Wednesday, 1 July 2009

complacent k-k-Canadian changes on k-k-Canada Day (eh?) ...

Up, Down.

Update Wednesday P.M.: nine hundred and some odd sax's playing O Canada with the Shuffle Demons in front of Toronto City Hall, and they played well and with spirit and without an ounce of complacency that I could see (a momentary lapse no doubt), and I tell you what - it brought a tear to my eye, did so ... nonetheless, k-k-Canada continues as a smug self-righteous sinkhole of complacency, or even the smug-est self-right-issimo & complacent-est on the planet; good on Jeffrey Simpson for speaking it out loud and clear: Yes, we love our country, but ‘best in the world'? Get real.
Canada Day Shuffle Demons Guinness Record for Saxophone BandCanada Day Shuffle Demons Guinness Record for Saxophone BandCanada Day Shuffle Demons Guinness Record for Saxophone Band

Wednesday A.M.: sometimes I get complacent too eh? think I know things, occupational hazard of living anywhere withing cutural reach of this stodgy country of k-k-Canada ... but God is good to me and has ways of reminding me, big and small ... today it is that Edward Greenspon is gone from the Globe, I had no idea, last I heard of him he was comforting his son who had been (merely) injured when a nut-case pushed him off the Subway platform in front of a train, lucky son, and helped by his friend apparently, doubly lucky

actually He is giving a double whack to my complacent pee-pee today - I was sure I had already posted about Adenir Oliveira and Jacob Greenspon with pictures yet! but damned if I or the Google search tools can find it ... doesn't mean it is not there mind you, just some kind of 'chance' some kind of cultural equivalent to quantum mechanical dice games ...

and I might not have bothered today either, except some pundit over at used a quote from our Bob in relation to Greenspon's firing (it was "the times they are a changin'") ... so it stuck, and here I am, you have to laugh ...

anyway, here's some of the news from back in February:

Adenir DeOliveira, Edward Greenspon, victim Jacob GreensponAdenir DeOliveiraAdenir DeOliveiraAdenir DeOliveiraAdenir DeOliveiraAdenir DeOliveira, captor Russell CormierAdenir DeOliveira, captor Russell CormierAdenir DeOliveira, lawyer Ian Kostman

I remember reading later that our Adenir DeOliveira got put away without benefit of any grace because he was unhinged ... and I can't tell ...

and here is the article at about our Eddie getting fired from the Globe ... ho hum ...

today's adventure will be to see if the Shuffle Demons manage to pull it off down at City Hall in the absence of garbage 'workers' (?) no way of telling ahead of time ... oops, something must have changed in the meantime, when I did that search early this morning it was all I could do to find what time the thing was happening, AND I came up with 4:30 pm, which turns out to be wrong (e-ven!) it is 4:00 pm and best to get there by 3 I would hazard ...

a-and no fireworks I saw on the TV news in a small bar somewhere ... what is to celebrate exactly? to me the nostalgic and sentimental outweighs that pride I used to feel at times growing up here, even so-called 'Canada Day' which is really the anniversary of Beaumont Hamel, and a day of grief (if not shame) for Newfoundlanders, so ... I don't feel it any more, mostly I feel shame, and ... boredom ... whatever ...

BUT the Globe today had four (4! count 'em!) cartoons that gave me a chuckle, the first one (Dilbert) being a too-accurate look at what I imagine the inside of the Globe's IT department/IT contractor looks like :-)

Dilbert, 09-07-01 Interface ExcellenceBackbench, 09-07-01 Air CanadaCornered, 09-07-01 Rat RaceBizarro, 09-07-01 Restrooms

a-and the last one, Bizarro's look at obesity, reminds me of something else ...

ToiletToilets! categorical proof that the current Standard was invented by women! please don't pardon the pun and any disrespect to the company of that name is intentional, and why is it 'American' standard anyway? are American men smaller? is that it? Bizarro is showing his American bias for sure

a long story of course, I have no idea if there was a time when men's parts did not drag against the inside of these damned porcelain toilet fixtures, certainly they did not drag against outhouse holes, I am old enough to know that one, not to mention that outhouses are far better for the environment - and I have to go back in my memory here to a biology class in the sixties when the lecturer was going at the Potassium cycle which has an open ended drain into the deep ocean thanks to our public utilities, I know a smart kid with a degree in biology but I never got an answer to my email asking about this, oh well ...

