Category Archives: Steam Rising Rants

Rants

Googles move to combat child pornography is corporate responsibility

When I heard about Google finally taking a greater step towards eradicating child pornography from the Internet I thought…”It’s about time.” Google’s official blog outlines their commitments and the proposed millions being spent to clean up their very large corner of the Internet market is welcomed by the majority of its users. It isn’t that Google hasn’t been trying to do something. It partnered with other tech companies to form the Technology Coalition in 2006 which set out to develop technology that would help end child exploitation. However, more is needed to close a porthole to the worst forms of human exploitation.

The anonymity factor has proved highly attractive to those who wish to peruse the Internet or order porn from the comfort of their home. The internet in particular allowed men who previously would have had very little options to view child pornography to all of a sudden seek and find all the imagery they needed. The pornography industry in general grew to unprecedented levels reaching a wider audience and obtaining an even younger demographic. It goes without saying that the proliferation of pornography on the Internet is astounding but so too is its appearance through cable networks.

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Food Waste at Restaurants

Disgusted, angry and privileged were the feelings that arose as my lunch order was placed in front of me. I was in Kona, Hawaii, dining at the Kona Brewing Company restaurant. It is the last day of our trip so we decided to check out this well reviewed place. I ordered a side Caesar salad with a side of diced chicken. When my order arrives I was shocked! Piled high on a platter, not on a plate but a huge platter, was my salad. It was so heaping that when I went to take my first bite, pieces of chicken toppled onto the table. I confirmed with the sever that this was indeed the right order. Immediately I felt my blood boil and said to my husband, “This is not a side salad this is a meal for two!”

stock-photo-3590898-after-the-meal[1]North American’s waste so much food and this is never more evident to me than when I travel in the United States. I have had a lot of conversations with fellow Canadians about the differences between our portions and the portions in US establishments. It seems as if people associate quality with quantity which is most often not the greatest indicator of good food. My anger rose as I knew I would never be able to finish this meal and half of what was harvested and prepared would land straight in the garbage.

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Vacation to India: Why we need screen out welfare cheats in Canada

True story:

Recently a woman walked in to a BC Employment and Assistance office in Surrey. She asked if she could have an advance on her December, January and February cheques so that she could go on vacation to India.

Now, if you are like me, you are probably going to be pretty peeved that she would think it is OK for us taxpayers to pay for her vacation. You and I are also not naive enough to think this is the only case of someone trying to use the system as their own personal piggy bank.

The BC Ministry site states: Eligibility for BC Employment and Assistance programs is based  on your income and assets. The ministry has a responsibility to ensure that its limited resources go to those people who need them most. I might be going out on a limb here but I’m thinking this woman needs a refresher course on just what the assistance programs are designed for.

The minute she asked for that advance I would hope her file was forwarded to another department for screening. They should be checking her assets again and following up with her for the next three months in person to make sure that she has not found a way to take off to India. Why? Because if she is able to travel for 14 – 23 hours by plane to see family and friends then she has the ability to sit through a training program or get a job. Simply put…”You have three months before your cheque is cut off.”

I have all the compassion in the world for those who need help and have given my time, energy and money willingly but I am no stranger to cheats. In my capacity counseling, facilitating workshops and coordinating an employment program, I have come across some people who appeared to be less than honest about their needs. I have seen the files of chronic users of the system who have deep roots in entitlement, laziness, fear, lack of self esteem and a generational or cultural learned dependence. Fear and self esteem can be worked through but those that feel we owe them something can take a little more convincing.

What bothers me most is that these people who fraudulently take money from the system, give all of those who genuinely need assistance a bad name. We have to screen out as many of the welfare cheats as possible. We also need to stop bringing in people to this Province who require more than we have to give. When you have stats that place BC # 2 in Canada for child poverty then I think it is high time we protect and redirect resources to where they are needed.

It disgusts me to think how many people right now are collecting their cheque and like this woman are planning to spend it on nothing that falls under the category of shelter, food, health or job search.

 

 

 

 

Vancouver Rioters meet Restorative Justice?

How open would you be to using restorative justice as part of the consequences for trashing the city of Vancouver?

One of the recent ideas from a forum held at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver was to use restorative justice as a way of dealing with the criminals that put our city under siege after the Stanley Cup game. They looted stores, damaged property, assaulted citizens and kept residents and store workers barricaded in buildings fearing for their safety.

I don’t know that I am able to go to restorative justice at this time, maybe never. Tell me, what will be the outcome through this type of justice?

