Monday, August 31, 2009


In all the obits published and specials aired this week, Chappaquiddick gets a few paragraphs, a few minutes, a tidy recapping of the events of July 19, 1969: The married Ted Kennedy, driving late at night with young campaign aide Mary Jo Kopechne, pitches off a bridge and into the water below. He escapes; she drowns. He does not report the accident for 10 hours. He pleads guilty and gets a suspended sentence, two months in jail.

In most of these narratives, Chappaquiddick is told as Ted's tragedy, the thing that kept him from ever becoming president. And in these narratives, he is chastened, goes on to make amends through a life of public service, advocating for the disadvantaged and the downtrodden -- and, especially, women. No one's perfect, right?

But how is it that so many women unabashedly revere Kennedy today? The particulars of Chappaquiddick are especially gory; his behavior after the accident approaches the amoral. Once he broke free and swam to the surface, Kennedy said that he dove back down seven or eight times to rescue Kopechne. Failing, he swam back to shore and checked back into his hotel, and a short time later lodged a noise complaint with the desk clerk. The people in the room next to his were partying and it was interfering with his sleep. Then he asked the desk clerk for the time.

According to the Aug. 4, 1969 edition of Newsweek, that clerk, Russell E. Peachey, told Kennedy it was 2:25 a.m., then asked, "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"No, thank you," Kennedy replied.


In 1990, GQ magazine ran a devastating profile of Kennedy. Two 16-year-old girls near the Capitol startled by a limo rolling up, the door opening, Ted sitting in the back with a bottle of wine, asking one, then the other, to join. A former aide who acted as Ted's "pimp." His penchant for dating women so young that one did not know he was the subject of many books. Kennedy, at a swank DC restaurant with his drinking buddy Chris Dodd, throwing a petite waitress on his dinner table with such force that glass and flatware shatters and goes flying. Then Ted throws her on to Dodd's lap and grinds against her. He is interrupted by other waitstaff. He is later caught in the same restaurant, in a semi-private area, having sex on the floor with a lobbyist.

In 1991, Kennedy's nephew William Kennedy Smith is charged with rape. Kennedy Smith had been out drinking with Ted and Ted's son Patrick at Au Bar in Palm Beach. Kennedy Smith is eventually acquitted, and it's never proved that Ted had any knowledge of what happened on the Kennedy grounds that night. He remarried, in 1992, and very publicly domesticated himself.

But the tawdriness -- the ostensible elder statesmen getting s - - t-faced and picking up women with his son and his nephew; the acquittal won, in part, by shredding the accuser on the stand and in the press; privilege winning out, always -- is in such stark contrast to Kennedy's politics that you have to wonder: Is this really what Kennedy thought of women?


Most feminists don't think Ted Kennedy was a misogynist. Upon news of his death, NOW, Emily's List and Planned Parenthood all released emotional, laudatory statements. It's true that Kennedy's legislative record deserves such a response. And he was quiet enough in the last 15 years of his life that it's not hard to minimize his past behavior if you want to.

Or if you're unaware -- Google reported that "Chappaquiddick" and "Mary Jo Kopechne" were the top searches Wednesday and Thursday.

"I didn't know about Chappaquiddick and the rape case until yesterday," says Miriam Perez, a 25-year-old editor at She admires Kennedy's accomplishments, but is perplexed. "Like every person, he's human and there are lots of flaws involved," she says. "But a big feminist tenet is: The personal is political. So I don't feel it's fair to fully ignore it in this case."

Perhaps, along with the hagiographic Kennedy myth, we can bury this outdated tradition of excusing the reprehensible treatment of women by the same male legislators who otherwise advocate for our rights politically. It's degrading. It's like making excuses for the husband who beats you up but pays the bills on time. It may be 2009, but the bulk of the talking heads who covered this funeral were older white males, and among the few women -- eminent historian Doris Kearns Goodwin among them -- it's still shocking to hear them, nearly to a one, reduce Kennedy's bad behavior to rakish abandon or poor judgement. Why shouldn't we hold our elected male officials -- especially those who so assiduously court the female vote -- to a standard of personal decency in their treatment of women? Why do we still assume that this is an either/or proposition?

