DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Indian Summer

We have just had a wonderful week of warm weather. It has been more summer like than lots of days during summer. It is a little early for Indian Summer so maybe we will have the real thing some time in October.

It seems the trees just burst into colour. . . . or wasn't I paying attention.? I took my camera today to take a picture of a spectacular tree with scarlet leaves. I saw it a few days ago. Today, it was almost without any leaves. I missed it! Sometimes beauty is fleeting.

With the weather so nice I took the opportunity to re -shingle my porch roof. It is about time. I have had the shingles for a year. With my aches and pains It was difficult.

It is hard to believe I re-shingled the roof of my two story house with its cottage roof, alone a few years ago. I like to tell people I did that in three weeks and only fell off the roof once. Luckily I fell off the front side and landed on the porch roof, while my ladder ended up in the middle of the road. I think God wanted me to rest so I quit for the day.

To finish the porch off I finally gave in and asked my son to come and help me. He and #1 grandson, Dylan, came and we managed to finish the roof before the weather changed. Blessings on them both. I am finding it hard to accept I am getting older and cannot do all I used to do.

Heidi in one of her more elegant poses. I love the way she crosses her legs.

Cats have moved in.

With Denis gone the cats have moved into the spare room and are enjoying the bunk beds.

These are the beds my brother and I had as children. I guess they are about 60 year old. I am not one to spend a lot of money on furniture.

Time to fire up the woodstove.

This week the weather will be turning cooler. I probably will have to set a fire in the cook stove to take the chill off the house. I love having a fire and the smell of wood in the house. . . .at least at the beginning of the season. Come Spring, I will be glad to do without the fire.

Wouldn't you know it. The weather is cooling down and Ruby is about to have a litter of piglets.

I thought it might have been last night or today. She is very large and just lays about in her pen.

I am checking on her every couple of hours. Babe will be another three weeks or so before she drops a litter. Here we go again, lots of porcine fun.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ahmadinejad at the UN

I was very interested in watching President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the United Nations.

His speech was very thoughtful and in a very sermon like form. Before he dealt with his criticisms of those he feels are enemies of Iran in the world, mainly the United States and Israel, he laid out his understanding of Islam which shapes his thinking, as a faithful Muslim.

One could learn a great deal about Islam as one of the great monotheistic faiths, along with Judaism and Christianity by paying attention to what Ahmadinejad had to say. His religious views are conservative and would have parallels in Christianity and Judaism to those who cared to listen.

He is a Shia Muslim who traces the history and legitimacy of Islam through the lineage of the prophet Mohammad and the Imams in contrast to the Sunni Muslims who trace Islam through the Caliphates. Go here for an informative explanation of Islam and the difference between Shia and Sunni Islam.

Ahmaddinejad belongs to a branch of the Shia known as Twelvers. They are waiting for the 12th and last Imam, Imam Muhammad al-Madhi, to return. He disappeared in the ninth century and is believed to be in an estate of occultation. ) Think of a similarity to those Christians who believe in the second coming of Christ.) For some reason the published text of his speech omits the brief reference to Imam Mahdi in his introduction which I clearly heard.

Ahmandinejad laid out in his speech that Man lives in a World under God, as the creator and sustainer of All, all powerful and eternal. Man is called to obedience of God to live in a moral World both in his personal and social/political Life. In this there is a great similarity to Christianity and Judaism with which Islam shares so much. In fact, Islam recognizes Moses (Musa) and Jesus ('Isa) as Prophets, along with many old testament Prophets. (see the list in the article highlighted above). In his speech Ahmandinejad mentioned them both by name.

I hope people, by actually listening to President Ahmandinejad, would hear something about Islam which is not what we are continally assaulted with on the news as terrorists and a threat to the West. Islam has a proud history of civilization and human thought around the World. It has had an influence on Europe, Asian and Africa in particular.

One of the points President Ahmadinejad makes is that the "West" views the Islamic World as inferior and tries to force its values on it and even colonize it, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Muslims are deeply offended and threatened and do not want ALL that the West has to offer.

We need to listen to this message to answer the question , "Why do they hate us.?" We need to come to understand how to relate to the Muslim world with respect, understanding and humility.

