Thursday, January 18, 2018

Soviet Tomsk Streetscapes, Institutes and Monuments -- 17 Vintage 70's Postcards

Tomsk, founded over 400 years ago, is regarded as one of the oldest towns in Siberia. It underwent dramatic growth during the Soviet era, especially after the Second World War, and by the 1980s had become a city of over 500,000 people.


This postcard folder was published in the USSR in 1974 and shows some of the sights, institutes and monuments. To me notable cards include the children's hospital, the educational facilities (health and education improved dramatically during the Soviet period), the oldest Siberian Botanical Gardens and the Gorky Cinema.

The cards were meant for a domestic audience and are in Russian. While I could not translate all of the text I was able to translate the short descriptions telling what each is a photo of.

(Click on images to enlarge)


Lenin Square


Monument to the Fighters for Soviet Power


Parade of the Pioneers


Regional Drama Theater


White Lake


Monument


Tomsk Polytechnic Institute


Regional Children's Hospital


Revolution Square


Great Patriotic War Monument


Sports Palace


Hotel Tomsk


Writer's House


Tomsk Institute of Technology


Siberia's Oldest Botanical Garden


Valerian Kuybyshev State University


Gorky Cinema




Visit our Vintage Photography page for all our other postcard/photography posts


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

TTC fare fallacies -- Neoliberal delusions in transit costing

The start of the 2018 election season is nearing and fanciful neoliberal narratives about transit fares and the TTC are in full swing.

As 2017 ended an internal TTC report of questionable accuracy was obtained by the media stating that fare evasion allegedly "cost" the service $50 million a year (approximately 4.3% of fare revenue of around $1.16 billion) as opposed to the $20 million (or approximately 1.72%) previous studies and audits had stated. Councillors like Joe Mihevc said that they felt "vindicated" in their previous claims that fare evasion was a more serious issue than some claimed it was.

Meanwhile the TTC is moving ahead with a project to allow 2 hour transfers meaning that people will be able to pay a single fare and get on and off the system at will, in any direction and with stopovers in between, for a full two hours. This is projected to allegedly "cost" $20 million. Councillor John Campbell described the idea as more of an "open-ended cheque" and then displayed a total lack of understanding of who uses transit by claiming it would primarily benefit the well-to-do and tweeting a bunch of rubbish about Bay St. executives hopping on-and-off buses between power lunches. 

As we will see, both of these assessments of "cost" are predicated on notions of revenue that frame the TTC in ways that make no sense for what should be viewed as an essential public service.

To return to Campbell though, the point of a 2 hour fare window is to allow people to make trips to get groceries, take the kids to school, shop locally, etc. and return home without the burden of paying an extra $2.05 to $2.10 (for teens and seniors) or up to $3.25 for everyone else. It is not the well off who will take advantage of this, but rather students, people who do not own cars, the elderly and people making short trips.

In many cases these will end up being people who simply would not have used and are not now using the system in the absence of this fare window for these types of trips. This is a key point that also applies in the case of fare evasion and that renders many of these "cost" assessments fundamentally questionable.

As a personal example, I do not own a car. As I work out of home I also do not buy a Metropass generally. Some days  I still have to take my kids into school and their school is actually over 20-25 minutes away by foot. While in inclement weather I will use the TTC, if the weather is nice I will walk both ways to save the total cost of $6 - $6.50 (depending on if I use Presto or not). However, if the cost were only $3 - $3.25 for the entire trip due to the fare window I would be far more likely to use the TTC meaning that, in fact, on many school days over the last few years the TTC has lost at least my single fare because I would rather walk than pay for the trip both ways. This equally applies with a lot of local grocery shopping I do. I can assure you that I am far from alone on this.

In other words, many people cannot afford or do not want to pay as much as $6.50 for a local two (plus) way trip and so instead of possibly getting one fare from each of these people the TTC ends up getting nothing on routes that are running anyway. 

What we see here is that not only will having the fare window encourage positive things like local shopping and allow greater social mobility for those with low or fixed incomes, but that some of the "cost" assumptions (other than fixed ones like setup changes to systems) are based on the false idea that the return fare is being "lost" when in the much greater number of cases there would simply have been no fare to begin with.

