Tomgram: Robert Lipsyte Descends into March Madness

March 20, 2007

Good news! The TV ratings are up 4% for the first rounds of March Madness, those days when the basketball games simply stumble and tumble on top of each other, morning to night, all weekend long and beyond, bursting the bounds of CBS TV and heading into other ad universes, streaming on-line while the advertisers (Dell, Courtyard by Marriott, AT&T, E*Trade, Microsoft, Sonic restaurants, and Pontiac, among others) stream after them. And inside the ads are even more “games” like, for example, the Sonic video ad in which “viewers can click through to a game where they can fling tator tots into a guy’s mouth.” Throw in your basic office or college betting pool; add in the perhaps $7 billion in March Madness wagers (more than for the Super Bowl) and all those crowds heading not for the courtside seats, but directly for Vegas; stir in oodles of frenetic rooting and there’s no end to the fun until April 2 when it does end with the last team standing and — always -– the possibility of a ratings-trumping “Cinderella upset.”

Actually, I’m not thinking about some smaller team winning the tournament — it’s already impossible — but CBS itself. It’s the real rags-to-riches (or is it riches-to-riches), glass-slipper, Cinderella tale of this tournament, ditching its regular programming only to ride to ratings dominance. In a mere five years, it’s turned the NCAA’s college tournament into a corporate carnival that “generates more advertising sales than any other postseason sporting event including the Super Bowl.” (This year, the network is expected to absorb $500 million in ad revenue from TV alone, up a staggering 70% from 2000.)

But let Tomdispatch Jock Culture Correspondent pick up the tale from there and take you on one of his now-regular, every-two-monthly wild rides through another of the holy events of our sports calendar — and while you’re at it, just before you place your bet on where he’ll be heading this time, check out his most recent nothing-short-of-shocking young adult novel on high-school football, coach and peer pressure, and sports hazing, Raiders Night. Tom

Hoopla 101

Chronicles of Higher Education
By Robert Lipsyte

1. Opening Shot

“Success is a Choice.” — Rick Pitino of Louisville (seeded #6 in the South region for this year’s March Madness), first coach to lead three different teams to the Final Four.

This is the mud season of the sports calendar. While we await blessed baseball and its promise of renewal, here comes the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Division I Basketball Championship — the Big Dance for sportswriters, the Bracket Racket for gamblers, a frat-rat party, a racist entertainment, and a subversion of higher education, perhaps democracy as well.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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White House Seeking Gonzales Replacement

March 20, 2007

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/032007J.shtml

Republican officials operating at the behest of the White House have begun seeking a possible successor to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whose support among GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill has collapsed.


Hamilton Solidarity with Six Nations Demonstration at McMaster, Wed. March 21st!

March 20, 2007

Hamilton Solidarity with Six Nations To Hold Information Demonstration at McMaster

HAMILTON (ON) – March 21st, 2007 – A peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict near Caledonia can only be achieved if the federal government lives up to its obligations and negotiates in good faith with Six Nations. That’s the message a group called Hamilton Solidarity with Six Nations is hoping to spread at an information demonstration at McMaster University on Wednesday March 21st.

“The Federal Government can’t try to pass the buck by pretending that the Provincial or other levels of Government, or the Band Council, are responsible for negotiations.” says Dr. George Sorger, a spokesperson for the group. “We believe the authorized representatives of the Federal Government and the Six Nations Confederacy are the ones who will make the critical decisions and have to be at the negotiating table, because they are the ones who inherited the authority from those who made the treaties and agreements in the first place.”

The group is made up of a wide variety of people from the
Hamilton area: high-school teachers, trade unionists, community organizers, and university students and professors.

“Our group, along with a number of other solidarity groups in the region, want to send a clear message that this dispute isn’t about natives versus non-natives.” says Sorger. “We all have a stake in seeing this conflict and all land claims resolved and it is evident that the Federal government’s present approach isn’t leading to a timely solution that is acceptable to all parties.
The power to resolve this rests with them and as Canadians we should insist that our government act in good faith.”

This is the second Hamilton event where the group will be
asking the public to sign petitions and letters to the Prime
Minister to insist the federal government halt all development on lands in dispute and work to settle Six Nation’s claim with respect and integrity.

Free soup and coffee will be served.

