Incognito Press

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Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Bread and Circuses – The Illusion of Choice

Posted by E on September 14, 2015

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Last night was the first day of Rosh Hashana – for those of you unfamiliar with Jewish holidays, it’s a special celebration that marks the beginning of a new year – 5776 to be precise. So for the last couple of days I’ve been busy cooking up a storm and cleaning the house for a dinner party on Sunday evening. But sometime between making sure that the Hungarian goulash would bubble gently on the stove for precisely 2.5 hours and getting the ingredients together for my first-ever (and incredibly delicious) Asian-inspired bourbon chicken dish, the idea for a new blog entry came to me. Paradoxical, considering that what I was doing (chopping veggies in the kitchen) was rather mundane – but since I get my best ideas in the shower or while brushing my teeth, it shouldn’t have surprised me after all.

shana_tova shanatova drawing

Over the last month or so I’ve been developing a basic guide to social media marketing for artists – writers specifically, but something that should benefit anybody in the arts who wishes to build a wider platform. I’ve written about 3-4 pieces that cover branding, crowdfunding and blogging, but suddenly – while checking on the brisket and roasted Romanian peppers (I should give you guys the recipe!) – it dawned on me that I neglected the most important factor of marketing – the bigger picture.

Just about anybody can call themselves a social media expert these days. As human beings bred to be social creatures, we all have varying degrees of proficiency. But what passes as social media instruction is often very superficial – just last week I read ads for a webinar that teaches wannabe “experts” how to bluff their way into getting hired by unsuspecting clients who might actually know more than they do.

I’m guilty of giving impersonal advice too, and who isn’t? The internet is full of advice that aims to be helpful. You’ll be told that you need to brand yourself – start a blog, print some business cards, etc. It’s all fine and dandy, and you’ll read the same advice practically everywhere. But how many such self-help webinars will tell you about the illusion of choice? Who will tell you that you’re actually working against a huge, invisible wave that nevertheless permeates every fiber of our daily existence?

media_consolidationThe Illusion of Choice

In order to really and truly understand the fundamentals of marketing, you must learn about the forces behind it. Specifically, you have to learn the rules of the game that, for better or worse, we’re all conditioned to play. A crucial piece of that understanding rests in accepting the fact that much of what we think we know – that is, the basis for our opinions – comes from a filtered, polluted and thoroughly biased process.

Many of us have heard of Noam Chomsky’s ground-breaking 1988 book Manufactured Consent. Chomsky based the title on a quote from a 1922 book titled Public Opinion by one Walter Lippmann, which delineates the social, physical, and psychological barriers impeding man’s ability to interpret the world. Yes, even back in 1922 (before the funnel-like conglomeration of the world’s media) there were concerns about human beings’ ability to discern the truth around them.

“The manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. […] the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough” – Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion

media-moguls-1200x849The blame for such intentional ignorance rests both on the plutocracy of the status quo (who own or fund the printing presses, radio, TV and other forms of media) and also on the public itself who prefers ignorance over reality – much like the current obsession over Kanye and Kim Kardashian’s ass.

Lippmann’s discourses are that 1) the media is profit-driven, and 2) wants to play it safe, i.e. won’t publish anything too controversial.

1.The buying public: The bewildered herd must pay for understanding the unseen environment through the mass communications media. The irony is that — although the public’s opinion is important — they must pay for its acceptance. And we know that people will buy the most media at the lowest price: “For a dollar, you may not even get an armful of candy, but for a dollar or less people expect reality/representations of truth to fall into their laps”. (Wikipedia)

2.Nature of news: Officially-available public matters will constitute “the news”, and unofficial (private) matters either are unavailable or used as “issues” for propaganda. (Wikipedia)

Bread and Circuses

cicero bread and circusesI’d heard this phrase decades ago, as part of some subversive political zine or another, and knew that it dated back to Roman times, a poet named Juvenal and the violent “games” of the Coliseum. The meaning isn’t hard to grasp: in 140 B.C. Roman politicians passed laws to keep the votes of poorer citizens by introducing free food rations: they gave out free grain and entertainment, i.e. “bread and circuses”, which became the most effective way to rise to power.

I heard the phrase again last year from someone who had read my memoir Race Traitor and was shocked that it hadn’t received coverage in mainstream news. So many people have written to me privately and congratulated me for fighting fear and publishing a crucial part of 1990s Canadian history, a piece of our history that certain government factions would rather be forgotten.

juvenal2I told him that I’d done my best to contact the media, tapping every contact I’d had in the press. I was actually interviewed by a well-known journalist from the Globe & Mail, as well as a top programming director at the CBC. Neither interview ever made it to print (or air).

