06/22/18

How Combinations of Letters Work Sometimes

When words become sing-song,

Osama bin Laden, Barack Hussein Obama, Joe Biden, Saddam Hussein.

National Hockey League players, Zac Rinaldo, Rocco Grimaldi, Jarred Tinordi, all signing one-year deals with the Nashville Predators on the same day in July 2018.

Leading scorers of the Los Angeles Kings early in the 2018/19 season, Alex Iafallo and Tyler Toffoli.

Just saying.

08/13/14

Robin the Mensch

RobinWilliams

Robin Williams 1951 – 2014

“You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

At first I thought it was just me and my often silly human mind. But I felt the earth move yesterday. Not in the physical realm but in the global consciousness we all share. After bumping into people all day who are close to me, I found I was not alone. Prolonged hugs seemed to be the norm, instead of just saying see you later.

07/29/14

My “Peace in the Middle East” Piece

Quick as a bunny, where is this picture taken?

tehran

 

It’s not entering Vancouver BC, nor any other similiar city in the States. But it could be.

It is but a large, typical human city, with the only differences perhaps being in diet, language and skin color. But then in most major cities today around the globe, multiples of such differences are coexisting within their own populations, and makes such cities, as the one shown here, so cultural, vibrant and alive. People, who are young and old, whether man, woman or gay. Of different beliefs and traditions, yet still get along with one another. A few have too much; far too many have nothing at all, while some are actually comfortably happy in the middle. Such cities are populated predominately by good folk; whose lives sometimes only get disrupted by wayward souls not handling today’s society, elected officials, middle management, entitled and rabid by-law aficionados,  fools, or the occasional true bastard or bitch. Life in the city.

Most are not concerned with world affairs at all, because instead, they are trying to focus on their own life, their own world-view, and the lives of the individuals who make up their life. Just doing the best they can, and trying to make each day count, and perhaps mean something, for not only themselves but for their friends and family as well. Hoping to make a difference and being happy with what you got, and with what one can achieve. All the while simply trying to put food on the table and have a roof over your head where you can crash, quietly, securely and safely. And each day go out into the world and do whatever you need to do, just don’t hurt anybody or yourself doing it.

The picture above is of a city that once the Nazis get done with persecuting, starving and killing, especially those who resist and shoot back, the Jews held within the Warsaw Ghetto, then move into the realm of trying to exterminate them…….. Oh my, I am sorry, wrong century.

The picture above is of a city that, once Israel is done with killing as many Palestinians in the Gaza Ghetto as they can, and then afterwards continue to persecute and starve the survivors, because such people have been made into “the other”, thus looked at as less than human, much like they themselves once were, will be next on Israel’s agenda and list of things to do, and kill if they have to.

Making their enemies, less than, is why in Israeli mathematics, perhaps one, maybe two, Israeli soldier deaths equal, or as often the case, be of greater value than, five hundred Palestinian civilian men, women and children killed.  Or that they stress to the media that they warn beforehand a neighborhood which will be reduced to rubble and that for the Palestinian people to run and hide. Run to where?

The Gaza strip is surrounded. For all intents and purposes it is a large concentration camp. To their west lies the Mediterranean Sea, where offshore an Israeli Naval armada sits and pounds them daily. Their 11km (6.8mi) southern border is heavily fortified by Egypt, who doesn’t like Sunni Muslims, which make up much of the Gazan population. To the east and north is their 51km (32mi) heavily fenced, mined, and armed border with Israel.  While the sounds of jets, helicopters and drones, hum from the overhead sky 24/7. All together, the Gaza Strip is 41km (25mi) long, 6 to 12 km (3.7 to 7.5mi) wide, with an area of only 365 km sq (139 sq mi). Within this space 1.8 million people live, well sort of live, with over half under the age of eighteen. The density is 5046 people every squared kilometer (13,000 people every square mile), making it one of the most densely populated parts in the world. Somebody farts and others will smell it, so of course a tank round’s explosion will kill and maim everyone around it, whether one is hiding or not.

Because in reality, Andrew Exum, a former US army officer and defence department special adviser on the Middle East, and who has studied Israel’s military operations, says this about what is going on in Gaza today, and how difficult it really is to target individuals and not have any collateral damage, “There are good strategic reasons to avoid using air power and artillery in these conflicts: they tend to be pretty indiscriminate in their effects and make it difficult for the population under fire to figure out what they’re supposed to do to be safe.” 

Military analysts and human rights observers say Israel is still using predominately, unguided, indirect fire with high-explosive shells, which are totally inappropriate for use on the Palestinians in Gaza. Exum adds, “[Israel’s 155m howitzer] shells have a lethal radius of 50 to 150 metres and causes injury up to 300 metres from its point of impact. Furthermore, such indirect-fire artillery (meaning it is fired out of direct sight of the target) has a margin of error of 200 to 300 metres.” Obviously meaning, the Israeli’s are killing Palestinian civilians on purpose.

As for rockets fired into Israel, it’s a war; and being the elected body, Hamas is allowed to defend themselves and fight for the end of their apartheid, much like what went on in places like Soweto and Belfast back in the day. Besides, their crude rockets are often either shot down, land harmlessly in open areas, or yes sometimes, even fall short. As far as the Israeli population in range, all they really have to put up with is occassional falling from the sky debris, which has only killed three people. Meanwhile the Gazans are getting the holy book thrown at them. Military technology and hardware being tested, missiles, jets, cruisers, tanks, drones, helicopters, ever more heavily armed and supported ground troops, and who knows what, because this time, the Israeli’s are intent of finally ridding themselves of these lesser people they have locked up in Gaza. Especially the children.

According to Pernille Ironside, who runs the UNICEF field office in Gaza, it is estimated that so far roughly “373,000 Palestinian children have had some kind of direct traumatic experience as a result of the attack and will require immediate psycho-social support. This is in addition to the 408 children reported as killed and the thousands left wounded.”

After Gaza, and with flared nostrils, filled with racism and exceptionalism, Israel will no doubt once again focus and be obsessed with the city pictured above, and its country. But not before world leaders will stand in front of podiums, and in strong voices, once again announce that we must never forget what just happened in Gaza, but must remember it always, so that such a thing may never happen again.

Government controlled mainstream media in Israel, the States, and to an ever greater extent as of late, in Canada, already deems the country pictured above, “the other” as well. So when Israel actually does something, the no doubt disproportional casualties and destruction will be easier to swallow. If they do go in, I’m sure the States especially, but a few other countries as well, like Canada perhaps, will continue to obediently stand behind them in lap dog like support. Hopefully the saner people of these countries, as they are increasingly doing, will stand up and tell those whom they voted for to cease and desist, though I highly doubt such a fantasy happening.

As to the situation in Gaza today, it looks like I’ll sadly have to add an attachment to The Borborygmus Which is Palestine – An Essay on Apartheid, which I posted in December/2012, and after the human atrocities are over in Gaza, I will be able to compare it to the transcripts of the Nuremburg Trials, oops did it again, wrong century. Sorry. I mean compare it to possible future war crime trials against Israel. Though in reality, the States will never allow such a thing to happen, because they are complicit, with no one to hold them accountable for anything they do, much like the Israelis, nor do they both seem to even hold themselves accountable anymore, perhaps they can’t, I don’t know.

As a superpower the States does seem to be fading in many parts of the world, not so much militarily, but the disdain, lack of respect and actions other countries now show, and act upon, towards American diplomats, who are still clothed in attitude and so-called ideals, like so-called democracy, speaks volumes. Much of the chaos in the world today was created by the States, and many sociopathic hawks and beurocrats, running many governments all over the world, are not buying the American loud and proud bullshit anymore, and are willing to take the risk and simply take what they want. Alas, the madness which is human history continues.

 

The picture above………Tehran, Iran   Sept.2012    Photo: Fred Dufour/ AFP/ Getty Images

 

 

 

09/30/13

You have got to be kidding me – The 2013 Queens Jubilee Awards

 

Diamond_Jubilee_Medal_webOnce again, to honor and commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II ascension to the throne of the British Empire last year, Canada awarded another 60,000 “deserving Canadians” the Diamond Jubilee Medal. Each Member of Parliament will be giving 30 medals to their fellow citizens “for their contributions to the country, their province or their region.”

The medal honors those who have made significant contributions to their country, or achievements abroad which brought credit to Canada. It is an award that can honor anyone, from ditch digger to bureaucrat. Unfortunately, morality, maturity, character or ethics are not factors in the selection process. And one could only hope that 99% of the medals given out, from Haida Gwaii to Newfoundland, are for contributions to their communities and fellow Canadians, and are people who make a difference that they are here and alive, and assisting their neighbours in whatever way they can.