Sadly much of what we think is part of Islam is not. It is either a form of ancient tribalism attached to Islam or a perverse violent misinterpretation of Islamic scripture much in the same way Judaism and Christianity find comparable pervervsions in its midst.

he reality is that there is much more to be shared by the three great montheistic faiths and their cultures, than to be in conflict over. We should be seeking changes in ourselves before demanding changes in others. Sadly, this part of President Ahmadinejad's speech will be largely ignored.


President Admadinejad is not a president like President Bush. He is more like a popularly elected Administrator for the real power in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khomenei. he has no army under his command. He does not have the last word in foreign and domestic policy. And,he is not in charge of Iran's nuclear policy. All of the American ranting about Iran and the "demonized"Ahmadinejad takes on a whole new light when you know this. They are not talking about or to the real power in Iran.

One final note, Ayatollah Khomenei, declared a fatwa against developing nuclear weapons. This means all of the authority he commands is against Iran developing nuclear weapons.

Monday, September 22, 2008

International Peace Day

Yesterday, September 21, was International Peace Day. With the elections going on in Canada and the United States as well as the violence in Pakistan and Iraq, the day slipped by me. I am not aware of any public demonstrations or recognition of the day in Canada.

In Afghanistan, there were public events of celebration in spite of being in the middle of a civil war.

For me it is interesting that for three days there was a kind of truce between the government ,foreign militaries and the Taliban insurrection. Both sides agreed to not interfere with a campaign to vaccinate children for polio. In Afganistan, is one of only a few countries, in which polio still inflicts the young.There is a chance to eradicate polio world wide, with a concerted effort in places like Afghanistan.

Polio has personal significance to me. I contracted polio when I was 5. I have very clear memories of the experience. I remember being ill and irritable in a flu like way. My mother called the only doctor in the area who put me through a couple of movement, like trying to touch my chin to my chest. I couldn't and he told my mother I had to go to the hospital right away.

I don't know how we got to the Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto. I suspect a neighbour drove us as my parents did not have car.

I can remember my mother telling me to go with the nurse and she would be down to seem me in a minute. As it turned out the hospital would not let her come and see me before she left. It was a week before I saw her again. This is an eternity for a 5 year old. I clearly remember being fed porridge with prune juice on it.. Yuck!

Without a car my parents could not come every day to see me. I do remember my brother and sister coming seeing me and being only able to see me through a window.

I was not at Sick Kids for long before I was moved to a special convalescent hospital on the edge of the city. This was even harder for my parents to visit as they would have to take the train into Toronto and then a bus out of Toronto to the hospital. I was here for a few months. Here there were children in leg braces and whole body braces. Ten years later, I remember reading about a young person. Morgan French, I knew there as he was just being released from that hospital. I was amazed he had been there all that time.

I was not paralysed in any way,luckily. According to my mother my father was concerned I would never be able to play baseball. I have always been touched my this story as my father was not one to ever express any emotional feelings.In those days polio was feared as AIDS is today. There was a neighbourhood boy a couple of years later who got it and died because of the paralysis of his chest. The doctor who placed the quarantine sign on our house, had a daughter who contracted it just after me and she was paralysed. I have always felt mildly guilty because of this.

My mother recalled how so may of the neighbours called out of concern for me but really were trying to find out if I had been with their child and put him at risk. Fear was part of every Spring in those days.

It was not long after this that Jonas Salk created his vaccine to combat this much feared disease. For years, I remember vaccinations for polio carried out in school.

The fragments of my memory of having polio have continued to influence my life. In a way. I have always been aware of how fortunate I was to come through it without lasting disabilities.
In recent years, I have come to wonder if I suffer from post-polio syndrome as my aches an pains seem to be greated that just "growing old". Some day I may try to find out for sure although from what I read there is not much I can do about this condition other than take it easy and take good care of myself.

I hope that polio will finally be wiped out. After all these years, it is a shame that it is not: persisting in poor and war torn places in the world.