there are two fundamental issues (and here I mean fundamental in the anatomical sense), One: that WHEN you lift the lid and IF the lid is fitted with a fuzzy cover THEN the lid likely falls down again, and depending how drunk you are it may whack your pee-pee, or you may try to catch it with your free hand and miss the bowl entirely, spraying all over the place with subsequent penalties etc. and Two: if it is #2 (symmetry is everywhere!) your male part drags aginst the inside of the bowl which is an entirely disagreeable sensation nevermind that it is probably a way of transmitting some unspeakably awful disease ...

now, maybe this doesn't happen to everyone, I have no idea of the size of my 'package' compared to anyone else's, just never got around to that particular investigation ... but ... well, maybe this means that I am well endowed eh? or maybe it just means that most of the men in this culture are pussy whipped wimps and afraid to speak up ... can't say, maybe there has even been a slow devolution here as toilet manufacturers have gradually reduced costs by reducing the size, maybe the people who run these factories are women, I don't know

sometimes you come across larger ones in upscale private clubs so maybe this is a working-class thing

while I am on the subject (or sort of :-) ... I ran across this in Fables of Identity the other night:

"Yet Byron had certainly anticipated Shaw's central idea, that woman takes the lead in sexual relations and that Don Juan is consequently as much a victim as a pursuer."

        Northrop Frye, Fables of Identity, Lord Byron.

a-and this revelation offended middle-class sensibilities apparently, and was a contributor to Byron's loss of readership in England ... interesting.

1. What's behind the shake up at 'Canada's newspaper of record'?, Nick Fillmore, June 2 2009.
2. Adenir DeOliveira experienced 'auditory hallucinations' to kill people, judge told, Timothy Appleby & Anthony Reinhart, February 21 2009.
3. Yes, we love our country, but ‘best in the world'? Get real, Jeffrey Simpson, July 1 2009.
What's behind the shake up at 'Canada's newspaper of record'?, Nick Fillmore, June 2 2009.

The media community was buzzing last week over the departure of the Globe and Mail’s Chief Editor Ed Greenspon, replaced by the highly-decorated John Stackhouse, who most recently whipped the Globe’s bastion of free enterprise thinking -- The Report on Business (RoB) -- into shape.

Within hours of the Globe upheaval, David Akin of CanWest News Service in Ottawa Tweeted that the “gossip” was that Greenspon had been forced out because he refused to agree to a new round of staff cuts. But others speculate that it’s possible Greenspon was fired or resigned on the spot following a dispute with Globe Publisher Phillip Crawley over a number of issues. Greenspon had spent a long six years as Editor-in-Chief and either he or Crawley, or both of them, may have felt his time was up.

Stackhouse may have gotten close to the truth when he said on the Globe website that, while he and Greenspon have “similar visions of what quality journalism is,” he would be better than Greenspon at cooperating with other divisions at the Globe as well as with outside organizations with which the paper needs to build partnerships.

New Editor rose through the ranks

The position of Editor-in-Chief of the Globe is an important one because of the political tone the person sets for the paper and the impact he (historically always a man) has on the nature of journalism at what is the country’s most influential media institution.

Stackhouse is probably the only Globe journalist, other than Greenspon, whom one might have expected to come up through the Globe ranks to become Editor-in-Chief. Both have had great accomplishments in mainstream journalism. Greenspon had been a top-notch reporter in Ottawa, a published author, and, like Stackhouse, head of the RoB. Just three days before Greenspon disappeared from the Globe, the paper won six of 22 top national newspaper awards.

Stackhouse, 46, who lacks managerial experience, may be arriving in the post before he is fully equipped to take it on. Nevertheless, his track record is impressive: a winner of a record five National Newspaper Awards, he is remembered for his six years of groundbreaking reporting overseas as Canada’s sole development journalist, and for a controversial series of stories he wrote after spending a week living amid poverty in downtown Toronto. While head of the RoB, he humanized the publication by adding new features and columnists.

Stackhouse, who likely focuses better on the task at hand and who is a better ‘team player’ than Greenspon, is likely to bring new changes to the paper -- but we’ll have to wait to see which will be in the public interest and which will simply serve the Globe’s corporate interests. Once Stackhouse has worked his way into the job, he could strengthen the Globe in a number of ways. Even though the paper is strapped for cash, Stackhouse, who knows the importance and impact of big stories, might be able to fight to maintain a budget for investigative and in-depth journalism of the nature that won the Globe its six awards last year.

Big business perspective favoured too often

Additionally, Stackhouse could implement newsroom policies that would bring more balance to their stories. Too often stories are skewed in favour of big business or government with opposing views buried at the bottom of the story or totally omitted. He would have the authority to correct one of Greenspon’s sins, by reducing the obsessive coverage of Ottawa and federal politics.

