Discussions of news through social media often consider it a threat toward traditional media in informing, mobilizing, and empowering the public. While this medium may grant more accessibility, it also comes with its own set of drawbacks and as such, social media movements -such as the recent #BringBackOurGirls campaign- often have mixed effects.



On April 14th, over 300 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped from a school in the Northern town of Chibok, Nigeria by the insurgent group Boko Haram. 53 of the kidnapped girls managed to escape but 276 remain in captivity a month later.

On May 12th, Boko Haram released a video of the remaining girls, stating that they would be released in exchange for the Nigerian government’s release of Boko Haram prisoners.

These kidnappings are only the most recent strategy used by Boko Haram who claims that it will not stop until it overthrows the current government.

The insurgent group’s political objective is to remove all forms of Western influence in Nigeria -including Western attire, elections and secularism- and replacing it with a form of Islamic governance that is based on traditional systems and Sharia law.

The group has previously used violent means in attempts to achieve these objectives. It has claimed responsibility for attacks on Nigerian journalists and media organizations, government employees, farmers, schools, military barracks and international organizations.

More than a month later, over 260 schoolgirls still remain in custody of Boko Haram.  These kidnappings are only the most recent strategy used by the insurgent group, which had previously launched attacks on Nigerian journalists and media organizations, government employees, farmers, military barracks, international organizations and even schools.

Indeed, the scale of these kidnappings sets it apart from previous attacks and shows the continuing ability of Boko Haram to operate even in light of the region being under emergency law.

Social media: Western uptake


Despite the scale of the Chibok kidnappings, international media did not immediately pick up the story.  Protests in response to the Nigerian government’s initially false statements on the girls’ and the advent of the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls belatedly catapulted the issue onto the front pages of international newspapers and newsfeeds.

Thanks to the traces left by online content this can be well documented: The Chibok kidnappings took place April 14th, #BringBackOurGirls was first created April 23rd, and in-depth coverage by the Western media began in late April and early May.  Political and social figures have also participated in the campaign and have thus increased its visibility.

First Lady Michelle Obama posted a picture of herself with the hashtag on Instagram and broke convention to deliver the weekly Presidential address alone, stating “In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams – and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”

Activist Malala Yousafzai also tweeted her support and penned an article titled “Save my Nigerian Sisters,” connecting the Chibok kidnappings to the global problem of difficulties faced by women in pursuing education.

The high degree of coverage of the kidnappings has also spurred political action by the international community. China, Britian, France, Israel and the US have offered their own specialized investigative teams to aid the Nigerian government in locating the girls.

The United States in particular, is reported to have also shared intelligence with the Nigerian government, and has deployed manned surveillance missions in attempts to locate the girls.

ann coulter bring back our countryIn this, the positives of the social media movement cannot be denied. It has brought the story of these schoolgirls into everyday conversation and has helped mobilize international resources and support.

However, there is a limit in the ability of social media campaigns to inform and to effect change. The high volume and short word limits of social media posts do not convey the complex political context in Nigeria. Instead, social media can further promote sensational narratives that exclusively focus on the threat of violent extremist ‘Islamists’ and/or an underdeveloped Africa.

Such generalized conversations can then divorce the link between the Chibok kidnappings and the broader social and political context specific to Nigeria.

Indeed, the fact that Boko Haram was able to orchestrate the Chibok raid in a region under emergency law and counterinsurgency measures demonstrates how vital structural factors –such as government corruption, sectarian tensions, socioeconomic inequality and military incapacity- are to the making sense of the crisis.

Social media also provides a platform for critics to voice their opinions and to engage in debates with those promoting the movements. Michelle Obama’s tweet was met with criticisms of hypocrisy as users employed the hashtags#BringBackYourDrones  and #AllInnocentLivesAreEqual to counter that the Obama administration’s foreign policy decisions in the Middle East and South Asia has also jeopardized the lives of children.

The virality of hashtag #BringBackOurGirls also means that it has been hijacked to raise donations and promote external causes and parodied insensitively.

None of this is to say that the kidnappings do not warrant international attention. Indeed, social media was instrumental in challenging the initially lackluster responses. However, the virality of a social media campaign does not necessarily guarantee resolution of the issue it champions.

#KONY2012 is a powerful reminder of social media’s selective attention and of its ability to distort, exploit, sensationalize and #BringBackOurGirls has similarly experienced much of the positives and the negatives of a social media campaign.

I feel sick and frivolous for even having an opinion, but before I voice it, let me first ask: Who the hell IS Kim Kardashian? Please. Someone. What does she do exactly, besides feed the ego of Kanye West (a.k.a the Spoiled Sociopath of Hip-Hop)?

Has anybody ever watched the Japanese anime movie Akira, where the biker punk becomes so inflamed with himself that he starts mutating into this repulsive monster and swallows everything up in this grotesque pulpy body of mangled flesh?

I think the metaphor is very appropriate for Kanye, for the pun that is Kim Kardashian’s career, and for their strategic celebrity marriage.

The fact that these two have produced an heir named North West adds an element of fear to my growing disgust. These people are capable of reproducing. Of multiplying. Of being named North West. (Is their kid named after a winter-wear line or something? Poor bastard. These people will commercialize anything!)

Anyway, so back to the mystifying paradox of Kim Kardashian’s “career.”

The buzz about her now (before this it was reality television and upscale prostitution, right?) is that she landed on the cover of Vogue Magazine.


