Monday, August 8, 2011

TORONTO EVENT: ROADSWORTH: CROSSING THE LINE

This week! On Wednesday August 10th at 4pm NFB Mediatheque in Toronto will have a FREE viewing of Peter Gibson's (Alias Roadsworth) 73 minute video "Crossing the line".

For those of you who are unfamiliar with NFB Mediatheque it is a centre for media literacy for adults and children, as well as where NFB Films are showcased for public viewings. Located in the entertainment district of Toronto, Ontario 150 John St (at Richmond St. W).

Filmmaker Alan Kohl provides a portrait of an artist who provokes debate about the significance of art in urban spaces.

"Crossing the Line details the artist's prosecution at home and his travels abroad to France, London and Amsterdam, as he imprints himself legitimately (and illegitimately) on foreign streets. The film reflects Roadsworth's personal struggle to defend his work, define himself as an artist and address difficult questions about art and freedom of expression".


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summary of: "New H.I.V. Cases Steady Despite Better Treatment"


On the Connexions website there is a page where you can look at articles in chronological order of their publication. That is where I stumbled upon the New York Times article entitled, New H.I.V. Cases Steady Despite Better Treatment by Donald G. McNeil Jr.

For the last decade in the United States the number of people infected by Aids has remained at about "50, 000". This article states that gay men, and more specifically young black gay men are increasingly suffering from this epidemic.

The problems that are rising as a result of the above facts are that people think there is a lack of government prevention; if the prevention that exists doesn't improve than the epidemic will worsen; and the "stigma" that is still tied to Aids correlates with its growth.

I am unable to site the radio station but yesterday on news it said a man who had given Aids to women and is being imprisoned for it wanted to get, "H.I.V. infected" tattooed on both his wrists. The Judge did not, and would not approve this. I don't see how this tattoo would be a positive statement. What is the reasoning behind it? He is being convicted for passing this infection without informing the women he was sleeping with, and so would the tattoo be a way to tell them? That just isn't right.

This article takes an interesting turn when it compares the death rate due to other accidents, and health care issues. For example,

"Philip Alcabes, a public health epidemiologist at Hunter College in Manhattan, noted that 50,000 is close to the number of Americans who die in road accidents each year — almost 40,000 — 'and in some ways, we consider dying on the road an ordinary thing.'”


When it comes to heart disease and strokes the numbers worsen; and nearly 1 million Americans die per year. It is not to say which death is worse, but it does prove a logical point. I do agree that it must be the stigma of Aids that makes it seem worse than a fatal car crash. You would assume that Aids is more preventable than a road accident.

McNeil examines the main group who suffers from Aids, as mentioned above young black homosexuals. The explanation tied to this research is the lack of health insurance, and the lack of tolerance from family/friends for homosexuals. If an individual is keeping their sexual preference a secret McNeil states that, "[...] it [is] more likely they will have furtive, risky sex".

This article examines other ways that Aids can be contracted such as through breast feeding, or the ingesting of drugs such as Oxycontin & needle sharing. It states that those numbers have decreased as well as those who have taken antiretroviral drugs at an early age. You can read more here.

It is said that San Francisco, and Vancouver (Canada) have reduced Aids infection rates. The article snarkily remarks that the U.S. cannot benefit from the way in which Vancouver reduced it's numbers,

"Vancouver’s success relies partly on
a government-approved center where drug addicts can shoot up under the eyes of a nurse and without fear of arrest — an experiment unlikely to be repeated in the United States".

The above statement is one of the last ideas of the article. This article does not provide a way in which the numbers can be reduced in America, but it does provide informational links in relation to the facts it states and is a good source for a current update of Aids in America.

World News: Australia

An 18-year-old woman was in the presence of a "collar bomb" for about 9 hrs. This article was released today by the gaurdian.co.uk. Authorities, and bomb squad officers had closed down the streets surrounding the "wealthy" suburb of Mosman. The surrounding streets were closed to traffic.

Once the device was removed, it is said that it was still intact. The 18 year old girl was Madeleine Pulver "whose father, William, is the CEO of an international software company". The police report states that the Pulver family did not know why they were a target. The police did not share whether or not the Madeleine was used because of specific demands, or if there were demands made at all. Madeleine had previously interacted with the person who attached the bomb to her.

"Police said defusing the device demanded 'a high level of skill and must be meticulous'".


This report remains vague, but it is one of interest. The idea that someone you have previously interacted with could threaten your life in this way, and force you to be near a bomb is a situation most people wouldn't even think to be in.

