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2020.09.28 17:39 DeezNuts90210Ditched School and my Friends to Watch Avengers Endgame Without Them. Don't Tell a Soul Please.
I can't believe I pulled this off For context, I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and I'm a pretty popular guy at my school. My friends (10+ people) and I are big Marvel fans and for the longest time I could remember, we've always watched Marvel movies on release day in theaters. This tradition started all the way back since the first Avengers movie (2012) and after the events of Avengers Infinity War, you bet your ass we we're hyped for Endgame. We've always held discussions during lunch breaks to talk about movies and TV shows, and for the weeks leading up to Endgame that was all we wanted to talk about. MCU theories, list of new movies coming, evening avoiding spoilers and trailers like it was the plague so the experience wouldn't be ruined. Me being the parent of my friend group took the responsibility to purchase the tickets. I understood that I was likely going to have to compete with other head hunchos of friend groups in order to get a row of seats just for all of us. In Ottawa there's really only two main theaters people go to and luckily one of them was just down the road from our school. We were a simple bus ride away from watching any new releases with badass reclining chairs. Being in one of two of these high end theaters made you feel like a baller watching cinema. Now it may seem like Ottawa isn't a major city (it's the Capital of Canada for you U.S. readers), I can assure it's pretty big. Just we're not known for having screenings for shows, movies in Canada really blow up in Ottawa's sister city Toronto but the viewing experience is utter dog shit with fucked up chairs and no surround sound. Ottawa has a lot of other theaters besides the two I've mentioned but they all have shitty seats that may give you scoliosis and sell food that may give you food poisoning and long term health issues. We'll get back to that in a sec. So it was March 2019 and I remember staying up all night so tickets wouldn't be sold out and feel like I dropped the ball for the homies. As I slowly wait for the passing hands on the clock tick away millimeter by millimeter. I killed the time watching pewdiepie while simultaneously avoiding any teasers for Endgame. At one point I had to go to the washroom after 4+ hours of watching dank memes and reddit videos. As I was washing my hands, I didn't realize the time on my phone reading 12:01. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. It took me a second to gather myself and sprint right out the bathroom back to my computer bashing my knee in the process. But with all the adrenalin pumping through my viens I couldn't feel the pain and I was telling my body to suffer later. I make it to my computer to refresh the page only to see one of the shitter theaters hosting the movie on April 26 (Opening Night). My heart dropped, I was thinking to myself 'Did I fuck up?' 'The one time I step away from my computer is when I needed to be on and purchase the tickets.' 'And all that's left of Endgame tickets are at shit theaters.' I'm not one to cry, but this was the closes I've felt to balling out and letting my emotions take the best of me. I sat in my chair preparing to break the bad news to my friends and expecting their reactions of pure hatred and disguised especially how this was the biggest MCU thing to date. It's 12:10 at this moments, and I figure 'I'd rather watch the movie on release day with my friends then dodge spoilers for another 24 more hours even if that means going to a C level theater.' I bought the tickets and I tried my best to be as optimistic as I can be and be grateful that we at least watch together and not worry about getting our seats taken. I go to sleep that night still rehearsing what I'm going to say to my friends the next day. And as I get out of bed getting ready for school I decide to check on the seating arrangement for our auditorium on the Movie App on my phone. This is where my heart sinks even further than it was the night before. Our main theater that's just down the road from our school (the one with awesome chairs and room service treatment) started selling Endgame tickets. I thought to myself 'how's that possible ?' I look at the seating plan and no one has bought a single seat at this theater, mind you it's currently 7 in the morning. What ended up happening was that I was so fast to my computer that I didn't give time for the webpage to download the other theaters and the one theater that was downloaded just so happen to be one of the shit theaters. Had I wait another 30 more minutes, those seats at our main theater would have been ours with no contest. Not only do I need to break the bad news to my friends in that we're not watching Endgame at our main theater but also the fact that I was so early that I just bought them because I thought I fucked up. Reminds me a lot about the ending to 'The Mist.' What bad luck. I went to school that morning feeling sick and the next thing I know my squad of friends start asking me 'DeezNuts90210, did you get them?' This is where I started holding back tears, "Yeah I got them but they're not at our usual theater." I left out the part where if I waited we could have watched it at our main theater but I thought that it would be best that ignorance is bliss at that moment. Surprisingly they all reacted pretty well and yes they we're disappointed but they we're all happy we can watch together. Here comes the confession. Some days go by and I think nothing of it, but my curiosity got the best of me when I was looking up the seat plan for the main theater. All seats we're occupied but one seat at the very top dead center of the screen. I joked to my brother that I could watch Endgame without my friends and make my parents think I was at school (the viewing was at 10:20 am). He scoffed at the idea and went to his room living me alone in the living room. As I sat their on the Lazy Boy couch my mind start coming up with ways of how I could pull this mastermind plan off, almost like Bradley Cooper from 'Limitless.' I was conflicted between two points. On one hand I wanted to watch Endgame with my friends to top off the incredible experience MCU has done over the past 11 years and have it end on a Friday would be the highlight of the year for me. But on the flip side I wanted to watch Endgame at our main royalty theater just down the road and avoid spoilers from 10-year-olds at my school and online. A lot of thought went into this decision but I decided to go for the latter and ended up taking the last seat in that auditorium. As Thanos says, "The hardest choices require the strongest wills." And that night I thought of my plan, I knew the week before Endgames release I would be going to Montreal to visit family. So at the beginning of the week of when Endgame drops I told my friends I'd be going to Montreal to visit family but will be back to watch Endgame in Ottawa. Unbeknownst to my friends I already visited my family in Montreal, but I wanted to create an alibi so if they asked me where I was and what I did, I'd be able to recount what I did in Montreal the week prior. I knew I need to get out of school but I had to do it without my parents being notified from the school that I skipped school with no notice. At my school, you're only allowed a handful of skips with no notice for your high school career before you get expelled and I wanted to save my skip with no notice for more serious things like a health emergency. Some of the tactics I thought of were to create a note in my mother's hand writing and present it to the school while other thoughts we're to try and make anonymous school threats. But I ended up settling on faking my dad's voice and telling the school that I'll be in Montreal. Some weeks pass by and after planning out my route on what bus I need to take and timing how long it takes to get to theater and back. It's now Thursday April 25, 2019 (The eve of Avengers Endgame). I got up extra early to call my school in my dads voice hoping to get some automated message instead of some live receptionist asking who I am. I knew this will take some time but I also know that I only had one shot or the school and my parents will be on to me. I wrote out and practice what I needed to say and how I was going to say it to make the receptionist listening to the message mark down why I'm absent and to not notify my parents. After about 5 minutes of pure focus and my heart pounding like crazy. I finally picked up the phone with my hands still shaking knowing that if I was caught I would most likely get expelled and maybe kicked out at home. I dialed the school number and luck was on my side this time and got an automated message. I left the message of what I had written down and how I was going to say it and hung up. A big sigh of relieve came over me and the hard part was dealt with, all I can do is hope it was enough to be bought by whoever was listening to that message on the other end. I head to school and into my classes and at break head home preparing for my long day ahead of my tomorrow (April 26). It's now April 26 (Endgame). I get ready as always but this time I tell my mom to drop me off at school early due to a project I needed to work on (which is obviously a lie). And all I needed to do was to have her see me walk through those front doors, wait for her to go to work and leave out the back door of the school without any of my friends seeing me and I would be home free. I tell my mom to have a good day as I close the passenger door and as placed my hand on the handle door she left as if she was never there. I couldn't help but smile that I was going to do this. I walk into the lobby ready to head out the back door where my bus stop was waiting for me. But a girl friend (a friend who just so happens to be a girl) made eye contact with me. She wasn't surprised or shocked to see me, so I took the opportunity to chat with her and tell her that 'I'm in Montreal, don't tell anyone that you saw me.' She obviously looked confused but agreed to my promise and went out the back door to catch my bus that came at a perfect time. I arrived at the theater, and let me tell you that shit was packed to the brim. You got kids watching it with their parents who told their employers that they're sick. The person sitting beside me was telling me how him and his 4 other co-workers all had to go on emergency family gatherings. All in all one hell of an experience. It's currently 1:30 in the afternoon and I'm ready to head back to school to watch Endgame again but with my friends this time. They all ask me how my Montreal trip went and I tell them accordingly, we all take a moment to catch up over some dinner at McDonalds just down the road from the shit theater we were about to go into. And man was this second theater crazy. This was filled with not only other kids who went to school near this theater but crazy superfans and you can bet that there was a lot of cheering and more of it in this one. Just a crazy day of anxiety of not getting caught by my parents and school and excitement to see how this MARVELous (sorry for the pun) series would end. Some closing remarks. Am I sorry for what I've done. FUCK no. If anything I'm happy because some twat went around my school shouting spoilers in every classroom and in the cafeteria ruining it for my friends while I was seeing it all unfold right before my eyes as that was going on. As for my friends, we're still tight with one another but they will never no the extent to what I've done. If you've made it this far thank you for reading and I hope you got a kick out of it. T.L.D.R. - Committed the worst crime ever imaginable, I'm on the run from authorities. Please don't snitch me out
2020.09.21 16:19 IrregularblobIR-1/CR-1 Canadian timeline
UCIS Office: Texas Service center Consulate: Montreal, Canada I-130 sent: September 2018 This period is hands down the worst part with the longest wait NoA2: May 2019 Follow up Documents sent to the NVC: July 2019 Wrong police certificate, new one sent: September 2019 Canadians you need to go to a RCMP approved fingerprint place to get the correct police record. Your local PD doesnt count. When you go to the place ask for "Requests under the privacy act" DONT BE ME Second worst part here NVC approved: November 2nd 2019 Medical did February 24th, if you live in the midwest this shit is annoying, expensive plane ticket and some travelling plus 500 dollars for them to tell the U.S you dont have an STD. Due to covid-19 i have to pay for this twice Interview date: March 23rd 2020 Interview cancelled due to covid New interview September 21st 2020 Approved but require new medical and some original documents to mail in. Due to it being married for 2 years i am now issued a 10 year visa(IR-1) instead of the 2 year one (CR-1) Interview is basically just a original document review making sure all the photocopies were real and easy flashcard questions took about an hour total in a DMV like setting where you get called to windows
Top 3 answers get +3, +2. and +1 balls, bottom 3 answers get -3, -2, -1. LETS GET STARTED Question 1: Favorite Baseball Player and Why Dylan
Growing up every day with Chipper and Andruw Jones in the Braves lineup for the first like 15-20 years of my life was special, Chipper in particular. Acuna is catching up fast, though.
I asked for one player though, not your entire Barves lifestory Bnavis
Jake Arrieta, his rise really mirrored the cubs, and that 2015 season was incredible.
Arrieta can pound a bag of dicks for being absolute shit Ruairi
Barry Bonds. He was the greatest hitter of all-time and it isn't even up for discussion. He was a hall of famer before the "alleged" steroid use and became the greatest player of all-time after. The man would get one pitch in the strike zone to hit every night and he would hit it for a home run everytime. No batter has ever been feared the way Barry was feared, not even close. Everyone can say they hate Barry Bonds and don't respect him or whatever crap they want to spew out, but the truth is, when he came up to bat, literally everyone stopped what they were doing to see what he would do, and then when he'd hit a massive home run, everyone would be in awe of his insane abilities.
Barry Bonds is lowkey one of my favorite players, this is valid reasoning. Polelover
David Ortiz. Self-explanatory.
Fuck the Red Sox Bgro
Jason Kendall bc he was a leadoff catcher and gritty as hell. He refused to ever sit out a game even though he played such a demanding position.
Kendall was one of my favorite Pirates to watch, glad to see someone else is a big Kendall fan Jiggy
matt kemp, restored my love of the game. in his prime he was incredible and he seemed to be having a blast playing. oh and i'm hyper vain and he dated rhianna while being the best player in the sport and i think that's cool as fuck.
Kemp should have won MVP over Braun. Fuck Ryan Braun Rose
Frank Thomas? Frank Thomas is just a mythical figure of childhood for me. The 2006 A's were an extremely formative team for my baseball fandom and Frank Thomas was probably the first time a player I was already aware of outside of the A's became relevant to the A's, and having him play for Oakland felt like being blessed by a god. Objectively or statistically there are more dominant hitters than Frank Thomas in history but in my mind he's the most impeccable hitter of all time.
I forgot that Big Hurt was an A. Thomas was a fun player to watch Cory
Rickey Henderson. Unbelievable talent with a rare skillset, combined with a cool "hometown hero" story, long career, endless mythology and great stories.
Yankees Legend Rickey Henderson Wharble
Vladimir Guerrero for teaching me that strike zones are merely suggestions
It's a shame his son took that lesson the opposite way Iama
Mariano Rivera, just a great feeling when he would come into the game and lock it down. ice cold blood in the veins, and a great team player and ambassador for the game.
There will never be another as good as Mo when it comes to locking down a game +3 Ruairi, +2 Rose, +1 Jiggy -3 Pole, -2 Dylan, -1 Bnavis Question 2: Favorite High School Story Dylan
We used to pay "high stakes" Call of Duty at my friend tommy's basement. We played gun game on black ops. if you lost you got fingered in your butthole
that time in high school I went to Edinburgh to perform a musical for some Scots
Did you play the bag pipes? Pole
9th grade a bunch of us gathered in the school library the first night of winter break and binged the lord of the rings movies. Extended editions, of course.
Thats a good way to spend a night Iama
Four Loko Night, many shenanigans were gotten up to and the night culminated in ejecting flaming pumpkins off a bridge into a gorge
And this is how states burn to the ground Bnavis
me and a couple guys got onto the very top roof of the palmer house hilton, managed to avoid a bunch of security. got good pictures
Sounds like a blast Jiggy
probably driving to a city of 30k people in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, getting piss drunk and doing Too Much Molly for one person. we did all this shit and it's like 1:30, walk to a dominos and wait outside for our shit. all of a sudden this dude comes up to us and asks us if we were the ones that catcalled his gf (we were not) to which one of my buddies said "nah but i wish i would've." dude gets in his truck and chases us down streets of moose jaw saskatchewan for thirty minutes as we run for our lives while smoking grape flavored cigarillos. we get separated, i lose my phone, sleep on a merry-go-round in a park in october (so like it's 25 degrees at best) and walk to a starbucks to find a stranger that'll let me use their laptop to contact my friends bc i don't know their numbers, forgot my facebook password, forgot my gmail password to reset it, end up on this middle aged man's 15 year old dell laptop for forty minutes trying to figure out how to contact my friends while still fucked up, eventually a dude i partied with happened to walk past and i ran outside and got him to call dan, dan picks me up and we drive back home and eat pizza hut
Holy shit Ruairi
Oh boy strap in for this one. So it's freshman year of college. I live in the dorms. I'm single and have next to no experience with girls/parties. It's Halloweekend (the weekend of Halloween so very many parties at SDSU). Unfortunately, I was not in a frat so I was not allowed in any frat parties, so I had to party in the dorm. Anyway. My roommate went to his gf football game (she was a cheerleader for a community college 30 minutes away) so I was just hanging out in my room with the door open to talk with anyone from my floor that wanted to hang. This girl from the floor below me (that I had just met a few days ago and showed off my baseball knowledge to in the study room) walks by my room and stops. She says hi and comes in and I'm talking with her. She has a bottle of cranberry juice and vodka and offers me some. Obviously, I accept. She says she has a full bottle of vodka in on her floor and she'll bring it up to party with me. A really attractive girl wants to hangout with me on Halloween while she is dressed up and wants to get me drunk? Hell yea! So she goes down to her floor and I wait for her to come back. But then about 20 minutes have gone by and she has not come back, leaving me to believe she had bailed :(. So I go across the hall to my friends room to drink and play super smash bros. About an hour or two goes by and I've had some shots just vibin on the floor. A few of the girls who went out to a party had come back and I was hanging out with them. Then the girl from the floor below came back with friends and was trashed. She was in our study lounge puking in the trash so I was in there taking care of her and helping her out. I was just rubbing her back and getting her water while holding her hair. There was a weird dude on our floor who was into her also trying to help but it was super weird and uncomfortable with him there because well as I said he was weird and creepy. After an hour, one of my other friends said Chase and Diego were letting people in their room (now these kids didn't talk much to anyone, except Chase. Me and him were boys). So I went over to their room to see what was poppin' because this was a moment of a lifetime. Chase was a little drunk but Diego was smashed and so was his gf. Total in the room it was me, Chase, Diego, his gf, a dude name Kayvon, and two other girls, Leah and Katie. I was just hanging out talking with everyone and then the three girls were talking about french kissing. Leah hadn't ever frenched so the other girls wanted to show her how. So they passed each other around like a bong just frenching it up. I was dumbfounded. This is what college is??? I'd seen videos but I didn't think they were real. Diego was getting super into his gf making out with these two other girls, kinda hyping them up. Once they had stopped frenching, Katie and Leah left the room. Diego started to get the spins and tried to lay down on his bed. Then he vomited on himself. Me, already experienced with vomit in the evening, tried to help him out and get him up and to the bathroom or at least the trashcan. I did what I could but then his gf was acting all crazy and yelling at me to get out of the room, so I did. I returned to the cute drunk girl on the couch, as I told her I would be gone for just a few minutes (it was really about 20-30). She was super excited to see me again. At that point, she asked me to watch the World Series with her, as the Mets and Royals were going to play Game 5 (I believe) on the Sunday (the next day). I told her of course I would and that I'd be watching in that very study lounge. After a little while longer, I told her she needed to go to bed so I walked her down to her room while the weird creepy dude followed us. I wasn't going to let him walk her to her room because frankly I didn't trust the dude. Got her to her room, said good night, and that was the end of that. I went back to my room and told my roommate and his gf about the eventful night I had. Jumping back to earlier in the story, cute girl said she had returned to my room about 30 minutes later but she couldn't get the vodka from her floor because some dudes had taken it. I had left my room at that point so she ended up going out to the party instead since I wasn't there. I did end up dating that girl for a decent amount of time, but that's for a different survey.
