Opening Statement



Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Your Man In Santiago De Cuba! [2017]

For the next bit, I will be tweeting live from Santiago de Cuba:


Hola/Hello!

What do a certain Mr. Jim Wormold and I have in common? Not much except that our paths are about to cross over half a century apart. Like Wormold, I am off to the Hotel Casa Granda in Santiago de Cuba! [LINK]. However, I've been there before. Let me explain;

Wormold is a British vacuum salesmen in Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana. [LINK] In the offbeat 1950's novel, he visits Santiago de Cuba as a part of a very unlikely spy mission on the eve of the Cuban revolution. Wormold stays at the historic Hotel Casa Granda, alongside the "shops" and "cathedral facade" overlooking the "piazza", or park in the city square. To his shock and dismay, it was a very dangerous place full of "real spies, real policemen and real rebel agents" [pg. 65]

Let's fast forward! It's almost 60 years later. I'm going to the Hotel Casa Granda on a mission too. However, I'm not a spy, policeman or rebel agent. I'm not making anything up. And unlike Wormold, I am hardly a stranger here either. I've been stopping by the Casa Granda on my visits to Santiago de Cuba for 25 years, since 1992.

That was during the height of the crisis known in Cuba as the "Special Period". The Soviet Bloc had collapsed threatening to pull Cuba down along with it. It's also when I first began the Cuban Schools Project [CPS]. It's very real, an educational aid initiative that I've scaled back since I retired from teaching in Canada, but which still continues through today.


Since Wormold's time, both the Dictator Fulgencio Batista and El Comandante Fidel Castro have come and gone. It's been a real horror show! For over 50 years Cuba suffered under a crippling US economic embargo. Throw in CIA meddling! The threat of invasion! A permanent state of emergency! Perhaps it's now the final curtain call to the countries states real life, tragic, black comedy, or maybe not, as the US and Cuba attempt to make nice and "normalize relations".

The purpose of my trip? To relax. See my teacher friends. Stop by the schools. Check out how everyone is doing. Fear not! Unlike Wormold, I won't be vacuum tubing you any fake news about secret atomic installations or the like. Far from it! Instead, I'll  just frankly report on the state of things there nowadays for everyday people like ourselves via live tweets, photos and the prerequisite blog, that usually follows later.

Maybe you're familiar with my Cuba travel blogs? I've been to Santiago de Cuba many, many times as a teacher and the CPS Director. Then there's my beach vacations. On top of that, for a few years, I was even married to a local Santiago girl, or "Santiaguera". As you can see, I've certainly spent a lot of time in Santiago de Cuba! A couple of dozen times at least! 

The dark, looming presence of the Hotel Casa Granda Hotel often provided a foreboding backdrop in my stories over the years. The times have changed. The Hotel Casa Granda remains. It will be intriguing to visit it again. To actually stay at the place made famous by Graham Greene's novel. To use it as my home base and departure point, 25 years after I first sat on it's storied patio, looking out at the parque.

Below, for easy reference, you'll find links to and a summary of my favourite Santiago de Cuba blogs on this site. I've always tried to show the good, the bad and the ugly side of life in Cuba from a grass root perspective. On this trip, I plan to do the same. Really, Cuba is such an enigma! There's hardly any need to make up a story like Jim Wormold does! Far from it  -the truth is strange enough!

MY CUBA BLOGS


Cuba Trippin' Back In The Day!

What Do They Think? Here's my update on the recent changes inside Cuba. It's from a 2015 visit. To write it, I met and interviewed the teachers, their families and the students at the schools @ Here!

"What The Heck Is Going On?" or "A Do It Yourself Cuban Study Guide": Through successive Conservative and Liberal governments, Canada hasn't participated in the US Embargo of Cuba. We often view the revolution quite differently. Instead, we've followed a policy of constructive engagement to help create the prerequisites for peaceful change. You'll find lots of background links Here!

My Cuban School Project Links: More background links, some blogs I've left out and so on. This was written as an info piece prior to Obama's visit in 2016 @ Links

Santiago de Cuba Faded Glory, Lost in Time This is a blogger snapshot of the 500 year old Caribbean city with it's mad mix of French, Spanish, American and Russian influences @ [Stgo!].

The  Hotel Casa Granda: These are from some of my past adventures, to put it mildly, sitting at the patio bar overlooking the park. Written during the 1990's, one story concerns the Locals and the other the Tourists 

Christmas in Cuba [1996]: We drop by the hotel. Are told to get out quick. Here's the ugly underside to life in Cuba during the deepest, darkest daze of the Special Period. It takes place on Christmas Eve. It's one of only two stories I've written, the other a poem, where Jesus makes a guest appearance. I'm not a religious man but hey! It happened! Christmas in Cuba!