I wrote an article on the inaugural awards given out last year, and of my sheer amazement when a member of parliament gave medals to two anti-abortionists, prone to fire-bombing, with one of them in prison when given the medal. But since we must award ignorance and entitlement in equal shares, continue to enact laws and regulations simply to protect the stupid and the corporations, and to continue to have to suffer fools, some of the selections for the Diamond Jubilee Medal this year has made me mutter in my beer, you have got to be kidding me, really. I shake my head in befuddlement and embarrassment.

Lucien Bouchard is a lawyer and politician who up to 1990 was a member of parliament and held various positions in the Progressive Conservative government under the Prime Minister at the time, Brian Mulroney. Bouchard stepped down from the Conservatives in 1990 after the Meech lake Accord, which he felt wasn’t sufficient in determining the rights or distinctions of Quebecers. PM Mulroney would later state that trusting Bouchard as much as he had was his most costly and regrettable error as PM. Bouchard would go on to form the Bloc Québécois, and lead them in the 1993 Federal election where they won 54 out of 75 ridings in Quebec, giving them the second most seats in the House of Commons. It was the first and only time in the history of Canada that a separatist was the leader of the opposition. Bouchard quickly realized that most of the 54 elected Bloc members didn’t speak English well enough to participate on the Common’s floor in parliament so he declares that henceforth, Bloc members will only speak French, which they still do today.

In 1995 the Quebec referendum was held, which would decide whether Quebec would separate from Canada. How close was it? – 50.58% against separation, 49.42% for. The next year Bouchard was elected premier of Quebec and held the position until 2001. In 2002 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, the QE II Golden Jubilee medal was awarded to those Canadians who had made “an honourable service in military, police, prison, and emergency forces, or for outstanding achievement or public service.” Bouchard received one, and today he receives another, proving being a monarchist or not, and wishing Quebec was separate from both the Queen and Country is not a criteria.

Then we have Alfonso Gagliano, former accountant and politician, who worked in government as a Liberal, from 1984 to 2002 in various capacities, including Minister of Labour, Canada Post, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and Political Minister for Quebec. It was always whispered that he had links to Montreal and Quebec organized crime, but to-date Gagliano still denies any involvement. In 2002 he was given the post of Canadian Ambassador to Denmark, but in 2004 was dismissed for being perhaps involved in the “sponsorship scandal.” The scandal involved Gagliano when he was Minister of Public Works, and a $100 million program that was set up intending to raise the federal government’s profile in Quebec, but instead simply went to Liberal friendly ad agencies.

With an overall operating cost of $14 million, the Gomery Commission was established to conduct a public inquiry into the scandal.They would find that $2 million in contracts were given out without any bidding process, $250,000 was found to be added to one contract for no additional work, and $1.5 million was awarded for work that was never done. At the conclusion of the inquiry, Gagliano would be the highest ranking Liberal to ever be charged with deliberate dishonesty, rather than negligence. Soon after, Liberal Premier Paul Martin expelled Gagliano from the Liberal party for life. But this year Gagliano has won a Queens Jubilee Medal, for being an outstanding Canadian, and instantly tarnishing all those who actually deserve the award.

Another Jubilee winner this year is Pamela Wallin, a television journalist and game show host, who in 2002, was appointed Canada’s Counsel General in New York City by Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretian. She held the position for four years, then in 2006, sat on the board of Bell Globalmedia. A year later she would be sitting on the board of Oilsands Quest Inc., Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc., an investment and wealth management firm, and on the advisory board of BMO Harris Bank. As a bonus, the same year, she was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada.

In 2009, on the advice of Conservative Prime Minister Stevie Harper, Wallin was appointed a Canadian Senator. Four short years later, in 2013, she would step down from three paid positions she held outside of the Senate, when she became embroiled in the Senate expense scandal, where in Feb. 2013, Senators Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, and Mac Harb were forensically audited on suspicion of fraudulent claims. In May 2013 Wallin resigned from the Senate Conservative caucus, and in August was ordered to pay back $121,348 in improper expense claims. In September she would write a check and pay it off. The case has been referred to the RCMP, and Wallin is under a continuing investigation.

Coincidently and astonishingly, fellow Senator Brazeau, also won the Queens Jubilee Medal this year. A Quebecer, Brazeau was the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) from 2006 to 2009. In 2009, amidst a sexual harassment complaint brought against him to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and facing allegations of improper spending of funds received by CAP for aboriginal health programs, Prime Minster Stevie Harper recommended Brazeau to become a senator, and so he became. At the time Brazeau tried keeping both, his senator’s seat and his national chief of CAP job, thus collecting two publically funded six figure incomes. He wilted quickly and the next day resigned from CAP.

While sitting as a Senator, Brazeau had one the worst attendance records of all 105 members. From June 2011 to Apr. 2012 for example, the Senate met 72 times; Brazeau was absent 25% of the time. As Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee he was absent 31% of the time. On the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples he was absent 65% of the time. Enough said.

In Feb 2013, he was kicked out of the Conservative Party after being arrested for assault against a woman. Recently suspended as a Senator, Brazeau is also under RCMP investigations into housing expenses and tax-filings, prior to him becoming a Senator, as well as currently under RCMP investigation for Breach of Trust.

Other recipients of such an honour, were 36 year-old Ray Novack, who lived above Harper’s garage for four years when Harper was serving as leader of the official opposition, and who is now Harper’s brand new Chief of Staff, after Harper lost his old Chief of Staff to the Senate scandal. And, also brand new, Deputy Chief of Staff, Jenni Byrne, who also won the Jubilee Medal. And heck, why not? Justin Beiber also received the Queens Jubilee Medal. Methinks for being a cartoon character.

I myself know a fellow who is into car crime. Enjoys smashing windows, stealing cars then destroying them, but who also happens to keeps dozens of Canadians in work, from cops to insurance companies, tow-truck drivers, mechanics, jail guards and repairmen. It’s like he creates an economy around him, helping other Canadians provide for their families. He has been staying home over the past few weeks waiting for his own Queens Jubilee Medal to come in the mail, and is confused and worried because it hasn’t arrived yet.

 

01/7/13

Idle No More and Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence

Right off the bat I’d like to say that I am all for the growing, Idle No More movement, which is protesting environmental and human rights issues, not only with First nations, but all Canadians. The Harper government simply cannot keep going down the road they are leading us, eliminating environmental regulations so that we can whore our natural resources to the highest bidder and create an ever widening gap in equality in Canada, where child poverty, polluted lands and water, and a fragile economy take a back seat to the desires of the irrational and greedy fossil fuels industries and foreign corporations.

Many Canadians have a problem with such things as the Alberta Tar Sands, the proposed Enbridge pipeline and twinning of the Kinder Morgan petroleum lines and we all should be concerned about our personal rights being eroded piecemeal.

As for the problems that First nation peoples have, there are many very complex issues, and it will take exceptional leadership and empathy, which is seriously lacking in Canada, to remedy over a century of ignorance, greed and sloth.

First Nations Chiefs indeed speak out against the assault on our environment but when it comes to their own tribe, it is another thing altogether. Yes some of them make their concerns known about their people, while others do not because they do not want to rock the boat and would like to keep what they have acquired.

Like I said I’m all for speaking out against the Harper government’s insane and asinine decisions. If you have read some of my posts you pretty well know my feelings as to the rape of Canada. I do worry and have an issue with the Idle No More movement continuing to hang their hat with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence.

Yes, many First Nations communities live in squalor and poverty, with unsafe housing and water supplies. But a trait they seem to have is that no matter what the chief says or does, no one in the tribe speaks their own voice. Everyone plays the ingrained, I am a victim card. They accept the way things are and refuse to speak out against those who rule over them, not only the Harper government but their own leaders as well.

The Idle No More movement will be in dire difficulties looking for support if they and the corporate media continue to dance with Theresa Spence, treating her as though she is representative of all First Nations people.

Enough bullshit I say. Her faux hunger strike is basically a diet she obviously needs. I could live for years on fish soup, herbs and tea, as well, would be detoxified of all the poisons we ingest each day. As far as her home village of Attawapiskat, it is a typical native community, where there is little or no running water and basic services, multiple health and safety issues, and most of the tribe live in poverty, even though the federal government gave $7.9 billion last year to the Aboriginal Affairs department, which oversees the just over one million First Nations people of Canada. Attawapiskat alone has received over $104 million since 2005.

The community itself has about 300 homes, with a population of 1549 people, one-third of which are under 19 yrs old. They also have their own health authority, school board, power and development corporations, and a corporation to run their hockey rink. They also have an unbelievable, 21 full-time and well-paid band councillors/politicians; one representative for every 71 residents.

