Sure, there are bigger news stories.
Swine flu is now a level 5 pandemic. That's a big story.
The nightmare known as Darfur continues.
It's Thursday, so North Korea issues its weekly nuclear threat.
Is there any excuse for this provincial election?
Have you ever seen such mud-sucking lethargy?
I've seen meetings of the Public Library that were more energized than this.
The NDP should be hacking and hailing and hefting all over the place, scoring bulls-eye after bulls-eye.
Instead, it continues its two left feet demo, proving once again that having advisers who failed the party two decades ago are maybe not your best bet going in. (Someone might also suggest to Iggy Pop this weekend that Francis Fox left office disgraced as a liar and a crook and having him on your tram ain't such a robust idea either.)
What exactly is the burning issue for May 12th?
The economy, stupid? Roads? Hydro? Canlit?
We have proven our hickness with this one for sure. Dogcatcher, Illinois. A fight to the finish over renaming Railway Road to Hilltop Terrace.
For a similar opinion - and a few very funny lines - check out Alex Tsakumis in today's 24 hours.
And wake me when it's over.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
We seem to have such a surfeit of it out here on the Wet Edge.
Two stretchy examples:
More than two years after the spectacular collapse of the roof over the site of the 2010 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, there are still few written procedures for handling similar emergencies and a lack of staff training at the provincially owned facility, WorkSafeBC has found.
Hey, wassa hurry, Buddy?
A street racer involved in a crash that killed a Vancouver woman almost nine years ago has been deported to India.
Sukhvir Singh Khosa lost his bid to stay in Canada in March after the country's top court ruled he had to be deported.
Mr. Khosa left Canada on Tuesday.
Irene Thorpe was struck on a Vancouver street and killed in November of 2000 as Mr. Khosa and another man were street racing.
His co-accused, Bahadur Singh Bhalru, was deported four years ago.
Nine years, four years...Iceberg, Goldberg, wassa difference?
You know why it's "the best place on earth?"
Not because Gordon tells us, but because we have so much time on out hands.
I think I'll go out and stand on the boulevard for a few weeks.
Posted by David Berner at 9:14 AM
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Yesterday, I posted a "John van Dongen Exclusive."
I'm told that Global TV did a similar thing recently and had to apologize as well.
The gist of the story is that I had learned that John van Dongen had a charge of running a red light pending against him.
Turns out there are two John van Dongens.
The man who is charged with running the red light is considerably older than the former Solicitor-General and collector of speeding tickets.
Top Cop has enough troubles without my adding needlessly to them.
I apologize and put myself in the penalty box for 23 hours for "piling on."
Posted by David Berner at 9:15 AM
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
There is much to amuse in this morning's coverage of the resignation of Top Cop, John van Dongen. If only it were in the least amusing.
The nine speeding offences in five years, the man's announcements about crackdowns on speeding, the four contested tickets, the three contests he for which he failed to appear in court, and so on.
Donkey says he always tries to separate his personal life from his work.
Can't be done in your arena, Johnny.
But here is the real news.
Brace yourself. It is unlikely that you will read or hear this anywhere else, because this was sent to me by a friend, who just happens to be a policeman.
I found some more information on Van Dongen's driving record that you might find interesting.... If you look him up at the "Court Services Online" website you will find his speeding tickets, but there is also an open file of him that is reported as this: "10-Jan-2008 MVA - 127(1)(a)(iii) Failing to yield to vehicle on green light". It looks to me like he ran a red light in Delta and might have even caused an accident. His next appearance in court is listed as "Richmond Provincial Court 30-Jun-2009 09:30 AM". If you want to see this for yourself, the website for Court Services Online is located at https://eservice.ag.gov.bc.ca/cso/esearch/criminal/partySearch.do You can just enter his name to find the records, or you can use this file number I got from the site - 28738815 (you also need to select the court location which is Richmond).
So, while the Good Burro claims that he has now "learned his lesson," turns out he still hasn't told us the full story.
He still hasn't admitted to running a red light.
This by the way is the exact same action that killed RCMP officer Jimmy Ng.
And this man is going to run for public office again?
Posted by David Berner at 8:45 AM
Swine flu comes from animals and humans interacting.
The disease jumps the genus barrier and mutates from barnyard pet (or lunch) to keeper.
Don't we just live in the greenest darn city on earth?
Isn't this the forward-loooking place that just voted to allow chickens in your back yard?
In Mexico City, many, many people live in close proximity, right in the heart of the city, to pigs and chickens and goats. How cute.
