Archive for January, 2018

Operation of Motor Cars and Motor Boats. Seventh Revised Edition, 1911. Published by National Carbon Co., Cleveland, Ohio.

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“Neustadt Reeve Begs For Mercy From Mob,” Toronto Star. January 31, 1919. Page 14.

Joseph Weber Now at Home After Being Ejected From Owen Sound.

Special to The Star.
Owen Sound, Jan. 31 – Reeve Joseph Weber of Neustadt, who was sent out of town last night by an angry mob of returned soldiers and their friends, has reached his home in Neustadt. Evidently Weber proceeded by foot to one of the stations on the Grand Trunk outside Owen Sound and there got aboard the early morning southbound train for Neustadt, for according to a telephone message from taht place he reached there on the train this morning. There was considerable anxiety in Owen Sound as to the whereabouts of the man this morning, as there was a heavy snowstorm during the night, and Weber is a man well up in years. Shallow Lake is the nearest station to Owen Sound, and it is presumed he spent the night there.

Chief of Police W. O. Forster told The Star to-day that he knew nothing of the disturbance until an early hour to-day.

The chief declared that no action would be taken against the citizens. ‘He will be safe from any rough handling, too, when he comes back for his trial next Wednesday,’ declared the chief.

Made to Sing National Anthem.
A mob of returned soldiers and their sympathizers about two hundred strong went to the Comely House where Reever Weber was staying about ten o’clock last night and demanded that he be produced. The crowd got round him and made him kiss the Union Jack and sing the National Anthem. They then decked him out with flags in his hat and invited him to get his grip. He was then escorted by a cheering crowd and marched through the streets toward the Grand Trunk station where he was told to proceed to his home town, Neustadt. There being no train until this morning, Weber appealed to the crowd to be allowed to stay over, or to hire a conveyance to take him but they would not be satisfied by anything less than to proceed at once. Weber started off down the Grand Trunk tracks, grip in hand. Part of the mob followed him a considerable distance to see that he got out of town. When last seen Weber was proceeding on the Grand Trunk tracks in the direction of Neustadt, which is about fifty or sixty miles from here.

The local police were powerless to prevent the mob, but they did not at any time threaten him with personal violence. Weber was very much afraid and during the singing of the National Anthem broke down and pleaded for mercy.

Reeve Weber was arrested here on Tuesday afternoon on two separate warrants charging him with breach of the War Measures Act and the Military Service Act. The request for his arrest came from the headquarters of the Dominion Police of this district and they were executed by P.C. Thomas Carson at the Comely House.

Mr. Weber was taken to the Police office and latter allowed out on bail of $2,000, half of which was given by Reeve Holm, and the other half by Reeve Schenk, of Normandy, and the charges will be heard next Wednesday. Mr. Weber arrived on the noon G.T.R. train on Tuesday and attended the first meeting of the County Council at the Court House. He returned to the Comely House and was placed under arrest.

The arrest of Neustadt’s reeve has caused quite a sensation in town and amongst the county councillors here.

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““The past decade marks a revolution in the attitude of the state toward its offending children,” proclaimed a 1909 Harvard Law Review article by Julian W. Mack. Until then, Mack wrote, “our common criminal law did not differentiate between the adult and the minor who had reached the age of criminal responsibility,” leaving child offenders “huddled together” with adults in jails and workhouses. Before the juvenile justice “revolution” he described, the age of criminal responsibility in U.S. states ranged from 7 to 12.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, reformers pushed for the creation of juvenile court systems that would seek to rehabilitate child offenders.

This harshness toward children derived from traditional English common law, which convicted and punished 7- to 14-year-old children as long as they appeared to understand the difference between right and wrong. There are records of children as young as 10 put to death in eighteenth century England.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, U.S. reformers pushed for the creation of juvenile court systems that would seek to rehabilitate—not just punish—child offenders. As the legal scholars David S. Tanenhaus and Steven A. Drizin outline in a 2002 paper in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, the first juvenile court opened in 1899 in Cook County, IL (home of Chicago), thanks to reformers Lucy Flower and Julia Lathrop. By 1909, more than 30 American jurisdictions adopted similar legislation, as did Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, and Australia.

Writing in 1909, Mack captured the prevailing view toward reform over punishment: “the child who has begun to go wrong, who is incorrigible, who has broken a law or an ordinance, is to be taken in hand by the state, not as an enemy but as a protector, as the ultimate guardian.” Ideally, he wrote, convicted children should be placed on probation, assigned a guardian, and allowed to remain in their own homes and communities. In cases where removal from the home was deemed necessary, the Supreme Court of Illinois ordered that “a real school, not a prison in disguise, must be provided.”