I refused to speculate why, but with the media monopolization that has taken place over the last few decades, it isn’t hard to imagine why a state-funded television network like the CBC would decline to air my story – despite the fact that in 1994 they had broadcast a Fifth Estate episode that featured Grant Bristow and my story. Back in 1994 Linden MacIntyre (who couldn’t be bothered to reply to my 2014 email, even after being connected to him via well-known human rights attorney Paul Copeland) had quoted the Toronto’s Regional CSIS Investigator as saying “We’ll tear her to shreds” about me. I was an 18-year old girl back then, a child, who CSIS wanted to “rip to shreds” because my affidavits described many of the criminal activities their agent Grant Bristow had committed. Grant, of course, was subsequently retired to Alberta and given a “shut your mouth” package totalling close to a million dollars.

revolutionGiven the media monopoly going on in the world today, it is increasingly difficult to get any airtime if you’re writing hard-hitting pieces that might challenge the government or status quo. I’ve received private messages of encouragement from mainstream journalists too afraid to cover my story publicly. What choice do they have? I understand their dilemmas – everyone has a mortgage, kids, needs to put food on the table.

Six media giants now control 90% of what we hear, read or see on television, on the radio, in the newspapers or at the cinema. In 1983, that 90% was owned by 50 different companies. Yes, times have changed, and if you want to be hired or stay employed in mainstream press, you have to toe the line and play by the rules. This isn’t a “conspiracy” – it’s a sad fact.

Timeline of Media Conglomeration

1941 – rules were created to ensure that a broadcaster could not own TV stations that reached over 35% of the population.

circuses21946 – rules were enacted that prohibited a major network from buying another major network

1996 – Telecommunications Act = rules went out the window, unprecedented radio station consolidation

2008 – the US Senate voted, without debate, to throw out FCC’s rules on newspaper broadcast conglomerations.

These six major corporations now own all the world’s major publishers and every major newspaper in western countries. They also own the news stations, leading to collusion and censorship in reporting.

Why am I writing this? Because whenever it comes to media manipulation and the corporations behind it, you’re bound to hear all sorts of opinions about who is running the show, and what their agenda might be. And frankly I am sick of the misinformation going on out there, even among progressives on the left and Anonymous. Tired of the implied and overt anti-Semitism that goes with the thought that these six corporations are all connected to Jewish families like the Rothschilds or Bilderbergs. This is NOT about Judaism, or “the Illuminati”. Such disinformation campaigns are hateful, disingenuous and serve to promote division among people. They’re just as evil as media disinformation campaigns that aim to vilify our “enemies” (i.e. the Russians – anybody in BRICS) before we go to war with them.

Orwell media memeLet me set the record straight: as a Jew, I’ve never benefitted from any largesse because of my ethnic or religious background. Because I told the truth about CSIS’ illegal actions in the 1990s I still can’t get my book featured by the mainstream press and I had to default on my student loans in order to have a life. I have absolutely nothing on my side but the truth (not that the truth puts food on the table).

Religion or a European background is NOT what ties people like the Rothschilds, the Bilderbergs, the Rockerfellers, the Oppenheimers or the House of Windsor together – because as a European and a Jew, I’m still poor. And let me assure you that nobody called me with the password to initiate me into the Illuminati 🙂

What keeps the elites in power is greed and unethical, unadulterated wealth – not religion, not ethnicity, not skin colour. The only God the .001% of elites worship is Money. Any charitable foundations they create are about tax write-offs. Any photo-ops with indigenous peoples or wartime refugees are to profit from potential lawsuits disguised as humanitarian causes, or potential territorial resources. When Queen Elizabeth shakes hands or takes a bouquet of flowers from a toddler, she’s more concerned about the colour-coordination of her coat & hat and renovating the plumbing at Windsor Castle with taxpayers’ money.

speak the truthWe’re talking about the .001% of elites whose God is Money. These are people born with diamond-encrusted gold spoons in their mouths, who have never known hunger, fear, or had to fight with all their might to achieve anything in their lives. Their only claim to fame rests on the laurels of being born at the right time, out of the right vagina.

And in the meanwhile the rest of us, the .999%, are fighting amongst ourselves for scraps. Allowing the biased, partisan, manufactured media to divide us along camps of left and right, black and white, Jewish, Christian or Muslim. This is not about money or religion, or sexual orientation (I’m a lesbian – but why would you care what I do in bed?).

It’s about POWER and CONTROL.