In 2006, De Beers, the world’s largest diamond mining corporation moved in nearby. Besides polluting the land and water they pay for the pillaging handsomely. Between the federal government and De Beers, the money pouring into Attawapiskat works out to be about $250,000 per family per year tax free, with $450,000 a month going into the community, in welfare payments alone.

Then we have Chief Spence. In the fall of 2011 she declared a state of emergency for her community. The media were all over it. While the “crisis” was going on, Attawapiskat purchased a new ice cleaner for their hockey rink for $96,000. Today Chief Spence makes about $70,000 a year tax free and drives a $60,000 Escalade. In 2011 the band spent $200,000 on gifts and $36,000 on goose hunting. The same year, acting manager, Wayne Turner was paid more than $68,000 for travel expenses over a two month period. Currently, Chief Spence’s boyfriend, Clayton Kennedy, holds the title of town manager and earns $850 per day tax free, making over $250,000 a year.

As a corporation Attawapiskat is doing very well. While their people keep their lips sealed and heads in the sand, Attawapiskat’s worth consists of over $9 million in stocks in Apple, Disney, and Chinese cell-phone companies. In 2010 they made $2.7 million in profits, while in 2011 profits were $3.1 million.

Very recently the Harper government tried to audit Attawapiskat, to no avail, as over four-fifths of their paperwork was either entered wrong or is missing.

All of this does not surprise me. A native community is just like a non-native community, or rather any human community. It’s all about the money, how to get it, and most importantly how to keep it. And then of course how to spend it. Many leaders of First Nations communities are very similar to Harper’s puppets in parliament. Mum’s the word, so that they can keep what they have, immorally taken from those who they supposedly represent, whether its handouts, salaries or pensions, and pleasantly smile and say everything is all right, yet wishing they could tell us all to just fuck off and mind our own business.

 

10/23/12

The Queen’s award for Ignorance and Intolerance

To honor and commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II ascension to the throne of the British Empire, Canada will be awarding 60,000 “deserving Canadians” the Diamond Jubilee Medal. Each Member of Parliament will be giving 30 medals to their fellow citizens “for their contributions to the country, their province or their region.”

Many of the recipients are receiving their medals for being victims of injustice. Which bodes well considering the Harper government, through multiple omnibus bills, has decided to get tough on crime and to start actually incarcerating repeat offenders.

One of Harper’s underlings, Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, supposedly representing his constituents in Saskatchewan, at least he should be, has chosen two convicted criminals, both repeat offenders, with one currently serving time in Toronto, as recipients of the Diamond Jubilee medal.

Linda Gibbons and Mary Wagner are described by Vellacott as being “heroines of humanity” and “precious women.”  He applauds their “civil disobedience to further a just cause.” He compares them to Martin Luther King Jr. The pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition, describes both women as possessing quiet, meek and prayerful natures, so humble that they remind the Coalition of Mother Theresa.

And to what has deemed these two women so honored and appreciated? They attack abortion clinics. As Vellacott proudly announced, Gibbons and Wagner are deserving of the medal for “protecting defenceless, voiceless human beings in the womb from butchery and death.” Seriously I wish I was making this up.

Harper has said numerous times he has no interest in addressing the abortion issue head-on. Personally perhaps not, but I am sure the issue can be addressed just as well through members of his flock. A couple of examples being, Vellacott is also calling for Planned Parenthood’s funding to be taken away, and in June 2012 Canada pledged $1.1 billion to a global initiative on Maternal and Child health for developing countries, though under strict conditions that no funds to be used for abortions.

As to the medal winning Mother Theresa’s, Gibbons and Wagner, Gibbons has been in and out of jail for over ten years for violating injunctions to do with clinics that perform abortions. Arrested repeatedly, she refuses to sign bail orders. The first injunction against her, and others, was in the early 90’s after a clinic in Toronto was firebombed.

Wagner meanwhile is currently serving time in a Toronto jail for mischief and breaching court orders. She has also been arrested repeatedly, most of the time for violations of probation terms. She has been convicted four times since 2000. The present charge of breaching court orders has to do with her last trial where she was found guilty of trespassing and two counts of breach of probation. She appealed but the judge declared her guilty once again. She got time served (88 days) and three years’ probation, which she has just broken. The presiding judge at her appeal felt she has “utter contempt for court orders, lack of respect for the rights of others, and the rule of law.” He also added that she represented “a potential threat and danger to the well being and safety of civil society.”

The question now is will “deserving Canadians” Gibbons and Wagner be allowed to wear their Diamond Jubilee Medals, awarded for “their contributions to the country, their province or their region”, whenever they are incarcerated?

Simply amazing that by entering a legal clinic, which performs legal operations, and harassing, disrupting and upsetting the women and staff there, who are already struggling with a very difficult decision, one could win a medal for “civil disobedience to further a just cause.” Will they now enter a clinic and psychologically damage women further by shoving their medals in the crying women’s faces?

I once used to say, quite often actually, “only in America.” Boy was I wrong. As far as abortion, I feel a woman has the right to choose. And that it is between her, her doctor and those close to her. Not some person, who feels entitled, has zero tolerance of anything beyond what they personally believe and utter lack of respect for the rights of others.

I believe it was the American writer John Irving who recently said, “If you are against abortion, don’t have one.”

 

10/2/12

CAMA? Say it isn’t so Stevie Harper.

Why does the Prime Minister of Canada, Steven Harper hate science so much? I pondered.

Over the past year I’ve written many articles of my opinion or rather confoundedness, over the decisions made by the Harper government of Canada. Besides the ever quickening pace of trying to sell and export our limited natural resources as fast as possible, our government is also picking up the pace as to selling the companies that extract said resources, mostly to China. The government openly panders to the energy corporations, yet hinders working Canadians, all the while chiseling away at our basic human rights and civil liberties, especially women’s and children’s, and specifically dismantling most environmental protections and controls. At the same time our government gets rid of the jobs, shuts down the work and tapes shut the mouths of a world renowned, respected science community, especially in natural resources and environmental science and technologies. From constant barrages of omnibus bills to funding cuts to nearly every government agency that deals with the environment and people or the safety and care of both.

We pull out of the Kyoto agreement yet have no national plan to battle climate change and carbon pollution. Local environmentalists and First Nations are branded foreign radicals, with Greenpeace called a “Multi-issue extremist group.” The charitable status of any group that dares to criticize the governments environmental performance or its subsidies for fossil fuels are threatened to be revoked, while journalists follow the lead of their corporate controlled employers by way of the Prime Minister’s office. Anything to do with safeguarding our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans has been gutted or dismantled, such as the Navigable Waters protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act.

The incredulous concepts that are entering government policy making should be scaring the bejesus out of you, it does me. Each new decision the federal government makes gives an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It has all seemed so confusing. But if you know history it is yet another remake of the chapter we’ve all seen before and which I will name at the end of this article.

We are already degrading our land and creating ever more inequality amongst people, what’s suddenly the big rush? What is taking prestige over reason? Why the desperate maddening pace and disregard for the earth? Why has reform become a dirty word to politicians? Why is the Harper government so adverse to science and rational debate?

But then a couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I had heard of CAMA, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, no I answered, having no clue. “Check it out”, he replied. And so I did. And the confusion I once felt is gone, now I’m seriously afraid.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance, was formed in 1887 by the Canadian evangelical pastor Albert Benjamin Simpson. Simpson, born on Prince Edward Island in 1843, was raised in a strict Calvinistic Scottish Presbyterian and Puritan tradition, though later he converted to Evangelicalism and was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor. He served churches in Canada and the United States and by 1880 arrived at the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church, in New York City, where he began to put together doctrine which emphasized global evangelism. Moving to what is known as the New York Tabernacle he began to preach his word and eventually his and others words would transform over the decades to become the Christian and Missionary Alliance. CAMA is based out of New York with a strong base of operations in Alberta. There are about 500,000 members in the States, mostly all Republicans and about 130,000 in Canada, mostly all Conservatives and mostly all living in Alberta. They have about three million members worldwide.

The tenets of CAMA’s gospel are; Jesus our savior, sanctifier, healer and coming king, as well as the “pursuit and promotion of the Higher Christian Life.” Their commitment is to promote a biblically-based world view centered on Jesus Christ.

Their values  include developing their pastoral and lay leadership; where women are strictly not allowed, nurturing the pastoral staff and their families, belief in Biblical conflict resolution, encouraging creativity and innovation in submission of spirit, empowering churches and strategic building of churches in all communities of the world. They also have an Environmental Transformational Plan, which describes their “life zones” or spiritual realities, but the plan has taken ecology completely out of context.

