Monday, November 30, 2009

Ambush of Cops in a Coffee Shop could happen in Vancouver

Long before the ambush and execution of four police officers in Tacoma on Sunday, it had crossed my mind that such a thing could happen in Vancouver. I thought of it around Christmas last year when I saw about 8 uniforms sitting in Waves coffee shop on Hastings at Richards. There were so many of them, they pulled two or three tables together.

I don't often see that many cops having coffee together, although I saw about six, including a couple of under-covers, having coffee in Waves at Main & 10th last summer. I remember thinking, if you're "under cover" why would you announce to the public that you're a cop by sitting with a bunch of uniforms on your coffee break. A Downtown Eastsider told me how to recognize under covers wearing their "colours of the day".

Anyway, it occurred to me that there might be an element of risk for a bunch of cops to sit huddled together in Waves coffee shop. The VPD complain to the media that they are put at risk by people who want to commit "suicide by cop", so it wouldn't be much of stretch to think of suicide by cop in a coffee shop. But I guess it's a risk they're willing to take. (The VPD wear bullet-proof vests but so did the Tacoma cops executed in the coffee shop.)

When the four officers were shot in Tacoma, it was pointed out in the news that in many places in the U.S., police are forbidden to sit in groups in coffee shops.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

SPCA Helps Downtown Eastside Kitty with Cancer

The reputation of the SPCA has improved in my eyes because of what people have told me about their free veterinary clinic on the Downtown Eastside. It's held at the Mission Possible drop-in center on Powell St. near Oppenheimer Park about once a month. Some of the workers are volunteers.

They have a pet food bank there too, although that's more regular than the vet clinic.

I remember years ago, reading a scandal in the newspaper about an SPCA executive who had a six figure salary and a huge expense account and had squandered donations. I never forgot that. But like I said, the reputation of the SPCA has sprung back now, especially since hearing about what they did today in the "prevention of cruelty" to a kitty.

A Downtown Eastsider, who asked not to be identified in the media, took a sick kitty to the clinic this morning. There were two young women veterinarians there. What amazed the Downtown Eastsider about the skill set of the vet who handled the kitty was, "She could do anything without getting scratched."

One of the vets said that this kitty either had cancer on her face or had been hit by a car and broken her jaw. "This is serious", she told the owner. She said that if extensive treatment was unaffordable, it was time to start thinking about euthanizing this kitty. "Tears welled up in my eyes; I was trying to hold them back," says the owner. A woman from the SPCA who runs the clinic immediately got on the phone and referred the kitty to their animal hospital on East 7th to have her jaw x-rayed. "She patted me on the arm", the owner recalls. Then the kitty was whisked over to the hospital on the bus.

The vet at the hospital, a young guy, didn't do an x-ray because he didn't think the kitty's jaw was broken. He diagnosed her with a cancer on her face, a type of cancer in the bones that is common in cats. "They don't do tests like they do with human beings; the vet examines the cat and he says, 'Looks like cancer to me' ", the Downtown Eastsider explained. And then he talks about the options.

The SPCA gave the kitty antibiotics to fend off an infection that had pus coming out of the side of her face and was making her blind in one eye. And they gave her an injection of water because she was dehydrated -- all to make her final days more comfortable. She was even given a lampshade collar for her neck so that she didn't claw at the red spots on her mouth. And they made another appointment for her next week. All this, even though the Downtown Eastsider taking care of her had no money.

The SPCA will euthanize the kitty when it's time, which will probably be soon as apparently cancer can spread aggressively in cats. The SPCA runs the Animal Hospital entirely on donations, according to a sign the Downtown Eastsider saw in the waiting room.

You have to be poor as a church mouse to take your cat or dog -- one guy took his ferret -- to the free SPCA clinic at Mission Possible. They're strict. They make you show photo I.D. and proof of income, like a tax return or welfare stub.

Mission Possible which is a Christian place, has a slogan and I don't remember what it is, just that the word "compassionate" is in it. The vet clinic they host does sound compassionate.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don't Cut Cops on Street, Cut VPD Mega Media Relations Department, says Eby

The Vancouver Police have announced they will avoid filling 35 positions due to the City's budget shortfall. That will mean 35 fewer constables on the street and longer response times.

David Eby of the BC Civil Liberties Association says there is no need for cuts to result in fewer constables on the street. Eby told CBC Radio last week that the Vancouver Police Department could first look at cutting their Media Relations department which is bigger than that of the City of Vancouver. The VPD media relations department, Eby said, is twice the size of the public relations departments in other organizations their size. Eby also pointed out that the VPD has an executive with an average salary of $182,000, another place that could withstand cuts.