Let me know when the tacos are ready, Compadre.
Posted by David Berner at 8:39 AM
Step right up! Get 'em here! Get 'em while they're hot!
That's right! Authentic Canadian Flag Pins! Show your true colors, show your patriotism.
Get these authentic flag pins supplied by an authentic Quebec company and made by...uh, that is, made in...uh...
These Canadian Flag Pins were made in China.
We have companies right here in Canada who make flag pins.
One of them has an office two blocks from Parliament.
Pity, you say.
Only in Canerder.
Posted by David Berner at 8:32 AM
Monday, April 27, 2009
The FEDERAL Liberals are holding their Group Grope at one of the big Downtown hotels this week.
You will read and hear much about Iggy Pop and his book(s).
What you won't learn is the cheesy other side of what these songfests are really like. And what they cost.
A friend, who has never belonged to a political party before, decided to join the Liberals recently. Her tale of trying to find the office, then finding it and finding almost nothing but a few packing boxes and some kid straight out of college who knew absolutely nothing about anything is hysterically funny.
She did pay the $20 bucks to get her membership, but she didn't get even so much as a receipt.
When she said she wanted to attend the Convention, she was sent to one local outpost after another in search of a gang with whom she might appropriately bond.
Turns out, she was "a senior."
Finally, after a couple months of dizzying run-around, she was triumphantly welcomed into the great Liberal fold and invited to attend the famous Piss-Up.
Well, "invited" is perhaps a debatable word in this context.
Her "fee" for showing up and caring enough to register was...now, I can't remember (ah, age), but something like $900.
Still has her party card though.
She'll read about Iggy's book(s), just like you and me.
And they wonder why they can't elect anyone outside of Toronto.
Posted by David Berner at 9:01 AM
Posted by David Berner at 8:42 AM
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Let me see if I've got this right.
John van Dongen is the Solicitor-General of the Province of British Columbia.
He is responsible for the police, the courts and ICBC, among other small matters.
In short, he is Top Cop.
And he cannot drive a car these days because
a)he has speeding tickets;
and b)he has unpaid speeding tickets.
And the Premier, Gordon Campbell in defending this idiocy, casually downgrades the speeding tickets to parking tickets, a cute little bit of verbal jujitsu if there ever was one.
Let's begin by pointing out to the fellow who wants to be your premier for the 3d unbearable time that parking tickets arrive on your windshield when you leave your car somewhere it doesn't belong at that time. A relatively innocuous offense against obscure and usually nonsensical taxing laws that can barely be justified at the best of times.
Whereas, your Honour, speeding tickets come about when you are madly racing through public corridors at dangerous high velocities way in excess of what may be good for the common weal.
One would think that if anyone should know the wrongness of such behaviour, it would be Mr. Top Cop.
Oh, but wait.
We forgot. He is special. He is John van Donkey, Special person.
And his deep need to catch the ferry boat and get back to his little life in Abbotsford far precludes all other community needs, like say, life and limb.
The Premier Personage says this will all blow over and that van Donkey should be congratulated for braying loudly and publicly what a bad boy he is.
I, like many of you, am of a different mind.
I think that this selfish fool should be denied the opportunity to disgrace another government portfolio after May 12th.
I don't hold out much hope for this to transpire. No doubt the good and faithful of Abbotsford are forgiving and forgetful souls and The Donkey will ride again.
Posted by David Berner at 1:15 PM
A million human beings face starvation in Sudan, in Darfur. Aid workers have been expelled from the country.
There is hardly a greater testimony to the painful failures of the United Nations to even begin to approach its forming ideals.
Of course, you cannot say, "Stop. This billion dollar farce is taking us nowhere, except the best lunch rooms in Manhattan."
But cannot some men and women of good will strip this body back to its essentials and make it something effective and praise-worthy?
Yesterday, we are told by full page ads in papers across the nation, was WORLD MALARIA DAY.
Every 30 seconds, a child in Africa dies of malaria. A $10 bed net will help. Here's the web address for your donation.
So many billions of taxpayers dollars in America, Canada, the UK, Germany are going to bolster wars and skirmishes in countries around the world. Cannot we not divert some of these questionable investments in healthy children and families in suffering regions?
Posted by David Berner at 12:56 PM
Friday, April 24, 2009
Way cleared for 38% hike in heritage apartment rent
Decision highlights flaws in law and will allow landlords to drive up rents, critics sayThis is an important article as far as it goes.
But what it doesn't tell the reader is "Why?"