“The response to our last information demonstration in
Downtown Hamilton on the 28th [of February] was incredible,” says Alyson McCready, a spokesperson for the group. “People are hungry for information and they’re angry the Federal government isn’t living up to its obligations.”

“We’re coming to McMaster because many of us live and work in and around McMaster and this and other land claim disputes really aren’t on the agenda in Canada’s education system.” McCready continues. “Canadians need to know more about what’s going on so we can hold our government to account.”


The information demonstration will take place from 11am-2pm in the courtyard between the Student Centre and the Library at McMaster.


Please contact:

Dr. George Sorger & Alyson McCready
Retired Professor of Genetics Chair,
CUPE Local 3906 Political Action Committee
sorger@mcmaster.ca
alyson.mccready@gmail.com
905-525-9140 x24852 905-525-9140 x24852


MoJo: Informed Dissent: Breaking the Army

March 20, 2007

Breaking the Army

Revelations about the appalling living conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center have exposed the bureaucracy and neglect that many wounded soldiers face after returning from Iraq. But this is only one aspect of the sad aftermath of this war. More than 1/3 of the troops currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have served multiple tours, negatively affecting the army’s readiness and putting pressure on the National Guard and Reserves. Furthermore, 23,000 troops have been wounded in action in Iraq and countless more are struggling with the psychological wounds of war. Check out Mother Jones‘ Iraq 101 package for some compelling facts on what it takes to put a GI back together again, what U.S. soldiers have experiences in Iraq, and how the Iraq War is breaking the army.
Read: Breaking the Army


Montreal: IWD attacks by police

March 20, 2007

Here are two statements on the brutal IWD attacks on young women by police in Montreal. These statements were posted on March 15, the 11th International Day Against Police Brutality. Jaggi Singh, who was there with his sisters to celebrate IWD, was arrested during the march.

ENOUGH!! A Woman’s Place Is NOT at Home!

– Montreal Women Opposed to Police Brutality –

On Thursday, March 8th — International Women’s Day — Montreal police brutally attacked and injured three women who came to the aid of Jaggi Singh when the police arrested him at the annual Women’s Day celebration in Montreal.

As the state spins it, Jaggi Singh is to blame for everything! We see it very differently. The arrest of Jaggi Singh and the brutalization of the three women are inextricably linked. Jaggi Singh was there to celebrate International Women’s Day with his sisters and got arrested. As women we are very familiar with being blamed for our own victimization — the woman who was raped “asked for it,” what was she doing out there anyway? Why was she dressed like that? Milia Abrar, who was killed in Montreal in 1998, had challenged traditions: she asked for it. The missing women, mostly Indigenous sisters, along the ‘Highway of Tears’ asked for it. The women at École Polytechnique asked for it. The woman whose partner killed her asked for it. The women who were brutalized by the police on 8th March asked for it!

In Montreal on March 8th, 2007, we were criminalized and brutalized for demanding equality. But we served notice long ago: ENOUGH!

What happened in Montreal on March 8th, 2007 must be condemned. As women we must join other Montrealers marking the International Day Against Police Brutality. Be there in numbers.

The days when women were to be seen and not heard and when a woman’s place was in the home have gone forever. We will not be silenced, we will not be intimidated by police brutality and we will stand beside Jaggi Singh and all those who walk together with us in our on-going struggle for gender equality!

——————————————————————————–

Police Brutality and Arrest at

International Women’s Day Demonstration

– Collective Opposed to Police Brutality, March 10, 2007 –

During the evening of March 8, 2007, Montreal police officers brutalized people and arrested Jaggi Singh at the end of an International Women’s Day demonstration. It was organized by the Coalition of Women of Diverse Origins who have been organizing protests since March 8, 2002.

The first people to come on site had gathered at Berri-UQAM metro station. They were approached by two policemen asking them if they had come for the demonstration commemorating International Women’s Day and “invited” to go outside. At this point, there were about fifteen police cars close to the site. The supervisor of Station 21 was parked on the sidewalk in patrol car 21-86, and about ten “intervention cruisers” (marked #72) were parked on Berri Street just west of Berri Square. Then, the same police duo went inside Berri-UQAM metro station, towards the ticket booths. The two police officers proceeded to approach anyone corresponding to the profile of a protester, asking if they were indeed protesters. Once they could establish that they were, the police told them that there were “only 4 people” at the metro exit, with the obvious goal of discouraging them from participating in the demonstration and inciting them to leave. The tone was set!