Even if Campbell is right and some suits due to a new fare window suddenly want to use the TTC to gallivant around at lunch that would be better for the TTC in terms of revenue generation than them deciding not to use the system at all!

His argument fails not just in terms of social fairness and policy objectives, but also in terms of his own frame of fiscal reference.

Keep in mind what I said above as well. The buses, streetcars and subways are running regardless of whether any specific person uses them. These routes and the costs of running them as a service are already in place. These costs do not decrease if either I, a local elderly shopper or a Bay St. bistro enthusiast chose to walk instead of getting on for a ride. The only thing that changes is potential revenue and the opening of different transit opportunities for people, something that someone with an actual understanding of who uses public transit and why would be more likely to grasp.

This is the same problem with the way many exaggerating the significance of fare evasion frame matters as well. The primary cost that ends up being associated with fare evasion will almost always be the expense involved in trying to catch or prevent it.

All studies show that the vast majority of riders, whether it is 96% or 98% of them, pay their fares via the established and normal safeguards/waypoints in place. To begin with, this means that calls to spend more on enforcement are also calls to harass and make transit less pleasant for the overwhelming majority in order to attempt to "catch" a tiny, tiny minority. As I said in a previous piece related to this the "point is both that the enforcement measures are very expensive and that they don't only deter so-called 'cheats', they also deter everyone else" from using the system in the first place.

But further, regardless of how one views the small numbers of those evading the fares, the notion of lost revenue is, again, predicated on the idea that they would have paid to use the system if there was sufficient enforcement in place to totally prevent fare evasion (a notion as absurd and impossible as it would be exceptionally expensive to achieve).

Remember, as with the fare window riders, all the TTC routes are running whether 2-4 % of those riding them find ways to get on for free or not. As I have also pointed out in the past, creating the type of enforcement network that would put a serious dent in fare evasion "still would not generate new revenue for the system as in most cases these are riders who are hopping on to go a few stops or who do not have the money to afford to pay. If enforcement does succeed in deterring them all the time, they will simply not use the system. They will walk or find other means instead. The net gain financially to deterring this type of behaviour is actually negative as the TTC will have to spend a lot of money to stop people who were never going to pay in the first place."

These are truly examples of failing to see the forest through the trees.

The broader point is that public transit is something that we as a society allegedly want to promote and expand for essential environmental, social justice and social inclusion goals. We want to encourage people to get on buses, streetcars and subways. If we make it onerous (financially and in terms of scheduling) and unpleasant (in terms of over-enforcement or making it hard to board, etc.) to use transit fewer people will do so. If we make it easier, more flexible and more enjoyable more people will take "the better way".

We will go a long way towards achieving this if we always frame transit as a fundamentally important basic service and right for the public and the public good of the city and stop seeing it through a neoliberal lens that places the emphasis on "costs" as opposed to people.

Further Readings:

The TTC 'fare evasion' fraud and Toronto's fiscal chickens coming home to roost

Free transit: Three reasons it is an idea whose time has come

TTC fare increases continue Toronto's war on transit riders

Reality again derails Tory's fantasy SmartTrack plans

Joe Mihevc and Toronto politicians are "ripping off" the TTC -- Not transit riders!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Yellow Pepper, Beef, Mushroom Caribbean Style Chili

I am a big fan of chili and have posted chili recipes on the blog before. I have many of them I developed over time. Followers of the recipes here will also know that I love Caribbean style dishes and flavours. Combining the two -- and with much experimentation -- I hit upon this chili that uses ground beef, mushroom, onions and chili powder but that adds more unusual ingredients like curry powder, cinnamon, coriander and cumin.

It also adds in yellow hot peppers, sweet green peppers and Scotch Bonnet sauce for a very satisfying dish perfect for a winter night or game day party.