What was the reasoning that the Residential Tenancy Branch used in making this onerous and very bad decision?
I am guessing that the argument was parity with neighbouring buildings.
How would you like to see your rent on a 2-bedroom flat in an old building climb overnight from $1300 to $1800?
On the shopping street in my neighbourhood, mom and pop stores open and close almost daily. There is only one reason. Landlords jack the rent so far out of reach, people just walk away. One storefront remained empty for over a year and half until the owner found someone brave enough or stupid enough to dive in.
What, if anything, do our benighted governments do about these continuing iniquities?
Nothing that I've noticed.
Posted by David Berner at 9:24 AM
He was racing through Richmond streets at speeds in excess of 130 k/hr.
His name is Stuart Chan.
He killed RCMP officer Jimmy Ng.
He got two years for criminal negligence and he was released on parole after eight months.
He promised that he would talk to teens about the dangers of street racing.
Hahahahaha...it is to weep.
Of course, none of that has happened.
Now, the world turns to Wally Opaque for justice.
Hahahaha...it is to throw up.
"Well, we trusted a liar," says Wally.
Can we call this "projection?"
Posted by David Berner at 9:16 AM
Wondering what VANOC's Integrated Security Unit have been doing with the millions they will spend in the coming months?
They are visiting old men who kvetch about The Games.
Peter Scott is 73, he lives in Surrey and he often sends clippings from the newspapers to public figure with his comments scribbled on the side.
We like to call that, FREE SPEECH.
But that Orwellian Big Brother known as VANOC has other ideas.
Read the entire frightening anti-democratic story here.
Excuse me...there's someone pounding at the front door...
Posted by David Berner at 9:05 AM
Most movie reviews are unreadable bought-and-paid-for shill jobs.
The moment you see the word "triumph," this should be your cue to go running at top speed to anywhere else.
But every so often, you read a piece about a new release and you say, "O.K. Now there's a flick I've got to see.
Check out A.O. Scott's item in this morning's NY Times on James Toback's documentary film, "Tyson."
The article includes video clips.
Looks darn good.
Posted by David Berner at 8:59 AM
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
"The RCMP has admitted that it gave wrong information to the public about the circumstances of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski's death. But the force has denied that it lied or suppressed information about the disturbing circumstances of Mr. Dziekanski's death."
Among the highlights of this enormously helpful update is this:
"Sgt. Lemaitre also told reporters in October, 2007, that police tasered Mr. Dziekanski twice, when in fact at least four shocks were delivered. And in another news briefing that month, Sgt. Lemaitre told a reporter there was no video of the event, even though he had already viewed it."
Posted by David Berner at 9:08 AM
Soldiers and mounties defending our right to luge in freedom will bunk down on cruise ships during The Big Party.
Gordon Campbell and George Abbott have announced that the 5,000 care beds they originally announced - and never came remotely near to providing - were actually a semantic error.
It's all in the word, you see.
Posted by David Berner at 9:03 AM
Mountain Equipment Co-op, where people who never leave their neighbourhoods can buy North Face jackets to keep themselves warm over lattes, will have an interesting AGM next week.
It is strongly rumored that some one or two will table a resolution to boycott Israeli products.
BC Teachers for Global Peace and Education has been cited as a possible supporter of such a resolution. (I'm still waiting for BC Teachers for Teaching English and Math Skills That'll Pass Muster in First year University.)
The Company will most likely ignore this move and continue to sell Israeli underwear. Oy vay!
Our battles are ever so civil, don't you know?
Is that the brown sugar on your table?
Posted by David Berner at 8:52 AM
On April 5th, I posted an item called Triangulation. It was about the strange confluence of people who just happen to know and see each other a lot. Their names are Gordon Campbell, Patrick Kinsella, David MacLean and Martyn Brown.
CN Rail, BC Rail and a few other small considerations play somewhere in this mystery.
This morning I learn that Kinsella is threatening to sue Carole James and her posse for defamation.
Apparently the NDP have been asking difficult questions about these very same confusions.
Of course, so has every columnist and broadcaster worth his salt.
Kinsella is perfectly right, of course, to defend and protect his reputation.
But shooting the messenger is the oldest tactic in the book.
Real information from Kinsella would be much more re-assuring, but no one is holding his breath.
Posted by David Berner at 8:42 AM
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Olympics are so rigid, so far up their own flewbarbs, so out-of-step that women ski jumpers have had to resort to a law suit to achieve their goal of being allowed to compete in 2010.