"It's a great question," says Gloria Feldt, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Feldt worked with Kennedy and is an admirer, still. "He worked with women's groups in a very respectful way, in a way that few other senators do," she says. "But I don't know that you can reconcile it -- when it's in a group's best interest that said person stays in that chair, how do you weigh that moral equation? I wish it were simpler than that."

Fictional film 'Inglourious Basterds' hyped while true story of revenge hidden

Over the last year or so, there have been countless movies about the Nazis and the Holocaust, such as the “The Reader,” “Valkyrie,” “Defiance” and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.” A popular new film, the "Inglorious Basterds" directed by Quentin Tarantino and produced by the Weinstein brothers is promoted by Hollywood and the press as a fictional tale of a group of Jewish American GI's led by a redneck Lieutenant played by Brad Pitt, who seek vengence against the Nazi's in occupied France during WWII. Throughout the film there are many gruesome scenes of vengence, including scalpings and torture.

Eli Roth, who plays a leading role in the film as the "Bear Jew", says that the idea of vengence is "...almost a deep sexual satisfaction of wanting to beat Nazis to death, an orgasmic feeling. My character gets to beat Nazis to death. That’s something I could watch all day. My parents are very strong about Holocaust education.” On a similar note, one of the films producers, Lawrence Bender told Tarantino that “As your producing partner, I thank you, and as a member of the Jewish tribe, I thank you, motherf--ker, because this movie is a f--king Jewish wet dream.”

In the ADL Statement they say that the film " an allegory about good and evil and the no-holds barred efforts to defeat the evil personified by Hitler, his henchmen, and his Nazi regime. If only it were true!"

There is no need to come up with a fictional story while there is a true chapter of WWII history most people have no clue about. A Jewish American Author named John Sack risked his career and even his life to tell the story of Jews who sought revenge in his controversial book An Eye for an Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945. The story tells of Jews who oversaw prison camps in Poland under the Communist occupations. According to Sack, they not only sought revenge against German soldiers, but also innocent German and Polish civilians.

Sack states in his book that the revenge included torture and rape of women and children. Sack estimates 60-80,000 died in these camps. Sack interviewed one survivor named Lola, who was an official at the prison and lost most of her family in the Holocaust. She admited that they treated the prisoners much worse than she was treated at Auschwitz by the Nazis. Sack said "Lola at Auschwitz wasn't locked in a room night and day. She wasn't tortured night after night." She told Sack: "Thank God, nobody tried to rape us. The Germans weren't allowed to." But all of that happened to German girls at Lola's prison in Gleiwitz"

Solomon Morel who lost most of his family in the holocaust brutally oversaw the prison camp. Morel fled to Israel after the book was published. Israel has refused to extradite Morel to Poland to face war crimes.

Most major publishers refused to publish Sack's book and major media outlets ignored it once it was published. John Sack was villified by the Jewish Establishment, such as the Executive Director of the World Jewish Congress. He was labeled a self-hating Jew and even an anti-semite. Self Proclaimed fighter of Holocaust Denial, Deborah Lipstadt, stated, on "the Charlie Rose Show" that Sack was a Neo-Nazi and an anti-semite and told him personally he was worse than a holocaust denier, despite the fact that he shares the mainstream view of the holocaust.

The media and major Jewish organizations were opposed to the book because they percieved it as portraying Jews in a negative light, possibly stirring up anti-semitism and weakening their power to exploit the tragedies commited by the Nazis for their own political agenda. However these same organizations are promoting Tarantino's fictional film.

Sack's message from his book was not to promote hatred against Jews. Instead, the books purpose was to prove that Jews are no different from any other group of people who have suffered from persecution but aren't immune from committing autrocities against others.