“What they need, more than anything else, is kindly assistance,” wrote Mack. “The aim of the court in appointing a probation officer for the child, is to have the child and the parents feel, not so much the power, as the friendly interest of the state.” He quoted a Supreme Court of Utah decision, which declared that a juvenile judge must be “a man of broad mind, of almost infinite patience, and one who is the possessor of great faith in humanity.”

As the movement toward mercy and reduced culpability for children swept the nation, in 1920 criminal law journal article, Arthur Towne, the superintendent of the Brooklyn Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, considered whether New York State should follow other states in increasing its age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18, asking:

Does he go to bed the night before his sixteenth birthday, a tender boy in need of the state’s solicitude, and awaken the next morning a bearded man, full-fledged in experience and self-control, and in ability to fulfill his obligations as a citizen? Upon donning his long trousers does he forthwith become a man; or in spite of his somewhat lengthened years and clothes, may he still be in his short “pants” mentally and morally?

Writing in 1920, Towne said adolescence continues through age 25, and that treating 14- or 16-year olds as functioning adults “simply flies in the face of present-day psychology and the hard facts.”


Despite Towne’s advocacy, New York State did not stop automatically charging 16- and 17-year-olds as adults until April 2017. Juvenile courts faced decades of backlash, as prosecutors argued for discretion over whether individual cases should be heard in juvenile or criminal court. In a series of decisions, the Illinois Supreme Court stripped power from the juvenile courts, granting the state’s attorney the authority to decide in which court a child would be tried.

Beginning in the 1930s, prosecutors pushed for more power, claiming that the nation faced a dangerous new class of child murderers. In 1935, the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court declared that juvenile courts were intended for “bad boys and girls who have committed no serious crime,” but were being used to protect “highly dangerous gunmen and thieves, or even murderers.” But even as juvenile courts were being undermined, they were simultaneously legitimized. In the 1960s, U.S. Supreme Court decisions guaranteed due process protections in juvenile court, including the right to counsel.

In 1978, the “automatic transfer law” was born. A 15-year-old New Yorker named Willie Bosket was convicted of killing two men on the subway. He was tried in juvenile court and received the maximum juvenile sentence of five years. Two days later, New York Governor Hugh Carey (in the middle of a tight re-election battle) called a special session of the legislature to produce the Juvenile Offender Act. This “automatic transfer law” required children as young as 13 to be tried as adults for murder.

Attacks on the power of the juvenile court intensified in the 1980s and 90s. “These cries grew to a fever pitch with the birth of the ‘superpredator’ myth in late 1995,” wrote Tanenhaus and Drizin. Academics, prosecutors, and lawmakers criticized juvenile courts, using “the sound bite ‘adult time for adult crime’ as their mantra.”

Between 1990 and 1996, forty states passed laws making it easier for juveniles to be prosecuted as adults, often by transferring power from juvenile judges to prosecutors. Other new laws prevented the sealing of juvenile records, set mandatory minimum sentences, or removed phrases like “rehabilitation” and “the best interests of the child” from statutes, replacing them with “punishment” and “the protection of the public.”

While attorneys and politicians panicked about the rise of the “superpredator,” juvenile crime actually declined between 1994 and 2000.

The new laws kept coming, with 43 states passing similar changes between 1996 and 1999. A 1999 report found that when juveniles were transferred to adult court and convicted of murder, they received, on average, longer sentences than adults convicted of the same crime. In 1998, close to 200,000 kids were tried as adults and 18,000 were housed in adult prisons.

“Teenagers account for the largest portion of all violent crime in America,” declared then-Florida representative Bill McCollum in 1996. “They’re the most violent criminals on the face of the earth.” He was arguing in support of an ultimately failed federal bill that would have required some 13-year-olds to be tried as adults.

As children were increasingly tried as adults, racial minorities suffered the most. In 1997, white children made up 57 percent of juvenile cases involving offenses against others, but just 45 percent of the cases transferred to adult court. And while white youth constituted 59 percent of juvenile drug cases, they made up just 35 percent of the cases transferred to adult court.

Clinging to the “superpredator” myth, prosecutors parroted colorful claims about the nineteenth century mischief-makers that juvenile courts had been created for. According to various District Attorney’s offices, the courts were created “when kids were throwing spitballs,” “when kids were knocking over outhouses,” and “at a time of more ‘Leave it to Beaver’ type crimes.”


While attorneys and politicians panicked about the rise of the “superpredator,” juvenile crime actually declined between 1994 and 2000. A 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s report found that “there is not evidence that the young people involved in violence during the peak years of the early 1990s were more frequent or more vicious offenders than youth in earlier years.”

As it turns out, there have always been murders by children. Using the Chicago Homicide Database, Tanenhaus and Drizin located the cases of 24 children tried for homicide by juvenile courts in the early 1900s. They wrote that these cases “reveal that the juvenile court was created at a time when kids were not only throwing spitballs and knocking over outhouses, but they were also killing people.” These cases show how children were protected from the adult criminal system, thanks to multiple checks on the power of prosecutors.