They accuse VANOC of violating their Charter rights.
They are exactly correct.
VANOC claims this is all on the hands of the IOC and that if it granted women the equal opportunity to participate, that the IOC would never award another games to Canada.
They are exactly wrong.
In addition to being morally bankrupt.
If they led the way and allowed women to participate as they should, the IOC would simply be embarrassed into continuing the trend world-wide.
I mean, really...sometimes you wake up and think it's 1843.
(You can sign the petition here.)
Posted by David Berner at 11:01 AM
YVR Airport Services Ltd. is a local success story.
At last count, 18 airports in seven countries under its management.
But the tale of its latest setback is an indicator of just how tight money is world-wide, even for what looks like sure-fire investments.
A landmark $2.5-billion (U.S.) deal to privatize Chicago's Midway Airport has collapsed after a consortium of Citigroup Inc., C Manulife Financial Corp.'s MFC John Hancock arm and Vancouver's YVR Airport Services Ltd. couldn't find investors to fund the acquisition.
Read the whole story here.
Posted by David Berner at 10:53 AM
Monday, April 20, 2009
That paragon of virtue and clarity and love for all mankind, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is scheduled to highlight the plenary address at a UN conference on Racism in Switzerland.
The Iranian President's speech is set for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The man has publicly called many, many times for the destruction of Israel.
The good folks at the UN, or at least, their schedulers, must have a very deep sense of humour.
Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, the United States and Italy are among the countries who have politely excused themselves from this dark comedy.
Orwell is alive and well.
Posted by David Berner at 9:13 AM
Must be time for another Kelly Ellard- Reena Virk trial.
Nice to know our prosecution teams and our juries and judges are all doing such a fine job.
Here's the really good part.
If the Supreme Court orders a new trail, guess who gets to decide if we should proceed or let Ellard, already convicted a few dozen times (I exaggerate!), plead guilty to something of a lesser charge, like crossing a bridge without a license?
The man posing as the Attorney-General, that famed holder of all the high gold standards of justice in this province - the transparent one, Monseigneur Opaque.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Below are four paragraphs taken from Gary Mason's column on BC politics published in yesterday's Globe & Mail. I can only add please read the entire piece. Esepcially the part about Patrick Kinsella's business partner being granted a gaming license. It is simply one of the best things written recently about the tenuous state of what passes for democracy in this logging camp.
The very sight of simple-minded geeks happily spending their Saturday afternoons nailing up Gordon Campbell signs on their auto-sprinklered lawns makes me sick. What's worse is that the fools smile at us as we pass. Soon we turn to each other and say, "Those sticks will be good for peas or green beans in a few weeks."
Friends of government, friends of the Premier, people who have played pivotal behind-the-scenes roles with the governing Liberal party can do all manner of lobbyist-like work and not have to tell a soul.
Beyond that, Mr. Kinsella has done consulting work for a dizzying number of private companies, work which has put him in touch with government officials. Yet he has never registered with the provincial registrar of lobbyists because, he says, his work doesn't meet the legal definition of lobbying. Yet, he appears to be doing exactly the same type of work that most registered lobbyists are doing.
When the provincial registrar of lobbyists attempted to investigate Mr. Kinsella's activities, the Liberal insider refused to co-operate. And that was the end of that.
The Liberals have been promising over the last few years to toughen up the province's lobbyist laws but nothing has happened. It would appear they're in no hurry to upset friends making millions in the lobbying business.
Posted by David Berner at 10:45 AM
B.C. Liberals say a $2-billion project is "on-budget"; it was $1.5 to $1.7 billion
For years, I would have to write that a transit project linking downtown Vancouver, Richmond and the airport would cost $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion.
I knew that the figure had been lowballed. But I didn't have a choice because TransLink repeatedly used this $1.5-billion to $1.7-billion figure in news releases concerning what was then known as the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver line. It's now called the Canada Line.
Five years ago, the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor's also suggested there was "cost overrun potential" on the the $1.5-billion to $1.7-billion RAV line.
“The RAV project is a large, lengthy, and ambitious undertaking with cost overrun potential given the long-term and technologically complex nature of the construction project,” Standard & Poor’s stated.
Of course, the costs did go up. Now, the public is being quoted a $2-billion figure for a project that was expected to be built with a bored tunnel that would result in minimal intrusion on local merchants.
The $2-billion line includes 16 stations. The original $1.5-billion to $1.7-billion line was going to include 17 stations.
