Opening Statement

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Teacher Free Speech Summer 2020 News y Views!

LaTEr aDDiTiOns R In LargE TypE! mY Acronym Guide IS @ hErE! 
REadeRs gUiDe 2 TeaCHer fREE sPEech NeWs Y vIeWs @ HERE!  MuCh, mUch morE to coMe .....  TWeEtS @ davidchiarelli 


Yankee Stay Home: Thinking of travelling to Canada this summer? On a domestic trip? Think again! Sadly, across the US, the Covid-19 infection rate continues to spike. While many Americans remain in frightening denial about the coronavirus pandemic. Like it or not, despite our warm and close ties, Canada's neighbours to the south are no longer welcome visitors here. It's a popular sentiment. Strongly felt. Quite widespread too @ NG

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has extended the Canada-US border closure until at least July 21st. Otherwise, it's too risky. Might create a second wave, as we work to re-open our economy, after successfully bending the Covid-19 curve @ Global

Covid National Debt: Canadian conservatives are wringing their hands. How will we pay off the huge debt incurred in making sure that Canadians can afford to stay safely at home? So that we are all in this together? And will survive the pandemic? Never seems to be a big concern when it comes to the billions spent on foreign wars! Or oil pipelines! And corporate welfare ball outs! But no matter.  We've done it before. We can do it again. Here's how @ Globe

Racism is Alive and Well in Canada. Unlike in the US, it's moreso a multicultural or indigenous rather than strictly a black issue. Indeed, Canada's First Nations are fed up with all the reports and commissions. The violence, racism, discrimination and abuse within Canada's judicial system. And all the ongoing police violence. They're calling for immediate action @ TStar

Dene Chief Allan Adam provides a case in point. The long time activist and champion for indigenous rights was badly beaten by RCMP over an expired licence plate. Folks might've once shrugged off here, but it's very serious, world news @ NYT

Colour Blind: Despite widespread civil unrest, Canada's 14 provincial and territorial First Ministers can't agree to condemn systemic racism in Canada. Why? They don't all believe it exists. Oh, and by the way, get this -they're all white too. Hmmm @ CBC

Justa Bootlicker: Canada drops to 12th place in the world Corruption Perception Index due to Trudeau's efforts to protect his corporate masters during the SNC Lavalin scandal. But let's face it. The Conservatives and NDP can whine and complain all they want. Given half a chance, they would've done so too. BTW, does Canada's Attorney General still sit in cabinet, at the PM's pleasure? Thought so. Where's the outrage over that? @ CoP

Canuck Right Wing Watch: The "Free North Patriots" are a self professed "civil liberty" group supposedly representing Canada's "business owners". They're behind the strange anti-lockdown protests that have been springing up across Canada during the Covid-19 pandemic. These "patriots" are also adamantly against vaccines, and 5G. Somehow, they're also connected with Canada's "Yellow Vests" wing-nuts and have mysterious foreign ties. Be on the watch @ PP

Police Reform: Ontario Premier Doug Ford cut back on the province's new police oversight reforms upon taking office. Was completely oblivious to the concerns of Ontario's BLM and POC. Now what's he going to do, as protests against police violence spread across the province?!? Our police remain largely unaccountable for their actions, very much above the law. It's hardly the bulwark of a healthy, functioning democracy. More @ CBC @ TVO  

Ford's Health Experts: Premier Doug Ford claims that his "health experts" have been determining Ontario's way forward during the Covid-19 pandemic. It's some comfort that so far he hasn't just left it up to his big biz and politico buddies instead. Still, Ford seems very eager now to reopen our economy asap, like most everyone else. Without proper concern for how that could destroy all our hard work and commitment, in bending the curve. Moreover, Ford won't tell us who these health experts really are. Maybe they're just the government bureaucrats he's appointed to talk to them? And apparently tell us what they say?!? Why the lack of transparency?!? @ CBC

Ford's Health Cuts: It's no secret! The Ford government contributed to the Covid-19 deaths through it's drastic budget and staffing cuts to Public Health Ontario, before the pandemic. Doug the Thug might seem like an all caring kinda guy now, but he'll need to be asked some tough questions after this is over @ NP

Nurses Pay Cut: Ontario's registered nurses consider Ford's recent 1% pay raise a "slap in the face". It's actually a pay cut; is less than the inflation rate. Ford often praised our nurses during the pandemic, but now it seems like they're heroes no more @ CBC