CAMA’s Church Planting Life Zone for instance believes in an environment perpetually growing, where “church planters and church congregations pregnant with new church planting ideas would be welcomed, encouraged and assisted in giving birth”, which means building a new church and finding new members is encouraged and would be supported by CAMA, and of course, “sources of funding would be accessed in order to provide a steady stream of resources for church planting opportunities.”  Further, in each Church Planting Zone, “multiplication-minded leaders are motivated and encouraged by catalytic events designed to expand their thinking and accelerate their passion.” Other life zones include the Global Seamless-Link Life Zone, Leadership Life Zone and Pastoral Health Life Zone, all placing much importance upon the church, its executive and the Second Coming of Christ.

Their core values begin with the authority of the bible, literately every word of it as it is written, and leadership, where they state that they intentionally identify and train “godly” leaders. They uphold biblical justice, minister to the poor and oppressed of only their communities, and encourage and strengthen marriages and families. Divorce is frowned upon and if caught as an adulterer one loses their right to ever remarry.

As far as stewardship of the earth they view “all our resources and possessions as God-owned and we use them with integrity, accountability and maximum effectiveness.” The world was created for them to use as they will, that God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage.

As to prayer they believe, “We do nothing until we pray”. The Canadian members pray for Canada and its government and that “Godly agendas are required through minority rule.” They pray for those “utterly unreached people group-those under the domination of Islam, closed Hindu and Buddhist nations, etc.” All non-believers of their doctrine are considered the “lost people’. They also pray for their church leaders, pastors and executive to receive the spirit of their God in “remarkable new ways” and for them to be “strategic in service.”

CAMA members truly believe the Second Coming is “imminent and will be personal and visible”. Much like the evangelical Jehovah Witnesses have believed that every year is going to be the last one, since 1870; where Jesus Christ will physically appear on earth and will reign for one thousand years and then there will be the Final Judgment. After which time, the universe, including the microscopic parts of heaven and earth, will be renewed to become a new and fresh heaven and earth. They also believe the world to be only 6,000 years old.

To survive the second coming they pray that their churches have the “budgets, decisions and staffing that reflect their kingdoms values.”  Only those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ will be born again and “justified, sanctified and granted the gift of eternal life as adopted children of God.”

Fields of flowers, blue clear skies, cold crystal clean water and natural resources will be renewed and the chosen one’s will live on, to use the world to their will and a vicious cycle would seemingly begin anew. I know the Bible well, and unfortunately nowhere does one find a story about a Third Coming.

Other  beliefs of CAMA include that the free market is divinely inspired, with libertarian economics being God’s will and that God is opposed to government regulation or taxation for he created government for limited purposes only and whom should never intervene in the workings of a free market economy. They also oddly enough, though I am sure Charles Darwin isn’t their kind of scientist, seem to believe in the new social Darwinism, where the adage has been changed to the survival of the richest, not the fittest, will somehow benefit society and everyone else are simply lacking the motivation and ambition to help themselves.

Besides not having any regard for the environment and not putting any belief in science, they have utter contempt for homosexual relationships, abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia and the use of marijuana. They demand the complete loyalty of their members to their organization, possess extreme disdain for mainstream media, but then don’t we all in its current state, and believe wholeheartedly in the Dominion Theory, where humans were made to subdue and rule over all of creation. Because when it all collapses, no worries, God will fix it.

Because the Christian and Missionary Alliance do not put any faith in the notion of climate change due to human contribution and don’t think much of science in general, they are closely affiliated to another appendage of themselves in the Cornwall Alliance, a right wing coalition of scholars, evangelicals and economists, many who are Christian Alliance members, and formed in 2000 with the introduction of the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. Their motto is Dominion, Stewardship and Conservation; they “aspire to a world in which liberty as a condition of moral action is preferred over government-initiated management of the environment as a means to common goals.” Their main threats are science and anything to do with monitoring the environment.  They indeed have a very evangelical biblical view of the planet, but then as do so many other faiths and organizations. It’s why they all despise each other so much, would like very much to rid each other off the planet and to be just left alone, to be the only one left when human endeavor drives off the edge of the cliff. While extremists at both ends of the spectrum seem to have no qualms on creating an Armageddon themselves if they have to, just to prove their points.

Within the Cornwall Declaration are statements that were surreal to read, seemingly out of this world, time and place. I kept looking around, thinking someone was playing a joke on me or perhaps I was even being punk’d. The statements within the declaration include that policies to combat climate change would and are, destroying jobs. Besides, they say the trillions of dollars it would take to combat our affect on the planet would bring “no net benefits.” They also assert that any impediment on economic development such as raising energy prices, would take away the ability of the worlds poor to rise out of poverty, thus “so condemn millions to premature death.” They believe one of the worst things to do would be to continue trying to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, because it will only increase the price of energy and harm the world’s economies. In fact they flat out deny that carbon dioxide is harmful to the planet because it is “essential to all plant growth.” Believing the energy from their God’s planet must be abundant and affordable until the day he soon arrives, they feel fossil and nuclear fuels as being the perfect sources for this. Policies to control global warming they deem, “fruitless and harmful”, because the earth is “self  regulating and self correcting” and besides the earth was made to be used, so that humanity may flourish and display God’s glory.

As far as alternative and renewable forms of energy, they believe that such things as wind and solar power will only be good enough for either “poor or rural peoples.” Going further into the declaration; they do not feel that humanity is only consumers and polluters but instead we are producers and stewards. One of their main goals is to reduce the need for collective ownership and control of both, the earth’s resources and corporations, and if there is to be any collective action it must be taken at the most local level possible. They also wish everyone would just recognize their proper place in their God’s created order.

I began this article asking a few questions about the madness that seems to be enveloping Canada. The denying of science’s role in environmental and social decisions; cutbacks to fading social programs such as unemployment, pensions, health and welfare; the attempt to become a militaristic badass in the world;  the ongoing destruction of our basic human rights; the death of our will to vote; and the insane and desperate need for the status quo to continue.

The outcome of the last federal election, where 39% of those who voted elected a majority Conservative government, brought forth once again, the Harper government. It would seem we Canadians have a democracy problem. According to the Harper government’s agenda and policies, especially at the quickened pace as of late one can only surmise what’s behind such asinine decisions. Well surmise no more.

Yes, kept behind Oz’s curtain, glimpsed at only briefly, with nearly no one knowing, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance for nearly twenty years. He has always been questioned of perhaps having a hidden agenda. He does and it could very well be his God’s agenda, heaven forbid.

Other notable members of CAMA include many TV pastors and healing evangelists such as F.F. Bosworth and Clement Humbard; Billy Graham’s first African-American evangelist, Preston Manning; founder and former leader of the Reform party of Canada, and the now deceased, American Evangelist Billy Graham, who became a member of CAMA in 1933 but who was actually a Democrat and not completely on the religious right, once saying that Jesus did not have a political party.

Another long standing CAMA member is former Canadian Conservative cabinet minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Chuck Strahl, who in June 2012 was proudly given the chairman’s position of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the lone watchdog which oversees Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), by his close friend Stephen Harper. The sounds you should be hearing are the goose bumps bubbling out of your skin.

Is the Prime Minister of Canada really basing his decisions on what Canadians need and want today and tomorrow or instead on what was written by many and then translated dozens of times, two thousand years ago? His positions on research, statistics, protestors, journalists, First Nation’s people, women, children, pipeline opponents and climate change cannot but make one wonder what is exactly going on here. Though with his buddy Strahl now in charge of Canada’s Secret Service we may never know. Heck I could even disappear or be tagged as a radical dissident after this article is posted.

I am not anti-religious, I do believe in spirituality; the spark of energy every living thing on the planet possesses and that we all share. Most organised religions have made a lot of money and gained much power over the millennia trying to control that spark. Usually by making that spark of energy negative and flawed as it were born and the only way to bring light back into it is by sacrifice, devotion and fear of either one god or many gods. On the flip side, whatever belief system a person has to keep them feeling centered, their lives rewarding, fulfilled and honest is right for them, for the Canadian Charter of Rights protects the freedom of religion, but it also protects our rights of freedom from religion. This is one of the reasons Canada is such a diverse place, where no matter one’s personal religion or race, its live and let live.

But if a Republican evangelical belief system enters the Canadian Prime Minister’s office, we Canadians should know about it, and seriously consider “the virtues of democracy over theocracy.” Remember, everyone not within the republican evangelical tribe are the “lost people” or “the others”, especially if you happen to be disabled, elderly, poor or a veteran.