In one 1910 case, a 12- or 14-year-old girl (accounts differ) was accused of beating an 8-year-old girl to death with a baseball. A “coroner’s jury” was summoned: a group of citizens convened to determine cause of death. “Owing to the extreme youth of the accused,” declared the coroner’s jury, “the Jury recommend that she be permitted to remain in the custody of her parents for the present until the case is taken up by the Juvenile Court.” The authors note that coroner’s juries were rife with corruption and graft. Yet in this case and others, they did serve as a check on prosecutors, helping keep children out of adult court.

In a 1908 case, twin 13-year-old boys were tried for stabbing a schoolmate to death with a letter opener. Although the coroner’s jury recommended the boys go before an adult court, they were protected by other checks on the system: The grand jury ruled there was insufficient evidence to prosecute one twin, and the state officially declined to prosecute the other.

In a third case, in 1926, four 15- and 16-year-old boys were arrested in a shooting death. They took various paths through the court system, with some starting in the adult criminal system and some in the juvenile—yet ultimately, none were prosecuted as adults.

The 24 cases studied by Tanenhaus and Drizin are a small sample, but demonstrate that murders by children were far from new in the 1980s and 90s. What was new was the state’s harsh punishments.”

– Katie Rose Quandt, “WHY DOES THE U.S. SENTENCE CHILDREN TO LIFE IN PRISON?JSTOR Daily. January 31, 2018.

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“New Superintendent For Limb Factory,” Toronto Star. January 31, 1919. Page 04.

Department Makes Effort to End Dispute by Appointing Returned Officer.

In an attempt to end the strike conditions at the artificial limb factory at Davisville and on Spadina avenue, the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment, which recently dispensed with the services of Superintendent J. E. Burns, which brought about a strike of the 220 men employed in the factory, has appointed Major R. W. Coulthard to the position.

Major Coulthard is an officer of the C.E.F., who went overseas with the Second Canadian Tunnelling company in 1915 from Western Canada, and his appointment, according to Colonel G. F. Morrison, assistant director of the department, satisfies the first demand of the employees that a returned soldier get the position.

On Strike Since Jan. 24.
The strike at the limb factory has been on since January 24, and followed the dismissal of Mr. Burns. The appointment as a temporary measure of E. M. Martin as superintendent was not agreeable to the men and they decline to return to work, and to-day, the appointment of Major Coulthard is announced.

Sir James Lougheed, Minister of the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Reestablishment, issues the following statement on the situation:

“On the recommendations made by those competent to give an opinion on the subject, we brought about changes that were necessary in the interest of the department, the men employed in the factory, and those ex-members of the forces who required artificial limbs and appliances. Some of the employees seemingly do not see eye to eye with the department in the changes that have been made. It is quite manifest that the Government must exercise its own judgement as to how an enterprise of this kind must be operated.

Highest Efficiency Wanted.
‘Regretable as it is that we have not at the moment the co-operation of the men who have thus ceased work, yet it is our duty to place this work upon the most efficient basis possible. We have appointed in charge, Mr. R. W. Coulthard, who has been overseas for a long period. During his experience as an engineer he has had charge of large enterprises requiring such ability as to qualify him for the position.’

Mr. G. E. Beaton, of the Strike Committee, interviewed by The Star this morning, explained that nothing definite can be announced from the men’s side of the question until the appointment of Major Coulthard has been considered at a meeting of the striking employees, which will be held forthwith.

Referring to Sir James Lougheed’s announcement that the department cannot be dictated to in matters of general policy, Mr. Beaton said: ‘We thrashed that out last night, and it was understood that there would have to be some modifications on the demands of the men.’

‘We are pleased to hear that a returned soldier has been appointed, and hold to that demand still,’ he said. ‘That would be quite satisfactory to us if Mr. Burns were retained to tutor the new superintendent in the way we have been working. Possibly some compromise will be reached along these lines,’ he concluded.

As Major Coulthard’s appointment has not been notified yet to the Strike Committee by the department, it is not likely that any official notice of it will be taken until such time as it is announced. Immediately following that, however, a meeting of all the employees will be held, and the future policy of the men decided on.

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“Widow and Kiddies Facing Starvation,” Toronto Star. January 31, 1919. Page 04.

Soldier-Husband Died Just After Discharge, and Pension is Refused.

Another case of destitution as a result of service for one’s country, which is as bad, if not worse, than that of the Tarringtons, who were left penniless when the breadwinner died after he came home from overseas, is that of Mrs. J. D. Powless, 913 Dundas street west, who is facing starvation, with a family of five children, all under 14 years.

Her husband, Pte. Powless, returned home from active service in France a couple of months ago, and after he had been home for two weeks, contracted influenza-pneumonia, and died. Mrs. Powless has received word from the Board of Pension Commissioners at Ottawa that she is not entitled to any pension because Pte. Powless died after he had been discharged from the service.