Ruairi remains the undisputed king of storytelling Rose
was homeschooled for most of high school and didn't go to college. i'm not gonna get balls but at least be gentle with taking balls away
Rose you are a treasure, no ball loss for you Cory
Frosh year. My roommates and I had a couple dorm floor mates who either only have weekday meal plans, or no meal plan at all. So we started casually stealing them some non-perishable goods to last them over the weekend. Through natural progression, this slowly turned into us creating an entire klepto organization that eventually fed most of our dorm house. We had a few tricks. One was bringing sports bags in with us - they would make you check backpacks at the door, but since sports bags might have expensive equipment, they let you take them in. So we'd just stuff them full of gallon bags of cereal, bagels, etc. Our dining hall had a patio area, where at night, you could see in from the outside, but not vice versa. We would load up our plates with one type of food, grab a gallon or two of milk, a tray of cookies, etc., saunter out to the patio, bag/pack everything up, and then toss it over the railing to our Outside Man down below, who would then take it back. At the end of the year, the dining hall had a program where you could return anything you "walked off accidentally" with with no repercussions, so we went to collect and tally any cups/bowls/plates/silverware we'd liberated, and found ourselves with two full boxes of stuff. Fearing *some* sort of repercussions from the sheer volume of stuff, we waited until the DH was closed one night, climbed over the railing, and left the boxes on a patio table.
This is amazing Bgro
I jumped out the window of the classroom once just to prove to a friend how oblivious our teacher was. I then walked in through the front door, greeted said oblivious teacher, and sat back down at my desk. She was very confused.
Classic +3 Ruairi, +2 Cory, +1 Jiggy -3 Dylan, -2 Iama, -1 Bnavis Question 3: Favorite Vacation You Took Wharble
does the scotland one kinda count as a vacation? if so, that one, if not, fuck idk I've only ever been to Vegas or Mexico on vacations so imma go with one of the 14 times I went to Mexico
I would love to go to Mexico Pole
Winter 2010, we went to a resort in Turks & Caicos. Joe Girardi was there too. He and my mom are best friends now.
Pics or it didnt happen Iama
lake house in new hampshire with all my cousins, just waterskiing, swimming, and hanging out by the water every day for a week
That sounds fantastic Bnavis
italy, rome's cool as fuck
Another high effort answer from Bnavis. Jiggy
when my sister lived in vancouver i flew there and then we drove from vancouver to tijuana together and camped on beaches and shit
I've always wanted to camp out on a beach, that sounds dope Ruairi
Well, since my brother and I played baseball year round from elementary school through high school, we didn't take many/any vacations. So I will have to say the only real vacation I've taken is my trip to Texas a few weeks ago. It was amazing getting to see my best friend with our other best friend. Shot real guns for the first time. Went to the beach a couple of times and the water was so warm, it was amazing. Had Texas BBQ and it was to die for. It was super cool being in a somewhat small town since I've grown up in San Diego/Temecula for my whole life and haven't lived in a farm-like town. It was a super cool experience and I would easily risk getting coronavirus to do it again.
Thats pretty dope, small towns are always fun to go to Rose
my favorite 'vacation' ever was actually recent. i dogsit for my sister sometimes when she goes somewhere and get to spend a week or so getting paid to relax at her apartment in san francisco with her dog and drinking and eating good food. it's nice because it's not touristy, i'm not staying at a hotel or anything, it's more like dipping my toes into living in a big city for a week or two and then getting to return to my normal life afterwards. my 'favorite vacation' was when i was there for over a week last year just chilling with no responsibilities other than taking care of her dog
The best vacations are the ones where you do absolutely nothing Cory
New Zealand, September 2019. Gorgeous land all-around, really good (and cheap) beer, fun time exploring with friends, Lord of the Rings shit everywhere, good beer, very nice populace.
Thats dope, New Zealand is on my must visit list Dylan
All my friends and I rented a house in Hatteras in the Outer Banks a few years ago. Massive house, right on the water, perfect water. Took a lot of acid, listened to Miles Davis' Bitches Brew while the mosquitoes ate my body apart while the sun went down.
Thats pretty dope Bgro
Backpacking around Europe for a month with my buddies when I was 17. We visited 8 countries, sleeping in hostels and trains.
That is the dream, glad you got to live it +3 Ruairi, +2 Rose, +1 Bgro -3 Bnavis, -2 Pole, -1 Wharble Question 4: You are now Commissioner of MLB, what changes do you make? (For time constraints I am going to post the top 3 answer and bottom 3 answers as many of these are similar) Iama
negotiate things with the unions to make sure i can do the following fire rob manfred from any position he may hold (also joe west, cb bucknor, angel hernandez, and laz diaz) fix the minor league wage system so players make a living wage; also adjust the prearb/arb/fa system for better fairness abolish the dh and/or maintain the al/nl system abolish bad extra inning rules and/or robot umps, if they have been implemented bring back the bullpen car more doubleheaders bring back disco demolition night
Love all of these except getting rid of the DH Bnavis
very slowly turn baseball into blurnsball from futurama
no interleague 2. no divisions, just leagues 3. 12 games against each league opponent, 168 game schedule (until expansion, see 9; after expansion this will become 165 games, 15 against each league opponent) 4. al dh, no dh in nl 5. top 3 make playoffs in each league, 1 gets a bye. 2v3 in a best of 7, winner vs 1 in a best of 9, best of 11 world series (i realize it's not fun viewing but it gets the best result) 6. fines for anyone who tries to institute unwritten rules or whatever the fuck, promote the shit out of guys like tatis/tim anderson that make the game fun 7. no baserunner on 2nd rule 8. legalize steroids 9. expand to 38 teams, play one season. bottom 7 in each league go down to make a 24 team mlb and a 14 team mlb2, following this, use the english promotion/relegation system but with 4 from each league now. so effectively, bottom 4 in the al automatically go down, top 3 from al-mlb2 automatically come up and then a playoff of 4v7 and 3v6 from mlb2's al (best of 3 round 1, best of 5 round 2) to determine the fourth team that rejoins the majors. 10. create a more fun environment at the game. music throughout the game, including during play, also every team has a small waterpark at the ballpark 11. encourage players to have cool cleats why is trevor bauer the only one taking advantage of this 12. go back to pre-2017 balls
Jiggy gets it Rose
make the wild card a 3 game series played in 2 days (games 1 and 2 as a double header,) expand to 32 teams (portland and montreal/charlotte/nashville,) universal DH (i don't mind both leagues having different rules but universal DH is probably the pandemic induced rule that makes the most sense to keep,) execute Alex Bregman on live TV, don't kill the minor leagues, don't do any other dumb bullshit, sit back and watch the money stack
Yes absolutely bring back the Expos, fuck Ass Bergman Wharble
pay the minor leaguers, institute a salary floor, institute something resembling a RFA system instead of arb, ban Rob Manfred from baseball idk I'm tired
Go back to bed bud Pole
Overhaul the free agency system to disincentivize service time manipulation. Add a salary floor for teams.
Ok +3 Jiggy, +2 Rose, +1 Iama -3 Bnavis, -2 Pole, -1 Wharble Question 5: You have been signed by the WWE! Congratulations! What is your In Ring Name, Gimmick, and Finisher Wharble
Thiccums, whatever vince gives me, and either the spear or the clothesline from hell
Show some creativity and own your own gimmick. Jobber status for you Pole
I am The Ogre. I come out in full Shrek cosplay. My finisher is the GET OUT OF MY SWAMP.
Wrath-Hog Bounty Hunter Bearhug Life Force Squeezer
So do you hunt other wrestlers? Are you a hunter for an authority figure? As of now you are a Jobber Bnavis
just give me minus points for this
SAY NO MORE, -3 BALLS Jiggy
Chicken Bryan Kane's little brother, thus making me the Undertaker's grandson The Carraba's Crusher - honestly it'd just be ember moon's eclipse bc it's the coolest shit
Only issue, Kane is already Undertakers brother so you would also be Undertakers brother. That said maybe we can bring Taker out of retirement for a one off with you Ruairi
Ring Name: The Notorious Ruairious. Gimmick: I am a Northern Irishman who uses a wicked head butt to stun and knock out opponents. I have swagger, but am very humble. I throw off my opponents by complimenting their bodies rather than trash talking them. Finisher: I get the opponent on the ground and do a jig over them, as my kicks knock them unconscious.
This is a dope gimmick, would likely book you to face Sheamus for 3 months before going for the WWE Title. Rose
Ring name is Anne Phibian, my finisher is a Frog Splash and my gimmick is that i am extremely into frogs and i brutally beat down opponents and share Frog Facts with the audience on the mic while they are incapacitated
Instant top heel in the Women's division. Would book you to face Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania for the Women's Title. Cory
The Mortician (Cory *Graves*). My gimmick would be crawling my up through the bottom of the ring to start each match. We would then have to wait for the mat to be repaired before beginning the match. Finisher: The Scalpel - I run back and forth between the ropes a few times, gaining momentum, eventually bouncing off, going into a horizontal pencil dive motion, and kicking my opponent square in the chest.
I can see some good feuds between you and The Fiend Bray Wyatt. Could be a good wrestlemania match. Dylan
Bitch, I'm Big Pepsi I'm sponsored by Pepsi Co. to deliver the sweet taste of Pepsi products to the world, BY FORCE The Baja Blaster - I yeet a full cup of MTN DEW Baja Blast (tm) into my opponent's eyes before hitting them with a shoryuken from street fighter
I dig it. Will book you as a main eventer before having you job to Roman Reigns and then banish you to the midcard forever Bgro
My ring name is "El Ratoncito Miguel" which translates to "The Little Rat, Miguel". My gimmick is that I always pretend I'm not actually there to fight, I'm just lost and looking for directions. I insist way beyond a humorous amount of time that I'm really not a wrestler and you must have me mistaken and how do you get to Union Street. Then, when everyone's going home and the lights are turned off, that's when I attack. My finisher is called Open-Face Slap, where I run to one side of the ring and then charge full speed at you and open face slap you.
Instant Top Chicken Shit Heel. You can win the WWE Title on a fluke before losing it at Mania to someone like Daniel Bryan +3 Bgro, +2 Ruairi, +1 Rose -3 Bnavis, -2 Wharble, -1 Iama Question 6: Here have a ball +1 to everyone who said thank you No balls to everyone who said ok No one told me to go fuck myself so no one loses a ball Question 7: One of these has to go what do you get rid of. +1 Balls to everyone for correctly choosing a seafood based item Question 8: Penguins are... +1 Ball to everyone who said Badass No Balls for those who said "they aight" No one loses a ball Question 9: Society has completely collapsed, what do you do to survive. Wharble
bold of you to assume I'd make it out of a societal collapse
Wonderful spirit Wharble Pole
Hoard some precious resource so I can trade it for other things that I need.
the world is my oyster
But what are you doing to survive Bnavis
kill myself, i'm not a fool. i wouldn't survive a day in the wild
Just excellent effort from Bnavis Jiggy
honestly i wish i had a nice plan for you but i know i wouldn't make it. just hangout with my gf for as long as possible and do enough mdma to forget about our impending doom
I have a co-worker who has a full survival shelter with many guns. I go to him to survive.
Good move Rose
i don't believe in my ability to survive alone in an apocalyptic scenario so i would determine if i'm reasonably close to a costco. if i think i'm close enough i believe a society of about 200-300 people could survive in a barricaded costco for several months at least without issue, and i will try to get a footing there. if i can't make it to something like that i will seek out the strongest most prepared looking person in my neighborhood and pray they show mercy.
Good to have a plan Cory
Hoard gasoline and water (a la The Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road). If that doesn't work out, I would travel from settlement to settlement, bard-style, recanting happenings from neighboring settlements and regaling folks with song.
That man making the best of a bad situation Dylan
Go to the basement of the newspaper office downtown. Literally nobody ever goes there, and there's no easy way down there without a pass. Also has a showeshittespace. Also has a secret tunnel to the building across the street if I need to bail.
Not bad Bgro
Now that society has collapsed, I work as a software developer to survive.
In a post-apocalyptic society I dont think we will need software +3 Cory, +2 Rose, +1 Dylan -3 Bnavis, -2 Wharble, -1 Iama Question 10: This question comes from my wife: What should I make for dinner upon the completion of survey results Everyone gets a ball for leaving some awesome recipes. Question 11: What is your happiest memory? Wharble
that's an incredibly personal question that I will not answer because it will make me emotional!
that one time i homered in little league
Was it a moon shot? Iama
watching the 09 world series win with my dad
That was an amazing year Bnavis
being held by someone who loves me dearly
honestly last new years me and gf and a few friends went to a rave and got drunk/did a fuckton of ecstasy and danced our asses off then went to this little hidden rooftop in downtown saskatoon that i stashed a few bottles of tequila and some cigarettes on and danced and smoke and drank up there and yelled at strangers on the street until like 4 then got an uber home, passed out, and then made a fuckpile of waffles and watched horror movies in the basement all new years day it was so fucking fun
Thats fucking awesome Ruairi
Oh man this is a tough one. There are two that stand out in my mind, but I'm not sure which one to go with. I will tell another story about the cute girl I mentioned earlier in this survey. So this was a few months later (4 or 5). We started dating shortly after that Halloween night for the record. We spent pretty much everyday together since we lived just a floor apart and quickly became best friends. Anyway, it was a few months later and we were in her room. It was a Friday and I didn't have class until 1 on Fridays. We were making out on her bed and at one point she stopped and just looked at me. She started crying and I was confused so I asked her what was wrong. Through a cracked voice she says "I love you." It was the first time anyone had ever told me they loved me in that way and I had been thinking about telling her that I felt the same way leading up to this day but was too scared to. When she said it, I was then able to say it, which surprised her because I wasn't a very open person back then. It's one of the best feelings to have someone you love tell you that they love you back. And even though we aren't together anymore, the memory is still a good one for me, because it reminds me that I can be loved and I can feel love for someone, even in times when those things don't seem possible.
This brought a tear to my eye my dude Rose
it feels slightly underwhelming to call it my happiest memory because it didn't last in the end but i think the most undeniably happy thing i can think of is entering my first real romantic relationship as a teenager. a lot of that time of my life i was fighting with depression and a genuine and significant romantic relationship was a realization that i could be deserving of love from other people and that i could connect and relate to another person in ways i was afraid i wasn't capable of.
This fucking hit me hard because I've been there Cory
Camping with my brother and parents. Usually our trips involve some amount of shouting and fighting, even the really good ones. But this trip, we just spent three wonderful days in the wilderness, enjoying nature, eating good campfire foods, laughing and playing board games. Some catchphrases were spawned while playing those games that my family still quotes to this day.
That's awesome, I'd give anything to have that kind of time with my family again Dylan
I went to a concert with a friend of mine that had just left the company we had worked for. She was in a relationship but she asked me to go with her because she had an extra ticket. It was a great time, really fun, great vibes. Didn't realize at the time that would be the person I'd be living with about 3-4 years later. Don't know if it's my happiest memory but it makes me really happy, know what I mean?
Thats awesome dude Bgro
Either various moments on my solo bike trip across the country where I just felt total tranquility and satisfaction near the end of my trip OR this one time when my first nephew was like one and I was his favorite person and I took him out for a walk. He was distracted and I walked a little ahead of him and when he turned and noticed me a little further away, we made eye contact, he grinned a wide smile and then ran to me arms wide open for a hug. Kids do that kind of stuff all the time to people they know and trust but I've never felt such pure unadulterated love as I have from that kid in that moment. There is no artifice or conditionality in that sort of love. It felt good to be the cause of that someone else's sheer joy and seeing his face light up when he saw me, thats a memory that always brings me happiness.