More frequently, the Harper government’s policies are going against most Canadian’s values, with the words irresponsible, unethical, blatant and arrogant being bandied about more than usual. Any programs for promotion of renewable energy and home-energy efficiency have been thrown to the wayside. Yet in reality, investing in renewable energy will create more jobs than the fossil fuel industry ever could and the investment would be highly likely to pay off, it has to, for survival’s sake. Unfortunately the Harper government is continuing to rely on our economics to grow their way out of the problem of climate change and  haven’t realized yet that it will be too little too late and will not work. The earth does not care about economics. Instead of dealing with the causes of climate change it seems the world’s leaders would rather “watch the ice melt and then divide up the spoils.”

The English writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was often referred to as the “prince of paradox” for his prolific and diverse published works. He was a true radical, meaning he sought the root or origin of an issue, any issue and eventually became a Catholic to boot. Over seventy years ago he would write, “The old hypocrite was a man whose aims were really worldly and practical, while he pretended that they were religious. The new hypocrite is one whose aims are really religious, while he pretends that they are worldly and practical.” He felt government was going to operate in a way where, “The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected”, quite astute that Gilbert, I do say.

Meanwhile we Canadians have another three years with PM Stephen Harper as our country’s leader. The question of where does his ideas come from, whether from fellow Canadians or from God, needs to be asked. Is policy, especially towards the environment, really being motivated by religious faith over reason? But then whether religion is a factor in government policies or just plain old greed, they are both of the same cloth. It is being proven daily that the diffusion of aggressive social conservatism based on evangelical beliefs is impossible to keep out of politics here or in the States. The difference is in the States they are oblivious to how ignorant they are to their ignorance and in Canada we just don’t hear about it and simply don’t ask. As far as the media and Stephen Harper’s religious affiliation goes it’s been mum’s the word.

The vision of a conservative society, where the privileged few would rule but understand the responsibility that came with such power, of being accountable to all citizens, whether they be poor or not, and who would act only for the common good, was held by many great leaders over the past century. Since killing off some of these great leaders in the late 60’s, the new religion that has become termed “conservatism” has arose, widening even further the inequality of our society, ignorant to any responsibility to the people or the public good, and is ego maniacal, quasi-psychopathic and greedy.

What will our environment and society look like in three years? Will we have sold off most of our resources by then and continue to ignore extreme weather and a ravaged oil soaked land and sea, as our infrastructure crumbles around us, with too high food prices, more starvation and ill health?  Will most social programs once supplied by the government be gone and communities will be more on their own and somehow funding themselves instead? Will homosexuality once again become stigmatized, forbidden and eventually against the law like abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia and protest of any kind could very well be?  Will a new private prison corporation build more prisons to house people who were either caught or even suspected of smoking a joint? Perhaps more fines, impoundments, licence removal and in many cases, jobs lost, because there will be zero tolerance for drinking and driving, with the limit point oh oh. How far shall I go here? Switch over and start reading George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, all over again to verify how much truth and foresight both authors spoke? Especially Orwell’s notion of “doublethink”, which means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously, which could be the Harper government’s problem believing in greed and God at the same time.

The Conservative right, on both sides of the border, may have abandoned truth and fact but we must not. The facts are the obligations to the things that matter in our lives, such as our health, meaningful work, family and our environment. One of the reasons our cultures are fracturing apart and decaying is because of our use of disengagement and distraction as an excuse for our ignorance; it is eating away at our souls. We continue to buy what corporate governments sell and lose value in the simple truth. While empathy, which has been taught over the past few decades as being “soft” and which is nearly extinct in many places, is actually as powerful as intelligence and knowing the facts in being a force with which to act. But we have been disengaged for so long we’ve forgotten how to drive standard.

First gear definitely has to be asking if indeed our future is being planned by ourselves and those who represent us or being dictated upon corporate ideology and make believe. Switching gears should be easier after that especially when more and more people realize that they are not alone. There are so many good things being done to better the planet and our lives, by many people, companies and yes, even a few corporations, the world over. Unfortunately the richest corporation’s ravenous quickening pace is leaving a diseased, spoiled wasteland behind.

I’d love to ask Stephen Harper; What if we destroy the ecosystems and non-human species of the planet, change the climate, melt the polar ice caps, acidify the oceans and rivers, use up all the earth’s resources and Jesus Christ does not arrive? No sign at all, no phone call, nothing, what then?

Ending this article as if I had included a drawing I did of Muhammad, I ask what of humanity in the scenario above? Would the laws that would have been put in place by then, which is not so far off as many think, be similar to the laws that became the Nuremberg Laws of Citizenship and Race, released in Germany in 1935, by the degenerate psychopathic Adolf Hitler? The first law of this doctrine is similar to many documents worldwide, though in this case “kindred blood” sort of curls one’s nose hairs. But say the word “Reich”, was replaced with the Harper Conservatives of Canada, if indeed influenced by the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the word “German” perhaps replaced with Evangelical. This could be the new Charter of Rights they desperately seek. The Republicans in the States would fit the bill as well and we know what carrot they are blindly following.

“A citizen of the Reich may be only one who is of German or kindred blood, and who through his behaviour, shows that he is both desirous and personally fit to serve loyally the German people and the Reich.”

And so it began. More laws were to be added, starting with the simple banning of homosexuals, Jews and most all religions, foreigners, undesirables, the homeless and poor and elderly, writers, dissidents, thinkers, artists and many other “lost people”, whether man, woman or child. The banning would then become incarceration in work camps, with the final step being the Jewish issue, which was taken care of a few years later when Hitler attached another law, a Conservative Harper, omnibus type bill, which was called the “Final Solution” and after the smoke cleared, more than14 million people, 6 million of them Jews, had faced their Final Judgment and would die, because they were not members of his tribe.

Do we not bring up such past evils and horror; so that we can make sure they never happen again? This time though, the earth will soon be incapable of handling the human drama of our egos, the way we live, think and treat each other and it. We must not continue on being dismissive any longer or go “quietly into the night”. The Second Coming is nearing, but it’s got nothing to do with God and everything to do with us and our actions as a species today.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

Further reading;

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/religions-fair-game-if-it-motivates-politics/article4450326/

http://www.macleans.ca/culture/lifestyle/article.jsp?content=20060220_121848_121848

 

05/28/12

Student Protests: One Coin Two Sides

The student protests in Quebec, now over one hundred days in, are not unique but very similar to what’s happening in many places on the planet. Civil unrest is dominating and defining this decade, with more people each day standing up and, quietly at first, saying enough is enough.

The obedient governments that the powers that be control are becoming anxious, nervous behind their arrogance. The escalation of violence that is being used by the authorities to quell any type of demonstration only shows how those in charge are becoming both scared and paranoid. There is a growing tide of people where the corporate elite’s tools of distraction are not working anymore. Both sides are seeing the end game.

The Quebec student protests in particular are happening because of a combination of things. Firstly, there is a huge disconnect between the students, along with many others, and the provincial Liberal government’s neo-liberal economic policies and plans to raise tuition. Rising tuition rates became the fuse, but are not the only reasons why these Quebec protests have become the “biggest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.”

Education is just like everything else today, it’s a business. Even as all the basic elements that sustain life have become cash products, education costs. Higher education is becoming no longer accessible to the majority of people. But then the bubble that was the belief that getting an actual degree in something would somehow guarantee one a job burst years ago. It is skills that are needed not portfolios. I am sure there are also many who have gone onto college or university not necessarily for the learning but because of the marketing to do so, on themselves and their parents. The continuation of a lifestyle, of a high school atmosphere, where party-hardy is often one’s major.

As for the business of education itself, for the year 2011, Harvard University, in the United States, ran a deficit of $130 million on $3.9 billion in expenses. In Canada, McGill University brought in $1.5 billion in endowments alone. The University of British Columbia had $708 million in endowments. But where 20 years ago public funding made up 80% of a university’s total operating revenues, today it has dropped down to 50%, thus greater financial burden has been put onto students and universities alike. All because most “capitalistic-democratic” governments are slashing spending and of course the first to be classed as non-essential are social programs, including education.

As to the Quebec students and their problem with rising tuition rates, let us be inquisitive and compare, shall we? Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal party is planning to raise provincial tuition fees 82%, or $1,700, over the next five years. Even though Quebec is one of the most heavily taxed and indebted territories in North America, this past school term (2011-12), the full-time post secondary tuition fees in Quebec were $2,519., the lowest in Canada. And even with the proposed tuition hikes, they will still be one of the lowest in Canada. Since 2007-08 tuition rates in Quebec have risen about 25%. Total enrollment this past term was 487,482 students. Next lowest tuition fees in Canada, with an enrollment of 27,462 students, is Newfoundland/Labrador at $2,649 per. British Columbia’s tuition rate, with 260,000 enrolled, has actually gone down from 2007-08’s $4,922 to 2011-12’s $4852. Ontario has the most expensive tuition rates going from $5,388 in 2007-08 to 2011-12’s $6,640 and also having the highest enrollment at 745,455 students. New Brunswick is right up there as well, as to cost of education.

