Sanctuary Spaces #ldnont

A recent petition circulating around Farcebook got me angry. The petition calls for London Ontario Canada to not become a sanctuary city to illegal immigrants escaping the USA and elsewhere. A headline on the Montreal Gazette site mentioned Montreal couldn’t afford to be a sanctuary city and council shouldn’t have voted unanimously in favour of becoming one. The arguments of financial burden, our own people first, they’re all terrorists, and others are repeated widely and all sound hollow and heartless to me.

I get that people don’t want “those people” coming here draining our resources and maybe committing a crime. These people have been so programed to be paranoid that hard data will not overcome their blatant cowardness. Yet these same people are supporting the very systems that have created the migrant and refugee crises. They support companies and governments that are fueling corruption, exploitation, environmental destruction, armed conflict, trafficing, and ethnic cleansing.

Think about it, is buying stuff cheaper so important you would see entire populations exploited for their labour, resources, or simply destroyed to make way for others? Are a few short term jobs in dying industries so important that measures should be taken to deny good jobs to others in Mexico, Southern Asia, and Africa? What if high wage jobs in the BRICS and MINTS are the only way the Canadian economy could survive the century?

If you don’t want these people sneaking in, risking their lives and enriching criminals in the process, are you willing support the economies people are fleeing from? Are you going to put pressure to limit the arms trade so conflicts are starved of resources? Will you vote for politicians with a peace centred foreign policy? Will you demand an increase in our own military resources so we can deploy forces to help monitor and end these conflicts?

It easy to protest the move to sanctuary space, be short sighted and unempathic to those suffering. Maybe those who are opposed to sanctuary spaces have never need one. Never been in a domestic abuse situation, chased by bullies from school, had their homeland torn apart by a proxy war, been targeted for being a minority, and so on. If which ever group you belong to was criminalized, demonized, targeted, or forced to flee wouldn’t you want to seek sanctuary?

I remember hearing of King Zog of Albania inviting Jews into the mostly Muslim kingdom while the rest of Europe was anti-Semitic or indifferent to Jewish plight under the Third Reich. Even Canada was turning Jews away in the Thirties but Albania opened the borders, actively sought to bring them and protected them during Nazi occupation. Canada was on the wrong side of history in the Thirties, now we should be the example and not the accessory to genocide. Rescue in Albania article.

Another thing to remember is when we keep some of these refugees out of our society it feeds the anti-west narrative of the groups forcing many of them to flee. The lack of compassion we show could haunt us in the form of terrorist attacks. We know it doesn’t have to be an immigrant who threatens us, it may well be a domestic terrorist either inspired by the perverters of Islam or emboldened by a global environment of xenophobia and intolerance.

Crowdsourcing Solutions

So I’ve been feeling low, slow, hyper distracted, disoriented, and unmotivated for the last few months. Concentration is almost impossible for more than a few minutes, to the point I’ve stopped being able to read a complete paragraph before moving to another activity. It can take an hour to read a short article. I’ve had untreated concussions in the past and I have ADHD, either or both may be causing this.

Last fall I was sent back into the social services merry go round to find work or be threatened with refusal of Ontario Works. So far the results are the same as every time before: I need university degree/s to get a job I’m capable of doing, or I need to find a way to be paid to write, or I need a complete rewrite of my DNA and brain chemistry to do the jobs available. I have no clue on how to get any of those things done.

Certain assumptions in our society have been long held and are counterproductive; everyone is able to sell, everyone is able to drive a car, and everyone is able to use the phone. I can not do any of those things and have no desire to. My confidence was shattered at a very early age and will never recover. I go into complete shutdown and panic mode with phone calls and many times all social actions shuts me down or sends me into a panic. Add to the fact I can not absorb/learn anything unless I see it written or diagramed and phones become a major problem. I cannot return to a phone call to see what was said and I instantly forgot because my memory is so bad. With my sensitive hearing I find loud noises difficult so I shut my hearing off when people shout or make noise.