The CSP: Cuban School Project Story: Here's how it got started! Includes a special tip of the hat to the Beatles! CSP 


The CSP: Ongoing Projects: There's two that I still keep going since I've retired from teaching in Canada; "The TFS: Toronto Friendship School" and "Ingles Para Ti/ English For You", a "Made in Cuba" instruction workbook CSP

The CSP: Teacher Computers: Here's a fairly recent update on the challenges of teaching in Cuba @ CSP

The TFS: Toronto Friendship School: I'm real excited about visiting here again. It's a community school in the barrios. Last visit there were about 150 students. The focus is on teaching English and Business skills to the locals. The CSP has helped fund, build and support the school since the early 1990's. It remains very close to my heart. I sometimes still teach there. For students, teachers and staff alike, it is truly a labour of love, as school should be @ Cuba + The Night 2 and @ Rumours of War

A Canadian Teacher On The Road In Cuba: Compared to most of the America's, including the US and even Canada, Cuba is a very safe and friendly place to visit, travel and work. Despite the incredible difficulties, the people are remarkably warm, genuine and hospitable, as you'll discover if you ever go there. Read my travel blog from a road trip into the interior @ [Here]. There's also an epilogue I wrote as a poem Thunder!

Traditional Music and Dance: Santiago de Cuba has an incredibly rich culture. The blog is about the cities traditional Cuban song + dance scene. Can't wait to get back and enjoy @ Santiago de Cuba Diary 4

Afro Cuban Culture, Song + Dance: Ditto. Focus is on Santiago's extraordinary African Cuban culture, steeped in slavery and still alive and well today @ Santiago de Cuba Diary 5

The Beach Is The Thing: My most recent visit, more so a vacation, was in January. Gotta love retirement and those last minute deals! I invited some of the Cuban teachers out to the resort. Later dropped them back off in Santiago de Cuba, and decided I have to return for another stay. BTW, on this trip it is the Canadians who misbehave @ Brisas

Back to the Beach: Who says we can't mix business with pleasure? @ On The Beach!

RIP: Fidel Castro: Some thoughts @ RIP

Flowers For Fidel: A visit to his gravesite in Santiago de Cuba @ Here! Video @

JFK, Cuba and Me: Here's how I got interested in Cuba; a lifetime obsession Cuban Missile Crisis!
 

Back 2 School: Teaching in Cuba 

COMMENTS

 PS: If you have any questions I can answer, from my own Cuba experiences, please don't hesitate to constructively use the Comments section below!

PPS: No! Cuba is NOT kool for drugs! Don't even think about it! Nada! No way! Bah! Too bad I will miss the 420 celebrations in Toronto this year, but see you at the Global march!

Oh Cannabis News y Views 4

Much more links coming .....


HEADLINES

Bill C-45: Canada Legalizes It: Worried about the Raptors, Habs or Leafs? We are about to become the first G7 country, and only the second in the world next to Uruguay to legalize weed! Works for me! You can read the full text of Canada's new cannabis bill @ Leafly Also check out the government website for more info on "legalization and regulation" @ Canada.ca

Cannabis Activism 101: Pricing? Taxes? Licensing? Distribution? Growing? Age limits? Penalties? Marketing? Packaging? Sales? The devil is in the details, as the saying goes. Indeed, Canadian cannabis activists are responding to our new legalization act with mixed reviews. Here's a good point by point breakdown of the new act's key points, followed by their often very pressing concerns @ Leafly

Cannabis Culture's Marc Emery: Our Prince o' Pot weighs in on Bill C-45 @ CP24

Split Spliff: The Federal government will license producers. The provinces will figure out the sales and distribution angles @ CBC

Oh Cannabis: The Trudeau Liberals moved up their legalization date so as to avoid Canada Day celebrations on July 1st 2018. Do they really think it's better that we get drunk rather than high while celebrating Canada's birthday on the 151st anniversary of Confederation?!? For shame @ CBC

Cannabis Culture 5: The Project Gator court hearings continue in Toronto April 21st for Marc y Jodie Emery, Chris y Erin Goodwin, y Britney Guerra @ Dankr

420 Toronto will be held for the last time at downtown Dundas Square this year @ CanLife Here's an event guide to what's happening across our city @ Now

The 19th Toronto Cannabis Global March: It's on for May 6 from 12-5 pm. I hear there will also be a kool exhibitors village along the parade route! See you as we March on Queens Park! More details @ Facebook

OH CANADA

 
Project Claudia/ Gator: Toronto Police Service's [TPS] decide to crack down on our cities cannabis dispensaries because the "law is the law"! Huh?! Then how come they let Uber run it's unregulated taxi service for a year before a law was passed, meanwhile putting our cities licensed drivers out of work? Truth be told, TPS is helping facilitate a corporate takeover of the local cannabiz sector by attacking our long persecuted pot pioneers! For shame @ Star

"Der Capitalist Plot" Or "A Big-Money Power-Play" More particularly, the Trudeau government with police assistance, are helping protect the Big Corporates' cannabis profits on the stock exchange, by mercilessly crushing the grass root competition prior to legalization @ HighTimes

High Time$: How to totally eliminate the black market? The Trudeau government could set a very low price for legal weed, to totally wipe it out. Instead, the feds are handling over sales and distribution to the provinces. They hope that the big profits will help speed the legalization process along. Meanwhile, as this article suggests, health and education concerns are actually getting pushed to the back burner of Canadian politics for less than noble reasons @ CBC

Liberal Cronyism 101: How do you spell conflict of interest?!? Here's a who's who of the big wig Canuck public servants and former politicians who are getting into the weed biz @ MacLeans