Comparing the costs a step further, for a full time student not living at home, a bachelor pad in Vancouver is the most expensive, with an average monthly rent of $839. Toronto is next with an average of $819 per month. In Victoria, rent averages $676 per month and one of the lowest monthly rental fees for a bachelor pad is in Montreal, Quebec, at $549 per month.

Much of the living and tuition costs for the average student are covered by student loans. Which is another aspect driving the protests. For many, after completing their education, rarely does one find employment in their chosen field. Reality kicks in and the job to simply put food on the table begins. On top of this they have their student loan debt to repay.

In 2011 the United States had 37 million borrowers of student loans, totaling $870 billion. Of this total about $234 billion or 27% of it is past due. The average outstanding is $23,300, with 25% owing more than $28,000, 10% owing more than $54,000 and 167,000 students owing more than $200,000 on their student loans. Further, $580 billion of the $870 billion in student loan debt is owed by Americans under the age of 40, with 10% of all loans defaulting in 2 years after graduation. Though President Obama recently dropped the interest rate on student loans to 10% of discretionary income, the interest rate has been 15%. While federal law dictates that there is no declaring bankruptcy on student loans and no debt relief. If you are unable to pay your student loan in the States it stays with you forever, even if you make it to the point where you start receiving old age social security payments, deductions to repay your student loan debt will be drawn.

In Canada the average, advanced education, student has almost $27,000 in debt when their studies are completed. In all, two million Canadians have student loans totalling $20 billion, with interest rates between 5-9%. British Columbia has the highest interest rates on student loans of 2.5% above prime, while in 2009 Newfoundland eliminated interest rates all together. The loans can be paid back in monthly payments over a 9.5 year period or can be extended to a pay period up to 14.5 years. Of course there is always the option of paying off loan as quick as you like. Most students believe they can pay off their loans in 5 years, in reality the average time is 10 years.

Then, when students graduate, they begin their journey to become a consumer and have to readjust themselves to the realities of the day. As of February 2011, mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit and student loans have put the average Canadian family in debt to the tune of $100,000, with debt to income ratio of 150%.

Another driver behind the 30% of Quebec students who are actually protesting is attitude. They are a generation that see the future clearly and they are afraid. Yet they are a more assertive and more confident group than previous generations. They are not intimidated by professors or any other adults for that matter, including their parents. Many now attending post-secondary schools have become a distraction for their teachers and fellow students alike. They have a deep sense of entitlement due to the last twenty years of child centered educating and parenting styles, each one has been repeatedly been told they will do great things in life. In school they demand better marks than they deserve, have no problem scorning and slighting professors, demand that deadlines be altered, that their explanations be accepted without confirmation or verification and would like course requirements to fit their schedules, to fit their availability to do the work. The concept of empathy has been thrown aside and forgotten. Many have learnt their life lessons by watching their parents, who the majority of the time have lived separate lives. Their childhoods have been all about societal permissiveness, overwhelming materialism, video games, texting and I-phones, sexualised TV, music and film and never reading anything of value. But then the more university students think they are sacred cows the more they become similar to the universities themselves, aloof and isolated. Within this ingrained attitude, reality must be quite the body blow and shock to the psyche. The horror of having been programmed into feeling self entitled yet unable to find the job you want.

Now the other side of the coin are the puppet masters. The corporate elite who are pressuring the governments they control to get a handle on this civil disturbances dissident thing. They are pressured themselves because they know we now know the end game. They do not care about this of course, even as their modes of distraction are wearing thin. The fact is nobody can afford the bells and whistles anymore. While the ones at the top arrogantly and blatantly continue try to make as much money from the earth’s resources as fast as they can before the wheels fall off and the planet is a wasteland. But more and more people each day are finally rising from the baby stage; where shiny things have always made our faces alight and cheeks glow, and we would goo goo gaa gaa and clap our hands, with big smiles on our faces. Not so much smiling going on these days. Which impels people all over the world to stand up, especially the young, who still are willing to believe, and the poor, because they got nothing to lose. The corporate elite are urgently trying to suppress the ability and freedom of assembly and protest of the growing amount of people who are becoming unfazed by the propaganda used by the use of distraction and suppression, whether on the street or online. The authorities have decided to do this through violence and because the corporate elite also love cash cows, they are using civil disobedience as just another income stream for their businesses of government.

The pretext of laws to do with dealing with free assembly and protest, are based on the premise; “To protect protesters and to protect the public”, and to be civil about it. In Quebec the authorities are using the tactic known as “kettling”, which oddly sounds like killing. It is where the police surround a large group and arrest every single person in that group. After a few hours or days of confinement and upon being released, each person arrested is given a ticket and fined an average of $640. To date (May25th) over 2500 protesters have been arrested with fines totalling $1.6 million. When the authorities actually receive this money is anyone’s guess. The crowds in Quebec, especially in Montreal, grew after the government’s attempt to suppress them a week ago by enacting Law 78. One point in this Law is raising the fines from $640 to $1000-$5000 per ticket, with much higher fines given to people deemed leaders of their peers. Wow, all the authorities have to do is arrest another 2500 citizens, fine them at least on average $2000 and voila, a cool $5 million in unpaid fines. Law 78 also states that any group of 50 or more people planning to meet must submit detailed plans to the authorities at least 8 hours before and which can be denied. Another slippery slope we have walked upon my friends, how soon does the day arrive where in North America, when four or more people standing on the street corner talking will be broken up and deemed a civil disobedience.

Another fear that the mainstream media is pushing is, if the protests keep happening they will upset such things as the Montreal Jazz festival, the Just for Laughs festival and a Formula One Grand Prix race. All components of the distraction theme and in reality are events that the average person cannot afford to attend or buy the t-shirts. Especially the car race, where millionaires gather to watch million dollar combustible-engine race cars race around a million dollar race track in a city, then fly off in personal aircraft to the next party, leaving the greasy smear of their carbon footprint behind. It is one of their playgrounds for a couple of days, much like the chariot races were for the elite of Ancient Rome.

Right now in Canada, our corporate government has but only one concern. And that is the wealth they can make from the oil-sands of Alberta. To be able to continue to subsidize the multi-billion dollar oil companies with billions of Canadian dollars, cuts of course have to be made elsewhere. Thus much hacking and whacking of social programs is being carried out. And we the people are feeling every hack and whack. While at the same time an undercurrent of anger and frustration is rising in people, stemming perhaps, from 2008 and the global economic crises that exploded and continues on today. The fact that the corporate financial world that caused and continues to cause it were not held accountable, but instead were bailed out, so they can carry on their insatiable ways. But it could also prove to be one move too many on their part.

As to freedom of peaceful assembly and protest, when it is for righting an obvious wrong and as long as one is not dressed in neo-Nazi black, wearing a balaclava, toting a fully loaded knapsack and needing to create chaos, there is nothing wrong with it. Is it not what being a community all is about? We must not allow our governments to make us think it is wrong.

Both sides of the Quebec student protests will eventually come to terms because even though more and more people are seeing that something is fundamentally wrong with society, the Quebec protest was over money, specifically tuition fees, the need for more accessible higher education and the debt they accumulate while in school. It was not unlike, more than one hundred thousand people gathering for an alumni, Welcome to Reality festival. The universities themselves are as much to blame for such unrest. With tuition rates rising quickly to offset continuing losses and to keep the profit margin where they like it. As a business they have also had to make cuts, specifically in academic standards and institutional integrity, while continuing to sell and give away useless degrees and whose curriculums are filled with far too many inane and downright silly courses.  But then “taught knowledge” can only be learned and digested when you are aware of that moment, involved in that moment and not daydreaming about the coming weekends club crawl or where are you going to get your next meal.

We must stop relying so much on governments to create change. We must do this. The most personal, lifestyle, ecological and economic changes to us individually happen within the communities we live in. If your community is doing something you don’t like, go to the next municipal meeting and say your piece. The people you will be speaking with were elected to the position, not given to them. And in most cases such a process is working. To create change on the federal level, each one of us should vote, not for a party but for an individual who will speak on your behalf, not blindly follow the party line and most importantly, knows he or she will be held accountable. But reality dictates it is we and sustained movements that must create change for things such as inequality and poverty, because electoral victories do not.