How can we ever succeed when the game is rigged? Simple – educate yourself. Inform yourself and others. It’s only the beginning. And even if with every passing year it’s more difficult to discern the truth – you have to keep trying. Because our lives have to have meaning above and beyond the pursuit of money. There has to be some meaning in all this – in all the tears and despair of a world where millions die of hunger, manufactured wars and preventable diseases every year.

There has to be.

life meaning

Watch this today. BE the change you want to see in the world.

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Posted in activism, blog, books, cbc, censorship, freedom, globe & mail, grant bristow, jewish, journalism, media, publishing, writer, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

An Open Letter to Mount Sinai Hospital

Posted by E on December 3, 2014

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This is my mother, Lucia. She is currently residing on the tenth floor of your hospital, but if you get your way she won’t be there for much longer.

She has been deaf all her life, is only 70 years old and suffers from diabetes, stroke damage and, worst of all, early onset Alzheimer’s disease. In the past few years, she’s had several falls which resulted in a broken hip, a sprained wrist, and scores of bruises. Two weeks ago, she fell somewhere on the street (I don’t know what exactly happened since she has no memory of the incident) and ended up being admitted to your Mount Sinai hospital in downtown Toronto.

I spent the week after her admission trying desperately to get a hold of my mother’s newest CCAC coordinator, who apparently went on an extended holiday. This is the third coordinator my mother has been assigned to in under a year, by the way. I don’t even think the woman remembers my mother without looking up her case file.

CCAC stands for Community Care Access Centre – these are the folks who get to file the applications for people waiting for long-term care homes. They decide when someone is in crisis, and when someone can safely remain in their residence for sometimes years on end, while waiting for a bed to open up.

More than ten days passed and nobody at CCAC bothered to phone me back. As I waited, I did my best to delay responding to the frantic calls of the in-house Mount Sinai social worker, who kept leaving me voice mails indicating they wanted to discharge my mother. Eventually I had no choice but to call Alana back and arrange for a conference call to discuss “transition” plans.

I spent the weekend before the conference call educating myself on my mother’s rights: a huge learning curve. Over the last year, she had already been on a list for nursing homes – at the top of her list is the Bob Rumball LTR Home for the Deaf – located in Barrie, ON and the only home in Canada specially-designed for the needs of deaf seniors.

According to the Long-Term Care Homes Act, an Ontario resident has the right to go to the nursing home of their choice, not the first available bed that opens up. And, as a deaf pensioner, before her mind became clouded with disease and confusion, my mother had tearfully insisted she go to the one place she felt she would be understood – among people who were just like her, who she could communicate with in sign language.

As a Romanian-born deaf person, my mother cannot adequately communicate in English with anybody – thus being locked inside yet another cage of disability and inadequacy.

Worse yet, her eyesight is now failing.

The wait time for the Bob Rumball Centre has been quoted as anywhere from four months to two years. The wait depends on who is deemed to be in crisis and who lucks out with a more hands-on CCAC coordinator. Of course, in order to prevent discrimination the Rumball Centre also takes in hearing people from the community, and thus my deaf mother is likely lower on the list for the only Deaf seniors home in Canada than someone higher on the list who happens to be hearing.

As her power of attorney representative, I owe it to her to ensure that her needs and wishes are met. For someone who worked for the CIBC for over twenty years and received no pension, she has been left penniless and dependent on approx. $650 a month to survive. She cannot afford an expensive retirement home or a private room. And as a writer, I am dependent on contracts and all-too-meagre royalties. I have no extra income to subsidize her care, and I shouldn’t have to – in Canada, seniors are supposed to be cared for by the medical profession.

Or so I thought.

But clearly, the Mount Sinai staff were more eager to clear out a pesky bed-blocker than ensure that my mother won’t starve to death in her tiny apartment. But I was prepared to be pressured – reading this Toronto Star article on hospital tactics to clear out seniors in need was eye-opening and prepared me for what was to come.

“Our medical team has assessed your mother and found her medically-stable and ready for discharge,” I am told by Alana the Mount Sinai social worker. “So we’re contacting you to make arrangements for her discharge.”

Really? Did a team of medics actually assess my mother and found her capable of being on her own? I seriously doubted the in-hospital social worker – whose job is to clear bed-blockers and send people like my mother onto other pastures – had even laid eyes on her.

What made her statement even more hypocritical was the fact that I had visited the hospital a day earlier and spoke with a nurse who expressed her concern about my mother being able to live independently. “But she does use the walker to get to the toilet,” she tried to reassure me. Because that’s what counts, the fact that my mother, for the most part, can make it to the toilet. Sure, she might be unable to feed herself, wash herself, shop for groceries, manage her rent and any kind of bills, but when she starves to death in her apartment at least she’ll have a clean diaper.

