News

1. “People just liked to see him and they gravitated towards him”

Dereck (Rick) Day. Photo: Contributed

Yvette d’Entremont tells us about Dereck (Rick) Day. He’s the 67-year-old man who died in hospital after he was hit by a driver while walking on Sylvia Avenue in Spryfield on Friday night.

D’Entremont spoke with Day’s longtime friend, Matt Dempsey, who wrote Day’s obituary this week. As d’Entremont writes:

“You remember the type of person, all about the person, the things that we don’t think about with our friends every day. If you had to sit down and write a living person’s obituary, I guarantee the next day you’d probably go and give them a big hug.”

Day was on Sylvia Avenue when he was hit by a 65-year-old male driver around 5:45pm on Friday. Dempsey said his friend wasn’t in a marked crosswalk at the time. Day died in hospital as a result of his injuries, and police said in a media release Monday that charges weren’t anticipated.

“He was rarely by himself because people just liked to be around him. People just liked to see him and they gravitated towards him,” he said.

Day was the second pedestrian to die after being struck by a driver in less than a week. Suete Chan, 27, was killed by a driver while walking in a marked crosswalk on Pleasant Street in Dartmouth on November 24. A GoFundMe page set up to help raise funds to bring Suete’s parents to Nova Scotia from Hong Kong has raised more than $100,000.

Click here to read d’Entremont’s story.

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2. Houston government appealing disability rights decision

Beth MacLean. Photo courtesy Alice Evans.

Jennifer Henderson reports on the announcement by the Houston government that it was going to the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal a decision that said the continued institutionalization of persons with disabilities amounts to “systemic discrimination.” Advocates are calling the news “the worst possible outcome.” Henderson reports:

“Simply put, at the heart of the claim of the discrimination is this: to place someone in an institutional setting where they do not need to be in order to access their basic needs, which the province is statutorily obligated to provide, is discriminatory,” said the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal decision dated October 6.

The decision cited examples of people who were denied income assistance on the basis of a disability or who spent years waiting for a place in a small home in a community setting.

“It’s a bombshell considering the premier’s earlier comments when he indicated he wouldn’t fight or appeal that decision,” said Claire McNeil, the lawyer for the Disability Rights Coalition, which filed the initial human rights complaint. “It’s the worst possible outcome.”

The decision was released on Oct. 6 and found three intellectually disabled people — Beth MacLean, Joey Delaney, and Sheila Livingstone — faced “systemic discrimination.” MacLean, Delaney, and Livingstone spent years at Nova Scotia Hospital. Each received between $200,000 and $300,000 in damages.

In this story, Henderson recalls what Premier Tim Houston said about the decision the next day, when reporters asked if he’d pursue the case in court. Houston said “no,” saying, “We will work with the community to make sure that the supports are in place.”

Henderson also got a statement from Minister of Community Services Karla MacFarlane that said the government “is not appealing the findings of individual discrimination. Nor are we appealing the individual damages awarded.”

Many significant questions arise from the Court of Appeal decision that we believe the Supreme Court of Canada may help us to resolve. These questions include the impacts and implications of the systemic finding for other social programs delivered by government. Government programs are guided by policies with allocated budgets. This decision also places a legal requirement on the Disability Support Program and we need to better understand that requirement. For these reasons, the province has made the decision to appeal.

By the way, today is the International Day of People with Disabilities. And the theme of this year’s events is fighting for rights in the post-COVID era.

Click here to read Henderson’s complete story. 

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3. Justice minister orders closure of loophole in street checks ban

Photo: Halifax Examiner

Matthew Byard reports on the announcement from the Department of Justice that gave a directive to close that potential loophole in the street checks ban. Now, the wording in the ban will replace the term “suspicious activity” with “reasonable suspicion.”

As was noted in the news release, “reasonable suspicion is the legal standard to be used by police to detain individuals suspected of unlawful activity.”

