Monday, March 31, 2008

Racist Comments Follow Art Bell's Obama Endorsement

Art Bell was hosting Sunday night's Coast to Coast radio show and once again endorsed Barack Obama. "I'm a big Obama fan," he said.

But Bell told his audience that he had been amazed at the reaction to his endorsement of Obama during Friday night's show. He was barraged with "intensely racial" fastblasts. Fastblasts are messages that can be sent through the Coast to Coast website to allow listeners to give feedback during the show. Bell said the response was "totally racial and bigoted beyond all belief."

He said it appears to be anonymity that gives listeners the nerve to make such comments.

Bell is raising a mixed race daughter, Asia, whom he had with his Filipino wife.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Art Bell Endorses Barack Obama

It's almost as good as an endorsement from Oprah. Radio host Art Bell endorsed Barack Obama last night on the late night Coast to Coast show. Coast to Coast gets up to 10 million listeners a night.

"I think I'm an Obama guy," Bell said during his opening remarks on the show. Then he repeated himself, explaining that after listening to the speeches and "watching the sparks fly" between Barack and Clinton, he believed himself to be "an Obama guy."

"I like Obama", Bell added later in the show. "I think Obama has the ability to bring this country together in a way that has not been done since John Kennedy."

When a caller expressed the opinion that Obama's Muslim ancestry could work in favor of the U.S. internationally, Bell disagreed. "We're very much a warrier-like people and I don't think the race or background will make any difference to those attacked."

Bell, a self-described Libertarian who had earlier in the primaries praised Republican Ron Paul for his "revolutionary" ideas, commented last night on John McCain becoming the Republican candidate for President. "I've always liked John McCain but would have liked him to achieve that last time."

Bell's endorsement of Obama carries weight, even though Bell now only does the occasional Coast to Coast show. Bell built up a loyal, almost cult-like, following during his years as regular host of the show which not only focuses on UFOs and the paranormal but has a steady stream of interviews with political authors and scientists.

One caller told Bell last night, "You're a legend." Bell responded, "I really would prefer not to be thought of that way." In the past Bell has attempted to knock himself off the pedestal listeners put him on, advising them not to assume that he has the answers, that he is no more qualified to figure things out than they are.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Geert Wilders Releases Video Dutch Government Did Not Want You to See

It’s the video the Dutch government didn’t want you to see. The government made it known to Dutch politician Geert Wilders that they did not want him to release his video, Fitna, for fear of unrest amongst Muslims.

But Wilders released Fitna today, a video warning that Islam and the Koran pose a threat to western freedoms and it is time to wake up. “Islam and the Koran are a danger for freedom in the Netherlands in the long term and I need to warn for that,” Wilders said on NOS television today.

Wilders, a critic of immigration, founded the increasingly popular Freedom Party under the slogan, "Stop the Islamization of The Netherlands.''

This video is of interest to Canadians watching the attempted Islamization of our tradition of free speech. Ezra Lavant, a former publisher hauled in front of the Alberta Human Rights Commission to face a complaint by a Muslim Iman for running cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, achieved hero status when he took on the Commission for "applying Saudi values in Canada".

Watch the video the Dutch government did not want you to see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Traffic Lights Down and No Cops Around

All traffic lights were stuck on red at the busy Main and Hastings intersection during rush hour this afternoon. I first got a report at about 3:30 p.m, another report at 4:00 p.m., and another at 4:45 p.m. that the lights were still down. They started functioning again shortly before 5 p.m.

There were no Vancouver Police on the scene the entire time. At around 4 p.m., one police officer drove by in a squad car, turning toward the police station just around the corner on Main. He didn't seem concerned about the mayhem. "Shift change," said a bystander.

Multiple lanes of cars were headed in the direction of pedestrians walking in the crosswalks. One woman with her baby in a stroller was talking to a male friend on her left, not realizing that three cars were coming at her from her right. The drivers did see her and slowed as she suddenly saw them and darted to the safety of the sidwalk.

The drivers were actually quite courteous. The fact that they were crossing against red lights may have made them more willing to yield to pedestrians.
A Downtown Eastside resident sent us the above photo.

