Perhaps someone could explain the comic charade of the last few days in which Blair Wilson, a WestVancouverite elected originally to Parliament as a Liberal and then dropped for some "personal, ethical" reasons, announces with blaring tubas that he has joined the Green Party, thus giving the Greens their first "elected" member in the federal House.
"I feel at home, " was Wilson's eye-catching phrase.
Weren't there enough murders or child abandonments that day to cover the front pages?
Truly, 'tis the Silly Season.
Wait. I think I see Blare disappearing into the back benches.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Debate is Talmudic. It is basic. Without argument, dissension and the smile of verbal wrestling, social structure and democracy are shadows on cave walls. Following is Victor's response to those who have been fighting with him since I published his piece on American politics:
Like I knew David.
Posted by David Berner at 9:46 AM
That's the number of people killed this year in Mexico over drug disputes.
There are those among you still harbouring wish fulfillment dream of drug legalization. You still entertain the rose-colored fantasy that drug crime will disappear at the stroke of a legislative pen.
Read this and give your head a really, really big shake.
Posted by David Berner at 9:42 AM
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Vancouver has a new community court, which is scheduled to open September 30th.
That's the good news.
All the rest is not bad, but it certainly raises some serious questions about this new hope in dealing with drug addiction, mental illness, homelessness and chronic criminality.
First, let us look at the "team," that will be on hand.
A Provincial Court judge, a coordinator, a Crown counsel, a defence lawyer, a Vancouver police officer, sheriffs, court clerks, probation officers, forensic liaison workers, a forensic psychiatrist, a nurse, health-justice liaison workers, employment assistance workers, a victim services worker, a B.C. Housing support worker and a native court worker.
From this phalanx of "experts," each accused will be given - hold onto your hats - "a case management team."
Oh, my god.
I've seen "case management teams" at work in hospitals, seniors homes and social work and I pity the poor rube who is being "helped" by such.
This is no doubt a boon for the "helping professions," but what it will mean for the slobs it is meant to serve remains to be seen.
Now, let us look at the so-called "outcomes." (I remember the first time I ever heard that absurd word. I had already helped hundreds of addicts, alcoholics and ex-cons move on to lives of sober citizenship. I literally didn't understand the word. But it sure sounded important.)
Dispositions can range from community service, to orders to seek substance abuse or mental health treatment, to jail.
Uh...substance abuse or mental health treatment WHERE?
If real facilities do NOT exist, what meaning do such sentences have?
We welcome this important new initiative.
But we do so with healthy scepticism and some practical questions about how to transfer the intent from paper to the sidewalk.
Posted by David Berner at 11:04 AM
The newspaper tells us that the Liberals and the Tories are "neck and neck in poll."
In B.C., the Conservatives lead 45% to 25%.
That's more like it.
How quickly so many have been to demonize Harper and his crew.
The Sponsorship Theft? No, that was Liberal.
The inaction on countless important files, like crime, addictions, first nations...No, that was Liberal.
How quickly they forget the most corrupt federal government we have ever had.
How quickly they rush to elect the greatest parliamentarian, Joyce Murray, in a recent by-election. Yikes!
Harper is not my idea of great coffee company.
But he has quietly been doing a reasonable job of managing the shop.
There are actually breathing, sentient human beings who want Stephane Dion???
The mind boggles, and then boggles again.
Posted by David Berner at 10:52 AM
Judge wallace Craig has written an excellent piece in last Wednesday's North Shore News about the deeply felt contrast between Canadians at the Olympics and criminal Canadians at home.
It is called, "Our Home and Naive Land," and you can read it here.
Posted by David Berner at 10:42 AM
His thoughts follow below:
On the evening Braaak was trying to mollify Clinton's female support base, he forgot it was also the anniversary of women's suffrage. Instead, he tried to channel Martin Luther King. Complete with paper mache pillars.
The thing is, Liberals are so intent on being earnest that they tend to miss the obvious. How else could one explain that Michael Moore, a lib darling and a man with the girth of a small planet, could make a documentary on health care that would be gushed over by earnest Libs.There is a saying and it's not mine. It goes "Earnest is just another word for stupid that went to university."Yep.I can't wait to see the Dems start savaging Sarah Palin. It's started already. First, they agonize because Ms. Piggy in a Pantsuit lost the nomination because she's a woman. Now they're going to go on the attack against a woman.Palin has a son going to Iraq on September 11.As an old media guy, I just drool to think about what I could do with that as a media clip. Try this.AT THE TOP OF THE NEWS, SARAH PALINS SON HEADS TO IRAQ ON THE DAY THE TWIN TOWERS FELL. IN OTHER NEWS, IN KEEPING WITH HIS CHANGE THEME, BRAAAK OBAMA HANDS OUT CHANGE TO WINOS NEAR THE SITE OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTRE."I can't wait for the Sarah Palin- Joe Biden debate. When she's finished with him, we can call him Joke Bidet.
Posted by David Berner at 10:39 AM
Friday, August 29, 2008
That's the thing about a democracy.
You can behave as badly as you want. There are no laws against stupidity or greed or nastiness.
And private clubs have the right to be exclusively and solely for left-handed lesbian water-colorists who own property in South Beach if that's what they want.
Thus the world-renowned Vancouver Golf Club in sunny downtown sophisticated and enlightened Coquitlam, B.C. has a perfect right to not admit Korean golfers whose English is not very good.
They have the right.
But do they have any brains?
Or simple decency?
This could have been a teachable moment.
