frandroid: camilo cienfuegos in a broad-rimmed hat (anarchism)
The G9 and G20 are meeting in Toronto at the end of June... If you have ideas for cool topical slogans for signs or t-shirts, my inclination to take the Friday off to protest will be much higher than if I don't sport cheap photography bait.

The future of the world rests in your hands!!
frandroid: A faroher, emblem of the Zoroastrian religion (faroher)
So we ended up going to the Toronto protest in solidarity with the Iranian protesters on Sunday. The protest was at Queen's Park from 2pm to 4pm. We ended up there around 3pm. The front lawn of the provincial parliament building was fairly occupied, I would say that there were a few thousand people. At that point, most of the speeches were either in Farsi, or badly amplified anyway, so I couldn't understand much. From time to time, there would be some people chanting "Marg bar dictator" (Down with the dictator), and "Natarsid! Natarsid! Mah hameh bah ham hastim!” (Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, We are all together!), although mostly the former. There was also a lame "Iran, Iran, Iran" cheer going on. Can't people be more original than this? Finally, very tellingly, not once did I hear Allaho Akbar.  It's good enough for the rooftops of Tehran, but Torontonian Persians seem to have better slogans than them!

You could see a fairly good contingent of socialists/communists, with signs that were more vitriolic, "Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran". One interesting thing is that even though there were tons of Iranian flags, the only version you could see was the monarchist or pre-revolutionary flag, with the lion in the centre, as opposed to the Islamic Republic's flag, with the Farsi text along the coloured borders and the swords in the centre. A lot of people had gotten t-shirts pressed or made their own t-shirts with various slogans along the lines of "Where is my vote?"

Eventually the speakers were done but many protesters decided to stay. The communists decided to do some sloganeering of their own, in complete rejection of the Islamic republic but not touting any program of their own (Other than on some flags, which said Freedom, Equality, Socialism). I accompanied them for a bit with their "Marg bar joomheira islami", "down with the terrorist state", etc. not really convinced but for the sake of yelling something, anyway. A larger part of the protest had moved further south, away from the communists, but they were also saying "Down with the islamic republic".

I thought later on that people's slogans should really have been about the elections and asking for democracy. That is the basis of what's missing in Iran. Maybe many Iranians do want to live in an Islamic republic after all? Maybe (hopefully!) not forced veiling and stoning of adulterous women, but still living under a version of Islam's moral code? Moussavi's extremely reformist statement did come from a position of trying to coopt/split security forces, and of course he is a former ultimate insider, having been the Prime Minister under Khomeini as Supreme Leader and Khamenei as President. But it also made me think that the first priority should be to have a democratic process, both at the level where you elect free parliamentarians (not supervised by an unelected veto-er) and have a free press, but also at the level of popular organization. Everything else flows from there.

The Danger of Hijacked Rallies
State-run TV in Iran is showing demonstrations in other countries such as the US, however with some serious editing. They are not broadcasting the majority of people standing and shouting in solidarity with people in Iran. Rather, they show images of demonstrators who shout, “Death to the Islamic Republic,”
In Paris on June 20, the National Council of Resistance of Iran helped bus in several thousands from all across Europe to hold a rally where the leader of NCRI, Maryam Rajavi spoke. Busing in people from out of town. sound familiar? Just today, June 21, in Washington DC, a rally organized by monarchists – though attended by many non-monarchists – featured Reza Pahlavi, the son of deposed Shah. Many sat down when he arrived, while others moved to the periphery obviously uncomfortable with his presence. Like a celebrity, he spoke for five minutes about democracy in Iran interrupted by cries of “We love you” and was ushered away. “I sensed he was being very opportunistic,” remarked an onlooker.

If one truly aims to help the people in Iran, then one should follow the people lead and not try to hijack their movement by imposing one’s own agenda. Demonstrations outside of Iran should be filled with unity, peace, and reflection for the brave Iranian people fighting for basic freedoms, and void of flags and slogans that undermine their cause with the burden of past political divisions.