Behind an Eye for An Eye: Revenge, Hate and History by John Sack

Myths and Facts about al-Qaeda

The media myth of a global Islamic conspiracy never got much traction in America before 2001 because the minority Muslim American population simply did not seem like much of a threat, because Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States are loyal US allies, and because Americans generally have a positive attitude toward wealthy investors. After 9/11 pro-Israel propagandists exploited public ignorance and created a nightmarish fantasy of al-Qaeda in order to put the US and allies into conflict with the entire Islamic world. What is al-Qaeda? What do they believe? What do they actually do?

Osama bin Laden first used the term “al-Qaeda” in an interview in 1998, probably in reference to a 1988 article written by Palestinian activist Abdullah Azzam entitled “al-Qa`ida al-Sulba” (the Solid Foundation). In it, Azzam elaborates upon the ideas of the Egyptian scholar Sayed Qutb to explain modern jihadi principles. Qutb, author of Social Justice in Islam, is viewed as the founder of modern Arab-Islamic political religious thought. Qutb is comparable to John Locke in Western political development. Both Azzam and Qutb were serious men of exceptional integrity and honor.

While Qutb was visiting the USA in 1949, he and several friends were turned away from a movie theater because the owner thought they were black. ‘But we’re Egyptians,’ one of the group explained. The owner apologized and offered to let them in, but Qutb refused, galled by the fact that black Egyptians could be admitted but black Americans could not,” recounts Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower. Qutb predicted that the struggle between Islam and materialism would define the modern world. He embraced martyrdom in 1966 in rejection of Arab socialist politics.

Azzam similarly rejected secular Palestinian nationalist politics as an impediment to moral virtue. He opposed terrorist attacks on civilians and had strong reservations about ideas like offensive jihad, or preventive war. He also hesitated to designate any Muslim leader as an apostate and preferred to allow God to make such judgments. Inspired by the courage and piety of Afghan Muslims struggling against the Soviets, Azzam reinterpreted Qutb’s concept of individual and collective obligation of Muslims in his fatwa entitled “Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation after Iman (Faith).” Qutb would have prioritized the struggle of Egyptian Muslims to transform Egypt into a virtuous Islamic state while Azzam argued that every individual Muslim had an obligation to come to the aid of oppressed Muslims everywhere, whether they are Afghan, Kosovar, Bosnian, Thai, Filipino, or Chechen.

John Calvert of Creighton University writes, “This ideology… would soon energize the most significant jihad movement of modern times.”

At Azzam’s call, Arabs from many countries joined America’s fight against Communism in Afghanistan. No Arab jihadi attack was considered terrorism when Azzam led the group, or later when bin Laden ran the group. Because the global Islamic movement overlapped with the goals of the US government, Arab jihadis worked and traveled frictionlessly throughout the world between Asia, Arabia and America. Azzam was assassinated in Pakistan in 1989, but legends of the courageous sacrifices of the noble Arab Afghans energized the whole Islamic world.

After the Soviets left Afghanistan, bin Laden relocated to Sudan in 1992. At the time he was probably undisputed commander of nothing more than a small group, which became even smaller after he lost practically all his money on Sudan investments. He returned to Afghanistan in 1996, where the younger Afghans, the Taliban welcomed him on account of his reputation as a veteran war hero.

There is no real evidence that bin Laden or al-Qaeda had any connection to the Ugandan and Tanzanian embassy attacks or any of the numerous attacks for which they have been blamed. Pro-Israel propagandists like Daniel Pipes or Matthew Levitt needed an enemy for their war against Muslim influence on American culture more than random explosions in various places needed a central commander. By the time the World Trade Center was destroyed, the Arab fighters surrounding Osama bin Laden were just a dwindling remnant living on past glories of Afghanistan’s struggle against Communism. Al-Qaeda has never been and certainly is not today an immensely powerful terror organization controlling Islamic banks and charities throughout the world.

Al-Qaeda maintained training camps in Afghanistan like Camp Faruq, where Muslims could receive basic training just as American Jews go to Israel for military training with the IDF. There they learned to disassemble, clean and reassemble weapons, and got to associate with old warriors, who engaged in great heroism against the Soviets but did not do much since. Many al-Qaeda trainees went on to serve US interests in Central Asia (e.g. Xinjiang) in the 1990s but from recent descriptions the camps seem to currently provide a form of adventure tourism with no future enlistment obligations.