I would add one thing: the reason the VPD needs such a monstrous media relations department is that they promote officers to six figure executive positions despite records of unprofessional and/or criminal conduct, officers who are at risk of re-offending. Take Warren Lemcke. There is documented evidence linking Lemcke to a political psychiatry scam, involving fraud and later destruction of evidence. After the evidence surfaced, Lemcke was allowed to personally decide whether the investigation into himself would proceed. He decided to cancel it. He was then promoted twice, first to Inspector and then to Superintendent. He's now well ensconced in the VPD Six Figure Club. He's even paraded in front of media cameras as head of "Con Air".

It's this constant covering for cops with questionable records by the VPD that requires a mega 'spin' department.

Canwest Deletes Article by Teenage Blogger/Writer Criticizing Human Rights Commissions after Lawsuit Threatened

Teenage blogger and newspaper writer, Walker Morrow, has become something of a balloon boy for older bloggers in Canada who have been crticizing erosion of free speech and other constitutional rights by Human Rights Commissions. They watched in amazement as media giant Canwest abandoned Morrow when legal action was threatened over his article, “Questionable Conduct of CHRC”. The article was published in The Cowichan Valley Citizen newspaper and on various sites in the Canwest chain. First it was up. Then it was down.

Morrow described on his blog, Blog of Walker, how readers lost sight of his article:

''I wasn’t aware of the article’s disappearance at first, but I got a couple of emails, from one of the posters at Free Dominion and from a blogger acquaintance of mine, who were asking what had happened to the original article. You see, it had been published in the print edition of the Citizen, on the Citizen website, and also on, the website for the print section of the Can-West media empire, of which the Citizen is a part. The text of the article on had disappeared, although the title remained, and at first I thought it might just be some weird glitch in the HTML of the page or something. So I pointed at least one of the concerned parties ( can’t remember right now if it was both ) toward the version on the Citizen website. But that, too, soon disappeared; all that remained was a small piece of text telling the web-page viewer that the article was no longer available. The article had been picked up by Global Calgary; that version disappeared as well. The only available version left was up on Free Dominion, where one poster had posted a copy of it. The Free Dominion copy remains about the only one available - although I think another web forum or two have picked it up; I would say Free Dominion remains the most credible.”

Morrow’s editor told him that legal action had been threatened by Richard Warman, an Ottawa lawyer who was apparently representing himself. Warman’s name is well known to bloggers monitoring the Human Rights Commission. Warman has initiated a number of complaints against groups and individuals, alleging violations of the Canadian Human Rights Act. He also launched a libel suit in 2008 against three Canadian bloggers, all outspoken critics of the CHRC - Ezra Levant, Kate McMillan and Kathy Shaidle — and the owners of Free Dominion, a conservative chat site.

After Morrow’s article disappeared, he and a parent, the Citizen’s editor and publisher, and a Can-West representative held a conference call. Morrow got a chuckle out of learning during that call that Warman had threatened the wrong newspaper at first, mistaking “the Citizen” for the major paper, The Ottawa Citizen. Morrow was able to provide his sources to Canwest.

Canwest nonetheless asked Morrow to sign a retraction. His parent told him to get legal advice first. Then Canwest asked him to sign an even stiffer retraction. He refused. Can-West ran the retraction anyway, without his name.

Can-West, a media empire with newspapers and television stations across Canada, is in bankruptcy protection. That may be the reason Canwest abandoned him, Truepeers, a blogger at who regularly criticizes the CHRC, told Morrow in a comment on Blog of Walker:

”This Warman threat is just a necessary bump/challenge….As for the newspaper I figure it’s a cold business decision from a bankruptcy case. Tough break not to get their full support; but such are the evils of our world. You will have the support of much of the blogosphere….”

Struggling to stay afloat itself, Canwest was apparently in no position to struggle to keep free speech afloat.

Monday, November 16, 2009

CUPE Wants Your Last Cappuccino

For years, CUPE and Vancouver City managers at Carnegie Centre have functioned in synch, like one giant Leona Helmsley inflicting cruelty on "the little people". Now it looks as though Leona's got an auto-immune disorder.

Paul Faoro, head of CUPE Local 15 which represents inside City workers, was on CKNW radio yesterday accusing the City of being "over-managed". He wants to see the City cut the jobs of managers, not just unionized workers. Faoro was responding to what he called, "the $60 million question": Who will lose their jobs as the City faces a $60 million budget shortfall and Council is determined to avoid serious residential tax hikes. So far, all of the jobs Faoro has seen slated to be cut are those of unionized workers. Yet there is one manager for every nine unionized workers, he says. Faoro believes that the City intentionally hires excess managers, so that they can do the work when CUPE strikes.

I agree with Faoro. I've repeatedly stated on this blog that Carnegie Centre is grossly over-managed. When managers have time to roll back the right of a homeless man to sit as an elected official, or the right of a woman to ask a male supervisor his name when he has made a decision to ban her from the building for raising the issue of sexism, their ample idle time has become the devil's playground. Either Ethel Whitty or Dan Tetrault should go.