If the Taliban and the Karsai government can agree to a three day truce to allow vaccinating of children, why can they not agree to a longer peace. In the end, only a political solution, can bring lasting peace to this enchanted land, Afghanistan. The foreign troops could then come home.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Economic Crisis is Old News

The current sudden economic crisis has been predicted for a long time by those in the know.

There are those who would like people to think it is not so and there was nothing they could do earlier to avert disaster until now.

Fortune Magazine lists 8 financiers who saw the problem coming and 8 who did not.

Here is a Toronto Star newspaper article, Five Reasons to start worrying", which explains it all and predicts what has happened since March and will happen as a solution come Monday. One has to assume a lowly columnist isn't the first to know.

The article ends,

"If worst comes to worst, the United States may end up creating a state agency to relieve troubled lenders of their junk – which the Fed effectively began to do by accepting a liberal definition of collateral in return for emergency bank financing.

It would be a costly gambit, reminiscent of Resolution Trust Corp., which picked up the pieces after the U.S. savings and loan disaster of the 1980s, whose total cost, while enormous by contemporary standards, would seem like chicken feed compared to this catastrophe.

Better that, though, than a great unwinding of the global financial system – although there's room to wonder if America, facing a $3 trillion debt in Iraq and Afghanistan, can resort to a rescue for the ages without resorting to printing the currency to fund it."

Sounds prophetic!

Friday, September 19, 2008

It Was a Dark and Chilly Night

No I do not spend all my time thinking about politics and the state of the world.

Most of my life is more like last night. My lovely bitch, Heidi, with whom I share my bed and my life decided she wanted to go outside at 2:00 AM. She stood by the side of the bed sticking her face close to mine and refused to lie down when I asked. I tried to ignore her and then she went downstair on her own. Something she never does, so I reluctantly got up and followed. She was going around and around in a circle in front of the door so I finally got the message.

I opened the door and stepped out onto the porch. Heidi followed and soon was down on the road sniffing about.

I watch and shivered in the sub freezing temperature. Their was a killer frost last night. I stood there in my underwear, bare footed with no coat on. Heidi disappeared up the road into the dark as I began to worry as I heard wolves howl well off in the distance. Normally, I would be tempted to howl back and see if they would answer me but I was more concerned to get Heidi to return. I wondered how she was responding to the wolf howls.

"Heidi, Come!" I repeated this several times to silence. There was no sound of her. Now I am impatient and worried as I have had little experience with her off the leash at night like this.

Back into the house to put some pants on and a coat. I slipped on my boots, sans socks and return to the porch. I call again and go off the porch onto the road. Heidi did not have her metal chock collar on so I hear no jingling sounds.

It is time to go and look for her, worrier as I am. I scrap the ice off the car window and turn the car around do the lights shine up the road. There she stands in all her long legged glory. Just sniffing around the edges of the road about three hundred feet away. She looks at me but still doesn't come when I call. She wants me to come and get her, something I sometimes have to do in the daylight. I drive down, jump out open the door to the back seat. "Get in!" She always does without any further encouragement. I turn around and return to the house.

Back to bed for both of us until Heidi decided she wanted out at 5:00 AM, I went with her on the leash this time as the occasional logging truck would probably pass at this hour. It was a quick trip. Too quick! Just as I was enjoying once again that half sleep state in the warmth of the bed listening to the Prague radio station, Heidi wanted to go out again. It is now 5:30 AM. I went out with her once again, apparently the first time was too brief.

Time to get up anyway so I brew some coffee and plan to go and feed the pigs. There will be no trip this morning to the bridge over the river so Heidi can have a run. She used up that option already.

Heidi in her chock collar knawing on a bone. Looking quite fierce.

Here at the other end of the bone is the teacup poodle, the other end of the evolutionary scale.
Not so fierce but a lot more yappy.

I love to hear the wolves howl.

I had not heard them for a while until last night. Last winter we had a good sized pack which stayed in our area for a long time. I wrote about this back then when my neighbour went out into his yard one night and saw 12 wolves standing there. He took it upon himself to shoot two of them, which did not please me. He grew up on a farm and saw wolves as as theat to livestock. But he has none.