Making reparations to the citizens of Vancouver through what?..Garbage pick up?… Hey, law-abiding citizens already did that for them. Volunteering in a community centre?…Wow! That’s showing them to think twice about participating in such a senseless act again. Paying for damages with either their cash or parents help? Great! They can do just that after they complete some jail time, appropriate to their crime, as money shouldn’t be the sole way out of this mess.

I figure, given the choice to participate in restorative justice or face jail time almost all of those arrested would say “Yes” to a facilitated meeting of the minds.

Who is going to support this very voluntary meeting? Trained facilitators, of course, who are ‘sensitive to both victim and offender.’ A representative of our community…really?? By all accounts, the community is pretty irate about what happened, they want stiff penalties, they want jail time, they want out of pocket consequences, they want real justice! But, what is real justice? I don’t know anymore. It seems every time I turn around people are trying to get me to buy into some warm and fuzzy way of handling people who commit crimes that have a substantial impact on our life or community.

Do you think I care how this will impact some young guys life; a criminal record impeding his future? No, I do not. Do you think I mind that he may have to spend some time in a jail cell noticing the difference between freedom and incarceration; devoid of access to his precious possessions? No, I do not. Do you think I care if he has shame attached to his name in the coming months or years? No, I do not. These are the “real” consequences of breaking laws. Least they were at one time.

But, it’s not just our way of dealing with this particular issue that has changed. We are finding many ways to shirk responsibility and raise our middle finger to accountability. Now, we don’t fail people even when they can’t read. Now, we give a kid multiple chances to repeat the same behaviour without implementing a stitch of punishment. Now, we provide umpteen opportunities to a person who should have been fired from the job a long time ago because of fear of reprisal. Now, we watch with intense curiosity through the lens of our camera’s every aspect of life and crime as we know it and feel no obligation to step in and jump on the side of goodness and decency. (except when prompted by collective outrage that’s then posted on social networking sites) Now, we are expected to consider the feelings of these offenders, hear their story and reach out through respectful dialogue.

It’s all too much to ask of me!

I have spent most of my life helping people and I believe in the merits of some interventions that are creative in their approach to counsel and justice but even I am too far gone to get from riot to restorative justice. I just can’t do it! Can you?

Using Social Media to indentify criminals in Vancouver riot

In the aftermath of last night’s post Stanley Cup game riot concerned citizens of Vancouver are using social media to rally the troupes for clean up and catch the criminals that destroyed parts of our city.

People throughout British Columbia are getting on Facebook offering to come down to the city to help with the clean up. Others started as soon as areas were cleared and spent the night removing the debris that littered the streets. With all the snapping of cameras by the mostly youthful participants in this turmoil some savvy media experts are collecting what they posted of themselves and copying them to their sites to assist police in identification.

For some who are now sober enough to figure out the fact that they uploaded their images to Facebook, YouTube etc., their morning has been spent trying to quickly take the pictures down.  Dave Teixeira has created a site to capture the images and videos from anyone wanting to forward their pictures for police use, his website www.canucksriot2011.com has crashed many times as a result and at last check was still not up and running. Vancouver Fans Riot blogs are everywhere with links to even more pictures that we can only hope will bring some assistance to our police.

Look we all know this can happen when you gather thousands of fans but up to this point the city held various similar events throughout the series with no incidents. The Olympics was a shining example of what this beautiful city could accomplish in gathering people for fun times.

It is truly sad that so many participated in this event, not moving on, not choosing to be lawful, loving the spotlight placed on them as they danced on top of burning cars and celebrated as one more window smashed open to a vulnerable store. As much as it has become cool to document everyone’s movements, to be forever looking through a camera lens on devices cradled in the palm of their hands this is one time when maybe all this need to be seen will turn against them and some will find themselves in a courtroom instead of on our street!

(Glad I’m the parent of any of those idiots or I would turn em in myself and if they still lived under my roof they would come home with all their treasured items trashed…justice/discipline can be swift in some homes)

Stealing Handicap Parking Permits

A whole new breed of losers are roaming around looking for vehicles with handicap parking permits dangling from the mirrors. Police in Vancouver are now having to keep their eyes open for handicap permit thieves who break in, take the permits and presumably sell them to other unscrupulous people.

It is purely despicable that anyone targets citizens who already have challenges in life but isn’t it awful that someone else is willing to pay to receive a decal that will allow them to park closer to buildings. There really can’t be any other benefit to receiving the permit and that just annoys me!

It is bad enough there are individuals who use the parking stalls without a permit. Have you ever watched someone pull into a handicap spot without a decal and think “what an ***.” It is not right to take that spot if they are not disabled I don’t care how in a hurry they think they are. My sister relies on handicap parking for her van that is equipped with a ramp for my niece. At my nieces school there is a parent who on more the one occasion has  taken up that space to pick up her non-disabled child. That woman is lucky I’m not there, my patience is short for people like that.