Where were the police?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Emergency Response Team Enters Jubilee Rooms

The Vancouver Police Emergency Response Team entered Jubilee Rooms at 235 Main St. on the Downtown Eastside this Good Friday evening. Eighteen cops were in the building, the desk clerk told tenants standing outside. Jubilee Rooms, formerly known as New Zealand Rooms is on Main St., between Cordova and Powell St., across from the courthouse.

A man "somehow got a key" to the place, a witness said. "That place is locked 24 hours a day. They can't figure out how he got a key." He managed to get past the male desk clerk and beat up his ex-girlfriend who lives there. The desk clerk called the police.

The man then barricaded himself in the washroom on the 1st floor. A male cop on a cell phone on the scene said the man apparently had a long knife.

There were numerous police vehicles outside the Jubilee: two squad cars, three ghost cars, an SUV. There were also two ambulances. Ambulance attendants placed a stretcher near the door of the Jubillee. One of the ambulance attendants was taking photographs.

Police brought out the ex-girlfriend. She was holding her hand and wrist up, as though she were favoring them. "Maybe her wrist got twisted," a witness speculated. Police put her in the back of the squad car. She was not handcuffed. "She wasn't crying," says a witness, "but she did look a bit shocked." A witness who arrived at this point says this was about 5:50 p.m. and the incident "must have happened just before that." It would not end until 7:55 p.m.

A cop said on his cell phone that the suspect had threatened suicide. He had said he wanted to kill himself and had been thinking about it for a while.

A large white truck arrived carrying Emergency Response Team equipment in the back. Some police officers went to the trunks of their cars and suited up with body armour, others went to the white truck and suited up. A driver and passenger got out of the white truck and entered the building with guns that, according to a witness, "resembled miniature AK47s". "Are those bean bag guns?", a witness asked a female cop passing by on horseback and chatting with people on the street. She said they were, adding that police try to avoid using lethal force when possible.

"You should have seen the arsenol!", says a witness, "when the cops came back down [the stairs of the building] and they put all their weapons on the cars." The cops were laughing and joking as they came out of the Jubilee, possibly out of relief said the witness.

The suspect was brought out alive.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Police Ticket Sidewalk Bicyclist

Finally, somebody gets a ticket for riding their bicycle on the sidewalk.

It happened this afternoon at around 3:30 when a bunch of Vancouver Police officers were standing in front of the Carnegie Center at Main and Hastings. A guy rode across the crosswalk on his bike and then west on Hastings St. on the sidewalk. A cop approached him, took out his ticket book and wrote down the guy's information. Then he handed him a ticket.

The bylaw probiting bicycling on the sidewalk needs to be enforced more often. Bicyclists are becoming an increasing menace on the sidewalk.

When I told a friend of mine this evening about police issuing the ticket, he told me what he had seen a bicyclist do on Main St. in Chinatown. A guy on a bike, wearing a blue helmet, rode fast toward a crowd of people waiting to board the bus. The people scurried out of the way.

"I saw the same thing! On Main Street in Chinatown!", I told him. "I just wrote about it today [in a draft of this post]. What did the guy look like?" He was middle aged, my friend told me.

The guy I saw didn't look more than 32 years old. It was a few months ago, about 5:30 a.m., and this guy, with his helmet on, was bicycling fast toward a cluster of people boarding a bus. They scattered like pigeons.

On three or four occasions, I have called out to bicyclists on Main St. not to ride on the sidewalk. One guy yelled in my face as he whizzed past me, "Fuck off!" I have resigned myself now to the fact that the bicyclists own the sidewalk. I just move over.

I am thinking along the same lines as a guy who was quoted in the "rant" section of the Westender newspaper advising pedestrians to get into the habit of walking along the curb so that bicyclists can have the sidewalk all to themselves.

It continues to amaze me that bicyclists put on their expensive gear so that they feel safe and confident riding their bikes . . . on the sidewalk. They think they're "green" but they're not; they're yellow cowards.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jimmy Pattison has a Spot for Ethel Whitty

Sunday night is the busiest night of the week in the Carnegie Computer Room, as people prepare for the new week. So what did City staff do?

Believe it or not, they turned out the lights and locked the door.