:blobheart: No one loses a ball for this round +3 Rose, +2 Bgro, +1 Ruairi Ok lets tally up the results...... TIED FOR FIRST WITH 16 BALLS: ROSE AND RUAIRI SECOND WITH 9 BALLS: CORY TIED FOR 3RD WITH 8 BALLS: BGRO AND JIGGY 4TH: IAMA 0 BALLS 5TH: DYALAN -1 BALLS 6TH: POLE AND WHARBLE -3 BALLS AND YOUR BIGGEST LOSER IN DEAD LAST WITH -11 BALLS BNAVIS!!! Lottery will be done and posted with out first round. Thank you for your time you wonderful people
2020.09.17 13:02 closeprotectionsClose Protection London Close Protection Services London
Close protection – is a concept that has been known for ages – it has been with us since early days of humankind and now its condition is more than satisfactory. Since time immemorial, people have tried to protect their wealth, assets, as well as their own health, life, and welfare. By means of the transfer of gathered goods, wealthy individuals have been paying other parties to protect them, their families, and possessions from others. As a general rule, young, notably strong, and grim-looking individuals have been considered perfectly suitable for such a job. The idea behind such a choice has been to scare away a potential adversary by taking advantage of the very looks of the guard. The aforementioned state of affairs has been observed for the consecutive ages. Wealthy landowners and kings created their own trusted guards (in ancient times and during the medieval age, those were troops designated to protect the authorities; later on, they were transformed into elite soldiers). Aside from serving representative and managerial purposes, such individuals were required to take care of their master and his beloved ones. In the 11th century England, during the Battle of Hastings, King Harold assembled a group of troops to protect his life and widely understood health condition. One may consider them to be the ancestors of modern bodyguards. As both civilization and society progressed, there were an increasing number of various organizations and people. Therefore, the risk of attack was significantly higher. Numerous authorities attempted to discourage potential aggressors from committing a crime by introducing severe forms of punishment. It must be noted, however, that there was still the question if it was enough to protect high authorities and the wealthy from the effects of outside attacks. The protection-oriented market has been developing to be – at some point – dominated by professional soldiers. The said progression has made it possible for police officers to investigate and deal with common, less dangerous crimes only. Together with technical revolution and the increasing social awareness, the number of citizens not satisfied with the current order skyrockets. It is likely to cause radical groups aiming at the change of the existing ruling paradigm to occur. This in turn may lead to anarchy and the increase in people willing to put their antisocial theories and plans into effect. The latter may start from sabotaging the work of others and demolishing valuable devices, but it may also end up in killings. If such a thing happens, one may openly talk about terrorism. The unusual social situation boosts the demand for personal protection. Both the army and police focus on securing the wellbeing of those of high position in the country. The rest of the threatened society must protect itself. The demand identified above has given rise to a new profession – a security guard. In the past, it was performed in a more or less organized fashion and that is why the effectiveness of arising task achievement varied. The attempt on Tsar’s Alexander the Second life on 1st March 1881 is a perfect exemplification of the formulated thesis. The ruler in question was attacked by the members of Narodnaya Volya at 2:15 P.M. A bomb was thrown under the carriage, but its explosion did not harm either the tsar or the horses. Alexander the Second, together with his companion including secret police representatives, started to assess damages. It was a mistake. At 2:20 P.M, yet another bomb was detonated. Its accuracy was notably higher as it managed to severely injure the tsar. He died relatively quickly, even with professional care he was under. At this point, it must be indicated that the demand for close protection increases. However, the perception of it is in a significant number of cases rather faulty, leading to pitiful outcomes. As it was hundreds of years earlier, modern people tend to hire grim musclemen to protect them, disregarding the fact that their intellectual level and possessed knowledge are negligible. Formerly, a test had to be passed in order for a person to be considered a bodyguard. Unfortunately, it does not hold true anymore. On numerous occasions, we can observe security guards stylized to look like stats of action movies, with the lack of intelligence written all over their faces. To give them justice, such people may also perform exceptionally well – up to the time they encounter a real attack. Unprofessional guards may be employed to protect rock stars or boxers. Real bodyguards of today are, however, highly skilled and motivated. They are trained to prevent rather than to counteract, as it may be too late in the latter case. Such people are capable of estimating potential risk and juxtaposing it with the resources at their disposal that may minimize it. Modern security guards are physically active, as well as skilled in giving first aid and driving a car defensively. They can fight without using any weapon – especially by taking advantage of psychology and persuasion. Such people are proficient in at least two languages and are characterized by an above-average intelligence level. The described model of a security guard is perfectly suited to current conditions and the needs of individuals hiring them. VIP close protection over the world – organizations specializing in personal protection. One of the most famous and at the same time – the oldest organized bodies dealing with close protection was created in the 19th century. It was the American United States Secret Service. The USSS was created in 1865 as the US Treasury Law Enforcement Agency. Secret Service is the oldest national agency focusing entirely on investigations. Initially, their only task was to protect the economic structure of the country by means of preventing governmental cheques and bonds from being counterfeited. The mission was followed up to 1901, when president William McKinley was attacked in Buffalo (NY state). The assault resulted in appointing the Secret Service by the US Congress to protect the newly elected president, Theodore Roosevelt. In 1906, the Congress finally adopted the act on the responsibility of the Secret Service for the safety of the White House. Since 1950, the protection has been extended from presidents and first ladies only to vice-presidents as well. Before the murder of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, the Secret Service had been a relatively small organization, employing as many as 284 agents. The discussed events translated directly into its rapid development. Currently, it is stated that over 5000 employees work for the Secret Service. Separate branches of the organization are located all over the United States, in Puerto Rico, and in other places all over the world (Paris, Lyon, London, Bonn, Rome, Milano, Hong Kong, Montreal, Lefkosa, Bogota, and Manila). The representatives of the organization are both secret agents (serving protection and investigation-related roles), as well as uniformed units responsible for the safety of the White House and diplomatic outposts. They maintain law and order by means of the network of both foot and motorized patrols, as well as of fixed posts. Such people also support other branches of the Secret Service. A wide scope of professional is also employed therein – those are electronics, engineers, communication experts, protection-related professionals, and IT workers. The Secret Service protects the president with his family, vice-president, elected vice-president, candidates for the said posts (from the 120th day before the elections onwards), former president, his children up to 16, as well as heads of other states staying in the USA in order to realize international missions. The unit of the Secret Service liable for taking care about the safety of the president in the White House fulfills its duties in identical uniforms. Due to the said fact, the Secret Service is sometimes referred to as the Uniformed Division. Its tasks also include the protection of president’s mansions, diplomatic outposts in Washington, and places alike located within the borders of the USA. Another known formation is the Swiss Guard (Latin: Cohors Helvetica) which was for the very first time gathered on 22nd January 1506 by the then pope – Julius II. Its major aim was to protect the spiritual successor of Saint Peter and his palace. The pope wanted to grant himself protection from the enemies and avoid a political murder. In 1512, the Guard secured Vatican against French soldiers. The Defendants of the Church, as the representatives of the discussed formation were also called, had to face the biggest trail while taking care of pope Clemens VII during the invasion of Roman emperor, Charles V. The boldness, discipline, and resourcefulness of the representatives of the Guard made it possible to save the life of the pope, even though about 600 bold men died in the process. To commemorate the event, a solemn vow of the newly appointed guards takes place every year on 6th May. Each of the Swiss guards-to-be holds a banner in his left hand and raises his right hand with the thumb and two other fingers in an upright position (it is the symbol of the Holy Trinity). Then, the new soldiers promise to protect the pope and – to die in his defense if necessary. The representatives of the Swiss Guard are chosen from men between the age of 19 and 25 living in one of Swiss cantons (basing on contracts with Zurich and Lucerne). Each of them has to be at least 174 cm (5 feet and a half inch) tall and be an unmarried practicing Catholic (according to a special letter issued by the local bishop). Candidates for the service are properly trained, including teaching them how to use firearms, side arms, as well as how to defend themselves and establish proper contacts with other people. One of the items of the list is the proper usage of halberd. Currently, the number of soldiers in the Guard is estimated to circulate around 120, including officers, junior, and senior soldiers. They serve in the formation from two to twenty-five years. It must be also indicated at this point that officers and senior sergeants may be granted by the pope the right to enter into a holy matrimony. Aside from their characteristic outfit, soldiers are additionally equipped with halberds and Renaissance swords – those are the symbols of formation’s tradition. Nowadays, they are also fitted with firearms, tear gas, and excellent communication-oriented devices. With its almost five hundred years of heritage, the Swiss Guard is one of the oldest active defense-oriented groups in the world. One may assume that it will last until Switzerland and the Catholic Church exist. Yet another example of a close protection-focused formation is the Cedrug Order, the major task of which is to take care about the ruler of Tibet – Dalai Lama. It comprises of national spiritual authorities who organized themselves in a form of an order. Thanks to strict upbringing, their physical strength is much higher than the one of secular officials. Therefore, the former are the most trusted soldiers caring about the safety of the leader of the nation. Cedurg School is located in the left wing of Potala – the palace of Dalai Lama, which is in turn situated in the Holy City of Lhasa (eastern Tibet, Kyitsu river valley). Every Tibet citizen is allowed to enroll to the school, but only chosen ones are granted the privilege to join the Order. For several hundred years, there have been a limited number of monks allowed, namely – 175. Only selected candidates have been worthy enough to defend the powerful Dalai Lama. Those are especially bold, tall, and muscular men. The representatives of the Order earned their name in 1959, when they protected the king of Tibet against Chinese adversaries. One of the biggest organizations in the world established to consociate and train bodyguards is the International Bodyguard Association (IBA). The IBA was established in 1957 in Paris by major Lucien Victor Ott. Major Ott had been closely connected to the French Foreign Legion in Algeria since his early childhood. He had been born and raised in the said country. In 1947, he joined the French Special Forces and took part in France-Indochina war. Furthermore, he was the participant of the battle of Dien-Bien Phu that ended with the defeat of the French forces. He was being injured and captured by Vietminh. After a bold escape, he decided to join forces with the French Military Intelligence (Deuxieme Bureau). Major Lucien Ott got famous due to, inter alia, perfect securing of president Charles de Gaulle against the OAS terrorist organization. Thanks to him, 30 prepared attacks were foiled, 11 of which were aimed directly at the head of the state. After the death of the creator of a modern bodyguard profile, major Ott, one of his students – James G. Shortt took care of the management of the IBA. As a young man, he had joined a cadet school. Later on, he had become landing operation troops officer and a member of the elite SAS (Special Air Service) unit. Moreover, during his service, he also taught soldiers in Afghanistan the art of Mujahedeen war. Currently, he teaches security guards, police officers, and soldiers all over the world in the IBA branches. The main aim of the organization is to properly prepare bodyguards-to-be to properly perform their duties. It is not an entity employing such individuals, but those who have presented exceptional skills may become members of royal, diplomatic, or personal guards recommended by the IBA. Coaches being the representatives of the organization trained bodyguards in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as helped during the Baltic Crisis between 1989 and 1991. The qualifications of the International Bodyguard Association are exceptional, international, and backed by the documentation concerning the organization of training sessions for the military, governmental authorities, police, and private bodyguards all over the world. Such undertakings have been continuously performed since 1957. The IBA also operates and trains willing individuals in Poland. Its branch was established in the said country in 1992. The basic training offered to candidates includes 60 hours of comprehensive preparation divided into six consecutive days. After its completion, the candidates are required to undergo the so-called refresher once a year. It is one of the conditions of the membership in the IBA. Another training organization worth mentioning is the ESI - Executive Security International. It must be highlighted that it is one of the biggest and most appreciated American companies oriented towards training personal protection guards. Its second name is as follows: Bodyguard Training Academy for Executive, Dignitary and Celebrity Protection. The ESI was formed at the beginning of the 80s by Bob Duggan – martial arts expert and master in Hwarang Do. Its creation had been preceded by the establishment of the very first bodyguard training program by the Martial Arts Academy in Aspen, Colorado. The ESI, being one of the USA’s private schools, offers its students over 2000 hours of education with regard to protection, investigation, data gathering, company and individual security, etc. The training unit of the organization is situated high up in the mountains and is run by skilled professionals. Fun fact – film writer, Tracy Keenan Wynn, cooperates with the ESI. His preeminent task has been to create scenarios of situational exercises. While writing them, the said individual takes advantage of real life situations and attacks, such as assaults on Aldo Moro, John Paul the Second, kidnapping of Hans Martin Schleyer by the RAF (Red Army Faction), and scenarios alike. The ESI collaborates with corporations operating in the close protection branch of industry, as well as with the police and military. The organized training sessions are top secret. No journalists are allowed to enter the Aspen unit. Due to the fact that the ESI is a private school, it may provide professional training to civil, police-related, and military institutions all over the world. The citizens of Israel have never had the chance to feel safe in their country. The issue of safety has been always treated seriously there. Aside from a constant Israel-Arab world conflict threat, the Israelis have been the subjects of terrorist attracts, both within the borders of their country and outside it. Jews and Americans are most frequent victims of operations organized by highly skilled terrorist groups. Taking into account the impact the Russian mafia has on Israel, the amount of care put on widely understood safety is fully justified. The Israeli Special Forces protect their citizens by means of intelligence and security-oriented undertakings. They host training sessions in various organizations preparing bodyguards, providing the adepts with the experience gained during the service. Most famous units of the said kind in Israel are undoubtedly the ISA - International Security Academy and the ISS - International Security School. ISA is an international organization established and managed by former leaders, police instructors, and special service members. The very first unit of the ISA was formed in Latvia as a training and advising agency for both governmental and private security guards belonging to the Baltic States and the countries of the former USSR. The fact that the ISA is not exclusively Israeli in character is proved by the figure of the organization chairman, major Urlich Wegener – the creator and very first leader of German Border Control Service called GSG 9. The team of instructors and coaches also has international roots. The credo of the organization is that the preparation of the individuals for the proper protection of others is the key. Such people have to be offered highest quality training, extensive knowledge, and practical background. The ISS training programs are based predominantly on the experiences gained in Israel and in other countries, as well as while training people for the purpose of protecting VIPs over the world. Individuals, governmental authorities, and large-size corporations have been taking advantage of the services provided by the ISA/ISS. At the moment, civil bodyguards are also involved in close protection. The safety of the individuals hiring them, as well as their possessions depends highly on the qualifications of the former. Quite frequently, those are former policemen, soldiers, or special force members. However, a number of inexperienced adepts would like to start their adventure with personal protection as well. Are they bound to fail in their attempts? It is not always so. The most crucial component affecting the effectiveness of the training is one’s psychological preparation. It is a commonly known fact that it is exceptional in former police officers and troops. However, it is a common belief that one can be trained how to perform the job of a bodyguard, just as it is possible to teach a person how to shoot or be properly engaged in melee combat. It all depends on one’s motivation and willingness to achieve success in the industry. Regulations to date limit the training process of a security guard to the moment of being awarded with a license. In order to perform his tasks properly, such a person has to constantly improve his skills and qualifications. Phenomena connected with the need of utilization of close protection techniques – Terrorism/Terrorist. It goes without saying that terrorism is one of the biggest threats of today’s world. While analyzing the severity of attacks and their scale, one should not doubt that VIPs should be at all possible occasions protected against the aforementioned forms of assault. In order to assess the threat a given problem pose, its specificity must be identified at first. The notion of „terrorism” was for the first time in history used during the Conference of the International Criminal Law Association in Brussels, in 1930. To date, there have been approximately 200 various definitions of the phenomenon in question. While trying to grasp its characteristic features, one will face a number of limitations and difficulties. One of statements of historian Walter Laqueur has to be touched upon here. While asked why he has been avoiding formulating an unequivocal definition of terrorism, he replied: „For 50 or so years, people are constantly trying to understand the idea behind terrorism. It is a phenomenon having different forms, depending on its place of origin and epoch. How can one find common ground between Russian revolutionists from the end of the 19th century and Al-Qaida anarchists? Terrorism is mainly based on the utilization of force or threat in order to achieve political or ideological goals. It is hard to say something beyond that. Terrorism is like pornography – it escapes logical classification, but if one sees it – then it becomes apparent.” It is hard to argue with the statement, as it perfectly shows the complexity of the phenomenon in question. For the purpose of this publication, a strict definition of terrorism is not needed. All that is required is the utterance formulated by Walter Laqueur stating that terrorism can be most fully perceived through its manifestations. Terrorist acts are undoubtedly illegal, as they are based on kidnapping people and forcedly taking control over means of communication, economic sabotage, attacks, robberies, demanding ransom to finance organization’s own activity, posing threat to life, health, and freedom of authorities, and kidnapping people from outside the area in order to gain publicity (especially journalists, priests, voluntary workers). One may also indicate the usage of explosives and firearms in public areas and poisoning certain spots by means of radioactive materials and chemicals. Longin Tadeusz Szmidt additionally pointed out that terrorism has always been strictly connected with crafty and hard to identify methods of killing the leaders of nations. While describing the phenomenon of terrorism as a threat for the protected person, one should also point out and indicate its sources. The following are enumerated: - social and economic sources that are directly connected to economic crises, social tensions, social and national discrimination, as well as with the perception of dissonance between the factual reality and the one presented by the media; - historical and political sources. They have their beginning in severe social reactions, demanding full democratization and respecting human rights; - sociological sources that may be related to the atmosphere typical for a given country or the so-called spirit of violence; - psychological sources stating that a significant part of terrorists is highly mentally unstable which is additionally combined with the overly high self-esteem. When it comes to the area of attack, the following are proposed by the experts: - land terrorism (the major threat area for VIPs and the key one for security guards), - air terrorism (personal