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Discussion, listening critical in disarming extremism, sexism: TEDxCalgary speakers

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A sea of ideas washed over the University of Calgary campus on Nov. 3 at TEDxCalgary — an independently-organized TED event. The event’s Navigators series featured 16 speakers who are pursuing the next wave in their fields and addressing societal problems with their research.

Dr. Barbara Perry is a social science professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and the director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism. She researches far-right extremist groups and wants to boost public awareness about what she describes as an escalating movement.

The far-right is what we think of as skinheads and neo-Nazis, Perry said.

“Their black jackets and their boots and all of that. That’s the image that we have of the far-right — and there’s still a lot of those characters around,” she said, mentioning groups such as the Soldiers of Odin and the Three Percenters.

Perry said members of the far-right tend to be younger and disenfranchised in some way, either unemployed or underemployed.


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Aside from similar nationalistic and exclusionary messaging, the alt-right is a bit different, she said.

“I class the ‘old right’ as the shock troops and the ‘alt-right’ as the intelligentsia,” Perry said. “So these are the ideas people. They’re much, much smoother in presentation and much more professional, and trying to sanitize the movement in some respects.”

She said the alt-right tends to include older, middle-class, well-employed, polished and even preppy people, like the Proud Boys. The alt-right is a “cult of personalities,” often characterized more by individuals — like Ezra Levant, Faith Goldy and Steve Bannon — instead of groups, she explained.

“It puts me in mind of in the ’80s [when] the grand wizard of the KKK said, ‘Throw off your white hoods and put on your business suits.’ And so now, it’s like, ‘Take off your black jackets and put on the sports shirts.’”

Why now?

But why are extremist movements gaining traction now? It’s a perfect storm — one that was brewing before U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric dominated the news cycle, Perry said.

In the Canadian context, there has been a move to the right around anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia, Perry said, citing Stephen Harper’s niqab debate in the 2015 election, Kellie Leitch’s Canadian values screening proposal, and former Quebec premier Pauline Marois’ policy and rhetoric.

“[These groups] have been able to exploit, obviously, Trumpism and his messaging, but also the crises we’re experiencing here — as they’ve been constructed — around immigration and the entry of refugees and irregular migrants,” Perry said. “So they can exploit that, and twist it and turn it in a way that makes them look like a threat, whether it’s to culture or economics or even our security. So they’re really masters at twisting reality in many ways.”

Dr. Barbara Perry is a social science professor at University of Ontario Institute of Technology and the director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism. She has been researching far-right extremist groups and wants to boost public awareness about the movement.

Courtesy: TedxCalgary

Perry’s graduate students are working on digital interventions against hateful speech, and she said that like them, unpacking the mythology behind the movement is what the public needs to do, too.

“We need to force these groups and these demagogues to unpack their facts. ‘Where’s your evidence?’” Perry said.

For example, when people overgeneralize and say migrants are criminals, Perry argues that we need to challenge these claims with counter-evidence. Perry said most data shows new Canadians are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of crime.


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However, Perry acknowledges that people attempting to challenge such claims are better off having conversations in neutral environments than at partisan events like political rallies.

“It’s not the extremes we need to bring together, it’s what some people call the mushy middle who are either apathetic or not really engaged or not really following,” Perry said. “How do we get them engaged and how do we get them to places where we can have those conversations? I think that there are creative ways to do that: framing it in terms of an arts venue or an arts opportunity that’s appealing to more people than just talking heads.”

Extremism comes in many forms

A grant led Perry “into the fray” researching hate disseminated from extremist groups, and her experience has now become a call to action for both policy-makers and the public.

“I was getting frustrated by this obsession with Islamist-inspired extremism and the failure to take account of any other form,” Perry said.

“My core thesis is: it’s a dangerous mistake to discount the risks associated with the far-right as we’ve done ad nauseam,” she added.


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Perry wants to get across what these groups look like and what they’re doing, especially since they can come in many forms.

“You can’t just identify them by looking at them anymore. It’s much more insidious in that respect,” she said. “Even in terms of the messaging, it’s hard to pick it apart — ‘What really is your position?’ So I think it’s about enhancing our critical literacy, as well, especially among youth because that’s really who their targets are.”

Many factors combine to create an extremist, Perry said.

“It’s about the individual. It’s often about where they are regionally in the country, what the politics are there, what the economics are in the area,” Perry said.

“The one common thread is social media, the ease of access to these messages and the power of those messages, depending on how they’re framed and represented,” she added.

Dr. Jessalynn Keller, assistant professor of critical media studies at the University of Calgary, says we need to listen to young people.

Kaylen Small/Global News

Dr. Jessalynn Keller, assistant professor of critical media studies at the University of Calgary, spoke at the conference about navigating girls’ culture in the complex online world.

“We need to listen to girls,” she said. “Girls are political activists and smart and are doing great work around different feminist issues [like rape culture, the Me Too movement and sexual violence.]

