As the Earth passes through its Milankovitch cycles, so does the world of us social creatures and how we regard our home. Here are some recent media highlights that we hope are of interest to you.

Vancouver Olympics

Bronze Medal for the Olympics: David Suzuki Foundation

Have you been watching the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? The David Suzuki Foundation has and has awarded the landmark athletic games with a Bronze Medal for their environmental performance. Grist magazine gives the skinny on the green and brown of Vancouver and the Olympics.

Arrests have been made in Vancouver of those protesting the Olympics. Protesters are resisting the games based on the notion that it is being held on stolen Native land. To demystify these resistance efforts, please read this article, which was written before the protests began.

Some of the reasons that the Olympics are facing resistance include colonialism and fascism, ecological destruction, the impact on women, criminalization of the poor, public debt and corporate invasion.

Ethical Shopping

Last week marked the launching of a new on-line ethical business called Ethical Ocean.


“Ethical Ocean is an online ethical marketplace aiming to increase the awareness and consumption of ethical products and services in North America. Our goal is to transform the market by connecting buyers and sellers through one easily-navigated website that amasses every type of ethical product imaginable.”

For local ethical shopping, please visit your local environmental cooperative stores. The Coop la Maison Verte is located near Vendome metro and the Coop du Grand Orme is in Saint Anne de Bellevue.

I hate this greeting card company created “holiday.” This is a day where my lackluster lack of lust is rubbed in my face. Repeatedly. The greeting card industry, the chocolate industry and the Flower industry all get rich off the backs of henpecked husbands, boyfriends and even children, everywhere.

I know it was yesterday but I can’t not at least acknowledge this corporate holiday, commemorating the ambush of businessmen whose business had been suddenly outlawed by police with many casualties on both sides.

I admit, I side with Capone on this one, even if I made up my mind according to the movies and television programs I’ve seen about it and whichever bias those programs may have had. I know that Al Capone was a liquor runner and a ruthless gangster. He was also a much misunderstood businessman in the liquor trade, which was soon outlawed.

Of course, prohibition didn’t work. Men like Al Capone and his ilk proved that. Neither does the “new prohibition,” which serves the current gangs with income by making illegal and well known various drugs that would otherwise not be in our current culture, in part because the thrill of breaking the law wouldn’t be there and largely because most people wouldn’t know these drugs even exist!

The truth is, before the 1930’s, when marijuana was first outlawed, very few people in North America had even ever heard of it. Hemp was known as a useful plant which could be used to make strong ropes and canvas. The cotton industry soon lobbied to have THAT competing fibre outlawed (prior to the outlawing of it, many farmers were REQUIRED to grow hemp for military use)!

Because of this, marijuana grew wild all over North America from seeds carried in the wind during the dustbowls, among other things. Corporate greed strikes at me again!

Then, there’s the Olympics. Cursed from the first as well it should be. The line of fire which of course shut out the homeless, the poor and all the small mom and pop businesses in the area in favour of the big corporate sponsors who tout the Olympics like it’s a GOOD thing!

What a load of crap! Encourage competitiveness in children so that those children who are weaker, remain so until they become infirmed and poor and go crazy trying to cope in a world they must struggle very hard to survive in.

And why don’t we go back to the original rules of the Olympics from ancient Greece? Those athletes should all be required to compete completely naked, without equipment if it is worn. Imagine downhill skiing competition like that! Or the Olympic Hockey tournaments! Yowch!

Also, there isn’t enough blood in Olympic sport anymore. No competitions between slaves and lions, or gladiators, or whatever else the ancient Romans made slaves fight.

All I’m saying is that figureskating would be a lot more popular among straight guys if it was a bloodsport to the death. I mean, come on, the skaters are already wearing blades…

Kidding aside, the I have no love for the Olympics on Valentine’s Day.*

*or any other day for that matter

I recently saw an ad on television for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.   The ad consisted of a line of fire driving across Canada.   It was supposed to be the Olympic torch-flame, but I see the line of fire in a different light.

In my view, a line of fire is something to be avoided, as it is deadly.   Of course, it is fitting if you are a native, who’s land was stolen out from under them for this event, or were homeless and living in Vancouver.   Protesters, of course, will be re-routed and any company who displays their commercial sign will be ordered to take it down and fined if they’re not a sponsor.

