Thursday, September 29, 2011

Major problems with the CEO Sleepout

Three observations, one question.

1. Real homeless people cannot sleep at 201 Portage. It is well lit and has security. Homeless people would be removed from this area. You also cannot panhandle in this plaza area for the same reason.

Perhaps the CEOs would like to call this one a mulligan and go sleep on Jarvis somewhere instead.

2. As I walked by 201 Portage moments ago I noticed a few red shirt Downtown BIZ patrols, and a police officer. It is too bad homeless people are not granted the same kind of security. Ironically, this beefed security is probably to prevent homeless people from panhandling. Those aggressive panhandlers everyone is scared of are probably the same people that these CEOs supposedly want to help.

3. Are homeless people allowed to come and "sleepout" with the CEOs? Or would they get removed by security?

4. Both publisher Bob Cox and Margo "Free Speech" Goodhand will be sleeping out. Given that the Winnipeg Free Press had an article or two on homelessness awareness activist Mark Horvath's visit to Winnipeg and CDI College, neither of them attended Mark's presentation. But they will sleep out in a well lit, secure outdoor environment. Kind of like camping in your back yard.

Gotta hand props to the Downtown BIZ though. This event is as slick, polished and matte gloss as any Downtown BIZ pamphlet you can pick up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years of Revenge

All of the reflection on today's events ten years ago will be about America, about remembering a grim day, about stories of mothers and fathers and brothers lost in the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings. What will not be told is the unfathomable loss of innocent life overseas, or the stories of Afghan mothers and fathers and Iraqi brothers and sisters lost at the hands of Western forces exacting revenge under the guise of a global war on terror.

"It is forbidden to kill. Therefore all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." Voltaire

I'd say that counts as "trumpets."

While the US triumphantly celebrated the death of one man, Osama bin Laden, the hundreds of thousands of graves that were dug along the way were not in those people's minds, and nor are they in the minds of people today.

9/11 as an anniversary is not like our Remembrance Day, where we are mindful of the large loss of life inflicted in the World Wars. 9/11 rather, is a day to remember the deaths of 2996 people in New York City. A day to take everyone back to their feelings of shock and awe, of sitting in front of their TVs, of where they were when it happened, and to remember the moment that the US would vow to hunt down the sick fuckers that did this.

It is the day "terrorism" entered our daily vocabulary and a term that over the last ten years, has been used to inflict all sorts of interruptions on our daily lives, X-Ray machines in airports, multi-billion dollar corporate businesses, the invasion of Iraq, and dropping bombs on Pakistan and Yemen via unmanned aircraft. Bombs that have also been responsible for the deaths of innocent people, and children.

Still lost on the part of our minds that should be devoted to common sense, is the fact that bombs are indiscriminate. They can be dropped on places that were not intended to be dropped. They kill women and children without decision. These bombs are no different than the indiscriminate attacks on the World Trade Center buildings, yet dropping them is celebrated.

A little more than a year ago in 2010, Wikileaks published documents that had a profound impact on the way loss of life in the "war on terror" is viewed. They showed the gross misconducts of military officials to cover up civilian deaths as "terrorist deaths." They showed the backlash in Afghan villages when innocent people are killed, by US or NATO troops barging into houses in night raids. Small sums of money are offered to the enraged families, as if the deaths of their loved ones can be bought and sold as some sort of commodity.

On this ten year anniversary, we should remember that;

2996 civilians died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The civilian death toll in Afghanistan is nearly impossible to even estimate.

Over 90, 000 civilians have died in Iraq since 2003.

And lastly, I think that it is important to remember that this mass carnage is not over. And that perhaps it should be. And that maybe it is about high time to consider that we have been waging a war of "justice and peace" when it has brought none.

"Justice will bring peace. Not intelligence wars against 'world terror.' But our leaders will not admit this." Robert Fisk

Friday, September 9, 2011

Our Federal Government sold out the mentally ill to US Homeland Security

If you aren't outraged at what our government is doing, you soon will be.

Thanks to Wikileaks and their dump of diplomatic cables (released early because of actions by The Guardian) we find out that if you have a mental illness, the US Department of Homeland Security might know, because our government had no problem with sharing something that might be considered private records.

The CBC story focuses on a woman who attempted suicide 4 years ago, and was not allowed to cross the border, because US Homeland Security knew about it. She couldn't enter the country, because, well, you know, she might pose a risk. A terrorist risk.