After the protest, by sheer coincidence, we had to get to Finch station to get something else. That part of the city is home to many Iranian businesses, so we decided to go try Persian food. There were many people driving around, having decked their cars with many monarchist flags, honking and cheerfully yelling out loud. It felt more like a world cup match victory celebration than a worried protest in support of brave Iranians facing off against the Basij. Some of these seemed to have made it quite well in life, driving cars that I can't afford.


Now that Ayatollah Khamenei has become inexorably connected to Ahmadinejad’s power grab, many clerics are coming around to the idea that the current system needs to be changed. Among those who are now believed to be arrayed against Ayatollah Khamenei is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shi’a cleric in neighboring Iraq. Rafsanjani is known to have met with Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s representative in Iran, Javad Shahrestani.

A reformist website, Rooyeh, reported that Rafsanjani already had the support of nearly a majority of the Assembly of Experts, a body that constitutionally has the power to remove Ayatollah Khamenei. The report also indicated that Rafsanjani’s lobbying efforts were continuing to bring more clerics over to his side. Rafsanjani’s aim, the website added, is the establishment of a leadership council, comprising of three or more top religious leaders, to replace the institution of supreme leader. Shortly after it posted the report on Rafsanjani’s efforts to establish a new collective leadership, government officials pulled the plug on Rooyeh.

Meanwhile, the Al-Arabiya satellite television news channel reported that a "high-ranking" source in Qom confirmed that Rafsanjani has garnered enough support to remove Ayatollah Khamenei, but an announcement is being delayed amid differences on what or who should replace the supreme leader. Some top clerics reportedly want to maintain the post of supreme leader, albeit with someone other than Ayatollah Khamenei occupying the post, while others support the collective leadership approach.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Rosie DiManno coming out on the right side of the Tamil struggle.

Thomas Walkom's lame column: Tangled theology of terrorism  - Since when Rosie DiManno make more sense than Walkom?

Terrorism is a tactic, not an end. Throughout history, armed groups – from the Jewish Irgun in British-controlled Palestine to Nelson Mandela's African National Congress in South Africa to Hamas in Gaza – have employed terror.
Sorting out right from wrong in the decades-old Sri Lankan civil war is an impossible task. Both sides have committed atrocities. The LTTE, which invented the modern practice of suicide bombing, is criticized by Amnesty International for recruiting of child soldiers.
Here in Toronto, I sense that most public and media sympathy is with the Tamils. And why not? War is horrible. But we should understand that the alternative to Sri Lanka's civil war is another attempt at some kind of negotiated settlement with terrorists. That doesn't bother me. But it will bother those who are theological about such matters.

"Doesn't bother me," eh?  That's a strange formulation.  I'm also flabbergasted by his guess that "most public and media sympathic is with the Tamils"...  There was no media coverage, let alone sympathy, until very recently.  The Star's been pretty good so far though, other than in their unsigned editorials, but who reads these?

Ontario Liberals worry of losing Tamil-heavy ridings to the NDP

As protesters rallied at Queen's Park, the Tamils' plight dominated the weekly Liberal caucus meeting, with MPPs urging Premier Dalton McGuinty to support a politically loyal community.

Behind closed doors Tuesday, MPP after MPP reminded the premier that the 200,000-strong Tamil community has long backed the Liberals, voting en masse and volunteering in campaigns.

"If we're not careful, there are at least five ridings we could lose if the Tamils go over to the NDP. ... They work very hard for us," warned one MPP.

McGuinty urges Ottawa to act on Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan shelling of hospital kills 50 as aides hide in bunkers

Tamil rally spills into streets

Thousands of defiant Tamils and their supporters once again clogged downtown roads and brought traffic to a standstill as a daylong protest spilled into the streets from Queen's Park late yesterday.

And for the first time, signs of blatant anti-Tamil sentiments emerged in the form of an aircraft that circled the Legislature for 20 minutes dragging a sign that read: "Protect Canada Stop Tamil Tigers!"

The message incensed the large crowd and gave the police some tense minutes just before 4 p.m.

"It's not a smart thing to do," said Staff Insp. Don Campbell of the circling aircraft. "All it's doing is fuelling the crowd. It's inciting them."