Front Line Retail Workers: Ford praised them as our heroes during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic too. But that doesn't go very far in paying the bills. Once again, most of them, are back to only earning the minimum wage. Loblaws, Metro, Walmart and Solbeys have all recently cut their pandemic raise. While our Dougie also recently tried to cut their paid statuary holidays, as a part of his business recover plan. He only backed off, under union pressure. Ummmm ... So Douglas -how about restoring their friggin' sick days too?!? Yeah, the one's you cut upon taking office??? More @ City

Covid Worker Safety: The OFL [Ontario Federation of Labour] warns that the toadie Ford Government "Work Refusal Advisory Committee" put workers lives at risk during the pandemic. That badly needs to change, as a part of the new normal OFL

Covid Pay Cuts: Like working at home? Want to keep it that way? Well, better plan for a salary cut, in the daze ahead. It'll reflect your new working conditions, as business adjusts to the new normal Globe

Modernize Ontario Act: Condo owners beware -Ford's changes to the Ontario's Condo Act during the pandemic now gives property management and condo boards lotsa new rights and privileges. But is that's what best for us? @  ON.CA


Trumped? US President Donald Trump is doubling down on his trademark divide and conquer strategies, and blatant lies. That's despite the worsening health crisis and widespread, growing civil unrest. His polling numbers are falling and it's the summer before the fall election. Is it finally game over for the Donald? @ CNN

GOP Law + Order: Trump continues to champion conservative law and order politics. "When the looting starts the shooting starts ..." pretty much summarizes his one size fits all focus on strong arm policing solutions to America's problems. But now there's been a massive sea change in public opinion. Americans' are seriously questioning the wisdom of this approach, as the widespread recent protests and civil unrest continue to rock the nation unabated. @ Pol

Agents of Repression: The social and political role of the police unions is often part and parcel of the repressive state apparatus. Far too often they're simply bullies, protecting offending officers from being held accountable accountable, for killing and brutalizing the very citizens they are suppose to serve and protect. Post George Floyd, that's now finally getting a hard, critical second look. SJ @ Youtube

Blame Antifa: Ooooh look! A Boogey-man! It's so typical Trump! Blame a fantasy band of roving shady, leftist Antifa bad boys, for any legitimate dissent against the status quo. With plenty of fake news stories and unfounded rumours, of professional anarchists. Violent mobs. Looters. Criminals and rioters. Hey! This BS resonates in small town America, providing a handy excuse to avoid dealing with the real underlying problems behind the protests in any meaningful way @ Buzz

Racism and Police Violence are a crisis of capitalism. Sure, they're human right violations, based upon one's skin colour and ethnicity. But they also expose the structural racism and economic inequality inherent in America's capitalist system of government. The Covid-19 pandemic merely exacerbated the existing social inequalities, revealing how unprotected the poor and it's racial minorities really are. And so the UN Human Rights Committee meets. They're consider a response to the horrific crisis sweeping the US, the "land of the free". Er ... free from what?!? Bet their report doesn't go over well state side @ Granma

US Moral Equivalency? US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's response to international criticism over the police abuses? It smacks of hypocrisy. Also calls into question the bullying nature of US foreign policy in the developing world. Just more of the same old BS @ HRW 

Cuba Si!  Meanwhile, Cuba defends itself against Pompeo's criticism of it's medical brigades, helping other countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic @ TeleSur

Covid Surge: Back in the USA, the coronavirus rises dramatically, as many states re-open early, business as usual. A detailed statistical breakdown and analysis is @ NYT

Man Overboard: Trump's surrender to the coronavirus has turned the first wave of the pandemic into a virulent Tsunami sweeping across the US. Unfortunately for the shortsighted Donald, he can no longer wall it in by hook or by crook. Say it's just infecting the liberal, urban, blue states. Now Covid-19's spreading like wild fire throughout Trump's south and midwest swing states, threatening his base of support too @ WP  @ Eand @ Hill 

Right Wing Watch: Ironically, Fox News and the fake conservative media have actually intensified the Covid-19 pandemic across the US. MAGAT audience's are being entertained with conspiracy theories and discouraged from taking the necessary safety precautions. They aren't wearing masks or PPE's nor social distancing to protect themselves and others from the virus. How much longer can this madness go on? @ WP

