Tag Archives: news

Followup: Charlottesville

Quick update to Tuesday’s story …

It was widely observed by attendees and reported in the media that Neo-Nazis arrived armed and well-prepared at the rally in Charlottesville, then moved in later to attack counter-protestors with bats and other weapons as police took a hands-off approach to a good portion of the violence.

Given that authorities have historically been quick to respond with overwhelming shows of force in the instances of the DAPL Water Protectors protests and the Black Lives Matter protests, it came across as nothing short of infuriating when a major show of force was not taken during the Charlottesville riots in the midst of a far more dangerous situation.

In an article that ProPublica released over the weekend, reporter and witness A.C. Thompson noted, “State police and National Guardsmen watched passively for hours as self-proclaimed Nazis engaged in street battles with counter-protesters.” He then went on to name the main organizational and tactical failures at the event and describe them in nauseating detail.

I’m glad others pointed me to this article, as I’d missed it in the initial media shuffle that took place when the riots began, so thank you for that.

Now, it’s only been a few days since the riots, and it can take time to conduct a formal inquiry into the police response, but here’s a spoiler: when authorities apparently had situational awareness “for a long time” and went on to make errors such as failing to separate camps of protestors and going easy on Nazis who physically attacked officers, the optics of the overall situation don’t look good. As Thompson further notes, “Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York […] played a more active role in breaking up fights,” after riot police failed to fully intervene.

I’m not sure how to respond to that, besides noting the same conclusion others have acknowledged many times: white privilege, it’s a thing.

Additionally, the fact police didn’t mount a stronger response to stop the fighting and the way they failed to arrest more of those involved in the fighting are things that work to the advantage of far-right instigators, who love the opportunity to be cast as victims of leftist violence.

In other words, letting Nazis slug it out with Antifa for a few days isn’t just a shitty idea, it’s actually a recruitment win for Nazis and their ilk.

I’m sure this isn’t what authorities wanted, but regardless of whether it arose through accidental blunder or planned non-intervention, that’s now the reality they’re going to have to deal with, as will many other cities who are currently facing spin-off rallies in the wake of the mess in Charlottesville.

It will be interesting to read the results of a formal inquiry, if one is ever conducted into these matters.

On Hate: Charlottesville And Beyond

During one more in a long line of racist clashes in the United States, one protester was murdered and at least nineteen others injured after a Neo-Nazi from Idaho attended the “Unite the Right” rally at Charlottesville, VA, and proceeded to drive his car into the crowd.

A running theme with white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and other hate groups is they’ve tried repeatedly to avoid the name they’ve earned for themselves while still trying to perpetrate all of the moral and criminal wrongs historically associated with their movements. To varying degrees, they will advocate fervently in public spaces for the advancement of racism, social segregation, racist propaganda, hate speech, acts of violence, and even murder, but if recent news coverage is any indication, many seem unable to stomach the idea of getting caught or called out for their disgusting behaviour.

This, in and of itself, speaks volumes.

Remember — if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then racist apologists be damned, it’s a fuckin’ duck.

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Donald Trump’s First 100 Days

Until now, I haven’t been reporting on the political situation in the United States because news on the subject has been ubiquitous, and many talented individuals and media outlets have been calling the situation for what it is.

Today, this changes. I don’t feel it’s appropriate for a person to stand on the sidelines and wait for others to do one’s duty in the midst of a matter this important. I’ve written on Canadian politics on this site in the past, and arguably US politics can have just as significant an impact on anyone living north of the border due to widespread export of American culture, values, and geopolitical influence.

At the same time, lingering concerns remain on the political and financial affiliations of some media outlets, the impact of compromised journalism in an information driven society, and the pitfalls of the ratings-driven system holding sway on most TV-based media delivery platforms which tends to capitalize on drama and suffering while often failing to deliver context and historical perspective.

While there are many media groups who are doing high quality work and providing in-depth journalism, the mixed nature of technology and its use (or misuse at times) means it’s wise to ensure information is regularly fact-checked and further research is conducted to understand context and establish a broader perspective of current events.

The unfortunate thing about politics is that despite having great importance in daily life, it frequently tends to be treated as a spectator sport. Media companies run round-the-clock news cycles and make money from it, people talk to family and friends about what’s going on in the world, some offices run pools on what they think the next big change might be, but how many of us are actually willing to roll up our sleeves and get involved?

When was the last time you talked with a Congressperson, Member of Parliament, or MLA? Have you ever read legislative documentation to learn the issues? When was the last time you fact checked a political statement? Ever been part of a public commentary hearing? Heck, when was the last time you voted?

Here’s why political engagement matters:

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Victoria Times Colonist to Remove Online Commenting

This week, our local newspaper announced it was removing the comment section in future posts. This comes in the wake of a fairly well-established trend of prominent media outlets, including Popular Science, deciding to do the same in order to bring the emphasis back to the content, and curb widespread abuse of writers and their audiences by unpleasant drive-by commenters.

And truly, nothing of value was lost.

First, what many major outlets have realized by now, many of them through rather hard lessons, is that journalism isn’t just a business, it’s a delicate balance, a deep search for the truth. By its very nature, this demands well-developed communications skills and keen social competence on the part of its researchers and presenters, and a carefully crafted environment in which to convey the information to the audience.

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Keeping Our Perspective on War

When one takes a bird’s-eye view of battle and civilian casualties by the numbers, the results as shown above are shocking.

All of this helps one maintain a healthy sense of perspective, and reveals that not only do present-day news channels and distributors exaggerate the frequency and ferocity of conflicts on a regular basis by flooding the public space with over-reporting and embellishments, but we almost invariably are fed information to arrive at a mindset that makes us forget on a daily basis the major powers have not fought one another since World War 2, and today’s war deaths (military and civilian) are minuscule in comparison.

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Financial Corruption and Value Dilution in Higher Education

I’d been browsing through the news recently for a collection of articles to share on a rather broad topic: the influence of moneyed interests on the educational system. This is a longstanding interest of mine, having grown up during a time when a year in university cost about $1,200, and having watched tuition rates and living costs balloon exponentially ever since. But what shocked me into getting the links to this post up that much sooner is this emerging story from the US:

“The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday said it brought fraud charges against ITT Educational Services Inc. and two of its top executives, alleging they misled investors about the looming financial impact of two badly-performing student-loan programs on the for-profit educator. […] ITT formed the student-loan programs to provide off-balance-sheet loans for ITT’s students in the wake of the financial crisis, when the market for private student loans dried up and for-profit schools created new ways to help students pay their tuition bills.”

source: Wall Street Journal

Let us further expand on the dialogue surrounding money in education for the benefit of those who haven’t been as immersed in the debate:

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(NSFW) Followup: SWAT Standoff at East Burnside & Carroll on 2014-08-09

Shortly after one o’clock on Saturday morning, officers from the Victoria and Saanich police departments attended reports of a naked and possibly armed man screaming at residents and running the across rooftops of several businesses near the intersection at East Burnside and Carroll. The man was first spotted holding what two bystanders believed was a large kitchen knife, later revealed in video footage to be nothing more than a rolled-up T-shirt.

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