The geniuses who preside over this venerable old institution could have hired one of the thousands of unemployed ESL teachers on a part-time basis to crank up the abilities of club members to say, "Two dry martinis, please," or "May I have a towel to dry myself when I emerge from the shower, please?" or "You play through. We are slower."
It's always better to discriminate against people and violate the basic sentiments of the nation.
You can get a driver's license in this province in one of 167 languages other than English.
But you can't drive a golf cart in Korean?
Kum sum ni dah.
Posted by David Berner at 8:43 AM
I thought Barak Obama's speech last night was magnificent.
I thought he was wonderful.
I don't believe he is the second coming of you-know-who.
Nor is he Jack Kennedy or Dr. King.
He is Barack Obama, and for me, at this moment in history, that's way more than enough.
He is a politician and he got to this spot on this stage not by being an outsider. He has played all of the usual political games and he has played them well enough to be a Presidential candidate.
But, how could anyone look at John McCain and not see Same Old, Same Old?
Obama is different and he is new and he is terribly smart.
I hope to see him become the President.
Posted by David Berner at 8:35 AM
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Let's be honest.
I read three newspapers on line this morning: The Sun, The Province and The NY Times.
Gornisht, nothing, zipkins.
The only story even half worth considering was that the LPGA wants all its lady golfers to speak English.
I've got a flash for the LPGA.
You can get a license to drive a car in Vancouver using any one of 167 languages, other than English.
Hence, the advent of the Happy Wanderers...what street was that?
Advise for the LPGA.
Get Michelle Wie to give up the idea she can play with the men. Stick to decisions like where should we put the cup on the 14th green.
Now, if one of you can just 'splain me where is the summer we used to have? This is global warming?
Posted by David Berner at 8:38 AM
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
"Assassin Plotters Dismissed as Racist Meth-Heads."
Well, that's easy enough to do...dismiss them with name-calling.
But that hardly eradicates the very real and deeply felt threat of violence and racism in an election that may put the first black man in the White House.
Has America grown so considerably since the murders of Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King that the evil possibilities can be so casually waved away?
I fear not.
Posted by David Berner at 8:39 AM
The headline claims that crime is down here at the Wild West Show.
But as you read the story, you discover this gem:
"B.C. has the highest rates of drug crime and property crime in the country."
So tell me now about Harm Reduction.
Tell me about the 200 social service agencies in 4 square blocks called the DTES.
Tell me about all the clever, well-funded programs.
Tell me, Mikie, tell me, Phil, Tell me, Larry.
Posted by David Berner at 8:34 AM
A half page ad in today's Sun trumpet's "the most exciting condo & retail community."
The copy speaks of "an emerging arts & culture district, steps from restaurants and major shopping."
New York? Milan? Concord Pacific?
It's the ultra nova haute couture, ABBOTSFORD.
76 Trombones, please.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Simpy One of the Best Things Ever Written on the SubjectThe solution is abstinence.
By giving drug addicts a sterile syringe and a warm place to shoot up, are we saving lives or condoning substance abuse? Barbara Kay, Special to the National Post Published: Monday, JulTy 28, 2008 Prevention, treatment, enforcement: These traditional policies were announced in 2007 as the pillars that would uphold Canada's National Anti-drug Strategy. Pointedly excluded from the government's plan is the continued reliance on harm resistance, the philosophical darling of liberal stakeholders in addiction management. Designed as a fourth pillar to focus on public health and order rather than usage reduction, harm reduction is defensible as a handmaid to a balanced portfolio of approaches, supplementing treatment and prevention. But in Vancouver, it has emerged in the last decade as a free-standing pillar, now teetering under an unwieldy social burden it cannot sustain. Harm reduction's social laboratory is the municipal quagmire of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Here, the mentally ill, the culturally uprooted and the psychologically dysfunctional appease their demons in a squalid cycle of illicit-drug torpor and crime. Drug consumption is high -- nearly a third of the 16,000 residents are addicts -- but evidence of faith in the drug abuser's power to reclaim his portion of the human estate is low. Funding allocations approved by a series of mayors speak volumes about priorities. Money abounds for needles, crack-pipe kits and opiate-giveaway trials, but extended waiting lists for long-term rehabilitation centres attest to a scarcity of available beds. Insite -- the first public facility in North America where addicts can legally inject illicit drugs under professional supervision -- started up in 2003. In keeping with harm reduction's non-judgemental ideology, Insite's detox resources were made available only to those who asked for them. It's just as well that few have done so, since there are only 12 detox beds for several hundred daily inject ors. And because they wouldn't have been using Insite, the neighbourhood's 5,000 crack-smoking addicts have been denied even that faint hope of breaking the vicious cycle. Harm reduction-friendly researchers claim success for Insite. But observers of addicts in crisis demur: Dr. Stan de Vlaming, former head of addiction services at Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital-- the main provider of hospital services to Downtown Eastside residents -- says, "The people who refer to Insite as a 'safe injection site' are perpetuating a dangerous misunderstanding. There is nothing safe about repeated daily injections that bypass a person's normal defence systems." He notes that from 2002 -- one year prior to Insite's inauguration -- to 2005, the number of hospital days utilized for infectious complications directly attributable to injecting had escalated from 16,042 to 18,848. Moreover, after evaluating the most-cited harm reduction studies, Garth Davies, assistant professor at Simon Fraser University's School of Criminology, also was unconvinced. In his article A Critical Evaluation of the Effects of Safe Injection Facilities, published in the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, Davies concluded that "all claims regarding the benefits of harm reduction remain open to question." Many people who find themselves up