Although western media treats al-Qaeda as synonymous with Absolute Evil, much of the world reveres the Arab Afghans as martyr saints. Hundreds of pilgrims visit Kandahar’s Arab cemetery daily, believing that the graves of those massacred in the 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan possess miraculous healing powers.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women. Joachim Martillo contributed to this article.

What the Newspaper Industry Can Learn From the Adult Entertainment Industry

Who knew the adult entertainment industry and the newspaper business were so much alike? A recent story in the L.A. Times takes a look at the struggling porn industry, which, like the newspaper industry, has been deeply affected by both the downturn and the changing technological landscape. DVD sales of porn have ground nearly to a halt, pay-per-view is down by nearly 50 percent, and websites behind pay walls are suffering as more and more amateur pornographers offer their work on the Internet for no cost. "We always said that once the Internet took off, we'd be OK," the co-chairman of adult-industry giant Vivid Entertainment observed. "It never crossed our minds that we'd be competing with people who just give it away for free."

Meanwhile, there are no new jobs in the industry, and experienced porn stars who once commanded high fees have been reduced to working for discount rates, filming sex acts they had previously refused to do, or taking on freelance projects just to make ends meet. Take Savannah Stern, the star of films such as Lethal Facesitting and Beyond the Call Of Booty 3, who recently spent seven hours at a party wearing nothing but a pink boa for a mere $300. "I wish I would have never gotten into it," Stern said of the industry, echoing the sentiments of youngish journalists whose careers began when journalism was still flush and have now found themselves blogging.

"When you get used to a certain lifestyle, it's really hard to cut back and realize this may not be forever."

But unlike the media business, the adult entertainment industry is not consumed with hand-wringing and what-does-it-all-mean editorializing. Purveyors of porn, having assessed the situation, are moving on and adjusting themselves to the new reality.

Not only are they optimistic about mobile technology as a growth area, "since they let consumers watch porn anywhere and in relative privacy," they are looking at other ways to make money off of their biggest assets: their established stars. According to the L.A. Times:

Adult performers with big followings probably will continue to prosper, since they often work under a guaranteed contract and have loyal fans who buy all their work. Business managers for Belladonna and Tera Patrick, two of the industry's biggest stars, said their clients were using their celebrity to make money in other ways, like dancing in exotic clubs and licensing their name to sex toys and lingerie. "The economy has forced us to look in other directions such as tangible goods," said Evan Seinfeld, who manages Patrick.

It seems to us that this is something newspapers like the New York Times ought to try doing: focusing on their talent. They should work harder at establishing their talent as brands — not the editorialists, like they did with Times Select; you can get opinion anywhere — but the people whose work has actual value: the reporters. Like a good talent manager, the Times could nurture and advise these reporters, guide their careers, and manage all of their creative output. They wouldn't just publish their stories, they'd also publish their books, book them on speaking engagements, broker their movie deals — and offer them lucrative contracts in exchange. The Times already has the best talent, and it's possible people will pay for it. Just like they're willing to pay for the best porn.

Tough times in the porn industry [LAT]

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shots fired across busy street

A 15-year-old boy is accused of firing several shots across a busy Toronto street, striking a person in the leg.

Investigators allege the teen was walking along Sheppard Ave. W., just east of Jane St., when he made "derogatory gestures" toward a teenaged boy and two young men standing outside a Toronto Community Housing complex across the street just before 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Toronto Police Const. Wendy Drummond said yesterday ahead of the teen's court appearance.

He's then accused of pulling out a gun and firing six or seven shots toward the trio, across four lanes of traffic, striking an 18-year-old man in the leg, Drummond said.

The 15-year-old boy and 20-year-old man the victim was standing with were not injured and there were no reports of vehicles being hit, Drummond said.

"Thankfully and unbelievably, nobody else was injured or struck," Drummond said. "It's an absolute wanton disregard for safety -- human life and public safety."

It was unclear yesterday whether the accused knew his alleged victims.