Trump Subplot? Strangely, US President Donald Trump doesn't have a national strategy for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Arguably that might be seen as an advantage, to a facist strongman trying to hold onto his predominantly white base. Think about it: American blacks and latinos are getting infected the most. Hitten the hardest. Along with the poor, aged, frail, vulnerable, and marginalized too. It's the kind of apocalypse Trump might think can help him win the fall US election. Of course it's now also infecting his vulnerable, white, aging MAGAT voters too. Nor is it much of a crowd pleaser for anyone else. But here's how the thinking goes @ Eand

Cuba's Response: The socialist state has been very been very responsible throughout the pandemic, going into full lockdown. The've also put tourism on hold. Even though that's their main source of income, what with the crippling US sanctions. Covid-19 continues to motivate the average Cuban to work together rather than fight among themselves. Cuba argues that the pandemic illustrates the failure of neoliberalism. Also the importance of international cooperation and solidarity. And the US considers Cuba the bad guys?!? More on the crisis in Cuba and the safety protocols put in place @ Granma @ Granma @ Granma @ Granma

US Sanctions: Cuba denounces recent US criticism and US efforts to tighten it's shameful and criminal economic sanctions against the Cuban people during the coronavirus pandemic. It also notes that health is a basic human right, seemingly another rogue concept for Trump, Pompeo and the GOP @ Granma More on Twitter @ #UnblockCuba

Santiago de Cuba 2020: Read my three part travel blog and expose @@@


Mapping The Virus: The Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread around the world at an alarming rate! A detailed breakdown of the stats is @ NYT

Covid-19: History Repeats: Beware! Covid is a lot like the so called "Spanish Flu" of 1918-19. During that pandemic, up to a third of the population in many countries got sick. And tens if not hundreds of millions died, in three waves.

Like Covid-19, the first wave was widespread but mild. Thinking the worst over, life largely returned to normal. While the virus "seeded", spread asymptomatically and mutated. Two much more deadly waves of the virus soon followed.

Think of it like this -First, comes the sucker punch. We dodge it. Grow cocky. Let down our guard. Next come the two much deadly second and third waves; like right-left knock out punches. 

Maybe? Maybe not? Better to be safe than sorry! Check out these links for a good overview of the many shocking similarities CBC @ History @ CDC @ NCBI @ GR

The New Normal? We've largely dodged the first wave of Covid-19. But still know very little about the virus. Like how do we catch it? Only now, is a true consensus beginning to emerge @ WSJ

Morbidity + Mortality 101: The coronavirus is always busy interacting with our other underlying health conditions, as it spreads That could kill lots more of us, according to our sex, age and race. Especially if you suffer from pre-existing cardiovascular problems, diabetes or chronic lung diseaseMMWR

Proper Social Distancing: The messaging sometimes differs; should we keep one or two metres apart? As the economy re-opens? As we head back out in public? To school and work? Be forewarned! It's economic pressures rather than safety concerns that are now often deciding the distancing debate @ FT

Ka-Poop: Flush the toilet -it creates a mushroom cloud of aerosol spray. Spreading the Covid-19 virus onto all the washroom surfaces. Until they're thoroughly disinfected and cleaned. Sadly, public hygiene is dicey at the best times. So just how safe is a public lavatory, as we venture outside the home, in the age of Covid-19? @ NYT

Protest Now? Today's rallies, protests, and demonstrations against racism and police violence, are very timely and important. But if you're especially susceptible to the coronavirus, for age or health reasons and so on, find another way to actively support the cause! Also, if you are protesting, get tested and social distance afterwards at home, to help keep your family and significant others safe @ NPR

Back 2 The Beach: Wanna snack? Looking for the washroom? Lotsa bathers? Here are some Covid-19 safety tips to keep in mind @ Huff


MOE: The Ontario Minister of Education: Minister Stephen Lecce has released a vague, half baked reopening plan for the province's schools come this fall. It lists three options: a normal and a modified, and an at home learning routine. No, Ontario's teacher federations and other important frontline education groups weren't properly consulted despite their wealth of knowledge and expertise. No, the MOE didn't provide sufficient notice for September. Nor the funding, space, training or support needed to ensure a safe school re-opening either. The "plan" and the critiques are @ Opo @ CBC @ CP24 @ TStar

People for Education's Annie Kidder has argued all along that the Ford government absolutely must include Ontario's teachers and educators to develop a safe and realistic school reopening plan, but to no avail. DuhTStar @ P4E