You know the woman is a complete trollop in her own right if the people within the celebrity-media-fashion communities can’t even tolerate her gracing their publications.

I stripped off a piece of my soul (meaning I reluctantly sat through Vogue’s short video of the cover-shoot) and also read that Sarah Michelle Gellar tweeted something about cancelling her subscription to Vogue.

Yet still completely perplexed, I began to type into Google “Why is Kim Kardashian Famous?” Before I could type the word “famous,” these options came up for me as well:

“Why is Kim Kardashian a Hobbit?”

“Why is Kim Kardashian never with her baby?”“Why is Kim Kardashian’s bum so big?”

While I was somewhat intrigued about the connection between J.R.R. Tolkien and the Kardashian woman, I still wanted to get to the bottom of this person’s dragging fifteen minutes of fame.

According to Wet Paint (in an article entitled “Sure, She’s Beautiful but Why is Kim Kardashian Famous?”) it all began with a sex tape.


That is just the Hollywood way, isn’t it? I don’t need to read a word more. In fact, I should have just assumed the obvious.

God, get me a handheld and a VHS. I want to be a billionaire too!

When actors, models and designers who bust their balls over their craft see this 3-ring circus celebrity shit storm spray itself all over the cover of Vogue Magazine in a tragic display of farce and self-indulgence, of course it’s disappointing. Of course people want to cancel their subscriptions.

Mainstream media is already a shit-flinging battleground of hashtags, fat Americans, oxymoronic reality television, downright fallacy and ultimate soul-starvation.

Why shit where you eat? Why prolong the proverbial root canal that is the Kim Kardashian industry? Why contribute to the wank-fest that is Kanye West’s “music” career? Why do humans have such a sick black-hole attraction to this sort of stuff? We might as well go back to the coliseum and watch tigers rip apart Christians.

You know what? If anyone needs me, I’ll be sitting with my head in the sand, alone on a desert island.

Most people know by now that the US uses drones quite a bit in the Middle East these days. Some are aware that drone killings are frequent and don’t always hit non-civilian targets. But very few get an accurate sense of what’s happening in almost real time.

Now, that may change because of a new iPhone app called Metadata+. Developer Josh Begley, who also runs the Twitter account @dronestream, culls data from news reports of US drone strikes from the New York Times, BBC and other sources and makes that data available in map format on his app which also sends out a push notification each time a strike happens.

metadata drone app

Apple rejected the app, which was originally called Drones+, five times. Now with a name change and a more generalized description (“real time updates on national security issues”) it’s available for free in the app store.

Here’s Begley talking about the app before it was approved on MSNBC. In this interview he asks the question: “Do we want to be as connected to our foreign policy as our iPhones?”

It’s an interesting question. Are people and in particular activists speaking out against the US drone program and targeted killings going to download an app that effectively announces each time one of those killings occurs? Can people stomach having their day interrupted regularly with a buzz from their pockets every time the US military kills someone with a drone?

Will you download this app?

If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying until someone screws up and your opponents are tired from fighting you and winning. Net Neutrality, the principle that Internet Service Providers must offer their customers all content available online evenly and fairly, is at risk again.

In the US, the FCC really dropped the ball and lost in court and in Canada things aren’t much better.

I hope you take the time to read up on the details through those links, but if you’re wondering why you should care, here are ten ways the internet and the world may be different if Net Neutrality disappears (and this, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg):

* This post originally appeared on QuietMike.org, republished with permission from the author

As Canada celebrates it’s 146th birthday, I’m thankful to have a break from the corrupt circus that has become our parliament. Unfortunately, even with our government on an extended summer vacation we are constantly reminded that they’re around.

Canada’s Economic Action Plan ads, our government’s propaganda campaign to convince us that everything is A-OK continues to drive everyone in the country crazy and cost a fortune.

They’re everywhere on television, most of all on our news networks. They’re all over the internet, our radio stations, our newspapers and god knows where else. If you are a Canadian, there is no escape.

According to Treasury Board guidelines, taxpayer-funded government ads are supposed to inform citizens about programs and services. Instead the ads are being used to brainwash people into thinking the economy is in top shape, our environment is being protected and other wished-for results.

The Conservative government has been cutting back on spending every which way to Sunday over the last couple years and yet their “marketing” campaign has continued unabated, even increased.

Since 2009 the government has spent $113 million on their Economic Action Plan ads. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau recently asked Prime Minister Harper how heavy ad spending in a time of government cutbacks helps middle-class Canadians.

His answer was nothing short of civic pride: “Canadians understand and are very proud of the fact that Canada’s economy has performed so much better than other developed countries during these challenging times.” Apparently it doesn’t matter how well we’re actually doing so long as we feel good about ourselves.

And how we’re doing isn’t as good as advertised; Canada is no longer the leader of the G7 in growth, that honor now belongs to the United States. Other developed economies have also outpaced Canada since the 2009 recession, including Australia and all the Scandinavian countries.

Part of the reason Canada was able to whether the economic downturn better than most is Canada’s consumer debt being at an all-time high. Our unemployment rate has hovered around 7% for the last year, still 1% above where we started in 2009.

More surprisingly, the number of Canadians who need food banks are also at an all-time high. You have to wonder just who is benefiting from our tip top economy. I’d put money on the oil sand barons more than you or I.