So how does someone like me deal with a society that only uses a phone? I can’t get a doctor’s appointment without calling, or get help from my caseworker without calling, everything seems to be phone only. Why do people only want me to use my disabilities and not my abilities? In many cases it seems my abilities should be allowed to perish in favour of me conforming to some sort of mid Twentieth Century ideal.

I’d go back to McMaster to finish a history degree in a heartbeat but I would have to find a way to go into enough debt to pay tuition, living expenses and everything. I cannot work and study as I will burn out to quickly. Dealing with people drains me to nothing very quickly. Getting work alone isn’t very easy as my work experience is almost nil, scattered over my adult life in small chunks of time, and I have no references. Of course it is all my fault though, I wasn’t getting myself out there and pulling my socks up, or showing initiative, I should stop being lazy stupid and immature. I should just take anything regardless if it will send me into a deep depression.

The only things I feel productive doing are writing and researching. Ideas are what I’m drawn too, as is creativity. Our one size fits none society would rather discard people than adapt to the changing world. The economic centre of gravity is shifting back to Asia and the Silk Roads. Sticking rigidly to archaic work ethics and Nineteen-Fifties job descriptions will kill our economy faster than jobs moving to the BRIC or MINT countries. The us versus them approach won’t stop the jobs moving away, just stop us getting different to support those rising economies.

To keep up with the change we will need a cradle to grave education system that is fully funded publicly, like our health care system. Stop treating education as a luxury reserved for the lucky enough to get loans or rich enough to not need loans. We get so blase about education but we forget there are people willing to get killed for it. After all education is better for economic stimulus than a much higher expenditure in roads.

So how do I monetize my creativity, ideas, and writing ability? I know I need practice, a portfolio of work, advocates who can sell me, and a bunch of luck but I’ve no clue on where to get it. I have looked at the writing unions/guilds’ sights but they require a contract or being published. I’ve thought about self publishing what I’m writing but I have to have the money first and someone to edit what’s finished. This blog’s donation button was added but might not be working. I know, it’s the internet version of panhandling.

The person I’m working with at the latest program I’ve been sent to suggested volunteering to get experience. I would need something without phones, humans, and working with my hands. I’ve tried in the past to do social or phones but it gets harder every time. I don’t want people making phone calls for me, I want the ability to do things over email.

Writing this has been somewhat cathartic, or the Oscar Peterson I’ve been listening too has. I should go get some red wine, but I’m feeling to agoraphobic to go out right now. Had far too much social time already this week.

Canada & the failing state next door #Cdnpoli

I recently listened to a podcast which mentioned Hitler being so egotistical that if he had nuclear weapons he would have used them to take most of the world with him when the Soviets were entering Berlin. We are not repeating the events of the Twentieth Century, Trumpism isn’t Nazism, Trump isn’t Hitler, even if they share many similarities. We have an egotistical figure with a personality cult and, despite losing the majority vote, the reigns of power. We also have democratic leaders who are weak, divided, and focused on internal minutiae. Not a good combination.

History shows how the United States has arrived at the present situation. I don’t mean the rise of tyrannical regimes in Europe or Asia during the Twentieth Century, but the domestic history of a nation dying by a thousand cuts. Eisenhower started the trend to gain “Christian” votes by bringing God into the government sphere, adding it to the currency and the Pledge of Allegiance. Kennedy’s administration started the corporate hold on politics, especially the defence sector Eisenhower warned about. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy angered the Jim Crow states with Federally enforced equality. Since the late 50s and early 60s the reactionary forces of America have been rolling back any progress made. At all levels in the US strategic cuts to education, media regulation and responsibility, corporate oversight, public debating forums, and social services have left the United States fractured and divided.

The last few decades the world has been bombarded by the American extremist media , Hollywood films, and by political movements, that government is always evil and a threat. Add the glorification of violence as conflict dispute, militarism, demonization of compromise and diplomacy, and the diminishing role of citizens in decision making. The simplified binary view of the world; “with us or against us”, “right or wrong”,  “Black or white”, and the dismissal of anyone who wants to explore third options or understand causes and effects. The political world doesn’t have switches to turn on or off, or lines to slide left or right on, it has a circle with democracy at the top and communist, anarchist, libertarian, corporatist, religious, racist, or protectionist paths to the tyranny at the bottom.

These threats to American democracy are not unique to the United States, despite American delusion they’re not exceptional. Many nations are failing to fight the divisive forces within. We hear that if we challenge the status quo we’ll lose our jobs, trade opportunities or our freedoms. Similarly the political “outsider” promises something better if we abandon the political system and blame/punish convenient scapegoats. Are we going to sacrifice our democracy, ethics, rights, and futures for a few lousy jobs? Has greed become our state religion?

Canada should not be putting trade relations, jobs, or anything ahead of basic human rights. Our long term interests, or even or national survival, are not served by being cosy with the Trump administration. Trump’s recent extra-constitutional moves to ban people from seven mainly Muslim countries, dismissing judicial decisions, the possibility of secret prisons and torture, and the sabre rattling with China should be enough for Canada to treat the United States as a rogue state. We have in the past sanctioned governments and individuals for less than what is happening in the US.

We Canadians can not allow a leader like Trump freedom to complete his agenda. At best Trump is a kleptocrat, at worst he is the next Stalin wannabe. Canada needs to sanction Trump and his inner circle and find any ethical means to stop Trump from purging the US government of anyone who would oppose him. Right now Trump is using Twitter and media jibes, but if he isn’t challenged and feels he has immunity will he go this far? If Senator McCain, for example, keeps challenging him will the Senator have a mysterious death? If assassinations happen will Canada just shrug and issue another impotent statement? If peaceful protests are branded riots and put down with lethal force will we still worry about a few jobs? Will the equipment used be made in Canada?

To prevent the Putin/Trump brand of governance, democracies need to be vigilant. Germany has already voiced concern about interference in upcoming elections and most likely France is monitoring things in their upcoming elections. The Conservative Party of Canada should ask for RCMP, CSIS, and CSE assistance to prevent hostile interference in the leadership race. The Trudeau government should immediately criminalize political donations that are not made by citizens eligible to vote in the political jurisdiction, those used to bypass the ban should be charged with money laundering. With the changes at the top of the US security system it won’t just be Russia we will have to worry about interfering with our next election and we should take steps to prevent any interference in future elections.

I am a pessimist, difficult to be anything else when reading the news, but at the moment I will trust Americans will save themselves from this descent into madness and tyranny. If they don’t, Canada should be ready for refugees escaping the third US civil war (yes third, the Civil Rights Movement is considered the second), or a US treating us like Czechoslovakia in 1938, or a US that makes North Korea look like a more open, accessible society. The Quebec City terrorist attack proves we need to monitor extremist groups here with far more vigilance and resources as the threat to Canadian Muslims is higher than any threat from Canadian Muslims.

Going forward Canadians need to reject all politicians who use the language of taxpayers, average Canadian, consumers, real Canadian, or anything that reduces us or divides us. This post is making the Facebook rounds:

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Canada and NATO #Cdnpoli #NATO

I know I shouldn’t have read the comments on an article about Canada’s Arctic being vulnerable to Putin’s expansion schemes. It annoys me when people say NATO’s expansion caused the current tensions with Putin’s Empire, saying it is American imperialism that is the driving force behind NATO’s recent moves. I get the sense people believe the USA are the ones making the decisions, that the eastern NATO nations are just doing as they’re told, and they are obeying to the wrong power. Even my limited historic knowledge of eastern Europe says this is wrong.

Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have all suffered from Russian occupation, as has Poland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Ukraine. These nations have suffered under Russian, Austrian, Prussian, Nazi, and most recently Soviet occupations. These peoples have been play things for regional powers, “great” powers, and distant ignorant leaders drawing lines on maps for centuries. Are those opposed to NATO asking these peoples to become pawns again?

The comment that sparked this post was about having Canadian troops in Eastern Europe coming home. As if our small forces, mostly company sized groups (+/-60), are the tipping point to spark armageddon. Canadian Forces need to be able to operate with Allies, for their security as well as ours. This is what NATO was set up for, to cooperate on security and to keep the Soviets from using Salami tactics to move across Europe. Divide your enemies is a classic strategy straight from Sun Tzu and is even older.

We see throughout the world a rise in anti liberal-democracy movements, how are any liberal democracies to survive if they don’t work together? Canada can not expect NATO allies to defend us if we dismiss other nations concerns re Russia. The economic centre of gravity is shifting back to the east and away from twentieth-century manufacturing and the Atlantic. The economic upheaval this will cause will make Canada, NATO, and NATO partners even more vulnerable. Throw in the costly effects of climate change on the security environment and we should soon see that Canada abandoning allies is Canada betraying itself.

NATO, like all institutions, is in need of reform, and so are the militaries that are NATO members. More needs to be done in readying NATO forces for any eventuality, every nation could be doing more. By more I don’t mean the arbitrary 2% of GDP spending target set by iron mongers, I mean seeing diplomacy as worth investing in for something other than trade deals. Diplomats and spies are the first and second line of defence, military personnel are the last line. It is time to take the domestic politics out of diplomacy and stop letting petty interests get in the way of global security.

Another comment on my FaceBook after sharing the article was about reducing Canada’s defence policy to petty partisan jabs. No political movement in Canada has a monopoly on wanting to secure Canada’s sovereignty, nor does any party have a glowing record when it comes to supporting the Forces or its membership. The Forces have been ground down over decades and lots of new toys or ‘lipstick on a pig’ policies such as going back to old uniforms and ranks are going to fix things.

If we are going to be an effective ally we need flexible, self contained, expeditionary forces that are capable of working in the air, sea, land, and cyberspace. I’ve written before on how I’d structure the Canadian Forces differently. Since I wrote that I would add greater assets for the electronic/cyber element to both defend and attack. It will take political courage to face the institutional push back, do we have politicians with that courage?

We need a government who stands up to iron mongers, and explore the possibility of nationalizing the defence industry, then placing the plants where it makes strategic sense and not political sense. At very least explore price and wage controls to keep costs manageable, along with higher taxes in the defence industry to get our money back from shareholders profiteering from security.

NATO isn’t perfect, no human institution can be, but it is the tool we have to protect from a world leader seemingly bent on having a greater empire than Stalin or Catherine the Great. It isn’t what some of western Europe’s or the USA’s leaders want, their views are irrelevant, it is about people living with the legacy of occupation by the Soviet Union not wanting to return to the status of mere satellite or a region ignored/belittled by Kremlin elites.

Canadian Forces are in Eastern Europe because democratically elected governments want them there. NATO’s move east has been through invitation, it has not gone as far east as some have invited, Ukraine and Georgia would have NATO extend further east. NATO has not accepted those invitations but citizens of NATO nations need to know why Ukraine and Georgia feel threatened. NATO’s strategy in the Cold War was to make the Soviet Union play Hnefatafl when it wanted to play chess, there is no reason to abandon this strategy but, as Sun Tzu recommends, leave them a way to escape.

2016…2017

My first thought is the worst is yet to come, though that maybe the cold filling my head with mucus or listening to Captain Beefheart without mushrooms or acid. Sure we have a ceasefire in Syria, for now, but with the rise of Putin and his patsy Trump our world is far more dangerous. Terrorism is being fueled by lack of arms controls, fears, and incompetent global leadership. Add climate change deniers being able to reverse any progress and we are going to have a 2017 filled with disaster, violence, and extremists of every flavour demanding a return to some idolized era of tyranny and division.

The 2016 highlight was the birth of my nephew, who should be bigger than me in a few days. I didn’t do much reading, nor finish the novel I started which might be because I merged three novel ideas into one, and the return to show poodle status jumping through hoops for social services. In modeling I finished my US infantry company and my South African tank company. Last month I impulse bought both X-Wing game starter boxes and a spare X-Wing, now I need Tie Fighters, so many Tie Fighters to swarm the Rebel Scum.