In that same news release, Justice Minister Brad Johns said the department took the “additional steps to better protect racialized communities.”

“Today’s change makes it clear that police must use the criminal law standard of reasonable suspicion before detaining a person or collecting identifying information without their consent,” Johns said.

Click here to read the complete story.

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4. COVID update: 40 new cases

Rapid Test Lineup-Changing Seasons. Illustration by Zak Markan — Instagram @zak.markan.art

Tim Bousquet had Thursday’s COVID update. There are 40 new cases of the virus. Here’s the breakdown by Nova Scotia Health Zone:

• 20 Northern
• 18 Central
• 2 Western
• 0 Eastern

Like all of Bousquet’s updates, there is all the information on vaccination, demographics, testing, and potential exposure advisories

Today is Friday, so the weekly vaccination data will be out later this afternoon. We’ll have an article then.

Click here for the full update. 

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5. MANS: “Lobbying organization and a propaganda machine”

A screenshot of Sarah and Sean Kirby from MANS, which hosted the Nova Scotia Precious and Critical Mineral Show last week.

Joan Baxter shared with me this article by Elisabeth Kosters in Earth Science Society. Kosters is a retired sedimentary geologist and professor, who attended the virtual event “Nova Scotia Precious and Critical Mineral Show” hosted by the Mining Association of Nova Scotia (MANS) last week and had some thoughts about it all. Kosters writes:

I’m fully aware that the energy transition requires a massive shift in material needs at a scale that almost nobody can imagine. This is an opportunity, but also a risk. Society has left resource extraction exclusively to the private sector, with the result that our planet is in a climate and biodiversity crisis that is also of a scale that almost nobody can imagine. Resource extraction typically makes a few people extraordinary rich but its societal impact costs all of us in environmental cleanup for decades or centuries after the extractive industry has upped and left. There’s hardly a good news story to tell.

Throughout the article, Kosters includes links to articles about mining in Nova Scotia, including a few by Joan Baxter, who’s covered mining stories here for the Examiner. Baxter’s most recent story is about the resistance to gold mining on the Eastern Shore. 

I liked Kosters’ list of observations of the event, which include how the event didn’t have a single representative from any of the First Nations, and there wasn’t even a land acknowledgment. All 12 of the technical presenters were white men. The only woman at the event was Diane Webber, who is the Director of the NS Geological Survey. And she notes that half of the sessions at the event were about gold, which isn’t a critical metal, and is, in fact, a problem. Kosters said:

Almost all of [gold] is mined for jewelry or bullion and since it’s completely inert, the bit that we do need for medical and technical applications can easily be obtained from recycling (if we had the right processes in place).

MANS is the 65-member organization run by Sean and Sarah Kirby. Or as Kosters calls it a “lobbying organization and a propaganda machine.” Kosters writes:

MANS is useless. It actively undermines a balanced discussion about our role as humans on a planet ever more under threat. It could be making a contribution to helping Nova Scotians navigate the discussion about our role as humans on a planet that suffers from habitat destruction in a manner that is now jeopardizing humanity’s own future. But no. MANS’s only objective is to reduce government interference in their ambition to disembowel our Province as much as possible. Their website states that the government’s goal of protecting 13% of Nova Scotia is too much (the current government has increased that to 20% by the way). They pay lip service to “environment” but they mostly waffle about how reclamation makes old quarry pits and open cast mines “beautiful”, thus completely ignoring the fact that wilderness is incomparable with reclaimed mines turned into parks. They refer to the term “critical minerals” only as a justification towards their goal of private profit without providing any deeper insight. They make no contribution to a balanced debate that we so badly need. Anyone who raises the slightest objection to their bullish talking points is called an obstructing environmentalist and is blocked from their social media platforms.

Read Koster’s article here.

