Bring him to justice – one step closer

This is one of those pieces I’ve been waiting to write.

I have confirmed information that the Toronto Police Service will be travelling to Jamaica next Tuesday and returning Wednesday with George Flowers. That brings him nearer to facing justice in a Canadian court.

Once again I admit I’m torn by this. On the one side, I’m glad to see Flowers finally in a court to face his accusers. On the other is the fact that those accusers will have their carefully rebuilt lives torn apart by his legal representative. To be honest, I’m not sure the damage that will done to these people this time around is worth it. He destroyed many lives once and now the legal system gives him a chance to do it again.

If you have had sex with this man, please, please, go to your doctor and get tested for HIV.. And also go to the police for you don’t have to be positive to file a complaint.

I’ll update this as and when more information becomes available.

Cat.

We must support our US friends in their fight for equality

In a posting on her site dated December 31, 2016 editor Jillian Page mentioned that she had considered shutting down LGBT Perspectives. In that posting she mentioned something that I’ll admit I take for granted and that is the incredible advances the Canadian LGBT communities have made in the decade since same-sex marriage became law of the land.

At both the federal and provincial levels laws have been enacted that give us the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as every other citizen of whichever province in which we live. As well, at the federal level, and not widely publicized, in February 2016, the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration quietly announced that Canadian citizens would be allowed to self-identify when it came to changing gender on federal documents, except the passport. You still have paperwork to fill out for that one. Otherwise, all you need is provincial documentation showing the changes to change any other federal ID.

While we revel in our new-found recognition, we must remember that our sisters and brothers south of the Canada/US border aren’t so fortunate. The different system of government in the US gives each state power to make its own laws. Consequently, members of the LGBT communities, especially the trans community, face a patchwork of laws with which to conform and hoops of varying sizes at different heights to negotiate to accomplish anything. This is true even with the Obama administration and from what I’ve seen, the difficulties will only increase under Trump.

I have seen estimates that put the number of trans Americans at 10% of the population, which translates to about 30,000,000 people. To put that in perspective for Canadian readers, that’s only slightly less than the population of Canada. Thirty million souls. Think about that number for a moment. According to pronouncements, both now and in the past, a Trump federal government and states governed by members of Trump’s party are declaring war on these people, either reducing or removing whatever protections previous administrations put in place. Perhaps one of the ,most egregious of these laws was North Carolina’s infamous HB 2, the so-called “bathroom bill”. From other reading I’ve done – and no, I don’t just rely on a single source for information – this is typical of what our sisters and brothers can expect to face over the next four years.

While we sit here north of the 49th parallel or Great Lakes, perhaps smugly because we haven’t had some of these struggles, we must not forget those who went before us that are the reason we have what we do. We must support our counterparts in the US in any way we can, even if it’s only to offer moral support so that even if they fail, those who follow will enjoy our freedoms.

Cat.

Bring him to justice – Canadian justice pending

He’s coming back. According to an article in today’s Jamaica Observer, George Flowers has lost his final appeal against extradition to Canada. A representative of the Toronto Police Service will be travelling to Jamaica to escort him back to Toronto to face justice in a Canadian courtroom.

I must admit I have mixed feelings writing this. On the one side, I have some concerns for his accusers; that they will have their carefully reconstructed lives ripped apart by his lawyers in court; that the secrets they’ve been hiding for many years will be exposed. On the other side, that George Flowers will finally face the justice he so richly deserves is satisfying. Full disclosure here: I know people he dated, some of whom have tested HIV positive, so I am finding it difficult to remain neutral in this, but I will do my best.

His sexual assaults date back at least twenty years and he has played the Jamaican legal system for at least three years. Finally though, he has run out of options and the Jamaican courts have said to Canada “you can have his ass, just come and get him”.

I’ll write more when I have more details, but in the meantime I ask for your prayers for his victims.

Cat.

Unimaginable

DATE: June 13

TITLE: Unimaginable

As a Canadian I find yesterday’s carnage at Pulse in Orlando impossible to comprehend. As a transwoman, I find it appalling that so many of my brothers and sisters were targeted by what appears to be a deranged young man. Apparently during the rampage inside Pulse, an LGBT friendly club, the gunman took the time to call 9 1 1 and profess his allegiance to Daesh. As a result, the authorities are calling this both a hate crime and terrorism.

Reports I’ve read on news sites state that within the past two weeks he was able to legally purchase the AR-15 assault rifle he used during his attack. This despite having been investigated by the FBI on suspicion of having terrorist sympathies. Why he was able to legally purchase the weapon isn’t my question though. My question is: Why does anyone other than the military or law enforcement need an assault weapon of any kind?