Of course, higher costs contributed to a decision to go instead with a cut-and-cover tunnel, which obstructed traffic and contributed to the bankruptcies of several businesses on Cambie Street.
So what does the B.C. Liberal platform say about the Canada Line?
Gimme a break.
Posted by David Berner at 10:43 AM
Friday, April 17, 2009
Francis Bula has written a first-rate piece on the front page of the local edition of this morning's Globe.
In it, she chronicles the endless escalating costs of the famous Olympic Village. Read the full story for the numbers and weep. The final total cost will easily exceed a Billion dollars. The City of Vancouver is increasingly on the hook and pegging more and more of its limited resources on this one horse.
Of course, the officials, like City Councillors Louie and Meggs, insist alles iz gut and all will work out ïn the fullness of time."
Hey, Ray and Gregg...in the fullness of time, I will be a Hollywood movie star, my next-door neighbour will win the Nobel for particle physics and and the guy at the fish store won't start a conversation with "How about those Canucks!"
The irony of this story is that it sits on the page in the print edition smack up against The Culprit.
There he is waving from the window of a helicopter on his way to his re-election - Gordo, the Great.
The man who has brought you the $Billion housing project that is bankrupting the City of Vancouver.
Oh what rich comedy if he lost the election (He won't.) and had to sit out The Big Party.
We can dream, can't we?
Posted by David Berner at 9:27 AM
Officers used reasonable force, police expert tells taser inquirySergeant Brad Fawcett of the Vancouver police said because the officers believed Mr. Dziekanski was about to attack them or someone else with a stapler, they had reasonable grounds to use the stun gun.
To laugh is to cry is to spit is to throw up our hands in hopeless disgust...
Posted by David Berner at 9:22 AM
My passion for NFL football has waned in recent years.
My enthusiasm for CFL football evaporated shortly after BC Place opened.
Now, John Madden is retiring from the broadcast booth (NBC Sunday Night Football) and his likely replacement will be the entirely limp Chris Collingsworth.
Over and out.
Maybe if Tom Brady comes back and leads the Patriots to another Super Bowl win...
Posted by David Berner at 9:07 AM
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
A couple want to elope.
Their loving parents don't approve.
The family "turns the couple in."
Turns them in to what?
To the villagers, who promptly have the young pair executed by firing squad.
Such is Afghanistan.
Such is the enlightenment of fundamentalism world-wide.
Savages armed with Good Books.
Canadian Trooper Karine Blais, age 21, was killed in Afghanistan on Monday. Her uncle says she died in vain. We concur.
Canadians are getting killed in a convoluted effort to...to do what?
Save the country of poppy lords and family firing squads.
Give us a better war in which to risk young Canadian lives.
Get out of Afghanistan.
Posted by David Berner at 9:29 AM
Global TV and CTV want the federal government to buy many, many ads on their failing rural TV stations.
These feudal empires have behaved like cretins for decades, showing little or no interest in the communities they claim to serve and treating all their employees other than the executive suite like chattels.
The answer is no.
Posted by David Berner at 9:25 AM
Groupe Polygone is in negotiations with the federal government to limit the press and the public to knowledge about their crimes.
The mere fact that the government would even for a moment entertain such a conversation is chilling.
These people, with the help of the Chretien/Martin governments, stole Canadian taxpayer money.
They are criminals and the press and the public have a very solid and important right to know.
Posted by David Berner at 9:19 AM
This article is about the United Arab Emirates (UAE) specifically Dubai. Several Vancouver planners, including former chief planner Larry Beasley, preen about bringing their sustainability credentials to the UAE. Well, it would appear some things are not being "sustained" in Dubai and the rest of the UAE. Things like human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, workers' rights. Does Larry Beasley include any of these things in his definition of sustainability?
Or what about his sycophantic friends in Vancouver's development industry? They went so far as to name a condo after him ( which isn't selling by the way). That would be like a brothel owner in Nevada naming a whorehouse after Nevada's Secretary of Health. Do the development goniffs include basic human rights in their definition of sustainability?
This article should have run in the Vancouver Sun with some hard questions for Snivelly ( sorry, Beasley) and the developers. But we don't do that sort of thing here.
This is, of course, exactly what I have thought of Dubai since we first started looking at that obscene hotel shaped like a billowing sail. When I began to read about Tiger and Roger Federer playing their respective games in this oil-driven sewer, I was shocked and disgusted. Couldn't they see what madness they were supporting?