Focus: Women Issues "We Have Bigger Abbortive Problems Than Abortion"

Dissident Voice: A radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice is another source where Connexions.org gets its News Feed articles from. "We Have Bigger Abortive Problems Than Abortion" written by E. R. Bills in May 2011 portrays a pro-choice perspective.

Bills claims that she has always been pro-choice, and so this was her perspective from a young age. One of the most beautiful and rewarding aspects of a woman's life is the ability to give birth, but it is not the only purpose of a woman. Contraceptives, such as birth control have given women a type of freedom that did not exist prior. Bills continues to defend pro-choice by boldly stating that abortion isn't the, ""[...] important achievement that women are capable of".[...] most immoral or destructive abortive process that affects our daily lives".

Further in the article Bills compares reproductive abortion to intellectual abortion. This metaphor seems like a long shot and even the author admits this, but to read more click here. In the end the purpose of this comparison is to birth a new consciousness. One where the reader is able to "[...]be intellectually fruitful and multiply our critical thought processes".

Abortion is a sensitive subject. Most often it is due to religious reasons that it is frowned upon, and Bills mentions this. I too believe in pro-choice, but if someone is abusing the use of abortion and using it as a form of birth control, I don't think abortion is justifiable.

Focus: Women Issues "Woman from Jenin Now Longest Serving Female Prisoner in Israeli Detention"

A brief article found on the International Middle East Media Centre website and posted on the Connexions News Feed states: "The Palestinian Center for Detainees stated Tuesday that Hana Al-Shalabi has now been in Israeli administrative detention for longer than any other female prisoner, according to sources at Ma’an News Agency".

Danny Johnes' above article is straight to the point, and tells us that Al-Shalabi was kidnapped, and imprisoned in 2009. She has been detained for two years, and her trial continues to be pushed back without a publicized reason. There was also no mention to Al-Shalabi or the public as to why she is being detained.

"Administrative detention allows the Israeli government to detain individuals who pose a threat to national security without trial or sentencing. The detention is subject to a judicial review and renewal on a regular basis".

Human rights groups are protesting the above law around the world. Nothing has changed. Al-Shalabi's situation is similar to "over 800 Palestinians" and unimaginable to most.
To read the full article click here.


"Legion of Cell phone resisters..." by Shannon Rupp



The Tyee: B.C.'s home for news, culture, and solutions has many easy reads that are interesting, and unique. They can be found at Connexions.org on our News Feed. "Legion of Cell Phone Resisters: Count me in!" by Shannon Rupp is the 2nd article we've summarized from The Tyee.

It is becoming more apparent that people are tied to their electronic devices and especially their smart phones. My mother just last night spoke to me about how future generations growing up and it's not related to nature. She thinks there will no longer be people outside playing, but rather inside on the computer, or watching television. While attending the Book Summit 2011 in downtown Toronto this summer specialists were remarking on how reading at a young age makes the child more socially adaptable vs. someone who is on electronics all day. What does this mean for our world?

This article introduces us to two people who are boycotting technologt. It begins by discussing whether it's rude or not to ignore your phone? The answer is broken up into two parts: "the corporate ethics adviser said yes, everyone is obligated to be available to everyone else all the time; the legal scholar said no, one is entitled to set limits". The article goes on to say: "More than 75 per cent of Canadian households have cell phones, so it's clear our days are numbered". Personally when I lived in Ottawa for my undergrad I didn't even have a land line, we purchased basic digital cable because it was the cheapest and had it cut off in the winter because it was too cold to enter our back room. I only had my cell phone and highspeed internet. I wasn't glued to either, but I didn't really let my phone out of site either as it was my only connection to family and friends in case of an emergency. I do think that technology is getting out of hand and I try to limit myself to using it.

In this article we meet Robin Laurence, a visual arts critic in Vancouver who does not have wireless Internet at home, and is said to have only given into emailing and a voicemail service on her cell for work purposes. Robin does not use these features though, unless she is in a free wireless Internet area. This is a rarity. On top of being unlocked from the Internet Laurence does not have cable either. Her way of socializing is to go out every night rather than stay in with mimicked forms of social atmospheres such as facebook & twitter.

The other resister Rupp mentions is Greg Klassen, publicity and marketing directory for Winnipeg's Prairie Theatre Exchange theatre. Klassen remained phoneless until he was hired for a freelance job marketing a film festival. Aged 47 Klassen witnessed the younger generations texting away, but his main concern is, "[...] that they steal our concentration without actually helping us do the job at hand, which is his primary objection to cell phones". In my opinion there is a difference between productivity when you are exposed to facebook, your cellphone, and twitter vs. productivity when you aren't connected. For example, when studying and you need that two second break I think it may be useful to have different outlets. At the same time, while at work and trying to blog a summarization of an article it isn't helpful at all to continue checking my vibrating phone.