“They, I think, have the answers to move us forward and to change the culture that we’re living in.”

As a ’90s teen, Keller was drawn to the Riot grrrl subculture that embraced a political identity, which eventually led her from a master’s to a doctorate.


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Keller said the U.S Supreme Court Kavanaugh hearing highlighted young girls’ activism in confronting rape culture.

“Girls are seeing what happened to Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford and are saying, ‘We don’t want to be in a world where that happens. How can we change that?’” Keller said. “Well, we can start teaching boys about consent when they’re 13 years old so that there is no confusion. We can start changing the dress code policies so we don’t have these ingrained ideas that girls’ bodies are distracting to boys or that girls are just sexualized objects for boys to look at, so changing things when people are young enough to actually learn new ideas because we’re not going to change these old guys’ minds. When these young people grow up, we will be able to vote them into office, and that’s how society changes.

“Focusing our energy on [senators] and perpetrators, I think our energies are misguided… We need to redirect our energy to young people which are providing some solutions to eradicate rape culture, to actually move Me Too forward, but we’re seeing pushback against these progressive movements that young people are really spearheading.

“I don’t think we’re going to change the minds of 90-year-old, white, male senators, but we can change things from the bottom up and that’s working with young people,” she added.

Social media plus traditional protests

Keller said girls are leading conversations around curriculum about consent, dress codes and attitudes around girls and boys to create a more equitable society.

In 2015, Toronto teens protested the dress code and used social media to start “Crop Top Day.”

“There was a lot of adult pushback to this, ‘These girls — why are they getting all worked up over a silly crop top? You should just be glad you don’t have to wear a burka.’ Racist comments like that. ‘No one’s going to take you seriously in a crop top.’”

Keller said the students got hailed with sexist, racist and classist comments online, mentioning the additional barriers some with multiple identities face when delving into the online abyss. Crop Top Day was both a social media movement and a traditional protest, with students of all genders rallying outside the school.

“This is not about a crop top, and the girls articulated very clearly in their Twitter responses, ‘This is not about a crop top but it is about rape culture,’” Keller said.

Dr. Jessalynn Keller, assistant professor of critical media studies at the University of Calgary, says we need to listen to young people.

Courtesy: TedxCalgary

Using social media as an activism tool educates people on issues, allows connections with like-minded peers, and lets people organize themselves, Keller said. It’s also a tool for exploring one’s identity — “doing things teens have always done, but just in different formats.”


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Keller stressed that social media is only one aspect of the story.

“Their protest is being mediated in a new way. They may be connecting with a larger pool of people because of the scope of social media and the speed of it, but there’s this precedent for this idea [and activism].”

“The ideas are the same,” Keller said, explaining how in the 1970s, women gathered in someone’s living room to discuss their experiences with household violence — akin to Me Too’s developments.

Stop, collaborate and listen

In an “adult-oriented society,” we often don’t take young people’s activism seriously or think they aren’t interested in politics, Keller said, adding that we tend to infantilize teens, especially girls. She said it’s no surprise girls would advocate for dress codes or curriculum because it affects their daily lives.

“They’re not going to be advocating for equal pay at this point in their lives; they’re not employees yet,” Keller said. “They’re not going to advocate for maternity leave or for these adult feminist causes. They’re going to advocate for changing their experiences as girls in their local context, which is the school.”


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Keller said people need to have conversations with young people in their lives, taking their views seriously, and to pay attention to youth culture. In a large-scale American example, March for Our Lives saw young people collaborating and driving the gun-control campaign where Keller said adults did a “fairly good job” of stepping back.

Allow kids to tell us what they want to see change, she said.

“Keep your ears open, talk to young people and don’t assume you’re the expert because you’re an adult,” she said. “Take a step back and let the young person speak. And don’t assume it’s your job to give voice to a young person. Young people already have voices.”

Audience reaction

TEDxCalgary curators said the conference is about tackling problems by educating people on a local level. The talks aren’t the complete answer. Instead, speakers help the crowd understand the current situation and provide insight into how to proceed more wisely.

“It’s really to give people that basic idea and inspiration to say, ‘This is important. I agree it’s important and I’ve been given tangible things I can wrap my head around and go out on my own journey of discovery and figure that out.’ So it’s planting that idea,” said Jonathan Perkins, CEO and co-founder of TEDxCalgary.

Four hundred people attended the conference, some sharing their experiences online.

Twitter user Kamil Kanji included Perry in a tweet that thanked speakers for the inspiration and “left [her] with so many thoughts that have changed [her] perspective on our current day society.”

Natasha Karim tweeted praise about Keller’s talk.

“Always amazing to hear about her work on girl activism and the importance of paying attention to the voices of girls in order address the issues that we face as a society,” she said.

On Facebook, Taunya Zipse said the event was incredible.

“I appreciate how encouraging our host was for the audience to participate. To engage in discussions,” she wrote. “I left feeling expanded and having had perspective shifts.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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