There are five children under 14 years of age in the family, and another, Daisy, who is fifteen years of age: she brings in the total family income, which is eight dollars per week. Mrs. Powless is expected to buy coal at $12 a ton, buy food for herself and six children, pay the rent, which is $25 per month, clothe them all, and get a doctor for her baby, who is lying ill in bed. She has got to do this all on $8 a week, or starve.

No Coal in the House.
Wednesday night, Mrs. Poweless applied to Chalmers Presbyterian Church for assistance, as there was no coal in the house. The church got in touch with the Soldiers’ Aid Commission and they sent her $30. Out of this sum, she has got to pay the rent, $25, and then there is $5 left to pay for a half ton of coal.

The children are half clothed, the house is in wretched condition. There is no carpet on the floors, and when the reporter called he found the children huddled in the kitchen, where there was a small fire of charcoal burning in the stove. When the remaining half bag of charcoal would be gone, there would be no fire.

Mrs. Powless told The Star that when her husband returned, the doctor said that his system was poisoned from the effects of his service overseas. Pte. Powless could not get any work, and he was so ill that he could not have worked if he had been able to get any.

Mrs. Powless has no relative in this country, and she is totally dependent upon the mercies of the commissioners for a livelihood. If something is not done immediately, she said that she would have to go and ask the city for help.

G.W.V.A. Takes It Up.
Central Branch of the

G.W.V.A. has taken up the case, and will now carry on a ‘drive’ to have the pension system extended or revised so that provision will be made for men whose general health is broken by their service overseas. Such men are often discharged after years of service, it is stated, as physically unfit, but with ‘no disability’ entered on their discharge papers. They, of course, receive no pension, although the service overseas oftentimes results in their death shortly after their return to civilian life.

Pte. Powless was over age when he enlisted, and was 50 years of age when he was discharged. He was Canadian-born. Two sons, both married are in France with the C.E.F.

The Central Branch took up this case with the Pension Board at Ottawa, and received a letter stating that under the regulations the case was not within the scope of the board, and no pension could be granted. This is the situation as it remains, although the doctor’s certificate, it is stated, reads that the man would undoubtedly have recovered from the ‘flu’ had his vitality not been greatly lowered by hardships overseas. Friends of the late Pte. Powless state that before enlistment he was hardy and in the best of health, the certificate of the attending physician to the effect that death was due to strain on his constitution while overseas bearing out their opinion.

‘Our arguments,’ explained Mr. George Murrell, secretary of the Central Branch, ‘is that a man under these circumstances is entitled to some consideration. We are not asking that the total disability pension be allowed his widow and children, but that some provision be made for them. Surely his wife and small children should be looked after to some extent by the Government.’

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“Bold Hold-Up Men Get Prison Terms,” Toronto Globe. January 30, 1918. Page 07.

Accessory May Get Off On Suspended Sentence Because of Family.

(Special Despatch to The Globe.)
Parry Sound, Jan. 29. – Alfred Domiana, an Italian, was to-day sentenced to five years in Kingston Penitentiary, his cousin, Fred Domiana, was sentenced to three years, and Frank Caprice, as an accessory before the act, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, but in consideration of having a wife and five children may be let out on suspended sentence, as the Magistrate will so recommend the Minister of Justice.

The Domianas, who are both of Hamilton, were working in a lumber camp and went to a station at Mowat on the C.N.R., where Frank Caprice and his family reside, tied Mrs. Caprice to a chair, took a rifle and shotgun with ammunition from the wall of the dining room, and in broad daylight and without any attempt to disguise held up two Austrian sectionmen and Frank Caprice with the gun, and took $1,027 from the men. The forced the men to place a hand car on the track and made off, throwing the rifle and gun under a bridge. They left the car at the point where the C.P.R. crosses the C.N.R., and started walking south.

Warnings were sent out by telephone, and the men were caught near Byng Inlet. They admitted their guilt and implicated Frank Caprice. The Police Magistrate considered the evidence corroborated in a number of ways and convicted Caprice as an accessory to the crime.


“Long Terms Given Italian Robbers,” The Mail and Empire. January 30, 1918. Page 08.

Special to The Mail and Empire.
Parry Sound, Jan. 29 – How a woman, the wife of a C.N.R. sectionman, was tied in her chair as the result of a frame-up with her husband, two Austrian sectionmen were robbed at the point of a rifle and shotgun of $1,027 and continued to place a hand-car on the track, by which the robbers made their get-away, was told in the Police Court here to-day, when Alfred Domiana was sentenced to five years, Fred Domiana to three years, and Frank Caprice to three years in Kingston Penitentiary. The two Italians, who hail from Hamilton and were employed in a lumber camp, were caught at Byng Inlet with the money on them, and turned King’s evidence against Caprice, who they declared, had framed up the job, his wife consenting to be tied up when the Domianas’ procured the firearms from the Mowat Railway Station and pulled off the robbery of his companions. The magistrate said he would request the Minister of Justice to allow Caprice out on suspended sentence, as he had a wife and five children.