Sick Kids Hospital: On the other hand, Sick Kids did help the MOE to help develop their plan. Here's their flawed, if not well intentioned response. Also a critique of it's unfortunate lack of proper, well informed, safety protocols, a "sad example of bad pandemic advice" @ SK @ NP @ CBC @ CP

ECE Reopening Childcare Plan: But the Early Childcare Educator's carefully considered submission was ignored by the Ontario MOE @ CCO

MIA: So who else is missing in action. See below:

ETFO's Plan to Reopen Schools: Here's the elementary teacher's submission to the Ontario MOE [Ministry of Education]  @ ETFO

OECTA's Plan to Reopen Schools: Ditto the Ontario English Catholic TeachersOECTA

OSSTF's Safe Return For All: Ditto the Ontario Secondary School TeachersOSSTF

Right Wing Watch: Last February's "Working Parents Vaughan" fake news ads have been found guilty of violating the Ontario Elections Act. Turns out Conservative millionaire Michael Degasperis was the Neo conster ... ahem ... mastermind behind all this despicable bullshit. He has close ties to MOE Stephen Lecce. Helped drum up right wing hysteria against the province's teachers for the Ford government during the rotating strikes. Sure Degasperis got caught red handed. Now gets a little slap on the wrist. While the injustice remains, a fait accompli. Sadly, we'll keep seeing this again and again and again, like always, for as long as the Ford Conservatives remain in power. Then again, the Liberal and NDP weren't above a little ol' teacher bashing when in government too. And so it goes and on and on and on @ PP @ PP @ PP

Building Student Understanding: An all white class in Memphis Tennessee is working together with an all back class in NJ to bridge America's racial and cultural divide. Yup! Teach 'em young. Education is our greatest tool to try change the world for the better, if not now, then in the years' aheadEdu

Mt. Rushmore: Here's why Trump's speech at Mt. Rushmore is so objectionable, especially for the Lakota Tribe @ ST

Tulsa Rally: Why was the location of Trump's first 2020 election rally so awfully shocking and offensive for American blacks? Consider the "Massacre of Black Wall Street" @ Atlantic And "The Tulsa Race Massacre" @ PBS


Canada Vs The US: Who's the best, eh?!? @ NY

On White Priviledge: As a white male myself, I think it's really sad. So many of us are afraid of letting go of our sense of privilege. Of creating a level playing field where we too must compete. Maybe some of us are worried that we're somehow sub par ? If not, why do we then need an unfair advantage, to compete with everyone else?!? Really, it's quite sad and pathetic. More on white privilege and it's many nuances @ TT

Rotiskenrakehete: The traditional role and responsibility of an indigenous warrior or "rotiskenrakehete" is to protect their community. It's their duty, not a question of choice. That's part and parcel of belonging to a society that practices and promotes harmony and balance in nature. They certainly aren't terrorists, thugs or a gang, as the mainstream media suggests. So whom exactly are the RCMP protecting? As they enforce GasLink oil pipeline injunctions on unceded Wet'suwet'en land? And why are Wet'suwet'en fighting back so hard? @ RPM @ RPM

Cuba Vacations: International tourists will be welcome back at Cuba's resorts, but only in safe, select area's where we won't pose or be at risk of infection. That comes at stage 3 of their recovery plan. Think Cayo Coco rather than Habana. More @ TL


Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Oh Cannabis Summer 2020 Newz y Viewz!

InHale! hOld! eXhAle! SmiLe! ChEcK oUt My
 "STONERs Guide 2 Oh Cannabis News Y View" @ Directory! 
UpDAtEs AddED iN LaRgE TyPe! 
LiVe TwEeTs @


Racism, Policing and the War on Drugs continue to taint the Canadian legalization process. Racialized Canadians still face discrimination within the cannabiz sector. The police arrests continue. While the same former top cops and politicians behind the War on Drugs still run the show, only now from on high, within our legal system, government task forces and the corporate weed world. NORML Canada's Caryma Sa'd explains why Canada's cannabis activists and entrepreneurs need to be both resistant and transformational, for any real change to occur ITJ 

Double Standard; Canadian authorities are big on law and order, when it comes to busting the unregulated cannabis market. But then turn a blind eye when the government LP's [Licensed Producers] also break the law. Take CannTrust's recent hijinks; will that get them a criminal .... or ..... a regulatory charge?!? @ 420Int

