History Re-Remembered

May 22, 2017

It is said that history is written by the victors, but that is not always true. In the American south, the myth of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy has dominated text books and streetscapes for well over a hundred years. Now, in 2017, as the monuments in praise of the racists are being removed from their prominent public spaces, the mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu has given a most inspiring speech that destroys the myth and validates the clearing away of the old monuments.

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth. And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame …”

[The statues that are being removed] are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city …

So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once.

This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and, most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong.”

It is a marvelous recitation of doing the right thing for the right reasons, and it is well worth reading in full.


The De-Beautification of Vancouver Continues

May 19, 2017

Vision Vancouver’s plan to turn Vancouver into a homogenous zone of endlessly similar beige neighbourhoods of townhouses, duplexes and soaring tower clusters continues apace.

Two of the loveliest buildings that make Grandview so special are about to be lost to us.

Image: Google Streetview

The pair of cottages at 2040 and 2054 Pandora are for sale, as a pair, at $5,600,000.  There is a “potential to build up to 11 units … excellent development opportunity.” That seems to encourage demolition and the imposition of some bland modern revenue development.

Why can’t we incentivize the current owner or a purchaser to moving the houses forward on the lot, thus maintaining a heritage streetscape at that point. The incentive presumably would be the right to infill buildings behind the old houses which themselves could be renovated and made strata. A form of HRA, I guess, not unlike Jeffs Residences and the presently-being-constructed Brookhouse on Parker.

Anyway, it will be a great shame to see these houses disappear.


Reason #227 NOT to use Facebook

May 19, 2017

Because of their censorship in Malta.

Facebook has deleted four posts from a Maltese journalist and they blocked him from his FB account because — well, why is still an open question (“Facebook is investigating the circumstances of the deletions and declined to comment”).

“The posts, which were written in Maltese, contained allegations of wrongdoing by prime minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri, and minister of energy Konrad Mizzi. Each post included images of documents from the Panama Papers leak … The deletions raise questions about how Facebook moderates journalism.”

 

Sure looks as if the local  FB office wanted to protect the power elite.

Previous Reasons NOT to use Facebook.


An Evening Out With The Right People

May 16, 2017

Last night I attended a presentation by Vivian Krause, the pro-oil Harper Tory who claims the environmental movement (and much else) in Canada has been hijacked by American economic interests. She drew a decent crowd to Federico’s Supper Club on Commercial which was just about the right size for the gathering; a crowd dominated by supporters of the interchangeable BC Liberals and Federal Tories, plus a good number of anti-Vision Vancouver folks, most of whom, I would guess, support the NPA locally.

Knowing her audience, she began with a section on the foreign funding for Vision Vancouver and Gregor Robertson in particular.  However, nothing she talked about was new. Even a know-nothing like me has been writing about that Billionaire Boy’s Club for many years. Perhaps she gave a bit more detail, but nothing that could not have been inferred from what we already knew.  I have been actively seeking the demise of Vision for years and years (as a hundred or more entries in this blog will attest) but she added nothing to the argument. And, frankly, the foreign funding of Vision is the least part of their callous unpleasantness.

She then parlayed  the Tides Foundation funding of Robertson into a much wider conspiracy in which American oil interests, working through a network of supposedly “progressive” foundations (Hewlett, Rockefeller, Gates etc) , has provided “$600 million” to a large number of “Canadian” environment groups. The entire purpose of this campaign, apparently, is to make sure Alberta oil stays in North America and does not achieve a world price on the open market. She claims the environmental movement are dupes to this evil cabal and she proclaims herself shocked (and apparently horrified) that the ecological movement is highly professional and well-funded, with PR companies and copy writers and not just hippy protesters.

Finally, she expanded her thesis to encompass an entire tin-hat empire of anti-Canada conspiracy:  including the creation of huge areas of land where any form of industrialisation or farming or extraction would be completely banned. a personal attack on the editor of “Science” magazine, and an imputation that the Canada Revenue Agency is either in cahoots with this cabal or somehow otherwise too distracted to lay charges against improper charities.

This was a very one-sided presentation (or “fair and balanced” in Fox News terms) and I don’t blame her for that; it was received with great applause. It was no surprise therefore that she didn’t mention the foreign donations to the BC Liberals (in what is now just about the only jurisdiction in the world that allows political donations from outside the country) or the massive infusions of pro-oil cash from the Kansas Koch brothers who subsidise the Fraser Institute and other right-wing groups, and who now own a majority of Alberta tar sands and thus would be the major beneficiaries if Alberta could achieve higher prices — more profits for them and more price increases for us.

While I don’t really care to give someone with her views any tips, it has to be said that her presentation was a bit of a mess. It was too long, by far, and full of impenetrable spreadsheets and indistinct images of “donation cover letters” and similar material.  She began her lecture by immediately showing this kind of document without any context. She would have done much better to slow down and spend two minutes up front (and between each of the segments of her story) giving an executive summary which would have helped the audience make more sense of the documents that were to follow. And then to limit the documents she showed to those that were most relevant to her case. As it stands, it was all a bit of a mish-mash.

But I am glad I went because, as they say, you need to keep your friends close and your enemies closer.


The GW Community Plan Drones On

May 13, 2017

This afternoon, I went to the CoV Planning Open House regarding a proposed change to zoning in the core of Grandview; a change that is designed to increase density while maintaining the look and feel and livability of the central area of our neighbourhood.

I was there about 1:00pm and there were perhaps three dozen residents milling around, looking at the display boards that were set around the WISE Hall. Others kept arriving in the time I was there.  The display boards seemed to be better at communicating than some we have seen, and there seemed to be sufficient City staff available to answer questions.

The purpose of the Open House was to explain the changes being proposed for the central area of Grandview. These are changes that differ from those in the Community Plan and also differ from the proposals suggested last November.  One of the major changes is that this proposed rezoning now takes into account the City’s Character Homes Review protocol.   The following two images are, I believe, the key to the changes (select the images for a larger view).

 

I was pleased to see very detailed boards discussing the various procedures to be followed depending if a house is character or non-character, and whether or not the owner wants to demolish or expand the current property.  All of the boards are available to view at http://vancouver.ca/gw.

I’ll need some time to think about the new proposals, but I was pleased with the comprehensive nature of the displays today.


Reason #226 NOT to use Facebook

May 11, 2017

During the Presidential campaign last year, Mark Zuckerberg occasionally complained about Trump policy ideas, especially those that hurt his own business (like immigration reform).  However, FB was also a major source and platform for much of the fake news that helped swing the campaign to Trump.

There has been much talk this year that Zuckerberg will run for office in 2020. What as, one wonders. Many of Trump’s polices, such as tax reform, will do little but make Zuckerberg even richer than he already is,  and it cannot be a coincidence that he has had “multiple” telephone conversations with Trump since the inauguration.

Now, Facebook has attacked and censored a group that supports women’s right to choose by assisting them to access medical supplies (I wonder how many big pharma companies are banned from FB for promoting “drug use?)  This is music to the far-right GOP base and provides yet another reason NOT to use Facebook.

 

Previous Reasons NOT to use Facebook


Hospitals’ Lottery Tax

May 11, 2017

The BC Women’s Hospital, a wonderful institution that does work I applaud wholeheartedly, is currently conducting its annual fundraising campaign through CTV News and perhaps other avenues. We are told that our donations in this prize-giving lottery will buy equipment urgently required by the Hospital.

The question I have is this: if the equipment really is urgently required, why isn’t the Provincial government paying for it through the taxes it collects from everyone?  Why is the Hospital reliant on volunteer donors for this material?

We either have a public health system paid by us all or we don’t.

Am I missing something?