The Action Plan ads aren’t fooling too many people these days, in fact a growing portion of the population are finding themselves annoyed or angered by them (glad I’m not alone). According to four different surveys the majority of respondents took to calling the material “propaganda” and a “waste of money.”

Canadians are ignoring them as well. As of April 2012, only 7% said they did something as a result of viewing one of the ads.

All this begs to question just why the Conservative Government is steadfast in its support and defense of these tiresome, useless ads. The Conservative Party has been polling lower than it has in years, running between second and third place despite the onslaught of advertising to convince us of their bang up job.

So, with the economy stagnating, people fed up of their propaganda and $113 million dollars spent, what is the logical thing to do? Double down of course!

A couple months ago the Conservatives put out a tender for a major new ad agency contract that might see the substance-free economic action plan brand continued until 2016 (even after the next election). Yes sir, three more years of this shit…

Happy Canada Day everyone!

If Glenn Greenwald isn’t given a Pulitzer Prize for helping the Guardian uncover the biggest surveillance program in the world and expose the NSA and government lies about the extent of their eavesdropping on US citizens and foreigners, it will only serve to highlight what he and other independent media have been saying for years about the mainstream media: that the journalistic establishment in the US has gone to the corporate dogs.

Notwithstanding (New York’s grandstanding Republican Congressman) Peter King’s calls for him to be charged with espionage and thrown in jail, most sane American politicians are fully aware that, as a member of the fourth estate, Greenwald is entitled to the protection of the first amendment. He can’t be prosecuted for basically doing his professional and moral duty to shine a light on secretive government agencies that operate in the grey area of the law and are only accountable to their political masters, rather than the people.

That said; don’t expect any more integrity from either the jackasses in the Democratic Party or those elephantine dicks in the Republican Party in this affair. The fact is they are currently falling over themselves in their attempts to look tough on terrorism by supporting the Obama’s administration’s PRISM program and his attempts to bring Edward Snowden, the whistleblower at the centre of this firestorm, back to the US to face trial for violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property for the purposes of disclosing classified information. But that’s not all, he’s also been charged with “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person” under the same act.

Snowden is facing up to 30 years behind bars, should US authorities successfully repatriate him. The question as to whether Snowden should be prosecuted by the state, unlike the case of Greenwald, is by no means clear-cut. The truth of the matter is that he has violated any number of federal laws in acting the way he did and is not protected by the constitutional right to freedom of the press, the way the journalists who broke the story are.

nsa yes we scan

Therefore, the question becomes more of a moral dilemma, than a legal one: should a man who has flagrantly broken the law in the name of the public interest be spared punishment? Were Snowden’s action those of a political dissident engaged in a selfless act of civil disobedience? Or were they the actions of a dangerous egotistical subversive unwittingly playing right into the hands of terrorists and America’s enemies?

One things for sure, many of the people eagerly labeling him public enemy number one just so happen to be those with the most to hide themselves from the public. As Snowden himself said in a recent online chat arranged by the Guardian: “to be called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honour and American can be paid.”

Perhaps Greenwald summed up my own feeling on the matter best when he tweeted: “How is leaking to a newspaper and informing one’s fellow citizens about secret government behaviour espionage?”

As far as we know, Snowden didn’t sell these power point slides (if you’re reading this NSA spooks, please use more eye-catching graphics next time) to the highest bidder. Nor did he release all the classified documents at his disposal unilaterally and indiscriminately without the help of an internationally renowned newspaper, which, had his intention been to cause maximum damage to the US national interest, he could have easily done. As he said himself, to the Guardian readers “If I were a Chinese spy wouldn’t I have flown directly to Beijing? I could be living in a Palace petting a phoenix by now.”

As for the argument that so many right wing hacks and politicians of all stripes are peddling on Fox news right now, that he has revealed America’s greatest weapon in the war against Al-Qaeda and other terrorists, give me a freaking break! No terrorist worth their fertilizer would ever trust the security of cell phones or the internet for communicating their nefarious plots against us.

In a recent debate on Democracy Now about the threat to civil liberties and the work of journalists posed by the growing security state surveillance apparatus, journalist Chris Hedges made the point that people like Snowden are the only thing standing between the independent media’s ability to challenge the government and it’s violations of our basic right to privacy on the one hand and the expanding intrusions of the state into almost every area of our private lives in order to fight its quixotic “war” on terrorism, on the other.

The way we treat the Snowden case will say a lot about which side of this debate is actually winning in our society at the moment.

John Cook has succeeded in raising $200 000. The Gawker editor’s worldwide campaign to raise funds to obtain the supposed video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack from Somali drug dealers reached its target earlier this week. But is Gawker tossing more mud than there already is?

True, the scandal surrounding Ford’s supposed crack use has not only springboarded Canada, or at least Toronto, onto the world stage, but it has brought us into the realm of The Running Man‘s dystopian reality. Canadian politics has long been insulated from the vulgarities of US style vice scandals. But it would appear death by media for public amusement has now arrived.

Further investigation into the Ford clan’s sordid history uncovered the operation of a high stakes narcotics trafficking ring in “Etobi-’coke’ North.” The report sheds light on associates including Klan leaders, a black belt martial artist and a Caribbean drug dealer involved in a bizarre foiled coup of the Dominican government, details so sensational it makes the Charbonneau Commission seem like a search for lost pocket change.

Toronto City Councillor Doug Ford, Brother of Rob Ford, speaks to the media.