Don’t give me that line about how you need it to protect your family and property because I’m not going to buy it. You could do that with a .22. Yes, I know the AR-15 comes in .223 calibre, but your basic .22 isn’t as deadly as the AR. Hunting? Unless you get into a firefight with your prey, or you plan to turn that deer into hamburger right there in the forest, an ordinary deer rifle will do. No, the AR-15 and its cousin the Kalashnikov are designed for one thing only – killing humans.

The NRA’s oft repeated mantra about a “good guy with a gun” also doesn’t hold water. The military and FBI, for one, constantly take training and refresher courses on what to do when there is gunfire in their vicinity. The average gun owner doesn’t do that. They go out to the range and fire off a clip or two at a paper target and feel they can handle anything. Guess what? They can’t. They can’t because that paper target isn’t shooting back at them. Without constant training and reinforcement, when the bullets start flying, they’re going to freeze and their body will be found with the weapon still holstered. Should they actually manage to draw the weapon and let go a couple of rounds, chances are they’d hit innocent bystanders.

America, and there is no delicate way to put this, when it comes to your gun culture, you’re fucked in the head. For example, not that long ago in Michigan, two men got caught up in a road-rage incident. They both pulled into a parking lot and rather than settle the dispute with words or fists, they both pulled out weapons and shot each other. A woman somewhere else shot up a Walmart parking lot trying to stop a shoplifter. America, isn’t it about time you realized your love of firearms has turned your country back into the Wild West of the 1870’s. To put that in some historical perspective, the Gunfight at the OK Corral took place in 1881 and Wyatt Earp, who was in that gunfight, died in 1927 – less than 100 years ago.
So tell me America, isn’t it time to halt the sale of weapons intended solely for hunting other humans? Other than to satisfy some egotistical need, do you really need an assault weapon? When you purchase a weapon, training should consist of more than how to load the damn thing. That training should include identifying your target before you let loose.

How many times have we read or heard of some homeowner being awakened by a noise in the middle of the night, grabbing his weapon and then firing at an unidentified shadow figure only to discover he’s just killed his son or daughter?

Safe storage should also be a mandatory part of that training. I can’t count the number of stories I’ve read about a toddler finding daddy’s gun and killing or injuring that toddler’s playmate or sibling. Which brings up another question: What’s the trigger tension like when a four-year-old can fire the weapon? Second question: What the hell is daddy doing leaving his handgun lying around with the safety off and one up the spout?

America, let’s be honest, you don’t really need an assault rifle, but since you’ve got one, let me as this: what’s next on your wishlist – a Barrett .50?

Cat.

Yes, I am

I was away for a couple of days and found the following in my gmail spam upon my return:

Mr. Boni Gozie <robinsonfranklin@cantv.net>

8 Dec (4 days ago)

to ces854

I am writing to confirm the fact if you are (Dead) Or (Alive)? Because Mr. Jude Betsy came to our office stated that you are dead and failure to reply back in the next 24hrs simply means what Mr. Jude Betsy said was right that you are dead. And Mr. Jude Betsy has agreed to pay the needed valued of $105 dollars required for the transfer charge fee of your consignment box, but we have not gotten the fee from him yet as we want to find out if you are dead or not, so if you are still (alive) you are advice in your own best interest to reply back within 24hrs, Regards Mr. Boni Gozie.

Checking the details, I note the actual sender was in Benin. The lack of an actual addressee, combined with the poor English all tell me this is some kind of scam or phishing attempt. The email address “cantv.net” is also a giveaway. I posted a warning on Facebook last week after I noticed I had received several messages telling me my money was ready to be sent from this same address. All they needed were an amount of money and my personal details.

Obviously I’m not going to respond, but I wonder what they’d do had I responded with the title of this piece, “yes, I am”.

Remember, if you get messages from “cantv.net” they only want your money and personal details. You’ll get nothing but grief in return.

Cat.

Sorry, wrong number

I received the following in my Gmail spam over the weekend:

Your Navy Account Is Under Review
Navy Federal <inft@usamail.org>

26 Jun (1 day ago)

to Recipients

Navy Federal Credit Union

Attention !!!

Our system can not verify your account and this might
leads to account suspension

please click here to resolve the problem.

*Warning*

Do not login elsewhere after you verify the account within 24 hours

There are a couple of things wrong with this message from my perspective and a couple of general red flags. First, I’m Canadian and second, have never served in the U S Navy. I did serve in the Canadian Army however if that makes a difference.