Canuck Imperialism: Aphria and Aurora are among the Canadian LP's cutting their losses in Jamaica and heading home, during the Covid-19 pandemic. There's an upside to that for the local Jamaican growers and producers. Now they can set up and run their operations, to better help and serve their own community, not ours, without any foreign interference. Yeah. Canadians can be nice, nice, very nice. But I bet given the chance, we can also be big, bad imperialists too. Calling the $hot$. Throwing our dollar$ around. $idelining the local$. $cooping up the big profit$. As Canadians, we are better than that! Should know that bigger isn't always better. And that foreign control comes at a very steep national cost. So instead why not fix your screwed up corporate business model back home here in Canada, eh? To actually work ... ummm ... for us?!? @ Forbes


Stoners Guide to the Fall US Election: Donald Trump? Joe Biden? The Lawmakers? Senators? State legalization referendums? Here's an excellent pot election prospectus, with plenty of helpful linksLeafly

Trumped? Sadly, Der Donald's got one over Democratic Presidential contender Joe Biden on legalization, as he targets Joe's role as an "architect of the War on Drugs". Expect lots of pot smoke and mirrors from both sides, in the fall election race ahead. Neither Biden nor Trump seem likely weed champions. Too bad, with legalization scoring much higher approval ratings than either of them, in the polls @ MM @ MF

Up In Smoke: Pot shops across the US are getting hit hard by burglars and vandals during the widespread protests sweeping Trump Nation. So who's to blame? Enough with the crazy Antifa conspiracy theories. Try your typical professional thief instead. It's a rare opportunity that they can easily exploit for personal gain. Unlike the more high minded everyday American taking to the streets and risking Covid-19, to protest police brutality and racial injustice. MBD

George Floyd Prohibition 101: America's drug laws specifically target blacks and POC. The police killing of George Floyd provides a case in point. See "Higher Learning" below and @ Leafly

By the Numbers: Black Americian's continue to suffer the most in the War on Drugs. While most white toker's, are keeping silent. Rather than protesting this very grave, racial and social injustice too @ PN

Death 2 Tokers? GOP Lawmaker Rep. Mo Brooks [R-AL] slams the widespread protests against the brutal police killing of George Floyd as "undeserving" -because he was an ... ahem ... "marijuana user". 

In Tennessee, GOP Lawmaker William Lamberth [R-Portland] blocks a resolution to honour murdered, black, teenage LGBTQ activist Ashanti Posey. Why? Get this -police allege that she was involved in a small time pot deal, just before she was shot and killed, by suspects unknown. Instead of considering it as a hate crime, like her family suspects ... 

Meanwhile Bernie Sanders [I-VT] and Cory Booker [D-NJ] plus a chorus of Democrats, are focusing their attention squarely on the war on drugs, where it belongs. Weed should be treated as a health rather than a policing issue. It's high time to stop letting the over zealous police, be the weed judge, and jury. Plus far too often, as in Floyd's case, the executioner too @ MM @ MM

Take A Hit: With legalization stalled, NM's progressive are now handing out walking papers to the anti-pot senators, in the Democrat state primaries. Bravo @ BW

A Single Convention: US Imperialism, racism and the worldwide War on Drugs still go hand in hand, even today @ Vice


Covid Cannabis Sales: Despite the pandemic, worldwide legal sales will hit a whopping $20.4 billion in 2020. Think that's a lot? In 2019, the unregulated market earned $214 billion in sales! Compared to $14.8 billion for the legal market! The greedy, hamstrung LP's and their ditch weed still don't lead the pack. Far from it. Doesn't look like that's about to change anytime soon @ GMR

Ontario Cannabis 2.0: The cannabis sales figures for the first year of legalization are now available for Canada's largest province. Aurora DriftCanna Farms and Redecan are among the winners. More on the leading brands, products and areas of concern GO

Support The Tyendinaga Mohawk Pot Shops!

Indigenous Weed: Meet Tim Barnhart, owner of the Legacy 420's Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory dispensary, in south eastern Ontario. Tim discusses the economic, legal and community challenges of Covid-19. The economic fall out to follow. Plus how that's all being very responsibly handled by the First Nations in CanadaRPM

Tyendinaga Pot Shopping: Back in cottage country for the summer, I recently made a supply run to some of my favourite pot shops on the reserve. Staff are protected by glass dividers. Wore PPE's. Social distancing is in effect. Apparently, so far, no Cover-19 cases, even though they've remained open during the pandemic.