Ford’s improprieties may have hoisted Canada into the political hall of shame, an arena typically occupied by American politicians like Elliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, but is Gawker’s campaign is human degradation profiteering pure and simple.

Their campaign drive fancies itself a crusade for “truth” and an exercise of “democracy.” Since Gawker cannot afford it themselves, Cook asked people to take money from their own pockets to give to drug dealers.

Cook asserts that if people wish to view the video, by paying for it, they are exercising their rights as consumers. In other words, contributing money translates into a “vote.”

After taking money from the public, instead of submitting the alleged video to the authorities, Gawker intends to charge users a member’s fee at Gawker.com and at private screening parties they plan to host, with popcorn and swag to boot. Gawker will directly profit from the Ford video, meaning Cook will have  completely corrupted the “democratic” process. Those without money are without a voice, they are excluded from so-called “voting” which proliferates a perverse US notions that money equals speech.

It seems that Gawker can no longer reach their original source for the video, but even if the footage can be obtained, what does it mean besides profits for the website?

Under Toronto’s system, City Council cannot eject Ford from office nor could it force an early election. The video could, at best, be damning circumstantial evidence at trial. It would hardly be hard proof guaranteeing Ford’s conviction.

Toronto City Council, Council Chambers, City Hall, The Clamshell, Toronto Ontario.

Until the next municipal election, true democracy in action, only Rob Ford can remove Rob Ford. And if the mayor’s profile history is any indication, Ford would not resign under any circumstances.

If definitive proof indeed can be presented that Mayor Ford inhaled crack, Ford should not be tried at the hands of the media with the pubic circus acting as judge, jury and executioner.

Partisanship, pre-determined and emotional disdain of Ford would best be checked. Vigilantism with its non-transparent and potentially unaccountable wrongful actions cannot suffice as substitute justice.

Critics espousing public accountability and transparency in executive, legislative and municipal government cannot exclude themselves. One cannot have their cake and eat it too.

There is no inherit benefit in viewing smut footage only to confirm minds already made up. Like the Jun Lin snuff video, we are all degraded just from watching it.

Ford may have diminished Toronto public office and Canadian politics but watching the alleged video, even just demanding to see it, makes us, along with Ford, unclean and corrupt.

* This post originally appeared on QuietMike.org, republished with permission from the author

As Canadians we respect our crown corporations. We take pride in owning our own national and provincial services such as Canada post, Via Rail and Hydro Quebec. Owning these companies ourselves ensures we pay bottom dollar for high quality services we all need.

The Canadian Broadcast Corporation is no exception. The publicly funded broadcaster has been around for more than seventy five years providing us with uniquely Canadian content, news and entertainment. Despite the fact that we pay roughly a billion dollars a year to keep it running, nearly 70% of Canadians wish to see its funding increased or remain the same. Only 12% of us wish to see it defunded completely.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government cut the CBC’s budget by 10% with their first majority budget last year. It’s long believed that the conservative government desires to fully privatize the CBC, after all privatization is part of their small government ideology. Harper knows the public wouldn’t stand for a privately owned CBC, but I’m afraid what they’re doing instead could be much worse.

Conservative-CBC-logoThe Harper government has been quietly seizing greater control of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and has been doing so since it was first elected. Since 2006, Harper has been stacking the CBC board of directors with conservative supporters.

Currently, all eleven board members began serving since Harper’s first election victory and according to the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting; eight of them have made political donations to the Conservative Party.

It gets worse; Harper has revealed his latest omnibus budget bill (Bill C-60). Deep inside the bill is a provision giving the Conservative government new powers to direct how the CBC spends the 80% of its budget dedicated to its labor costs, including its vast amount of journalists.

By giving the government complete control over the wages and working conditions of all CBC journalists and staff, Harper becomes the definitive boss of every CBC employee. After nearly eighty years, Canada’s public broadcaster is in serious danger of becoming the Conservative’s state broadcaster.

“This is an outrageous and unnecessary violation of the principle of public broadcasting,” said Carmel Smyth, national president of the Canadian Media Guild.
The CBC along with every other crown corporation has always been kept at an arm’s length of the federal government. While the directors and the amount of funding is decided upon by the governing party, wages, budgets, working conditions and company direction is not.

The CBC provides the last independent news service in Canada. By independent, I’m referring to the CBC not being part of the corporate media. They’re among the last news services with real investigative journalism in the country and they do not have to answer to corporate sponsors in the same fashion as CTV or Global.

fb-free-cbcThe Harper Government is defending their actions by stating the move was meant to help the government rein in spending at Crown corporations that receive taxpayer funds. This asinine response couldn’t be further from the truth. The directors of crown corporations know ahead of time what their available funds will be, how they choose to budget it is up to them.

Marc-Philippe Laurin, the Canadian Media Guild’s president at the CBC wasn’t buying it either: “Make no mistake; this is not about the money. The Conservative government is effectively modifying the Broadcasting Act to inject itself into decisions such as staffing that have a major impact on everything that’s done at the CBC.”

It’s as if Harper doesn’t understand, but more likely doesn’t care to understand that the federal government doesn’t own the CBC, Canadians do. The CBC is publicly owned, but what Harper is on the way to achieving is turning Canada’s voice into his own.

For more information, please check out the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting website and sign their petition. This is not an issue we can afford to turn our backs on, Harper’s government has moved to limit debate of Bill C-60 in the House of Commons and time is running out.

On March, 17th, 2013, Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, of Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl.