"Smoked Out!" Or "Pothibition!" Seriously, this reporter dude was sitting behind us at "Vape on the Lake" and must've overheard my postage stamp joke, as I was talking with Marc Emery [Blog]. Got his newspaper article out the day before me. Snooze you lose. No Matter. The newspaper reaches a much wider mainstream audience and it is a great idea! Marc and Jodie Emery deserve recognition for helping to bring about legalization. Certainly deserve to be honoured with a stamp. Oh and by the way, Marc was involved with Paul Magder in bringing about Sunday shopping in Ontario too, no small feat. Put Marc on a commemorative stamp! @ 24Hours


Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire! Guess what? Trudeau lied about legalization. Just like the Toronto Police Services [TPS] lied about Marc Emery's Cannabis Culture [CC] dispensaries. Make no mistake, they are both working for the Big Licensed Producers [LP's], not the Average Jane or Joe, be we a medical cannabis or recreational pot head. Cut through the BS @ CanCult

Cops + Robbers: Apparently TPS will "protect" and "not charge" cannabis dispensaries that are robbed, but consider carefully the exceptions. More BS @ LSLLP

Pot Amnesty? Concerned with the ongoing cannabis arrests in Canada prior to legalization, the Federal NDP Justice Critic Alistair MacGregor pipes up, advocating for an amnesty @ Lift

Busted: Canadian's who get busted for pot prior to legalization face a criminal record and a life time of hassles, especially when travelling outside Canada. This could proves especially troublesome for our unsuspecting young folk @ CTV and @ Global

Bill C-46: An Overhaul of Our Drunk Driving Laws: Testing for cannabis? Blood limit levels? Here's a legal brief on the concerns about our new impaired driving bill, introduced to coincide with legalization @ LawyersDaily

Canada West: Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta want the federal government to pay the new costs associated with it's legalization plans @ Globe

New Cross Canada Cannabis Trade Deal: An announcement is expected soon to coincide with legalization. The goal of the agreement? To stimulate economic growth across Canada by removing internal barriers to the trade in weed. Makes sense @ FinancialPost

IN THE NEWS


Canada + US Relations: What will legalized cannabis in Canada, the true north strong and high, mean for our neighbours in the US? Unfortunately they are missing out on a great opportunity to correct some big past wrongs. To enjoy some high times while helping balance the budget. Plus Canada gets a head start on grabbing up all those lucrative investment dollars and the new world export market. Hmmm. Thought Trump was all about business and jobs? Surely US prohibition doesn't make much dollars and sense, except that is, for Big Pharma, Big Alcohol and the police @ Time 

Cover of the Rolling Stone: Legal weed in Canada makes the infamous magazine cover, well kinda sorta. There's praise but also pressing concerns over the situation south of our border. Everything still seems pretty much up in air in Trumpland. The Ol' Pussygrabber and his Jiffy Sessions man could still stir things up, even though many states are now also moving towards legalization @ RollingStone

Big Alkie: The Big Alcohol companies are working behind the scenes to kill state legalization bills across the US. Why? Some folks never grow up. Still want to play Monopoly. Check out how much $$$ they are spending on their lobbying efforts, and who they are directing it at @ AllBud

New Federalism Fund: Hooray! The US powerhouse cannabiz firms race to the rescue. Their lobbying goal? To "tell our story and try to educate the government" about cannabis. Glad to see the big focus on cannabis education. Hopefully, they can help dispel nearly a century of reefer madness bullshit and lies! Here's how their lobby works @ Cannabist

Maybe there's hope yet? A bipartisan bill before the house would reclassify cannabis as a schedule 3 substance. Currently it's classified with the Schedule 1 drugs like Ecstasy and Heroin. The change recognizes it's medical uses and could hopefully open the door for so much more @ WashingtonTimes

Expanding Our Horizons: Uruguay? The UK? Portugal? Spain? Germany? Holland? Here's what's happening with legalization in some other countries from around the world. Yes! I plan to focus more on this and not just Canada and the US in my Oh Cannabis News y Views blog too @ WalesOnline

GREEN MARKETING


Legalizing It: How will legalization affect the way we buy cannabis? In Canada? The US? Here's a few projections @ BizInsider

Stock Ticker: Why bust the Cannabis Culture 5 prior to legalization? Too much emphasis on "regulation", along with the lack of a "price point" for legal cannabis, are giving investors the jitters! Since the new government bill lacks details on "cost and taxation", confidence is low. Investors worry that the government won't be able to curb the black market if legal weed is overpriced @ TSun

Making Canada Great Again: Horizons Medical bundles 14 cannbiz stocks together. Includes 10 Canuck entities for a little "Made in Canada" flavour. Makes them available as a single security. It's an new, perhaps safer and perfectly legal way to gamble on the weed stocks at the Toronto Stock Exchange [TSX] @ CBC

Workplace Safeguards: Employers seek direction from the government about their safety concerns now that Canada is legalizing cannabis @ CBC

Employment Standards: Are dispensary workers protected by Canada's labour laws while working for an "illegal" business? The answer is a guarded yes @ FR