The weed selection seemed more limited than in years past. Still, I scored some tasty Headband and Bruce Banner strains -$50 and $60 a quarter respectively. A taster of Rockstar cost $8 gm. Great looking buds. Never any tax. 

The edibles are now individually wrapped. Are moreso in the 10 and 20 gm THC range. Perhaps a nod to the federal regulations? I still scored a few 50's. Some 100's for when I go kayaking. Prices vary, but basically $25 for a 500 gm THC pack. 

Service was a bit more kurt and rushed than in years past. Understandable under the conditions. But everybody was still friendly and cool.

Legacy 420 remains the one stop super shop for most anything and everything cannabis related that you'd want. All the weed's tested. There's a 20% seniors discount too. 

Otherwise? Many different strains at Peacemaker 420. Lotsa great starter plants at Better Buds. A fun selection at Big Greens. Plenty of CBD's and candy at the Medibles dispensary. With el cheapo $80 to $120 generic ounces are available most everywhere.

All power to the Mohawk dispensaries. They always keep me coming back. Coz they do it right!!!

Weedmapped: Why are US federal prosecutors targeting the popular weed finder app? Because it breaks US drug, banking, tax and communication laws? Are they after some corrupt state officials? Or about to bust the unregulated pot shops? Hmmmm. Well, know this: Weedmaps is "co-operating" with the fed's "info requests"Leafly


The War On Drugs 101: Historically, our societies "fear of drugs" has provided a ready excuse for police brutality against people of colourVice 

Here's more on how the fears are racially motivated, and prevent people of colour from equal justice and protection under the law @ Hill 

On "Drugs": Basically, "drugs" is little more than a white, linguistic construct. It evokes our worst prejudices and fears about "other people". Those whom seem different from us! 

Unlike "medicine", big bad "drugs" like weed, create a scary, nightmarish spectre! Of villains. Death. And insanity. Such that now, only the police can protect us! From the blacks. Mexicans. Indigenous and asian "foreigners". Whom live among us. Maybe using "drugs". 

Since these dangerous "drugs" are an ...ahem ... "law and order" issue, enforcement is largely left up to police. Unlike if we consider "drugs" as a social or medical issue instead. That other trained experts could handle better, without the horrible beatings, killings and arrests. But no. Not when the police are protecting us from those awful "foreigners" and "others", whom we fear and really don't like or trust anyway, because they seem different than us @ Volte

Harry's Reefer Madness: Racist Federal Narcotic Bureau [Nee DEA] Chief Harry Anslinger was the "mastermind" who ran the War on Drugs from the 1930 through 1962. Harry warned that a black or latino man who smokes weed, thinks that he's as good as a white man. He'll have sex with white women. And find a way to corrupt the white youth. So if the police wanted to arrest him, for whatever reason, they could just cut to the quick and bust him for weed. The oh so worried white folk certainly didn't ask any questions, nor complain much either @ TL

"Marijuana" was a racist slang term that Anslinger used to help make "cannabis" sound more Mexican. Dangerous. Exotic. And scary for white people. Nowadays, some tokers argue that the name is commonly used without any hateful intent. It can simply serve as a reminder of the plant's troubled past. Other's argue that enough is enough -it still has a racist and hurtful connotation for our BIPOC community. My editorial policy is to respectfully use the medical term cannabis instead of marijuana, whenever possible. More @ V @ G

Canadian Reefer Madness was built upon the fear of Chinese immigrants and "mixed race babies". Oddly, there wasn't even a debate in our House of Commons, over the prohibition of cannabis in 1923. The Chinese generally preferred opium, if they used "drugs". Not pot. But Canada was only too glad to unquestioningly follow the US lead. Make cannabis illegal too @ Con


Reefer Madness: The US Library of Congress is now thoughtfully highlighting the racist news coverage used to justify Prohibiton 1.0, the criminalization of cannabis, in year's past. Think fake news. Lots of it! And please note -it's still happening today!!! More @ MM

More Reefer Madness: Hollywood gave the War on Drugs it's B-Grade appeal vis a vis such so-good-it's-bad-golden-oldie-klassics as 1936's "Reefer Madness". Naive, white, high school teens smoke the deadly weed at a wild house party. Dance madly. Make out. An old white man gets run over. A young girl dies. And the hipster drug dealers have pencil thin moustaches and wear funny suits. Will the drug horrors never end?!?

