Archive for March, 2008

How much does UofT spokesperson Robert Steiner get paid to lie?

About $126,000.

According to CTV News:

[the demonstrators] even mixed up their facts, Steiner added, noting the fee hike is actually 10 per cent.

Ah. Well, according to the University of Toronto’s own documents accessible here (p. 16):

The ancillary will increase the fall/winter residence rates by 20% in 2008-09.

So, if Robert Steiner is capable of getting an incontrovertible fact wrong — either because he was misinformed or willfully misleading everyone — then what else other facts did he get “mixed up”?

He said, “Demonstrators seemed to be protesting everything from the war in Afghanistan to the coffee at Second Cup [...]”

Well, actually, no. The demonstrators were protesting the NC residence fees, and student fees in general. The only time Second Cup was brought up was when one of them asked me why I was drinking Tim Hortons coffee — and that I threw away the cup without rolling up the rim.

(Yes, one of them commemorated the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq — March 20 — but, last time I checked, being against wars that kill millions of people is a good thing.)

Also:

If there was any “brutality,” Steiner suggested it was on the part of demonstrators who tried to trip staff as they left the building, shouted at security and in one case even bit an officer.

Well, it is evident that protesters were pushed to the floor and held by police officers as members of the administration were escorted out. According to the protesters, the administration members literally walked on top of them. According to Robert Steiner, they were trying to trip staff.

Seeing as Robert Steiner is so full of lies and misinformation, I’m not planning on taking his word for anything. After all, if you get $126,000 a year for “Strategic Communication” you probably know exactly how to spin the truth into lies — even if that contradicts your own documentation.

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Police Brutality at the University of Toronto

March 20, 2008 thirty-five University of Toronto students occupied Simcoe Hall, the home of the President’s Office, to protest a 20% fee increase. The nonviolent sit-in was accompanied with a peaceful rally outside the building—until the police began brutalizing those inside. This was captured by multiple video cameras.

The students had three simple demands.
1) To be granted a meeting with President David Naylor;
2) To have the proposed fee increase removed from the University Affairs Board meeting, scheduled to take place on March 25; and
3) To be given 15 minutes at the University Affairs Board meeting for a presentation and discussion on broader issues of access to education and the impacts of high tuition upon students, families and communities.

Students attempted to deliver their letter to the University of Toronto President, David Naylor, and to speak to other members of the administration in Simcoe Hall about the rising costs of education in Ontario. The administration refused to meet with the students. The response of the University of Toronto was to violently remove students from their peaceful sit-in. Police aggressively grabbed students and dragged them away from the entrance of the office. The students feared for their safety and after four hours in the building, the police violence forced the students to leave.

Video of these events has been posted on YouTube and it can be viewed here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ketNtnZQIwQ

Images can be viewed here:
http://www.edwardfwong.com/uoftact/9.jpg
http://www.edwardfwong.com/uoftact/10.jpg

Students are continuing to demand a meeting with President Naylor, and the right to accessible and affordable education.

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Israel-Palestine – Who’s Attacking Whom?

Now vlogging. Propagate proper propaganda. (Try saying that three times fast.)

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On human nature and capitalism

One of the more common arguments against socialism, or in general, against imagining or enacting alternatives to capitalism, revolves around the notion of human nature. The argument goes that humans are intrinsically selfish, and will put their interests before that of others. This is, in effect, held to be “the law of nature” — animals step over each other to accomplish their self-preservation. So, the argument implies, it is human nature to be self-interested in the way that we all are now and to want more things.

There are two levels at which I’d like to respond to this argument, but I should add that these two levels are not the only ones from which it can be approached. The first is at the level of what constitutes “human nature” itself. The second is to examine the role of society (or “nurture”). However, the one approach bleeds into the other.

I agree that there is a human nature.

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