All through history, whenever mankind arrived at a point where fundamental changes and the right decisions had to be made, often times we waited until we were standing on the edge of the precipice, teetering back and forth on the balls of our feet. Times when the outcome could go either way, like the flip of a coin. Let us not decide to take the easy route and simply fall or step off the edge, or be allowed to be pushed off and blindly rely on being distracted enough to ignore the feeling of the impact when we hit the bottom. But we instead take the harder, but true way, of stepping back. Reclaiming one’s bearings, keeping that coin solidly on its edge, and then with civility, getting together to create the changes our society desperately needs right now. Hopefully this is what is behind the students protesting in Quebec and hopefully this is an idea the government should seriously consider. I also hope both sides have their eyes wide open, are digesting the lessons learned and have the collective wisdom to make the right decisions. For indeed there are two sides to every coin but alas, only one planet.

 

 

 

05/14/12

Clown Town

Thoughts appeared on the pages of my notebook this evening. Whilst I sat out on the deck after a surprisingly hot May 13th, enjoying the only subtly cooler dusk air. I had been out and about for the day, enjoying the 30C weather, after only a few days before it being 11C. It was welcoming and worrying at the same time but I allowed myself to simply enjoy the suns warmth. Everyone was out and about as well it seemed.

The more my eyes roamed, my ears overheard and the airs breathed, it seemed that despite our sense of individualism and desperately trying to be so different we are all starting to look the same. We feel that the clothes we wear and how we keep our hairs defines us. The powers that be want us to be as individualistic as possible because they know it makes it more difficult for us to get together and discuss issues that concern us all. We continue to judge people by how they look. And in reality, everyone stereotypes. It doesn’t tell the whole story about a person of course but it says a lot and it keeps us separated.

During my walkabout today I watched a Nissan “Cube” drive by, a Dodge “Viper”, which peeled around a corner and sped off, the new Ford “Mustang Shelby” muscle car sitting inside a car dealer’s window waiting to get pulled over for speeding, a couple of those Dodge cars that look like those big engine, low profile mafia/ gangster cars from half a century ago, many Mercedes “Smart” cars and a couple of 4-door Jeeps on steroids. All looking like they had just jumped off a page of a comic book.

On my way home I sauntered past one of those instant neighbourhoods that had arose; seven distinct, character homes, each painted a different shade of colour, yet oddly, they all looked the same. Nearing the community I live in, I passed a dozen wives of young professionals travelling mostly in pairs. You could hear them talking way before they arrive. The carriages are machines unto themselves, able to withstand the twister that stole Dorothy away to OZ. Tied to every carriage, obediently trotting alongside, the dog, the majority of which were either chocolate or black Labs. And of course the black, elastic Lulu Lemon pants and thick foam soled jogger’s shoes the women wore obviously once again all the rage. I also observed many young men who are proud to walk down the street like a penguin with their pants hanging down to mid thigh. Why anyone would want to emulate the look of someone who had just shit their pants is beyond me.

But while I walk I greet everyone who makes eye-contact with a smile and a friendly hello. And nearly every time, no matter what they look like, you get one back. So that’s encouraging.

While I watched dusk melt into the darkness I remembered what had probably set me off on such a tangent. I had recently read the brilliant but chilling book by the American, James Howard Kunstler, “Home from Nowhere”. A seemingly dystopian, but very realistic look into today’s society if we do not stop “insidious corporate colonialism that does not care about the places from which it extracts its profits or the people subject to its operations” and get back to communities where the people who lived there cared about their community and which were supported by local economies. Kunstler has written many books, been a reporter, and has worked in a psychiatric hospital and in construction. He always seems able to see past the self-gratifying illusions we cloak ourselves in and give an honest, well summed up analyses of contemporary society. Kunstler is renowned for being “the guru” on new urbanism and the sustainable city.

And the words that he had put together, that had been rattling around my head, compelled me to pull out his book and seek them out. I quickly found them. And though he is talking about America, it can be compared to many places, including, sadly, cities in Canada.

“The United States is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world yet its inhabitants are strikingly unhappy. Accordingly, we present to the rest of mankind, on a planet rife with suffering and tragedy, the spectacle of a clown civilization. Sustained on a clown diet rich with sugar and fat, we have developed a clown physiognomy. We dress like clowns. We move about a landscape filled with cartoon buildings in clownmobiles, absorbed in clownish activities. We fill our idle hours enjoying the canned antics of professional clowns. We perceive God to be an elderly comedian. Death, when we acknowledge it, is just another pratfall on the boob tube.”

Kunstler accurately points out that suburbia is what brought all of the above into being, and the quicker we get rid of it the better. He feels the box-like architecture of today diminishes the value of the individual and the significance of public space. Suburbia has brought a “carton landscape of car-clogged highways, strip malls, tract houses, franchise fry pits, parking lots, junked cities and ravaged countryside.”

Though the above words may seem harsh to some, it’s a fact that reality does bite at times, especially when you are not aware of it. And like Kunstler, I also believe what is needed in cities today, where nearly everyone now lives, is more sense of community. A small town feel in an urban landscape. Communities where people actually care about each other and their surroundings, they work there, there is mutual concern for the energy they use, what they do about their waste, and they are places where people could drop the need to be individualistic and simply be themselves, a place where after wiping off the face paint, the freedom exists to say what one really thinks and feels, and being honest and respectful about it.

 

 

 

04/10/12

Greed and the Climate

Through the first couple of weeks of March 2012, the weather over the east coasts of Canada and the United States was not it’s usual self. But then the weather is out of whack all over the planet. From March 12th to the 20th, over seven thousand, daytime high temperatures and overnight low temperatures, records were set or tied in the United States alone. The first decade of the 21st century has been the warmest on record, on all continents. This past year had the highest level of tropical activity on record, while flooding is becoming the most frequent natural extreme event. The mainstream media reports such things of course but they become simple sound bites alongside other news stories such as “human interest stories”; saving puppies, an individual doing a good deed, some sort of grief or sadness that brings tears to your eyes and another instance of injustice and crime, which most often happens in the board room and in the offices of public officials than in the street.

As to the odd weather in March, the senior climatologist of Environment Canada, Dave Phillips stated the reason as being because Canada and the United States have just had their warmest winters on record, the air was not refrigerated or chilled and that it is “blowing back in the same temperature it left.” The weather is headlined as being “weird.” Mr Phillips goes on to explain that, “It’s like a greenhouse that’s not letting warm air leave.” Wow, that is weird, if one was bent over and had just pulled their head out of the sand. The preceding page of the above article covers other interesting stories such as the University of British Columbia being cleared of cruelty in the death of four monkeys used in the research of Parkinson’s disease and a tragic barn fire in which 18,000 chickens died horrible deaths.

Scientific consensus, talking to an elderly farmer, the feeling in the air or simply looking out your window confirms the fact that human activity is warming the planet and therefore creating climate change. But oh my, how perceptions change. In 2007 a Harris poll found that over 70% of Canadians and Americans believed fossil fuels would cause the climate to change. In 2009 it was down to 51%. By June 2011 it had dropped to 44%. Why? The fossil fuel industries and big business have been able to shift our thinking over a very short time and are winning, accelerating in their drive to gain as much as they can before it all runs out. As Bruce Springsteen sang in 1974’s Born to Run, “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.”

We are so fixated on becoming consumers that breathing clean air, eating good food and drinking clean water have become an irritable need, both time-wise and having to pay for them, while our personal world view’s scope, with the speed of new technology, is overwhelming us.

Our personal world views are actually quite small though. They are the people we come into contact with, either daily or weekly, including friends and coworkers; On average about 35-40 people, the size of a small tribe. Our world view is also the community we live in and what one must do during a day to have a roof to sleep under, accessibility to clean water and nutritious food to eat. And how much is needed to pay for these basics has brought forth the concept where we pay our bills by accumulating debt. Now that is weird. We feel our daily routines allow us to keep some sort of sanity, but then it is easier for people to deny reality than to watch their world view being disturbed. And that is why too many of us do not really concern ourselves with the new elephant in the room – climate change, because we have been programmed to be always, too gosh darn busy. It scares the hell out of people, not because current Western consumption habits are not sustainable but because to combat climate change, to adjust to its effects, to allow the earth to heal and to save ourselves and our children and all the other living creatures, changes would have to be made now.

Both the free market and capitalism would have to cease to exist, which is not going to happen, because billions of people around the world want the same things, which many in the West and elsewhere have had and become over the past fifty years; a flat screen TV, excess consumption of all things, a fancy car and the ability to become fat. On the other side of the coin, state socialism was just as destructive to the environment as capitalism is.