"Nowhere (in the police report) does it mention that they were known to each other," Drummond said.

Regardless of what motivated the gunplay, she reiterated the seriousness of where and when it took place.

"Outside only one of the three being struck, we have an area which is both residential, it's commercial, it's still early in the evening, there were several people in the area. We're very fortunate that the incident wasn't more serious," Drummond said.

The teen, already facing charges, was arrested that evening and charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and failing to comply with bail and the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He also faces several gun-related charges

During a search of a nearby acquaintance's Brady Cres. home, police allege they found a .38-calibre Special revolver, a .380-calibre semi-automatic handgun, ammunition and a large amount of marijuana.

The teen was subsequently charged with a series of other gun-related charges.

Alphonso Zuriel, 19, and Dwayne Powell, 18, who were found in the home, were also slapped with several gun-related charges.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Not enough students and too many schools

Toronto needs to close some schools. Let me repeat: This city needs to close schools.

If we can get our heads around that unpleasant reality, we will have a much better chance of getting through the business within a reasonable time frame and ending up -- within a generation of kids -- with schools that are well-maintained, welcoming and able to deal with the training needs of the 21st century.

Unfortunately, an "administrative review," like the one launched by the provincial government last month into the Toronto District School Board's closure of Timothy Eaton Business and Technical Institute does not help us get on with it.

This is a government that loves to consult. These administrative reviews are its answer to the natural, but uncomfortable criticisms that follow the closure of any public institution. The reviews -- 13 across Ontario in the past school year -- cannot change a closure decision.

All they can do is say whether a school board followed its stated process for closing a school. To date not a single review has concluded a school board violated its closure process.

Two veteran and wise education hands -- former NDP education minister Dave Cooke and founding Ontario College of Teachers registrar Margaret Wilson -- have been conducting the reviews, at $1,200 a day, for an average of $9,000 a review, according to the education ministry.

Nevertheless the education ministry continues to approve the reviews, as long as someone is able to gather enough signatures of parents or community people who participated in the closure discussions, to equal at least 30% of the school's enrolment.

They also have to show how the process used was not compliant with the board's policy.

If not a single case has been successful, sounds to me like either the fix is in or the vetting process for review applications needs tightening up. If this is supposed to be an exercise to allay people's concerns they haven't had a fair hearing, why get their hopes up and waste taxpayers' money on a process unlikely to validate their complaint? Why not create a tougher standard, and give those who manage to make it over the bar a fighting chance of actually overturning what could indeed be a poorly-made decision?

But the other problem is these reviews risk bogging down the entire exercise of getting our school space down to a manageable size.

As I wrote last month, the Toronto District School Board may consider closing up to 20 schools in the next two years because of plummeting enrolment. About one in every five TDSB schools is below 60% of its enrolment capacity and the board is forecast to lose the equivalent of 44 elementary schools' worth of students -- 20,000 -- over the next 10 years.

Eaton has been the first school the board has closed in seven years. If we're already officially reviewing that closure, imagine the prospects of trying to close another 20. Although Eaton has what has been described as an excellent woodworking program, supported by private industry, and an environment well-suited to special needs students, the school last year had an enrolment of just over 200, forecast to dwindle to 100. With respect to the school's families and staff, this closure was a given. There will be far harder closure cases to deal with -- if we ever get there.

What we should ask ourselves is how can we create at other schools the things that worked for Eaton's remaining students? And instead of dwelling on the past, we'd serve students better if we figured out how to get them improved facilities for the future.


Time to rethink multiculturalism

It's easy to condemn racial segregation when we think of it as state-enforced policies to separate and subjugate people based on skin colour, as occurred in the American south up to half a century ago.

But what about the segregation in Toronto today, caused not by coercive policies, but by government initiatives ostensibly designed to make new immigrants feel at home?

This by encouraging them to retain their culture, language, belief and value systems.

Two Torontonians, who know a lot about the immigrant experience -- Gordon Chong and Gurmukh Singh -- recently wrote remarkably similar warnings about what has gone wrong with the Canadian concept of "multiculturalism," as part of the Sun's ongoing "Saving Toronto" series.