After the door had been locked for a couple of hours, a volunteer opened it as a favor to people in a jam with no internet access. But he is not a regular volunteer in the computer room.

That's the problem at Carnegie with its multi-million dollar budget: the poor have to beg and cajole somebody into providing computer services that the Center is richly funded to provide.

Staff always have an excuse for not opening the doors. The current flavor of the week is that staff person Colleen Gorrie is off sick. They're like children; they must be watched constantly. The only excuse they haven't yet used is that the dog ate their homework.

Did I mention that the Sunday evening before last, the poor were locked out of the computer room as well?

The Great Taxpayer Rip-off at Carnegie continues. It is not only CUPE members who are responsible but the City's manager at Carnegie, Ethel Whitty, and her City Hall boss Jacquie Forbes-Roberts.

If you are even suspected of tattletaling to the taxpayer about locked doors by discussing the issue on the internet, Forbes-Roberts will succumb to pressure from Carnegie staff to bar you from the building. Don't believe me? Ask William Simpson who was barred "indefinitely" in a letter signed by Forbes-Roberts and hand delivered to him by Ethel Whitty and CUPE member Dan Tetrault.

Billionaire Jimmy Pattison, who has an office about ten blocks west of Carnegie, should now have spots for the likes of CUPE, Whitty, and Forbes-Roberts. He just bought "Ripley's Believe It Or Not".

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Squamish Nation Feast Disappears

Today there was a sign in the lobby of the Carnegie Community Center announcing that the Squamish Nation would be hosting a traditional native feast of salmon, bannock, and two types of soup at Oppenheimer Park at 2 p.m. on March 16.

Several people left Carnegie and walked over to the park, arriving at 2:20 p.m., but didn't find any sign of a traditional native feast.

I figured there had been a mistake. But a middle aged aboriginal man saw it differently: "Somebody must have pulled a prank," he said calmly. "to make the Squamish Nation look bad."

Christians were there though, giving out soup from there slightly corny white van (see top photo) with words painted in black across the side: "Jesus Loves You". When I see that van around the neighborhood, it reminds me of a woman from Nova Scotia interviewed on Coast to Coast radio about a near death experience in which a figure of light told her, "Don't ever think you're not loved."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bus Kills Pedestrian at Main & Hastings

A "Top Class Limousine" tour bus was at the bottom of it's class tonight when it had a pedestrian under it's wheel. The 68 year old pedestrian was struck by the bus shortly before 9 p.m. as it turned north off Hastings onto Main St., by the Pathways Job Search Center. A witness who passed by shortly after the accident, said, "They had to take him out from under the wheel." (The pedestrian can be seen lying under a white sheet at the left of the photo above.)

The bus appeared empty of passengers.

At least one security guard came to help from the Carnegie Community Center across the street. The pedestrian still had a pulse but as a police officer entering the Carnegie Center said, "It doesn't look good." He died shortly afterwards at the scene. He did not die enroute to hospital as CTV television reported. He was put into a wine colored body bag at the scene and loaded into the coroner's van.

A bearded VPD Constable wearing a turban (on right of photo above) stood behind the yellow tape across the street from the accident to make sure nobody violated that boundry. But his skills as a community-friendly cop were less than stellar; he was defensive and snooty when a local resident politely asked him if he could walk on the Main Street sidewalk to get home. That same Constable was standing by the yellow tape at the Cambie Hotel on February 15th, the night Steve Seymour was shot to death.

Carnegie Locks Poor Out of Computer Room this Afternoon

This afternoon, the computer room at Carnegie Center was closed. Low income people arriving to use computers found the door locked and the place in darkness.

Carnegie's Director, Ethel Whitty, has an office just meters away. But she seems to do little to ensure that this taxpayer funded service remains open at all times.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dr. Laura Blames Spitzer's Wife for his Prostitute Spree

On her radio show today, Dr. Laura Schlessinger was laughing. On the topic of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer being caught using a high-priced hooker service, The Today Show had interviewed a call girl to ask why husbands go to prostitutes. Dr. Laura was thrilled to learn that this "whore" gave the same advice she had been giving. It was advice Dr. Laura says she has been relentlessly attacked on blogs for daring to give.

