, bigotry, stupidity, greed, crimes against the earth, abuse of power, state terror and such, at today’s protest I experienced a familiar mix of reactions:

I believe it’s crucial to be here, to inform the powerful that some of us see through their lies, and care enough to resist their schemes to the extent that we can. On the other hand, knowing how power is constructed, I suspect our resistance is too little, too late. On the other hand, it’s crucial that we be here. On the other hand…

This mix, and the gradual shedding of illusions over years, eventually led me to stop going to protests like this one.  But then I was grateful that some people took the trouble to organize it, and that other people bothered to show up on a bright spring afternoon in the middle of a week. But then I know well enough that the real decisions are made far from here, in cabinet rooms and board rooms, by sociopaths in suits, over lunch.

Even so, how can I justify staying home in my comfortable, safe little cave, pretending that I accomplish anything that matters simply by writing?  And who knows what effect each of these acts of resistance might have?  The arrogant managers would have us believe they are oblivious to our protests, and nothing we do will make any difference.  But when they lie about practically everything else, why not about this, too?  Wouldn’t things be that much worse if we left them to their own devices?

It’s a dilemma.

What do you think?

 

 


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Avoid gazing down.

Planning a trip to the United States?

Be careful.  But not too careful.  TSA “Behavior Detection Officers” are watching, closely.

US TSA agentPhoto: AFP

As The Intercept reports, the US Transportation Security Administration’s new checklist of suspicious Behaviors is quite long.  A handy sampler:

  • exaggerated yawning
  • excessive throat clearing
  • widely open staring eyes
  • wearing improper attire for location
  • gazing down
  • exaggerated or repetitive grooming gestures
  • rigid posture
  • a bobbing Adam’s apple
  • arriving late for flight
  • and so on.

Remember: Avoid repetitive grooming gestures, excessive throat clearing, rigid posture, and – oh, just avoid all Behaviors, of any kind.

And welcome to the United States.

* For a short trip with eyes widely open into the murky depths of surveillance, see Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.  Scroll down to chapter 6, The Cloud.


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Life & death in Monsantoland

monsantoland

Two recent events in Monsanto-land tell it all:

Lobbyist claims Monsanto pesticide safe to drink, bolts when offered a glass. (It’s caught on a gem of a video, embedded in the story). Raw Story, 27 March 2015.

Monsanto demands World Health Organization retract report on Roundup link to cancer.  EcoWatch, 26 March 2015.

For a good dose of sanity on GMOs, hunger, and post-oil farming, check out Ann Clark, plant physiologist and farmer, in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.

Meantime, pass this on.  And have a nice day.

 

 


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A victory in El Salvador: Farmers defy Monsanto

El Salvador seedlings

The Monsanto and Dow corporations, both chemical behemoths, nearly always get their way, by a variety of means and with disastrous consequences on almost every continent. But in El Salvador, the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America:

“The farmers, who have already been consistently outperforming Monsanto with their local seed, which is far healthier and more productive, have just managed to bring about a giant defeat of Monsanto by preventing it   from supplying El Salvador with its seeds.”

The full story is here.

A rare victory, and an inspiring model for farmers everywhere.

 

 


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Whole food for free-range minds in Winnipeg: a reminder

Wednesday, March 25

1:30 pm.  Bold Scientists, a talk at the University of Winnipeg.  Room 5L25, Department of Geography, Lockhart Hall.  Map.

7:30 pm.  Bold Scientists, a talk at the McNally-Robinson bookstore, Grant Park, 1120 Grant Avenue.  In the Travel alcove.  Map.

Pass it on.

 cropped-bold-scientists-front-cover8.jpg


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Bold Scientists in Winnipeg

Wednesday, March 25

1:30 pm.  Michael Riordon at the University of Winnipeg.  Room 5L25, Department of Geography, Lockhart Hall.  Map.

7:30 pm.  Michael Riordon at the McNally-Robinson bookstore, Grant Park, 1120 Grant Avenue.  In the Travel alcove.  Map.

Unspun science for dangerous times.

BTL BS poster, U of Winnipeg, March 2015


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‘A historic victory’: The internet is ours

“We did it! The FCC just voted to stop the slow lane!”

Internet slowdown protest

This is good news. It’s amazing news.

“The stakes couldn’t have been higher. With so many websites based in the US, the future of the entire Internet hung in the balance.”

A year ago, the open internet looked doomed. The huge bully corporations that monopolize cable and wireless provision announce plans for a two-speed internet: fast for those who could pay, slow – very slow – for the rest of us.

The Federal Communications Commission, responsible for overseeing such things, is not noted for favouring public over corporate interests. Its current chair, Tom Wheeler, is a venture capitalist and former head lobbyist for both the cable and wireless industries, which worked hard behind closed doors and spent lavishly to ensure their stranglehold on the internet.

Erupting in May 2014, a small resistance grew quickly into a multi-faceted, finely coordinated international public campaign, eventually engaging more than 5 million people in protecting our internet. It worked.

On February 26 the FCC commissioners voted 3 – 2 (close, but good enough) to keep the internet open. The details are here (same story, two variations):

Outraged, the bully corps leapt immediately to sue the government, and right-wingers in the US Congress obediently set about sabotaging the historic ruling. Of course.

But still, for now, we can celebrate. This is a rare victory for open communication, equity and freedom of speech.

In Canada, OpenMedia.ca led the campaign, one of many on their docket. This small but formidable grassroots organization is independent, creative and vital.

For more on what’s at stake, check out Bold Scientists, chapter 6, The Cloud.

(Image: popsugar.com)