Ingredients:

2 lb. ground beef
1 hot yellow pepper, chopped but unseeded
2 medium onions, chopped
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 green peppers, diced and seeded
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large can diced tomatoes with liquid (herb and spiced in you can find it)
4 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1-3 teaspoons Scotch Bonnet sauce to taste
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

To begin, heat some olive oil in a large pot or saucepan. Add the yellow pepper, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste and saute for 4-5 minutes.


Add the ground beef to the mix and begin to brown. Season with the chili powder, curry powder, garlic powder, cumin, coriander and cinnamon as you go.

When the beef is browned add the water, the can of tomatoes with the liquid, the soy, Worcestershire and Scotch Bonnet sauces. Lately I have been enjoying Spur Tree Jamaican Crushed Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce, but you can use anyone you like. Adjust the hot pepper sauce to taste. Stir until thoroughly blended.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Taste after an hour or so and adjust salt and other seasonings to your liking.


The flavours of this chili go well with a variety of sides, some that are usual with chili and some less so. Serve with options like extra Scotch Bonnet sauce, sour cream, nacho chips, rice, kidney beans, roti or naan bread or garlic bread.



Also goes perfectly with ice cold beer or red wine.

Enjoy.

See also: Slow Cooker Beef & Mushroom Chili

See also: Seasoned Beef Chili
 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Zippy Pickle Soup

Zippy Pickle Soup- Adapted from a Ukrainian Pickle soup that my Dad, Greg used to make

Submitted by Natalie

Ingredients: 

-1 medium onion chopped
-2 carrots grated
-2 cloves of garlic, grated
-few sprigs of fresh or dried thyme
-4 bay leaves
-2 dried sage leaves
-3/4 cup washed pot barley
-1 TB olive oil- may need more
-1 leftover chicken (remove meat, chop and set aside for later) add carcass to simmer in the broth.
- 1 cup pickle juice
-3 full sour dill pickles (fresh from the deli if possible or we like Strubs) chopped.
-1 handful kale (any kind) ribs removed, shredded.
-1 bunch shredded dill (to add at the end of cooking) and for garnish
-1 tsp vegeta seasoning
-1 1/2 cubes chicken stock
-salt, pepper & cayenne pepper to season
-Lemon wedges

Saute the onion and shredded carrot in the olive oil until golden. Add the garlic, add the rinsed pot barley, saute for a few minutes. 


Make this in a fairly large pot, enough to hold approx 5L of water.
Add 5L of water to the simmering barley/veg mixture, add the stock cubes, vegeta, a few dashes of cayenne pepper, and a bit of black pepper. Add the stripped chicken carcass. Simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove chicken carcass. Remove sprigs of thyme and bay & sage leaves.

Add the pickles and juice, the chopped chicken & shredded kale and a bit more water: 1/4-1/2 cups if the consistency is rather heavy. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Simmer 5-10 mins and add fresh dill, reserving some for garnish. Squeeze a spritz of lemon into individual bowls of soup if a more tart flavour is desired. Serve with buttered, toasted, whole grain bread.


See also: Pepper Goat Soup

"Thus we stand today..." Rosa Luxemburg murdered January 15, 1919



"Thus we stand today...before the awful proposition: either the triumph of imperialism and the destruction of all culture, and, as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery; or, the victory of socialism, that is, the conscious struggle of the international proletariat against imperialism, against its methods, against war. This is the dilemma of world history, its inevitable choice..." - Rosa Luxemburg

On this date in 1919 the great Marxist thinker and revolutionary leader Rosa Luxemburg was murdered in cold blood along with Karl Liebknecht after an abortive attempted uprising in Germany a mere fortnight after she had participated in the founding of the Communist Party there.

In June of 1916, they had been imprisoned by the Imperial German authorities for their steadfast opposition to World War I.

They had split from the Social Democratic Party, which capitulated to nationalism and backed the war and the German war effort, and they had formed the Spartacus League in January of 1916.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tim Hortons, BDS and Israel, Donald Trump and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List January 7 - 14

This week's list of articles, news items and opinion pieces that I see as must reads if you are looking for a roundup that should be of interest to The Left Chapter readers.

This list covers the week of  January 7 - 14. It is generally in order of the date of the article's release.