According to Dr. Laura, the call girl said that if a woman doesn't want her guy to go to a prostitute, she should "put more energy into the relationship". The theme of Dr. Laura's book, "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands", is that the modern women is neglecting her husband and may live to regret it.

Dr. Laura loves to give air time to anybody who antecdotally supports her book's thesis. Several times a week, she reads an email from a man who says he left his wife because she wasn't treating him like he had much value, and from a wife who says she regrets treating her husband like he was an afterthought, now that he has left.

Dr. Laura was giddy throughout her show today.

Dr. Laura and the call girl may have part of the truth, but only part in my opinion. I think there are a multitude of reasons why men use prostitutes, not the least of which is that men have trouble with monogomy because they're not hard-wired for it.

I was once told by a guy who himself used prostitutes that guys go to hookers because hookers will do things their wives are not into, like S&M. I thought of him when the media spoke to one of the call girls at the service Spitzer was using and she revealed that the boss had told them that "Client 9", Spitzer, could expect them to do things that were not always "safe."

Judging from the Reuters photo above of Spitzer standing with his wife Silda Wall Spitzer, the onus is now on him to put some energy into the relationship.

UPDATE: On Friday morning, Sue Davis, who has worked as an escort/prostitute in Vancouver for 22 years, was interviewed on CFUN radio by Shannon Nelson. Davis said, "Men who are happily married and are exploring sex with their wives don't come to sex workers."


Read about the ring of Vancouver professors who sought sex behind the backs of their spouses: Simon Fraser University Asked to Disclose Sexual Harassment Ring to Donors

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another Abuse Story from Pathways

Carol Madson, Manager of Pathways Employment Center on the Downtown Eastside, recently irked Downtown Eastsiders when she told the Vancouver Sun that job searchers at Pathways have major "self-esteem" and "anger" issues. Madson knows the buzz words that keep her funding coming, but the way she runs Pathways, it is difficult to go there on a regular basis without feeling angry or that their self-esteem had been eroded.

Today a woman around 40 years old was working on a resume when a guy about 22 years old got up from his computer and, according to her, "roughly" brushed by her. A dangling strap from his pack sack slapped her on the side of the face, over her eye. She said, "Hey, you hit me!" He said he had not. She said he had.

Then he began loudly telling his friends that he had "offended" the "little old lady". He was laughing and talking loudly so that she could hear. I believed what she told me because I have seen this ritual of demeaning commentary and laughter used by young guys in Pathways when I have dropped in there to talk to Bill Simpson (who has been barred from Carnegie across the street for free speech).

This verbal abuse is provided courtesy of the federal government. During today's incident, the woman told me, Pathways staff said nothing. It wasn't as though they didn't hear what was going on, she said, the guy had moved closer to them than to her when he was making his loud comments.

Ultimately the Manager, Carol Madson, is the problem. People know what will happen if they complaint to her; they will be seen as just another client with "issues"... anger, self esteem, mental health. Previously, the DTES Enquirer reported that a woman who was verbally abused at Pathways was dismissed by Madson who told her in a supercilious tone, "Have a nice day" -- a male witness corroborated her account. Madson, was busy with her kids at the time -- she still brings her kids to work although she hides them in her office now -- and did not want to be hassled with the realities of managing Pathways, the job she is being paid to do.

The Downtown Eastside Enquirer asked residents how the situation could be improved at Pathways. One regular user of Pathways says one solution would be to have the computer room supervisor, a guy around sixty years old, sit inside the room or closer to the door so that he is in a position to actually supervise. That would prevent other problems too, such as computers meant for job searches being occupied by people playing video games. But of course if punks couldn't play video games and poker, they wouldn't sign into Pathways and the numbers needed to justify funding would go down. And Madson has figured that out.

But what she and her federal government co-workers don't seem to have figured out is that verbal abuse is not an employable skill.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Taxpayer Rip-off at Carnegie Center Continues

Carnegie staff got the big raise CUPE insisted they deserved, but they are still not doing their jobs on a steady basis. Services at Carnegie are too often hit and miss.

Last Friday evening and the Sunday evening before that, Carnegie staff locked Downtown Eastside residents out of the computer room which contains much-in-demand public access computers. That's two four hour shifts, a total of eight hours of computer services, lost. Sunday evenings are the busiest time for the computer room with people preparing to start the new week. This evening the room was open.