About 60 anti-Tamil protesters on a footbridge spanning the Don Valley Parkway north of Gerrard St. held a similar banner in the evening. They said a wealthy local Sinhalese who wants to remain anonymous paid for the airplane and the two banners, but they denied links to the Sri Lankan government.

Tamil protest winds down peacefully and some Toronto Sinhalese start stirring shit up:

Members of Toronto's Sri Lankan community used a banner pulled behind a plane in the sky and a banner and placards over the Don Valley Parkway today to express their fear the Tamil community will bring Tamil Tiger violence to Canada.

"We want Toronto to be safe. The Tamil Tigers are controlling the Sri Lankan community in Canada and their agenda is the only one being heard. We feel we are being controlled," said Kumar Gunasekera, one of about 50 people who waved placards and hung a banner over the Don Valley footbridge to Riverdale during this evening's rush hour.

The airplane pulling another banner circled over the huge Queen's Park demonstration, enraging the protesters crowded there. The banners read: "Protect Canada - Stop the Tamil Tigers." The demonstrators at the Don Valley bridge said they represent more than 50,000, until now, silent Sinhalese Canadians. "What should be of real concern is the 1,000 cadres of Tamil Tigers in the GTA and the violence we have yet to see here," he added.

The bridge demonstrators were members of the Sri Lankan Youth of Canada and the Sir Lankan United National Association.They said today's airplane message was paid for by private citizens, and neither the Sri Lankan government nor consulate in Toronto. "We only hear one side of the story and it is the Tamil agenda," said Eranga De-Zoysa, a Ryerson architectural science student."They have ruined their motherland and now that Canada has offered them shelter they are ruining it here," added his mother Badra De-Zoysa.

The banners and placards urged Canadians to not accept the Tamil Tiger agenda and not cave into terrorism.

frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
Joe Fiorito: Sometimes price of freedom is gloriously inconvenient. Another good column in the Star profiling some of the Tamil protesters. I think the "they're not Tamil, they're Canadian" premise a little facetious (why not say "also" Canadian?), but Fiorito only has the best of intentions. hat tip to [ profile] culpster.

Read the whole article here )


Apr. 23rd, 2009 08:04 am
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
I missed the final Habs game yesterday. I'm glad I did. Who are these imbeciles who throw bottles of water at their team, who boo their own team? What kind of smallness of mind is this? Solidarity is not about showing your support to your team only when it wins or only when it has puck possession!

At the complete other end of things, I didn't see the Habs game because we were at the Toronto FC game. Toronto FC is the city's Major League Soccer club, the professional North American league, the same league David Beckham kinda plays in when he feels like it. The Toronto fans are known for being the loudest and most supportive in the entire league; probably the only team that has vast delegations travel to other cities to support their team. Now their support is so good that it actually becomes close to meaningless. I was in Section 127, which is inhabited by fan group North End Elite. The chanting was so constant that it actually distracted from the game, and even when the play came in our favour there would be rather little cheering until you basically had a player kicking the ball towards the net. One of the section's cheerleaders spent 95% of his time looking away from the game, facing the section and leading the chants. F really captured the essence: "This feels more like choir practice than a soccer game." The other problem is that our seats were too low... We spent most of the second half in seats 10 rows higher, away from the cheerleaders and with a better view on the game. That helped.

During the first season, the team was so mediocre that I think it went for something like three games without scoring a single goal. Maybe the fans are not used to having a team that completes plays yet? Because yesterday, TFC's defense was pretty good, and Deporto Chivas USA, the (other) L.A. team facing Toronto, never quite had a chance.
frandroid: camilo cienfuegos in a broad-rimmed hat (anarchism)
Listening to an old Spitboy CD... They are as good as ever. Woman-fronted hardcore bands just rock.

Incidentally, I was sporting a Submission Hold t-shirt over the weekend when I went to the Toronto Anarchist Gathering, and a friend asked me: "Do you actually like Submission Hold, or do you just like the idea of it?" After admitting to liking the band, this friend told me she was in the latter camp, since she can't stand Jen's voice. I thought that was a hilarious idea, liking "the idea of a band" but not the band itself.