This installment has one entry from before the period. It has been integrated into the post.

1) Relax, Ontario’s minimum wage increase will not lead to massive job losses

Vanmala Subramaniam, Vice

The overwhelmingly alarmist rhetoric regarding Ontario’s recent minimum wage increase is due largely to a misinterpretation of basic facts, say two prominent Canadian bank economists.

Read the full article.

2) Labour council flooded with complaints about responses to minimum wage laws

Elizabeth Payne, The Ottawa Citizen

Forty eight hours after setting up a hotline for workers, the Ottawa and District Labour Council said Sunday it had already heard complaints about more than 20 Ottawa businesses potentially acting as what it calls “corporate bullies” in response to new Ontario minimum wage laws.

Read the fill article.

3) TIM HORTONS BREW-HAHA SHOWS HOW THE FAST-FOOD INDUSTRY DOESN’T GET PR, ECONOMICS 101, OR WHAT CANADIANS THINK

David Climenhaga, Alberta Politics

Having quite possibly won the next Ontario general election for Premier Kathleen Wynne and her admittedly long-in-the-tooth Liberal government, the association of perpetually infuriated rogue Tim Hortons franchisees half-heartedly tried to walk back last week’s plan to beat the crap out of their employees because the government had raised the minimum wage in the province to $14 an hour.

Read the full article.


Roll out your rights! Stand with Tim Hortons workers! To reach a UFCW Canada organizer please contact our toll-free number at 1.866.977.0772 or visit www.ufcw.ca/join


4) BDS Blacklist: Sadly, Now Might Be the Time for Jews to Boycott Israel

Mira Sucharov, Haaretz

The entry blacklist means Israel is effectively turning the screws in the prison of occupation a few notches tighter, as it continues to inch away from its self-declared commitment to being a democracy.

Read the full article.

5) So much for 'happily ever after': Sears pensioners stagger under stress of cuts

Meghan McCabe, CBC News

Ron Husk pulls onto the parking lot of Home Depot in St. John's, backs his car in, and totters into another day of his part-time job as a greeter, lunch pail in hand.

Read the full article.

6) Disgust Follows Pictures of Seinfeld at 'Anti-Terror Fantasy Camp' in Occupied West Bank

John Queally, Common Dreams

American actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld became the target of ire among Palestinian rights advocates worldwide on Monday after it was revealed he recently visited an "anti-terrorist training camp" located inside an illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied West Bank.

Read the full article.

7) 'Outrageous': Demanding Pay Raises for Educators Over Superintendent, Teacher Pushed to Ground and Arrested

Julia Conley, Common Dreams

A middle school language arts teacher was handcuffed and pushed to the ground in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana on Monday night after being removed from a school board meeting for questioning her district's decision to give its superintendent a raise while teachers' salaries remain stagnant and class sizes soar.

Read the full article.

8) Why Europe’s wars of religion put 40,000 ‘witches’ to a terrible death

Jamie Doward, The Guardian

It was a terrifying phenomenon that continues to cast a shadow over certain parts of Europe even today. The great age of witch trials, which ran between 1550 and 1700, fascinates and repels in equal measure. Over the course of a century and a half, 80,000 people were tried for witchcraft and half of them were executed, often burned alive.

Read the full article.

9) Men of Hollywood, spare us your ‘solidarity’ and actually speak up, for once in your over-privileged lives

Hadley Freeman, The Guardian

A-list men tore up the sartorial rulebook and wore black tuxes to the Golden Globes to show their support for the women’s protest? Not enough, guys. Not enough

Read the full article.

10) Catherine Deneuve, let me explain why #metoo is nothing like a witch-hunt

Van Badham, The Guardian

There is nothing puritanical about the belief that sexual liberty is the right to determine your sexual behaviour without coercion.

Read the full article.