Maybe the Vancouver police can use a bait car that helps catch these guys and anyone who is found to have a permit that didn’t belong to them should be fined heavily and publically humiliated. Post their picture and name in the paper for all of us to know. If they drive impound their vehicle for a term.

It is truly tragic that thieves always find new ways to rip society off but they will always be here and so will the buyers of stolen goods. Sad isn’t it?

Françoise Raunet on CKNW

The Green Party had their candidate for the Vancouver Point Grey riding part of a by-election debate on the radio station CKNW. As a person who has both voted Green and donated in the past, I was embarrassed to hear this woman speak. Any debater will tell you that it is imperative to be PREPARED for the debate by researching the crap out of the issue or issues; know your argument and have a strong position. Instead we received from Francoise Raunet a very weak showing that demonstrated little to persuade voters to vote Green.

When I went to the BC Greens website they referred to an accelerated nomination process that obviously propelled Ms. Raunet forward to candidacy but after listening I strongly felt that was a mistake! Though, I admire her willingness to be part of this debate (unlike Christy Clark of the Liberal party who was a no show) and I applaud Reaunet’s desire to serve in politics, she failed miserably. I can only hope her skills will mature; otherwise this may be a short lived career.

One of the hottest issues to hit this Province over the last two years, I’m speaking about the HST, turned out to be difficult for Ms. Raunet as she wasn’t even clear about her own position. She stated “Um, actually the Green Party, um is in favour of it, personally I’m not sure how I feel about it,  I’m not a tax expert”…she then goes on to say that “as a consumer it really bugs me that my haircut cost more than it used too.” She used words like “maybe”, “I’m not sure.” What the…?! Then to add insult to injury she chimes in, right in the middle of a “so called debate”, to let listeners know she has just checked the Green Party website to clarify they will be having a meeting next week to address the divide on the HST issue. HUGE miss in legitimizing her presence at this debate.

If there were any facts that listeners didn’t already know about the Green Party position on the various topics posed, she failed to include them. Conversely, when she spoke about her assessment that the “Environment needs to be at the centre of Government” she flowed well but “Guess What Ms. Raunet? We already know that is the foundation of your platform.” Valuable time was therefore spent adding to the perception that the Green’s are only a one issue party, which had it solely been an environmental debate she would have come across very knowledgeable. However, we need more information about their opinion on other matters.

Looking at her bio, this is a well educated woman, who has a solid history living in the Vancouver-Point Grey community. Clearly being educated is not an indicator that one can speak to the people effectively. It is entirely possible that with proper training from the party and more concrete preparation on the issues she could have pulled together a strong presentation for listeners. Instead she sounded like an idealistic girl who needed her laptop to confirm what she was talking about.

If I sound tough on Francoise Raunet and the BC Green’s decision to put forth this candidate, in this riding, up against the Premier Christy Clark, I am tough on this! I despise weakness brought on solely by lack of preparedness for something of great importance. You are representing a party, your riding and potentially the Province of BC, though we know that is a massive long shot. Know your parties stuff inside and out, give voters more than the standard enviromental speak, we already know that is where you stand! Use the valuable air time to get in as much as you can about the rest of your platform or at least have a strategy as to how you are going to stand out, positively and powerfully in a debate.

What the Green’s don’t do well is share the other benefits of voting for their party when they have an opportunity to do so. This was it, free air time folks! Put your best foot forward! Don’t send in somebody without at least addressing the question “Are they fully prepared for the questions?” It was lucky she was in good company, the rest of the candidates didn’t sound much better. In fact, a couple sounded like they may have smoked something before the show started.

I want to support a party like this one to grow, not because the environment is my agenda but because I want to see new faces, hear new voices and be swayed by innovative thinking. I don’t care what the name of the party is I care about seeing that all the social and economic issues are properly addressed and that I have an honest, strong, inclusive, open person representing our great Province.

The Green Party needs to recruit someone who understands their ideals and can train their candidates to stand up straight, speak with conviction and knowledge on all the issues concerning British Columbian’s today and for God sake get a backbone!

This is BC politics not a popularity contest for Class President!

If you want to listen to CKNW audio vault of this debate go to the link 1pm May 6, 2011.

BC Green Party Website

Lara Logan – Facing the Fear

As I listened to Lara Logan on 60 Minutes this week, graphically describe the gang rape she experienced at the hands of brutal Egyptian men, I realized I was forgetting to breathe. I took a breath. As she spoke about the injuries she sustained from the attacks, that could have killed her, I became aware my muscles were tense. I released the tension. When Lara described the moment she chose to fight, to live for her children, I felt a twinge of strength. I chose to harness it. When she stated that she was not going to be defined by the act against her, I heard a voice inside say “No you won’t be defined by this, you will face the fear!”