protection is then entrusted to the authorities managing planes, airports, etc.), and – maritime terrorism (tasks and responsibilities are then similar to air attacks). While taking into account the type of terroristic activities, one may distinguish: bombing-based, nuclear, biological, chemical, technical, cybernetic (attacks on IT networks), and narcotic-oriented (narcotic cartels undertakings) terrorism. The highest threat for VIPs is undoubtedly the first type, namely – bombing-based one. Close protection-oriented undertakings should therefore incorporate the knowledge on paradigms effective during a bomb attack. They will be discussed in further sections of this publication. It is exceptionally difficult to argue with the thesis that we must be protected against terrorism. The same applies to VIPs. The importance of the latter is also worth discussing, as the threat is much higher when a top authority is attacked than when the assault poses threat to a pop star or a wealthy businessman. However, it does not limit the necessity to analyze and counteract terroristic attack threat. It may directly impact the safety of the person a given security guard is responsible for. Crime is also one of the issues that may endanger protected VIPs. Up to the beginning of the 80s, Poland had been considered to be one of the safest countries in Europe. Law enforcement bodies had been numerous and properly financed there, and crime forecasting, prevention, and penalizing schemes had met all the European standards. However, at the end of the discussed period, the myth of threat-free Poland started to crumble. The effects of crime fighting scene were becoming gradually more negligible. The said state of affairs was predominantly caused by the decreasing trust in law enforcing organizations, as well as by the rapid increase in crimes committed by the citizens. Another important aspect that must be taken into account were economic and political changes taking place in 1989,the liberalization of economic activity, and the emergence of free market. Some individuals possessed unimaginable riches, whereas others were exceptionally poor. In order to survive till the next day, the latter searched for the answer in crimes, leading to the occurrence of the phenomenon commonly known as organized crime. According to official data from 2001, within the borders of Poland, there were over 400 organized crime groups consociating approximately 45 thousand people. They were generating profits by means of goods smuggling, selling stolen cars, producing and marketing narcotics, counterfeiting national currency, commuting bank frauds, selling firearms, and – what is of exceptional importance from the point of view of VIPs – demanding ransom. Criminals induce fear in the society, especially due to using terror and blackmailing. They do not hesitate to kidnap others or kill them. Such individuals resort to brutal treatment, such as beating, torturing, drowning, etc. All those factors combined directly translate into wealthy representatives of the society feeling threatened. What is more, criminals frequently tend to attack the family of a VIP as well, in order to convince him to perform a given action. Therefore, children, wife, and beloved ones of such an individual must be highly protected. Popularity/Fame –The threat of attack may be in some cases linked to the popularity of a given human being. When a VIP is in isolation, then he may only receive unwanted phone calls or be nagged by photographers. The problem arises when he has to leave his place of permanent residence or workplace, as well as when he is in a publically accessible place. Danger may still be low, but the inquisitiveness of journalist may quickly become overwhelming. Fans or supporters of a given sportsman or artist may cause havoc in order to touch their idol or get hold of any item belonging to him or her. Of course, there is also the risk of serious injuries or even death (let us take John Lennon as an example) – it cannot be neglected. That is why famous and popular individuals should by all means care about their safety. The matter also concerns politicians who are widely recognizable and controversial. In politics, there are no limitations. Opponents may even resort to killing a representative of the other side to impose his or her right on others. Elected politicians tend to have close protection, but care should be additionally exercised to care about those running in elections. Such VIPs may be ridiculed by the crowd or the opposition (by throwing eggs or pouring water over the candidate), leading to the end of their political career. The role of security guards should in the aforementioned cases not be limited to physical protection only. They must also keep information about VIP’s family, realized projects, and operation profile confidential. The image of a famous person highly depends on the bodyguards being in his immediate surroundings. The manner of their operation, professionalism, and knowledge are top priorities there. Attack on person – By definition, attack on person is the attempt to kill someone, steal his or her possessions, as well as to kidnap him or her. The criminal action in question has a long history, as assaults have been made throughout the consecutive ages. Their goal has been to achieve a political, economic, or cultural aim. Attacks on person may lead to tremendous changes in the society, which is perfectly depicted by the killing of John Kennedy and Icchak Rabin. In the majority of cases, however, such an attack does not have significantly far-reaching consequences. In order to be effective, bodyguards must answer themselves the following questions – why do criminals attack? How do they attack? How may the assault look like? Therefore, it is highly advised to specify the motif, methods utilized, and consecutive stages of one and every attack on person. Taking into account motifs, one must bear in mind that all the assaults have their agenda. No attack is made voluntarily, without forethought. In the following sections, most common causes of the aforementioned activity are going to be enumerated: Revolutionary or political ones – organized groups (frequently consisting of fanatics) attack others in order to force the society to change the existing system or overthrow the current government (in the attempt to choose a new one). Their victims are often the authorities ruling the country. The attackers, who follow their revolutionary or political agenda, try to win the sympathy of other representatives of the society. Long before the planned attack itself, they distribute leaflets blaming current rulers for the widespread injustice. According to their belief, the elimination of the elites in power would bring positive outcomes for the whole country. Such an action was performed in Armenia in 1999, where members of the government were shot dead during one of their meetings. The terrorists informed that their death would improve the national situation. Economic – terrorists claim that their potential victim is responsible for the poor economic condition of the country, company, or a group of people. In the majority of cases, economic attacks take place in countries where there are extreme disproportions between the wealthy and the poor. It must be taken into consideration, however that it is not always the case, as the assessment of the attackers tend to be highly subjective. Quite frequently, the cause of the assault is the personal conviction that the unsatisfying economic condition of the terrorist is the result of actions performed by the victim. It pushes the attacker into thinking that killing him would aid the situation. Personal – In this case, the wrongdoers are motivated to make an attack due to jealousy, vengeance or other personal causes. Those people in many cases have notable personality disorders, manifesting themselves especially in the inability to control their behavior. The aforementioned state also leads to the failure to distinguish reality from fiction. A perfect exemplification of the motif in question is shooting Zuzanna Leśniak and an artist – Andrzej Zaucha by Yves Goulais in 1991. The trigger there was jealousy. Ideological – The terrorist is convinced that the victim chosen by him has been threatening the values and principles followed by the attacker. The said rules are often of significant importance for both the group he belongs to and for himself personally. Ideological attacks on a person may be religious or social in character. The first case is oriented towards killing a religious person in the attempt to make it impossible for him to achieve his goals. The second scenario relates to the willingness to eliminate the leader of a given social group. Quite frequently, the additional agenda is to make the organization the terrorist is a part of more memorable and popular in the media. Free publicity is an additional benefit then. Psychological – The most commonplace group of attacks. Modern psychology claims that every person using firearms, stabbing others with a knife, or taking advantage of explosives has been struggling with mental problems. The motif is of negligible importance, as the attacker may justify his actions with revolutionary, economic, or personal goals, but the fact is that the driving force is the inability to perceive the world correctly. The assassination of Bill Clinton in 1994 illustrates the above bluntly. Francisco Martin Duran stated that he had attacked Clinton to destroy the mist connecting him to an alien entity. Apparently, Duran wanted to eliminate the mist in order to save the world. Attacks considered as crimes may be triggered by a myriad of factors. Among them,there are: - clashes between the representatives of a crime organization, willingness to demonstrate one’s power or threat the victim (attempt to force the latter to pay ransom or forget about debts), - desire to kill suspects that may endanger one’s business, - attempt to exert pressure on certain individuals or to threaten them for their professional achievements (relates to, inter alia, attorneys and tax collectors). Attack methods to be considered by security guards. Close range attack. It may be performed by means of utilization of: - firearms, - melee weapon (knife, bayonet, dagger), - chemical substance (for example: toxic substance, such as hydrochloric acid). There are no exceptional skills needed to successfully attack a person, as almost everybody can use a knife or a dagger to a satisfactory extent. The same goes with firearms, the utilization of which is as difficult as driving a car. The aforementioned types of weapons can be transported to the place of the assault with ease. The characteristic feature of this attack type is the fact that the wrongdoer is situated maximally several centimeters away from the victim. The difficulty here is directly connected with the inability to improvise the act. It must be preceded by a prolonged observation of the subject, learning his or her customs, daily routine, places he or she visits, and the protection type he or she uses. Only after drawing proper conclusions from the examination, can the terrorist attack the victim. Marek Papała, a police commissioner, was killed due to a close range attack in 1998, Warsaw. Long-range attack – in this case firearms are often used, especially rifles and carbines. It is not an uncommon situation to learn about an attacker who has used a sniper rifle fitted with professional laser and optical aiming devices. The distance between the wrongdoer and the subject of the attack is commonly higher than 5 meters. The former must also be much more skilled than a close range attacker, as he has to be capable of utilizing a professional gun in an effective manner. The death of John Kennedy in Dallas on 22nd November 1963 was the result of the attack form in question. Lee Harvey Oswald, who was a former marine soldier, shot his subject from a storage located several meters away from president’s cavalcade. To perform the act, he used Mannlicher-Carcano, cal. 6.5 mm rifle. The proficiency of the attacker was proven by the fact that he fired three shots and only one of them missed the target. Attack with explosives – it requires notable skills, for the wrongdoers has to build a bomb before performing the attack. He must also know how and where to plant the explosive, how to situate the fuse inside and where to detonate it. Such a person also has to be familiar with the effects of explosion. Assault on Margaret Thatcher on 12th October 1984 showed how patient and clever can an attacker taking advantage of explosives be. Patrick Magee, a member of Irish Republican Army, moved into the hotel where the British prime minister was expected to stay 24 days before the said fact. Every single day, he worked meticulously destroying the wall and placing a 50-kilogram explosive inside the hole. The bomb was then fitted with a timer. It exploded when Miss Thatcher was considered to wash herself in the bathroom – the attacker was perfectly acquainted with her customs. She would have died if she had not received a document to be read. The explosive was detonated five floors above the bathroom located in the apartment of the „Iron Lady”. Six other people died as a result, but the suspect managed to avoid the clever assassination. If you are looking to hire close protection in London do not wait and contact us immiedletly for professional bodyguard services in London.
2020.09.16 16:58 freely_grForeign National trying to grant a travel exemption for family reunification with my spouse who's a temporary resident of Canada (study permit)
Hey guys! I am Greek and my partner-for-6-years is also Greek and temporary resident of Canada with a study permit). We have been unsuccessfully trying to get the written authorization from IRCC so that I can go to Canada and stay there for a couple of months. Right now I am residing in Greece and my intention is to board a flight from here to Canada. Our case falls under the category of "How to unite with an immediate family member who is in Canada temporarily" and our understanding is that we meet all the requirements (found here) to grant the travel exemption. However, the officers refuse our application. You can find below all the documentation we have provided them with and our email application. I would be thankful to anyone who share some thoughts on why they're refusing us or what else we can do to get the treavel exemption. Is there any other proof that you would suggest including? Has anyone heard of any cases like ours? Here's our the detailed purpose of travel of our email:
Me and my spouse have been together since of our email:ve been officially under the same roof from November 2017 until July 2019. In August 2019 we both crossed the Atlantic to continue with our graduate studies and be as close as possible. We reunited in Greece early December (after 3 months) during the Christmas break and I visited her in Montreal one month before the pandemic affected North America. In late March we both returned to Greece where we cohabited for another 5 months and we decided to register our relationship, given that our common-law status is not formally recognized in Greece. Unfortunately, due to some serious health issues of a close family member of mine, we had to postpone our civil marriage and sign a civil union agreement that takes into account our cohabitation status throughout the years and qualifies us as spouses, offering identical rights and responsibilities as marriage. Being currently in Greece and taking into consideration that my Fall semester will be held remotely, whereas my spouse’s presence is requested (she is a Geneticist at McGill University’s Human Genetics Department currently working on COVID-19 research) along with the uncertainty of these unprecedented circumstances that we are all experiencing, we decided that it would be safer for us to stay together and take care of each other. Given that she had faced respiratory problems in the past, it is my desire and responsibility to be with her until December (when we will have more insight regarding the course of the pandemic and maybe I could return to Chicago to complete my studies), so that she can feel safe having an immediate family member on her side for these uncertain months to come. Our intention is to stay together at her apartment, while we both continue to progress towards obtaining our M.Sc. degrees. In order to not risk my spouse’s and her lab colleagues’ well-being, I will have a short-term rental booked for the course of my 14-day quarantine period, while she will be able to provide me with groceries and medication (if needed) without physically contacting me. I will also obtain beforehand my health insurance. Finally, I will be tested 48h prior to my flight and I am willing to be tested again when I arrive to Canada.
Here's a list of documents we attached to our application • An Affidavit from my father affirming that we cohabited in the residence that belongs to him (explaining that due to that we had no lease). • My partner’s admission letter from the University he studies at sent to the same address. • A collective home phone bill issued for the same address on my name (we would prepay the whole year, so we didn’t have monthly bills). Unfortunately, all the other utility bills were issued on my father’s name. • Screenshots from mine and my partner’s PayPal activity for items delivered at this address (the exact date they were processed is visible). • A recent civil union agreement qualifying us as immediate family members in Greece. • A certificate of marital status indicating that we are spouses to the eyes of the Greek law. • Some screenshots from my bank account showing that she paid for me to visit her in Montreal in February 2020 (along with the receipts and my travel record) • An email with air tickets for a trip to Chicago that was supposed to happen late March, booked before the pandemic started. • My eTA issued early January 2020. • Images taken throughout the years. All the documents are translated. I will also have a negative COVID-19 molecular test and a solid quarantine plan. TL;DR I am Greek and I want to reunite with my Greek spouse who's in Canada with a temporary study permit. We're applying to IRCC meeting all the listed criteria and documentation for a travel exmption but it's refused. What else can we do? Thank you in advance!
2020.09.06 19:08 BitruderHTTPS LB in front of Serverless NEG Backend for Cloud Run. Expect: 100-continue header messing up.
This has taken so long to parse out, but I've finally figured out an issue I'm seeing. I have an HTTPS Load Balancer pointing to a Serverless NEG for cloud run. I need to do this for a custom domain in front of Cloud run since I need to run it in Montreal to access my VPC and Montreal doesn't support managed domains for cloud run. OK - so. I've noticed that posts to my server from this one client (hardware I have no control over) have been posting correctly, but the response is always HTTP 100 from Cloud Run and logs show statusDetails: "backend_connection_closed_after_partial_response_sent". This is because the client is posting the Expect: 100-continue header and the connection is closed early. BUT This ONLY happens when going through the load balancer. % curl -d '123' --header 'Expect: 100-continue' https://custom.domain curl: (92) HTTP/2 stream 0 was not closed cleanly: INTERNAL_ERROR (err 2) Now directly to the Cloud Run endpoint: % curl -d '123' --header 'Expect: 100-continue' https://cloud-run-nn.a.run.app/sensor 1 1 is the expected response with a HTTP status of 200. I've also setup a NGINX proxy on a VM and proxy directly to the Cloud Run endpoint and it works perfectly - so this is only broken when using an HTTPS LB. Does anybody have any CLUE what I can do to fix this? Here's a -v output from curl to my custom domain endpoint if that helps: ``` * Connected to custom.domain (..*.61) port 443 (#0) * ALPN, offering h2 * ALPN, offering http/1.1 * TLSv1.3 (OUT), TLS handshake, Client hello (1): * TLSv1.3 (IN), TLS handshake, Server hello (2): * TLSv1.3 (IN), TLS handshake, Encrypted Extensions (8): * TLSv1.3 (IN), TLS handshake, Certificate (11): * TLSv1.3 (IN), TLS handshake, CERT verify (15): * TLSv1.3 (IN), TLS handshake, Finished (20): * TLSv1.3 (OUT), TLS change cipher, Change cipher spec (1): * TLSv1.3 (OUT), TLS handshake, Finished (20): * SSL connection using TLSv1.3 / TLS_AES_256_GCM_SHA384 * ALPN, server accepted to use h2 * Server certificate: * subject: CN=custom.domain * start date: Sep 2 17:39:23 2020 GMT * expire date: Dec 1 17:39:23 2020 GMT * subjectAltName: host "custom.domain" matched cert's "custom.domain" * issuer: C=US; O=Google Trust Services; CN=GTS CA 1D2 * SSL certificate verify ok. * Using HTTP2, server supports multi-use * Connection state changed (HTTP/2 confirmed) * Copying HTTP/2 data in stream buffer to connection buffer after upgrade: len=0 * Using Stream ID: 1 (easy handle 0x55e7cf0aaf10)
2020.09.03 23:41 EpicVioletArrowsPlease compel Gina Huppee to keep her word