I often post these flics on Twitter come 420. Do drop by and check out the fun.[LINK] Meanwhile, here's a trez kool review and colour copy of Reefer Madness for you to enjoy @ YT @ YT2


Thursday, 11 June 2020

Santiago de Cuba 2020 2: In The City

Week two of our trip: Off we go to Santiago de Cuba, the island's second largest city. We got lucky with the Melia Santiago de Cuba hotel. Scored a great, corner room overlooking the city, with huge floor to ceiling windows. A whirlpool bath. 

Like much of Santiago de Cuba, the Melia seems lost in time. It's a glittering steel and glass, post modern artifact protruding over the sleepy, centuries old barrio of District Reparto Sueno. Even at the best of times, it's 5 star pretences are hard to convincingly pull off, with any aplomb. 

Usually the Melia's pricey. Not really worth it. But this trip it only cost $800 Canadian each, with breakfast included. It soon became clear why. Despite being high season, the Melia was nearly empty. 

Occasionally, a German or Italian tour bus would arrive for a day or two. We regularly rubbed shoulders with the sweaty, tired guests, in the crowded hotel elevator, and at the breakfast buffet. Think nothing of it.

On vacation, far from home, nobody including ourselves, was much aware of the Covid-19 virus. Nor the risks we faced.

At the time, we were happy for a great deal. Plus I've known Gretel, the concierge, since she was a toddler. We brought her a suitcase of baby clothes. Gretel's father, Aurelio, was a teaching colleague of mine during the 1990's. Later became a tour guide. Lotsa fun. We go back a long way.

Our porter, Rene, is another familiar face. Seemingly has been there forever, at the front door. Lending a helping hand, as we come and go, during our many visits, over the years. Making sure that we're always welcome, safe, and comfortable during our stay.

There was a breakfast buffet. And a dinner buffet, when the tours arrived. The menu? Very limited. They'd try to get fancy with it, but invariably fail. Rather miserably. The service? Downright awful. Totally, a lost cause. 

Still, the Melia's sprawling pool complex is magnificent. We'd enjoy a refreshing morning, and/ or late afternoon dip. Work on our tan. Lying under an umbrella with a good book. A cold drink. Maybe just surfing the net. Pretty much had it all to ourselves too!

The towel service was dicey. So too, the linen in our room.

Like the Brisas, the Melia was built in the 1990's, but it's still in pretty good shape. Sadly, it's 5 star services and amenities are now indefinitely on hold. For the foreseeable future. In the tight, deadly vice grip of the US sanctions.

No matter. Most of the week was spent visiting our teacher friends. We'd go house hopping during the day, inbetween visiting the old familiar sights. 

Unfortunately, they were feeling the squeeze too. Professors Jose y Martha are retired now. It's hard to make ends meet. There are chronic shortages of food. Toiletries. Even the most basic, household necessities. Also medicine too, as the US sanctions kick in.

With Jose!

Their grandson Ernesto, has finished his military service. Begun first year at the medical school. He lives at their home in the city centre, helping out as best he can. Queuing up at the shops. Hunting down much needed supplies. The necessities of life.

Even everyday items like soap, shampoo, detergent, and toothpaste are once again very hard to find. Milk is now rationed, for the young children only. Flour and bread are in very short supply. Medical prescriptions hard to fill. The lack of painkillers and anathestics is even holding up surgery at the local hospital. 

At Aurelio y Jamie's Casa!

Aurelio still takes tours about the city. But nowadays, they are few and far between. The US sanctions have blocked most of the cruise ships. Leaving only the leaky, old tramp steamers which are still willing to risk Trump's wrath, on a desperate supply run, to the once bustling port of Santiago de Cuba.

With wife Jamie, he's bought a 3 bedroom house, in the city centre. The owners left for South America. Leaving their furniture behind too. Perhaps someday, if the tourists return, they can run it as a B+B. Run their own tours. Better support their family. But for now? No.

At Jose's y Martha's Casa

We brought everybody a few suitcases of clothes, medicine, household supplies. Mostly just our own stuff, as we downsize for our retirement years. It certainly helps. 

Dinner wasn't a problem. We'd visit one of the many local particulars. These popular, family run restaurants are giving the big hotels a real run for their money. No bad service or limited menus here.