The Anarchist Gathering itself was a low-key but good affair. I missed most of the workshops, as I went later in the afternoon. A whole lot of people were attending the Indigeous solidarity workshop, which I decided to skip on to browse books instead. I bought books from the This Ain't the Rosedale Library table, but I haggled them down because they were trying to pass damaged/used/marked down books at retail prices. I bought a collection of Ulrike Meinhof's writing, amongst other things.

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I just noticed that the "tags" field in the LJ posting interface has an autocomplete feature, looking up your past tags. That's pretty cool. I wish my browser plugin with which I usually post with (Deepest Sender) would do that. I does allow me to browse my tags, though.

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I tweaked with the CSS today in typepad for my work blog and it was the most interesting thing I did all week. And I'm not bashing my work, I actually like doing CSS.

JOE!! If you're still swearing at CSS for the new tabnet setup, let me handle it!!!

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I've decided to make a weekly trip to the used CD store close to my place. I feel like I'm jumping back 10 years in time.
frandroid: INGSOC logo, from Orwell's 1984 (ingsoc)
One of the escalators at Union Station has been under repair for over a week now, which drastically constraints stairway traffic flow in the morning. There doesn't seem to be anything happening at all. The steps are gone. Are the steps being cleaned at another facility? If that is the case, how is it that this very busy escalator is allowed to remained unusable for such a long period of time? I might be crazy, but it might make sense for the TTC to buy an extra set of escalator stairs to put in place when one set is being taken to the cleaners.

Forever Yours,
--[Frandroid Atreides]
frandroid: large crowd of indian women (south asia)
6pm, Thursday. I don't have other details right now, and I won't be there myself since I'll be working, but there you go, Torontonians.
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)

More potential gaudy madness for Toronto

Thankfully, this is only some architects' rendition of a project of theirs, which they dubbed a "river of light", but seriously, enough with the Vegasification of Toronto already? The Rogers Centre, the CN Tower and now this? ACK. Don't they remember how the fashion for neon coloured clothing came... and went?
frandroid: "There's always room for tentacle porn!" Some sort of squid is grabbing the leg of a lightly clad girl with a tentacle (always room)
New Condo owners are killing College Street.

While I've lived on Clinton, really close to the heart of it, and not really enjoying the scene (or should I say, the "be-seen"), I didn't call the cops trying to shut the bars down. I moved elsewhere.

Last year, I think it was [ profile] gordonzola that was posting an article about new condo owners moving into the Castro district in SF and complaining about some sex shop... like hello, gay district, if you don't like the gay, don't move in the gay. Same with College.

I also understand that there are a lot of people from outside the area that come there to have fun, but so what? These people knew the deal when they bought their units.

I was going to talk about gentrification, but I'm not even sure this is what this is... Maybe it's regentrification? I mean it's long been gentrified, but this is different. I guess eventually all this will be pushed to Queen West, unless the "Bohemian Embassadors" manage to close down the Drake and the Gladstone, or something.

Anyway, did I mention that even though I've live all but 2 weeks out of my 7 years in Toronto within walking distance of it, that I've loved the Cloak and Dagger when I went to it? It's on College but not in the aforementioned area, it's closer to Kensington market... Nice tiny Irish bar. Tons of good beers on tap, like 24 or something. I'm open to go there with anyone.

I need a Toronto icon. Does anyone have ideas?
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
From the height of our 20th floor apartment, in spite of the new condo tower they're building right in front of me, I can see the CN Tower when I lean to my left. If you didn't know, the CN tower has changed its lighting: instead of projectors on the ground beaming white light on it, it is now covered with a ton of LEDs.

What would have been a sensible thing to do would have been to use the LEDs just to replace the ground lighting with white LEDs and save a lot of electricity. Instead, they installed a programmable, multicoloured matrix that allows for complex lighting. Now, this would be interesting if:
1) LED lights were available in an interesting palette of colours, and
2) these guys knew what they were doing.