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“We don’t want a capitulation,” said Rud. “You see, Reedly, we don’t want any excuse for an assembly of the old governments on our side. … From our point of view the war to end war can have no formal end. We’ve got controlled shipping, amalgamated air forces, pooled finance, consolidated news-services, a common uniform. We want to keep them common for evermore. But the day we proclaim Victory and Peace the diplomatists and nationalists will come creeping out of their funk-holes again with their flags and claims and bills on each other and all that sort of thing. Versailles all over again.”

– H. G. Wells, The Holy Terror. 1939. 3.2.7.

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“Reeve Arrested While At Council,” Toronto Globe. January 30, 1919. Page 14.

Joseph Weber of Neustadt is Accused of Sedition and Impeding M.S.A.

(Special Despatch to The Globe.)
Owen Sound, Jan. 29 – Reeve Joseph Weber of Neustadt was arrested here last night of five charges of using seditious language and of attempting to impede the operation of the Military Service Act. Weber came here to attend the County Council, and was arrested on two arrants after the first day’s session. He is now out on $2,000 bail, funished by Reeve Holm and Ex-Reeve Schank of Normandy, but will come up before Police Magistrate Creasor of Owen Sound on Wednesday next. Witnesses are being called from Neustadt, Hanover, and Harriston, and the case is arousing great interest in this district.

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Admiral Sir Edward Fanshawe, Piazza Maggiore, Florian, and Grand Harbour, from our house, Malta, Jany 1858. Watercolour, 1858. 

Album of watercolours of the Baltic, Mediterranean, Scotland, Switzerland and Burma (PAI4671). National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

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“The French bourgeoisie reared up against the reign of the working proletariat;—it brought to power the slum-proletariat, with the chief of the "Society of December 10” at its head. It kept France in breathless fear over the prospective terror of “red anarchy;"—Louis Napoleon Bonaparte discounted the prospect when, on December 4, he had the leading citizens of the Boulevard Montmartre and the Boulevard des Italiens shot down from their windows by the grog-inspired "Army of Order.” It [the French bourgeoisie] made the apotheosis of the sabre; now the sabre rules it. It destroyed the revolutionary press;—now its own press is annihilated. It placed public meetings under police surveillance;—now its own salons are subject to police inspection. It disbanded the democratic National Guards;—now its own National Guard is disbanded. It instituted the state of siege;—now itself is made subject thereto. It supplanted the jury by military commissions;—now military commissions supplant its own juries. It subjected the education of the people to the parsons’ interests;—the parsons’ interests now subject it to their own systems. It ordered transportations without trial;—now itself is transported without trial. It suppressed every movement of society with physical force;—now every movement of its own class is suppressed by physical force. Out of enthusiasm for the gold bag, it rebelled against its own political leaders and writers;—now, its political leaders and writers are set aside, but the gold hag is plundered, after the mouth of the bourgeoisie has been gagged and its pen broken. The bourgeoisie tirelessly shouted to the revolution, in the language of St. Orsenius to the Christians: “Fuge, Tace, Quiesce!"—flee, be silent, submit!—; Bonaparte shouts to the bourgeoisie: "Fuge, Tace, Oniesce!"—flee, be silent, submit!

The French bourgeoisie had long since solved Napoleon’s dilemma: "Dans cinquante ans l’Europe sera republicaine ou cosaque.” It found the solution in the ‘republique cosaque.’“

– Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. 1852.

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“This “social space” that Eribon yearned to flee was marked by the deprivations and frustrations of working class life in postwar France. His father worked long hours in a factory and his mother cleaned houses. The family lived in a series of cramped government-provided apartments where he and his three brothers shared a single bed, and where each floor in the apartment building had only a single communal bathroom. One of the few bright spots in Eribon’s bleak upbringing were the neighborhood dances and festivals organized by the local branch of the French Communist Party. Eribon’s parents were staunch supporters of the Party, which provided them and their fellow workers with a sense of collective identity and hope for the future. “The Communist Party,” as Eribon explains, “was the organizing principle and the uncontested horizon of our relation to politics.”

Eribon began to chafe against this community at a young age. He liked to read books instead of play sports, which put him at odds with his father, his brothers, and virtually every other boy in his working class neighborhood. He was the first person in his family to attend high school (doing so wasn’t mandatory in France at the time), and this produced the first of many ruptures with his family: “The educational process succeeded in creating within me, as one of its very conditions of possibility, a break—even a kind of exile—that grew ever more pronounced, and separated me little by little from the world that I came from.” This separation grew wider when, at the age of 13 or 14, Eribon fell in love with a male classmate. Homosexuality was scorned in Eribon’s hyper-masculine milieu, so he was forced to conceal his desires. Sometimes he even leveled homophobic insults against other boys to ward off any suspicion about himself. This psychic disjunction—a nerdy gay boy hiding behind a fake manly facade—produced within Eribon a split self. He found himself perpetually “shuttling back and forth between two registers, between two universes.”