Wait a minuite here.   What if you own… say, a Bakery.   Your sign is painted in your window and has been for years.   Say you’re not doing that well.   Of course you can’t afford to “sponsor” the Olympics… So you’re no longer allowed to display your sign as it is now illegal?

This smacks of fascism.   The kind of fascism that was enforced heavily in the province of Quebec around the time of the ’76 Olympics and since.   Does bill 178, or bill 101 ring a bell?

It also reminds me of the ghettos of Poland during and immediately following the great depression.   Everyone was crammed into these ghettos, publicly humiliated further by being forced to wear identifying badges and treated very badly in general by the local government.

So the Olympics, also being a major corporation, are hiring federal police out like some sort of Gestapo.   OK, perhaps the Olympics are somewhat Mafia like as well.   Come to think of it, it’s a good thing we have freedom of speech in this country, or else I might be kidnapped, jailed, tortured or even murdered simply for writing this.

After reading a recent FTB article about the interrogation of a certain journalist at the border because of fear that she would speak about the Olympics, I find the claim that it is a matter of national security to be very troubling.   This tells me that our inalienable right to freedom of speech is only an illusion, along with our other rights and freedoms!

What’s to stop the corporations from actually killing people who oppose their views, or don’t buy their products at exorbitant prices?   What a disappointment the 21st century has turned out to be.

The Olympics claim to be a force to bring countries together.   The truth is it is a bitter competition between countries and often the cause and target of terrorism.   In fact, I hate to say this, but it must be said, the Olympics DESERVE to be terrorized.

The athletes are simply an innocent product.   Yes, Olympic athletes are merely the product that the Olympic corporation produces.   The real people who deserve to be terrorized are the judges, COOs,   CEOs and other official officers.

But I digress. Perhaps I’m getting a little carried away here, but I always did hate the Olympics.

Whether you see the Olympics as a celebration of sport or an excuse to round up the homeless and steal native land, one thing is certain: the Olympics is, at its core, a brand, pure and simple.   Like most brands, there is the risk of brand damage.   Unlike most brands, it appears protecting this one from damage has become an issue of national security.

Amy Goodman interviewed after being detained at the border (photo CBC)

On Thursday, Democracy Now host Amy Goodman, a well-respected American journalist, was headed to British Columbia to promote her new book Breaking the Sound Barrier.   She was planning on speaking about Canada’s health care system, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the global economic meltdown and climate change.

She told all that to the border guards who had pulled her over and grilled her for more than an hour as other guards searched through her two colleagues’ computers.   They didn’t seem to care.   What they really wanted to know, she told CBC news, is whether or not she was going to say something about the Olympics.

She wasn’t planning on it and eventually the guards let her through, but with a document ordering her to leave Canada the next morning.   She was required to present it when she left as proof of her departure.   This seems like quite a bit of trouble to go through for someone who is clearly not a security risk, but rather a journalist who was invited to speak.

While she hadn’t planned on talking about the games (in fact she thought the question the guard posed to her had to do with Barack Obama’s recent attempt to bring the Olympics to Chicago), what if she had?   What difference would that make?   Even if she was going to make a statement against the Vancouver games, it is her right to do so as it is anyone’s right to criticize any brand.

Is protecting this brand a matter of national security? Some think so (photo CBC)

You wouldn’t know it, though, by the way authorities have been acting lately in Vancouver.   The annual March for Missing and Murdered Women risks being rerouted to ensure flow of Olympic traffic and police have been accused of intimidating protest groups in advance of the games.

It was revealed that the RCMP-led Integrated Security Unit, which incorporates elements of the local police and even members of the Canadian military, is enforcing a restriction on “illegal signs” within view of Olympic venues.   While the City of Vancouver recently said they would consider altering their bylaw so it clearly states that only commercial signs of non-sponsors would be targeted instead of anti-Olympic messages, it still leaves us with the question of why the RCMP is doing this at all.

Protecting the physical safety of the people attending, participating in, volunteering or working for the games is important and a valid use of the police.   Given the large number or people this event is expected to attract, involving the army, RCMP and even border guards makes sense.

However, protecting the Olympic brand from detractors who seek to discredit it or damage its public reputation, or, to be fair, from opportunistic marketers hoping to bandwagon jump, is not a matter of national, local or even personal security.   It’s a matter of corporate public relations.