Chong, a dentist, public servant and former politician, noted members of the city's Chinese community can live, work, shop, read, play and obtain social services in what amount to voluntary Chinese ghettoes, sprinkled throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

"Unilingual Chinese-speaking immigrants can survive without stepping outside these communities," Chong noted.

He's concerned about the implications, "when increasing numbers of immigrants in Canada's largest city reach a critical mass, whereby they can form a subculture and sustain themselves through their own work and social networks, without interacting with those outside their own ethnic communities."

While these insular communities can initially provide valuable support to seniors and help new arrivals acclimatize themselves to Toronto, Chong argued, there's "a down side to the subculture of self-segregation."

That is, people confined within it can be exploited by criminal gangs of the same ethnicity, vote-buying politicians and others.

Last month, Gurmukh Singh, Canada correspondent with the Indo-Asian News Service, made similar observations about the failure of multiculturalism, which he described as often nothing more than "liberal grants" to ethnic communities at Canadian taxpayers' expense.

"The Chinese of Markham have little interaction with the Indians of Brampton, or the Pakistanis of Mississauga, or the Sri Lankans of Scarborough, or the Somalis of Islington," warned Singh, adding you can "forget about" integration with "mainstream white society.

"(I)n these ethnic enclaves," Singh warned, "many grievances that these immigrants brought from their home countries have sometimes grown into big problems for Canada."

These are articulate individuals who understand the immigrant experience and their message to these communities is the same -- it's incumbent upon them to integrate into Canadian society, to become part of the "mainstream" and make it better reflect the true face of Toronto.

The flip side is that a fundamental re-evaluation of "multiculturalism" policies is long overdue by governments at all levels, since its consequence, unintended or not, has been to promote "unicultural" communities, not a truly "multicultural" society in which all races and cultures interact by choice.

City of Toronto Act flunks the test


In 2006, as part of his argument to gain broad, permissive powers for the City of Toronto, Mayor David Miller pulled out every stop to get a seat at the table with the senior levels of government.

He even made it sound personal, arguing the City is a "mature" level of government and deserving of "respect." Miller got his seat at the table and won additional broad authority to tax and regulate from the Dalton McGuinty government.

The so-called Stronger City of Toronto for a Stronger Ontario Act took effect in 2007.

The problem is the act didn't strengthen anything worthwhile.


It resulted very quickly in implementation of two of eight proposed taxes (municipal land transfer tax and municipal personal vehicle tax), additional user fees (e.g. garbage collection) and new regulations (e.g. emissions reporting, plastic bags).

And, the grief won't end there. Miller is already talking about more fees to help finance Toronto's exponentially growing spending, including the latest overly generous deal following the painful civic workers' strike.

Two years into this experiment with the City of Toronto Act, a new study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) provides a disturbing appraisal of the actual impact of the legislation.

In terms of economic growth, 74% of respondents feel the City of Toronto Act has not transformed Toronto into a better place to do business, while 83% believe the act has not encouraged job creation nor helped attract investment to the city.

As far as political accountability is concerned, 82% of respondents feel the act has not made the mayor and city councillors more responsible to the public, while 85% disagree the delivery and quality of services has improved and 79% say City Hall is not doing a better job controlling spending.

Taxation and regulation are believed to have worsened according to 86% and 77% of respondents, respectively. These findings pre-date the recent civic strike that understandably has left most Torontonians with an even more jaundiced view of Toronto's effectiveness.

With more than 90% of the businesses surveyed anticipating further tax and compliance constraints as a result of the City of Toronto Act, it is hardly surprising that many say they are seriously considering relocating their business to surrounding, more business-friendly areas.


The exodus of businesses and jobs to the 905 began over Toronto's unfair business property tax burden and is now being exacerbated by this wrong-headed legislation.

At the outset, small business owners, the general public, and even mayors across Ontario opposed the granting of broad, permissive taxation and regulatory powers to municipalities.