Workplace Drug Testing? Medical and recreational users beware! Traces stay in your blood for up to a month! California provides some examples of the challenges ahead with legalization @ NORML

Alcohol Blues: Canuck big alkie business types are wringing their hands because the sale of alcoholic beverages could suffer under legalization, as some drinkers choose to toke up instead. This is bad newz?!? @ CBC

M-Edibles From The Peanut Gallery: Now you can buy smooth and crunchy Sativa, Indica or a hybrid infused "Peanut Budder". It comes in a kool, carry around, seal tight jar. Eh? Yes, it contains straight, good, ol' fashioned peanut butter and organic coconut "canna-oil" too @ Eyebake

Customer Service With A Stoned Smile: CannaMed Toronto earns top customer service marks! I bought a Toko Disposable Vaporizer Pen that didn't work at Green Market Toronto. Grr! Grr! Grr! But then they delivered a replacement to me at home! Didn't even know about my blog! Gotta love their Girl Scout Cookies! Grape Kush! Sugar Jack! Etc. Etc. Etc. Yummy!

HIGHER LEARNING


Back 2 School Daze for the US Hospitals: Turns out that many will often deny organ transplants to patients who "abuse drugs", which they figure includes cannabis. Be aware @ Gizmodo

Power In The Blood: The National Indigenous Medical Cannabis Association is launched to promote and defend our First Nations relationship with the cannabis plant across Canada @ Vice Also follow @ Facebook


Turtle Island Rocks!

Much more to come .....

KULTURE KULT INK


Jodie Emery shows us how it's done!

"Around Toronto" or "Making the Activist Scene": Out on bail and now living here fulltime while awaiting trial, Jodie Emery of Cannabis Culture quickly becomes a Toronto fixture. She gets her photo on the cover of Now magazine. Suddenly she's seen everywhere across the city for a full week while it hits the news stands. Jodie also provides a queenly interview that quite fittingly helps put her and Marc's activist struggle into perspective for local readers within the Toronto TPS prohibition scene! Welcome to our city Jodie! Thanks for showing Torontonians how it's done in your face but with a certain aplomb from out BC way @ Now

Getting Anal: Well, I'm going to pass on this, but thought you should know. It's "doctors orders" ... ready? Stick the weed up your butt! You'll get real high!?! Hmmmm. Thanks but no thanks! Suppose if you light it up first, that will really get you hopping, but puleeeze! Don't try passing it around @ GreenRush

Much more to come ....



COMMENTS:

Monday, 3 April 2017

"Overgrow Canada" Or "A Toke With Marc + Jodie Emery!"

"Overgrow the government! Plant the seeds of freedom!"
[Dana Larsen]

 
Marc y Jodie: Still alive y well!

This weekend I caught up for a toke with Marc y Jodie Emery at "Vape on the Lake". [LINK] They popped by the comfy, cozy Etobicoke lounge on their Sunday afternoon promenade. The setting? Think vintage Canuck stoner rec room, a la the 1960's to now. Good buds. Bongs. Murals. TV. Tunes. Some tables and chairs. The local cannabis community coming together. Gathered to get stoned and listen to BC Cannabis Activist Dana Larsen's thought provoking "Overgrow Canada" Toronto speech.

Wait a minute! A toke?!? The Emery's?!?

Yup! I know. Tch! Tch! The "Project Gator" court order says Marc y Jodie mustn't do "illegal drugs"! Not while they're out on bail!  


Dana spreads the seeds of freedom!

What to do? Marc and Jodie have officially joined Canada's growing army of medical cannabis users! Gotten their super duper medical cannabis gold cards. Been officially assigned to a bona fide government Licensed Producer [LP].

So now the Emery's can  get "legally" high, hopefully in relative peace. They aren't breaking the law.

Marc laments the extreme irony. Our legal government LP's don't stock nearly a fraction of the countless cannabis strains that Jodie and he readily provided across Canada at their Cannabis Culture dispensary's before the busts.

It's true! As medical cannabis patients, many of us now can't safely and readily get the many different types of weed required to meet our prescription needs. Not through the Licensed Producers. It's a simple fact. Canada's medical cannabis LP's just can't produce enough strains, nor provide a level of service to match the grass root dispensaries! 


Marc, Jodie and I lean back in our chairs. Smoke the devil's lettuce! Discuss the limited strains we're "allowed" to buy by the government of Canada. Contemplate the infinite. Then among the happy reverie at Vape by the Lake, we listen intently to Dana Larsen's thought provoking "Overgrow Canada" speech.

Dana's speech focused on Canadian prohibition and the dispensary movement. He provided plenty of references from his indispensable book; Cannabis in Canada: An Illustrated History, [LINK]. It's a must read! He handed out free packets of "Freedom" Cannabis seeds. Encouraged everyone to "plant freedom" everywhere across Canada; in "victory gardens", window boxes, in parks and fields.  For our children. For our children's, children, children. Nobody need suffer!


Here are a few more takeaways from Dana's speech:

Cannabis Prohibition in Canada is racist in origin. It facilitates the growth of the Big Pharmacy companies. It allows the government to arrest political activists. Dana points out that it isn't based upon scientific or medical facts. 