Wolves are no theat to man. There has never been a documented case of a person being killed by a Timber Wolf. They have a reputation they do not deserve. They are predators and will kill domesticated livestock which are esy pickings. Here the government reimbuses a farmer for such a kill. But wolves are also very shy. Normally the kill the weak, ill and young of wild animals. In this way, as the top predator they keep herds of animals healthy.

A black timber wolf.

I once had a black timber wolf step out onto the trail while I was working on a repair to my John Deere skidder in the bush. It just stood there and watched me about 100 feet away. As I ignored it, it slowly and silently passed on into the bush.

If you want to read a little on the noble wolf go here.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Economic Drama

Who would have believed that the drama in the news is on the Business Report.

Everyone acts as if the US meltdown of the American economic system is a great surprise. How did all this happen so fast? Well, I don't know what the politician are reading but I have read articles for over a year that indicated that there were deep problems. And I am no authority!

As I wrote in a previous blog entry, American capitalism is deeply flawed. Since the Reagan Administration the economic orthodoxy has been "privatise and deregulate". Let the free market exert it's discipline. When corporations do well and make big profits they will invest them in job creating enterprises and there will be a trickle down effect so workers will also share in the economic success. "What is good for General Motors is good of all." Well we now know that even General Motors is trouble.

The economic problem is dramitically being worked out in the banking sector. The money manipulators make profit for themselves but create few jobs for others to share in the new wealth. We have seen the rich get richer and the rest get poorer in that last decades. The free market operated to the benefit of the few without adequate regulation and fair taxation. The former protects the broad base of the economic pyramid while the later helps to redistribute the wealth by having those best able to pay carry the biggest burden of taxation to pay for the services that bring benefits to the society as a whole.

Bankers have cultivated their respectable image over the years: conservative, careful, trustworth. As those who take on the responsibility of handling other people money they ask us to have faith in them to exercise their wisdom in the mysteries of economics. We now know they do not practice "due dilligence". They are, in fact gamblers, (if not crooks) with other peoples' money. Unrestrained capitalism makes it possible for the criminal and greedy to take advantage of those who have been lead to trust them.

In the US, there was a trial run of what we have experiencing now. It was the Savings and Loan Crisis for which Charles Keating went to jail. Briefly, he got a group of senators to help him lobby the regulators to get rid of regulations so he could criminally abuse the Savings and Loan business.

The United States Senators who help Keating are know as the Keating Five. These trusted public servants that lobbied on Keating's behalf included a couple of American heros: John Glenn and John McCain. Yes, the same John McCain who is running for President. The same John McCain who rails against corruption in Washington. The same John McCain who claims he has credentials as a reformer of the corrupt political system in Washington. The same John McCain who is opposed to Washinton lobbyests. The same John McCain who now thinks the US needs new and better regulations in the banking system. Yes the same John McCain who now (reluctantly perhaps) government bail-out for the corporate gamblers who in all fairness in a free market economy should be allowed to fail.

In fairness to John Glenn and John McCain they were the least culpable among the Keating Five. The Ethics Committee found that they did not do anything "illegal" . They were censured for showing very "Bad judgment". They took money from Keating toward their election campaigns in exchange for their work toward deregulation. They also were wined and dined by Keating and hosted at his Caribbean Estate, all paid for my Keating.. John McCain's wife and father in law invested in a Keating enterprise and made as much as one million dollars.

Why Barack Obama does not use John McCain's shoddy record in the Savings and Loan Scandal against him is beyond me. For some reason he get a bye in this area.

In the Savings and Loan Sandal the lesson to be learned is that when regulations are removed and the regulators do not do their job, the criminal move in to take advantage of the free market.

Sadly the free market capitalism as practiced in the US had become the orthodoxy around the world in International Trade through the American dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Privatise and deregulate is the economic mantra around the World, to the disadvantage of many particularly in the Third World.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Canadians in Kandahar

Thanks to the Bush Administration, I have become fascinated with Afghanistan, an ancient and primative land.