Of course, LED technology is still limited, and you get these weird, cold colours. If you have paid any attention to the new LED christmas lighting, esp. side by side with the traditional incandescent technology, you will have noticed that LED lighting, while potentially brighter, is also much colder. Some people like this, but I find it atrocious. White LEDs are actually kinda grey, and the blue LEDs remind me of cold metal, which is not something I associate with the holiday season (except for "yes, sticking your tongue on the freezing shovel is a good idea!"). I mean, I love the 90% energy consumption decrease, and have replaced my own "festive" lightbulbs with LEDs. But they are somewhat lacking anyway.

So, they stuck probably a million LEDs or something on the CN Tower, and what do they do with them? Most of the time, the tower is a pink shade of red. It makes the tower look like a space outpost on Star Trek: TNG on an episode where the SFX team was having its Christmas party and they let the interns take care of the work. I mean, the CN Tower already looks like spacecraft, but this lighting makes matters worse. It looks like a giant popsicle. Now, do you want your city's nightscape to be dominated by a giant popsicle? The SkydomeRogers Centre has already started being illuminated by an awful set of colours, but that building is hidden from me by another apartment tower, so it doesn't irritate me as often as the CN Tower does.

So, that was the situation so far. But as I bid F good night on the stroke of midnight, I actually looked outside, and the tower was throbbing with red and green light. It was spectacularly ugly. It looked like a sea anemone, but anemones actually look good: this was nasty. The light show came back on around 1am, so I guess it happens every hour. I wish it was some sort of ride at the CNE or something, and that it would go next week. But we're stuck with this thing now. Check it out, tell me that you aren't stunned...
frandroid: camilo cienfuegos in a broad-rimmed hat (camilo)

File size 1.3MB Adobe Acrobat PDF document format
This Easter, the chocolate industry cannot guarantee our chocolate is Traffik Free.

Nearly half the world's chocolate is made from cocoa grown in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa.

The 2000 US State Department Human Rights report said "It is estimated that some 15,000 Malian children work on Ivorian cocoa and coffee plantations. Many are under 12 years-of-age, sold into indentured servitude for $140, and work 12-hour days for $135 to $189 per year."

They are trafficked into forced labour so we can eat chocolate.

"I will tell you how I lost my arm. I tried to escape, but I could not. They caught me and tied me to a papaya tree and they beat me and broke my arm. From here my life was ruined."
Anonymous. Personal Interview, Côte d'Ivoire. Dec. 2005. ILRF (International Labour Rights Fund)

A young boy called Victor trafficked from Mali said:
"Tell your children that they have bought something that I suffered to make. When they are eating chocolate they are eating my flesh."

We have the power to help Victor and the thousands of children like him.

Change your buying habits. By eating Fairtrade chocolate we can guarantee that no trafficked labour has been used in its production. Use the STOP THE TRAFFIK Good Chocolate Guide
to find out which chocolate is Traffik Free.

What do we want the chocolate companies to do? Give us a Traffik Free Guarantee on all their chocolate.

STOP THE TRAFFIK, is a global coalition of organisations working together to fight against people trafficking.


Please send all queries and responses to

[With thanks to [ profile] msnoemi]

In Toronto a new shop has opened, which sells "horizontally traded" chocolate, which they say is even better than Fair Trade. You can also drink a cup of hot chocolate on location, it's delish. ChocoSol is located in the basement of that old church at 720 Bathurst and Lennox, where they share space with that Sprouts store.

ETA: Indian in 30-year 'bonded labour' for 40kg of rice


Jan. 25th, 2007 03:38 am
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)
fuck this city of wimps up the ass: Toronto issued a cold alert. Get this: temperatures on Wed dropped down to... -13°C! It might even get down to -19°C tomorrow! Horror and damnation! We might have to put on an extra layer of clothing! There are no risks of rapid freeze burns!

Now that's family support! Families from both sides encouraged rape victim to marry her rapist! And I thought Madhya Pradesh wasn't such a backwards state... :P

Protests to become more heated up: U.S. unveils new heat-ray gun. Can we use mirrors to point it back at them?


frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (Default)

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