Behead Leona.

That's Faoro's second choice though. First, he is eying the little people who pay taxes. He wants them to swallow a residential tax hike of 5%. He argues that a study has shown that Vancouver residents want to keep services such as libraries and community centres, and are willing to pay for them. Unlike Faoro, I don't see it as either/or. Tax hikes aren't necessary to maintain City services at current levels, if the fat, the morbid obesity, is trimmed. Either Whitty or Tetrault, for starters.

Faoro argued that a 5% property tax hike would be $50 a year. He said it merely amounts to "a few less cappuccinos". That's one way of describing it. I've heard it described other ways. Death by a thousand cuts. Incrimentalism.

Attempting to create common ground with the radio audience, Faoro noted that he too is a homeowner, that if there were a 5% residential tax hike, he too would feel it. He doesn't mention that it would feel good at his house: with the union dues flowing, he would get his usual raise, his usual hike in take-home pay. He could buy a round of cappuccinos at Waves coffee shop on Pender St., where CUPE members from Carnegie grab them between human rights abuses.

I almost got taken in during Faoro's bonding moment, but I know too much. I covered the story of the non-union secretaries hired by CUPE Local 116 to staff their executive offices. I learned how those secretaries had been fired, one after the other for daring to speak up about the fact that they were being run into the ground with overwork. One took CUPE to court when they allegedly reneged on promise to give her a pension. When the only one who hadn't been fired spoke up in support of the others, CUPE arranged for police officers who didn't even have jurisdiction at Local 116 to do them a favour. That favour was to visit the secretary at her home and warn her that CUPE wanted her to just shut up.

Faoro knows about those brass knuckles tactics but he's never taken a stand, even though he has the ear of CUPE boss Barry O'Neill. Faoro attends CUPE conventions and when O'Neill --- who he is reportedly angling to replace -- and the other union brass set the agenda, the secretaries are never on it.

One of those secretaries owns a house in Vancouver. Imagine that, paying a mortgage on a non-union wage while being run into the ground with overwork. When Faoro asks her to turn over her last cappuccino, I can just hear her:

"From my cold, dead, hands."

Thanks for the Grapes, Jimmy.

Photo: Steven, a cashier at Superstore

At Metrotown Mall, Superstore has lower food prices, but Save On Foods has better customer service. In fact, the customer service at Save On is amazing.

I was at Metrotown on Saturday doing some shopping, and I bought some grapes on sale for $1.78 a pound at Save on Foods.

When I got home, and looked through my shopping bags, I didn't have that bag. So the next day, I phoned Customer Service at Save On and asked if they'd found my bag. I said I was going out that way again so if they'd found the grapes, I'd pick them up. They hadn't. "It doesn't matter," I told the clerk, "they were only $1.78" -- I remembered the total because it had been been the same as the price per pound. The clerk told me to drop by and he'd replace them.

And he did.

Contrast that with Superstore at Metrotown. A former Downtown Eastsider was telling me in early November about her encounter with the cashier from hell at Superstore. His name was Steven. I told her that if she got his photo, I would write him up.

When the customer was going through the check-out, Steven treated her like a shoplifter. He wanted to check her shopping bag. Fair enough: she was carrying a Superstore bag with her lunch in it. When she didn't object to him checking it, he lost interest. "He didn't open it, he just squeezed my pita sandwich. And he made a face, like yuck."

With all this fuss, Steven forgot to ask the customer if she wanted a plastic bag for her groceries. So after she paid, she asked him for one, but by this time he was on to the next customer. "He said no," she exclaimed. "He wouldn't give me one," she said, shaking her head in amazement. I agree with her that this is odd, as I've had busy cashiers at Superstore forget to ask me if I want a plastic bag, so they just hand me one instead of getting bogged down over five cents.

Steven did eventually toss this customer a bag, reluctantly. "I was tired of him blaming me so I said, 'It was your mistake, you know.' "

After packing her groceries, she realized she needed a second bag. "I wanted to double-bag [the groceries]; they were heavy." Steven told her she couldn't have another bag, and he turned back to his customer. So she spotted a plastic bag lying on the floor. "It was dirty; people were trampling over it." She picked it up and was putting her other bag into it, when Steven turned around. "Soooo, you took one anyway," he said accusingly. "He was livid." She told him she had picked it up off the floor.

Steven demanded that she pay him five cents for that bag and another five for the other bag. "I pay for bags there all the time but I'm not going to pay for a filthy bag off the floor."