From: Gina Gurney [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) Date: Mon, Jun 29, 2020 at 7:10 PM Subject: Re: A small plan for help To: Mark Lavorato [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) Hi again I’ve just sent you money [$400]. The MTCN is:6738985543 Please consider coming home. We can not sustain funding your life. Focus your efforts on getting back to Canada or finding sustainable way of life in Argentina. We love you. Gina _____ From: Gina Gurney [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) Date: Sat, Aug 1, 2020 at 10:55 PM Subject: Checking in To: Mark Lavorato [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) Hi Mark How are you? It’s been quite some time since we heard from you. I’m thinking of you today and every day. I hope you’re as good as can be expected. I’m wondering if you give any thought of coming home to Canada. We would be happy to help you get home. Just say the word and we can start making arrangements. I hope to hear from you soon. I love you. G _____ From: Gina Gurney [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) Date: Mon, Aug 17, 2020 at 4:40 PM Subject: We want to send you money To: Mark Lavorato [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) Hi Mark We are worried about you. Mom and dad have always hoped you would make your way back to Canada. You are a citizen and would receive health and social services. We still are strongly encouraging you to please consider coming home. Not lethbridge, anywhere in Canada. Please let us help you get to Canada. While you are thinking about making your way here, we would like to send you some money. Can you please confirm that you are still in Argentina and that you can receive a western union transfer now. I’ll look forward to hearing back from you. Love G _____ From: Mark Lavorato [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) Date: 3 September 2020 Subject: Please compel Gina Huppee to keep her word To: Joe Lavorato [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), Auntie Barb [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), Curt & Tammy Saunders [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])Chiara Gurney [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), Peter Lavorato [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), Gina Gurney [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), Mark Lavorato [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), Mark Lavorato [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]), Corrigan Gurney [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]) A note to my extended family: Please ensure that the email below is forwarded to: Joe & Lorna Lavorato; Gina & Raymond Huppee; Corrigan & Chiara Gurney; Peter & Laurie Lavorato; Michael & Lucas Lavorato; Doug & Barbara Saunders; Curtis & Tammy Saunders; Jill & Greg Walkie; Lou & Judy Lavorato; David & Joey Lavorato; Piero & Leila Lavorato; and Aaron & Logan Lavorato; In case I should die before any of you help me, I will publish this letter, along with other correspondences that you have received from me, online, to be seen by the world, at: bit.ly/JournalistsIHaveContactedWithThisClaim. This particular letter has been published, in that document, at: bit.ly/PleaseCompelGinaHuppeeToKeepHerWord. It has also been shared across the following seven social-media platforms; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, and LiveJournal, at: https://twitter.com/EpicVioletArrow https://www.facebook.com/mark.lavorato.71 https://www.instagram.com/callingeverymanandwoman https://ar.pinterest.com/callingeverymanandwoman/seals-of-the-apocalypse https://www.reddit.com/useEpicVioletArrows https://epicvioletarrows.tumblr.com https://ext-5507160.livejournal.com To my extended family, So, my sister has written me, again, offering to pay for a flight back to Canada, where I can access, “social services.” Which, I think we can all agree, is a thinly veiled code for, “where she can assume absolute power over me, instantly betray me — dial three numbers to have me committed — and then leave me there for dead, like a rabid animal in a cage; again.” I think, the truth is, this offer of hers is just an empty promise, meant to serve, exclusively, herself, by covering her own tracks. However, let us give her the benefit of the doubt here, and assume that her proposal is being offered in good faith. I think then, the first thing that we should admit is, that it’s a little untethered from reality. You, for example, may have noticed that our planet has been devastated by a global pandemic, or, put a more classical way, pestilence; as well as war, famine, and death. Which means that most of our borders are more or less closed, and, except for essential services, the airline industry has all but ground to a halt. In fact, there has only been a single flight that flew out of the city that I’m living in — Río Gallegos, Argentina — since June (bit.ly/AllDeparturesFromRioGallegosInternationalAirport). So, to be clear, this ticket that my sister is generously offering me, again, presuming she’s acting in good faith, would be exceedingly expensive. The cheapest price for a ticket, at the best of times, between Canada (at the northern tip of our planet), to Patagonia (at the southern tip of our planet), was, when I flew here, $2,500. So, how much do you think Gina would have to pay for a seat on that one single plane that happens to be leaving this city, at some point over the next six months? $8,000? $10,000? Maybe more? Again, how incredibly generous it seems my sister’s offer is then. She appears to be ready to go to expansive limits in order to ensure my safety and well-being. How blessed I must be, to have a sister as thoughtful and generous as she. And, I’ll be honest, I could certainly use a sister like that right now. Because, here’s the reality that I’m currently living in: I have had to trade lethally dangerous labour for a cold shed and increasingly shrinking rations. I have had to barter my electronics and outdoor clothing to pay for sustenance and lodging. I have been left so destitute, that I haven’t been able to afford more than a single meal a day, every day, this entire year. And, because it’s late winter in the Southern Hemisphere (remember, I’m only 100 kilometers from the the Chilean and Argentinian Antarctic), the entire system of water pipes in my neighborhood has frozen solid several times over the last couple of months, which has meant that, for weeks, I have had to cook, clean, and bathe, out of broken plastic containers of water. Though, I’m suffering from a different problem on that front at the moment, in that, there’s a sewage blockage in my sector, and, as we speak, there is seepage slowly streaming through my junk-filled courtyard. The gas has also gone out, twice, leaving me with no heat or hot water, and I can’t afford candles to keep me from slipping into hypothermia, should I be forced to survive such an emergency again. The tiny floor, walls, and ceiling of my apartment, are crawling with cockroaches, at all hours of the day, and over my skin at night. I have to brush my teeth by pinching the broken off head of a toothbrush. I can’t afford hand soap, or toilet paper, or my expensive arthritis or migraine medication. I can’t afford to replace the rags that are barely clinging to my frame, whose holes I have had to stitch together, again and again, just to keep them from coming apart. I haven’t been able to afford fresh vegetables, or eggs, or meat, for weeks. In fact, I have been surviving on rice and the fat that butchers throw away to the dogs. All while I work tirelessly, perfecting the message that I have been given, preparing for the moment that my manifesto (bit.ly/English-CallingEveryManAndWoman) will finally go viral. For those of you who have read it, you can likely already sense that we will be needing its simple and elegant system of organizing ourselves, outside the confines of our increasingly corrupt and overwhelmed governments, very shortly. The dramatic chaos outside our windows is unraveling with alarming speed. There have already been many, many governments around the world that have dissolved, that have buckled, trying to ward off the rage of their overburdened, setting fire to their own poisoned streets. While our neighbors to the south are much, much closer to the terrifying trigger of collapse, than any of us would like to admit. Mark my words, we will need an elegant plan to keep local, regional, and national peace, enacted very soon, just to survive. In fact, we already need it. Which is why I continue my work, every day, all day long, preparing that inspired plan; adjusting it, expanding it, and translating it. And, let’s be clear about the journey of constant betrayal that I’ve been forced to walk, every step of the way, while fighting to save your children for you. I have been imprisoned and left for dead. I have been threatened at knifepoint. I have been robbed. I have been mugged. I have been beaten. And I have begged you, my extended family, over and over again, for your mercy. And, except for my Ma and Papá — Joe Lavorato and Lorna Lavorato of Lethbridge, the only heroes in this story so far — not a single one of you has offered me any mercy, whatsoever. (For those of you in the public, reading this on social media, who want to get caught up on what my extended family knew, when they knew it, and what they very consciously chose not to do about it, read the document, in its entirety, at this link: bit.ly/JournalistsIHaveContactedWithThisClaim.) Anyway, all of this is to say that, this apparently newfound generosity that has sparked in my sister, will be a welcome change on my journey indeed, should it actually prove to be true. Now, to be fair, Gina Huppee of Monarch, has offered me some resources along the way. What she hasn’t done, however, is come anywhere close to keeping her word to me. But, let us go through the documentary evidence of that word, as well as her subsequent betrayals, together, shall we? That way, every one of you can judge, for yourselves, how innocent and virtuous Gina Huppee of Monarch, actually is. Let’s start with her word. She visited me in Montreal, at the beginning of April in 2019, where she confessed, on tape, to fantasizing about my death. Hours later, she had me committed, then promptly left town, at which point, she indeed, left me for dead, in a literal hellhole, where I was tortured, physically and psychologically, for three weeks straight. I only managed to escape by hiring my own lawyer, and securing my release, at which point I fled into the countryside, away from my immediate family, who had proven to be my greatest danger of all. Unfortunately, the tape of that initial April conversation, where my sister talks, at length, about her wishing for my death, is now on a backup in Montreal, but I’ve uploaded the next best thing to it. Here is the entire conversation in which my sister: Acknowledges the damages that she has inflicted upon me; apologizes for those damages; and offers a verbal contract of restitution, in the hopes of making amends by means of an admittedly modest compensation (bit.ly/1289-AVerbalContractOfRestitutionFromGinaHuppee). Now, I’d like you to listen very carefully to where the recording begins. I would like you to listen to how she responds, when confronted with the fact that she admitted to fantasizing about my death, just before she had me committed, and, then, well, left me for dead. Do you notice anything suspicious about it? Do you notice how, the thing that she is most offended by, isn’t the notion that a sister might fantasize about killing her brother, but that that fantasy, the explicit yearning for her own brother’s death, was recorded. That, and that alone, to Gina Huppee, is the great crime that one of us should be ashamed of. It’s rather fascinating to hear, in context, wouldn’t you say? Now, here is the exact point where a verbal contract of restitution, of $5,000, is offered: bit.ly/1289-AVerbalContractFor5000DollarsRestitutionFromGinaHuppee. So, how much is $5,000 to Gina Huppee of Monarch, you may ask? Well, let’s put it this way. $5,000 is only 1% of what she received, on a single day, in insurance policy payouts and wages, after her first husband passed away. So, I can assure you this, $5,000 is a pathetic pittance, both in cost to her net worth, as well as in comparison to what I suffered, by her hand. It’s also what she agreed to pay me, giving me her word, in a crystal clear recorded verbal contract. That was in July 2019; well over a year ago. And I have been begging her to keep her word, ever since. Here, for example, I talk to her about the legality of her recorded verbal contract, telling her that, were I to hire a lawyer, I would likely be able to get much, much more than $5,000 in damages, to which my sister responds, “Then, go ahead, Mark. Sue me.” bit.ly/1300-AppealToGinaHuppeeOfMonarch1. It’s really quite something, that virtuous, generous sister of mine. Though, as I said, to be fair, Gina has given me some money over the last thirteen months. And, again, to be fair, I think that, the money that she has given me, should be subtracted from the restitution that she agreed to provide me with. Here are the details of what she has given me so far: Amount of agreed upon retribution already paid: 19 September 2019, at 19:51, Interac transfer of $300(CAD) 21 October 2019, at 21:13, Interac transfer of $100(CAD) 1 November 2019, at 11:35, Interac transfer of $400(CAD) 33% of my $400 monthly stipend Jan—June 2020$800(CAD) $1,600(CAD) Therefore: Agreed upon retribution= $5,000(CAD) Amount of retribution paid= -$1,600(CAD) Amount of retribution still owed= $3,400(CAD) Now, the one thing that has been made indisputably evident in this story so far, is that not a single one of you, my extended family, is capable of mercy. So, I won’t bother begging you for it again. Instead, what I’m going to ask you for this time, is your sound advice. I am asking you, my extended family — as well as any of you in the public, who are reading this on social media — to advise my sister on her legal requirement to honor her own recorded verbal contract. Please, contact her with this sound advice. Post it onto her social media pages. Message her with it. Email her with it. Call her with it. Call her place of work. Call her husband. Call her children. Call any potentially interested lawyers, willing to work with me from a distance, and give them the evidence of this case. Call the authorities, on my behalf, and urge them to file charges against her, for breach of contract endangering human life (Criminal Code [R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46] 422  [a]; an indictable offense liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years). Call her. Message her. Write her. Text her. Every one of you. Please. And advise Gina Huppee, to, quite simply, keep her own word. On my end, I promise that, if she does keep her word — the very moment that I receive $3,400 from her — that everything between us will be instantly resolved, for the rest of time. No bad blood. All is forgiven. This will all just be water under the bridge. After all, that is exactly what providing a sum of restitution is all about. It is about moving on, constructively, from a mistake that was regrettably made. It also happens to be exactly what I, myself, agreed to, in that recorded verbal contract that you heard. And I, for one, pride myself on being a man of my word. In fact, I believe that a person’s word is everything. I believe that, if your word is proven to be valueless, then so is your soul. And, to my Ma and Papá: I wanted to thank you for this newest offer of resources. Though, I would really prefer any money at all to come from Gina right now. You have been incredibly generous to me over the last several years. And you have been merciful, stepping up, for example, to care for my cat, Fritz, for the time being. I want you to know that, the moment that someone offers me sanctuary (and a simple cot and a can of tuna will do), I plan to send for my sweet boy. For now though, just know that I miss him, that I haven’t forgotten about him, and that I will circle back to get him, as soon as I can. I also want you to know that, as I was writing this letter, I was gradually crippled with the most severe migraine that I’ve had in months. Luckily, I found some painkillers in the shed next door, so I took those, one after another as the hours passed, but nothing came even close to alleviating the pain. So, finally, I caved, and took my very last one-quarter of a pill of that expensive migraine medication (Eletriptan), the final dose of which I keep in a special metal vial, as a kind of alarm system for myself, indicating that my emergency medication is about to run out. That metal vial is now completely empty. Meaning, if I get a migraine today, or tomorrow, or the next day, I have no idea where that pain will transport me, and I have no way, whatsoever, to stop it. So, I beg you, Ma and Papá, please, compel Gina to send resources through Western Union to Argentina, as soon as you possibly can. All I need is a ten-digit MTCN code, and the money is here. Again, I thank you for your generosity. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Ma and Papá. Love, MtM
2020.08.30 16:01 M_MathurAhriman proudly presents: The Banana Split
“And if you forget? Or somehow convince yourself this wasn’t real? I’ll find you right in that moment, Danny Boy. I’ll find you. And I’ll kill you.” This is without a doubt the most difficult thing I have ever written in my life. My therapist suggested that sharing my story about the night of the crash – even via online communities – might help someone struggling with an experience like the one I will describe. My hands are frozen… it’s as if my fingers would rather spare you from knowing what happened. This feels like a horrible idea. But… Does He know? He must know. He must. I’m terrified by the memory and I suppose that’s all that matters to Him. That’s what He said. Anyway, this suggestion was from my clinician, and for that reason, I’ll give it a try. I know how much Dr. Ritter cares about what happened to me. She’s been remarkably compassionate. So, here goes: this all happened last year. The night of October 24th. By way of background, my name is Daniel. I’m seventeen and I’ve lived in Malone, New York my whole life. Malone is a village far upstate. Near the Canadian border. No reason you would know about Malone unless – like me – you were raised here. The closest cities that come to mind are Montreal and Burlington. The lame and oft-repeated refrain growing up was, “because we’re alone in Malone.” Since childhood, Halloween has always been my favorite time of year. An occasion I’ve looked forward to even as I grew older. October is a special month generally. Especially in the northeast. There’s something about the spiced scent in the air that gives me goosebumps. As the nip of the season sets in, the drying leaves mingle with wood-burning fires and the first sip of winter’s chill. Throw in pumpkin carvings? CVS Halloween makeup? Cinnamon vanilla lattes? Suffice to say, I’m not alone in my enjoyment of this cherished occasion. My best friend and girlfriend (Kyle and Darcy) were both on my wavelength. We’ve been getting dressed up and trick–or–treating since preschool. And so last year, being jaded seniors in the 12th grade, we decided to try something different. We’d been hearing about a new haunted house and hayride that lay about halfway to Massena. Maybe 30 minutes away. Run by some locals who apparently had connections to the movie industry. I’m talking Hollywood. The feedback from my more discerning buddies was positive, and so we took advantage of their weekday and student discount pricing and purchased tickets. I remember that night vividly. A colder-than-normal Thursday. The hayride was decent enough, at least for our area. We finished everything at around 11pm and bookended the adventure by scarfing down some hot chocolate and apple cider donuts. Kyle had an early appointment to meet his chemistry teacher for office hours, and so we piled into Darcy’s SUV and started on our way home. Dr. Ritter needs to realize… this is pointless. I cannot justify typing these words because you cannot, you will not understand what I am about to describe. And it’s not your fault. How could you possibly believe me? How could you understand? I’m supposed to tell you what I saw in as much detail as I can… But why? Perhaps you too will notify me that I’m suffering from “traumatic delusions”? Just get it over with… He already knows. Like I said: it was a Thursday. It was a Thursday and it was dark as hell. I suppose nighttime is typically dark, but there are barely any lights on the roads that connect Massena and Malone. No lights and scant traffic once the hour hand itches midnight. Especially after you get off Route 37. As usual, Darcy was driving faster than I cared for. Ever the rebel, Darcy began abusing her beat-up-as-shit 2014 Subaru Forester. Apparently trying to set a land speed record. We used to joke that Darcy had something fucked with her adrenal glands: the girl was routinely testing her limits. I was in the passenger seat playing DJ, and Kyle was sitting behind me, trying to finish a chemistry assignment on his phone. None of us had taken drugs or alcohol. At this point, we’re about 15 minutes from home and find ourselves on a particularly dark stretch of road. I know this spot well because the cellular service is non-existent. You’re guaranteed to drop a call. We had some so-so jam band going on the speakers when Darcy decides that she wants to play a game. And so she asks me to lower the volume: “That wasn’t scary. The hayride? I think we need to go ask for our money back.” “Oh?” Kyle retorted. “You seemed pretty freaked out by those nurses.” I concurred that Darcy had seemed unnerved. “Trust me. Your lady was tweaked. Think she peed herself?” “That’s bullshit,” Darcy stiffened. “Only yipped because those jerks touched my leg. They’re not allowed to touch you.” As you can imagine, we teased her. “Fuck off… If you two morons wanna feel scared? Just gimme the word.” I asked what she meant. “Well, Danny Boy,” this was my pet name, bestowed by Darcy. Never my favorite. Darcy was forever amused by it. “I can’t say. You and Kyle have to tell me you’re in. Without knowing for sure. And then… I’ll show you both a good time.” “Nice phrasing,” I couldn’t help myself. Behind me, Kyle faked a yawn. “I’m already bored.” “What’s that, Danny Boy?” Darcy became heated. “You’re what?” While Darcy acted tough, she had thin skin. Like a baby deer. “You’re bored?” At that moment: Darcy smashes the gas pedal. The car starts flying along this snaking lane… I’m talking fast. Both Kyle and I are yelling that she needs to slow the fuck down. “Thought you wanted to feel scared?” Darcy’s hooting at us. “Watch this!” Without warning – while the Subaru’s hurtling at maybe 70 miles per hour on this deserted stretch – Darcy reached down and killed the headlights. I cannot explain how utterly disoriented this made me feel. To have been looking ahead at a narrow, zigzagging road? And suddenly? Nothingness filling the windshield? Kyle and I were shrieking like maniacs at Darcy to turn the lights back on. I’ve spent countless hours since that night trying to determine exactly how long the lights were out. For some reason, this feels important. My adrenaline had spiked. Best guess is: we were in pitch black darkness for about three or four seconds before Darcy switched the headlights on. That’s when we saw the naked body. Lying lengthwise in the middle of the road. Just a few yards ahead. The accident itself? Total blank. Like a hole in my memory. Both the investigators and lawyers said – based on the mechanics of the crash – Darcy swerved the Forester. I have zero recollection of the car veering, hitting the guardrail, flipping, etc. The next thing I remember is the sensation of being upside down. Gravity pooling the blood in my brain. All I could see was my own heartbeat. The first few seconds after the crash were fractured. I’ve pieced together shreds of memory that draw from muddled senses. Discomfiting warmth seeping down my forehead and face… The pungent smell of gasoline. Wet fumes stinging my nostrils. Strained humming from the engine. And everywhere: a faint white mist coiling around us… Like cigarette smoke or midnight fog. There was something else from these primordial, post-crash memories. At this point, I’d become lucid and aware that we’d been in an accident. I recall that – out of the corner of my eye – I noticed the flash of emergency lights. There’s no way to mistake the red, white and blue blinking of a police car or ambulance. And I remember feeling extraordinarily grateful: we’d been found. As my vision returned, it struck me how violent the crash had been. How dangerous and life-threatening our situation was. I was completely tangled in my seatbelt and shoved the deflating airbag away from my face. I began to panic. The SUV was fully upturned and the chassis was mangled. Each way I looked, I saw only warped metal, blood splatters and shards of splintered glass. What follows is the truth of what happened that night. After the crash. It is entirely fact: I did not dream or hallucinate. I swear on my life. No one – including my own family – believed me when I told them what happened. I realized with an empty despair in the days that followed that I would be alone in this anguish of “knowing”… It feels more isolating than I could possibly hope to describe… Kyle and Darcy were still alive. Kyle was roughed up in the back. Badly injured from the impact. Honestly? I think Kyle would’ve died regardless. The way my body was turned – caught in the seatbelt and remnants of the dash – I was stuck angled forward and couldn’t see Kyle behind me. I knew he was in pain because of the noise. Heels stamping the car door as my best friend gurgled in protest. Darcy was upside