The Canadian military is there in the very dangerous region of Kandahar as part of the NATO, ISAF forces. In spite of my personal pacifist principles, I am supportive of Canada military and civilian efforts on behalf of the Afghanistan government. Their mission is to help the Afghan forces to bring security to that country in the face of an insurgency, banditry and tribal conficts.
The goal is to supply enough stability to allow significant reconstruction and normality in the lives of the people in the Kandahar area.

For the most part, Canadians are proud of our military's efforts in spite of the fact that the majority of Canadian do not think we should be militarily in that far off land. Our government has extended Canada's commitment there until 2011. Recently, Prime Minister Harper confirmed that that year would be a definite end date. (No matter what the conditions are on the ground are ).

Canada has 2500 troops in Afghanistan and has suffered a disproportionately high number of casualities. (nearly 100). This is because they insist of being present and visible among the local people. I give them high marks for this in spite of how painful it is to hear of deaths, see on the news another ramp ceremony in Kandahar seeing the fallen off and high government officials, (often the Prime Minister and/or the Governor General ) being present with the families when the coffins arrive in Tenton Air Base to be transported to Toronto via what is now know as the Highway of Heroes. It is still my conviction that our contribution in blood and treasure can make a difference.

What I do not think the average person understands is that there are two military operations going on in Afghanistan at the same time. The Americans vanquished the Taliban government and helped establish the present government. Their mission continues with an aggressive search for al Qaeda members and their leader Osama Bin Laden.

On the invitation of the Afghanistan government NATO has come to lead the ISAF efforts to strengthen the security and train the security forces within the country. These two military efforts are not always in agreement on how to behave. The former are more militarily muscular with "victory" on their mind. The latter are more restrained with "local stability" through defense, development and diplomacy, as their goal. This came into sharpe relief recently when the head of NATO said the NATO forces will not violate the territory of Pakistan as the American forces are now doing, as per directive of the President of the United States.

I have begun to question whether Canada should continue its military mission in Afghanistan. The situation is changing. the American are increasing their forces in the country as they decrease them in Iraq. The war is heating up. For the American forces this means more air power and bombing on the "enemy". Already this has begun and resulting in many civilian casualites which is counter productive to NATO's effort to bring about local security. (Even the Afghanistan government is outraged at the increase in civilian casualties)

It is clear the American's intend to turn Afghanistan into another Iraq. They also intend to drag the NATO forces into their fight. Canada, and other countries will become a "coalition of the unwilling". The Americans have let it be know they do not like the shared military command of the NATO forces and intend to create a Unified Command in Afghanistan in the New Year. The Americans aspire to do what the Russians and British couldn't: be victorious. If fact, ever since Alexander the Great no other nation has managed to occupy Afghanistan. An unlimited war is not a road Canada should go down, particulary when it might involve invading yet another country, Pakistan, another Commonwealth country.

Here are some talking points on the "war" in Afghanistan,

(click on photo to enlarge)

This valley north of Kanadahar is the site of a major project by the Canadian Military. Canada is spending 50 million dollars to rebuild the Dahl Dam on the Arghandab River and help restore the valley irrigation system. This will become again a center for pomegranate production.

The Canadian military has already built a causeway across the river which ads to the local transportation system.

Here is a source of some pictures of this area and a Canadian soldier's life there.

There are many encouraging efforts by military units doing reconstruction work as needed by the local period. Here is an article about American soldiers doing the kind of work that hold out the promise of eventual peace and civility to Afghanistan.

This is what rural Pastun people look like. They are not all like the fierce mujahaden (holy fighters) depicted in the press. The deserve peace and security to carry on with their lives.

This my favourite Afghanistan picture. Think, a 21st Century "Mary and Joseph" returning home after paying their taxes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One Week On

Well the federal election process has been going on for a week now. Four more weeks to go.

For my American friends let me say we do not vote for Prime Minister, the executive head of our government. For that matter, we do not vote for The Governor General , the ceremonial head of our government (the Queen's stand in). In the American system these two rolls are filled by the President. Our system makes it easier to be critical of the executive branch of government without being accused of being disloyal to the country.

We, in fact vote, for local candidates for seats in parliament. They are party members. The party that "wins" with the most seats is asked to form the government and their party leader becomes the Prime Minister. In reality, we act as if we are electing the Prime Minister. Most of the national attention is focused on the campaign of the heads of the various parties as they "attack"one another and put forward their party's platform of programs they will impliment if victorious.