close and personal with addicts --law enforcers, judges, treatment professionals, ministering volunteers -- see the human wreckage that human wreckage perpetuates. Retired Vancouver policeman Al Arsenault patrolled the "chemical gulag" of the Downtown Eastside for more than half of his 27 years on the job. He calls Insite -- and the needle-exchange program, in particular --an "abject and utter failure." If injectors were responsible enough to return needles, he observes, they wouldn't be in the Downtown Eastside. Ironically, the program has augmented the presence of used needles in the area. Arsenault wryly sums up the experiment: "The rich get treatment, the poor get harm reduction." Pastor Gloria Kieler concurs. She has ministered to addicts since 1984 and deplores "the total disregard for those addicted persons desperately wanting to escape the Downtown Eastside." Rehabilitation is the solution she tirelessly urges, acknowledging facilities can't spring up where there is no moral impetus to build them. Advocates of harm reduction continue to push the drug-normalization envelope. Through a volunteer-based research trial for addicts -- overseen by the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, among other agencies -- chronic addiction substitution treatment is poised to offer addicts prescriptions-on-demand for the consumption of legal opiates such as Dilaudid (hydromorphone hydrochloride) -- virtually a heroin clone. And selected hard-drug users who "do not benefit from methadone maintenance therapy" -- as explained on the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Web page on this topic -- have participated in the North American Opiate Medication Initiative, where they were given heroin daily, setting the bar for the addicts' moral agency even lower. Harm reduction proponents seem to view addiction as an incurable disease -- and addicts as victims not only unaccount able for, but entitled to, their "lifestyles." Do militants truly believe that the war on drugs is lost, and that containment of crime and of needle-based Hepatitis C, HIV and AIDS is the best society can hope for? Harm reduction is therefore the opposite pole to the traditional abstinence model, which insists that, while the war against the dark side of human nature can never be won completely, partial victory is preferable to surrender. Abstinence initiatives have proven to be effective over the long term. A consistent and persistent message that cigarettes are unhealthy and would not be socially tolerated cut the number of youth experimenting with tobacco by half between 1994 and 2004. And the anti-drunk driving campaign has cut the incidence of drunk driving by 65% since 1981. Successfully recovered addicts are harm reduction's harshest critics. Saskatchewan MLA Serge Le-Clerc reversed a lifetime of drug-related dysfunction and crime following an inspirational encounter with a prison Samaritan. LeClerc earned two university degrees while behind bars and has become a passionate crusader for preventive drug education in schools. He is contemptuous of harm reduction, under whose rubric he would still be an addict. "The disease model negates choice, but there is no one who is beyond redemption," he says. In fact, according to the Portage Rehabilitation Centre in Elora, Ont., at six months following discharge from their facility, there's a nearly 86% decrease in drug use among adolescents and a 92% decrease for young adults. Ironically, as Vancouver's infatuation with harm reduction waxes, some critics are concluding that the program was a costly mistake. Amsterdam, one of harm reduction's earliest adopters, is mired in squalor from escalating usage and attendant drug-related evils. Dozens of European cities, including Athens, Stockholm and Oslo, have signed a declaration against drugs -- including using safe-injection sites as a surreptitious way to try to legalize drugs. And all but renouncing harm reduction outright, Sweden instituted compulsory drug treatment in a limited number of cases and criminalized the purchase of sex. The country now boasts some of Europe's lowest drug-related rates of crime, disease and social problems. We cannot take pride in a society that chooses to accompany an addict to the abyss; only in a society that pulls him back from it. True compassion is expressed through prevention and treatment. It is time to end the false compassion of harm reduction. email@example.com - © 2008 by The Reader's Digest Canada Magazines Limited. Reprinted by permission from the August 2008 issue of Reader's Digest.
Posted by David Berner at 6:32 PM
Add to the Never Used a Turn Signal and the Happy Wanderer, the new Vancouver driving scourge - the chronic Right Lane Passer, especially in school zones.
Twice yesterday. Once going to work, once coming home.
These guys and gals are particularly nuts and heinous.
Passing on the right is both dangerous and illegal - in a school zone, it is doubly thus.
I will have to make a lot more money.
I need a chauffeur.
Posted by David Berner at 8:50 AM
Mumps is on the spread in these parts.
The contagion is being aided and abetted by Christian fundamentalists who hold that vaccinations are unholy.
The age-old question must be asked -
Why must my "rights" and safety be put at risk by your belief system?
Religion - that understandable human yearning to find a place in a baffling universe - has much to answer for.
I love to drive through the Valley in the autumn to pick up the scent of the annual witch burnings.
Posted by David Berner at 8:41 AM
Yesterday, I wrote in this space about the boldly offensive false advertising practices of Canada's airlines.
Today we learn that Air Canada's regional carrier, Air Jazz, is removing the life vests from all their flights to lighten the load and save fuel costs.
You can't make this stuff up.
God help us all if there is an emergency and they are justifiably sued into well-deserved bankruptcy.
Posted by David Berner at 8:34 AM
Monday, August 25, 2008
Air Canada does it.
West Jet does it.
Seems they all do it.
But why are they allowed?
Air Canada buys a half page in the Sun. They advertise a flight to London Heathrow for $288.
In much smaller print, they note that fares advertised are EACH WAY and require ROUND TRIP purchases. (Forget the even smaller print that these fares are available only on alternating Tuesdays in a month that favors cactus plants and only if you are sitting third to the left of the player holding trump and a furled umbrella.)
That makes the basic London fare $576, PLUS TAXES and FUEL CHARGES of approximately $450, which brings the ticket to $1,026.
If you have enough points to get a free flight, you will still be charged TAXES and FUEL CHARGES of $450.
A pillow and meals may be another thing altogether.
Isn't this false advertising?