down next to me. Inverted, she was ensnared by the curling remains of the hood that had jutted against us. Darcy was sobbing hysterically… Apologizing and crying for her parents to save us. From what I could tell? Darcy had taken a crushing blow to her lower body. I wasn’t able to check under the debris. Wouldn’t have wanted to. I remember telling Darcy that help had arrived. “Just calm down, Darcy,” I kept repeating. “We’re going to be fine… Okay?” “Rodger Dodger,” came the honeyed voice. “Ma’am? I’ll need to see your license and registration. No sudden movements, please. Hands where I can see them.” The person let out a slow, undulating whistle. “Kiddos have any idea? How fast you were going?” While I’m convinced my recollection of the encounter is continuous, I readily admit that – once He arrived – there are brief intervals of no memory. Short snippets soaked in black… Maybe once every few minutes. Like a badly maintained reel of film. Absent a handful of frames. I will try and transcribe each word spoken: every impossible detail. And I promise to be honest when my memory fails. “Been hittin’ the bottle, kiddos?” The voice sounded mildly curious. “Smoking pot?” “N – no, sir,” I groaned in pain, bewildered by His question. “I don’t… we can’t move, sir! We’re stuck!” How was Darcy supposed to retrieve her registration? When the dash was crumpled? “Our friend’s hurt. He’s in the back. Please, sir… Please call an ambulance.” “Ambulance?” The man went quiet. “First: you’ll tell me what’s happened here.” “There was... there was a person!” I wheezed. “A body. Lying right on the road.” “You saw a body on the road?” A blurry face materialized on the other side of the windshield. By some miracle, I saw it was a police officer. I recognized the dark telltale uniform and badge. “Are you sure? Are you absolutely positive that’s what you saw?” The man had pale blonde hair combed fastidiously to the side. Tousled with dirt and sweat. Like crops in blight. Below the ugly hair were His eyes. Silvery firmament flecked with russet. Boyish features that masked His true age. “Are you willing to sit for a polygraph? To authenticate the veracity of your claim?” The policeman’s flashlight needled my eyes. “I’m only kidding, Danny Boy. Only kidding.” “Huh?” I felt lightheaded and confused. How did he know that name? “Please, sir…” “Aw, shucks. Don’t you see, Danny Boy? That was me in the road,” the cop spoke gently. A low, breathy voice. Soothing lilts to each word that nibbled my ears. The officer chuckled. “You nutty fuckers almost clipped me, too! Dead to rights. Kiddos came within inches of interfering with official police business.” This was when I started feeling anxious… The body on the road had been motionless. Naked. What was this guy saying? “Anyways. Where there’s no harm, there’s no foul.” He hacked on the road. “Let’s see about this mess we’re in. You can call me, uh…” I gazed in disbelief as the man checked His own name tag. “Gary! That’s right. You can call me Officer Gary.” The man smiled and tipped His black, wide-brimmed hat with an exaggerated flourish. “H – h – help us, sir!” Darcy was able to stutter. “Please… call my… my mom and dad.” “We need an ambulance,” I cried. This was too much. “My friend’s hurt! In the back!” “Your friend?” Officer Gary – what else to call Him? – stalked around the Subaru. Inspecting. We could hear gruff mumblings outside the Forester as His flashlight probed the interior. Pricking my eyes. “Oh, Danny Boy… Sweet Danny Boy.” Smoke was filling the space; it was getting hard to see. I couldn’t tell if He was blinding us intentionally. “We have some serious casualties in this vehicle. Your buddy here? Dude is legitimately motherfucked.” “You need to help him!” Darcy bawled. “Call an ambulance!PLEASE!Get us out of here!” “Jesus. I will, lady. Calm down. We have to follow protocol. From the manual. And not for nothing? I hope you know the Kelly Blue Book value of this vehicle is basically zero.” Based on our shared looks of alarm, Darcy and I realized at the same time that something was seriously wrong with Officer Gary. This had been a major car accident; all three of us required transport to a hospital. Officer Gary’s relaxed manner? The bizarre, coarse language? My heart rate went through the roof. I remember immediately starting to feel claustrophobic, sick and nauseated. “Ah, crap,” Officer Gary let out a warbled sigh. “Could always look at the manual. Kinda feels like cheating, though. Doesn’t it?” He grudgingly strolled to the driver’s side where I could no longer see His face. Only a pair of leather boots as they crunched over windowpane. “You’re probably right, Danny Boy.” Officer Gary stood very still before affecting the strangest accent for His next sentence. Like He was an Irish pirate. “THIS BE one HELLUVA fend-ARR bend-ARR!” Then, back to His syrupy hiss. “Didn’t mean to be silly.” The way He was speaking… Like it was all a joke! A big inconvenience. Officer Gary had no choice but to assist. “I’m gonna call it in. Fire and ambulance. Be right back, kiddos.” “Hurry!” we cried. “There’s smoke!” Officer Gary disappeared in the direction of the emergency lights. Leaving me and Darcy swaying upside down. Dangling helplessly in a mix of disbelief and budding apprehension. I couldn’t see the police vehicle on account of my position and – at this point – I didn’t care. My only objective was to get my friends out of the Forester. I tried in vain to locate my cell phone that had been resting on the dash. “Darcy?” I coughed. Twisting my head as far as I could. “Darcy. Your purse… it’s right there. Can you reach your phone?” Darcy spotted the bag. Her fingers dipped inside. “I have no idea what this cop is doing. Call your parents right now. Tell them what’s happened.” “Okay,” Darcy was a mess. “Oww… my leg!” She started crying; I implored her to act quickly. Darcy nodded and lifted the phone from her purse. The glow from the screen illuminated the pale smoke dancing between us. I asked if she could see Kyle in the back. “Yes, but… his arm… Daniel! His arm is gone!” Darcy was dialing and weeping. “W – what should we do? There’s no s – s – service!” “HANDS!” A command from the dark. “HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM!” Darcy and I froze. “DROP THE FUCKING WEAPON! ON THE GROUND!” Before either of us could reply, I caught a flash of something strike Darcy on her cheek. There was a brutal POP: a frenetic crackling sound filled the air. Darcy squealed and released the phone. She began to writhe in agony. “LEMME SEE YOUR HANDS!” Officer Gary reappeared from beyond the gloom. Legs crouched and arms extended in a tactical combat pose. A black and yellow Taser stun gun was pointed at Darcy’s face. Horrified, I could see the glint of moonlight on the wiring that ran from the barrel to where the electrodes had burrowed in her skin. The fizzing of electricity grew louder… and louder… Darcy was convulsing like a rag doll. “Don’t hurt her!” I recoiled in fright. “It was a phone! It was just her phone!” “Citizen! Do not resist!” Officer Gary ignored my frantic pleas. “You are experiencing neuromuscular incapacitation!” He spoke mechanically as He approached the vehicle. Darcy shook wildly; I was convinced her neck would snap. “Civil disobedience is still disobedience!” The hum of the Taser increased as Officer Gary arrived at the Subaru. “Hold on a sec,” The pop-pop-popping cut to silence. Darcy stopped juddering and hung there. Limp. Unconscious. Officer Gary lowered the Taser and let out a strained wheeze. He sounded relieved. “It was a phone, Danny Boy. It was just her phone.” “WHAT DID YOU DO?” I wailed. “ME?” Officer Gary circled to the driver’s side to check on Darcy. “Well, shit, man… it’s dark as heck out here! Bitch had something in her hand. Had to utilize judicious force,” His tone was indifferent. I watched His arms trace karate chop motions in the air. “Zapped her ass good. Know what we call it? In the legal system? Justifiable. Self. Defense.” “You could have KILLED her!” “Hey, now. Them’s fighting words.” Officer Gary reached through the driver’s side window and plucked the electrode from Darcy’s cheek. He slapped her – much too hard – as if trying to rouse her from sleep. “Darcy? Darcy? Ya in there?” I screamed at Him to stop. He brought a skinny finger to His lips. “Shh… shhhh… Easy frequency, Danny Boy. We don’t need to worry about Darcy. And I’m not going to hurt you. No, no… No WAY would I EVER. You matter more than you can imagine!” As Officer Gary told me this, I experienced a temporary lapse in memory. Slipped into darkness. The paramedics said later that I was without question in-and-out of shock at this point. The surgeons who treated me at Essex General reported significant blood loss. Apparently, I had suffered six shattered ribs, a broken hip, and a split femur in the crash. “Wakey, wakey,” I came to as Officer Gary was caressing my clavicle. He had looped around to the passenger’s side. I noticed Officer Gary carried a peculiar musk: like onions, lavender and turpentine. “You must be overwhelmed.” Officer Gary wore an expression of concern. He spoke reassuringly. “But you’re gonna be okay, Danny Boy. Trust me. It’s in the manual.” I ignored Him and jerked Darcy’s arm, trying to stir her awake. “Mamacita? Out cold, amigo. Don’t worry… She’s not quite dead yet.” Officer Gary leaned into the car. I shrank as He peered around my seat. “This dude, though? Fuckin’ toasted… Whole arm lopped off! Arteries collapsed like a natural tourniquet! Only reason he’s not bled out.” Officer Gary – adorned with a self-important smirk – puffed His chest and nodded. “Mammy always said I’d make a good doctor. Great bedside manner, she said.” Officer Gary had nudged very close to me. How uneven His mottled teeth! How ashen the color of His tongue! “Wait a minute.” He paused. “There’s a whole chapter in the manual. Yes… of course! What to do! When they ain’t gonna make it!” Officer Gary vanished with a whoop of purpose. When He was gone, I reached out and grabbed Darcy’s wrist. Tugging her towards me. Crying like a baby and pleading with Darcy to wake up. I was howling for Kyle to run away. The fear had become difficult to tolerate. I will never forget this sensation: I was convinced that we were about to die. And there was nothing I could do to stop it. “Let’s see,” Office Gary took a knee outside my window. I could hear pages flipping. “Where is it?” He started humming quietly. Reading to Himself. “Yup… yup… knew that already. Not relevant. Mhm… that’s common knowledge. Aha! Here we go!” He went quiet. His eyes narrowed into slits. “Holy hotdog,” Officer Gary seemed upset. “Yikes. That’s no fun. I’m, uh… I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Danny Boy. The manual says here that – by the Universal Law of Merciful Pity and Compassionate Kindness – we’ve gotta, umm… oh, boy. He’s in pain. So we’ve gotta do your friend a solid. Ya dig what I’m saying? We’ve gotta make it easier for the poor gook.” “Huh?” My eyes grew wide as I processed. “STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM HIM!” Officer Gary gazed upon me with those deep-set, glistening orbs. His expression patient. Sympathetic. He told me that it was okay if I didn’t understand why this was happening… That it was perfectly reasonable if I felt lost and scared. That bit was important, He added. Officer Gary assured me that I would appreciate everything in time. Echoing footfalls as He was summoned by the fog… I thrashed wildly. Ignoring the pain of my broken bones. Struggling to escape from my seatbelt and the dash pinning me in place. I heard the sound of a trunk open and slam shut again. Then, in my peripheral vision: an unbroken line of light. A bright green ray. It was a laser beam… Carefully feeling its way through the destroyed side of the car before settling somewhere behind my chair. This wasn’t possible… It wasn’t! Next to me, Darcy stirred awake. I saw her eyelids flutter open. Her pupils dilated as she focused on the scene behind my seat. Darcy could see what I could not. Then, we heard the unmistakably wet sound of a WHIZ and WHUMP; Darcy let out the most bloodcurdling scream I had ever heard. It was absolutely chilling… I nearly fainted from the wretched, discordant cry. “Goddamit!” Officer Gary bounded over, His voice pinched with frustration. “Ah, man… What happened?” He ducked to peek inside the Forester. My jaw dropped when I saw the man was wielding an enormous, camo-colored crossbow. “Aw, jeez. Sorry about that, Kyle!” I could hear distressed babbles from behind my seat. Next to me, Darcy was losing it. “That was meant to be a headshot. I had good tone!” Officer Gary spoke reflectively. Musing aloud. Darcy and I were yelling for Him to leave Kyle alone. “Huh?” He glanced over. A vacant expression. Like He was noticing us for the first time. “Must’ve been the wind. I never miss.” He raised the crossbow and winked. “I see y’all peepin’ this foxy bitch. Says a lot about your taste.” Officer Gary patted the stock. “Reverse-draw design. 17 inch power stroke. Carbon bolt porked this V-C at 450 feet per second!” He sighed and turned to Kyle. “Not good, buddy,” He whistled in a tone of insouciance. “That arrow? Sucker perforated your carotid. You’re gonna bleed out. No matter what I do.” He spoke in a perfunctory manner. Like he was delivering a lecture to a cadet that he’d given hundreds of times. “I’m sorry, Kyle. But you’ll die now. I’m going to pull the bolt out. Very carefully. And then I’m going to sit here and take a little bath.” It’s hard to continue. Even though I couldn’t see what He was doing with Kyle in the back of the Subaru, I could hear the frenzy. While my eyes were squeezed shut, I listened to Darcy’s agonizing cries for her mom and dad. Darcy was pleading with God to save us. I kept telling myself: it’s not real. When I dared to look again, He was but a few inches away. Ugly blonde hair and rancid smile waiting. “Oh, boy… Oh, WOW. That was wild!” Officer Gary beamed in ecstasy. “Are you kiddos ready? For the best part?” His face was soaked in gore. Drenched with streaks of crimson. It was rimming His nostrils… Matting His sideburns… Dripping down His gums. “I’ll save this for later.” Officer Gary flicked His tongue. Lapping the bloody residue on the carbon bolt. “Oh, Danny Boy… Sweet Danny Boy. Do you know the difference between terror and horror?” Darcy and I were helpless. Moaning like pigs in an abattoir. “I asked you a question.” Officer Gary’s voice had become menacing. But injuries and abject fear had taken their toll. Sapping our strength. “Are you ignoring me because of what I did? To that one-armed slope?” Officer Gary looked us up and down. Buggy pupils vibrating with paranoia. “Anyways. There’s a difference. The manual is clear. And we’ll need the balance just right for this to work.” He paused to stretch and touch His toes. “Woof… Knees creaky. What I’m trying to say is: I didn’t want you to see, Danny Boy. What I did to your friend. I wanted you to listen and wonder… This next part, though?” His grin grew wider than physically possible. He turned to Darcy. “I need you to watch this next part carefully.” Darcy’s eyes were fixed on His every breath. “My understanding, dear Darcy? This is all your fault. You’re the one that caused the crash.” Officer Gary shook His head and spoke robotically. “Excess speed. Low visibility. Slick conditions. Just watch… That’s what they’ll say when it’s all said and done.” His brow furrowed. “Now, I’m a father. And I know from raising kiddos that it’s all about the example. Gotta teach lessons they’ll never forget.” Officer Gary excused Himself and crept into the void. Leaving me and Darcy weeping, wilted and shivering in dread. Alone… Abandoned. Kyle’s freshly-drained corpse cooling somewhere beyond my sight. The temperature had dipped below freezing; the condensation of my breath clung desperately to Darcy’s as we struggled to stay conscious. Both of us fast succumbing to the adrenaline. In the distance: a weird commotion. Coughing and clunking. Winding and grunting. Then the whizzing of a cable as Officer Gary came skipping into view. The man was huffing with exertion. Towing a long, metallic wire equipped with a J-hook at the end. I blinked in disbelief. This was the type of winch used to help stuck vehicles out of ditches. Or to remove a stubborn tree from the earth. “Darcy? Ya good to go? It’s time to fly, baby dragon.” Officer Gary smacked His lips as He wound the cable around Darcy’s midsection. “You and me, m’lady? You. And. ME? We’re gonna have some fun tonight… Still awake?” Darcy whimpered pitifully. Weakened hands trying to wipe Him away. “Good girl… good. You’ve been amazing, Darcy. Seriously. That’s no joke. I’m talking superstar.” He secured the J-hook with a loud, deliberate click. “And now, dear Darcy? We’re gonna give Danny Boy a sexy strip show he’ll always remember. You wanted to scare him, right? I promise: this is gonna do the trick. Oh, fuck yes, it will! Let’s give him a sight he’ll never forget!” “No,” I croaked. Barely able to speak. “Let her go.” The blood had gone to my head for too long. I was slipping. “Please?” Officer Gary checked the winch cable. Making certain it was secure. He snorted in satisfaction. “Please d – don’t hurt her. Please, sir… Please…” “Charlie Brown to Linus. HQ? Do you read?” Officer Gary was speaking into a walkie talkie that had appeared from nowhere. “This is Officer Gary. How copy?” There was no reply. Only the crackle of static as biting winds swirled around the wreck. “They’re never there,” He muttered. Disappointed. “But it doesn’t matter… it doesn’t. I know what to do! This part is going to be messy, Danny Boy. How ‘bout some tunes?” Officer Gary fiddled with the dial on His walkie talkie until jumbled music filled the inside of the Subaru. A distorted country song… The lyrics slow and distended. The jingle of a Christmas carol. The words perverted and strange. Then, the gentle sound of wind chimes. “Better,” Officer Gary purred. “And now, Ahriman proudly presents: The Banana Split. Please, watch carefully.” Officer Gary bowed. He faded from sight. Nearby: a car door opened and closed. Keys jangled in the ignition. The blare of an engine. Dazzling floodlights washed over us. In this radiance, I saw the cable go tight. Darcy let out a moan from deep within… Her eyes bulged like a toad. Darcy grabbed my hand as the growling throttle increased. Ruthlessly yanking her frame against the driver’s seat. I was squealing in guttural fear. Begging for Officer Gary to stop. But… He didn’t stop. Rather, Officer Gary revved His machine until the cable strained and shuddered. Squeezing Darcy like a vice. Her sternum began to SNAP like a dry Weetabix. Our terrible shrieks reached a fever-pitch as Darcy’s eyes went lily-white. Blood poured over her mouth; down her chin. Such meaty bursting and tearing! Then, a new sound. The squelching of moist suction. I suddenly understood the meaning… Banana Split. I watched in unthinkable horror as the upper third of Darcy’s figure peeled back and away from the rest. Dragging her innards along for the ride. A ruptured, human-shaped rind. Exposing the juicy produce rotting inside. Guts and bones splashed everywhere. To witness the burst of her body? I felt my mind go blank. Unable to process. A survival mechanism, I think. Darcy was dead. Yes… Darcy was ripped in half and I was hanging next to her jittering stump. The stalk of her spine. Wisps of steam rising off viscera. Looping entrails that ended in giblets. Hot chocolate. Barely-digested apple cider donuts. “It’s done?” Officer Gary slunk back to the Subaru, wiping His brow. “It’s done!” He sounded grateful. I watched Him sit in the pool of gizzards. Waving His arms like a child in snow. Making wings. “And not a moment too soon. We’ve gotta chat about what happens from here, Danny Boy. And then we’ll sing. You won’t have to worry about me for some time.” Officer Gary removed His wide-brimmed hat, laid back in the offal and stared at the sky. “Now that’s a moon too big to be real,” Officer Gary cooed. “A tawny jewel. Across the neck of night.” He exhaled. “Don’t need to explain myself. But I don’t make the rules. And, as far as you’re concerned? There are two. Rule number one? Next year – on this date – you need to come back here. You need to come back to this exact spot. Alone. I’ll be waiting for you, Danny Boy. And I swear… It’ll be worth it,” His voice lost all mirth. “You have NO. FUCKING. IDEA. How long I’ve been waiting here? On this road? I’ve been sitting and waiting…” His eyes became wet. “Also, you have to remember. That’s rule two. You have to remember.” The stink of His whisper. It made me dizzy. “I need you to remember.” A sigh. “And if you forget? Or somehow convince yourself this wasn’t real? I’ll find you right in that moment, Danny Boy. I’ll find you. And I’ll kill you.” His tongue flitted out. “The very instant you forget? I’ll be there… You’ll see! I’ll be there, no matter WHERE you are, and I’LL EAT YOUR FUCKING GUTS. Not in the way you think, either. From the inside out.” He smiled: how the teeth had changed! How they wriggled at me! Was it a trick of the light? “I’m gonna eat you from the inside out. And I’m going to look like Darcy while I do it.” Finally: the part I understand least of all. Officer Gary began to sing, but He didn’t sound like Himself. It was the most beautiful voice… Like a young child. Different languages and dialects… Joyful innocence. A resonant sense of belonging. The melody carried over the wind. My muscles relaxed… I felt no pain. No fear. Only boundless love for Officer Gary. The next thing I remember? I’m strapped to a gurney in the back of an ambulance. Racing to Essex General. IVs sticking out of every appendage; an army of paramedics working to stem the bleeding. My parents and the authorities waiting when I was done with surgery. Of course, there was no trace of any “Officer Gary”. No such person existed. They spoke in hushes of “traumatic delusions.” In the end: they called it an accident. Single vehicle collision. Excess speed, low visibility and slick conditions were judged contributing factors. A tragedy. Nothing more. But, for the record? The coroner who conducted the autopsies in Plattsburgh? Unanswered questions. The puncture in Kyle’s carotid artery? The inexplicable ligature marks that marred Darcy’s stomach and breasts? My life for the past 10 months? A never-ending rotation of hospitals and rehab. Police stations and attorney’s offices. Ceaseless depositions. Anonymous faces melting together. They made me take a polygraph. Of course I passed. I was supposed to start college in the fall of this year. Instead, I’ll be home. Lying awake in bed. Praying for God to keep me away from His awful squirming teeth. If you’ve somehow made it this far – all I can say is – Dr. Ritter was right. I feel relieved to have been able to share my story. And now? You know everything… The truth about that night. I still dream about Kyle and Darcy. Mostly nightmares. I miss them terribly. If anyone has any thoughts about what I’ve experienced… literally, anything to go on… I promise to listen with an open mind. There are less than two months until the anniversary of the crash. I don’t know what to do. A part of me wants to disappear… To run away. And yet… deep down? I believe every vile word. I know exactly where I’ll need to go on October 24th. Where Officer Gary will be waiting for me. That stretch of road. No service. I’m not frightened that He’ll kill me. What I’m scared of is worse. Please… help me!