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Views

1. The dirt on Black Oxygen Organics’ MLM scheme

Photo: Gabriel Jimenez/Unsplash

There are readers who know that I love a good story on MLMs, multi-level marketing schemes. On Thursday, someone forwarded this long and winding story by Brandy Zadrozny from NBC about Black Oxygen Organics, otherwise known as BOO, an MLM with its roots in Ontario that took off during the COVID-19 pandemic and which was eventually brought down by anti-MLM groups on Facebook. (Now, this is the way to use Facebook for good!)

Black Oxygen Organics was started by Marc Saint-Onge, who calls himself “the mudman.” According to this story by NBC, Saint-Onge got his start in dirt when he was a kid. Zadrozny writes:

As he said in a video posted to YouTube that has since been made private, his love of mud began as a child, chasing bullfrogs around Ontario bogs. Years later, he went on to practice orthotherapy, a kind of advanced massage technique, to treat pain. He said he packaged dirt from a local bog, branches and leaves included, in zip-lock baggies and gave them to his “patients,” who demanded the mud faster than he could scoop it.

Saint-Onge had been selling his magic dirt for 25 years, but the pandemic proved to be a perfect time for sales. Zadrozny writes how “the stars aligned” for BOO:

A pandemic marked by unprecedented and politicized misinformation has spurred a revival in wonder cures. Well-connected Facebook groups of alternative health seekers and vaccine skeptics provided an audience and eager customer base for a new kind of medicine show. And the too-good-to-be-true testimonials posted to social media attracted a wave of direct sellers, many of them women dipping their toes into the often unprofitable world of multilevel marketing for the first time.

Now, I am not an expert on MLMs, but I like to think I can recognize a scam when I see it. Black Oxygen Organics was waving more red flags than some of the men I’ve dated: the promises that the dirt would cure all sorts of ailments; how it targeted women, including new mothers; use of words like “detox;” a convoluted compensation plan for sellers; testimonials from salespeople claiming to make thousands of dollars in just a couple of weeks.

I didn’t know this before reading this story, but there’s a network of online anti-MLM activists who use Facebook and YouTube to expose MLMs and they did that with BOO, too. Honestly, this restores my faith in humanity. Zadrozny at NBC interviewed one woman who is such an activist:

Ceara Manchester, a stay-at-home mother in Pompano Beach, Florida, helps run one of the largest anti-BOO Facebook groups, “Boo is Woo.” Manchester, 34, has spent the last four years monitoring predatory MLMs — or “cults,” in her view — and posting to multiple social media accounts and groups dedicated to “exposing” Black Oxygen Organics.

“The health claims, I had never seen them that bad,” Manchester said. “Just the sheer amount. Every single post was like, ‘cancer, Covid, diabetes, autism.’”

“I don’t feel like people are stupid,” Manchester said of the people who purchased and even sold BOO. “I think that they’re desperate or vulnerable, or they’ve been preyed upon, and you get somebody to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this product that cures everything.’ You know when you’re desperate like that you might listen.”

Health Canada announced a recall of Black Oxygen Organic’s products back in September. And this month in the US, a federal lawsuit seeking class action status was filed in Georgia’s Northern District court. Zadrozny writes:

The complaint, filed on behalf of four Georgia residents who purchased BOO, claims that the company negligently sold a product with “dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals,” which led to physical and economic harm.

BOO tried to repackage its mud for cosmetic use, but just days before Thanksgiving its still-dedicated sellers got an email saying the company was shutting down. Their online merchant dropped them for good.

This is a long read, but it was fascinating to learn about the rise and fall of an MLM. It’s textbook in so many ways. It reminds me of the LuLaRoe leggings scam I wrote about in September.

In that case, it wasn’t mud they were selling, but poorly made leggings with ugly prints. But so many of the other red flags were the same.

Remember, if it’s too good to be true, it’s probably just dirt.

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2. Bullshit Phrase of the Week: Self-care

If you type “self-care” in the search option of a stock photo website, these are the kinds of pics you get. Photo: Feesh Costa/Unsplash

Back in October, I wrote this Morning File about the bullshit and bafflegab I see around. You know — words that have lost all meaning or had none in the first place. In the comments, reader Catherine Read noticed I left out the ” vaguely- (?) masturbatory” phrase “self-care.”