It has been an interesting week in some ways. The three men who lead the older established parties ganged up on the female head of the new party, the Green Party, and supported the decision to exclude her from the national debate on TV. They goofed on this. Canadian are fairminded and there was public "outrage" (we don't actually get outraged. We are too civil for that.) I even took it upon myself to write the head of my party, Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party, to express my disappointment in him not supporting Elizabeth May of the Green Party. When the dust settled the old boys changed their mind and Elizabeth May will be allowed to participate in the debate. It turns out Stephen Harper, The Conservative Party leader had the biggest objections but he reluctantly agreed so he would not be left alone opposing her inclusion.

Stephen Harper found himself apologizing for a couple of dirty tricks by his election staff.

An ad ran questioning Stephane Dion's leadership qualities as the head of the Liberal Party.

In it a Puffin flew by and pooped on his shoulder. Canadians considered this in bad taste so Harper apologized and altered the ad.

The second goof occured after Harper declare the Canada would end it's involvement in Afghanistan for certain in 2011. The father of a Canadian soldier who died in that conflict spoke critically of this decision saying if Canada pulled out before the job was done his son's death would have been in vain. A Conservative staffer sent out an email to reporters saying the father was a Liberal supporter implying he said what he said for political reason. The effort to discredit the father made it necessary for Harper to once again apologize and force his staffer to personally apologize.

Sorry folks! the is as exciting a Canadian politics gets.

Stephen Harper I find embarassing. he is running an American Republican style campaign. For a week before the election was called he was running ads to illustrate what a wonderful "family values" person he was. Others showed him praising the military and showing him visiting the far reaches of the Arctic as if he was doing something for the environment and national security. What finished him for me was his standing and speaking in front of the Canadian Flag, in the American style. By doing this kind of advertizing Harper is saying he is virtuous and loyal to the country. What he is implying is that he is more of a family man, an admirer of the military, more concerned for security and a more loyal Canadian than the other party leaders. His use of the flag is most offensive. It does not belong to him or the Conservative Party. It is a symbol of all Canadians even those running against him. And of course, each of the other party leaders has a family and has high family values. Conservatives are no more virtuous than any one else. Such distractions are irrelevant as to whether their party programs are worth while.

In our political system every day party leaders put forth a party platform in the hope of gaining some national press for their efforts. This has been going on in a predicatable fashion. Jack Layton with great bravado is saying he expires to become Prime Minister. (The New Democrats have never formed the government by usually getting around 20% of the vote.) He probably can best hope to be the balance of power in a minority government. Stephane Dion, the Liberal Leader is trailing Harper and unless something dramatic happenss, wiil not become Prime Minister but will be the leader of the opposition. Gilles Duceppe, of Le Bloc de Quebecois, is trying to make is case as having a role to play in Quebec as a national defender of the separatist cause which is very quiet these days. Finally, Eliabeth May, who has to get herself elected to parliament so she is spending a lot of time in her riding. She certainly won public support and press over her determination to be included in the national TV debate. I look forward to her fresh voice among the boys.

I don't expect the weeks ahead to get much more exciting. For that I can tune in the US melodrama.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Miscellaneous Notes


There was frost on the cars windshield this morning! Wonder what survived in the garden.

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So Missed

Half a dozen people whose blogs I read regularly have taken a rest from blogging. You are missed. Perhaps, the Fall season will see you return to blogging.

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Dog Reflections

"Have I got a bone to pick with you!"

Do you think Heidi is thinking what she might do to one of those pigs if she get a hold of it again

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Remembering 9/11

There was a CBC Documentary worth watching last Sunday on the CBC. "The Secret History of 9/11 . While it is too late to watch it you can visit it's website and read the transcript It was created by the award winning Canadaina film maker Terrence McKenna. This documentary reveals how much was know about the threat to the US and how badly the Bush Administration failed to take it serious.