If the Canadian government really wanted to eliminate black market cannabis, Dana argues, they could just set the price so cheap that nobody else could compete. But where would the big profits be in that, eh?

Dana explained that it seems quite criminal many of the same politico and police reefer madmen whom enforced prohibition, now stand to benefit the mo$t from legalization. As for everyone else? Those of us who've lived through it? Fought it? Including the Emery's? And Canada's many other non corporate growers, producers and dispensaries?

There's still hope! Dana insists that the dispensary movement is actually winning the "war on drugs"! Most aren't raided and continue to open and flourish across Canada. Need more of them? Dana provided many welcome tips on how to open a front line dispensary for the eager Toronto crowd.


During the Q+A, Dana and Marc engaged in some lively repartee. Bantered back and forth good naturedly about the Canadian cannabis movement. Dana argued that, unlike Marc, he can't quite bring himself to join the Conservative Party of Canada [CPC]. But he agreed with him in publicly endorsing Libertarian Maxime Bernier for the CPC leadership job.

Why? As Dana pointed out, Canada badly needs all three of our main political parties to support legalization. That way a proper debate can take place. Dana noted that the NDP are speaking out more forcefully on decriminalization now. However, they were far too quiet during the federal election and lost badly. We've certainly still got quite a way to go before our political system is firing on all cylinders to produce some good legislation. If not, as Dana warns, "Legalization will really be a legal mess!"


Dana's seed kit!

By mid afternoon I was getting pretty high on the potent political talk, at the very least. Ha ha! Here's a few more random thoughts:

Marc y Jodie deserve to get their mugs on a postage stamp someday for all the fine  heritage work they've done in Canada's legalization struggle. Hell, Marc can be our weed patch Dr. Bethune, and Jodie our Nellie McClung! But will there even still be postage stamps when that day finally rolls around? 

"When We Rise!" Remember the LGBTQ made for TV series? Maybe one day we'll get a prime time show on the Canadian legalization struggle. Dunno. Call it "When We Are High!" Marc writes! Can do the script! But who will play his part? Jodie? Justin Trudeau? John Tory? Or even Chief Mark Saunders?!? BTW, no postage stamps for the last three. No way!

Finally, Jodie should run for leadership of the NDP! Then hijack it for the Canada Cannabis Party!

Draft Jodie! Draft Jodie! Draft Jodie!

Er ... er ... er ...

Let me confess! When I suggested that, Jodie just stared at me like I was really stoned. Heh heh. Well, stranger things have happened! So to in politics. At any rate, a trez kool thought!


And so, I can happily confirm that Marc and Jodie Emery are still alive and well! You can hear Marc speak next at 420 Toronto in Dundas Square! He and Jodie aren't giving up the good fight! Far from it!

Dana's Overgrow Canada road show continues across Canada. Dana's very busy spreading the seeds of freedom. Creating hope! But it's up to us to plant them, in so many ways, especially through our cannabis activism.

Let's all join them in working together to, as Dana puts it,  "Overgrow the government! Plant the seeds of freedom!" 

Be active! Informed! Let's help stop the bullshit!


Dana Larsen's Overgrow Canada link is @ Facebook

Read My Oh Cannabis News y Views blog @ Here!

COMMENTS 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Teacher Free Speech April News y Views!

hEY hO! kEEP ChECKing BAcK! LaTeR AdDITIoNs WiLL bE AddED In LaRgE TYpe SeT! mY Acronym Guide IS @ hErE! ... Legalization news now moved to "Oh Cannabis!" @ HERE!


TEACHER + UNION

Classroom Violence: Most folks little realize that our overcrowded Ontario classrooms are hardly safe places to learn anymore. Moreover, they can be dangerous for both students and teachers alike. As one teacher points out, the violence is nearing "epidemic levels" @
1010

Home [Not] Work [ing]: Often, the focused, parental home involvement and support necessary for student learning can be misdirected or is sadly lacking @ Star

Special Ed Support: Teacher's worry that there's a horrible lack of proper supports for students with behavioural problems integrated into the regular classroom setting. @ Star

War Zone: Understaffed CYW [Child Youth Workers] and EA's [Educational Assistants] are receiving the brunt of the assaults while just trying to do their job @ GDBlog

Back 2 School: Ontario Ministry of Child y Youth Services is developing a "black youth action plan" to help keep students of colour in schools and off the streets. Of course, more programming and other school supports, all ready in short supply, will also be needed @ Star


We are! We are!

Islam Mania: ETFO public elementary and OSSTF public secondary teachers announce their support for standing firm against Islamophobia at the Peel District board. Numerous ugly incidents of racism have erupted over the "Muslim prayer sessions" there. However, the religious accommodation is required by law under the Ontario Human Rights Code [ETFO ] [OSSTF]. Attempts to photograph the little children praying provides another recent and particularly nasty example of the ongoing problems. Duh, you can't take pictures of kids at school without permission, regardless of their faith, for so many reasons, legal and otherwise @ InsideHalton

USA North: Contrary to popular belief,  there's more than enough gun violence here in Ontario. Though not nearly as bad as in the US, one youth is shot almost every day, accidentally or otherwise. Are we also living in denial of a gun problem like our neighbour to the south? @ Globe

Working In Ontario: Coming fast on the heals of next year's provincial election, the Ministry of Labour is launching a review of employment standards, with the final report still 4-6 weeks away. What to expect? More @ CBC


Cannabis Korner:

Legal Cannabis: What will it mean for our schools? Will "Codes of Conduct" suffice in dealing appropriately with the social and legal changes? How much help are they now? Also notice how there's no mention of accommodating medical cannabis use @ CBC

Medical Cannabis Benefits: Shopper's Drugmart and Loblaw's announce that they'll help cover their employee's prescription costs! What is your union doing to make sure that you are covered too? @ Star

Psssssssst! Other links to legalization can be found @ Oh Cannabis News y Views!

