Tag Archives: geopoliticos

#Occupy Vancouver: Out of Sight, Out of Media

Less than two months ago, the #occupy movement captured the hearts and minds of people around the world. Tent cities sprang up in cities everywhere, and idealistic videos like “Women of #Occupy Wall Street” (above) wistfully showed articulate young people to be quite the opposite of the entitled, apathetic losers the media often likes to paint them as. The positive public reaction was sincere, widespread and powerful.

But somewhere around the beginning of November, public opinion began to change. As Naomi Wolf’s excellent Guardian article points out here, there was a concerted effort to discredit the tent city occupiers, and turn the general public against them. Vancouver city officials and police admitted to being privy to continental-wide conference calls between #occupy cities, which were organized by the US Department of Homeland Security, about how to deal with the tent cities. Clearly, there was serious concern in high places, if Homeland Security was getting involved. The fact that our “progressive” civic officials took part in this, and, after some delay, caved in and went along with this propaganda effort against the most progressive movement in decades, speaks volumes about how progressive they really are. (Quisling comes to mind.)

So not coincidentally, during Remembrance Day week, police departments across North America began issuing form letter-like media press releases claiming that violent, Black Bloc anarchists had infiltrated the tent cities (supported by no evidence whatsoever). The media in every #occupy city in North America lapped it up without ever bothering to check to see if it was true. Fire and public health concerns were constantly raised. Drug use and overdose deaths were signs that anarchy was prevailing. Surrounding businesses were reportedly losing money. This peaceful, non-violent protest was suddenly being portrayed as a dangerous shit show, and calls for it to be shut down grew louder by the day.

It was, undoubtedly, one of the best-orchestrated propaganda campaigns of recent decades.

Regardless of who actually was in the protest camps, those tent cities were a symbol of the seething discontent prevalent today, and the possibility and hope that maybe, just maybe, the pendulum of avarice, greed and conspicuous consumption that has dominated the west since the 1980s had finally reached its extreme, and was about to swing back hard.

And as long as those tents remained, the debate about what they represented went on. The media, slow on the uptake at first, began pumping out stories and column inches debating the movement. People from all strata of society were engaged. Everyone had an opinion and seemed to care, one way or the other.

And for the corporate agenda, that is probably the scariest world imaginable: people questioning their ethics, the ponzi scheme they have created, the corruption that has infiltrated the pillars of democratic society.

People talking about change.

And so the symbol of the movement — the tent cities — had to go.

It’s been barely two weeks since the #occupy Vancouver tent city was dismantled, and, not surprisingly, media stories about income disparity, Wall Street ethics, campaign finance reform, progressive taxation, have all but completely vanished. #Occupy might as well have happened in 1968 it seems so distant now, since it has been virtually expunged from the public discourse.

It was swift, often brutal, and entirely effective. Erasing the key symbol was like dropping a nuclear bomb to end the war for public opinion. Time will tell if it really was a death blow to the movement.

The 99%

It took three days for any mainstream TV or news media outlet in Canada to even do a story on Occupy Wall Street. A friend of mine trades stocks, and monitors the business news daily. About a week into the protests, as her portfolio shrank daily, I mentioned that maybe the New York traders were getting jittery with the demonstrations outside gaining momentum. Her response: “Huh? What protests?”

It has taken weeks for the story to filter its way into into regular news cycle, and only then the corporate anchors and columnists begrudgingly report the unions joining, the Ground Zero heroes they used to lionize marching on the street. They were once the symbols of patriotism, now they are treated like children who have lost their way.

What is it that the corporate news outlets don’t want us to see? Perhaps just how terribly awry the post-war dream has gone; the failure of a meritocracy that rewards greed and consumption, that eats itself.

And, after nearly three decades of political rhetoric about “Family Values”, look at how just how little value families have left in this world:

Is it any wonder there is so much anger and frustration?