The ruling elite’s privileges and wealth that the current capitalistic system gives them is made from corporations that are often doing the most ecological damage. Corporations who are the conspirators of the growing number of ecological accidents, have been doing the best since the economic collapse of 2008 and more often than not are paid subsidies by their home nation. While their corporate media controls us.

Reality is that most of the money being made today globally, goes to the very few. Their record levels of surplus cash goes to financial institutions and corporations. Their private fortunes are not devoted to serving society as a whole, saving the planet or their children and do not produce anything other than more money. Greed and profit have taken precedence over the world’s social needs. And the elite will defend such a system with all they have, including destroying the world. For climate change will not wait for anybody.

Naomi Klein’s article “Capitalism vs Climate” lists quite accurately the steps that would have to be taken to act now and also how difficult it would be to respond to climate change. The list includes the concepts of ; immediately reducing our emissions on a mass scale. Subways, streetcars and light rail built everywhere and affordable to anyone, with energy efficient, affordable housing along all transit lines ; having an active long range plan for each community and rebuild community spheres ; rein in corporations by regulation and taxation. Maybe even nationalize some. Have elections publically funded, strip corporations of their status as “people” under the law, reform patent laws and recognize our debts ; bring back localized production because international free trade is simply killing us. It has brought about an ever increasing amount of bigger cargo ships, bigger jets, heavier trucks and lost jobs ; actually tax the filthy rich ; and finally end the cult of shopping and materialism. Which will be a hard nut to crack considering that in ever expanding places around the globe and more than any other activity we do in our daily lives, we think shopping defines us. What you wear and what you drive. Cars, clothes and trucks are purchased, believing them to upgrade one’s status and personality. We seek our identities in stores and online, trying to fulfill our dreams by whatever manufacturers decides those dreams to be. Our desires are being created by others instead of from within.

We have been forced to worry so much about the current financial crisis and its recovery we have forgotten about the recovery needed of the ecosystems of the earth. We have always been controlled through fear, whether it is the fear of communism, drugs or terrorists. Now though, control is being accomplished by simply distracting us, making us blinded consumers. Keeping us preoccupied with achieving sustained recovery of sales growth and as Noam Chomsky put so well over twenty years ago, ” financial manipulations and our consumption binge creates little in the way of productive investment, instead it creates much in the way of debt, whether government, corporate and household debt or the incalculable debt of social needs that go ignored. We continue to periodically select representatives of the business world to manage our domestic and international affairs. All these policies are not rules of nature and the processes and institutions that create them could be and must be changed, but changing cultural, social and institutional processes will not be allowed to happen.” Those who hold wealth and privilege will not allow it.

The problems due to climate change will be supremely difficult to stop within our current system of how we operate, beginning with the ludicrous fantasy that it would be possible to get the nearly two hundred countries in the world to agree on anything let alone reforming and rethinking the global energy system. Many have been affected by the current global economic crisis, unsure and in debt, yet we remain addicted to oil, coal and gas. Nuclear power safety and costs are still very uncertain with many countries, including Germany and Japan, shutting down reactors. Hydroelectric power is geography limited and as it is, the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra, Colorado and Amu Darya water basins will not keep up with demand from their ever growing populations. Energy efficiency is still taking a back seat to limited but more profitable cheap fossil fuels. Case in point; in 2010, subsidies to the oil and gas industry in Canada, owned by some of the world’s most profitable industries, totaled $1.4 billion. Worldwide the fossil fuel industry received handouts and subsidies to the tune of $409 billion, while only $66 billion went to clean renewable energy. What is really scary about all these figures I’ve been throwing about is that of the top ten wealthiest people in the world, according to Forbes magazine’s list of billionaires of 2012, only a couple have anything to do with mining or oil, the rest have made their billions on either technological, communications and/or our vanity.

The richest man in the world right now is Carlos Slim, a Mexican telecommunications mogul whose net worth is $69 billion, which is more than the world pays towards clean renewable energy. The rest of the top ten are into computers, diversified investments, luxury goods, fashion and Aldi, the discount supermarket corporation. The combined worth of the top ten richest is more than $395 billion. There are one thousand two hundred twenty six billionaires in the world, whose average fortune is $3.7 billion. United States has the most billionaires with four hundred and twenty five; number two is Russia with 96, then China with 95. Of cities, Moscow led with 78 billionaires, because that’s what you get with a corrupt dictatorship, followed by New York at 58 and London at 39. And how is the battle going against climate change in those countries and how are the citizens doing, with all that money lying around?

In Canada, the only action being taken on protecting the environment is at the local and provincial level. This is where we must start to create positive change. “We must pressure and discuss with our local governments to do the necessary research and display the necessary political will to make responsible decisions on behalf of citizens for the common good.” We have got to stop worrying about elsewhere, though the media will continue to keep us distracted. We must begin to focus more on our own nests and backyards. Clean up our own mess, within ourselves and our communities than fretting about something that happened, which we cannot control, halfway around the world. We must become more radical, not the bastardized definition that the ruling elites and the media have invented, putting it into the pile of words such as terrorist and anarchist, but the original definition, where one does not seek hyper-individualism, dominance or hierarchy but instead interdependence, reciprocity and cooperation. Radical is trying to understand the root of something, favoring fundamental and basic change in a social or economic structure. In mathematics a radical has to do with the root or roots of a number or quantity. In chemistry a radical is a group of two or more atoms that acts as a single atom and goes through a reaction unchanged, or is replaced by a single atom; normally a radical is incapable of separate existence. Modern society has also defined radical as “thinking outside the box”.

Che Guevara believed that a radical is nothing less than someone who tries to see and understand the roots of things, who will aid in their fellow man’s security and happiness and who shows empathy to others. If you are none of these things you are not a radical, but simply a consumer. A radical today is someone who bicycles to work and his or her family uses transit, owns a rarely-used fuel-efficient car, buys locally-grown organic food, avoids chemical-filled, factory-farmed meat and “processed” food, recycles, and engages in ecological research and activism.

University of B.C. community planning professor Bill Rees explains “If we’re going to be sustainable, we can’t do it through economic growth.” Adds Douglas Todd of the Vancouver Sun, “The commitment to conservation is both moral and it actually could make us more content. Decades of studies suggest that once a person reaches a certain basic level of financial security, there is very little correlation between a person’s financial wealth and greater happiness.”

As a society we must start being aware of our surroundings and the people within it. To seek out the truth and face up to our problems would be a good first step, instead of just letting others make our decisions’ for us and not being accountable for our actions because it’s deemed always someone else’s fault. As to the technology behind what we call social media, we are embarrassing ourselves in our flirting, preening and purchasing. In fact much of technology is making people anti-social. We have become a needy and wanting lot.

Another challenge is the need to instill in the population the truth in that scientific evidence of climate change is not a myth or joke or a problem that will just go away. Those who are in high school and college right now are called, as a group, millennials, and though we are leaving them an exhausted, depleted and dying environment they are the ones that can begin to make a difference. Unfortunately polling is suggesting that only about 20% of millennials believe it is important to be concerned and involved in cleaning up the environment. This is either because bling-bling and self-entitlement is more important or because most at that age are so well informed today that the task seems overwhelming and that there is no hope for revival. Some probably do not even believe climate change is real, while others would love to act and take on a leadership role. But who would be their mentors and role models?

Being smart is not just someone who can play on a computer, converse through texting and having the latest I-phone, thus being a mere cocoon, even when out and in public. It is being aware and cognizant of how society is and where it is going. It is the need and obligation to care for the environment. It is seeking out the truth, picking through the filtered information and preoccupation of being a consumer, and finding our preferred vision of a good society. Then standing up and making it so.

There is no difference between squatting in a cave, watching your children gasp for air, malnourished and starving from thirst than sitting in front of an 80 inch flat screen TV in a three thousand square foot house, having no gas for the Beemer or Ram-tough truck and watching your children coughing, malnourished or obese and starving for clean, fresh water.

 

 

Weird weather heats East, cools West, Postmedia News, Times Colonist newspaper, Tuesday, March 20, 2012.
Douglas Todd, Is the future really so bleak? Vancouver Sun newspaper, Saturday, February 17,2007
Alisa Gordaneer, Shop till you drop, Monday Magazine, June 9-15, 2005.
Misty Harris, Environment takes back seat for today’s youth, Postmedia News, Times Colonist newspaper, Wednesday, March 21, 2012.
Webster’s New World Dictionary of American English, Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York, 1988.
Noam Chomsky, How the World Works, Collection of Essays – 1986-2011, Soft Skull Press, USA, 2011
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/03/24-2
http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/02/29-4