Thursday, November 13, 2008

Solidarity with bloggers - Rachel Maddow

Blogging on TV is how Rachel Maddow described herself last night. And she did the show in her pajamas to show solidarity with bloggers!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Crunch time - threat to free speech!

Today, Steve Anderson, the Save Our Net guru, reminded me that the CRTC, our federal regulator for the internet, will be issuing a landmark ruling shortly on access to the internet. Twice delayed, the upcoming CRTC ruling will have long term implications. And you can have an impact on that ruling BUT only if you do it NOW.

For months now, major ISPs, like Bell, have been throttling your access to the internet. The CRTC will be ruling on whether this can continue. This is the first step in the battle for commodification of the internet.

As the two most recent federal elections have shown, the internet opens up our democracies.

The ISPs would like to close it down and channel it, just like cable television. The plan is to force you to purchase a package of channels for access to certain websites. In conversation with my own ISP in June, I discovered that these packages are being developed for marketing right now. The impact on independent websites and blogs would be catastrophic. You'd have to pay extra to view a website that is not on the approved list! Or to visit this blog!!!

These companies have been caught:
• throttling or slowing Internet traffic to businesses and consumers;
• blocking access to websites that criticized them;
• crippling consumer devices and applications.

The time for action is NOW. Steve Anderson has been working tirelessly on this issue for months with his work on the Net , DemocraticMedia. ca and websites as well as several Facebook groups. He and others have done the research and now he needs our help to put a STOP to throttling.

Here's Steve's list:

join the facebook group SaveOurNet

add to your FB status update

write to the CRTC, here's the media release with submission date and form

sign the petition

For bloggers, there's a button to add to show your support which you'll noticed I've just added. Let's see if we can double the entries on the petition in the next couple of days.

I've been following this issue for months and it really is past time to act on this critical issue that will have an impact on our freedom of speech online.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Been called worse things...

Sarah Palin, in her softball interview with Fox's Greta VanSusteren, calls bloggers 'kids in pajamas sitting in the basement of their parents' home".

As Pierre Eliot Trudeau once said, "I've been called worse things by better people."

I'm sitting comfortably in my own home with my laptop, reading the news online and processing how I think and feel about a particular item then finding facts to back up and refute what I'm thinking. Palin might want to rethink her media strategy if she's going to be calling bloggers by names.

Palin is making a comfortable place for herself in the Republican Party with dozens of interviews over the last couple of days. The ones who are looking bad are the McCain team. When is someone going to stand up to this woman's lies. Three times in the last two days, I've seen Palin, softshoe around the book banning issue with no forthright correction from any journalists. She says her critics claim she wanted to ban books like Harry Potter, then she goes on to state that those books weren't even published when she was Mayor of Wasilla.

Correction, Sarah. The record shows that you were in fact Mayor of Wasilla (meth capital of Alaska) from 1996 to 2002 (yay, for term limits!). My paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone (renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone for the American market) was printed in 2000 but the hardcover had been printed in the UK in 1997. The Potter phenomenon swept through the world from that moment.

'Course we could give Sarah the benefit of the doubt on this one since it was in 1996 that she first asked town librarian Mary Ellen Emmons if she would remove books from the collection. But by the next two occurrances, Harry Potter was sweeping the world. Finally the librarian left from the pressure, as did several other department heads who were sent "loyalty letters". Some left, some were fired.

Kind of reminiscent of the Bush chant, "You're either with us or ag'in us."

Palin may be adopting the newly identified tactic of the right to shun and ignore some of the press while cultivating others like Fox News. Seems to have worked for them before, let's hope the world keeps their eyes open on Sarah Palin - 2012 is not so very far off.

Imperfect Remembrance

The bugler's Last Post signals our silence while Reveille awakens us to our responsibilities. Canadians across the land will be attending Remembrance Day services this morning. Or have done so already in church or at some cenotaph services held on Sunday.

An elder veteran (86 yrs) at my church stood up to remind us of one mistake we've made all these years. He said "our memory is imperfect, as is our remembrance."

Coming from a man who has given so much in the way of leadership and philanthropy to my community and has never spoken of the war or its affect on him, the words are poignant beyond compare.

Paraphrasing, he said "Every year, we pay our respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The symbols of war are about honour, bravery and courage. We forget that many came home. Broken and wounded, some with scars that were visible, yet many with scars that were hidden."

"Their lifetime of suffering has no symbol in our Remembrance Day services. Nor does the lifetime of suffering in their families. I stand here to tell you this now having never spoken of this anguish before."

"Listen now - life after war is also a misery - the soldiers who return are not whole. My father served in the first war, I served in the second. We came home physically whole but the darkness in our spirits is evident in the pain we suffered and the pain we inflicted through every day of our lives."

"Remember this now, for the soldiers who return home to us from Afghanistan will need us now more than ever. Help them, truly help them and their families. Demand that they be helped. This is our duty now. Remember those who fell and help those who return."

Remember those who fell, but cherish and care for those who return. We asked them to act on our behalf, now it is our turn.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Finally, it's come to me!

Ever since Tuesday's election of Obama, I've been trying to think of when I've felt anything near the same emotion and excitement. My first election was in 1979 and that was not a particularly good one for my political hero, Trudeau. He did return to power in 1980 and led us well for a few more years. Once he retired, I felt we wouldn't see another charismatic leader with the intellect to comprehend the needs of Canada and Canadians.

In Montreal, I did feel that emotion again when we chose Stephane Dion. I was thrilled but this quickly turned to dismay as I watched the Liberal Party squander this man's integrity by not being there to support him wholeheartedly. I personally can't think of a single one of those leadership contenders in 2006 who deserves a shot at running again. As a grassroots Liberal, I did what I could but the powers that actually manipulate the strings did not do what they could have and certainly not what they should have. I have little stomach for the coming race.

I admired the clarity of the Green Shift plan and it made sense to me. I don't have a clue what planet the media resides on that they couldn't comprehend something so simple as shifting taxes from what we earn to what we burn. The Liberal Party did not get behind Dion and his Green Shift and we may live to regret this missed opportunity for a long time. I believe Stephane Dion would have been a great Prime Minister, if only we, the Liberal Party, had given him the chance he deserved. Personally, I'm surprised he's not bitter but instead had the grace to take a good decision for the party and the country. And he's absolutely right, we did not have the resources to properly defend his good name from the outrageous, vitrolic campaign against him which Harper initiated almost immediately. It was a shameful, pitiful lack of unity that has squandered a great leader's potential.

NOW, to get to that one other moment that I was reminded of when Obama was elected. It came to me when I was doing a mindless repetitive task, as all good ideas do. I was raking leaves and it flashed in my mind.

You might remember the day I was thinking of, yourself. Many of us were looking to the promise of Paul Martin's minority government and his ideas. One day, Martin made a profound announcement and it still sends a chill through me. I heard the announcement on the radio. His choice of Michaelle Jean to be our Governor General was nothing short of truly inspirational. Completely unexpected and out of the blue, he made the one choice that could pleasantly surprise everyone in the country.

And what a Governor General, Michaelle Jean has been too!

Video: Progressive Bloggers meet

Last Sunday's event was great fun. Garry put together a great little video of our thoughts on the American election and you can see it here:

Garry has more footage for a further video discussing Canadian politics. Watch for it in due course.