Sydney, Australia $600, which really translates to $1,650.
Isn't this false advertising?
Oh, I asked that already.
Posted by David Berner at 8:00 AM
Sunday, August 24, 2008
David, the politically correct thinking at City Hall is that the car driver is bad. The more one hinders the car driver, with road congestion, etc., the thinking goes, he/she will take transit. This is known as 'carrot & stick' transit philosophy where the carrot is transit and the stick is road congestion.
IT DON"T WORK!
Corey is partly right, SkyTrain is largely to blame for our traffic woes, because it (and BC Transit/TransLink) follows the 'spinal theory of transit', where all buses feed into a very expensive 'spinal' metro route (SkyTrain). The speed of the SkyTrain/metro spine, alone, will attract the car driver to transit.
IT DON"T WORK!
The result is appalling driving conditions and a very expensive metro system that gets 80% of its riders from buses and for the past decade and a half only attracted about 11% of the regional population to transit.
PROOF IT DON"T WORK!
What has found to work and work well, is a network of LRT/tram/streetcar lines, offering many destinations for the transit customer (and indeed the transit user is a customer). For the cost of 1 SkyTrain line, we could build at least 4 streetcar lines. Imagine, a tram/streetcar network that included UBC, Marpole, BCIT, Stanley park, Downtown Vancouver, 4th Ave., Beach Ave.; such a network would offer swift, affordable, and comfortable transit options.
This is called the 'push - pull' theory of transit, where the car driver is pulled to transit because of its convenience or pushed to it because of congestion. The majority of the roads in the transit network is freed up for people with cars, where the transit system doesn't satisfy their transit needs.
THIS DOES WORK!
Instead of treating the car driver as malignancy, offer the transit alternative that will attract the car driver. This is exactly what happened in Dublin, Nottingham, Portland, etc.
Posted by David Berner at 3:28 PM
Could someone please explain to me what is going on here?
I speak of what passes for traffic in the City of Vancouver.
On Thursday at 6:30 pm, it took me half an hour to drive from the Stanley Park tennis courts to the Burrard Bridge.
Most of that time was spend idling and inching along Beach Avenue and Pacific.
That trip usually takes 5 minutes. The Lions' Game was Friday, wasn't it?
Then it took me another 15 minutes to get from the Burrard Bridge to 10th and Sasamat.
Yesterday, driving east on Broadway, I was stuck idling again for a full five minutes while a construction truck turned around at Birch.
At Cambie, we were ushered into a single lane and that took another five minutes.
Is it just me, or has driving in this city become a complete nightmare?
I basically loathe driving into the downtown core at any hour of the day or night.
And this doesn't even mention the complete disappearance of the turn signal, the inability to use a traffic circle and the Happy Wanderers.
Come on, explain it to me.
Let me assure you, Mr. Premier and Mr. Mayor-to-be and Mr. Transclunk, let me assure you all that if there existed an LRT running down 10th Avenue that got me swiftly and safely to the Canada Line on Cambie, I would happily leave my car at home.
Until then, it will be the PNE and Bumper Cars year round.
Posted by David Berner at 8:19 AM
At a social gathering recently, a young woman said what we didn't know it was possible to say.
Tall, beautiful and well-spoken, for over an hour she hovered by the food table and riffed on her favorite theme - only autocratic governments that can plan 50 years in advance are worthy of our attention.
Health care, transportation - if only someone had the vision to organize us all.
Then, just when it seemed she might run out of steam, the coup de gras.
"Hitler's legacy," she offered, "included large tracts of open land that could be used in the future for transportation corridors."
We were gone shortly thereafter.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
The people of Ashcroft have got it right.
The Campbell government is drunk on Olympics and SkyTrains and convention centres.
It is too drunk to notice the exit of doctors.
Two over-worked and beloved doctors are leaving the town of Ashcroft and its exhausted hospital because they have been slaving 100+ hours a week.
The CEO of the Interior Health Authority says, of course, "No problem."
Andrew Neuner is no doubt a $300,000 a year man.
Nothing is a problem for him.
And asking him to care about the problems of the sick and the elderly in his jurisdiction is apparently unseemly.
Posted by David Berner at 10:04 AM
It is as predictable as rain in Vancouver.
The moment I write a piece in the Province decrying harm seduction policies and the garbage can called Insite and asking for more money for real treatment, the hate mail arrives in 100-lb. bags.
I'm arrogant. I'm an a-hole. I'm ignorant. I know nothing about the issues.
So be it.
And watch for more columns and more posts and more articles in the same drug-free vein.
Posted by David Berner at 9:57 AM
Frances Bula has left her City Hall beat at the Vancouver Sun and moved to Vancouver Magazine.
Her piece this month called "Next Mayor" is first-rate.
She gives us just about everything we could ever stand to know about Peter Ladner and Gregor Robertson - to start with not the two most exciting guys in the neighbourhood.
If you are going to vote this November, you owe it to yourself to read this.
Posted by David Berner at 9:51 AM
The officially endorsed Culture of Failure rolls on.
The City is on a big orgy of self-congratulation because it is buying a slew of single rooms in the DTES.
But Mark Hasiuk, writing in the Courier today, nails this mistake for exactly what it is - a further concentration of failure.
Read it here.
Posted by David Berner at 9:44 AM
Friday, August 22, 2008
The Harper government is headed the right way in the battle against drugs
David Berner Special to The Province
Friday, August 22, 2008
Federal Health Minister Tony Clement is on a dangerous mission.
Clement is bucking the accepted wisdom and the official stories about safe-injection sites such as Vancouver's Insite. He knows these are hideous mistakes that help very few.