Posted by David Berner at 9:15 AM
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
David, the issue of gay marriage is low on my priority list. It was made legal here in Canada and hasn't directly affected my life at all. And I wholeheartedly believe that gay couples should have all the same benefits, etc. of heterosexual couples.
But if I were given the choice to vote on it, I would vote 'No' for gay marriage. If you or your readers think this makes me a bigot then c'est la vie.
I heard someone recently suggest that all liberal democratic societies have a built-in self-destruction mechanism. Years ago I would have thought this to be nonsense but now I wonder if the concept of unlimited rights for everyone and a determination to never discriminate against anyone in any way is taking us down a very slippery slope.
Let me pose some questions to you, which I hope you will take the time to think about carefully before responding to.
1. Do you believe, in the interest of non-discrimination, that a man should be able to have any number of wives?
2. Do you believe, in the interest of non-discrimination, that an adult child should be able to marry their mother or father?
3. Do you believe, in the interest of non-discrimination, that a brother and sister should be able to marry each other?
4. Do you believe, in the interest of non-discrimination, that a 6'2" tall man, who states that he believes he's a woman, should be able to wear a dress & makeup and stand in the girls bathroom at a local school or swimming centre?
5. Do you believe, in the interest of non-discrimination, that the concept of separating boys and girls into different sports leagues is completely outdated?
I'm most interested in your answers. Please note that if you don't agree with all of these initiatives that more than a few people would call you a bigot and believe you to be absolutely wrong.
I don’t for a second believe that your opinions on this wildly divisive topic make you a bigot. I believe simply that we see the issue differently and that we disagree. How boring life would be if we all agreed about everything. This must be why neither of us is rushing to buy a townhouse in a “Del Webb Community.”
As for the five questions…
1) Keep in mind that at Passover – and this still is Passover – there are only four questions.
2) I don’t accept that any or all of those questions is germane to the subject of gay marriage.
Each of those questions is, in itself, mildly interesting, and might pass a few dull minutes under a summer sun at the beach, but to me they are stand alone issues unreflective of the discussion of gay marriage.
I cannot for the life of me see how Bob and Joe getting married or Gwen and Cathy getting married will have any possible deleterious effect on their immediate geography. I agree with the Iowa court decision that there is no constitutionally sufficient justification for the exclusion of such marriages.
I see no relation whatsoever between gay marriage and the union of people with their parents, siblings or favorite pets.
I think to suggest that some similarity exists, Robert, is to be uncharacteristically cruel (I do not know you to be such.) or unreasonable (I don’t know you to be such.)
Further, I hold no special holy status on the word “marriage,” just as I hold no special holy status on any other words, like “pineapple” or “hub” or “succulent.”
Language may or may not be God-given, according to your beliefs and world views, but for me, human life, God-given or otherwise, is a matter of free wills and it is we flesh and blood folk who have written these words and declared that they mean one thing or another.
At a time, the universe spun in submission around the glorious earth, the world was flat and all brown people were savages. Women had no business in the voting booth or boardrooms and visionaries were heretics whose evil could only be burned out of them, preferably in the village square.
Marriage is a human idea.
For a very long time, “until death do us part,” meant a few years. People died of an impacted wisdom tooth, in childbirth or run through by a sabre all before they celebrated their mid-twenties.
With the actuarial longevities projected today, the same phrase is a hideous condemnation to the torture of sixty or more years. Few would want it. Few could stand it. Few survive it.
Handing over this idea and this word – marriage – to a tiny handful of people who wish to spend their remaining days and nights together for solace, companionship, love and good cooking seems to me perfectly reasonable.
It’s only plumbing.
Posted by David Berner at 8:47 AM
Here it is.
Now viewed by almost 3 million people on YouTube.
Not a dry eye among us.
Watch the cynicism and the cruel laughter dissolve on the first note and change in an instant to cheers.
This is a rare delight.
Posted by David Berner at 8:35 AM
Monday, April 13, 2009
Did you know that the Police Chiefs of this country are beholden to the Taser manufacturers?
And therefore, we cannot believe a single word the police chiefs ever say about tasers.
Did you know that?
I didn't until I read the editorial in this morning's Globe, which reveals the gift of $75,000 from Taser International to Canadian Police Chiefs' Association.
Of course, the Chiefs have declared no concerns at all about the use of Tasers, in spite of the 20 deaths in less than five years.
Clear conflict of interest. Clear corruption.
Posted by David Berner at 10:04 AM
Look at this picture.
Look at it long and hard.
Get used to it. (Is that bottle of water in his pocket???)