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With interest I have been following the political issue of health insurance in the US. There seems to be a widespread opinion that the US needs health insurance that will cover almost all Americans but it falls short of a Candian style universal single payer (through taxes) health care program. It turns out that the majority of Americans (55%) would like such a system. Also, large groups of doctors and other health professionals support an Canadian style system. In spite of this the Democrats proposal for a universal health care system falls short.

In short, the politician in the US are proposing a health care insurance system which is funded through private insurers. The role of government would be to subsidize those familes and individuals who otherwise would not be able to afford it. Could it be the politicians listen more to the Insurance industry than the public? No doubt! The above article is a good read.

I hope the new administration will find the courage to take on big insurance. otherwise the benefits to universal insurance coverage will be lost.

1, The recognition that health care is a right and not a privilege. To subsidize private insurance

makes some people recipients or charity rather that a right.

2. To lower the high cost of health insurance the profit motive must be removed.

3. A government tax paid system would bring benefits to business by making lower health care costs available to employees. Business would become more competative. For example, Canadian auto workers are covered by the National Health Insurance while their fellow workers in the US find their employers struggling with the cost of insurance for their workers and retirees.

I hope in the new year, the new administration will find the courage to listen to public opinion and lead it rather than listen to the Insurance Industry and sell the public short.

Governor Palin

For you Governor Palin watchers (critics) here are a couple of interesting articles.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Stubbing It's Laissez-Faire Toe

As one who believes laissez-faire capitalism is deeply flawed. I find myself warmed by a feeling of "schadenfreude". The US in it's economic wisdom has had to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two institutions that support, no abuse, the mortgage market.

For those who believe that the discipline of the free market place is the best way to regulate businesses and markets, this must be deeply embarassing, a bitter pill to swallow. Worse than that the American people are now on the hook to the tune of billions of dollars to save the mortgage industry which was expected to regulate itself. Instead, greed, criminality and dreadful judgement caused wealthy and powerful financiers to mismanage, mislead and put at risk the mortgages on homes of people who believed one can trust "the bank."

Under laissez-faire Capitalism these institutions should have been allowed to fail. It turns out that more people will be hurt if these two institutions fail so the government basically has had to nationalize them. (Creaping socialism Doesn't it just make you smile.) I recently heard an economist speak on how the cheap credit and credit card business, will be next. So the pain may not be over.

The fact is free markets are a vicious predator environments. It should be the government's responsibility to regulate them and tame the environment. The United States is the one country in the world which aspires to laissez-faire capitalism and through it's control over the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund it tries to inflict some of its principles of noe-liberalism on the rest of the world, particularly third and fourth World countries. This is what globlization is all about.The clearest example of this is the destruction of Argentina's economy a few years back. I once read this: "What is the difference between Argentina and the United States? One year." A scary thought.

It is governments' responsibility to regulate institutions and businesses which are critical to the safety, economic security, and well being of the Nation. We all could make our list: banks, schools, food safety, health care, policing, military, banking, monopolies etc. I personally think key industries, like some of the above, should not only be regulated but nationalized: oil exploration, electrical distribution, water resources, railroads, highways, and nuclear facilities. These are too important to let the vultures in the free market control them to maximize profits.

These days the "experts" are pulling back against government regulation. Industries are asked to regulate themselves and in government agencies, inspectors and regulators are struggling to do their work with insuffcient funds. We are all put at risk with this weaking commitment to government regulation.

I expect Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were first created by government to meet a mortgage need, and then privatized, will be salvaged, and made solvent out of the public purse, and then turned back over to the private "self-regulating" sector to be managed for profit, until greed, criminatity and mismangement created a corrupt institution once again. It would be better if it remained nationalized after the American people's money, to the tune of billions, brought them back to health. I doubt it that is the American way.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wild Turkeys

What a delight! On a routine trip to town I turned a corner and there by the side of the road were three wild turkeys looking much like those in the picture below. If I had had my camera I would have had time to take my own picture.

This may not be so unusual to those who live south of me but it is a rare and novel sighting here.

There are wild turkeys in Southern Ontario as a result of a 25 year old (since 1984) reintroduction program.