Demagogues Haunt Voting Day

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Royally betrothed, a fairytale that can only be convincing to pre-teen girls and stout old spinsters, as weak goals and lame efforts continue to dog this campaign, a scattershot one-eyed Jack hits precision targets in far-off lands, like a Khadafi playboy or Osama bin Laden, and another lifeless demagogue’s body is taken into custody. So we go to the polls to exercise democracy like it’s a meaningless power play against the people, watch the tide turned by youthful twits not intending to martyr a parliamentary dictatorship, but forcing the bastards into a minority position yet again – a governing coalition, a social network, a team. OK?

“Going Green”: VANOC Releases Staff/Volunteer Training Video

In an apparent attempt to counter The Suzuki Foundation’s criticism of the “Carbon-Free Games”, today VANOC released to the media their “Going Green” training video for the thousands of volunteers and staff working during the Games. Training and orientation sessions have been ongoing since January for those working at the many Olympic venues, and VANOC is hoping to counter criticism that they aren’t doing enough to educate about the environment.

The volunteers that I overheard after seeing the training video had mixed reviews, including, “Interesting…” “Ew, that was just weird.” “Totally Predictable.” “Whatever.” And, “OMG, that was fugly.”

One volunteer even claimed that he had seen the video on Youtube. “It was over a year ago, dude. Like, it’s super news. VANOC is so lame!”

VANOC spokesman, Yesman Ina Soot, confirmed the allegation and explained the reasoning behind copying a cartoon video from Youtube and using it for training purposes, stating that, “Our intentions were to produce this training video at the least cost to both the taxpayer and the environment, and I think we delivered in spades on both counts.” He added, “Internet piracy is a carbon neutral video production option: it didn’t cost the environment or taxpayers a penny to produce. How could any responsible Government be expected to say “No” to such an option, if it so readily exists?”

When questioned about the message VANOC was sending by using a satirical cartoon video as a means to educating staff and volunteers about climate change solutions, Yesman looked quizzical, and said, “There is nothing satirical about this training video.”

He continued, “Hopefully, the deep lessons learned – especially after the death of the polar bear trapped in the Hummer at the end — will resonate with all our workforce, and they will take that message forth and spread it to everyone they greet during the Games: the Western lifestyle doesn’t have to change for us to Go Green. All the people who are always so negative and talk so much that they eventually “kill the polar bears” will not stand in the way of our govenment’s determination to take action and Go Green.”

See for yourself, watch “Going Green“, the VANOC staff/volunteer training video. It just might inspire you, too!

Obama Calls Harper’s Bluff

(image from Greenpeace campaign against Harper)

There are both high hopes and tensions as the climate talks got under way in Copenhagen this week. Leading up to the summit, the stolen email saga provided fodder for climate science skeptics, and Canada’s Prime Minister – a staunch defender of his home province’s right to develop its massive tar sands – has become the Darth Vader of the G8.

The Harper government’s insistence that Canada’s actions will be determined by the U.S. policy appeared, at first, to be a fail safe abdication of responsibility, especially given the United States’ poor environmental record under President Bush and President Obama’s reluctance to even appear in Copenhagen. But Obama’s eventual decision to attend the conference, and then the recent news that he would make more than a cursorary appearance, may give concerned Canadians some hope that Harper could now be forced to make a bigger commitment to act. If Obama decides to put some serious chips on the table, Harper’s “follow the U.S.” bluff will be blown.

In Canada, Greenpeace protest banners were unfurled on the parliament buildings in Ottawa to mark the start of the conference, and a new poll showed that most Canadians disagree with Stephen Harper’s environmental policies and want Canada to take a leading role. Nevertheless, skepticism still occupied the minds of many, including Environmental Law Professor Michael M’Gonigle, who feels the root of the problem — excess consumption — is still not being addressed. The Canadian Government’s role since the 1970s, and the great potential for Canada to be a global leader in the development of a green economy, is also candidly discussed by David Suzuki.

For more information and daily updates from Copenhagen, see Denmark’s official conference website. The N.Y. Times also has in depth daily conference news and background information, including a breakdown of who’s who (and their competing interests) at the conference, and a timeline of the evolution of climate science over the past two centuries and the historical attempts to reach global agreements.