But back to the conference call, where Alana and Denise, the in-house CCAC worker, were doing their best to convince me there was no better place for my mother than to be at home. “Oh, but her CCAC coordinator can make sure that she receives daily visits and help with meal prep,” the social worker gushed. “She can’t stay here.”

“But how exactly is this going to happen since she has a track record of not opening the door to strangers? She doesn’t know or recognize most people, and she thinks they’re trying to poison her so she won’t accept food from them.”

My mother might be considered “medically-stable” for discharge, but mentally she is anything but. In a perfect world, her CCAC coordinator would reassess her immediately and deem her to be in “crisis”. Following this, she would receive daily visits from a home care provider until a bed opened up in her nursing home of choice. However, in a perfect world, her CCAC coordinator wouldn’t have gone on vacation for over two weeks and left nobody in charge of my mother’s file.

In a perfect world, someone with broken limbs, deafness, failing eyesight and paranoia (someone who doesn’t open the door to “strangers”) wouldn’t be expected to live independently.

And ultimately, in a perfect world, my mother wouldn’t have Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Perhaps the health professionals at Mount Sinai need some brushing up on the consequences of this terrible disease on a person’s mind and spirit. So, without further ado, let me explain to the Mount Sinai Administrators who are itching to get rid of my mother exactly WHY she is not “medically-stable” for discharge:

PARANOIA:

– sometime last fall, she suddenly decided that the Meals-on-Wheels delivery people were poisoning her food. She made herself deliberately ill several times to vomit the food, and then refused to open the door to the poor Meals-on-Wheels drivers, until we had no choice but to remove her from the program

– her last CCAC coordinator had tried to arrange for daily visits, but my mother – being paranoid and suffering from hallucinations – refused to open the door and allow people inside her apartment.

CONFUSION:

– she doesn’t know what day, month, year it is. She doesn’t know her own age. Heck, she doesn’t even know her address and has forgotten why she ended up in the hospital. She forgot the names of her closest relatives and struggles for a few seconds to remember who I am when I visit her in the hospital

– she forgets to take her medications, which as a diabetic places her life in jeopardy.

POOR HEALTH

– with a broken leg and being too frail to use crutches, she cannot go grocery shopping or prepare meals for herself. The last time she cooked potatoes, she ended up with a nasty burn that left a scar on her arm.

PUBLIC SAFETY

– she insists on still cooking on the stovetop, which places everyone in her building in jeopardy in the event she forgets to turn off the burner. She cannot figure out how to use a microwave or a kettle, and the stove is the only way she remembers to warm her food.

This isn’t the way things should be.

If a hospital stay costs the health care system $1000 per day, why not allow those who cannot afford expensive private rooms in nursing homes the option of taking those empty rooms?

“Have you considered paying for a private room at Bob Rumball?” the hospital’s CCAC coordinator asked me. “She could be in there within two months instead of years.”

If only.

There are rooms that stay empty in every nursing home because they are designated as above the “Basic” guarantee fee the Ontario government is willing to pay for each senior. These private or semi-private rooms – which cost in the range of $2000-$3000 per month – would still be far cheaper than keeping a senior in the hospital for months on end.

But my mother doesn’t have that kind of money, and neither do I.

And in the end, I shouldn’t have to threaten a hospital with a liability lawsuit for prematurely-discharging a frail senior who is a danger to herself. “We’ll have to speak with Administration,” Alana-the-social-worker tells me, and I hear the disapproval in her voice. I know I’ve just made the Admin department very unhappy. “But she can’t stay here.”

I shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer – especially since I can’t afford it. But hopefully through a service like that provided by the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, I might be able to get some free legal advice on how to proceed from here.

I shouldn’t have to walk into my mother’s apartment next month and see her fallen on the floor with another broken hip or leg. Or find her starved to death because she cannot feed herself and often chokes. But it appears that, come hell or high water, both the CCAC and Mount Sinai professionals are determined to send her home.

I suspect that my story isn’t that unique from what thousands of other families all over Canada experience every year. Still, the feelings of utter frustration that I have experienced this month from the medical establishment has left me shaken and profoundly angry. I once believed the highly-touted Canadian health care system placed humans first and profit second. I no longer hold any faith in this being true.

Mount Sinai might serve great kosher food (my mother sends her thanks), but the way they handle the frail and elderly is anything but kosher.

 

Posted in deaf, deafness, mother, news | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »