Monday, June 28, 2010

One Hundred Fifty



See the CBC story.

150 since 2002 is, in my opinion, 150 too many. Rarely do I say anything about Afghanistan although I keep intending to post more about it. Truth is, it is difficult to unearth the happenings in the Middle East through all the regular media channels...if they even carry it at all. I'd be ashamed to admit how much war coverage I sift through on a weekly basis.

Some 8 years into the war we are an integral part of and news about Afghanistan rarely if ever makes the front page. Hell, there isn't even an Afghanistan feature on the CBC. The article about these two fine people's sacrifice broke on Saturday, and as I write this early Monday morning, the story is already buried.

Isn't that sad. The landmark 150th casualty is shovelled off to the side as if to say the public has heard enough about it. I remember clearly, when the war started, prominent coverage of the war. Now it's shameful.

Master Cpl. Kristal Giesebrecht and Pte. Andrew Miller should be in the fronts of the minds of Canadians right now. Not the predictable and pathetic "riots" in Toronto, not the G20, not the G8, not even the World Cup.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Trees For Tomorrow

There exists a program in Manitoba known as Trees For Tomorrow.

It is a program that offers free trees of a few different species funded by both provincial and federal levels of government, available to anybody who wants some. It was created ( I believe ) by the Chretien government for the Kyoto Protocol.

As I have said in the past, anyone who truly wants to do their part for the environment can plant a tree or two. It is without question the single greatest act you can do for the environment. It provides a home for numerous animals and insects, it filters the air and will live far beyond your lifespan, available to generations beyond our present time. The best proof of how tree seedlings can benefit future generations? Look no further than our own city and our urban forest, the towering Elm trees along Broadway, Wolsely, Old St Vital, Elmwood and along Wellington Crescent.

From now until the end of June, male hybrid poplars are available for free from the Forestry guys on the north side of Birds Hill Park. There are also different species of trees available for planting during their own respective times of the year, but right now is poplar time. The male poplars do not produce the allergy-inducing fluffy pollens and seeds.

If you would like some, drop into the Forestry complex. If you need directions, email me, as the project I work for is based out of their compound.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ecuador in the NY Times

Op-Ed in the NYT reminds us that the BP clusterfuck is America's oil disaster, but represents something people in other areas of the world are not entitled to.



From Huffington Post

In Ecuador, the fight against Texaco has gone on for, well, decades. And it's still going on. The people of Ecuador are still waiting for justice.

But in America, when oil disaster strikes, British Petroleum does not attempt to hide. They can't get away with it...we all know it's their fault. In a third world country, they are not given the same treatment.

Texaco has outright denied that Ecuador's priceless rainforest was polluted beyond repair, that oil is not in their water supply, that oil does not cause cancer or is harmful in any way. Texaco has delayed the lawsuits as long as they can, and continue to do so, using every trick in the book to get out of it. They know these people cannot fight a multi-billion dollar corporation, not when they live in straw shacks in the rainforest.

In the US, the President does not live in a straw shack, and the oval office may just be the most powerful room on the globe. British Petroleum has not even attempted to hold the US to the "limit" on how much a corporation can be liable for, BP will go completely bankrupt and most likely be bought out by another corporation as a result.

This is a grave humanitarian crisis. What the US has experienced because of Deep Horizon since 20 April, 2010, is what Ecuadorians have endured since 1965, and it has gone completely unremediated since.




From Washington Post


This absolutely must be in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, I cannot stress this enough. I encourage everyone to email info@humanrightsmuseum.ca . If I could find the email address of Gail herself, I would encourage everyone to email her as well.

Highlighting environmental humanitarian atrocities such as Ecuador cannot be omitted.

Friday, June 4, 2010

You Choose: 15 minutes, or Rampant Car Thief

Here's your weekender thought provoker.

Because this Vince Li and other mental health-oriented crimes won't go away, now with this post-partum situation. There are three highly violent crimes in the limelight right now.

So, to all the "fencers" I shall call them, do you put this mother of two in a fenced in mental health facility? Isn't she a danger to society? Do you really want a menace, a monster like that, out there potentially able to harm other children? Or do people not think of it this way, because post-partum is common, because most women out there can identify with whatever it is women go through after they give birth?

How about a 14 year old kid who is known for stealing cars, going on rampage? Shouldn't this kid be locked up? He already killed one person. He breached probation 24 times. TWENTY. FOUR. TIMES. Was arrested on charges of drugs, theft, conditions of abstaining from alcohol consumption abd curfew, and again, caught breaching probation 24 times.

This means he was let go, at least, 24 times. And now this fuck isn't going to jail. He gets a 10 year driving probation, as if that matters, not like he's going to adhere to it.

So, folks. Here we have it. Which is more preposterous? Which is of more terror and danger to the public?

Vincle Li, recieving 15 minutes of sunshine a day.

Or...

A (now) 16 year old with no mental health issues, known for breaking the law and killed a man when he was just 14, let loose back on the roads?

For some reason, the circumstances of Li's crime were revolting to the point where people apparently have shut off their brains, people are downright frightened of this man and are outraged that he might get to leave the forensics building in Selkirk. An uprising of completely ignorant and ridiculous voices over Li's current situation has taken over everything else, as if everyone in Manitoba's safety is on the line if he leaves the building.

For everybody, the fact that another under-18 year old who can steal cars that is back on the streets after being apprehended more than 24 times and has already killed somebody, will receive next to nothing, and be more than able to steal another car. If not him, then another kid in addition to the 10 or 15 or 20 who are already out there could easily kill you on your next trip to the corner store for some milk.

Nothing is being done about it, the NDP sits on their hands and the judges continue to release them. Again, nothing is done about it, but in the interest of all 1 million Manitobans, we'd better erect a fence around Selkirk Mental Hospital ASAP.

Which is truly terrifying?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zero Freedom is Lunacy

During my romping driving expeditions for work during the summer, I tend to listen to too much AM radio. I'm not sure if this skews my perspective on things or not as the two daytime talk radio hosts Richard Cloutier and Charles Adler often blow things out of proportion or try to make something where there is nothing, for the sake of entertainment.

The outcry that is happening currently over Vince Li receiving 15 minutes of fresh air a day has gone on for two days now.

Given that I am rather well versed in the areas of mental illnesses and am very familiar with the facilities at the Selkirk Mental Hospital, the ignorance and brashness that is voiced by people who think this man should never see the light of day is heartbreaking. I realize I shouldn't take too much offense to guest callers on AM talk radio, but the lack of information out there and complete misunderstanding of mental illness issues is astounding.

The first thing that comes to mind is that people either refuse to accept or forget that Vince Li is not some murderous monster. He has a lifelong illness that at the time of the Grehound Bus incident, was untreated.

I completely understand that people are scared of this man. Mental hospitals are not fun places. General hospitals are not fun places, but at mental hospitals you see the extreme progression of many different kinds of illnesses that you would never see on the street, or understand at all, unless you had an illness yourself or know somebody who has one.

I also completely understand the stigma that comes with mental illness, the stigma that it is not to be talked about or that it is somehow off-limits. This only purpotrates a greater misconception and supports a lack of understanding as normal. Ignorance is never bliss.

The science of mental illnesses has come a long way. As such the understanding of mental illnesses has also come along way. It was not all that long ago that people with mental illnesses were treated as guinea pigs and subject to inhumane experiments at the hands of some scientist at an insane asylum. At this point I will direct you to the history of psychiatric institutions, on Wikipedia which will give you a general oversight of the broader picture. What we know today as pharmaceutical drugs to treat mental disorders is a relatively new practice...one that has only been in place for the past 60 years and has only advanced to the point of being used effectively for perhaps 30 years.

To this day, despite abandonment of medieval style treatment methods and social exclusion, people with mental illnesses are still spoken of in a despicable manner, and all one had to do to prove so was to turn into Richard Cloutier's show recently.



Above is a painting by Vincent van Gogh, entitled At Eternity's Gate. As a side note, I am often baffled by the complete lack of the depiction of sadness or despair by modern artists. I chose this famous painting over a photograph of an old "insane asylum" because well, this one is perfect and it is difficult to find a "perfect" asylum photo.

Van Gogh would take his own life mere days after completing this painting. His last words, according to his brother, were "the sadness will last forever."

Modern facilities such as Selkirk Mental Hospital treat a wide range of patients, from depression to people who will be cared for their entire lives. This is where the most heartbreaking and sickening comments about Vince Li are those saying how he should be locked up for his entire life (see above: people refusing to accept that Li is not a murderous monster) and those saying he should remain locked up because the Selkirk grounds aren't fenced. That there should be a fence around this facility.

Such is the reason why I'm writing this post, education. The information is out there but as I said, it comes with the stigma of not being a subject that is talked about. The info is there, but goes unnoticed, unlearned, and ignored.

Putting a fence around such a wide-ranging service facility such as Selkirk is more insane than the people who live at these facilities for their entire lives are. It is not a prison.

Let me repeat that: it is not a prison.

It is a rehabilitating place, a hospital, a place for help and medicine. It houses people in all states of recovery. It is not a prison, it is not some annex of society. The mental hospital is a part of society, and a part of society that never gets seen or spoken of unless you are directly involved. Putting a fence around it, fencing everybody in and not allowing anyone to leave, with a gate and security guards, to allow people zero freedom, is lunacy itself.

We aren't talking about letting Vince Li back into normal society. For all intents and purposes, we're talking about letting him spend 23 hours and 45 minutes a day in solitary confinement, instead of 24 hours a day. We're talking about letting him see the sun for 15 minutes a day and maybe have a smoke as he listens to the birds in the 150 year old elm trees on the Selkirk grounds.

That's all I have to say...I can only hope maybe I have opened people's minds a bit or perhaps provided avenues for you to do some of your own research on these things.

I'll be tuning the AM radio out from now on. (Edit: I will now be avoiding the CBC site. The comments there are disgusting and appalling. You would think this was the 16th century in Great Britain).

Thanks for reading.