Eribon finally escaped at age 20, when he moved to Paris to continue his graduate studies. He immediately found himself in an environment that embraced his intellectual ambitions and gay identity. But at the same time, it was an environment where working class tastes and experiences were denigrated. In a fascinating parallel, Eribon reveals that at high-brow social gatherings in Paris, he employed the same techniques he once used to conceal his homosexuality to now conceal his class origins. This entailed “a constant self-surveillance as regards one’s gestures, one’s intonation, manners of speech, so that nothing untoward slips out, so that one never betrays oneself.” Eribon’s move to Paris also precipitated a shift in his politics. In his late teens he had been a devout Trotskyist, but the latent homophobia of his comrades ensured that he never felt completely comfortable in this milieu. “I was split in two,” he says. “Half Trotskyist, half gay.””

– Michael Andres, “Return To Sender.The New Inquiry, January 30, 2014. 

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“Anti-Gas Demonstration,” Montreal Star. January 29, 1937. Page 05.

“An anti-gas squad trained by the London borough of Holborn to deal with poison-gas in the event of an air raid, gave a public demonstration of methods of dealing with liquid gas attacks. This Associated Press photo shows: The squad marching to the scene of operations, wearing their gas-masks and protective clothing.”

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“The Villages spans 32 square miles, a retirement ecosystem deposited into the swamp as if by meteor blast, an incredible sprawl navigated by golf carts. There are 102 restaurants spread across 12 plazas: national chains like Five Guys and Panera Bread, local chains like Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, pubs, frozen yogurt shops, upscale Italian restaurants, Chinese takeout, sushi, diners, happy hours, and all-day breakfasts. Of those 102 restaurants, just three list an early bird dinner special, and two of those are separate locations of the same establishment. The variety caters to a generation where food started to become a tool of self-expression instead of just a necessity, a trend that continued with their children, and thus became an ever more enticing way to emulate the young. Being the kind of person who prioritizes what they eat signifies wealth, class, and worldliness, and most importantly, that you’re not an alter kocker who doesn’t care what he eats as long as it’s bland and soft; you can afford to choose to eat long after 6 p.m.

“We do not offer an early bird just like most restaurants in the area,” Ron Averbeck, owner of Margarita Republic Caribbean Bar & Grill in the Villages’ Spanish Springs Town Square, told me. Margarita Republic is a popular place for Villages nightlife, with live music and trivia, a dozen types of margaritas, and a menu featuring a parrot wearing a Hawaiian shirt — the kind of place that could be dropped into any college town without suspicion, a remnant of younger life that can be tasted again in a carefree retirement. “We are in a high-dollar commercial real estate market,” Averbeck said, and the early bird isn’t popular or profitable enough in the wealthy enclave. “Cost of goods, rent, insurance, and payroll have tossed the early bird to the curb.”

In other words, where the old are rich, the early bird is pointless — it’s a product of and for the middle class, an offering for people who eat out regularly, but need to be a little savvier about it to stretch out their Social Security, pensions, or IRAs. The rub is that the middle class itself is declining: Between 1970 and 2014, the share of income held by middle-class households droppedfrom 62 percent to 43 percent, while the ratio of American workers to American retirees has fallen for the past few decades, meaning that the system may not be able to pay retirees the full amount they were promised. Like every other demographic, among the elderly, a chasm is opening between the rich and the poor.

Whether rich, poor, or merely one of the declining middle class, though, few of the new Olds want to embrace their age. “Your generation is definitely not headed for bingo night,” the actor Dennis Hopper says in an Ameriprise ad about retirement investment for boomers, backed by a soundtrack of “Gimme Some Lovin.’” For boomers, a retirement of shuffling between kitchenless apartments and the local soup counter is hell, and you’re not going to drag them there yet. “The baby boomers who are coming of age these days, in part they’re healthier for longer into their lives, view old age in very different terms,” Haley said. “And don’t want to be seen as the men with the hiked-up pants and rolled-up cuffs, and the little old lady on a cane.””

– Jaya Saxena, “The Extinction of the Early Bird: Baby Boomers and the ailing middle class are killing the value meal mascot of South Florida retirement.” Eater, January 29, 2018.

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“Then, after sharing those precious memories, I made my voice gentle. I reminded her that if she was ever confronted by gunfire at our mosque or in a crowd, she should hit the ground and cover her head.

Her eyes darkened, but she nodded. I handed her the strawberry-banana drink.