For 2017 I’ll keep my goals simple, finish novel, build a Soviet tank battalion for Flames of War, buy more Tie Fighters and Star Wars Lego minifigures, and maybe connect better with people. With the recent discovery that I have a 1 in 2 chance of prostate cancer I should finally get a doctor, I’m on a waiting list so I guess I wait. Why are there so few doctors that allow email appointments? It’s 2017 not 1897.

I’ll stop here, ADHD plus mucus brain syndrome is making me something something.

Ascent of Evil

I am a straight, white, raised in a Protestant home, male born before the Millennials. Demographically speaking I should be celebrating Trump as the second coming. Luckily I am too well educated, informed, and moral to see Trump as anything but a snake oil salesman with a toxic personality cult. I am naturally a pessimist, the election of Trump as a threat to every progress achieved since 1864.

Kristallnacht happened this day in 1938, attack the threatening minority, use them as scapegoats to divert from the real problems. Brexit has opened a wave of hate crimes across Britain. Divisive, isolationist, exceptionalist politics is rising in every corner of the world. Russian football fans yell Jew as an insult to rival fans, attacks on religious freedoms or freedom from religion is on the rise, we live in a world where praying at the wrong church/mosque/temple is a death sentence for some. Throw in peaceful protests being met with paramilitary force and the Russian Empire expanding using salami tactics, this world gets scarier by the day.

I’ve drawn the conclusion fascism didn’t lose World War II, it switched sides. A quick example, the home economic courses taught in North America in the 50s-60s are almost identical to those taught in Germany/Austria in the 30s-40s. Throw in the rise of sovereign corporations free from public scrutiny and yet capable of influencing the course of government. The fear mongering of the Cold War, the constant threat/must be ready mantras were social engineering to keep plebs in line. Yes communism is a threat, all totalitarian systems are, theocracy, militarism, fascism, corporatism, and all the other isms that put the ideology above humanity.

The “It can’t happen here” delusion is going to be common in some circles here in Canada. It is and has happened here, there is nothing special or exceptional about Canada or any other country. That is the type of arrogant ignorance the divide and rule crowd are counting on. I’ve had a taste of white supremacists and hate can do, I was in the army reserves during the 90s when hate groups were infiltrating to seize control and get training for their imagined race war. I’ve seen nationalist Serb symbols spread around my highschool.

I’m afraid of what’s going on in the world right now and I’m in the last group they’ll come for. So yes I understand why many are scared to the point of fight or flight right now. I am privileged, does feel like a prison at times, but I’m privileged to have access to information, media, art, and news from around the world. I came of age in the most media saturated area on earth pre-webbrowser. That privilege gave me a perspective and eagerness to seek out new points of view and it has kept with me. Now, most of humanity has the privilege to go beyond the narrow point of view their predecessors were imprisoned by.

One of my favourite movies is Malcolm X, a cinematic treasure giving a snapshot into a complex and inspiring man. That movie is a gateway to understand the Civil Rights movement, which I recently heard a historian call the Second Civil War, and a gateway into American Islam. That movie led me to watch documentaries on the Civil Rights movement and eventually read the Koran. If you are a privileged white male you are obligated to seek understanding from the people who have never had it as good as you. Why? Because even us white males have lost something important, the connection to our own tribal history has been stolen from us.

Pre- Christianity Europe had a spiritualism and open inclusive societies similar to many of the world’s surviving Indigenous communities. It was far from perfect of fully equal but it kept people humble and connected with the environment that sustains us. The alien systems of Roman hijacked Christianity did to Celts and others what successor empires did in the rest of the world. It wasn’t so much the believe system that was destroying ways of life but the strict hierarchies, economics, militarism, and the intolerance of diversity that caused genocide and destruction. This perverse Christianity even exported the perversion to Islam. As for racial purity, if you believe in that you are in need of some science education. Global trade routes are thousands, possibly tens of thousands of years old, we’re as racially pure as the mutts in the dog pound.