2020.08.25 18:27 coconutisnotanutUnsure about study permit renewal
Hello! I'm a final year student graduating in December 2020 from a Quebec university. My study permit and CAQ (Quebec study permit) expired on July 31, 2020 and (will expire on) August 31, 2020 respectively. I am extremely confused about renewing my CAQ + federal study permit under these circumstances, especially as I seem to be an edge case (graduating in December 2020 with an expiring permit, currently outside Canada), caught up in an extra layer of bureaucracy (Quebec), and there seems to be no middle ground between anything anyone is saying (my university's International Students' Services, Immigration Quebec, and the IRCC). I'm posting this here in the wildest hopes that someone may be on the same boat or have some godly wisdom that they'd like to confer upon me. Also, I have three main questions, context is below: 1) Are CAQs being issued to students graduating in December 2020 and if they aren't, how understanding is the IRCC? 2) Any chance that I can fly back to Canada with a study permit issued after March 2020 if I can prove that I was issued a study permit in 2016 and 2019, am established in Canada, and have an in-person class for Fall 2020? 3) Is there a chance that I'm actually not eligible for the automatic CAQ renewal, got played by Immigration Quebec, and have to get an actual CAQ before applying for my study permit? I applied to renew my CAQ in Montreal on April 28, 2020 before leaving for home the next day. Three days later, Immigration Quebec declared automatic CAQ renewals for all international students until December 2020. Because my university told me that I would still have to wait for my CAQ to apply for my federal study permit, I didn't give this much thought, but as it turns out, because I am graduating in December 2020, I qualify for the automatic CAQ renewal. - My university is saying that because I have left Canada, I no longer qualify for the CAQ renewal and will have to wait for my new CAQ to be issued to apply for the federal permit. There is nothing on the Immigration Quebec website that says that students abroad do not qualify for the automatic renewal. - Immigration Quebec is saying that I qualify for the automatic CAQ renewal and since all automatic renewals are free of charge, they issued me a full refund (on July 21, 2020) and told me that I can proceed to apply for a federal permit. However, they also said that since all automatic CAQ renewals are 'automatic', I will not be receiving a new CAQ with a December 2020 expiry date. I took Immigration Quebec's advice (after all, they are, the government) and applied for my federal study permit on July 20, submitting a cover letter to explain the situation. On Aug 15, the IRCC asked me to attach proof of enrolment for Fall 2020 (understandable) and "submissions of proof for extension of CAQ". Not knowing what that meant (and thinking that I'd already explained the situation in my original cover letter in July), I sent them proof that I'd applied to renew my CAQ in April and a letter of reimbursement from Immigration Quebec. The next day, they asked me for my actual, renewed CAQ .... like, did you even read my cover letter? Having been told by Immigration Quebec that I will not be receiving a new CAQ for the rest of my undergraduate studies, I had no choice but to write another letter to re-explain my circumstances. However, now that I'm seeing that people are finally starting to receive their CAQs, I'm starting to second guess myself and I'm really panicking. The processing time for my country is 4 weeks so I still have a week left to go, but I have no idea what to expect as I can't contact the IRCC or the Canadian consulate at home. I can't keep paying for study permit renewals not knowing what the fuck is going on, I can't pay another year of rent in Montreal not knowing when I'll be allowed back into the country, and I swear to god if I get denied for a PGWP because I didn't get my study permit at all this term, I'm gonna go ballistic. (I'm already losing my shit, so I guess ballistic is the next level from here). I also can't deal with the 12 hour difference, sleeping on an inflatable mattress in the living room with 0 privacy, my parents' impending divorce, and unrelenting crackdowns on pro-democracy politics back at home. I need to leave. If you're reading this sentence, thanks for getting to the end of this post!
2020.08.25 17:16 AwesomeMathUseTaking on Debt to Support the Recovery: An Update on Canadian Government Finances
Source: TD Derek Burleton, Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist Rishi Sondhi, Economist Dated August 12th, 2020
Through measures such as the CERB and CEWS, the federal government has done yeoman’s work in supporting the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, yielding an unprecedented peacetime deficit and debt near 50% of GDP (up from 31% before the pandemic).
The shouldering of the fiscal burden by the federal government has left provincial finances in relatively better shape. Still, the combined provincial budget deficit is set to reach levels roughly in line with the peak seen during the early 1990s fiscal crisis. These higher deficits will push provincial debt burdens higher. Fortunately, provincial credit ratings are generally sound, which will help keep government borrowing costs at bay.
Municipal finances have taken a major hit during the pandemic, with both higher costs and much lower revenues (especially transit ridership) taking a toll on cities across the country. Fortunately, federal and provincial governments have stepped in with support for municipalities that could total about $10 billion.
Both the federal and provincial governments will probably need to continue spending in order to backstop the recovery, including additional funds for municipalities. However, ultra-low interest rates will keep debt servicing costs manageable.
Over four months after the pandemic caused widespread lockdowns, we are only now getting a sense of the extent of fiscal deterioration in Canada this year. Led by a spike in the federal deficit, the combined federal-provincial shortfall is on track to reach roughly $420 billion, or the equivalent of about 20% of GDP, this year. Meanwhile, the combined debt level1 is poised to surge to an unprecedented $1.9 trillion or 85% of GDP (Chart 1). This latter measure remains shy of the heights recorded during the 1990s fiscal crisis. However, that gap could close as governments likely undertake further transitionary support during the recovery phase in the months ahead.
At the provincial level, governments are generally anticipating sizeable deficits ranging from about 1-7% of GDP this fiscal year, as the pandemic takes a heavy toll on revenues and as support measures for individuals, families and businesses continue to be rolled out. However, these deficits are expected to be a fraction of the federal shortfall, as the federal government has done much of the heavy lifting in terms of fiscal supports.
The pandemic has also cast the spotlight on municipal finances, which have also taken a major hit. Constrained by their inability to run deficits, municipalities across the country expect large operating shortfalls this year. This has led to growing pressure on other levels of government to step in with further bridge support until local revenue bases pick up.
Necessary Stimulus Measures Yield Historic Federal Deficit
On July 8th, the federal government released its “Economic and Fiscal Snapshot” (see commentary). Whisper numbers ahead of the update pegged the federal deficit at around $300 billion. In the event, the shortfall came in some $43 billion higher. At 16% of GDP, this marked the largest deficit as a share of GDP since the second world war (Chart 2).
This near $50 billion overshoot relative to expectations largely reflected increased spending on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which the government expects to play an important role in the recovery moving forward. And for good reason, as international experience shows that wage subsidies can be effective in maintaining worker attachment and reining in unemployment (see report). To-date, about $25 billion in benefits have been accessed through the CEWS. This is a substantial figure, although it is only about 40% of what’s been paid out through the CERB. In mid-July, the federal government officially extended the CEWS until December and added flexibility to the requirements for qualification (see commentary). This should boost the program’s uptake. All told, the federal government expects the CEWS to cost $82 billion this fiscal year (Chart 3), which is an even larger tab than the popular Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Despite the historic measures taken thus far to backstop households and businesses, further pandemic support will likely be required in light of an uneven recovery. Since the Snapshot, the federal government has pledged additional funding to provinces and municipalities and announced its intention to introduce EI changes to help unemployed workers transition away from the expiring CERB program. This could lead to an even higher deficit than currently projected. On the plus side, the government’s economic forecast was quite cautious, calling for a near 7% contraction in real GDP in 2020, compared to our call for a 6% retrenchment. As such, some revenue upside is possible.
Even with the historic deficit and revised federal projection calling for the net-debt-to-GDP to climb from its pre-pandemic level of around 30% to 49% this fiscal year, markets have been taking the news in stride.
For one, the Canadian government still boasts a favourable fiscal position relative to most countries. In the U.S., for instance, the federal deficit could reach well over 20% of GDP this year. European countries are facing a similar predicament.
Perhaps more importantly, a further drop in interest rates this year has kept government debt affordable. In fact, the Canadian federal government is projecting a drop in the cost of servicing its obligations this year, despite an increase of roughly $400 billion in the stock of marketable debt (to $1.2 trillion). This is in stark contrast to the 1990s, when debt costs were rising unsustainably (Chart 4).
Canada continues to record one of the highest debt ratings among major countries. Ahead of the Snapshot, Fitch downgraded Canada’s rating by a notch, to a still-high AA+ (with a stable outlook). More recently, however, S&P opted to leave the AAA rating intact, citing Canada’s ongoing fiscal capacity and their view that the government’s fiscal profile is experiencing only a “temporary deviation” which does not offset its credit strengths. Moody’s continues to reserve its highest rating for the country.
More generally, around the world, fixed income investors have been turning a blind eye to mounting government debtloads. Notwithstanding surging supply of government debt, investor demand is keeping up in lockstep supported by large-scale asset purchases by central banks, including the Bank of Canada.
That said, this current complacency is unlikely to last forever. Indeed, among commentators, there was some disappointment that the Snapshot was quiet around how the government plans to manage the recovery and return its finances to a more sustainable track over the medium term. The federal deficit should pull back as emergency measures are phased out and the economic recovery regains a more solid footing. However, a sizeable structural deficit is likely to remain. This leaves much policy uncertainty that is not helpful to driving growth in investment. This can at least be partly addressed by mapping out a credible medium-term fiscal outlook that balances a need to nurture the recovery while gradually withdrawing its extraordinary supports. The government has been arguing that forecasting is too difficult in this environment, but the landscape may be murky for a while. Without a path to fiscal sustainability, further credit rating downgrades will likely follow. Hopefully, the government will provide more details on its medium-term plans this autumn.
Provinces to See Sizeable, But Lesser Deficits This Year
Since May, nearly all provinces have released either fiscal updates or full budgets incorporating the anticipated impacts of the pandemic on their respective fiscal positions. Alberta and Ontario stand as notable exceptions, with fiscal updates last provided in February and March, respectively. As such, they were based on assumptions quickly rendered obsolete by the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation. Both are slated to provide updates shortly (Ontario this week and Alberta next alongside Saskatchewan). Alberta’s Premier Kenney has gone on record stating that a deficit in the order of $20 billion is likely. In Ontario, the deficit could be some $5-$10 billion higher than the $20.5 billion figure included in the March update.
Using the latest figure cited by Alberta’s Premier and the higher estimate for Ontario’s deficit, we reckon that the combined provincial deficit will climb to about $80 billion this fiscal year. This would amount to about 3.5% of GDP, roughly in line with deficits observed during the peak of the early 1990s fiscal crisis (Chart 5), although several magnitudes below the federal shortfall. This suggests a less onerous path back to balance for the provinces. In fact, Quebec’s government has stated its intention to return to balance within five years.
Oil producing provinces standout (in a bad way), with deficits in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador likely to come in about twice as high as the aggregate this fiscal year. Elsewhere, deficits in other parts of the Atlantic Region are set to come in at around 1% of GDP, as lesser COVID-19 outbreaks have limited the economic damage in these regions. Meanwhile, in the other large provinces, as well as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, deficits are likely to fall in the 3%-4% of GDP range.
A key driver of these deficits has been support measures rolled out to combat the damage imparted by COVID-19. As a share of GDP, Alberta and Saskatchewan have spent the most (when infrastructure plans are considered). On the opposite end, the Atlantic Provinces haven’t had to spend as much, while responses in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and B.C. have ranged from about 2 to 3% of GDP (Chart 6).
As deficits for each province climb, so too will their debt burdens. When aggregated across all provinces, net debt-to-GDP will likely rise to above 35% this fiscal year, the highest share since at least the mid-1980s. Adding in the federal burden, the combined federal-provincial ratio will climb to levels approaching where they were during the early 1990s. However, as noted earlier, a major distinction between then and now is that interest costs are low – backstopped by the Bank of Canada’s provincial bond purchase program. This will keep debt servicing charges down for the provinces and help alleviate the need for painful austerity measures when the focus eventually turns to deficit reduction.
Moreover, it bears mentioning that despite these deficit projections, provincial credit ratings are generally sound (Table 1) despite a recent downgrade in Alberta and a shifting in the outlook from “stable” to “negative” in Newfoundland and Labrador by two major ratings agencies. Notably, the latter has the worst rating of any province, amid subdued growth in recent years and the largest debt-to-GDP burden. On the opposite end, B.C. retains relatively pristine ratings, although two agencies recently changed their outlooks from “stable” to “negative”. Saskatchewan also recently suffered a downgrade, though sports the second highest credit rating among the provinces. Elsewhere, ratings outlooks for Manitoba and PEI were recently revised from “positive” to “stable” by separate agencies.