11) I Made the Pizza Cinnamon Rolls from Mario Batali’s Sexual Misconduct Apology Letter

Geraldine DeRuiter, The Everywhereist

Last night, I made cinnamon rolls. I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon rolls, per se, but this recipe was included in Mario Batali’s sexual misconduct apology letter, and so I feel compelled to make them. Batali is not the first powerful man to request forgiveness for “inappropriate actions” towards his coworkers and employees. He is not the most high profile, and he is ostensibly not even the worst offender. But he is the only one who included a recipe.

Read the full article.

12) I’m not here for celebrity culture, but I am here for Oprah

Meghan Murphy, Feminist Current

I don’t want a celebrity-driven, Hollywood-centric movement. I don’t want a movement that fails to address race and class. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want women who are actresses, who have money, or who are “celebrities” to speak out and to declare solidarity with other women. It certainly doesn’t mean I don’t want a woman like Oprah, who is powerful, who has changed lives, and who, on Sunday, used that power to speak about real women and real women’s lives — women who have historically been silenced. This was — and is — an important moment. Not everything needs to be torn apart in order to advertise progressive credibility. Sometimes good things and powerful moments can be celebrated — and this is one of those times.


Read the full article.

13) The Lefty Critique of #TimesUp Is Tired and Self-Defeating

Rinku Sen, The Nation

This year’s Golden Globes were the best kind of anomaly, as women artists and activists took it over with #TimesUp, signaling an end to silence and inaction on sexual harassment and abuse. All the women wore black; men sported #TimesUp pins. Seven celebrity actors took women activists of color as their dates to raise the visibility of particular industries and communities. The campaign has raised more than $16 million for a legal defense fund. Several winners spoke to the issue (though none of them were men), and the night ended with Oprah Winfrey’s focused and moving acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Read the full article.


13) Imagine cities that shelter people, not war

Azeezah Kanji, The Toronto Star

After weeks of protest and a petition signed by tens of thousands of people, Toronto Mayor John Tory reversed his refusal to ask that the Moss Park Armoury be opened as an emergency homeless shelter: temporarily transfiguring an edifice of war into a space of refuge.

Read the full article.

14) Venezuelan Communists Urge Radical Solutions to Current Crisis

Communist Party of Venezula

The Communist Party warns Venezuela could be headed towards a social explosion if the Maduro government fails to take decisive steps to improve the conditions of working people.

Read the full statement.

15) Jeremy Corbyn is about to transform the Labour party – again

Richard Power Sayeed, The Independent

Not many people will have noticed the news, reported on Monday morning just as Theresa May’s ill-fated reshuffle began, that Jeremy Corbyn has set up a “community campaign unit”, a small but growing department in his office that will focus on organising with communities and groups of employees, helping them to campaign on local and workplace issues.

Read the full article.

16) 'He took every penny I made,' human trafficking survivor says

 Kate Dubinski, CBC News

A survivor of human trafficking now speaks to other women and teenagers in high schools about the risks.

Read the full article.

17) What's the Deal with Men's Rights Activists and Asian Fetishes?

Alia Marsha, Vice

There are plenty of men out there who think Asian women represent some kind of super patriarchal vision of a mate—a woman who is both subservient and hyper-sexual. And until we address that problem, there will be plenty of other men like Bond, and scores of fans willing to pay good money to learn how they too can fly to Asia and pick up women. Sigh.

Read the full article.

18) Women still earn 25% less as Canada slips down global rankings

Anna Maria Tremonti, The Current

Women working full-time in Canada earn 74.2 cents for every dollar that full-time male workers made.

Read the transcript/listen to the segment.

19) US to loosen nuclear weapons constraints and develop more 'usable' warheads

Julian Borger, The Guardian

The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident missiles, according to a former official who has seen the most recent draft of a policy review.

Read the full article.

20) Ahed Tamimi Offers Israelis a Lesson Worthy of Gandhi

Jonathon Cook, Counterpunch

Ahed and Nabi Saleh have shown that popular unarmed resistance – if it is to discomfort Israel and the world – cannot afford to be passive or polite. It must be fearless, antagonistic and disruptive.


Most of all, it must hold up a mirror to the oppressor. Ahed has exposed the gun-wielding bully lurking in the soul of too many Israelis. That is a lesson worthy of Gandhi or Mandela.