But it’s unlikely he’ll be able to increase the size of the Globe’s news hole, or to reinstate full Focus and Books sections in the Saturday Globe. And will he want to -- or be able to -- reduce the Globe’s preoccupation with crime stories, which the higher ups probably feel need to appear in the paper to help them fend off the likes of The Sun papers across the country.

No matter who occupies the post, the Editor-in-Chief will almost certainly never be able to change some of the most fundamental restrictions and repressive policies that exist at the Globe. Publisher/CEO Crawley and the behind-the-scenes faceless “higher-ups” who call the shots make sure that anyone in a position of authority at the paper accepts the values of the mainstream media.

The Globe is a formidable partner in and supporter of Canada’s corporate culture, and this role takes precedence over and, indeed, shapes the paper’s approach to news and information. As a result, no new editor-in-chief is likely to tackle these fundamental problems with the Globe:

• While the paper is greatly valued by tens-of-thousands of Canadians for its excellent coverage in areas such as the environment, justice, public-interest investigations, foreign features and the arts, when it comes to the all-important area of national politics, its reporting too often favors small-c conservative positions and its editorials tend to have a neo-liberal flavour. Using an approach taken by most media in today’s right-wing dominated society, the paper tends to provide much of its coverage based on the power and influence of the Right. Its political coverage would be much improved, and of greater value to Canadians, if more stories focused on serving the public interest and discussing alternative political ideas.

• The paper’s reporting and editorial positions largely accept the business community’s mantra that all policies should be evaluated in the light of their ability to serve ‘the market’ and those who most benefit from it. Although, in the light of the collapse of the world economy, this position would seem to be indefensible, it remains -- and will continue to remain -- the philosophy of the Globe.

• When Greenspon and Stackhouse were at the RoB, neither tackled one of the most serious problems with business journalism. The RoB follows its own business-friendly standards when it comes to journalism. Unethical corporate behavior might be considered ‘newsworthy’ in the front section of the paper. In the RoB, by contrast, where investment and profit are the main measures of newsworthiness, if a Canadian company mining in, say, Indonesia is destroying the environment and paying poverty wages, editors don’t consider these mere details relevant to the story of the company’s ‘success.’

• While the paper is quick to promote national pride around events such as Canada Day, it is strongly opposed to nationalistic public policy positions taken by groups such as the Council of Canadians and various unions. The Globe is much more likely to mock such groups through its conservative columnists than give their positions and efforts the attention and analysis they deserve.

• The Globe seldom, if ever, reports on or editorializes in a positive way about progress being made in radical socialist countries. In fact, it is much more likely it will send a reporter to one of these countries -- for instance one of the Latin American countries turning to socialism -- to prepare a pre-planned critical report, ignoring advances that may have occurred, such as progress in land reform, education or health care. As a result, Canadians who rely on the Globe for their foreign news don't get a balanced view of the world.

Given the Globe’s right-wing biases and its old-school approach to journalism, no one should be surprised that thousands of Canadians -- particularly young people -- prefer to go to the Internet to get their news and information.

Deep pockets at the Globe

There’s some evidence to indicate that CTVglobemedia, of which the Globe is part, is facing less financial stress than most other media companies. The Globe owners are in a strong position to take on short-term debt because they have very deep pockets. The primary owners are BCE Inc., owners of Bell and several other companies, and the Thomsons, one of the richest families in Canada with a net worth last year of more than $18 billion.

Writing on, journalist Kelly Toughill indicates that CTVglobemedia did fairly well financially last year. Citing difficult-to-access financial figures she uncovered, she says, “CTVglobemedia had an operating profit of 9.7 per cent in 2008, before the cost of interest, taxes and non-cash items like impairment of goodwill,” which is the perceived decline in the value of the company.

In May, Peter Rhamey of BMO Capital Markets Equity Research Group indicated in a report that CTVglobemedia’s major parent company BCE was coping well during the recession. And at least one part of BCE Inc. isn’t broke. In March, Bell Mobility laid out about $150 million ($142 million, according to this article in The Star) to buy controlling interest in The Source, which has some 750 outlets where Bell will now market its telephone and Internet products.

Like other newspapers, the Globe’s most serious challenge ahead will be to try to lessen the bleeding of millions of dollars in advertising revenues to Internet-based companies and to establish its own revenue-generating presence on the Internet. One of the problems is that unless an Internet site has a huge reach, its ads aren’t very lucrative. John Honderich, chair of the Toronto Star, spoke recently of the “10-cent dollar” -- every dollar spent on advertising in a newspaper tends to bring in about 10-cents on the Internet for a similar ad.

