Slide Show Top Left Screen: Best of 2014! Cuba Pix!
New: Gorillaz Videobar below main blog column!
TEACHER + UNION
Welcome to 2015: "My students are afraid of getting shot!" A principal speaks @ Toronto Life
So much for school safety and anti bullying initiatives: student classroom assaults against teachers common across Canada, new study shows. Many continue to go unreported @ Open Season!
Turmoil at OECTA Provincial as the unelected Personnel Committee overturns the elected provincial executive's decision not to renew the contract of controversial General Secretary Marshal Jarvis. Apparently internal sources were afraid to speak on record for this article out of fear of recrimination. President James Ryan denies the situation is diverting attention from the ongoing provincial bargaining talks @ Sun
Here's an interesting OLRB ruling + rationale: OECTA Provincial Secretariat members lose grievance for transfer of sick day bank upon taking office @ OLRB
For an unofficial list of the OECTA Provincial Executive candidates at this March's AGM see the "Comments" section below this blog!
National Post bares it's neo con fangs with this latest denunciation piece on our provincial teacher unions. The unions are allegedly busily engaged in "fire breathing" statements and posturing about possible strike actions. Perhaps the Post is suffering delusions of being a great Canadian newspaper? Are they confused about what province this story is supposed to be taking place in? Ontario?! Our union leaders!?! Now??? Read @ K. McParland
How many "fire breathing" union types trying to overthrow our economic system and way of life can you fit into one OLRB hearing room??? This Friday 9:30 am at 505 University Ave here in Toronto?!? This is where the action is taking place, all Sun and the Post muck racking aside. OSSTF will follow on April 1st. Follow my indie coverage this month @ Ontario Teacher Winter Contract Guide
Toronto Sun makes sure to quote Premier Wynne on no wage increases for the public service sector, including teachers. Note however, that she refuses to bite at mention of strike votes. Says they are a part of the process, as they should be, and are to be expected @ Sun
TDSB Director Quan agrees to pay freeze. Her salary will be rolled back to $272,000. When asked why she wouldn't do it earlier, claims it was the trustees' decision @ Quan
Hotly contested local school closings on the chopping block now with MOE demands @ People for Education
Definition of ironic: TDSB teachers are to eliminate student bullying while working under an administrative culture of fear! MOE Liz Sandals provides stinging indictment of trustees. Lists reduced powers and task force on structure she directs be adopted by Feb. 13. Unfortunately, no instructions for Director Quan to adhere to pay freeze. Still, the board is shooting itself in the foot as the saying goes. During my albeit informal discussion with staff from the ministry office over Christmas I heard the whole situation embarrasses Liz and puts her on the spot. The MOE apparently wants a TDSB takeover like a whole in the head. Hmmm. Story @ TDSB
For shame! TDSB: Do as we say not as we do! Board votes to approve Director Donna Quans salary increase to $289,000 despite MOE's recommended freeze @ Globe
TDSB trustees are accused of overstepping and misusing their powers and privileges @ Trustees
Director Quan speaks from on high! And trustees got her back!
Year[s] of Irony at the Catholic TCDSB as the budget is "miscalculated" for the second year in a row, this time resulting in a $23.5 million deficit. Benefits are being blamed. The Treasurer has "retired". Same old tired TCDSB BS! Remember, they have contracts to negotiate. More @ TCDSB
OPSEU contract talks reach stalemate @ Timmins
Ontario sex ed debate looms ahead in 2015 as MOE overhauls the curriculum to bring it up to date for today's realities. Parents, politicians and religious leaders will all, of course, be actively involved in what promises to be a real firestorm! Hot button issues include same sex families, homosexuality, masturbation, anal and oral sex, and as this author suggests mental illness @ Sex Ed
MOE announces the issue of consent will be included in the new curriculum expected to be in place at school by this fall @ Consent
"We give consent, not the dress"
"We Give Consent!" is a student campaign for curriculum change to the Ontario Health Curriculum. For petition and more info follow @ Student Consent
Ontario PC leadership candidates are taking the moronic view that if elementary students are taught about consent in Sex Ed, the teachers will be telling them to have under aged sex @ Duh
Lots of teacher info and views: Huffington US has published this Top 10 list educators blogs @ Top Bloggers
Here's a thoughtful Varsity piece on Ontario's 770,000 food bank users. Many include the working poor, post secondary grads and students who can't afford to go to school to improve their job prospects @ U of T
OSSTF announces it will become politically involved in this year's federal election. It can't do otherwise considering PM Harper's Neo Con attacks on our countries working families and unions. Bravo OSSTF @ OSSTF
Toronto Crown plant workers enter month 15 of their strike. No to contract stripping @ Crowned!