The night before, as my daughter crammed for her English finals by reviewing The Merchant of Venice, news of the shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City flooded social media. Sainte-Foy’s mosque was ravaged as Muslims stood shoulder-to-shoulder, engaged in soulful and peaceful worship. It was a gross violation of a sacred space.

I was horrified, scared and heartbroken. And I immediately wondered how I would explain it to my kids.

We are Muslim. All four of my children used to attend a full-time Islamic school. It was adjacent to a mosque that they walked to for prayers, skipping across the parking lot with their friends to stand in line, giggling in hushed whispers. They were innocent and unaware of any potential danger, especially in Canada.

For years, it never occurred to me that they might not be safe. My husband and I have been frustrated and, truthfully, very concerned these past weeks, observing what can only be described as a political gong show in the United States. But never did I expect that a horrific terrorist attack against Canadian Muslims would take place so soon after a misogynistic xenophobe took over the White House.

It wasn’t easy to have a conversation with my children about the six men, loving fathers, kind business owners, committed community members, who were brutally killed in the act of worship, allegedly by a man whose social media espoused disturbing far-right and anti-immigrant views. I asked them to offer a prayer for the deceased and to pray for patience for the families who must endure these tragedies.

They were solemn and confused. How, they asked, could this have happened in a place that is supposed to be a safe house for spiritual practice? Beyond a jumble of phrases that included the words “racist, violent, gun, ignorance,” I had no idea what I could say that wouldn’t crush their little hearts.

Their school board sent kind e-mails advising parents that all the flags would be at half-mast and there would be staff available if any children needed extra support. That reduced me to a mess, sobbing into my hijab. I heard rumours that local police were promising a stronger presence at centres and mosques for the next few weeks. I appreciated that tremendously.

But how could I assure my Muslim children that their father and grandfather, who attend prayers daily, would be safe? I simply could not.

We have spoken to our children about bullying, racism and misogyny. I have reiterated that as a Muslim, being just is crucial and have corrected them bluntly for comments that are simply unacceptable.

Their Baba always emphasizes that helping others is critical, that we must protect and support all groups or individuals that are being targeted, physically or otherwise. We assured our eldest, a 6-foot, 3-inch volleyball player, that if he sees anyone getting harassed or abused, he should step in.

Islamophobia is not new to Canada. It is rooted in xenophobia and racism and has festered for a long time. It bubbled over during the last federal election, when the incidence of attacks against Muslims was reported to be at an all-time high.

But this is the first time – and I ask forgiveness from black and indigenous parents who have already done this for so long – I’ve felt such an urgent need to teach my children how to protect themselves.

A few months ago, my daughter decided to wear a headscarf, a decision she made without consulting me or her father. She only discussed it with her basketball team. I am vocal about my support for women choosing to wear what they wish, be it a hijab, niqab or miniskirt.

Obviously, she expected and relied on my support of her decision. Admittedly, I worried about her safety. I took her to a self-defence class, because Muslim women are often the easiest targets for Islamophobes.

I wonder whether I have taught her to be too strong in her convictions and whether that might endanger her. Her confidence is a blessing and I should have faith.

But after the events in Quebec City, my concern is not the actions of my child, who is agile, intelligent and considerate. My concern is the actions of others, who might aim their hatred and fear at her.”

– Shireen Ahmed, “Mothering in a time of terror.The Globe and Mail. February 1, 2017.

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How did you get started working on poverty and surveillance?

I came up working in the Bay Area’s community technology center movements of the 1990s [which sought to expand access to computers and the early internet]. I was really excited about the possibilities of that work. But I also struggled to reconcile the utopianism of that moment with the reality of San Francisco in the 1990s. Public housing was being knocked down, the city was visibly whitening, and people were being displaced.

So I left San Francisco to escape a sort of personal, political crisis. I moved to a small town in upstate New York called Troy. And, coincidentally, I moved there just as the city decided to put all of their eggs in the basket of high-tech development.

You couldn’t escape it.

Right. And that was the question that I started asking myself. There’s something here I can’t escape. How am I going to make sense of it?

I started doing community technology work in Troy, working primarily with poor and working-class adults out of a YWCA. A lot of people were coming out of the prison system or out of recovery. And they challenged me deeply in the ways I was thinking about technology.

There was this idea at the time that the major inequality issue in tech was the “digital divide” — you know, low-income people aren’t interacting with technology so they’re being left behind. But the people I was working with told me, “No. Listen. Technology is totally ubiquitous in our lives. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” They were seeing tons of technological innovation, just not where I was looking for it. They were seeing it in the criminal justice system, in the welfare office, and in low-wage employment.