OTPP AGM 2017: Good news -the Ontario Teacher Pension Plan has earned an $11.5 B investment surplus for the members! But it's too bad we weren't so well rewarded with answers to the pressing ethical questions raised about "Responsible Investment" from the floor! [PDF]. Climate change? Business ethics? Transparency? Health y safety? Third World resources? Water? Oil? Pfffffffft! It's amazing how long the directors spoke without saying much while mouthing bromides from the Neo Lib corporate "collaboration engagement" handbook


Top marks go to the member who took the directors to task over OTTP's equity policies. Seems all white men and women are created equal on the board. But where's everybody else? Are top notch financiers of colour or visible minority really that hard to find?

Afterwards at the social, member concerns were expressed about the Wynne Neo Libs, by some of the retirees. More specifically, would they go after the teacher pension plan to pay down the provincial deficit?

I've now gotten two quite different answers, from two  quite seemingly reliable sources. Colour me baffled. What do the OLP really say and do, while behind closed doors with the OTF and OTPP, far from the prying eyes of we pesky, grass root plebs?

In the age of Trump, Trudeau, and Wynne, promises and authority themselves regretfully no longer carry much credible weight. It is best to be vigilant and I will want to confirm the differing answers I've been told, out of respect for accuracy and to avoid any alt-facts. At any rate, I am not aware of any questions about the security of the surplus. Though I'd like to be sure that our Lib pals at Queens Park don't have an eye on much more than that ....?

It is our pension plan! If you'd like to constructively discuss this further, as a teacher, please feel free to use the Comment space below.....

Update @ OTPP! See my AGM report from 2016 @ Blog!

TORONTO ONTARIO CANADA


Oh Canada: PM Justin Trudeau takes a traditional Canadian Foreign Policy approach to the alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria, with a focus on the 3 "C's" of Liberal Internationalism; combination, consensus, and constraint. His focus is upon verification and on developing a long term, multilateral United Nation's response. See his initial position on the crisis @ Intercept

About Face: Next Justin changes his position announcing that Canada now supports the unilateral US air strike on Syria. Why? He's been assured by Trump and US Defense Secretary Mattis that Syria is responsible for the alleged chemical weapons attack. How reliable are these US White House sources? What's fact? Alt Fact? Complete bull a la shit?!? No matter, Justin supports the US air strike as a "limited and focused" action, even though it's a violation of international law. He still advocates his multilateral approach, but now for the next steps to follow. Might it have something to do with seeking an open seat for Canada on the UN Security Council? He'll need US support @ NationalPost



Warning US Readers: Dairy farmer war flags going up across Canada! See sample above!

Cow Tip: The Donald launches a fiery anti-NAFTA invective against Canada's dairy famers as a part of his plans to "Make America Great Again"! Seems that the US is getting screwed by the diabolical Canuck dairy farmers over an imbalance in the trade of "ultra filtered milk" a product that allows for "greater efficiency" in "making cheese". Right! And next we're going to steal all of your pot from Colorado ........ [Note: Hmmmmmmmm!]

David McNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the US replies by noting that dairy trade actually favours the US 5 to 1. What to do? Maybe we better run and hide behind a cow!? Just hope the Donald doesn't know how to tip it over!!! Ouch @ Global 


Not Quite A Chop Off The Old Block: PM Justin Trudeau is adamant that "Canada is back" on the international scene. Unfortunately, he remains silent on pressing nuclear disarmament issues, just like  US President Donald Trump. Canada is one of the few nuclear powers, if not the only one, to ever unilaterally disarm ourselves. But that was under his father, the old fuddle duddler himself; Pierre Elliot Trudeau [PET]. PET must be rolling in his grave! The reasons the new Trudeau's Liberals give for not saying or doing anything are pretty feeble, to say the least @ Huff

Toronto City Council considers whether to pull funding for the cities Gay Pride celebrations. Why? Toronto Police are no longer invited to participate in our annual, world famous Gay Pride parade. By whom? Uncomfortable marchers who don't fit into city hall's white, straight, cisgender vision of what Pride should be like @ Star


BLM TO actions continue to challenge Toronto-The-Not-So-Good!