Wayne MacPhail, a board member of who has developed on-line content for many major Canadian companies, says the Globe and other newspapers were warned as long as 15 years ago that the Internet would have a significant impact on their businesses. He says there are very few people at the Globe who understand the type of innovation needed for the paper to successfully establish itself on the web. “The problem is, unlike the best web-based organs, the Globe is burdened with the historical, emotional, attitudinal and infrastructure baggage that weighs it down as it plods slowly forward.”

There is speculation that Stackhouse may be more successful than Greenspon in establishing the Globe on the Internet, but the ‘baggage’ that MacPhail refers to will inevitably limit the paper’s changes in this area -- as in so many others.

Adenir DeOliveira experienced 'auditory hallucinations' to kill people, judge told, Timothy Appleby & Anthony Reinhart, February 21 2009.


Whatever demons may have been lurking inside Adenir DeOliveira's head last week when he allegedly tried to kill three teenaged strangers by shoving them in the path of a subway train, there had been no apparent signs of trouble.

However, at a brief hearing yesterday at Old City Hall, Judge Kathleen Caldwell was told that at the time of the incident, Mr. DeOliveira was experiencing "auditory hallucinations" directing him to kill people.

The 47-year-old was examined Thursday at the Toronto (Don) Jail by Julian Gojer, a psychiatrist, upon whose advice Judge Caldwell ordered Mr. DeOliveira to undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on Queen Street West.

There had been occasional hints of instability: A flash of temper, as recalled by a former landlady from Toronto's east side, where he once lived; the use of anti-depressant drugs; an inconsequential police encounter a couple of years ago.

But no one had any inkling that he might have been a ticking bomb. Not the police. Not his neighbours in his run-down, four-storey apartment block. And certainly not his horrified common-law wife, with whom he had been living on and off for six months.

A police source said she was "flabbergasted" by the charges.

"Right now we have no answers as to why he [allegedly] took these actions," said Inspector Bryce Evans of the Toronto police.

The outcome of last Friday's incident could have been far worse. Police allege that as an eastbound subway train roared into Dufferin station, Mr.

DeOliveira, unprovoked, shoved two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old from behind. One of the three managed to stay on the platform; the other two tumbled on to the tracks. Both escaped serious injury when one rolled under the lip of the platform and pulled in his friend.

Stocky, neatly dressed when arrested, Mr. DeOliveira seemed unremarkable until he was catapulted into notoriety. A childless immigrant from Portugal, he owns and operates a modest lawn-care business and lives in an apartment in a working-class, immigrant-heavy section of west Toronto near Vaughan Road.

He has no criminal record - an unusual background for a man facing multiple counts of attempted murder and assault. And as far as is known, he has never received mental-health care inside an institution.

"He would go to work, come home, cook and go to sleep," said Nurjehan Meghji, who owns an East York townhouse, near Scarborough, where Mr. DeOliveira occupied the basement until about two years ago. He lived alone and paid $600 a month in rent.

"He was a very quiet person, he would only talk if he was being talked to and he never created any problems for me."

Mr. DeOliveira's marriage had recently ended at the time, and he would still visit his ex-wife, Ms. Meghji said. He used his pickup truck to haul materials for his lawn and sprinkler business. Ms. Meghji saw no signs of alcohol or drug abuse.

But her tenant could also be testy, she said. "Once I asked him to clean the snow outside and he became a little temperamental. He said, 'Why are you asking me? There's other people living in the house.' After that, I didn't ask him to do anything."

A few blocks from Eglinton and Victoria Park Avenues, the brick-clad townhouse is in an enclave of mostly Muslim families, with a mosque a short walk away. When Mr. DeOliveira moved to the west end, Ms. Meghji said, he explained that he wanted to be among people from his own background. She said she found nothing strange about that. "Mostly he seemed completely normal."

But at Mr. DeOliveira's first post-arrest court appearance last Saturday, it became plain that he was struggling with some difficulties. Relaying a request, duty counsel Al Hart asked that Mr. DeOliveira be given access to a trio of prescription drugs, all associated with anxiety problems: Effexor, Lorazepam and Seroquel.

Effexor is used to treat depression, while Lorazepam is prescribed for anxiety symptoms and insomnia. Seroquel is an anti-psychotic prescribed to patients with schizophrenia and manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, and is also used to treat severe anxiety or refractory depression.

"Those three medications wouldn't tend to be [prescribed to] someone with a first episode of depression or anxiety disorder," said Wende Wood, a psychiatric pharmacist at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, stressing that she was speaking in general and not about Mr. DeOliveira's case. "It's not that unusual. I actually have a number of patients on similar combinations."

Mr. DeOliveira was a relative newcomer to the drugs' use. A source familiar with the investigation said that up until about a year ago, when severe depression began to set in, Mr. DeOliveira lived a relatively normal existence.