The demonstrators came out of the metro station and after the first speech the supervisor of Station 21 declared through a megaphone in his vehicle that the march had to take De Maisonneuve Boulevard. Nevertheless, the demonstration left and embarked upon St-Catherine Street, heading west.

Upon arriving at Phillips Square at the corner of St-Catherine and Union streets, the demonstrators stopped to listen to speeches on women’s struggles at home and abroad. Meanwhile, a dozen police officers got out of their vehicles with their nightsticks in hand and formed a line blocking St-Catherine Street towards the west. A woman police officer in a cruiser marked “circulation” said to the officers: “Come on! Let’s go and get them!” Most of the officers were arrogant, were not wearing their badges, and refused to identify themselves even though they’re supposed to be polite, wear a visible piece of identification and identify themselves on demand according to the Police Ethics Code.

The demonstration then headed back east on St-Catherine towards Berri Square. At Phillips Square, an officer talking on a cell phone told the supervisor that he should check on his computer to see if an individual had broken his probation. As the demonstration made its way east along St-Catherine towards Berri Square, two uniformed officers followed the march from each side of the sidewalk, watching Jaggi Singh closely.

Once the crowd was between Clark and St-Laurent streets, one officer declared on his cruiser’s megaphone that the demonstrators had to march on the sidewalk. Part of the crowd of demonstrators, including Jaggi Singh, got onto the sidewalk. The rest of the demonstrators continued in the street, even though there were less people than at Phillips Square.

Once the demonstration arrived between Sanguinet and St-Denis streets, a dozen or so officers arrived running on the north side of Sanguinet, then on the north side of the sidewalk of St-Catherine Street at the corner of St-Denis. One officer said, “Where the hell did he go?” Another officer arriving from the east recognized Jaggi, who was walking calmly on the sidewalk, and told the others. An unidentified officer who wasn’t wearing his badge took a running jump and tackled another demonstrator to the ground, finding himself on top of her after taking her down. The same officer then turned around to another female demonstrator walking on the sidewalk behind him punching her at least three times, once in the solar plexus and once in the face, leaving her bleeding from the mouth. At the same time, another officer by the name of Doyon hit another female demonstrator in the rib-cage at least once with his club and threw her to the ground. They proceeded to surround and arrest Jaggi. Two officers, one with a retractable nightstick in hand, also pushed a demonstrator against a parked car and tried to intimidate him by saying, “Well?! You’re not that tough when you’re all alone, huh?!” Most of the police officers were not wearing their badges, had their clubs in hand and showed an attitude of contempt towards the protestors. These officers were from Station 21 as well as probably from the intervention squad.

Following the arrests and acts of brutality committed by the officers against a peaceful demonstration whose goal was to denounce violence and abuse against women around the world, the demonstrators began entering the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) while the Garda (private security firm) were preparing to block the doors. About eight police officers remained at the entrance of UQAM. A bit later, a police officer was seen inside UQAM with a Garda agent.

Jaggi was charged with breach of conditions from his last arrest in November just prior to a speech by Stephen Harper at the Montreal General Hospital. He was released under the condition that he not participate in any demonstration deemed to be “non-peaceful and illegal” and to leave a protest that became non-peaceful and illegal. He appeared the following afternoon (Friday, March 9) at the Municipal Court, in front of a judge. Unfortunately, the crown prosecutor was Cloutier, the same prosecutor for the demonstration against the G-20 in October of 2000, in which Jaggi is representing himself, where the case is presently on appeal at the Quebec Superior Court. Cloutier claimed that Jaggi had broken his conditions, that he was an habitual offender and that it was in the “public interest” not to release him, otherwise the public would lose their confidence in the justice system, which met with the judge’s approval. As a result, he is being held at Rivières-des-Prairies. [On March 13 Jaggi Singh was released on $1000 bail – Ed. note]

Jaggi has already been arrested at least ten times, and has often spent time behind bars, including 17 days after the Summit of the Americas in 2001, but to date he has not been found guilty of any crime and as a result, is being held in preventive detention. Since the justice system has not been able to legally condemn him to a prison sentence, the abuse of power by the police and the Crown target him in a harassing and discriminatory manner. We invite you to support him and demand his unconditional and immediate release!