You will be seeing a great many more of these pictures everywhere you turn.
Not only until May 12th, but long after.
Mr. Campbell will win his third term as Premier of the Province of British Columbia.
Carole James may win a few more seats, goodness knows, but that's it, kids.
And let me make a dreadful, small-minded confession.
I've come to hate the very sight of this fellow.
Especially when he has the chutzpah to pose on or in or near the new Canada Line.
For that project defines for me this man's moral deficiencies.
Built infrastructure - good.
But do it while riding roughshod over hard-working shop owners, causing millions of dollars in lost income and unbearable personal stress?
Campbell has come to represent for me all that is cheesy and single-minded and uncultured and mean-spirited about Vancouver, B.C.
Posted by David Berner at 9:54 AM
Check out this lead paragraph in the Globe this morning:
OTTAWA — Nearly all key Canadian staff working in Beijing at the Canadian embassy are incapable of reading a morning newspaper or understand the Chinese nightly news, says a former diplomat who was posted there twice and recently published an in-depth review of Canada's China policy.
Not only is it hysterically funny, but also it is grammatically incorrect.
It should say..."incapable of reading or understanding..."
Of course, that is minor quibbling. When did we ever claim we were above that?
The story itself tells it all.
This, of course, is exactly what the American mission in Iraq has been doing for years - hundreds of highly paid dunderheads, cowering in their ignorance in the Yankee compound.
It is the classic colonial mode of never truly interacting with the local population, except of course to fuck their women and make uncared for illegal babies.
The fact that never-ran-a-Popsicle-stand Stockwell Day is our federal Trade Minister should be just about all you need to know about how well we are doing.
Jet skiing on the Yangtze?
Posted by David Berner at 9:40 AM
Sunday, April 12, 2009
It is now worth $15 Billion.
And it celebrated its 200 millionth loser...uh, I mean, user.
I am proud to say that I have nothing to do with it or Twitter or LinkedIn or any of the other myriad so-called "social networking" tolls that litter the public moonscape these days.
I am please to day that I don't get it.
I am overjoyed to not get it.
There is no doubt in my crumbling old mind that with each incremental increase in these devil's toys comes double the inability for people to actually, really communicate. There has rarely been such a social disconnect in human history. Rarely been such untender self-interest and refusal to recognize The Other.
So Up your Wall, Facebookers, and text away RIMmers.
I plant myself firmly on my old John Deere tractor and whistle a happy tune.
Posted by David Berner at 10:06 AM
Johann Hari from The Independent:
In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."
This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".
No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas." William Scott would understand.
Did we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won't act on those crimes – the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world's oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.
Posted by David Berner at 10:04 AM
Friday, April 10, 2009
"Gomorrah" is not "The Godfather."
The distinction is important because this new film by Italian director, Matteo Garrone, has been called by some reviewers "the best crime movie" since that iconic Coppola masterpiece.
It is also important because this movie begins with the headline, "Martin Scorsese presents," an irony that becomes increasingly evident as the film ever so slowly unspools.
The first two Godfather movies are among the two greatest movies ever made. Year after year, they top everyone's all-time favorite lists, including my own (after "Lawrence of Arabia," of course!)
As they appear almost daily it seems on Peachtree TV or the so-called Arts & Entertainment channel, I find myself watching long sequences, repeating the dialogue now by rote.
"Don't you know, Kay, that I would never let you take my children."
"But I didn't know until now that it was Barzini all along."
But here is the distinction.
These two great films and anything by Scorsese, good and horribly bad, (Good to Great: "Raging Bull," "Taxi Driver," "The King of Comedy." Bad to Appalling: "Goodfellas," "Casino," "The Departed."), like all Hollywood films are romances.
The moment a Marlon or a Jack or a Leo or a Matt appear in the credits we are dealing with fantasy. That doesn't make it bad or dismissible, but completely an artifact.
Look at the spectacular choices by costume and set designers in"The Godfather." Look at the furniture, the color and exposure for the film stock; of course, the music.
These are glorious stories brilliantly told.
But never forget what they are. Romances. Heroic iconic movie stars play charismatic, fascinating mobsters who love their children and their gangs.
Now, comes this bleak, relentless film, "Gomorrah," about the criminals of modern-day southern Italy, Naples, in particular. It "stars" no one.
This is stripped-down, unglamorous, often painful movie-making. It is more docu-drama than crime movie.
Everybody is poor and stupid.
Everybody is armed.
Everybody lives in a government built tenement slum.