Meet Gay Prides new boss, Olivia Nuamah! She vows to stand up for most marginalized members of the LGBTQ community, not just it's white members. They still feel threatened! More @ Globe

Not Much Fun: How much does it cost for a young adult to enjoy the "fun life" in Toronto? The minimum cost of living, just to cover your basic bills is about $45,000 a year. Add in dining out, some nightclubbing, and vices like booze, smokes or weed, and the price for la Tarawna "dolce vita" skyrockets even more! Whew! A breakdown is @ Vice

Lost In The Northern Swamps: Here's another way PC Party Leadership Candidate Kellie Leitch is like Donald Trump. Both claim they'll launch a "war on the elites". However, the Donald is US elite. Duh. Kellie? Truth be told, she's overwhelmingly bankrolled by the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] corporate elite @ Vice

IN THE NEWS



Nukes: The major powers, especially the US, Russia and China have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world many times over, even though the Cold War is  long finished. Disarmament? Forget about it! No one even mentions it much anymore. Small wonder their word doesn't carry much weight on the subject, as many other smaller, far less stable counties race to develop their own weapons of mass destruction @ Vice

Chemical Attack: At least 58 Syrians were killed, including 11 innocent children after a toxic gas was air dropped on them apparently by Russian or Syrian jets. The UN is considering it a "possible war crime"! Very graphic and disturbing @ AlJazeera

Blame Game: Trump shamelessly blames past president Barrack Obama's inaction for the horrible, grizzly Syrian chemical attack. However, we can still read his Tweets from 2013 urging Obama not to get involved. Wonder how much credibility the Donald will have left at home and abroad when he needs to be trusted in a world crisis? @ MotherJones


Spoils of War: Trump discovers how to make his critics and the public at large rally behind him as US President when all else fails. What does he do? He launches an illegal US air strike on Syria over an alleged chemical weapon attack. But where is the evidence? How to verify? Confused? Here's how the game plan works @ Intercept

Russia is adamant that the "gas attack" was the accidental result of a Syrian air strike on an unknown rebel chemical weapon depot. They also question what his long range plan is for ending the Syrian civil war @ Reuters and @ NYP

The Plot Thickens: The Pentagon casts doubt on an AP news report [AP] that Russia knew in advance of the international incident. Apparently they've seen "nothing to corroborate" the "definitive statement". It's based upon an anonymous report by an unnamed "official" of an unidentified drone seen over a hospital in the war zone @ DailyCaller

Pfffft! Read retired Colonel Patrick Lang's critical analysis of the case against Syria @ ActivistPost

Russia might be content to let Trump trip up on his own mistakes with this one, which might not be hard to do @ Guardian

Red Alert: Russia and Iran warn the US that they will respond with force if the "red lines" are crossed again in Syria. Evidence that the Syrians are responsible remains vague @ ActivistPost and @ Independent


"Poodle Diplomacy" or "Great shades of Iraq": Brit Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson unashamedly plays lap dog for the US President. He's threatening sanctions against Russia, once again without any hard, reliable evidence of their complicity in the still unverified Syrian WMD "attack". Along with Iran and Syria, Russia's now threatening a "real war", if any more Trump "red lines" are crossed. As in 2003, the events and intrigues start to take a life of their own as they snowball out of control @ BizInsider and @ Indpendent

Bedding Down: Was the US Syrian air strike a deliberate attempt to confuse and distract the public over Trump's suspected links with Putin, and/ or the mounting turmoil he faces in Washington? More @ ShareBlue and @ HeisReport


Scud Boy: Seems North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un's been firing deadly missiles out to sea! Trumps sure that they could soon reach and target the US bringing nuclear destruction to it's shores! Or could they? Basically Kim's been firing off liquid propelled scud missiles built using a highly outdated, ineffective and unreliable technology. It's more of a terror weapon than a strategic military tool. Somehow a lot of this seems to be getting left out of the news and the White House script. Let's keep it in perspective @ Reuters and @ Fox

More on the WW2 era scud missiles as a "Dong No" @ A+S

"North Korea RIP" Or "Spinning Out Of Control". Trump's got war ships headed/ not headed towards North Korea. Has he thought this one through? Sure he could give Meister Madman Kim Jong Un a hard, swift kick to the butt, but then things could spin horribly out of control @ Vox 


Thanks but No Thanks! Read more about the implications, especially for the region @ Vox

Oops! Turns out Trump's war armada hadn't yet headed out towards North Korea, despite his tweets and sabre rattling! How do we know? The US Navy tells us so @ Vox

The Trump Doctrine?!? The Donald is making up US foreign policy doctrine as he goes along. There doesn't seem to be any discernible long range objectives or game plan in place. We've seen him repeatedly lie before. He's used some real whoppers when it suits his purpose. He doesn't trust the CIA at all, except now it seems, to fix blame for the chemical attack on Syria. That's the same CIA, who's false WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction] claims led to the disastrous 1993 US invasion of Iraq! Alas! Americans might be readily tricked into supporting another ill conceived war for "freedom", or whatever the flavour of the day is 2017 style. A quick glance at CNN or Fox News makes that quite apparent. However, why would the international community also trust President Donald Trump if push comes to shove? @ NYT


Blow Back: Meanwhile, hundreds of innocent Iraqi's continue to die as a result of US air strikes. This is really nothing new. All of the last 5 US presidents, Bush Senior through Trump have bombed Iraq into rubble to no avail. And folks wonder why the middle east is growing more radicalized and increasingly fighting back, while peace remains increasingly allusive? More @ ActivistPost

Unmasking US Foreign Policy: Trump embraces Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on his White House visit. The tyrant's state visit comes as the Trump administration decides not to any longer tie human rights abuses to US support for his brutal regime. Truth be told, the only real change is that any pretence otherwise is now being dropped @ Intercept


Trump White House: What's really going on?!