The drugs he took inhibited his sex drive, the source said, leaving Mr. DeOliveira unsure about continued use. Yet when he went for a medical checkup a couple of weeks before the subway incident, his doctor increased the dosage.

The 30-day NCR (not criminally responsible) assessment ordered yesterday was in response to a request from Mr. DeOliveira's lawyer, Ian Kostman. The lawyer presented a written report to Judge Caldwell, who took several minutes to read it and then agreed to send the accused directly from court to the CAMH building.

He will remain in police custody during the assessment period and return to court March 20.

Mr. DeOliveira, who wore beige pants, a baggy white T-shirt and an expression part blank and part melancholy, asked, through his lawyer, to be placed in protective custody. "He's concerned for his safety," Mr. Kostman said.

Referring to Dr. Gojer's report during yesterday's proceeding, Mr. Kostman said his client experienced auditory hallucinations "while speaking with the doctor and over previous days, telling him to kill people."

Dr. Gojer, Mr. Kostman said, had concluded that Mr. Oliveira was having "an acute psychotic episode," during the subway incident.

Yes, we love our country, but ‘best in the world'? Get real, Jeffrey Simpson, July 1 2009.

If Canada's so great and the world needs more of us, name the last great Canadian initiative

There was something rather nice about Canada, years ago, when it was a modest country, or at least when Canadians thought about their country in that fashion.

Today, if polls can be believed, Canadians are in love with their country - which is okay - but in love to a fault in that, apparently, almost 90 per cent of them believe they live in “the best country in the world.”

There are many admirable aspects of Canada, and we exult in them around Canada Day. But the dangers of thinking of your country as the cat's meow are hubris and, worse still, a stubborn inability to look problems in the eye or to learn from others.

If there is one assertion around which almost all Canadians would rally, it is that, as the Chapters Indigo slogan puts it, the “world needs more Canada.” The assumption supporting this assertion is that we Canadians are so worthy, morally upright and generally well-intentioned that the world would be a better place if it were more like, well, us. Which, in turn, leads Canadians to their deadliest sin: an unsinkable moral superiority.

We do lead the world in some instances. For example, we have the world's worst record among industrialized countries for emitting greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming. Of all the countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol, Canada's emissions rose the fastest - faster than even U.S. emissions under George W. Bush.

We are now parading ourselves at climate-change conferences proclaiming a goal of reducing emissions by 20 per cent by 2020 from a 2005 yardstick. Our previous record, however, is so bad, and the Harper's government's interest in climate change so ephemeral, that almost no country in the talks gives Canada much credibility at all.

Canada is almost alone in flogging asbestos around the world, or at least preventing more serious impediments to its export, all to protect some jobs in the Quebec town of Thetford Mines.

We club baby seals and give ourselves a black eye in Europe and elsewhere for an industry that, yes, has been around for a long time and, yes, forms part of the Inuit's traditional culture, but that brings in very little revenue in exchange for terrible publicity.

We have the tar sands, the defence of which no government will fail to try, without contemplating, let alone forcing, new ways of exploiting the resource in ways that might make it sustainable - except for a useful but far from adequate investment in carbon capture and storage.

The world trade negotiations, the so-called Doha round, are dormant, but when they showed some flickering life to liberalize trade, Canada was in the dark corner with France, some other European countries, Japan and South Korea - the usual suspects - blocking agricultural reform to preserve the protectionist supply management system.

Canada used to have a reputation as an honest broker with peacekeeping troops serving United Nations missions - a role that won kudos. But now our troops are committed to NATO's mission in Afghanistan, so very few are available for what Canadians used to think the world liked us for doing.

Put matters another way: If Canada is so great and if the world needs more of us, just what Canadian “initiative” can you think of in the past, say, four or five years, since Paul Martin suggested a G20 instead of a G8, an idea that matured into a reality?

Domestically, the country's greatest accomplishment was getting its fiscal house in order - which, in turn, led to excellent short-term results and positioned the country well for the aging of the population that will strain government resources. We also beefed up money for university research. But our productivity and competitiveness continue to lag.

The decline of manufacturing and the struggles of high technology reveal Canada for essentially being what it's always been - a hewer of wood and drawer of water, a country excessively dependent not on brain power but on natural resources.

To repeat: There are admirable aspects of being Canadian, and these have all been justly celebrated on Canada Day. But self-satisfaction can lead to a refusal to acknowledge weaknesses, to allow patriotism to curb critical thought, to refuse to face hard choices, and to cover a slow, albeit comfortable, slide toward international marginality and domestic mediocrity.



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