He knows the facts have been manipulated by doctors and social workers and politicos to support a program that is a deadly waste.
Addressing the Canadian Medical Association the other day, Clement said: "Over the last five years, while Insite has been operating, we could have provided treatment to 5,000 addicts.
"Instead, during that time, 250 addicts have died of drug overdose alone. "The vast majority of injections still take place in back alleys and seedy hotels, and the centre's $3-million annual cost would be better spent elsewhere."
Clement has been viciously attacked for stating the politically-incorrect truth.
These are the accusations thrown at anyone who dares question the efficacy of Insite.
Earlier this week, the Conservatives sent out a mailing decrying free needles and safe-injection sites.
There is a photo of a discarded needle in a children's playground. The word "SAFE?" is engraved on the photo.
The text talks about keeping junkies off the street and in rehab. The text uses words like "junkie."
Some are outraged at this cruel attack on the sanctity of heroin addicts.
Here's some news for them: Heroin addicts call themselves "junkies." Get over it.
Every time I speak in public about dope fiends and junkies, some cunning linguist rises in morally-superior objection.
Mark Townsend, the man responsible for running Insite, said he was depressed to find the Conservative mailing at his home.
I'm depressed every time I hear about Insite. And Townsend's depression is not my concern.
My concern is that, rather than providing treatment, too many people are helping junkies to stay stupid.
Not willing to do anything substantive about addictions, one government afteranother, federal, provincial and local, has dithered.
The Four Pillars, the needle exchange and Insite seemed ready answers. So respective city mayors and the 200 social service agencies in the Downtown Eastside hopped aboard the bandwagon.
The results? You tell me.
Here in B.C., the home of a million free needles a year for addicts, there are children born with diabetes. Today, the parents of those children are begging the provincial government to provide the insulin pumps these youngsters need to survive.
But if you don't support free needles, free crack kits and safe-injection sites, you're told you don't understand a complex problem.
The Harper government is heading in the right direction on drug addiction and crime.
It is to be applauded heartily for this -- and should be given a standing ovation if and when it provides money for real treatment.
Posted by David Berner at 10:08 AM
Property values will skyrocket along the Canada line.
This is news?
This is the story of Canada. This is the story of highways and railways since Rome.
Now what would bea real story is if some enterprising reporter for one of our dailies could reveal who knew, who was told, who bought under numbered companies the devalued properties just before the announcement of construction.
Now that would be a story.
Posted by David Berner at 9:49 AM
A mother throws her baby into a swimming pool and kills him.
In court, where she pleads guilty to infanticide, she is given a conditional sentence of two years less a day to be served at home, with three years' probation to follow.
The usual truckload of psychiatric gumbo is hauled into the hearing and the equation.
May I be so rude as to ask a few questions?
What value do we place on the life of a baby?
What help - if help is what is needed - will this woman receive in her basement suite in Surrey?
What do we, the community, the courts, do when she becomes pregnant again?
Posted by David Berner at 9:43 AM
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Below is Ladysmith Black Mambazo. It was my great pleasure to have them on my radio show at midnight in the early 90's.
Now, let me draw your attention to two pieces in the local press on this important issue.
Tom Sandborn, writing in yesterday's Courier rightly skewers several politicians for their playing with numbers, while accomplishing little.
The amount of pure BS that has been emitted from local gasbags on this subject is appalling, when you consider how they have refused to really tackle the issue.
In today's Sun, Dr. Kerry Jang, asks the question, "Which comes first - a new home or a cleaned up street person?"
It's a fair enough question, but he spends so much time asking it that he leaves only a few short sentences for the answer.
The answer is that neither extreme is correct.
The answer is that homeless people need homes, just as anyone does. But a home without purpose, direction, focus, love and support is not a home; it is a building.
That is why the treatment program we ran for years worked - because it was all these things and more. That is why so many government answers to these problems don't work.
The monumental premier and the city politicians believe in real estate. They don't understand that CONTENT IS CRUCIAL.
It is easy to buy or build wooden structures.
It is much more challenging and labor intensive and attention-demanding to create the structure of do's and don't and wills and won'ts that exist in a real home.
Wake me up when the politicians get it and start to invest in non-profit groups who actually know how to help homeless people find homes.
You know the more I think of it, the more I am starting to feel sorry for people like Gordon Campbell. Guys rushing around building and buying, grabbing and snaring and espousing and saying and travelling and conquering...and not a clue about what really counts and how things really work. Always on the lookout for the Easy Answer, the Ready Solution, the healine grabber.
Blah, blah, blah - zilch.
These boobs are sadder than the guy on the street.
Posted by David Berner at 9:01 AM
I admit it.
I'm an Anti-Lawnite.
Have been for a very lawn time...uh, long time.
Hate lawns. Don't get them. See them as a Protestant plot to make us all dull and the same.
One of the many joys of my home is that my back yard is a driveway bordered by a huge tree, and my front yard is a jungle choking with 20 different plants and bushes, all overseen by an enormous pine.
Did you know that Americans spend - read, waste - $40 BILLION dollars a year on grass - and that's not the kind you smoke.
"And how much water?" I ask.
One of my idiot neighbours has built in sprinklers. Pulleeeeezze.
Half the world is dying and we're watering in a rain forest to get a carpet.
Here's the really, really, really good news.
I am not alone.
Read this wonderful article, called "Turf War," from the New Yorker magazine of July 21 and marvel.
I will be happier when all the unnatural, imported from other countries grasses are replaced with vegetable gardens, rock gardens, ponds, bushes, wild grasses and weeds.