In 1909, Wild Turkeys were over hunted to extinction in Ontario. The reintroduction program has been a big success, so much so their is a hunting season in which 10,000 birds are taken. The estimates are there are as many as 100,000 birds in Ontario now.

A little while ago their was a effort in introduce the birds into North Ontario. The St. Charles Area, about 40 miles from here was were it began. Also over toward Sault Ste Marie on St. Joseph Island there are some Wild Turkeys as the result of a reintroduction program there, I assume. Until this year Turkeys had not show up around here.

In the Spring, I had a neighbour about five miles away tell me he had a couple of Wild Turkeys show up around his place. I had my doubts, until now.

It will be nice if they establish themselves in this area. I am not sure how far north they my extend their range and still survive the winter. They will join the White Tailed Deer and Sandhill Cranes that have migrated into this area in significant numbers in the last couple of decades.

With any luck, the recent effort to reintroduce Elk in the area, we may see them some day also.

Years ago, there were lots of deer here, north of Lake Nipissing, but until relatively recently their were none. This is moose country and I was told they didn't like to share the range with moose. This, of course, was not true as they have moose in the deer area also. The big over wintering deer yard is south of Lake Nipissing. But now deer around here are seen regularly. Yesterday, while walking the dog I watch one swim across the river. Nature is full of such little delights!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Yawn! Don't get too excited you might miss it.

After meeting with the heads of the opposition party heads and accusing them of not cooperating in making the Conservative Party's government to work, Stephen Harper seem to be determined to go to the the Governor General, The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean and ask that parliament be dissolved. The sure sign that there will be an election very soon is that members of the Conservative government are running around handing out money to worthy causes. The date of the federal election is to be October 14.

I am struck by how different a Canadian election is compared with American one.

1. It is begun and over with in about a month. Party conventions, at other times, elect their leaders. These conventions use to try to imitate the hoopla of our American cousins. Now parties members can vote on line., so the convention is a shadow of it's former self. We know who the leader of each party is. We know them from how they functioned in parliament. Technically we do not vote for the leader, only our local member who represents a party.

2. We have five parties with a chance to seat members in parliament. Conservatives are "conservative" weak imitations of American Conservatives. Liberals are moderates, not extremists as our southern cousins view them. New Democrats are mild mannered socialists. The Greens are relatively new and hard to categorize although best thought of as progressives with a strong concern for the environment. A recent poll indicated both Canadian Conservatives and Liberals would vote for Obama to lead their party. (Canadian political center is to the left of the American one)

3. You will not see much or hear much about leader's spouses.

4. A person's religion (or lack of religion) is not a subject for discussion for his qualifications to be a parliamentarian.

5. The sexual preference of candidates for riding seats will not be mentioned. It is a non issue that some are openly gay and even partners in a gay marriage. "The government has no business in the bedrooms of the Nation." (Pierre Elliot Trudeau)

6. People's loyalty to Canada is assumed and never challenged or ridiculed.

7. Parties are largely funded by the government. Individuals can contribute but Corporations cannot make large donations.

8. Broadcasting networks must supply air time in prime time at the lowest possible commercial cost for ad space for all parties.

9. There are limits to the amount of money parties can spend.

10. We have not fancy voting machines. Just a little butt of a pencil to make an X in the circle opposite the candidates name.

11. The government maintains the voter's list. Up to the last minute you can get on the list (if you have been accidentally left off) just by swearing you are who you say you are and live where you say you do. You need one other neighbour to confirm this.

These are just some of the difference I can think of off the top of my head. We are a different Society that our American neighbours.

I have always voted for the New Democratic candidate in our riding. I am tempted this time to vote for the Green party to help focus attention on the environment.

The Conservatives have engineered the election in the hope of improving their standing before the economy gets any worse. They would like to form a majority government but from what I read there is likely to be another minority government. The Liberals also have a chance to form the government. It would be nice if the Conservatives were defeated as they are very weak on the environment, Stephen Harper our esteemed Prime Minister, seems to need to consult George Bush on every issue to follow his lead. Our government can be so much better than "Bush light". The Conservative government just cut funding for culture and the arts. For this alone they deserve to by turfed out.

In a month, we will know the result and then we can get back to watching the US melodrama.