Moving forward, we envision growth rebounds taking place from coast to coast in 2021, but conditions could still vary. Elevated unemployment alongside a slow recovery in oil prices could further weigh on the fiscal positions of the oil-producing provinces. The larger provinces, with their denser populations, could be at increased infection risk, which would drag on provincial coffers. However, there will likely be pressure on all provincial governments to support their recoveries, meaning that increased spending may still be on the docket. Quebec, for example, has earmarked some $4 billion for additional support and recovery measures, should they be required. In addition, several provinces have announced infrastructure spending plans meant to stimulate economic growth, highlighted by $4 billion in additional spending in Alberta, (Quebec, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have plans as well).
Municipalities are Struggling
City finances have captured the spotlight in recent months, but for all the wrong reasons. Municipal fiscal positions have taken a severe hit from the pandemic. For instance, Toronto is projecting a $1.4 billion shortfall while Montreal is expecting a $500 million budget gap. For their part, Vancouver and Ottawa are both projecting $190 million holes. And, due to legal restrictions on running deficits, municipalities have resorted to cutting jobs as a way to generate cost savings.
These shortfalls are a function of pressures on both costs and revenues. On the expenses side, unexpected costs incurred include higher sanitation costs, the need to shelter the homeless, and to subsidize affordable housing. On the other side of the ledger, revenues in several major cities have been decimated by collapsing transit ridership and lower user fees (Chart 7). In April, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) warned that the impact of the pandemic would leave city governments facing a combined fiscal hole of at least $10-$15 billion.
Federal and provincial governments have since stepped in to provide some support to municipalities. Through the above-noted $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement, the federal government is providing about $4 billion to municipalities to help cover operating costs and transit deficits, with provincial governments required to match those contributions from their own funds. This would imply $8 billion for municipalities this year and is on top of the $2.2 billion in accelerated payments for infrastructure made available through the Gas Tax Fund. Together, these initiatives would put the federal-provincial commitment at the lower end of FCM’s estimated budget gap in April.
While we don’t yet have a full line of sight on how the money will be spent in every province, notable announcements have already been made. For example, $4 billion in funding will be provided to municipalities in Ontario, roughly equally split between the province and the federal government. Elsewhere, cities in Alberta will benefit from $606 million in funding. In B.C., it's currently unclear as to how much money cities will ultimately get, although the province expects to take in $2.2 billion in federal money from the Agreement, and the provincial government has earmarked up to $1 billion towards municipalities and public transit.
No doubt, this money will go a significant way to addressing municipal fiscal gaps. However, it’s likely that additional support will be required in the future, given additional spending pressures and only gradual economic recoveries, particularly in the oil-producing provinces. What’s more, transit ridership is likely to only slowly recover, with little current improvement even in jurisdictions that have aggressively re-opened their economies. However, cities will have to continue operating their transit systems, likely at a loss until a vaccine and/or effective treatment is widely available.
As dense jurisdictions, cities are at heighted risk of a renewed bout of infections, with the recent uptrend in cases in Calgary a glaring example of this. In addition, as case counts tend to be elevated in larger, denser municipalities, there is some risk that businesses that are open in these regions experience less traffic and thus struggle more than in other areas. This could be particularly true for industries that are expected to recover at an “L-shaped” pace (e.g. accommodation and food services; arts entertainment recreation; tourism). Policymakers need to be cognizant of this risk and be ready to deliver support to businesses in these regions.
The federal government has done yeoman’s work in supporting the economy during the pandemic, yielding an unprecedented peacetime deficit and net debt at near 50% of GDP. This shouldering of the burden has left provincial fiscal finances in better shape. However, even here, debt-to-GDP across provinces is likely to climb to its highest level in decades this fiscal year. While these developments could cause some to worry about a repeat of the 90s experience, a key distinction between then and now is that debt service costs are low, underpinned by ultra-low rates. This suggests that these elevated debt burdens will be manageable.
Both the federal and provincial governments will probably need to continue spending in order to backstop the recovery, which will likely unfold at an only gradual pace. This includes more funding for municipalities, whose costs have climbed, and revenues have taken a dramatic hit.
2020.08.22 15:29 jb91263596[RF] See It For What It Is
How do I say this? I guess: I’m not a ‘bad’ person. I’ve done bad things and I’ll do more… but I don’t think I’m trying to do the wrong thing. I just see the world for what it really is, then I do something about it. If you saw yourself running full-tilt at a brick wall, you’d do something about it, wouldn’t you? So if I’m stuck and I see a way to get out, I don’t think I’m bad for doing what it takes to make the situation work. Mr. Stevenson found me in 1991. I don’t even remember where I was working at the time- some junior management job with more stress than money. I was at a pub in a wrinkled suit- I remember that vividly, for whatever reason. You used to be able to smoke in bars back then. I didn’t smoke but I may as well have, for how bad I’d stink when I got home. Mr. Stevenson – Reg? Rick? Rob? Something like that. He scares the shit out of everyone he meets, so when you hear someone else call him ‘Mr. Stevenson’ you take the hint and do it, too. Anyway, Mr. Stevenson was a little drunk. He told me he was having a shitty day, the way you do to other pathetic strangers bellied-up at a dirty neighborhood pub. He didn’t slur his words, but alcohol must’ve been a factor for him to say what he said. Mr. Stevenson was in construction. Maybe 80 people on the books. But he told me about a load of cocaine he arranged from across the border, and how someone screwed him out of it the minute he gave them the cash. I’ve thought about this for a long time: why did he offer me a job? The best answer I can find is that, in that dirty pub, I just looked him in the eye with a flat expression; the kind that says “so what?” I guess it was a pretty big deal and he shouldn’t have told me about it… but the lack of shock on my face must’ve endeared him to me. We both let the subject drop; he might even have been a little rattled, in hindsight, for having mentioned such a heavy topic out loud. Anyway, he steered the conversation to me and how I hated where I worked. He bought a couple shots- the cheapest gold tequila they had- and eventually offered me a job. Said I should quit and show up at his office tomorrow. He handed me $2000 to show he was serious. I took the cash. About a quarter of an inch in wrinkled fifties. He didn’t say what the job was; barely asked what I did for work currently. Maybe he was looking for someone loyal. Versatile. Didn’t need to ask a lot of questions. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the cash wasn’t a lure… it was my first paycheque. I’d taken the job whether I knew it or not and it didn’t give me any reaction at all. I showed up at the office. I had a lot to drink the night before, so I wasn’t a hundred percent on the guy’s name in the morning. The lost look on my face was enough, though, and the receptionist asked “are you here to see Mr. Stevenson?” The look on my face was all the answer she needed to lead me to his office. Mr. Stevenson didn’t smoke but the wallpaper in his office suggested otherwise. It was that vomit-yellow kind of beige, glossy like vinyl, and textured to look like a gauzy woven cotton. The color was more intense near the ceiling where brown smudges - icicles of filth- seemed to ooze out of the floor above. If you didn’t look at it, it wasn’t so bad. The room didn’t smell like anything, really. Drugstore deodorant and Gillette shave foam, like a suburban dad. Mr. Stevenson talked at me for hours that day. Spared no detail. Told me how I was going to get his money back. This is what kills me: he didn’t need to convince me at all. There was a problem to solve, he gave me the tools to solve it, and went on his way. Isn’t that what every job is? Solving a problem for money, since you probably wouldn’t do it for fun? He clapped his hand into mine for a handshake (the sting of the impact lasted for about an hour into my drive) and told me to get going. So again- if you had an obstacle in front of you, and a way to walk around it: wouldn’t you? Mr. Stevenson needed me to go to Florida to talk to the guy who took his money. He had a friend in the US already but didn’t want him to do it alone. Mr. Stevenson had me on his company books as an ‘accountant’ so he couldn’t have me crossing the border under my own name, in case it got tied to him. I thought the bigger risk was calling me ‘an accountant’… that cover would fall apart if someone asked me to count backwards from one hundred by sevens. It’s so easy; I don’t know why more people don’t do it. To get a fake passport, you need all kinds of other documents that can only be got if you’re born. Nobody ever said anything about dying… just born. Mr. Stevenson gave me an extra $500 for gas and motels- he sent me across the Quebec border and told me to get at least two or three hours north of Montreal. I was supposed to look for small towns; the kind that aren't even listed on gas station maps. The trick to being ‘born’ is to go to one of these small towns and walk the graveyards. Look for the grave of a kid who was born around the same time as me (I looked young for my age, so I had some wiggle room) and who died before he was ten or twelve. The ministry that issues birth certificates doesn’t talk to the ministry who issues death certificates (even less so, if you do it all in two different provinces), so once you have the name and date of birth: it’s you. Mr. Stevenson warned me not to cheat by going to a bigger town closer to a city: loads of creeps have already done this there, and the passports get flagged from so much fraud on a single name. It took until dark but I got my name. I didn’t speak a word of French so it didn’t make any sense to do the paperwork in Quebec. I drove home in the dark so I could save as much of the expense money as I could, in case this job didn’t work out. I’m a terrible liar. When some people lie, they can convince themselves that they aren’t lying at all… and it’s easy for them. I see everything. I know I’m lying, while I’m lying. My brain and my body are screaming at me- telling me all the ways I’m doing it wrong. Don’t slump your shoulders. Don’t look up and to the left; keep eye contact. My biggest fault is that I try to back-up the lie by lying more… and that’s my tell. So I’ve learned to shut up. Stop offering extra information. Tell the lie, then let it sit there, between us. It’s a challenge: what are you, going to call me a liar to my face? They never do. I had to visit a couple Service Canada offices and talk to three agents on the phone but I got it all. Birth certificate. Then SIN number. The passport was hardest- Mr. Stevenson had to introduce me to a couple ‘friends’ who could be my references. We talked on the phone to get our stories straight about where and when we met, so it all made sense. Crossing the border should’ve been hard, but it was easy. That same trick- the challenge- works every time. “Name? Business or pleasure? Where are you staying? For how long?” Always the shortest possible answer; look them in the eye and try to bend your eyebrows like a sad puppy. Then let the answer sit there until they ask the next thing. “Go ahead.” Mr. Stevenson never threatened me or warned me… but I got his message loud and clear: if anyone discovered who I was or what I was doing, they’d do all the things to me that they wanted to do to Mr. Stevenson if they ever got hold of him. I wrote the addresses and phone numbers he gave me inside the inner lining of a hardcover book I’d steamed open. I only tore it open again once I’d crossed the state line into Florida. I was supposed to meet Bill. It was ungodly hot and damp; the humidity made my temples throb. Funny- stress had nothing to do with it at all. Bill was waiting for me at a Super 8 Motel that was sandwiched directly between a couple of hundred-foot-tall elevated billboards. One had a picture of a nearly naked stripper laid on a black satin sheet, with a single chrome-metallic cursive-font word above her that said ‘Maven’s’. Was her name Maven? Was she ‘a maven’, a connoisseur of something? I don’t think even the owner knew. The other billboard was- and I’m not kidding- completely filled with the single word ‘JESUS’. Not even ‘Jesus Saves’ or ‘Praise Jesus’… just ‘Jesus’. Bill outlined the plan. Mr. Stevenson’s target lived in a tiny swamp town, right in the centre of the pan-handle. Florida’s only nice when you’re on the coast; you’ve got to be a real piece of garbage to spend my time in the interior. The target’s name was Raph; he drank at a local bar with his girlfriend. Bill said they’d constantly do cocaine in the bathrooms (Mr. Stevenson’s cocaine) so they never truly got drunk… whenever the alcohol made them sluggish, the cocaine would perk them up. If the cocaine got them too jittery, alcohol would bring them down again. You can only do this for so long… but they seemed to know where the line was. Raph was smart- in a small bar in a small town, strangers never just stroll in. If newcomers want to go somewhere, they go to the damned Applebee’s… not a dirty hut with a couple neon signs, surrounded by gators and sludge. Bill and I came up with our plan, went to sleep, and spent the next day getting ready. I don’t know if Bill had a gun but I didn’t. Didn’t want one, anyway. We parked on the road shoulder about 30 yards from the bar. My shoes got coated in scum walking through ditches so we weren’t seen. It was only about 4pm- still daylight- but that’s an uncommon time for hard drinking unless you’re a real piece of trash like Raph. We made our way behind the quiet bar and stood next to the dumpster. Our plan was easy: we gave a local junkie $30 and told him we didn’t mind if he used it to get high. Bill had already staked-out that this kid bought his heroine off Raph, so the kid phoned him and asked him for a pickup at 4pm. We went back to the kid about an hour later and said we bumped into Raph, who gave us the order to pass along. We took our $30 back and gave him his drugs. Now we knew Raph would be out back at 4pm to meet this kid. About 5 minutes late for the meetup, Raph stepped outside. Cigarette already in his mouth, the whites of his eyes more pink than anything else. His girlfriend was with him. She was rail thin and her elbows and knees were knobby where the bones get wider. She had oily dreadlocks that must’ve weighed as much as the rest of her. It wasn’t part of the plan, but we took her, too. Bill slugged Raph in the head with an aluminum bat; the girl barely had time to say anything before he got her just as bad. We dragged them into a ditch, then Bill smoked a cigarette over them while I got the car. They were out cold the entire time. We drove them deep into a swamp property Mr. Stevenson knew about- the kind that’s acres and acres deep with no real roads or paths. Somehow there was a little ten-by-ten foot shed in a clearing. Despite the algae growing on it, it couldn’t have been more than a year old. We dragged them out of the trunk and into the shed. Even with the windows open it was so hot and still in there… I thought that’d be torture enough. We tied them to chairs and searched them. I think Bill knew I was inexperienced, so he took the girl. Raph had a pistol in his boot- a sissy little .22 revolver that held five shots. In his shorts he had a folding knife so dull it couldn’t have put a hole in jello. Bill’s search was worse- it’s been the only thing that upset me for a long, long time. He found razor blades on her. Everywhere. The kind your grandfather’s razor used to use; blade on one side and a thick backing on the other, still wrapped in cardboard sleeves for a little safety. They were in the brim of her crocheted Rasta hat. They were in her hair. In her pockets. Underneath the terrycloth sweatband she wore on her wrist. One was in her panties, for god’s sake. How fucked up do you need to be for that many blades? And one in your crotch? I try not to read into things… but this bitch was evil. She knew how bad she was, what she’d done wrong, and how hard she needed to work to keep people from catching up to her. As long as I live, Raph’s girlfriend is the only thing that can give me nightmares. Not the body, but the soul. They awoke eventually. I think even Bill was starting to worry he’d hit them too hard. He offered them bumps of cocaine and they hungrily accepted. Bill wasn’t a bad guy: he was like me. Just wanted to solve a problem and get out. He was actually pretty nice to the couple. They stayed tied to their chairs… but nobody screamed or swore or name-called. Not one of us. It was surreal; we treated each other like it was a double-date over milkshakes. The next day-and-a-half was long but smooth. Bill offered the couple keys of cocaine when they got drowsy, I offered them shots of tequila when they got thirsty. Bill would calmly ask “where is it?” every half hour or so. Cocaine. Tequila. “Where is it?” Sometimes they looked resigned, like they knew they were caught and had no place to go. Sometimes they looked happy, like they knew Bill and I would get tired or run out of coke and booze and just let them leave. Sometimes they talked to each other. I’m not sure if it was a code language or if they were concussed, drunk, and stoned out of their minds… but they talked lots in mumbled gibberish. A day and a half is what it took to break them. Head trauma, heat, and enough chemicals to kill a horse. They told us where the money was. Bill wiped the sweat from his forehead and left the shack. I followed. We left Raph and the girl in the inside. We drove about 20 minutes by the directions Raph gave us; I didn’t expect it to be real, but sure enough the money was there. We loaded it into the trunk and drove to a diner. I called the number Mr. Stevenson told me to, if we found the cash: a sweet old woman answered. I wished there was a code phrase we had agreed on like “Matlock is on at 4:00pm” since that would’ve made me feel less guilty… but I just said “we got it.” She said “I’ll let him know” and, after a second of silence, I hung up. I'll always wonder why she waited on the line. Bill drove me back to the motel. I was tired, but it was early enough in the day and I just wanted to get out of the heat. I showered and packed my clothes and took my rental car back to the airport. Bill told me he’d go back to the shed and let them go, but I think he was lying to make me feel better. If he’d bothered to read my face back in the shack: it’d make me feel better to leave them there. They were a problem, and we solved them. I crossed the border under my fake name again, this time, using the alias with the comfort of my own name. Just like Mr. Stevenson told me to, I stayed out of the office until the following Monday. I guess he didn’t know how long it would take to finish, and didn’t want me wandering into the office when it would be difficult to explain. I worked for Mr. Stevenson until around 2005 when he retired. His son took the company over. Just as crooked as Mr.Stevenson (senior) but more of a thug without grace or dignity or fairness. With Mr. Stevenson, I don’t think I ever committed one crime… I only set the record straight, for him. I got a salary of $82,000 and I probably only put in three or four months of actual work each year. I kept my nose out of drugs, didn’t ask a lot of questions, and never killed anyone. To my direct knowledge, at least. I’m not ashamed of this. I told my son the stories; I didn’t know what else to tell him when I got back from business trips. He’d sit there and listen to me, his eyes wide with attention. He never looked scared or worried- maybe it was the calmness in my voice that made it all sound normal- he never had a nightmare or told his teachers. I’ll never understand that kid as long as I live. He’s thirty-two now. He’s a junior foreman at a bigger construction company; stands out in the sun all day with a reflective vest and blueprints, telling a crane operator where to drop his load. He’s as gentle as a blade of grass and he doesn’t touch alcohol. Is he really happy? I don’t know. A job like that- in the heat and the cold, same thing over and over again- would drive me crazy. If it’s a problem for him, I hope he got the message: there’s always a way around. If he doesn’t like the job, “I can’t get another one” isn’t an excuse… can’t is just a mask for won’t or shouldn’t or scared to. If you really see how the world works, you can solve a problem. Maybe not the way everyone else wants you to solve it, but it’ll get done and you’ll feel good that you’re the one who did it.
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