In the end everyone can reach you at any given time. Robin Laurence only calls out on her phone, and doesn't like when people are calling in. I agree with this. Personally, I have had many occassions where I've told my mom to let people know I'm busy or not home. I don't feel like socializing all the time, and frankly it's draining. I would never give up my cell phone but some days it is nice to ignore it.

To read this article in full click here.






Summary of Ryan Fletcher's Experience as an Undercover Homless Man


"I spent 10 days homeless in Abbotsford, Vancouver and Surrey. Incidents I came across on the streets of the "best place on Earth" were as distressing as some of the worst instances of suffering I've witnessed in war-affected countries. Thankfully, just the same as those countries, the streets of B.C. can be friendly, innovative and beautiful. The following articles give voice to the people I met on those streets, so often reported on or talked about -- but rarely listened to".]
- Ryan Fletcher

The above quote is taken from a link sighted in the original article found on the Connexions News feed entitled, "Finding Shelter in Vancouver, BC" by Ryan Fletcher. Fletcher's series of articles on this issue, and his experiences are printed in The Tyee: B.C.'s Home for News, Culture, and Solutions.

When Fletcher was 18 years old he found himself in a similar situation. His father had passed away, and he was tied to street drugs. Fortunately he decided to stop himself from spiraling out of control. However, he states that he understands how hard it can be not to fall into deadly habits. Fletcher's series is a story of his survival in Abbostford, Surrey, and Vancouver British Columbia, Canada while pretending to be homeless in order to share their side of the story.

This particular article is the last installment of his series and begins by describing a night without a bed. The sleeping bag Fletcher did have he gave away to a woman who he thought needed it more than he did. In his attempts at survival he turns to a First United Church located in the Downtown East side for breakfast. There he witnesses the beds that are full of homeless people, and describes a couple of the 70 - 80 people there who await food.

Fletcher describes the "Shelter" and The Salvation Army day centre on Pender in particular. After personal observation Fletcher sees that Vancouver's shelters are more cultured than that of Abbotsford and Surrey. Unlike the other two, which only had Bible's for entertainment, Vancouver had chess and other games available to play as well as different books, televisions, and coffee. In the above shelter Fletcher meets a 23-year-old man named Matt who is trying to escape society. Matt knows that being homeless is a temporary state and he aspires to buy a cottage in Ireland where he can continue to avoid society. Matt introduces Fletcher to the life of a non-addicted, homeless, and unemployed person. You can read more on this intriguing friendship and story here.

"Because we don't have any money, our lives are governed by the choices other people make for us". Fletcher says this in relation to how they spend their time. Daily homeless people are either waiting in line for food or occupying their time with the games (or lack there of) provided by the shelters. I think that this sentence is a powerful thought. It shows the limitations of those without jobs, and money. Some say money can't buy you happiness, but in this situation it allows you to be independent, free, and less bored.

Fletcher continues to write about his experience by describing the night he went to the Union Gospel Misson on Cordova. Before the homeless can recieve their food it is required of them to sit through a half hour service. The Priest is aware that he is "preach[ing] at [them]". Some of the people around Fletcher are listening to music, or simply not paying attention. Fletcher doesn't mention his thoughts on how the homeless are forced to sit through a religious discourse, but I think that this is unfair. You can't force individuals to have a faith, and you can't assume that those who do believe in a religion are believers of the particular faith you are forcing them to listen to.

The last portion of the article discusses East Hastings, which is an area for drug dealers to make their money and where addicts come to purchase. Fletcher interacts with some of the women who sell, and to his surprise one woman questions him about being part of the RCMP, and being a cop. It has been a week since Fletcher has been homeless, and he has not changed his clothes. It is interesting that someone who remains healthy and not on drugs can recognize Fletcher as someone different than the crowd even though he has been homeless for some time.

This article brings to light the different types of people who are homeless in Abbotsford, Surrey, and Vancouver. Fletcher's approach to his investigation - pretending to be homeless - allowed him to gain the trust of others in similar situations and tell their stories. His goal to raise awareness of homelessness in British Columbia is successful through this series. British Columbia is often spoken, written, and documented as one of the most beautiful places, and yet there is a lot of suffering, lack of jobs, and homes for its inhabitants.This has been an ongoing issue, but this unique series allows us a true scope into the lives of the homeless.