The defendants, both members of the town’s cherished Big Red football program, dragged the victim to a series of parties on August, 11, 2012, sexually assaulted her and documented the brutal and public rape that took place that evening. Video and photographic footage taken by Trent Mays and observers (who stood idly by as the victim was abused and publicly humiliated) soon circled rampantly on social media sites and cellphones.

Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays received offensively weak juvenile sentences for which they will serve one year and two years, respectively. Mays received a longer sentence for being found guilty of illegal use and distribution of nudity oriented material containing a minor.

The Steubenville rape case gained international attention following posts by the known blogger Alexandria Goddard, who raised questions concerning the integrity of the investigation and the attempted cover-up by the boys’ football coach and brought to light the social media backlash that had begun, defending the actions of the rapists and publicly shaming the victim. Twitter and other social media networking sites flushed with posts condemning the victim for being inebriated, accusing her of being promiscuous and discrediting the claims that she had been taken advantage of, despite graphic trial evidence.

See for yourself (WARNING: the previous link contains an amassment of pathetic, social shortcomings and a lack of sensitivity, worthy of instilling anger in even the most sentient of beings).

The Steubenville case in its entirety is horrendous, and that includes the media’s coverage and portrayal of the defendants. Major media outlets such as NBC, CNN, ABC and USA Today paint the rapists in a sympathetic light, emphasizing the demise of their “promising football careers” (as quoted by NBC) and the heavy emphasis on the victim being drunk.

Of the news media outlets that were guilty of putting unnecessary stress on the victim being drunk, USA Today opens their article with: “Two members of Steubenville’s celebrated high school football team were found guilty Sunday of raping a drunken 16-year-old girl…” This begins the outline of a very obvious media bias. cnnn

CNN’s reporter Poppy Harlow empathized with the defendants and had this to say when asked (by CNN anchor Candy Crowley) about the emotional setting of the courtroom during the trial’s verdict: “I’ve never experienced anything like it, Candy. It was incredibly emotional — incredibly difficult even for an outsider like me to watch what happened as these two young men that had such promising futures, star football players, very good students, literally watched as they believed their life fell apart.”

CNN goes on to highlight the trials and tribulations these young men are now faced with as registered sex offenders. There is little, to no acknowledgement for the victim and the lasting effects this rape is going to have on her.


These comments and implications intended to lessen the monstrosity of May’s and Richmond’s actions shocked the public, and serve as a depressing assertion to the prevalent desensitization of society caused by rape culture.

Making excuses and attempting to invoke pity for the defendants in the brutal raping and mocking of the unnamed 16-year-old victim, just because they were “promising athletes” or because one of the defendants broke down and cried in court, only stands to perpetuate rape culture and the harmful actions of arrogant individuals who think their athletic and academic standings grant them immunity from moral obligations.

This is only one case out of so many that has sparked a flurry of online victim blaming. The way that the media and society continually depict women as being fully responsible for their own well-being while drinking and the backwards claim that women are “asking for it” if they dress a certain way, is how this mentality continues to thrive in our society.

The focus should be on teaching people: that causing malicious, intentional, sexual and demoralizing, trauma to someone is not only vile and inexcusable, but more importantly-the blame should fall solely on the perpetrator of these actions, not the victim.

How does a tragedy such as the Steubenville case, in which the rapists are shown celebrating the victim’s public defilement and torture in front of her peers, make its way into our communities, and culture?

We can find the answers to those questions all over the world, seeping out of every crevice of our deadened and morally corrupt human capacities. Everywhere we look we can see misogyny. Everywhere we look we can find people who believe others are worth less than they are.

It is this loss of humanity that seems to be so prevalent in our society that shelters rapists. Under the guise of the media, young people are growing up not fully understanding the repercussions that come with every facet of rape.

Take for example the 2004 incident that occurred in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The Abu Ghraib incident refers to the acts of rape, torture and mistreatment of prisoners in the correctional facility. For a year these prisoners were abused and subjected to routine shaming.

This was an instance where a group of people (in this case trained military personnel) were left largely unsupervised and in charge of prisoners and within a year were not only abusing the prisoners, but sending graphic images of prisoner torture back home to fellow soldiers.

This is just one example of people feeling entitled to rape and torture, just because they uphold a certain status. Whether you are a soldier, or a football player, rape is never any less of a crime.

It is saddening to see that the impact of a culture so desensitized, that pushes such conflicting and twisted views regarding rape, could influence young people to film and boast about raping a girl to their peers.

Unfortunately this is a product of rape culture; it casts a veil over the consequences of sexual abuse, by constantly putting more emphasis on the victim and not the rapists. Young people are growing up with a skewed idea of what “consent” means and because of this more and more victims are left feeling guilty or unsure of coming forward.

Not only did news media outlets inadequately acknowledge the suffering of the victim, they are responsible for aiding the growing delusion that rape can be joked about and treated lightly. This should be considered a crime in itself.

The power of the news media is vast, and as such the graveness of painting Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond in a pitying light is all the more profound. These implications will have major negative impacts on the 16-year-old Steubenville victim and sexual assault victims worldwide.

Something certainly needs to change and it sure as hell has nothing to do with what women are wearing.

You can sign the online petition asking CNN apologize on air for siding with the rapists

I was wasting time on facebook the other day when I came across a post one of my friends had commented on. It was a picture of three women of different proportions, all attractive, all Caucasian, each with a number Photoshopped onto her body. The question the poster, Atomik Nutrition St-Eustache, asked was which body type people preferred.