Politics of Distraction: Trump Svengali Steve Bannon is unceremoniously kicked from the NSC [National Security Council]! Looks like NSA Chief Advisor Masters and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are back in charge! [Politico]. Sure Trump's shuffled the advisory deck, but maybe there's still a slight of hand at play @ Guardian and @ WashingtonPost

All In The Family: Some pundits think Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are behind Bannon getting the boot, as their White House influence over the pater familias grows @ AOL

LGBTQ DNE [Do Not Exist]: Trump "inadvertently" eliminated LGBTQ questions from the 2020 US census. It's no small matter! The data collected helps set funding and policy priorities @ Out

No Trump-Pope Meet: So far the Donald hasn't requested a sit down with Pope Francis while he's attending next month's G7 Summit in Italy. Vatican policy? Ask and ye shall receive @ Telesur


Trump in Rome?

"Billionaires Club" or "Money Talks": Trump meets with two of the Koch brothers. They want Obamacare completely repealed. Remember, they promised hefty campaign contributions to anyone in the GOP "Freedom" caucus, who helped defeat Trump's bill. No mention is made of what was discussed @ Hill

Gutting America's Socialism: Here's an interesting read on how the dark side views developments in the US since the 1960's. An unbridled laissez fair free market approach verses an unquestioned belief in central planning and social engineering!?! Or consider this: Capitalism verses Socialism -which can save the day?!? Sigh! Alas! Either way the thinking requires a huge leap of faith! One only wishes we could somehow rise above the all too easy bromides. Apparently a stock sharing option is all it takes here to close the huge, growing income gap in the US of A. Zzzzzzzzz. Still, it's always good to be able to crawl into other folk's head, as much as we might disagree, to really see and understand how they think. Go for it @ ActivistPost

Conflict of Interest: The lines continue to be blurred. Ivanka and Jared Trump are clearly working at the White House, while still running the Donald's $740 million real estate empire. Nice work if you can get it, but that doesn't make it right @ NYT

KULTURE KULT INK


The Kids Are Alright: Here's a real pick-me-upper! Perhaps there's hope yet? A Target store cashier kept asking a little white girl if she really wanted a black doll. The little girl insisted yes, because it was a nurse. She wants to be a nurse someday! They are also both alike because they are "pretty". Makes sense! At least somebody is on "target" these daze for getting along @ Mic

Seniors Aren't? Seems sex is bad for older men because it can give us a heart attack. However, it's good for older women because it can reduce hypertension. Hmmm ..... Suppose I could insert some titillating comments about Janet and I here. Kinda sorta hidden at the bottom of my blog ..... However, I'm reminded of an particular episode of the Simpson. Don't want to end up like Homer! Know she wouldn't be very good humoured about it. No way! Read more here instead @ IreCall


Pepsi All A Twitter: The cola company raises the ire of protesters for appropriating their image to try to suggest police violence could be ended by just giving the cops a can of pop. Would it have gotten Rosa Parks and other people of colour a seat on the bus back in the sixties? Or could a Pepsi have saved Dr. Martin Luther King and the Civil Right Marchers from getting beaten to a pulp, to put it mildly? His daughter thinks not @ DailyNews

In Your Best Interest: "Interest groups" might be a dirty word. They lobby the government to make decisions that favour you.  Most every sector of society does it, whether we like it or not. Is it time for young adults to also start thinking and acting like an interest group too? So your good interests don't get lost in the shuffle? @ Vice

Climate Change 101: Summers coming! Many of us will be heading back to the countryside or out to the lake. I can't wait to get kayaking again myself! But be prepared! Sigh! Alas! There will be more and more mosquitoes and ants due to climate change @ Vice


COMMENTS

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
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Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?

Art at the Paris Louvre: What does it mean?!?
A careful analytical study!

Help! I Have No Arms!

Help! I Have No Arms!
Please scratch my back.

I can't find my underwear!.

I can't find my underwear!.
Have you seen them!

Weee! I can fly!

Weee! I can fly!
Look! I can crawl thru walls!

I have a headache!

I have a headache!
And a broken nose.

I have a square hole in my bum!

I have a square hole in my bum!

Here try this, it's very good!

Here try this, it's very good!
No. You have a bird face.

I have an ugly baby!

I have an ugly baby!
No I'm not!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!

Let's save all our money + buy pants!
OK but I need a new hand too!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

Oh no! I got something in my eye!

You don't look well.

You don't look well.
No. My head hurts +I have a sore chest.

Would you like a bun?

Would you like a bun?

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!

Chichen-Itza: Lost Maya City of Ruins!
The Temple of Kukulkan!

Gotta love it!

Gotta love it!
Truly amazing!

Under Reconstruction!

Under Reconstruction!

Temples + Snakes!

Temples + Snakes!

The Snake!

The Snake!
It runs the length of the ball field!