May I never again here the intruding noises of electric and gas mowers and that worst of all urban pests, the whirly trimmer thing. One day, I will rip the fishing line from one of those suckers and wrap it around the fool piloting it at 8 am on a Sunday.
Posted by David Berner at 8:44 AM
"Quebec says no to safe-injection sites for now"
Quebec says no to safe-injection sites for now
Canwest News Service
Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2008
QUEBEC - Quebec has decided not to open safe-injection sites for drug
addicts, citing too little scientific evidence about their effectiveness.
The decision comes only two days after Tony Clement, the federal health
minister, assailed the Canadian Medical Association for supporting Canada's
first supervised drug-injection site in Vancouver, arguing it is against
their profession's code of ethics to allow drug addicts to shoot up.
The federal government is a vocal opponent of the project and has repeatedly
tried to shut it down.
A spokeswoman for Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc said Clement's comments
didn't influence them.
"We are not ready to endorse what Mr. Clement said," Marie-Eve Bedard said
Wednesday. "There's a question of public opinion, but we are also concerned
about the fact that there is no consensus in the medical community about
this. So right now we don't have enough information to go ahead."
In June, then health minister Philippe Couillard said he was considering
setting up safe-injection sites in the province.
Bedard said the government didn't change its mind on the issue but has
rather decided to wait for convincing evidence such a site can cut down on
blood-borne infections among drug addicts and set users on the road to
Posted by David Berner at 8:16 AM
Posted by David Berner at 8:16 AM
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
These are the accusations thrown at anyone who dares questions the official story called Insite.
Federal health Minister Tony Clement is daring exactly this and he is being torn asunder in the press.
Today, the Vancouver Sun has launched a broadside at Clement and the Harper government in their lead editorial.
But understand how this game is played.
Not willing to do anything substantive about addictions, one government after another, federal, provincial and local, has dithered.
The FOur Pillars and Needle Exchange and Insite seemed ready answers. Big swift solutions.
So The Three Amigos (Mayors) and the 200 social service agencies in the DTES hopped on board the bandwagon.
You tell me.
Now, if you don't buy into the Official Story you don't understand a complex problem.
You are simple minded and knee jerk and law-and-order.
Ooooooooh. How bad!
The editorial makes the laughable claim that no government stood idly by.
The truth is that ALL the governments have stood idly by, ignoring the small pockets of real work being done in rehabilitation and treatment.
What is passing these days for treatment is gas.
A poor misguided fool writes in a letter to the editor today that for Insite to really be effective it should also give out free heroin. Why? Because then you could talk to the addicts about treatment and it would cut down on crime.
Now here is a fellow who truly knows nothing about addictions.
1. You can't talk to a drunk or a hopped up junkie about anything. You can only talk to someone who is detoxed and clean and sober.
2. What treatment?
3. Junies want more. They will continue to commit crimes to buy more illegal junk after their free hit.
The ignorance on these issues is frightening.
And it is this ignorance that keeps the Editorialists and 200 social agencies and Insite supporters in business.
Posted by David Berner at 8:50 AM
Thre is a revealing editorial in this morning's NY Times regarding the Russia-Georgia conflict.
The piece is written by Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union.
The claim is that Georgia - and the U.S. - have much to answer for.
Posted by David Berner at 8:31 AM
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Federal Health Minister Tony Clement is on a mission.
And it is a dangerous one.
Wish him luck and pray for him.
Clement is bucking all the accepted wisdom and all the official stories about safe injection sites.
Like you, he knows that these are hideous mistakes that help very few.
He knows that numbers and facts have been endlessly manipulated by doctors and social workers and politicos to support a program that is a deadly waste.
A few days ago, Clement said all of these things in public at a convention.
Yesterday, he said it again in the den of the enemy.
Addressing the Canadian Medical Association, Clement said, "Over the last five years, while Insite has been operating, we could have provided treatment to 5,000 addicts. Instead, during that time, 250 addicts have died of drug overdose alone," adding that the vast majority of injections still take place in back alleys and seedy hotels, and the centre's $3-million annual cost would be better spent elsewhere.
Of course, he has been viciously attacked for stating the politically incorrect truth.
Earlier this week, the Conservatives sent out a mailing decrying free needles and safe injection sites.
They are to be applauded heartily for this.
And they are to be given standing ovations if and when they provide money for real treatment.
Posted by David Berner at 8:40 AM
Monday, August 18, 2008
Woody Allen's latest movie, currently playing at the Park Cinema on Cambie Street, is one of his best.
Charming, funny, fascinating, beautifully cast, acted and filmed in delicious locations around Spain, this is Allen proving once again that you can take a story in 101 directions, pulling it like taffy, as long as you keep it interesting.
Two American girls spend a summer in Spain. Both get involved with a handsome Spanish painter.
The painter has an almost ex-wife.
Let the complications - and the gags -begin.
The painter is Javier Bardem, hot off his Oscar for No Country for Old Men. Bardem is one of those rare actors who can do anything and be a movie star at the same time. He is addictively watchable.
Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall are the two girls.
After Woody's 2005 film, "Match Point," I was prepared to dismiss Johnasson as a very beautiful but hopelessly inadequate actress. Maybe she has learned some things along the way. Maybe she is better cast or directed here. Whatever the explanation, she is wonderful.
Halfway through the movie, Penelope Cruz bursts onto the screen as Bardem's gorgeous volatile and half-mad wife. Like Bardem, she can do anything in front of a camera and make you watch.
All of the kissing and seductions and sex and fights and tantrums are filmed in romantic Spanish settings, sun-drenched and elegant. Wine and comfort are everywhere. Music plays forever.