This shit makes me angry. I mean really, can we not get past the idea that there is somehow one kind of body type that is superior to others? Do most of the other grown ups out there not know that THERE ARE SO MANY MORE THAN JUST THREE BODY TYPES? Like, as many as there are people. Or how about the fact that a person’s beauty is a result of their whole self, not just their outsides? That love and attraction are much more complicated than the shape of your partner’s meat shell?


In their last edition, Men’s Health published an atrocious article titled 11 Qualities of the Perfect Woman. Apparently she’s white, has brown hair, tiny feet, huge tits and laughs at all your jokes. Big fucking surprise. The article was widely, and rightfully, criticized by anyone with an ounce of sense because it was stupid and everyone knows there’s no perfect formula for attraction.

The thing that really fucks me up though, is that people seem to find it completely acceptable to continue to publish this shit. That article, and the fb post I came across, are just tiny drops in an ocean of media that is constantly trying to make women feel like less and that assumes that men are less as well. What do I mean by less? Less beautiful, less worthy, less complex, less valuable, less intelligent. Number one is too skinny, number three is too fat, brown is better than blonde, white is better than brown, dainty is better than strong, strong is better than dainty, be this way, no wait, be that way. I mean seriously, fuck off already!

You know what’s important? Generosity, passion, compassion and love. Those are the things that will make you happy, and therefore beautiful. End of story.

And you know what else? It doesn’t matter if you’re a one or a five or an 8.12. It doesn’t matter if you have tits and a dick or skinny thighs or broad shoulders or purple hair or whatever. You, just as you are right this very moment, are somebody’s idea of perfect.

Now get out there and strut your stuff you sexy fuckers!

The cyberpunk phenomena has lead to a plethora of fascinating works of fiction. Enhanced humans, transhuman problems and fusion-powered bad guys are only part of the appeal. The other side of the story, as I’ve discovered, is part of the timeless narrative of character development and fantastic storytelling.

One such example is Shadow of a Dead Star, by Michael Shean. The story takes place in 2078 Seattle, a city marked by its consumerism and abject depravity. At the core of this soulless world is detective Tom Walken, a man driven to seek justice. In a nation where corporations run the police, he is tasked with stopping shipments of banned contraband. One night, he’s ordered to confiscate three living sex dolls – called Princess Dolls – abominations that come out of illicit offshore labs. Predictably, the raid goes horribly wrong, and Walken must submerge himself in Seattle’s vile underbelly in order to crack the case. However, he’s in over his head and between him and his hacker partner Bobbi January, he needs to untangle a web of deception that threatens to engulf all of humanity.

I was sucked right in by this book from the moment I picked it up. The descriptive value is almost cinematic. Painstaking detail is used to describe every facet of this rich and gloomy universe. The clothes, hairstyles, plastic surgery, and even the cars are fleshed out until they’re more realistic than the room you’re sitting in. Suffice it to say, Shean has a talent for descriptiveness. Whether he’s describing futuristic fashions or a shower of gore, you’re trapped in that moment with him.

cyberpunk girlThe characters are also exceptional. Bobbi stole the show. She’s a lady hacker–smart-talking, resourceful and stunningly human. Her dimension gives this story a grounding point, a place the audience can cling to when the story gets crazy. In short, she’s a great, strong female character that the genre sorely needs. As for Walken, he’s a great, driven character who can lose himself in his own single minded need for justice. It’s all he believes in, and that faith is what sustains him until the very end.

In short, the mystery will keep you guessing until the very end. And, you will get it wrong, so just sit back and enjoy the ride. There’s a subtext to this story as well, lurking just below the surface. Social commentary, an intoxicating mystery and amazing world building are what’s made Shadow of a Dead star my favourite cyberpunk book of all time.

Do you have a favorite scifi or cyberpunk book? let us know in the comments!

This post originally appeared on QuietMike.org, republished with permission of the author

Al Jazeera is coming to America. At the beginning of 2013, the publicly funded Qatar-based broadcaster acquired Current TV, a progressive television station co-founded by ex-vice president Al Gore. The $500 million price tag appeared a little steep for a waning news channel, but it was the only way for Al Jazeera to get direct access to the American cable market.

Unlike Al Jazeera’s Arab and English networks, Al Jazeera America will cater solely to an American audience and will be in straight competition with other cable news channels such as MSNBC, CNN & Fox News.

The transition from Current TV to Al Jazeera America is still at least six months away. While there are many questions to be answered, one wonders if Al Jazeera will bring back quality, in depth, fact based investigative journalism Americans have been deprived of for the last thirty years.

Together, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) abolishment of the fairness doctrine in the 1980′s and Bill Clinton’s Telecommunications Act of 1996 has had a devastating impact on mainstream journalism.

fnc-msnbc-cnn-fox-47306474551The media shrank from more than fifty national media outlets in the 1980′s to the six that remain today. Corporate boardrooms now control which stories get aired in an effort to appease sponsors. Prime time news coverage on CBS, ABC and NBC stick to unbiased positions rather than reporting on the facts. Worst of all, the news isn’t about providing important information to the people anymore; it’s about profiting off of them.

As a result of all this, we have been fed an endless dose of mindless infotainment for decades and have forgotten what real journalism is. Take for example Investigative journalism; it used to be the corner stone of every newsroom.

