[FoRK] G8/20 Baiting...

John Parsons bullwinklemouth at yahoo.ca
Sun Jun 27 00:40:21 PDT 2010

It doesn't seem like this is getting a lot of coverage where the majority of this list lives, so I'll give a little background:

The G8 and G20 conferences are being held in southern Ontario as this is written, amid the typical protests and gnashing of activist teeth. The twin venues (Huntsville, in the heart of cottage country for the G8, and Toronto, Canada's largest city, for the G20). The G8 has just wrapped up, and today is the transfer day for the G8 delegates to get down to Toronto (about 140 miles) to join the other 12 nations that make up the G20.

These conflabs, typically draw lots of international protest, so security of these influential leaders becomes an issue. The Canadian (Harper) gummint is currently under fire within parliament for spending a billion dollars on security for the combined event (this is erroneous, as the actual bill could be higher, now that the protests in Toronto have turned "ugly"). That's only for security... there were also megabucks (so far not compiled) spent on upgrading the venues and surrounding environs (which also happen to be Conservative ridings), including a preposterous indoor "fake lake" (this, when a plethora of real, magnificent lakes are just outside the door).

To have some idea of the security involved, in Toronto, huge sections of the downtown and keys routes are fenced into a locked-down security perimeter, in which everyone who works there must undergo a thorough security check, where some businesses were required to close (with absolutely no compensation). Each conference only lasts a day, but the security has been building for the past 2 weeks, all taking place under a security umbrella that is unprecedentedly (at least for Canada, and that includes the 4 weeks of the Olympics & Paralympics) massive.

Anyway, enough of the background... interested parties can Google it all they want for details.

Oh yeah, the themes of the conferences this year? Maternal health (but our Conservative gov't has omitted abortion for their discussion), and get this... Fiscal Prudence.

Leaving aside the lunacy of the settings for a moment (why not meet in Inuvik?) and the pork-barreling, the traditional protesters (and an increasingly sizeable chunk of the world's population) are pissed that these conferences don't seem to *do* anything, and the world is still going to hell in a handcart.

As a former telecommunications employee, I know that a billion bucks should be able to build a state-of-the-art dedicated teleconferencing solution as a legacy, so that in the future, everyone could stay at home and save the world the expense of guarding their sorry asses, never mind the jet fuel and other expenses to travel and stay, "in the manner to which they are accustomed". The group photos could be handled with Photoshop.

A couple of questions...

1. Are conferences like this (where everyone meets face-to-face) beneficial? Is there a valid advantage of meeting like this? Do they actually accomplish anything? (Try this with and without the cost benefit analysis.)

2. Is technology imminently capable of providing a vivid enough meeting experience, such that it could (would?) be adopted by these groups? If the tech is available or achievable, would it make a difference (i.e would they need to meet FtF anyway)?

The leaders of these countries probably justify these meeting based on the schmoozing and public spectacle, but if others are like me, this experience is giving them a good understanding of the rage these conferences engender.


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