Read the full article.

21) Dutch Reporters Stun Trump’s Ambassador By Pressing Him to Admit He Lied About “No-Go Zones”

Robert Mackey, The Intercept

WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS who routinely allow the president of the United States to repeat false claims unchallenged should study the footage of how their Dutch counterparts greeted Donald Trump’s new ambassador to the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Read the full article.

22) US ambassador to The Hague apologizes for making Muslim remarks after denial

John Henley, The Guardian

Pete Hoekstra says statements about Muslim migrants in the Netherlands were ‘simply wrong’ after last month telling a TV interviewer they were ‘fake news’.

Read the full article.

23) PRIVATE PRISON CONTINUES TO SEND ICE DETAINEES TO SOLITARY CONFINEMENT FOR REFUSING VOLUNTARY LABOR

Spencer Woodman, The Intercept

OFFICIALS AT A privately run Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in rural Georgia locked an immigrant detainee in solitary confinement last November as punishment for encouraging fellow detainees to stop working in a labor program that ICE says is strictly voluntary.

Read the full article.

24) Tim Hortons locations hit by protests over wage clawbacks

Sara Mojtehedzadeh & Alex McKeen, The Toronto Star

Labour activists converged Wednesday on Tim Hortons restaurants to protest pay and benefit clawbacks pegged to the recent hike in Ontario’s minimum wage.

Read the full article.

25) Tim Hortons workers in Dundas lose paid breaks, Timbits after minimum wage hike

 Kelly Bennett, CBC News

Marianela Quinlan's 15-year-old child used to be able to sample a free donut or Timbit when working at a Tim Hortons in Dundas.

But in the wake of the province's higher minimum wage requirement, that perk is gone – along with her child's two paid, 15-minute breaks for every eight-hour shift. They've been replaced by a 30-minute unpaid lunch break.

Read the full article.

26) New mom Serena Williams had to talk her hospital staff through saving her life

Annalisa Merelli, Quartz

Indeed, even Serena Williams, whose body, as her husband correctly notes, “is one of the greatest things on this planet,” is just another black woman when it comes to being heard in the maternity ward—and when it comes to being dismissed.

Read the full article.

27) ANC Delegate, Commune Leader Assassinated in Venezuela

Lucas Koerner, Venezuela Analysis

Two Chavista leaders have been murdered in the past four days in what could prove to be a new round of political violence.

Read the full article.

28) Israeli Minister on Gaza Rocket Fire: The Time Has Come for Dead Palestinians

Haaretz

Minister Uri Ariel said Wednesday that there needs to be more dead and wounded Palestinians in Israel's attacks on the Gaza Strip.

Read the full article.

29) Israeli Minister Dubs African Migrants 'Sanitary Nuisance,' Calls for Death Sentence for Fake News

Haaretz

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara sparks controversy as he calls for death for propagators of fake news and speaks out against African migrants as Israel launches deportation plan.


Read the full article.

30) The UN just called Donald Trump racist

Tom Embury-Dennis, The Independent

Donald Trump's reported remark branding Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African nations as "s***hole countries" has been branded racist by a UN human rights official.

Read the full article.

31) If authoritarianism is looming in the US, how come Donald Trump looks so weak?

Corey Robin, The Guardian

There’s little doubt that Trump’s regime is a cause for concern. But fears about authoritarianism in the US ignore political realities.

Read the full article.

See also: Ontario Minimum Wage, Black Mirror, Woody Allen and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List December 31 - January 7

See also: Ahed Tamimi, Poverty in America, the Arctic and more -- The Left Chapter Sunday Reading List December 24 - 31

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Toronto police say the sky is falling -- Is the CBC their Chicken Little?

As 2018 dawns -- an election year in Toronto and Ontario -- Toronto police officers and their "union" appear to be launching a media offensive to counter attempts to modernize the police force and to reign in outrageously out-of-control spending on the force (which now tops a billion dollars a year in the city). While unstated a secondary goal is clearly to try to get Toronto's residents and media to rally around a force hurt by allegations of abuse and systemic racism with incidents like the Sammy Yatim killing, the seeming attempts to cover-up the involvement of a Toronto police officer in the beating of Dafonte Miller and the grossly abusive and racist practice of "carding".