It is rare that I ever want to see a movie again immediately after the first viewing.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona is such a movie.
Posted by David Berner at 8:24 AM
My latest almost encounter with celebrity puts me oh so close to Woody Allen and Javier Bardem.
Last year, I had a small part in a new movie called, "Chaos Theory." Although listed as a feature, the final product went straight to video and was released a few months ago.
You can see my two scenes on my website at www.davidberner.com
I play the lead actor's doctor.
The lead actor is Ryan Reynolds, who is currently the romantic partner of Scarlett Johansson.
Ms. Johansson currently stars in Vicki Cristina Barcelona, reviewed above.
Thus, I get to claim my spurious connection to Woody and to Mr. Bardem, currently one of the greatest screen actors in the world.
Emily Mortimer, shown here, also starred in "Chaos Theory" and I had a delightful chat with her about her experience in Woody Allen's not-so-successful film in which Johansson also starred.
If I try hard enough, I am sure I can make similarly pointless connections to Burt Lancaster, Elsa Lanchester and Wally, the Talking Duck.
Posted by David Berner at 7:49 AM
For years, methadone has been precribed for heroin addicts by killers calling themselves doctors.
NOw, this synthetic narcotic is being prescribed by prativally everyone and his dog as a pain killer.
Unfortunately, it is also a very effective patient killer.
The NY Times story, with video, is headlined "Methadone Rises as a Painkiller With Big Risks," and you can read it here.
Posted by David Berner at 7:43 AM
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The Harper government has sent a mailing to many Canadian homes, including my own.
There is a photo of a discarded needle in a children's playground. The word "SAFE?" is engraved on the photo.
I think this is legitimate and realistic and healthy commentary.
The text talks about keeping junkies off the street and in rehab.
Sounds good to me.
But oh, my.
Every mistaken weeping fool and his uncle has come out in outrage at this cruel attack on the sanctity of heroin addicts.
Here's some news for you.
Heroin addicts call themselves "junkies."
Get over it.
The word is not the message.
I have experienced this problem for over 40 years now.
Every time I talk in public about dope fiends and junkies, some cunning linguist rises in morally superior objection.
Never mind my track record in helping junkies become clean and sober citizens. Never mind that the dictionary people have never helped anyone.
Mark Townsend, the man responsible for running Insite said he was depressed to find the Conservative mailing at his home.
Well, you know what, Mark?
I'm depressed every time I hear about the killing machine known as Insite.
I was delighted by this mailing.
And your depression, Mark, is not my concern.
My concern is that, rather than providing treatment and more treatment and then some treatment, completely wrong folks like you are helping junkies to stay stupid.
Calling junkies junkies is not offensive or an indicator of being out of touch.
Giving drunks booze and shot glasses and giving dope fiends anything other than real help is extremely ugly and sick.
Libby Davies is a kind and thoughtful and lovely person. But she is completely and totally wrong on this issue.
So is Ujjal Dosanjh.
The Harper government is heading in the right direction on drug addictions and crime.
They will be excoriated by the Enablers and by editorial writers.
Help them, encourage them, tell your MP and the Prime Minister that you want treatment now.
Posted by David Berner at 10:49 AM
Posted by David Berner at 10:47 AM
Some friends of the blog have been confused by an announcement I made about a week ago regarding guest columnists.
To be clear.
I have decided that I will not publish friends' columns in their entirety on this site.
What I will do is provide links and recommendations to columns that I think you will enjoy or find worth reading.
From time to time, I will continue to publish other's comments as I chose.
Hey, It's my sandbox.
Posted by David Berner at 10:38 AM
Friday, August 15, 2008
Yesterday I commented on the lack of understanding coming from Victoria Mayor Allen Lowe in ending the Police Chief affair with no information given to the public.
Today we learn that the nine-member police board happily voted no confidence in the Police Chief on Lowe's word, without reading a single word about the issues or facts involved.
Who are these sheep?
Wouldn't even one of these bleating ungulates say, "No, sir. Not good enough. I want to know the whole story."
The perfectly named Christine Stoneman (Not as perfect as Canadian Olympic swimmer, Keith Beavers, but hey...) has the gall to say with a straight stoneman face, "We're intelligent people."
Of course, The Opaque One has said in the past that mayors should not be the heads of police boards and he was right. The only problem is that now that he is Attorney-general and in a position to do something about it, he is a grinning rictus , as usual.
Solicitor-General, John van Dongen, was absent in his field somewhere.
Posted by David Berner at 9:38 AM
Batman's thumping his mom and his sister in a swanky hotel room...
And 82-year old Jerry Lewis is packing heat at the airport.
Vaaaiiirrry scaaaaiiirrry ...
This just in.
Jerry's 22 baretta was a prop gun, and Baleful's loving mom and sis are not pressing charges.
Posted by David Berner at 9:23 AM
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The go ahead for slots at Hastings stirs memories of the unique ability of BC politicians to combine hypocrisy and stupidity.
The go ahead for slots at Hastings stirs memories of the unique ability of BC politicians to combine hypocrisy and stupidity.
Posted by David Berner at 12:46 PM
The streetcar of today is very different from the streetcar of yesterday.
- Helsinki, just built 5 km of new streetcar (streetcars are LRT) for Euro 15 million or CAD $23.6 million or CAD $4.72 million a km.! Compare that with almost $200 million/km. for SkyTrain.
- Helsinki's tram (streetcar) system carries over 20,000 persons per hour per direction (pphpd) one one downtown route, during peak hours. Compare with SkyTrain, which can't carry 15,000 pphpd without a $3 billion upgrade!