The COBP denounces yet another case of police brutality and political repression, which comes one week prior to the 11th Day Against Police Brutality, March 15 2007, in which you are all invited to demonstrate at 5 pm at Snowdon metro.

Collective Opposed to Police Brutality (COBP)

514-859-9065 – cobp@hotmail.com – www.cobp.ath.cx


Toronto: World Water Day Event March 20th

March 20, 2007

In CELEBRATION OF WORLD WATER DAY, CITIZENShift/National Film Board of Canada, the Council of Canadians, KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and OPIRG Toronto

Present:

WHOSE WATER? A CITIZENShift Screening

Tuesday March 20, 7:00pm

60 Minutes of new documentary material with panel discussion on the Right To Water from various perspectives

Featuring:

Tim Morris, Sierra Club of Canada: “Ecological Approaches to the Right to Water”

Eduardo Sousa, Council of Canadians: “Global Water Justice Responses to the World Water Crisis”

Sara Stratton, KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives:

“Bottling the Right to Water”

Moderator:
Stephen Scharper, Author and Professor – University of Toronto

Location:
Innis Town Hall – Innis College, University of Toronto

(1 block south of Bloor St. West; TTC: St. George Subway Station)

FREE!

For more information contact:

Denise Hastings, CITIZENShift/NFB (citizen.nfb.ca), 416.952.5092 or

d.hastings@nfb.ca;

Eduardo Sousa, the Council of Canadians (HYPERLINK www.canadians.org

www.canadians.org), 416.979.5554 or esousa@canadians.org;

Sara Stratton (HYPERLINK www.kairoscanada.org www.kairoscanada.org),

416.463.5312 x 241 or sstratton@kairoscanada.org


Toronto: May Day, Immigrant Justice, Support Chris Hill 6 Nations

March 20, 2007

1. No One is Illegal, Toronto: MAY DAY

2. Reflections on Immigrant Justice

3. Support Chris Hill: Six Nations indigenous prisoner

No One Is Illegal – Toronto, the Citizenship Studies Media Lab @ York and CUPE 3903 invite you to…

Status for All!: Reflections on Immigrant Justice Movements in Canada and the US

Thursday, March 29th

1-3pm

305 York Lanes

York University

with:

Davina Bhandar, Professor of Canadian Studies, Trent University

Monami Maulik, Desis Rising Up and Moving, New York City

Farrah Miranda, No One Is Illegal – Toronto

In preparation for large-scale May Day demonstrations for immigrant rights across Canada and the US, immigrant rights scholars and activists will come together to reflect on the demand for status. Within the context of nationalism and racism, how does the demand for status radicalize our communities? What is the impact of the racial organization of Canada on the question of status rights? What are the connections and alliances we need to make with other social justice movements? How are immigrant and refugee rights groups in Canada and the US mobilizing for change and how can we continue to build these movements?

Join us for a panel discussion on the central issues facing non-status immigrants in Canada and the US and the social justice movements that are mobilizing for change.

This event is part of a series leading to the May 5th “Status for All! Stop the Deportations” demonstration called by No One Is Illegal – Toronto.

For more information, contact Jean McDonald at jean@riseup.net

No One Is Illegal – Toronto: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell campaign: www.dadttoronto.org

Citizenship Studies Media Lab: http://csml.calumet.yorku.ca/

CUPE 3903: http://www.cupe3903.tao.ca/


Desis Rising Up and Moving: www.drumnation.org


MAY DAY OF ACTION
Saturday, May 5
11am
Bloor and Christie (Christie Pitts Park)
**************************************************************************
No One Is Illegal-Toronto calls on all allies and supporters to endorse and help organise towards the next May Day of Action for Status for All on Saturday, May 5th.

Last May, millions of immigrants and allies across North America took to the streets to demand justice for immigrants and refugees and status for all. In Toronto, workers, students, trade unionists, activists and members of faith communities among others participated in a series of strong and vibrant immigrant rights demonstrations
including the May 27th National Day of Action for Status for All.

With the emergence of the new Conservative immigration ministry, we saw escalated attacks against immigrant communities: an increased number of detentions and deportations, arrests of students in schools, and new US-style enforcement tactics, including random identification-checks in malls, at subway stations, and on the streets.