The CFIB's new study provides important post-implementation input from the sector that creates the bulk of net new jobs in the economy.

Yet, the present mandatory review of this grand experiment in granting a municipality unprecedented powers appears to be nothing more than a low-key, little known formality.

It is a disservice to Torontonians to whitewash what should be an opportunity to fix the legislation and give everyone some hope the future will indeed be stronger.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ford bashes bathhouse help

Toronto taxpayers are picking up the tab for drug and AIDS programs that include outreach at bath houses, a "bad date" coalition and "safer" drug use instruction.

Councillor Rob Ford drew the wrath of several of his fellow council members yesterday as he argued that a cash-strapped city should not spend tax dollars on these types of programs.

"We're paying somebody $40,000 to deal with the Happy Transsexual Hooker (program) to encourage transsexual workers to attend Monday night drop-ins," Ford said. "We're paying someone $47,000 part-time, 21 hours a week, to engage men in bath houses. Amazing."


The bathhouse visits are part of an HIV outreach program to groups such as Spanish-speaking, Aboriginal and black men.

Other grants are paying for AIDS outreach in African schools, and drug prevention programs that teach addicted and homeless kids to garden and walk on stilts.

There's also money to develop a Sex A-to-Z deck of cards campaign.

"It's a complete waste of taxpayers' money," Ford said.

His criticism immediately drew fire with one councillor calling his position "stupid" and another suggesting opposition to the grants was "racist," although that comment was immediately withdrawn.

The drug and AIDS prevention grants are part of a $45.6-million budget for community grants approved by city council yesterday.

Many of the programs are designed to reach marginalized communities, city health staff say.

Budget Chief Shelley Carroll argued it's far more cost effective for the city to provide funds to outside community groups than to create a bureaucracy to deliver all these programs.

The number of AIDS cases in Toronto are on the rise, and these programs are needed to help counter that trend among a new generation of high-risk citizens, she noted.

"That's the way we don't become an Africa," Carroll said, apparently referring to the high rate of AIDS in that country.


Councillor Adam Vaughan said homeless youth in his ward are involved in the gardening program, providing needed muscle to help seniors and children who also participate.

Health board chairman John Filion said it's discouraging for the people who deliver these important programs to hear Ford slam them year after year as a waste of money.

"Some of these (drug and AIDs prevention) programs - it's easy to poke fun ... I would invite Councillor Ford to visit some of these programs and see what a difficult population you have to serve."

Ford said these programs are condoning drug use and prostitution, and have no place in the city budget. "You're giving them crack pipes," Ford said. "We're $3 billion in debt. We're taxed to death ... It's ridiculous."

Council eyes plan to fund lawsuits

City councillors are expected to vote today on a controversial and unique policy that would allow them to sue people for defamation using tax dollars.

The city's powerful executive committee is recommending council allocate up to $25,000 to initiate libel action when councillors believe that they have been unfairly tarnished.

Critics of the proposed policy suggest it could be used to shush the media and political opponents.

Councillor Rob Ford said politicians need to develop thicker skins.

But supporters of the proposal like Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said he doesn't accept the argument that it's open season on politicians, no matter how untrue the allegations.

"Because we're politicians, that's okay? They can say we're corrupt; they can say you're a pig?" he said.

Tory MPPs scrap over city hall 'politics'

Party politics has no place in Ontario's city halls, MPP Bill Murdoch says.

The maverick Tory has come out publicly against a proposal by fellow Conservative MPP Norm Sterling to bring political discipline to the municipal level of government.

"It takes away the right of the members to think for themselves," he said.

Sterling, who suggested that cities enter into the same political structure as senior levels of government, was in his riding of Carleton-Mississippi Mills yesterday and couldn't be reached for comment.

Under a party system, the leader is expected to consult with members but sets the general policy direction and can demand voting loyalty.

Murdoch said he'd hate to see a politician in Owen Sound taking orders from some political head office in Toronto.

A spokesman for PC Leader Tim Hudak sent an e-mail to Sun Media that says the comments "are the personal opinions of two individual members of caucus.

"There is no party position on this."