There is no excuse for those responsible for keeping the computer room open -- Colleen Gorrie and Sindi, along with Director Ethel Whitty -- to be operating by the seat of their pants. When they lock people out of services, they always have the same excuse: "No volunteer showed up." They have a multi-million dollar budget but they can't function without a volunteer. Why can't Colleen or Ethel sit in the computer room themselves? After all, they're getting a pay cheque to keep those services open. There are surprisingly few services at Carnegie considering the millions that the taxpayer sinks into that place. The third floor has only a computer room and a Learning Center, the latter being co-operated by Capilano College. The second floor has a gym which is generally deserted except for a volleyball game once or twice a week, and a cafeteria which gets a lot of traffic.

Even the cafeteria has a performance problem, although it is still one of the most reliable services in the building. It often has good soups and recently I was told they had a good roast beef dinner. But there have been times in recent weeks when the cupboards have been bare. I went in one evening after the dinner hour and all they had to feed the line up of people was breakfast cereal and a few pastries. No soups. No sandwiches. Then they ran out of cereal!

A friend of mine went into the cafeteria today to buy a muffin for fifty cents but they were out, so she bought a piece of chocolate cake for eighty cents. It was so stale, she couldn't eat it. I tasted it too. Deadly stale.

That is not to say there are not people working tirelessly behind the scenes at Carnegie. The Board of Directors recently arranged a secret meeting for which minutes, if they exist at all, are unavailable. And Board members won't say what the topic of the meeting was. Either the Carnegie Director or Assistant Director would have attended this on camera meeting, as a City representative attends all meetings involving Carnegie Board members.

Speculation is that the meeting was about Rachel Davis, a Board member who was not able to attend, but has irked Carnegie Board members and management by speaking up on behalf of low income Carnegie members who elected her. Davis has been ostracized for speaking up in defense of Bill Simpson when he was banned from this City building, accused of doing what we are doing here, tattletaling to the taxpayer via a blog about services that are paid for but not delivered.

TD Bank in Chinatown Robbed

Last Wednesday evening around 5:30, the TD Canada Trust at the corner of Main & Pender in Chinatown was robbed.

A Downtown Eastside resident heard sirens and went over. There was a sign on the door saying that the bank was closed due to an "Emergency". A guy in a suit standing inside the door was telling customers they could not enter. The Downtown Eastside resident asked, "Was there a robbery?" "Yes", the man in the suit responded, "But we got the guy."

There were two police ghost cars there at the time the Downtown Eastside resident arrived. Police officers were inside.

Is Psychic Sylvia Brown No Longer Welcome on Coast to Coast Radio?

On Saturday night on Coast to Coast, host George Noory (during the segment before host Ian Punit came on) told the audience that psychic Sylvia Brown had not been on the show for awhile and they weren't sure they would have her on again. He said he was put off by a comment he saw her make on the Montel show. He said a woman had asked Brown how a fireman, a relative of hers, had died on 9/11. Brown said he had drowned. The woman said he couldn't have drowned but Brown insisted he had. Noory wasn't more specific than that about what had put him off.

Noory didn't mention the jam Brown had gotten into last year on his own show. I was listening to Brown on Coast to Coast when it happened. It was during a period when, if I remember correctly, there was a great deal of media attention on miners in the U.S. who were buried and rescuers were working to save them. Brown said -- my memory is not 100% on the details here -- that the miners were no longer alive. But a few minutes later news came in that the miners had been found alive. Noory pointed out to Brown that this news contradicted what she had said. She insisted that it was in fact what she had said. So Noory played the audio tape a few times for the audience and told us we could decide for ourselves. Although Brown's words had not been precise on the original tape, it seemed clear to me that she had been wrong.

There may be times when people have psychic moments. But I have never known what to make of Sylvia Brown. Terry Johnson, a bright guy and committed skeptic who lived on the Downtown Eastside who has since died of a heroin overdose, thought Sylvia Brown was a complete fake. I talked to him a few years ago about seeing her on Larry King Live and he said King was "gullible". I have a psychic prediction: Sylvia Brown is finished on Coast to Coast.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008