She’s right. “Self-care” is definitely a bullshit phrase often in used in marketing to sell stuff. Or it’s in social media posts over on the Instaglam. Photos of candles, baths, and journals are often included.

I saw this phrase on a big pink billboard last week for a spa. It said something like “tis the season for self-care” or some such foolishness.

The World Health Organization has its own definition of self-care: “The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

Sounds very sensible, but you can’t stitch that on an accent pillow for your living room or write it on pink mug you made during girls’ night out at a clay cafe.

In her comment, Read said she “really started to resent people using this phrase in a prescriptive kind of way, as if one needs permission from some external source to consume a 600 g bag of chips for dinner while watching re-runs of Two and a Half Men. To cite a totally random example.”

That just sounds like a good night in.

As for me, my self-care is avoiding the wine-fueled sessions in which privileged people whine on about their self-care.

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Noticed

He’s trying to find the merch page. Photo: Tempa Hull

What would the internet be without cats?

Eoin O’Carroll, a writer with Experience Magazine, which tells the stories about the intersection of technology and humanity, had this story on Wednesday: Cats helped build the internet. Now, the web is giving back. O’Carroll writes:

Cats drive web traffic. It’s hard to say exactly how much, but when I scrolled through 400 videos on a site called youtuberandom.com, I found that about 2 percent were cat-related, and one can only extrapolate. Two percent of YouTube may not sound like much, but given that the platform drew nearly $20 billion in ad revenue last year, it would place the economic impact of cat videos roughly on par with the value of Maine’s annual lobster catch.

In short, cats have been good for the internet. It’s fair to say the internet owes something back.

We humans are online so often — looking at photos and videos of cats — we may have forgotten about our real kitties sitting next to us looking for attention. O’Carroll asked: “Can digital cat toys reconnect us to our cats?”

So O’Carroll shares how they tested a number of online games and apps on their cats, Sinéad and Pádraig. The games had names like “Games for Cats,” “Best Game for Cats,” and “Cat Games 3D.” Turns out, only one really caught the cats’ attention: “Mouse for Cats  which has 3D mice that scurry across the screen.

There’s a whole industry dedicated to making games and tech for cats, which are “an emerging audience.” (Do the cats know this?) There’s AMSR, YouTube videos, and even musicians who record albums for cats.

I really doubt the cats give a shit, and it seems O’Carroll’s cats don’t either. Sinéad and Pádraig got tired of Mouse for Cats, and sat next to each other in the window, watching real birds outside.

Fortunately, there are skeptics. O’Carroll spoke with Mikel Delgado, a California-based cat behavior consultant, who said about the games:

They’re not getting any tactile experience; they’re not getting any smell; they’re not getting any movement sense with their whiskers,” she says. And she worries that these apps could throw cats into an even deeper sense of confusion: “It might be violating some sort of property of physics or nature that the cat might expect.”

Now I’m concerned about cats and screen time. Just get them a Christmas tree. My cat seems to be enjoying that more than any app I’d find.

Or if you insist your cat must be online, they can always read the Examiner before they go play.

Piper reads the archives and wonders how we got anything done with a crew of only five. Photo contributed

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Government

City

Friday

No meetings

Saturday

Board of Police Commissioners (Saturday, 9am, City Hall) — no live broadcast

Province

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

People, Places and Things (Friday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre) — Presented by the Fountain School of Performing Arts, until Dec. 4; $15/$10; more info here. Matinee performance 2pm Saturday.