See my blog report on the strike @ 15 months!?!
2014: The Canadian labour movement's year in review @ R+F
What a snoozefest! After the Liberal election landslide victory last spring, both the PC and NDP party's remain in disarray. The legislature is still on Christmas break til later next month. Not much to report -yet. MOE issues, especially relating to our teacher contracts is posted under "Teacher - Union". See above!
PC leadership debate heats up with a discussion of Hudak's 100,000 job plan, that lost him the last election, one that by all counts should've been his to win. With enemies like Tim, who needs friends eh? Now some of the candidates are claiming the party has to stop "going to war with labour". Don't get your hopes up too high though, a Tory is a Tory is a Tory, as my old friend Mattawa Ma used to say. More @ Who's 'Tory Now? ;-)
Feb 5 Sudbury provincial by-election antics heat up as Federal NDP MP Glenn Thibeault resigns to run for the OLP. Provincial NDP MPP Joe Cimino resigned after 5 months in office. A time line of developments in this still unfolding story is @ CPC-ML Timeline Story!
Ontario PC's expected to play right wing religious card to oppose Sex Ed curriculum reform in this spring's party leadership race @ 100 Huntley
IN THE NEWS
Welcome to 2015: Canadian dollar crash + burns! Harper government responds by lowering interest rates, sending it down further. Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, taking flack for the parties opposition to War in Iraq during Harper's "Year of Fear", continues to lay low in wait for this year's federal election, twiddling his thumbs. He's calling into question the government's alleged "steady hand on the til", by accusing Prime Minster of unwisely putting all his economic hopes in our Canuck petro dollar for far too long. It promises to be a interesting year in Canadian politics indeed @ Canadian Dollar
Is Canada under attack? No.
US + French intelligence don't believe Paris "terror attacks were directed by "Al Qaeda". Could somebody please advise Canadian PM Steven Harper?!? See below!!! Story @ Ooops!
Time to ramp down the rhetoric: Curbing Islamophobia to battle Jihadism @ Star
Prime Minister Harper, in a speech that has gone largely ignored among the recent hubris, has announced that Canada is under attack by an "internationalist jihadist movement". We are now, in his own words as PM "at war". In the Harper narrative the October Ottawa and Paris Charlie Hebdo criminal acts are acknowledged as "terrorists attacks". The new legal weight his speech gives these terms will allow the Canadian government to increase policing and military powers to deal with the perceived threat. The legislation will be introduced when parliament resumes Jan 26th. Story and video of speech @ War!
According to Harper the "internationalist Jihadist movement" is against "anyone who doesn't think or act like they wish they would think and act". They "declared war" first against "any country like ourselves that values freedom, openness, and tolerance."
Superhero Time: Steven Harper goes to war!
The movement includes "Al Queda", and "ISIS" [Islamic States of Iraq + Syria] the usual foreign policy boogie men as of late. In effect the Harper government has now strongly committed Canada to the US war against the two in Iraq and Syria. Sounds pretty open ended. Also seems to officially confirm that the Ottawa and Paris cases are related and are confirmed terrorist attacks. However, there seems no word yet, on where that "intelligence" came from.
NDP senior statesman Steven Lewis eloquently waxes over the failures of the Harper Conservative government in an early run up to this years federal election @ Lewis
The Toronto Star has series on this year's Federal election with an articles on each of the party leaders during Steven Harpers "Year of Fear". PC PM Steven Harler is @ PC NDP Leader Tom Mulcair is @. NDP Justin Trudeau is @ LP
Seeming terrorist attack on Paris satire mag "Charlie Hebdo" sends France reeling. 12 are dead including 3 political cartoonists. Our hearts are with their family, friends and my readers in France. See coverage @ Terror
BTW: Seems to me that support for freedom of speech in the media runs worldwide in the western nations ...... but is about 1 cm deep. My best bet would be its really only for people, groups and ideas we agree with. How many protesters are marching to support freedom of speech to lampoon Israel or the pope?
Support for Free Speech: a package deal?
Toronto Star declares the "sophisticated, calculated" attack is connected to the War Against ISIL, seemingly based upon a comment overheard at the time of the shootings, and a rather vague "Al Queda" statement from Yemen. The "terrorist attack" is being widely touted as an attack on "freedom" and "democracy". OK, but please, this is at best an over simplistic theory about the goals of terrorism. More important is the victim countries reaction as it lashes out in quite understandable anger, internationally, and at home, when the attack is used as a reason to over ride civil liberties to protect us from the terrorist threat. Just a thought. Anyway, the Star is sure to include all the gruesome videos while they help manufacture consent @ Charlie Hebdo
Man to Man Magazine helps explain and manufacture consent for US Cuba concerns!