In breaking the code of silence surrounding her own rape she may well have freed others who stay silent; especially those that have felt compelled or pressured to keep quiet in an effort to protect their job. I am certain there were many women like me that shared her pain and gave thanks that she managed to survive this torturous crime. Women who identified with her moments of clarity in the midst of the brutality that helped her survive and fight. When she described the moment in which the Egyptian women “closed ranks” to protect her, as best they could, I held to the belief that compassion and bravery can go hand in hand.

Many women know what it is like to begin to face this fear that continues post rape. Not necessarily expecting to put back all the same pieces that existed before but replace some with a determination to transform the trauma into both life affirming and collective action. No matter our religion, the language we speak, our social or economic status, women worldwide tragically understand targeted violence exists against us; be it sexual or physical. Most women at one time or another have walked with a semblance of fear.

When Lara Logan spoke about the fear she had never had before and recognized it would be difficult to overcome, my head nodded. Then I saw the intensity in her eyes when she spoke about the prospect of eventually going back to do what she does well, reporting from the field as a journalist. This act of violence surely will not define her and I hope that people will acknowledge her contributions as she pursues life beyond this tragedy. I knew by her eyes that she has been changed, like millions upon millions of women. However, I also feel that like all those powerful women she too will conquer this! With bravery beyond measure she will speak her name and title Lara Logan – Journalist.

Check out 60 Minutes Overtime for more of Lara’s Interview – After the Assault

 

International Women’s Day 2011

Like most women, I am at the end of a very long working day. It is not the fact that International Women’s Day escaped me but that I have had little time to speak or write about it.

Last year I did reflect on the day further in a blog post realizing that in other countries there is more celebration in the streets for such a day; North Americans just don’t embrace it to the same degree as other nations. Did you know that elsewhere women receive gifts from partners, recognition from work and government, a tip of the hat that acknowledges battles won, what’s still needed and the good work women do every day? There were some sound bites here and there but really the day, from my perspective, made only a small ripple in the grand scheme of things.

Now, as you know by this blog, my website and column I am women centric. Proud to share the news of women, I take a hard look at their contributions, fight for their rights and freedoms and above all else share the “herstory” with others.

There have been a lot of gains that propelled us forward through each generation but I’m beginning to question whether we are experiencing some stagnation or slippage.

* Women still making less wages

* Women still fighting for their rights to make decisions about their own health

* Women still victims of violence; with sentencing that never fits the horrific crimes perpetrated

* Women still not breaking through that glass ceiling (look at some of the latest stats if you don’t believe me)

* Women still doing the bulk of the work in the home and that’s after they finished the full time or part time job outside of it

* Women still holding the bulk of the responsibilities for child rearing and now aging parent support

* Women still under-represented in the political world for reasons that are both personal and system driven

* Women still being exploited and trafficked for sex – solely for the multi-billion dollar businesses directed at the predominantly male consumer

* Women still not being recognized for their contributions in business (awards/incentives) as much as their male counterparts

* Women still more apt to be living in poverty worldwide despite the work they do (because it is largely unpaid labour)

Do I sound pessimistic? Maybe, I could not be so gloomy and look at the silver lining again…we like silver linings they are far more palatable. If even half of what I said is reality then I say lets call it like it is.

Last year I celebrated the day and I still do, but not like a birthday or Christmas or any other warm fuzzy day. I celebrate it in the pure recognition that generations ago a woman got up out of her chair and said “enough is enough!” “I have a voice! I want the right to express my opinion! I want my vote! I want to make my own decisions! I want to earn money! I want an education! I want to save for my future! I want choice! I WANT TO BE CLASSIFIED AS A PERSON!”

She was so brave, she didn’t sit back and watch anymore. She didn’t hope that someone else would do it for her. She didn’t wait till “they” would come around to see her side. She got up and risked it all and sometimes paid dearly. She paid attention to the news around her, she saw the injustices and felt them deeply, she went out of her comfort zone and looked within for strength to speak her speak.

Guess what? Right now there is a woman somewhere in this world who is doing just that. She doesn’t have even half of what we have and she has a lot to lose. It may very well be her life on the line…so our job is not done ladies…no it is not.

Celebrate being a woman, celebrate our gains but acknowledge things are and can change if you are not watching. What seems like a solid foundation can crumble if you don’t do anything to maintain it. To honor women past and present, learn about one woman in this world and what her contribution was and share it with your daughters and your sons. Be informed and inform others.