The ramping up of this offensive was seen very clearly at the end of this week with CBC radio and news airing two reports based on anonymous sources claiming that Toronto police are now understaffed to the extent that they are in grave personal danger as individual officers and that they are not able to properly respond to emergency calls. One was from the wife of an officer apparently worried about her husband and the other was a long interview by radio host Matt Galloway with a veteran officer (a staff sergeant) who made a variety of claims also along these lines.

While the use of anonymous sources is a time-honoured journalistic tradition that allows people to speak out with less fear of reprisal, the assertions in these two reports, most especially the interview with the veteran officer, were not challenged in ways that left this listener scratching his head.

The staff sergeant, for example, provided (details absent) only very anecdotal evidence such as claiming they were unable to respond to a break-in and then hyperbolically claimed that the Toronto police would be unable to respond to a mass shooting like the Danzig shooting a few years ago and further implied that the city might have to eventually turn to the military to keep the streets safe!

That is a pretty gigantic rhetorical leap that was based on no actual numbers or serious evidence and that Galloway allowed to go basically unchallenged. I can provide personal examples from years ago, well before any modernization was underway, of police taking a very long time to respond to break-ins (which are not always the top priority) including one involving a close friend where the suspect was on sight for a very significant amount of time at his neighbour's house and he had to personally intervene to prevent the suspect's escape when police failed to arrive. Should I have conflated this at the time to mean that Toronto did not have enough police officers and that the police would not have been able to respond to more serious calls (which is presumably exactly what they were doing)?

Is there any evidence whatsoever that there are no longer enough police to respond to a serious emergency that is not of the completely anecdotal variety the staff sergeant provided? I have not seen any to date. In fact, all the "evidence" of these alleged issues has either been of the type in the interview or based on internal emails or "exit surveys" of officers themselves. This is happening against the backdrop of the police association and its deeply reactionary leader Mike McCormack threatening job action over the changes this year.

This would appear to make the claims at least worth further investigation to see if they are justified and not part of propaganda campaign to manufacture a policing "crisis" in Toronto so as to derail reforms that are long overdue.

These largely unsubstantiated allegations in this very political context are undermined further when we hear the anonymous staff sergeant during the interview claiming that criminality was increasing and getting worse in Toronto which is demonstrably untrue. He uses this to say more crime means we need more officers as if this is an A to B proposition, which it is not given that not all crime requires the same level of police response. This is clearly meant to imply that cutting the number of officers on the force by 300 by 2019 will cause the sky to fall and unleash anarchy in our streets.

The problem for this narrative, which again went basically unchallenged by Galloway, is that while year-to-year crime stats vary in relatively meaningless ways, the trends in crime in Toronto and Canada are clear and they are all going in one direction: DOWN. And not just down, but way down.

The Crime Severity Index in Canada, for example, is down rather dramatically by 29% versus a decade ago (it is down by even more than that if you go back further). The overall crime rate is down by 28%.

Further Toronto has one of the lowest (not highest) violent crime rates among Canada’s largest cities (let alone North American cities generally) and has had for many years. Of  15 of the largest cities in Canada in a recent survey "Toronto has the lowest crime rate...and the city’s homicide rate of 1.55 is less than the homicide rate in St. John’s, Regina, Saskatoon, Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton."

These facts need also to viewed in conjunction with the reality that many marginalized and racialized communities in Toronto have been historically over-policed.

The Toronto police, their association and many of their members have a rather obvious and clear vested interest in preventing reforms that would cut into their grotesquely bloated budget that, until recently, Toronto politicians have been too scared to touch.

It would seem that the CBC is more than happy to provide a platform for them to try to do just that.

See also: The Sammy Yatim killing -- Consequences for police violence are what is "necessary for public confidence in the administration of justice"

See also: It is not just the police spending in Toronto that is out of control -- it is the police themselves

See also: You cannot 'discriminate' against the police. They are agents of discrimination.