Journalists used to use a combination of research and undercover work to expose government and corporate corruption, two areas the police and FBI ignore. Now, Investigative journalism has all but disappeared. Corporate newsrooms aren’t willing to shell out money for their journalists to investigate what could be their own sponsors. We are now down to just a few worthy websites like Motherjones who continue the investigative practice.

Getting back to Al Jazeera America, it remains to be seen what their intentions are. Will they follow in their parent networks footsteps and bring some well needed intelligent news coverage or will they dumb themselves down and bring an Americanized version of their coverage? Right now all things are pointing to the former.

Al Jazeera is a publicly funded company; it does not have to answer to sponsors as it is a non-profit business. Al Jazeera has no real budget ceiling; funds for investigative journalists are virtually limitless if the story is important enough. The point I’m trying to make here is the importance of a publicly funded, yet independent media company.

The Young TurksCurrently the United States Government allocates $1.50 per US citizen a year to public broadcasting (PBS). Compare this to the $34.00 Canadians pay for the CBC and for the BBC, the British pay even more. These public broadcasters keep the other national networks from falling too far out of line and are central to the information the citizens of these countries receive. In the absence of government broadcasting funds in the United States, Al Jazeera is the next best thing.

The question is will anybody watch it if the network is indeed what we hope it will be? People of any political ideology who regularly watch CNN will be drawn to Al Jazeera’s in depth coverage of national and international news. Those of us who watch MSNBC will finally have an alternative when all their prison shows come on. As for Fox News, their viewers already label Al Jazeera as the mouthpiece for terrorists and socialists; the only thing that will change the views of Fox News viewers, is Fox News.

Al Jazeera America will have an audience, whether that audience will be big enough to compete with the big three is irrelevant to me so long as the network is successful in changing the way news is presented across the airwaves of the United States… And they have to keep Cenk Uygur and The Young Turks on the air; they are too good to not have a voice on national television.

Do you have a couple friends that you’d also like to do the horizontal mambo with? We all do, but how do you get it across without the awkwardness if your friend isn’t down to fuck. Well leave it to the pioneers of the internet to solve your problems. A new facebook app called Bangwithfriends allows you to anonymously select all the friends you would hook up with, without them knowing unless they are DTF too.

The app is so simple it’ll leave you wondering why you didn’t think of it first. To get started you install the app, then it lists all your Facebook friends of the opposite sex. You click if you’d like to “bang” them, and no one ever knows… that is, unless one of those friends installed the app and elected to bang you, too. If the app detects a match the two of you will receive an email notification. What happens after that is up to you. Bang With Friends is definitely an interesting take on matchmaking but is it worth a try… even if just “for science”?

The app was created by 3 college friends to practice their pimping skills to revolutionize dating (or at least hooking up). They say that the app was simply conceived to avoid some of the awkwardness regarding dating and hooking up when you don’t know if the other person is interested. They admit that the site is not perfect and are working on some tweeks.

how to bang

At the moment there is no way to filter your list of potential fuck candidates so you may see images of relatives, exes and friends already married or in relationships (if you know what’s good for you don’t click these). Seeing your mom as a candidate to bang isn’t exactly up there on most people’s lists of turn ons. Also there doesn’t seem to be a way to un-select people if you accidentally click on the crazy girl from LA that you met during a 3 day rave years ago…

So is this site a good thing? bad thing? or just another part of the internet? Well we’ll just have to wait and see how this social experiment plays out. Do you have an opinion? Do you have a problem with this app objectifying your friends? women? men? Will this app bring an end to the “friend zone”? Let us know what you think in the comments.

It’s been a tough summer for English language media in Montreal. In May, the Hour (later known as Hour Community) ceased operations of its weekly alternative newspaper and on-line website. The death of the Hour came as no surprise; it had been in trouble for years.

Concert promoters led by Gillett Entertainment Group (known presently as Evenco) opted to concentrate their advertising in only one alt. weekly (the Mirror) in order to save money, marking the beginning of the end for the Hour as other advertisers followed suit.

In June, it was announced that the Hour’s only English rival was also stopping the presses permanently. Montreal’s oldest alternative weekly the Montreal Mirror published its last issue on June 21 and simultaneously closed its website.

Unlike the faltering Hour, the demise of the Mirror came as a shocking surprise to many. Sun Media, a subsidiary of Quebecor and owner of the Mirror cited the “the growing popularity of digital media” as the reason for its decision.

If that decision is to be believed, I have to wonder why the “digital media” aspect of the Mirror was shut down as well. The online version of the Mirror could have been the place to go for all things Montreal; instead I’m left to wonder if the more conservative Sun Media simply didn’t want to continue publishing a more left-leaning weekly newspaper.

Last week, Bell Media applied to the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) to convert TSN Radio 990 into a Francophone equivalent RDS 990. Montreal’s only English sports radio station and home of the Montreal Canadiens is being put out to pasture.

Bell Media says the motive behind its decision to convert to French was due to Bell Media’s acquisition of Astral Media earlier this year in which Bell took over three English language radio stations (an acquisition still under review). The CRTC does not allow a corporation to own more than three stations in a market with less than eight; unfortunately the CRTC also sees English and French as separate markets even in the same city.

The CRTC however is not the problem, if anything the CRTC is not strict enough and it should reject the Bell/Astral deal outright. The last thing we need is one or two media empires controlling our airwaves and information, not to mention the higher consumer prices it will lead to.