At La Narajana, we'd get heaping plates of fried shrimp or a tasty chicken dinner for a few dollars tops. Ditto, at the Rock cafe. A night out with pizza, pork and fish plus an endless array of finger foods and party drinks, cost about $100 US for our group of 10.

Our favourite city sites, were mostly devoid of tourists. We'd laze unbothered on the terrace of the downtown Casagrande Hotel, overlooking Cespedes Park. Or leisurely stroll along Enamarados Avenue, it's usually bustling stores and bars, as empty as the barren shop shelves. Late afternoon would find us at the Case De Trova for a fabulous Cuban musical matinee, in a roomful of empty chairs.

A drink or shot at most restaurants or bars cost about a dollar or two. Maybe $3 at the tourist hotspots. 

Beware! Cannabis is strictly forbidden in Cuba. Hard to find. Not worth the risk. 

My doctor in Canada prescribed Naboline and Sativex instead. Both are very discreet. And are also legal in many places one might travel too, for various medical conditions. 

Bottom line? Prescription drugs come with a prescription label, from the pharmacy. Look perfectly legit along with all the other assorted medicines and what not, in your kit bag. 

Maybe someday ...

Quite frankly, few custom agents will recognize them. If they do, the risks are minimal. Perhaps they'd confiscate them. But basically, they're very unlikely to create any suspicion at all, a big plus, when travelling outside Canada.

It's too bad. Cuba grows the best tobacco. But unfortunately for the Cuban economy, that just isn't very much in demand anymore. 

On the other hand, think of all the great weed Cuba could produce! And the much needed dollars it could bring.

Hmmm. Maybe some day?

Anyway, in the evening, we'd head to classes at the [TFS] Toronto Friendship school

Nowadays, attendance is down to about 50 students. Ironically, the TFS has largely become a victim of it's own success. Very leading edge in the 1990's, lots and lots of these nongovernmental, English language schools now dot the city. 

The TFS is the only school where I still like to teach. I always like to drop by when I visit Santiago, to help the students and teachers with their Engllsh speaking skills. 

I noticed Janet would always soon retreat to the back row, near the window and door of the tightly packed classroom. With the Cubanas. Decked out in their finery. Toying with their make-up. Yakking away.

That's very insightful, from a teachers perspective. And as her mate. I can see her doing just that, back in the good old days too. Irritating at times. But pure Janet. A very human touch.

During my school visits, I often ask the Cuban students why they are studying English. They usually say to get a good job. 

Now, most just expressed curiosity. They want to learn more about the outside world. Sadly, with the US economic squeeze, the work opportunities are just no longer there. While our world grows more distant. So far away.

I donated some school supplies. While covering the start up costs for a new revised edition of the Ingles para Ti English instruction workbook. 

My fundraising days are now long over, but I still make a few personal donations on my own. 

A lot of charities are pretty dubious. I like to know for sure where my dollars go. How they are spent. So I'm sure that they directly help those in need.

As we flew out of Santiago de Cuba, I gazed at the city disappearing among the mountain tops and clouds below. Lost in my thoughts.

Tragically, despite all the progress made in Cuba, US President Donald Trump is cruelly tightening the US economic sanctions even more. 

He's really putting the screws to them. Driving Cuba back into another horrific "special period". As even the most basic medical and humanitarian aid to the embargoed island grinds to a halt.

Considering his high praise for such dubious, hell holes like China, Vietnam and North Korea, that's extremely hypocritical. It's unjust. Unnecessary. And impossible to accept. 

Back to Toronto now, we still keep in touch. Facebook Messenger and email are very common in Cuba nowadays. Both work great.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made the shortages there a lot worse. While, we are all distracted. Looking the other way.

Trump's sadistic attack on Cuba is hardly newsworthy anymore. As the horrors continue to mount at home and abroad, Cuba's become just another outrage among many. It's people's plight, an overlooked, forgotten tragedy. 

I can only hope that my Santiago de Cuba 2020 blogs put a more everyday, human face on this awful crisis. Hopefully, as social justice activists we can help spread the word. Come up with other ways of helping out too.

Please stay tuned! Teacher Free Speech News and Views will continue providing more important Cuba updates during the critical daze ahead ....

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!

Communist Girls ARE More Fun!
See below ...

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Girls Are More Fun #1

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls are More Fun #2

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Grrrls Are More Fun #3

Communist Girls Are More Fun #4

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!