We organised and fought these attacks. We organised in our work places, community centres, apartment buildings, schools and unions to show the Immigration Ministry that we would not accept these attacks. Together we were able to stop the random identification checks in a community viciously targeted by immigration officials, force immigration enforcement out of schools, slow down the deportation machinery of Immigration Canada, and win greater access to essential services for people without status such as school, health and police services amongst many others.

But the fight is not over. Everyday over 500,000 undocumented people across Canada, and over 80,000 in Toronto alone, live in daily fear of detention and deportation. They are our co-workers, fellow students, political activists, family, friends and community members. Working in the backs of hotels and restaurants, as domestic and agricultural workers, as taxi drivers and construction workers, and in other jobs no one else wants to do, undocumented and immigrant communities experience racial profiling, exploitative working conditions, and lack of access to essential services.

On May 5th we will come together to show our strength and continue to echo our demands. We will demand an end to detentions and deportations. We will demand access without fear to essential services. We will demand a full and inclusive regularization program.

We will demand justice, dignity and respect! Join us.

WAYS TO SUPPORT:

1)Endorse the May Day of Action by sending a short statement of support to nooneisillegal@riseup.net

2)Financial and in-kind
(photocopying, translation) donations.

3)Organise a contingent from your organization or community to come out on May 5th.

4)Organise a No One Is Illegal workshop/presentation at your school, union, agency, community centre or workplace.

FOR MORE INFO:
Email nooneisillegal@riseup.net, or check out
http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org


Support Chris Hill: Six Nations indigenous prisoner
Stop the Criminalization of Indigenous Resistance to Colonial Land Theft! Free Chris Hill!
On January 3rd, Six Nations Police, in accordance with the demands of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), arrested and imprisoned Chris Hill, a 20 year old young Mohawk man of the Wolf Clan from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, for allegedly “assaulting a police officer with a weapon” on April 20th, 2006 – the very day that the OPP and the RCMP invaded Douglas Creek Estates and violently attempted to evict the people of Six Nations from their land. That day, the OPP used tazer darts and batons on unarmed people, including women and youth, and arrested 16 people on a day that brought nation-wide attention to the struggle of Six Nations for land rights and autonomy.

Since the Haudonausaunee of Six Nations reclaimed Douglas Creek Estates, some 30 indigenous people have been charged by the settler-colony of Canada in relation to the Reclamation. Chris Hill is one of the latest to be charged. Interestingly, the warrant for his arrest in relation to April 20th was issued 6 months later in October of 2006. Since January 3rd, he has been sitting in Barton Street Jail in Hamilton, Ontario where he is locked up for 18 hours a day.

Chris Hill was denied bail on the basis of his record of “failure to omply” when he was a young offender. Chris Hill was denied access to legal aid on the basis of him not having a permanent address. His mother, Rhonda Martin, is a mother on assistance who just underwent surgery, and now faces lawyers’ fees in the thousands in order to be able to free her son.

Chris Hill sits behind bars for having defended his land. The
proceedings at the Cayuga courthouse have proven to be extremely lengthy, as nearly all court appearances have resulted in remand after remand.

Chris Hill needs moral, political and financial support and solidarity. Please send reading material and write letters of support to Chris Hill for him to receive while he awaits a trial date. Furthermore, please contribute to Chris Hill’s legal defense fund. Please continue to demand the end of the criminalization of the Six Nations Land Reclamation.


Address your letters of support to Chris Hill to:

Chris Hill
Wentworth Detention Center.
165 Barton Street East
Hamilton, Ontario

To contribute to the legal defense fund of Six Nations:
Send checks marked “legal defense” to:

Janie Jameson
RR1
Ohsweken, Ontario
N0A 1MO

Alternatively, to support Chris Hill directly, send checks, marked “legal
defense” to

Rhonda Martin
P.O. box 383
Ohsweken, Ontario
N0A 1MO

May the stars carry your sadness away,
may the flowers fill your heart with beauty,
may hope forever wipe away your tears,
And above all may silence make you strong.

Chief Dan George

The Mississauga Coalition for Peace and Justice
Website:
www.mcpj.org

Open “The Windows of Dissent, in which activists take down the first fences on the streets and in their minds”
-Naomi Klein, GTA Activist