Solutions to Workforce Issues in the Seasonal Tourism Sector (Friday, 10am) — panel discussion via Zoom

PhD Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Friday, 1pm) — Perri Tutelman will talk via Teams

Refiguring Urbanity: Clues from Emerging Practices (Friday, 2:30pm) — online talk by Francisco Cruces, UNED, Spain

What does “urbanity” mean today? New ways for working, homemaking, buying and selling, occupying streets, using technology, and conceiving cosmopolitanism, ethnic identity, heritage and beauty seem to defy well-established ideas of our previous “urban commonsense.” The study of emerging practices in the city provides clues for re-figuring both classic and new tropes used to grasp “urbanness.” Boundary work, self-design, chronotopes and the production of value chain are a few among these clues. I will illustrate them with ethnographic flashes from the collective project Madrid Cosmópolis. Emergent Practices and Metropolitan Processes (Cultura Urbana, UNED, financed by MINECO, CSO2012-33949).

From Milk-Medicine To Public (Re)Education Programs: An Examination Of Anishinabek Mothers’ Responses To Hydroelectric Flooding In The Treaty #3 District, 1900–1975 (Friday, 3:30pm, Room 1170, McCain building or online) — also online; a conversation with Aaron Wright and Will Langford about Brittany Luby’s book Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory

This paper explores how Anishinabek women managed their households during the hydroelectric boom of the 1950s and provides new insight into flooding impact analyses. To date, historians have sought to understand  how hydroelectric development compromised “subsistence” living. Research has addressed declining fish and game populations and the corresponding decline in male employment. But, what do these trends mean once the nets and traps have been emptied? By focusing on the family home, we discover that hydro-electric power generation on the Winnipeg River disrupted the environment’s ability to provide resources necessary to maintain women’s reproductive health (especially breast milk). Food shortages caused by hydroelectric development in the postwar era compromised Anishinabek women’s ability to raise their children in accordance with cultural expectations. What emerges from this analysis is a new lens through which to theorize the voluntary enrolment of Anishinabek children in residential schools in northwestern Ontario.

For more info email this person.

King’s

The Bald Soprano (Friday and Saturday, 8pm, The Pit, Arts and Administration Building) — presented by the King’s Theatrical Society, until Dec. 4; tickets and more info here.


In the harbour

Halifax
05:30: Kotor Bay, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Sines, Portugal
12:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
15:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
17:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, sails from Fairview Cove for Saint-Pierre
22:00: MSC Sandra, container ship, arrives at Berth TBD from Sines, Portugal

Cape Breton
14:00: Algoma Victory, bulker, sails from Point Tupper coal pier for sea


Footnotes

On Thursday on the HRM Twitter account was this photo from the Halifax Municipal Archives. It’s an ordinance from the City of Halifax in 1872 that details the boundaries of where swine can be kept in the city. Basically, it’s neighbourhoods around Morris Street, Robie Street, Quinpool Road, Windsor Street, and Young Street. That’s a lot of space for pigs.

Back in October, Halifax regional council voted in favour of legalizing chicken-keeping. Could swine make a comeback?

Halifax Municipal Archives.

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Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. All of our material goods, other than those that are made from plants or animals, come from mines or oil wells. On the other hand, most gold just sits in vaults somewhere and doesn’t do any good except being rare and impossible to counterfeit.

  2. And a postscript to Elisabeth Kosters’ assessment of the Mining Association of Nova Scotia (aptly named MANS) and its “Precious and Critical Minerals Show” on November 15 and 16. That show was held online, so the only actual costs, far as we know, were the Kirby duo’s time …. and yet the “show” had several corporate sponsors: GOLD sponsor was Aurelius Gold; SILVER sponsors were MacGregors Industrial Group and Avalon Advanced Materials Group; BRONZE were Aon, Cox & Palmer, Gold Bond CanadaLtd and East Coast Mobile Medical. As if all that corporate support wasn’t enough sponsorship for an 8-hour-long online event, the government of Nova Scotia (that’s we the people of this province) chipped in $10,000 for the Show.

  3. In regards to BOO I saw the report on MSNNBC , reminded me of a joke we used to say as teenagers: Looks like sh@t, Smells like sh@t, Tastes like Sh@t, IT IS SH@t!