It has been cathartic to vent, we all need to after the US election results. I, and I suspect many, need to revisit this: FDR 1933

Who Benefits from an American Race War?

It almost blasé isn’t it? Another Black man is cooperating with the police and is shot for it. As routine now as sun rise, sun set, and celebrity gossip preempting it in the news cycle. It has been happening since The Emancipation Proclamation but it is getting harder for Americans to sweep it under the carpet. The KKK was outlawed so coopt the police, the prosecution services, the courts, and the prison industries to ethnically cleanse America of the undesirables.

Now that some Black men are fighting back, and the rise of white supremacy as GOP policy, we should ask the question: Who benefits from an American race war? In the Cold War the KGB targeted Black leaders, Dr King especially, because they were preventing a violent response to the treatment of African Americans. The Soviets wanted the US to tear itself apart in a civil war, and in many cases US government agencies were unknowingly assisting them in this. Seeing the peaceful leaders as a threat and targeting them nearly achieved Moscow Centre’s twisted aims.

Since the unfortunate, yet somewhat understandable, shootings of police officers I’m guessing US gun sales are skyrocketing. A race war would make arms dealers, and everyone else supplying the police industry, billions of dollars richer. The police themselves stand to gain from bigger budgets, more overtime, less public scrutiny, and cooler military grade gear. The tough love politicians will use a race war to pass laws that violate basic human rights, sadly to populist applause.

Not just internal US interests benefit from a race war. Smug liberal democracies can ignore their own racial problems by simply pointing to how much worse it is elsewhere. The preverters of Islam and other extremist terror groups will use a US race war to recruit more suicide bombers, terrorists, and raise more money. The world’s most brutal regimes will use a race war to question the west’s motives and cover up their affronts to humanity.

Some countries will use the distraction of a race war in America to bully their neighbours and expand their influence. Criminal syndicates will exploit the chaos of a race war to expand their petty empires and ruin more lives. Worse case scenario in a US race war is the US becomes a failed state that requires thousands, maybe tens of thousands of international troops to stabilize.

Whenever there are attacks by people claiming to be Muslim people demand all Muslims are to blame. I guess that logic comes from everyone in America is a criminal because a Black person stole a purse once. If we flipped that logic around and generalized all American police as racist, triggerhappy, untrained, power tripping, cowboys, would that be fair? No, but the police who say or do nothing about the corruption, racism, gratuitous violence, and mental instability are accessories.

Anyone who believes they have enough training is a threat to themselves and others. American police are in serious need of more training, away from gun ranges. All police services everywhere need to purge themselves of people who believe they are morally superior, or the hero in some action movie. If there are good police out there they should show us by arresting their rotten colleagues. The officer who shot the man in the above article should have been immediately disarmed by the other officer there. Maybe US police should go on half pay leave after every incident where they had to draw their firearm. Justify their actions with an automatic third party review. Or the victim’s medical bills have to be covered by the officer’s insurance.

The sensationalist, profiteering media who are another group ready to exploit a race war. Maybe they should be doing more stories of when police disarmed a situation without firearms. Or how about in depth stories on the relationship between police, politicians, and for corporations who supply the police. Why do police budgets need to rise at higher rates than inflation? Or ask why in other countries police shooting unarmed people immediately leads to public outrage, inquiries and police procedural reviews.

History is full of examples of police needing constant scrutiny and accountability or they become the threat to society they were meant to deal with. Every officer and police service must use the current attention to start a process of evolution. Instead of complaining about #BlackLivesMatter, complain the service has lax hiring processes that allow racists and sociopaths in uniform, or the poor support systems that have police doing the job of mental health workers or tax collectors. Challenge the orthodoxy of traditional policing, it appears to have failed spectacularly.

I doubt anything will really change in the US, Churchill said something about Americans only doing the right thing after they’ve tried all possible wrong options. Sadly a much higher body count will be needed before the wrong options are exhausted.