The dilemma with TSN 990 lies with Bell Media itself. In a case like this, I would have expected Bell to file for a CRTC exemption in order to maintain ownership of the growing English sports station. Bell of course didn’t even bother, leading me to believe this had been in the works for months.

I’ll be the first to admit I have a profound interest in keeping TSN 990 on the air; my uncle is none other than former voice of the departed Montreal Expos and co-host of the 990 morning show Elliott Price. It would have been nice to get a few comments from him on this piece, but apparently the on-air personalities of the station are not permitted to talk about the situation.

My Uncle Elliott and I back in the day

So…in a city of over 800,000 anglophones, Montreal is still the sixth largest English community in Canada and yet we are left with no alternative newspaper, one major newspaper (the Gazette) and soon to be six privately owned radio stations. To put things into perspective, Winnipeg with a population less than 700,000 has 21 English radio stations (four French).

If the current trend persists, English culture in Montreal will continue to decline. I understand I live in a French city, in a French province. I also understand that some of our hard-line French populace might wish to see this trend continue, but I’m not convinced it’s even about language. Guess how many American radio stations are broadcast in Montreal…six.

As with everything these days, money is the driving force behind these corporate decisions, and as always it’s a minority that stands to suffer the most. Capitalism at work I guess. Hopefully the CRTC will do the right thing and deny the Bell/Astral deal, but I’m not holding my breath.

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Print is dead. Everyone’s thought it, we’ve tag-lined it, and e-reader companies are laughing to the bank because of it, but in Montreal, it’s become painfully true, especially on a Thursday. Empty racks and folks trying to handout 24H and Metro are all we get where only a few Thursdays ago, you could have your pick of The Hour or The Mirror, jam packed with grass roots alt-culture for the low low price of zero.

It feels insulting that Quebecor dropped the bomb so suddenly that the 27 year old city staple didn’t even get to do a truly final edition, but was canceled mid-run, like a TV show canned mid plot arc. Not only does this leave fans without a proper sense of closure, not to mention without what would have been a lovely piece of frameable memorabilia, but I imagine it’s a tragedy in and of itself for the crew who freshly unemployed, didn’t have a chance to sign-off to their often quite dedicated readers.

It should be no surprise: it’s a sign of the times, a side effect of corporate (and perhaps linguistic) politics, but it feels more complicated than that. Today ma belle ville feels much smaller than the stylin’ global force of culture we like to portray ourselves as. With the free news dropping like flies, and the grand bastion of The Gazette deteriorating rapidly, we’re shrinking from an opinionated metropolis into a village that can’t even keep its own dailies going.

What tangible piece of our identity can we hand to the constant stream of Newbie Montrealers and our Lovely Tourists as easily as we could hand them The Mirror? When they say “What’s the flavour, and where do I begin?” are we to reply, “Pull up a poutine, I have some links for you to check out”?

We’re a sensuous city left without a touchstone; a void where our collective weeks once coalesced. We have no physical literary souvenirs that can’t just as easily be printed from a computer in Denver.

Remember when Vice Magazine was a Montreal magazine? Me neither, but it was, and I’m nostalgic for it conceptually. I love Vice, and maybe that’s truly the last hardcopy freebie of its style in town; intentionally subversive, artsy, hipster-tastic, quasi-Montreal (hey, they still have an office here) and so glossy it’s sexy.

I was rather confused when I learned that I couldn’t pick up the latest copy at the American Apparel (the only place to score it sans subscription) on Sherbrooke. It seems they no longer carry it because “Westmount mothers complained”, which was no real surprise; the shock is that American Apparel in all its line walking, trouble starting glory, capitulated and pulled it from that location. That, and an aside to Westmount moms: there’s a little thing the kids are surfing these days called the interwebz, and it is vastly more frightening than any copy of Vice. At least if your kids are reading a mag, you can see what they see, instead of them erasing their history, but whatevs, I get it; Vice scares you.

It’s devastating that such a rush-out-and-touch-it city can now only offer a list of links for opinions, and community, and some things can’t work online: in cyber-space the Rant Line would degenerate into the No-You’re-A-Douche, Line in no time.

So, I want to take this opportunity to give my personal thanks. Montreal Mirror, you spoke so eloquently for so many, and I wrapped my fragiles in you with every move I’ve made (and it’s been many). You offered up listings for the shows and events I didn’t know existed, thus, couldn’t Google for.

Thanks for giving us my personal faves Kristian Gravenor (still truckin’ at coolopolis.com), Josh Bezonsky (who Google says grew up to become a lawyer), the illuminating and artistic horoscopes of Rob Breszny (freewillastrology.com), Raf Katibak, and Sasha, eveyone’s fave go to gal for both the nitty and the gritty deets. Jason McLean, having written for them that one time, and now knowing that you will always have that up on me, instigates just the right amount of burning jealousy that good writer buddies should have for one another, so please wear it well.

Thanks, Mirror, for being there, pristine, beckoning and beautiful the morning after my first ever acid trip, filling me with twinkly civic pride. Thanks for printing my rants (though the one about my first acid trip didn’t make it; for that, I forgive you). Thank you for simplifying the best we have to offer with BoM, for the call centre ads that used to keep me employed, and all the art and music. Thank you, thank you, thank you. May this be the end of a chapter, and not the whole story.

If you need me, I’ll be trying to fall in love with The West End Times.

Tweet me your Rants, Raves, and local faves @McMoxy. Photos by Henry Gass.