Now, the general warnings. The address “to recipients” is a prime giveaway you are dealing with spam. If it was a message specifically for you, it would bear your name. I am also suspicious of the email address of the sender. “usamail.org” sounds official, but I somehow doubt it really comes from the USPS.

The warning at the end not to log in anywhere else for 24 hours is something I’ve not seen before, but it raises concerns. Why is it necessary that I stay off the computer for 24 hours after I click on their link? Would doing so somehow mess up their trojan or whatever they’ve put on your computer?

If you receive this email, even if you are a Navy veteran, just delete it. Or if you have some concerns, use the telephone and call whoever you need do. Just don’t click on the link.

Cat.

Je suis Charlie

The horrific terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today was an attack on free speech everywhere. Why so? Can you honestly believe the vicious nature of this attack won’t make journalists everywhere consider what they write, or in the case of editorial cartoonists draw, before submitting it for publication?

Those of us who write blogs here on WordPress or other sites are usually anonymous unless we choose to reveal our identities. Some of us use that anonymity to take shots at various institutions that others may consider sacrostant. We rely on our avatars and screen names to keep us safe from retribution and use filters to prevent adverse or threatening comments from appearing following our offerings.

The journalists and artists at Charlie Hebdo didn’t have that privilege. When you publish a newspaper, of any type, your name appears on your copy. I understand from news reports that Charlie Hebdo made a habit of aggravating the Muslim community to the extent the office was firebombed in 2011. Today’s massacre seems to have been the culmination of that aggravation, especially considering the murderers were heard yelling (in French) “we have avenged the Prophet Mohammed” and, in Arabic, “Allahu akbar”.

Like it or not, or accept it or not, we bloggers are journalists reporting on the vagaries of life around us. Sometimes we talk about major events – in my case I had great fun ripping into the former mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford and I have received much praise for my on-going series “Bring him to justice” – and sometimes it’s just the little things that irk us personally. But in any case, we are reporting on news for the benefit of others.

There have been many vigils around the world tonight in honour of the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Many people are holding up pens and signs reading “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). Take a few moments after you read this to honour the memory of these people, our fellow journalists, who paid the ultimate price for freedom of speech.

Cat.

O Canada what have you done?

Stevie and the court jesters have, in my opinion, gone ‘way too far this time.  Here’s the link to an editorial in The Toronto Star of Saturday, January 3, 2015: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/01/03/a_bad_year_for_canadian_citizenship.html

In this article, Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander is quoted as saying “Citizenship is not a right, it’s a privilege”. Um, excuse me Mr Alexander, perhaps you were Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan too long for you seem to have adopted some of the attitudes of that country. Under new rules just brought in, a Canadian citizen who either holds dual citizenship or can claim citizenship of another country through birth or other reasons can be stripped of their Canadian citizenship if they are convicted of treason, terrorism or espionage anywhere in the world.

What is truly terrifying about this is that whereas in the past, such citizenship actions would have to go through the courts, these actions are now at the discretion of the Minister.  No courts, no chance to plead your case, just the Minister’s opinion of whether or not you deserve to be able to call yourself a Canadian.

Let’s get silly here for a moment.  If I were to commit one of the actions listed above (although considering the number of times I’ve ripped into the Harper government in the past, jaywalking might do for a reason) I could be stripped of my Canadian citizenship.  I can claim American citizenship because both my mother and maternal grandfather were born in the US.  That I was born in Canada, raised and educated in Canada, paid Canadian taxes and served in the Canadian Armed Forces wouldn’t matter.  I committed some heinous act and the Minster (who also happens to be the Member of Parliament for my riding) decided I no longer held the privilege of calling myself Canadian.  Fortunately for me I am a law-abiding citizen – except for the jaywalking thing – so I‘m not too worried.  Otherwise I doubt that the next time CSIS came knocking, they would be carrying a pizza and a bottle of wine.

Since they obtained an absolute majority in the last federal election, the Harper government has been running rough-shod over the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and this is just the latest example. There is a federal election next year and I’ll tell you right now that if any party promises to rescind this horrible, discriminatory law, they’ve got my vote.

Have a safe and happy 2015 and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat

The name’s the same

Yesterday Rob Ford, Mayor of all subway-loving Torontonians, withdrew from the seemingly never-ending election campaign for personal reasons.   Earlier in the week, he was admitted to hospital where a tumour was found in his abdomen.  The results of a biopsy are expected next week.