- In Karlsrhue, Germany, one can board a streetcar in the downtown and alight in Heilbronn, some 150 km. away, with the streetcar operating on-street; on a reserved rights-of-way (LRT); and as a railway train, track-sharing with the mainline railways! Compare with SkyTrain, it can only operate on a massively expensive segregated rights-of-way and is compatible with no other railway!
- The Kong Kong tramway's (those quaint double-decker streetcars) CARRIES OVER 80 MILLION PASSENGERS ANNUALLY! Compare with SkyTrain, with almost $6 billion invested with the metro, barely 70 million passengers annually use it, with 80% first taking a bus to use it.
- In Spain, a new streetcar line cost under CAD $7 million/km to build, including cars! Compare with SkyTrain where $7 million would buy you 70 metres of guide-way, without cars!
- Streetcars can travel at 30 second headways. Compare with SkyTrain, which even 1 minute headways pose a problem.
- Streetcars come in all sizes, from small metre gauge 2 axle affairs, to large, multi-axle articulated vehicles, with a maximum capacity of 350 persons (Strasbourg's 'Jumbos').
- Streetcars can climb 10% grades with ease (Sheffield, UK); in Lisbon, their 'heritage cars' (see above) climb 13.7 percent grades. compare with SkyTrain where the system doesn't like steep grades at all!
- Streetcars can travel as fast as 100 kph.
- AND STREETCARS OPERATE WITHOUT PROBLEM IN THE SNOW! In the Great Blizzard's in Denver last year, the LRT/streetcar only stopped operating because there was no passengers to take. No one could reach the streetcar! Compare with SkyTrain, where one flake of snow causes panic and.......... you know the rest
Posted by David Berner at 12:43 PM
The firing of the Breakfast Television team at CityTV is not a national tragedy, but it is discouraging.
Not only for the very decent and capable people who will be hard-pressed to find work in this moribund market, but for all of us as lively and involved citizens.
It is a text book case of everything that is wrong with broadcasting in this country.
The CRTC grants licences to every manner of well-heeled hooligan, who dutifully promises to spend millions on local programming.
The reality, of course, is that people want to kick back and watch American Idol or the NFL.
What would local programming have to be to attract a significant audience? Sex and snuff movies?
So, from the very beginning of television in Canada, we have been soaking up the Ed Sullivan Show and Donny and Marie and Oprah and Charlie Rose.
The original Global station in Toronto became incredibly rich on two strands - one, great buying of new American product at the annual Las Vegas fair, and two, repeater stations granted to Global throughout rural Ontario. Literally, a license to print money.
Except for local newscasts - which CITY abandoned a few years ago - very few local or even Canadian programming ever sees the light of day. CTV and CBC love to gush over themselves when they crank out cheezy, imitative police dramas.
CBC, never having the courage of its own alleged convictions, plays CanCult one minute and Sean Penn movies the next.
Australia has the advantage of being very, very far away, adrift in a remote sea. Thus, they have created a booming and unique film industry and their own TV stars.
But, as we huddle together here on the 49th parallel, in the shadow of the really, really Big Show, we continue to be a B-movie that can't even sustain a morning show with 6-minute guests.
Posted by David Berner at 9:48 AM
Most of us, in our wisdom, ignored the PR stunt called the "conversation on health."
Its transparent purpose - to encourage support for private initiatives in health services - was comically apparent.
The rube who heads the class in Victoria sees the rest of us as turnip patchers and thinks that we won't get his cloddish slight-of-hand tricks.
How refreshing therefore to learn that the $10Million caper brought exactly the opposite results. Over and over again, citizens showed up and told the hired monkeys that they supported government funded universal health care.
Of course, I shouldn't be laughing. That's 10 Million of my and your Canadian tax dollars and 18 months wasted on complete and utter bull.
Isn't government grand?
Posted by David Berner at 9:39 AM
The Mayor of Victoria, Alan Lowe, needs some quick instruction on the the basics of contributing to a democratic society.
His handling of the Police Chief affair is appalling and amateurish in the extreme.
The Police Chief has been under investigation for many months. He has now been cleared. And he has resigned.
He was under investigation for WHAT? He has been cleared of WHAT? He has resigned WHY?
This is the Police Chief! If there is the hint of an aroma of a whiff of mis-doing, we the public must know.
Hiding behind arcane inner sanctum rules will not cut it.
If anyone should resign, it is this mayor.
Posted by David Berner at 9:24 AM
For fans of LRT - and we are legion - it is very good news indeed that no less than 40 American cities are looking at re-investing in long gone or non-existent or minimal streetcar systems.
Not that the uber-planners in Victoria would ever consider such good sensible ideas.
Read the NY Times story and hope and email your local elected dope.
Posted by David Berner at 9:16 AM
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I have one thing to say today and it is politically incorrect.
The subject is The Olympics.
I don't care about the local food or culture or customs or whether or not someone has a sister in the hospital or grew up in a hut with wolves.
I rush home each evening to watch beautiful young men and women doing extraordinary physical and mental things.
I watch them dive and swim and run and jump and twist and contort and lift their bodies in ways that defy gravity and common sense.
And I marvel at it all.
I don't care about their nationality. It is only of passing interest to me that a competitor comes from the Ukraine or Canada or China.
I wish them all well and cheer them on.
The TV and the radio and the newspapers are filled with drivel by entire nations of so-called journalists babbling about nothing. They are all so intense and so clever and so completely beside the point.
When they can run and jump and part the waves in record times, I will be interested in them too.
It's all about The Games, Stupid.
And it's beautiful.
Posted by David Berner at 9:30 AM