Historic talks to normalize US Cuba relations are off to a choppy start over immigration issues. Expect the US right to make much hoopla over protecting the "Cuba Adjustment Act". Cubans are encouraged to circumvent especially strict US immigration rules through dangerously trying to cross the straits to Florida by whatever means possible, scoring a right wing propaganda win for their much touted, brave "flight to freedom". If that is they are not caught first by the US coast guard along the way. Imagine the same cat and mouse rules in place for Mexican economic refugees seeking entry through Texas! The Cuban government claims it encourages illegal immigration, people trafficking and puts the boat people in great danger. They want a more safe, legal and orderly immigration US Cuban process. Good luck with this one! Going to need it. More @ Cuba
US Republican's are lining up to thwart President Obama's Cuba initiative @ Obama
Obama's overtures to normalize relations with Cuba after over 50 years of a devastating unproductive economic embargo, continue to result in frustration and angst south of our border. George Will grapples more intelligently than most with the US's long standing foreign policy hard on for Cuba @ George Will
Fidel: Mission accomplished?
Ageism undermines an otherwise interesting UK Daily Mail article on what the 88 year old Fidel Castro is up to today and how he might react to the news. Listen folks: Fidel managed to outlast 11 US Presidents. He rooted out all vestiges of US exploitation and control in his post colonial island nation. As hard as it might be for many arm chair critics to understand, he is still widely considered a much beloved and widely respected nationalist founding father figure there. More @ Viva Cuba!
Students watch the announcement at the Cuban Schools. Notice poster of the now released US Cuban political prisoners on wall. They have been folk heroes in Cuba for many years.
We are getting rather blanket superficial reports of Cuban reactions on the street to the announcement. I don't doubt there will be relief but how to actually explain it is something again. Right now, there is a lot of celebrating over the prisoner exchange and a heroes' welcome back home. I'm going back down later this month and will report back. Story @ Cuban Reactions?
For what its worth I have traveled extensively in Cuba and worked at the Cuban Schools for about 32 years now. My report on the CSP [Cuban Schools Project] is @ Here! My latest series on my trips starts @ There!
Bottoms up! US Target store chain tanks in Canada. Liquidators moving in. Crappy prices + stocking are often being blamed, but let's face it. Department stores are going the way of the Dodo bird. Ask traditional Canuck department store meisters' Eaton's, Simpson Sears, even the Bay. There's the big box store malls sprouting up everywhere with lots of specialty stores. Pretty tough to compete with while providing something for everyone. Internet shopping also seems to be the wave of the future, but try telling that to Canada Post. It still costs me more in shipping and takes longer to get an order from a Canadian seller than one from the US, the UK, or for that matter friggin' China or Japan. Story @ Bad Target!
KULTURE KULT INK
Love you, my US readers, truly, but listen: sometimes things down there, from a Canuck perspective, are just plain really weird, to put it nicely. This one was beyond me, so doggonit I had to go see the movie myself. When's some body who shoots a kid a good guy? When he's an American military sniper? Hell, this film's even up for a Grammy.
My review? To be objective: We get a good war story. Love the final gun fight in Sadhr City! Our new American hero's clarity of reference and purpose is admirable. Too bad it's based upon shallow jingoism. We go from 9/11 to Iraq with nary a mention of WMD [remember those?!].Or that the skyjackers were from Saudi Arabia [Duh!] Each tour of duty between bored, distracted stopovers at home is action packed.The sleeping elephant in the flick, though it's referenced but nothing more, is post stress disorder. [Will need to be addressed in Canada too!]. Also the film's inability to create anything more than strictly two [one?] dimensional Arab terrorist villains for the new millennium.
Any entertainment involving killing children, innocent or not is pause for concern. It's not a freedom of speech issue here methinks so much as it is one of insensitivity and bad taste. Doubt this flag waver will be winning many hearts and minds outside of the US. A Grammy win? If so, a major cringe!
BTW: I like this review: How much dubious myth making is going on here? See American Sniper!
If Elvis lived?
Jan 8 would've been Elvis' 80th birthday had he not suffocated to death after druggedly falling off the toilet. Now the absolute worst of his albums from the 60's are being re-released to commemorate the occasion ["Pot Luck"?, "Girls, Girls, Girls"?! "Harum Scarum"?!?]. Now that's some pretty strong credentials for our Kulture Kult Hall O' Fame!!! More on the festivities @ Rolling Stone
Final Thoughts: Enough winter! It's getting about time to go diving along the coral reef in Cuba. I also want to see my teacher friends to discuss the project!
More to come ....