Now, pay attention here, for there may be a quiz later.  Rob Ford, the current Mayor has withdrawn from the race for Mayor.  Current city councillor Doug Ford, Robbie’s big brother, decided to be Rob’s campaign manager rather than run for reelection in Ward 2. A nephew of Robbie, Michael Ford, was running in Ward 2. Here is where it gets complicated (or weird – your choice): Doug yesterday evening, announced his intention to run for Mayor in his brother’s place (more on this later).  Rob decided that rather than leave municipal politics all together, he will run for city councillor in Ward 2.  This was the ward he represented for 10 years before being elected Mayor.  Nephew Michael has withdrawn from the race for city council in Ward 2 and will instead run for school trustee.

Now, Doug has several problems.  First, the election is about six weeks away, so he’s getting a late start (the campaign officially began in January, hence my “never-ending” comment.  He cannot use Rob’s campaign war chest, but must raise his own money.  Neither can he use Rob’s campaign office, but must find his own.  It seems the only bright spot for Doug is that he can use Rob’s “Ford for Mayor” campaign signs.

Interviews conducted by local media seem split.  Some people – usually members of what is called “Ford Nation”,  those who have blindly followed Robbie – believe Doug will do just as good as Robbie.  Those who think believe he would be worse than this brother.

Based on what I’ve seen of City Councillor Doug Ford over the past four years, I personally think he would be just as much a disaster as Chief Magistrate of Toronto as was Rob.  Doug seems to be more of a loose cannon than was Rob.  For example, a man filed a complaint against Doug over some comments he made regarding a group home for autistic children.  Doug claimed the home had “ruined”the neighbourhood where the house was located and called all the residents “criminals”.  All of this without proof of course, as seems to be standard operating procedure for the Brothers Ford.  The man who filed the complaint is the father of an autistic child and felt Doug’s comments unfairly maligned the residents.  Doug’s response was to tell the man to go to hell.  Doug appears to shoot from the lip, often insulting reporters and the public without justification or even reason,

I sincerely hope Toronto voters come to their senses and see that four more years of having a Ford as mayor will be a disaster of the first magnitude.  But, he won’t be releasing a platform until Monday at the earliest so we’ll have to wait to see if he’ll be his own man or Rob Ford the second.

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, we need love too.

Cat.

One final thought: The biopsy on Rob’s tumour is about a week away, yet to hear Doug, he seems to think it will be cancerous.  At least that’s the impression Doug’s comments about chemotherapy would give.

I told very few people, but last December, I had to have a tumour removed from my stomach.  Nobody went around talking about chemotherapy or anything like that.  My friends and family adopted an attitude of “we’ll wait and see what the biopsy says, then deal with it.”  Wouldn’t that be a more sensible attitude for Doug as well?   Oh, silly me – I used “sensible” and the name of a Ford in the same sentence.

C.

He’s done it again

Rob Ford, mayor of all subway-loving Torontonians, has starred in another impromptu video.  This time the video was shot at a fast food restaurant and shows Robbie, apparently drunk, but definitely under the influence of alcohol, swearing in Jamaican patois.

He admitted he’d had “a bit” to drink (this after declaring in a press conference that he doesn’t drink) and used as his excuse that he was on his own time, out with friends.  I don’t buy it.  He also dodged the question of who drove him to the restaurant.

Rob Ford is the mayor of Canada’s largest city and should realize that after the fiasco last year was for him – “I do not smoke crack cocaine.”  “Yes, I smoked crack cocaine.” –   that any time he is out in public, he is going to be scrutinized.  The man has a high (no pun intended) profile in Toronto, so whenever he steps out his front door, he is on public display and should behave accordingly.  Perhaps it hasn’t sunk into his alcohol and drug addled brain yet, but politicians give up much of their personal time once elected to office.  The instant they leave home, they are in the public eye and should govern themselves accordingly, especially the chief magistrate of a city.

Once again there are calls for his resignation, and I have to agree.  Neither Mayor Rob, nor his chief apologist and brother, Councillor Doug, deserve to be in politics.  How many times over the past year has Rob denied something, only to later admit it?  How many times over the past year has Doug rushed to his brother’s defence only to be shown to be a fool when Rob later says “well, yeah, I did do that, but I was in a drunken stupor”?

If nothing else, both the brothers Ford are guilty of lying to the electorate.  Now we all realize a certain amount of fudging the truth is found in politics, but these two have raised it to an artform.

Robbie has filed his papers to run for mayor in the next election which is this coming October.  If the people of Toronto have any sense at all, they will see to it that he wasted his filing fees.

Cat.