Steven called the supervisor. The supervisor defended Steven. She said all bags had to be paid for. "Not a dirty one off the floor", the customer recalled saying. "Yes," said the supervisor, even a dirty bag must be paid for. But the supervisor let it go, this time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Car Hits Main St. Lamp Post on Rainy Night

Last night at about 12:30 am., I came across this car accident on Main St. at Prior, just across from the Georgia Viaduct. A young woman was talking to police, so I assume she had been the driver. It was raining.

Monday, November 9, 2009

National Post Runs Full-Page Ad Against Radical Islam

I think it was a turning point. The Fort Hood massacre allegedly perpetrated by a Muslim who got promoted inside the U.S. Army, while advocating the death of "infidels". I think we're going to see more people and organizations in Canada and the U.S. becoming less tolerant of intolerant Islam.

This full page ad appeared in today's (Nov. 9/09) National Post. I saw it when Vancouver blogger truepeers posted it at Covenant Zone blogspot, but he found it on Blazing Cat Fur.

Later in the day, as I walked into Save on Foods, I picked up a National Post to see this ad for myself. I found it. It was on the back page of the first section.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Decorated Car

This photo was snapped by a Downtown Eastsider as a man showed his decorated car to onlookers in Gastown on Oct. 31, 2009, Halloween.

False Advertising at Waves Coffee Shop

A man who regularly drops into Waves internet coffee shop at Main St. & Pender, has been giving the same advice for months: don't buy your coffee until you find out whether the internet is working.

Too often people buy a coffee and sit down to use the internet, only to discover that it's down.

On Saturday, a customer asked for a refund, after buying a coffee and then discovering that the advertised internet service was not available.

Miranda, the young woman who works there, said there are no refunds. She said the internet has actually not been down in months, that Saturday was the first time in a long time. That's not what Downtown Eastsiders say. I went in there on Sunday to test it. It was down.

Waves staff could put a sign on the counter, "Internet temporarily down". But they don't. They would lose coffee sales.

Try before you buy.

Coast to Coast Radio Cancelled in Vancouver

A Downtown Eastsider told me yesterday that he hadn't been getting the Coast to Coast radio show at it's usual spot on the dial for a couple of nights. So he found it on another station which he could hear faintly from the U.S., but reception was poor. I too had been frustrated when Coast to Coast wasn't on for two nights in a row; I just assumed it was a reception problem.

I phoned CFUN radio yesterday to ask what was up.

The man who answered the phone told me that the Coast to Coast show has been dropped. CFUN has been taken over by TEAM radio "down the hall".

That would explain why I heard a sports talk show last night, at the place on the dial where Coast to Coast would normally be. I don't mind sports talk actually. But I did miss hearing Ian Punnit who hosts Coast to Coast on Saturday nights (George Noory hosts on week nights). I got Coast to Coast from a U.S. station for about 5 minutes and then it faded out.

For a few people on the Downtown Eastiside, the death of Coast to Coast may not be a bad thing. A few Downtown Eastsiders are already unbalanced -- and I emphasize "a few"; there aren't nearly as many truly mentally ill people on the Downtown Eastsiders as poverty industry grant addicts would have the public believe -- and they tend to pick up on the conspiracy topics and alien visitation topics and let this stuff dominate their minds. There is a wide range of topics covered on Coast to Coast though, including political, spiritual, technological advances, and alternative health.

Anyone wanting to listen to Coast to Coast in Vancouver, the man who answered the phone at the CFUN number told me, can sign up for Streamlink at the Coast to Coast website and listen via the internet. But I believe you have to pay. Many Downtown Eastsiders don't have internet at home.

Earlier this year George Noory, host of Coast to Coast radio, came to the Red Rock Casino in Richmond to visit with listeners. Coast to Coast had a good base of listeners in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. It was a hit amongst Downtown Eastsiders, many of whom don't mind staying up until 2 a.m. as they don't have jobs to go to in the morning.

The loss of Coast to Coast radio will be felt on the Downtown Eastside. I miss having it on in the background; it was a show that I could turn on no matter what time I got home as it was on all night.

Update, Nov. 10/09: A Coast to Coast listener commented on the internet that according to the Coast to Coast official site, another Vancouver station was talking to them about picking up the show. I went to the Coast to Coast site today but I couldn't find any reference to that. I hope they bring it back though. I have withdrawal symptoms.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What did you go as on Halloween?

On Halloween, a homeless man was sitting in Burger King on Main at 1st Ave. with his full-to-the-brim shopping cart. A man about 40 years old with dark hair, well dressed, wearing a Yankees cap, arrived with his wife. On the way out, he walked up behind the homeless man and said, "Can I give you this?" He handed him a twenty dollar bill and said, "You enjoy your Halloween."

The homeless man referred to this man twice as, "the rich guy". He smiled broadly showing his almost worn away top teeth, and his face lit up, as he recalled, "He looked at me; he looked like an angel."