The part of interest is summed up very well by the CBC:

"...any information entered into the national Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) database is accessible to American authorities."

Which means if you had a mental health-related episode, and the police responded, the United States probably knows about it.

Fuckin' disgraceful.

I'm not sure what scares me more. That the US requested this information, or that the Canadian Government handed everything over, clearly without regard for cases like this, attempted suicide. Or other petty issues relating to other personal things.

In December of 2010, when the diplomatic cables started to be released by Wikileaks, media around the world exploded in a wave of intense criticism, over the "damage" that would be caused, over the uselessness of the information, that it is stuff we don't need to know about. How misguided and short-sighted. In December 2010, I had my first op-ed published in the Winnipeg Free Press, in response to one of their opinion writers who thought maybe Assange would publish his phone conversations and emails.

My digging around turned up this piece by the Globe and Mail, condemning releasing the cables as "irresponsible" and chiding Wikileaks for all the clearly non-terrorist-related material.

And this would seem to prove all those op-eds wrong, wouldn't it? All the people who said it was irresponsible, that the cables had nothing to do with terrorism. Except that what people miss from that the point of releasing these cables is not because of terrorism, but to release information that maybe, just maybe, the public should know.

Because for shit like this, the Canadian people, have a right to know. This is not the kind of thing that should be kept inside diplomatic doors.

Democratic countries just like our own all over the world are having similar revelations about their governments. The information age needs Wikileaks.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gary Lawless' college of not-so-medical knowledge

Basking in his own ignorance about mental illness and depression, Gary Lawless continues to swing punches, pun intended, at Don Cherry, and the "undeniable link" between enforcers' concussion history and their suicides.

I live with major depression and have for years. Gary's columns make me fucking sick.

So what is it Gary, talk about depression (ie the cause of suicide), or throw the punches?

This is beyond lazy journalism. Using these players' deaths to launch onto his own soapbox about fighting in the NHL and his obvious love affair with Don Cherry? Unbelievable.

Could have researched depression. Could have used his position as a major sports journalist in this town to actually educate people. But no, he writes one column about it and it's back to the fictitious medical knowledge of Dr Gary Lawless. He has irrefutable evidence that fighting in hockey, getting less than 12 minutes of game time, and Don Cherry (who only gets 7 minutes a week), cause suicide.

Lawless' has been upstaged. By statistics, by the truth, and by his own colleagues in sports journalism. First and most embarrassingly, by his cohort at the Free Press, Ed Tait, who should be given a medal for this column and effective immediately, replace Lawless on the sports journo hierarchy. An op-ed last week communicated some basics about mental illness. I suppose Lawless doesn't read the newspaper he's published in, might've learned something. Elliotte Friedman, part of CBC's Hockey Night in Canada personalities, is leaps and bounds, and centuries, ahead of Lawless with his article published on the CBC today.

Lastly, Gary might have been astute to check the comments of Wade Belak's mother:

"...he never had any bad concussions that we know of — he had bumps and bruises of course — but no noticeable concussions that we know of," she added.

Undeniable link, eh?

What was that Gary, you had something to add?

Please, let's stop listening to the macho bullying of Don Cherry and his acolytes. They don't know what they are talking about on this subject.


The only person who doesn't know what they're talking about, is you, Gary. You're making a joke out of the mental health community. You're making a joke about depression. You're making a joke out of suicide victims. You're using evidence that isn't there, and you're using these deaths to further your own views on fighting in the NHL, and Don Cherry. Not only are you completely clueless on the subject of depression, your conduct on writing about these incidents is despicable.

In my blog post the other day, I did some very simple and highly conservative math to find that:

1. At least 54 NHL players are living with depression.
2. We should expect 1.6 suicides per year.
3. Not a single NHL player with depression has come forward to speak about it.

I might add, in addition to my last post, the reference to Hannover goalkeeper Robert Enke, who committed suicide. Did he take too many soccer balls to the head? Too rough a sport?

Lawless needs to go to a library ASAP and get a book on depression. Hell, screw the library, Wikipedia will do. Or phone up a doctor who deals with depressed people all day long. Or maybe drop by a Mood Disorders session.

Oh and, Dr Gary? You're welcome to come with me to Selkirk. That is, if you don't think that they show Coach's Corner 24/7 on the TVs there.