I had this conversation with a woman who I called “Dorothy Allen” in my first book. We were talking about her EBT [Electronic Benefit Transfer] card. She told me, “Yeah. It’s more convenient. It’s great to not have to carry around paper [food] stamps anymore. But also, my caseworker uses it to track all of my purchases.” And I had this look on my face, a look of total shock. And Dorothy said, “Oh. You didn’t know that, did you?” I did not. She said, “You all” — meaning middle-class people like me — “You all should be paying attention to what happens to us, because they’re coming for you next.”

That conversation, and others like it, is where my interest in technology in the welfare system came from.

Part of what I enjoyed about your book is how it lays out a continuous history from the poorhouses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries — where the indigent were incarcerated and forced to work — to the high-tech containment of today. Can you trace that a bit?

I think we tend to talk about these kinds of technological tools as if they arose outside of history. Like they just fell from the sky. One of the major arguments in the book is that these tools were more evolution than revolution. They’re very much in line with the kind of punitive policy, processes, and tools that came before them.

There’s two moments I’ll draw your attention to. First is the scientific charity movement of the 1870s, which was deeply informed by eugenics and the desire to “breed” out the moral inadequacies that produce indigence. It kicks off after the fall of Reconstruction and the violent reassertion of white supremacy that took hold then. You see the rise of Jim Crow, the exclusion of African Americans in public life, immigration restrictions that are based on scientific racism, and the involuntary sterilization of poor whites.

This all comes out of a moment where social service technologies are changing really fast; indiscriminate giving is being replaced by what was called “scientific giving.” The first “big data” set in the United States was the Eugenics Records Office in Cold Spring Harbor. It was the public arm of the eugenics movement. They sent scientists out into the world to collect these very detailed family trees that tried to track how poverty, “imbecility,” “depraved living” — all these words that they used at the time — were genetically carried.

The second moment is the rise of the “digital poorhouse,” which began in the late sixties, early seventies, really, in response to the successes of social movements in opening up public programs.

The welfare rights movement.

That’s right. In the mid to late sixties, into the early seventies, the national welfare rights movement was having extraordinary successes. Particularly legal successes. Supreme Court victories in 1968, ’69, and ’70 made it impossible to discriminate against folks receiving AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children]; they enshrined due process rights for welfare recipients; and they prohibited “man-in-house” rules that allowed caseworkers to raid the homes of poor women to look for evidence of male cohabitants. These victories came toward the end of the sixties, and by 1971 you see these new technological tools implemented. It’s a backlash.

And it’s entwined with the backlash against civil rights in general. Suddenly all these black women are receiving benefits, too. And welfare becomes firmly linked with being black.

There’s this deep, deep, deep connection in the American mind between poverty and being a person of color, specifically being African American. You don’t get a welfare system like the one we have without using race. In each of these systems, race has been deployed as a narrative, as an organizing method.

Meanwhile, technology became a way of smuggling politics into the system without having an actual political conversation. In the 1970s, with the promise of increasing efficiency, you start seeing computerization to detect fraud and tighten eligibility rules. We think the real anti-welfare backlash started with Reagan. But the drop-off really began in the early seventies. That’s when they started culling the rolls — using these technical means. Around 1973, almost 50 percent of people living under the poverty line were receiving some kind of cash assistance. A decade later, it dropped to 30 percent. Now it’s less than ten.

At the same time the government is scrutinizing caseworkers more closely, cutting down on their discretion. As surveillance of recipients increased, so did surveillance of frontline workers. They introduced much more punitive processes, with much less human connection. And that also has continued in the systems we see today.

That’s something that immediately struck me reading the book, how many intimate stories you tell about individuals on both sides of welfare provision. You’re rendering them as these really human characters, who are not just numbers.

That was a really important part of telling the story. My intention in the work that I do is always to start with the folks who are getting the pointiest end of the stick. It’s harder, in many ways, than talking to the administrators or the policymakers. It requires me spending a lot of time with people, developing trust and developing understanding of their situations. But if we’re missing their voices, we’re missing a huge part of what this new regime of data analytics is about.

Another reason for including those stories is that I really see recipients of public services and frontline caseworkers as possible allies. And in fact, there have been a lot of historical moments where that collaboration has been really threatening to the status quo.

For example, one of the things that happens in the 1960s is the New York City welfare caseworkers strike: eight thousand caseworkers strike on behalf of recipients and their own working conditions. They say, “We’re not going back to work until you treat them better.” That’s a terrifying moment for the system.

Do you see prospects for that kind of solidarity today?

I did welfare rights organizing for fifteen-plus years. One of the great challenges of the work is realizing that caseworkers are, indeed, the deliverers of the attitude of the system. And recipients often see them that way.

But many are also just one sickness, one period of bad luck away from being on public assistance themselves. And so there are a lot of horizontal lines there. It’s a difficult relationship, but they’re also natural allies in some important ways.

– Sam Adler-Bell interviews Virginia Eubanks about

Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, “The High-Tech Poorhouse.” Jacobin. January 29, 2018.

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