The aerial establishing shots of the apartment complex are themselves condemnation of shameful public policy. You look at this place and ask yourself, "How else could people be expected to live in this rat maze?"
The key figures in this sordid affair are children, boys with guns and boys with bad ambitions.
The movie begins and ends with acts of violence. In between there are long stretches of tension and boredom and more violence. After a while, the director succeeds in making you feel completely trapped in this universe of despair.
This is not a date movie, kids.
At the end, the script comes on the screen detailing the latest numbers of people killed by the Camorra, the local Mafiosa.
You might have been watching something about tribal warfare in a besieged African Nation, in Darfur.
You might have been watching something about the Lower Mainland.
Whatever it is, it is not your traditional amusement with guns. It is often difficult to behold, but it is a healthy reminder, even in the midst of Easter and Passover, that ugliness exists not only in the hearts of some people, but also in systems and communities where attention is not paid.
Posted by David Berner at 9:48 AM
Thursday, April 9, 2009
“We are firmly convinced that the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective.” “The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification.”
On Friday, in a unanimous ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court struck down a legislative ban on same-sex marriage using language uniquely direct and unequivocal.
Has it ever been more elegantly, more simply put?
How can limiting the rights of gay and lesbian citizens in any way improve public policy?
Gay and lesbian rights, including the right to marriage, are growing slowly each day as state after state in America allows for more inlcusion.
Some 30 states have still have legal or constitutional provisions banning gay marriage or civil unions. Most of these roughly correspond with the states that voted Republican last November.
Posted by David Berner at 11:23 AM
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
It is a familiar story.
Someone says the sky is falling. Everyone laughs.
Ibsen put it on stage with "An Enemy of the People."
Spielberg scored his first huge hit with "Jaws."
There's a shark in the water.
No there isn't.
Yes, we've seen it.
No, we depend on happy tourists so it can't be. Relax and have another beer.
L'Aquila, capital of the Abruzzo region, about 100 kilometres north of Rome, bore the brunt of the quake, which struck just after 3.30am. The epicentre was five kilometres beneath the town. Thousands of the city's 60,000 residents, fearing aftershocks, fled their beds and ran into the streets.
150 dead, 1500 injured and tens of thousands homeless.
A seismologist warned everyone who would listen that this tragedy was on its way.
Now, that creepy crook who is disguised as the Premier of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, has flown to the region and, among other things, utterly discounted this warning by a real scientist.
Posted by David Berner at 10:09 AM
The numbers are discouraging.
62 cruise departures from Vancouver cut by Carnival/Princess/Holland America.
20% port biz lost.
$120 Million loss to local biz like produce suppliers, taxis (already reeling) and hotels.
21.5% decline in commercial container traffic since February.
For those who continue to believe that this is a community fueled by latte and condos, wake up and smell the deep. This is a maritime town. No sail, no loot.
Some 62,000 people visited in recent days the new addition to the port side Trade & Convention Centre, believing as the politicians who spent the money to build it, that this is a structure important to our local future.
Certainly, the worldwide economic collapse cannot be put on the shoulders of local planners and politicians.
What, if anything, have the Powers That Be, the Folks Who Should Know Better, been doing to avoid this disaster? Has there been any foresight in this matter? Have locals met with Trans-Pacific shippers or Cruise Line brass?
Or Scare Canada?
One of the reasons that the cruises have relocated en masse to Seattle is the prohibitive cost of connecting air fares.
Posted by David Berner at 9:56 AM
The RCMP finally has something to cheer about.
An Ontario Supreme Court judge has struck down a section of the RCMP Act that precludes unionization as unconstitutional.
Punchline - Mounties can now, like every other police force in the country, belong to a union.
I'm not sure how, if at all, that will effect you and me, but it might have some push in re-energizing a group that has spent so much time in recent years on the ropes.
None of us is happy bitching endlessly about an institution in which we once had considerable pride.
Most of us would like to see the force right itself and make us proud once again.
Perhaps this rightful decision will help.
Posted by David Berner at 9:48 AM
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Gordon Campbell. Partick Kinsella. David McLean.
There are more, of course, but that's enough to draw the basic outline.
Campbell is the Premier of the Province of British Columbia. He will, in all likelihood still be the Premier on the morning of May 13th.
He's the Premier who swore in a previous election campaign that BC Rail was not for sale and never would be.
Never turned out to be about 6 months.
Kinsella is a little bit of everything.
Political wizard, running successful campaigns for all manner of would-bes, including...wait for it..Gordon Campbell.
Kinsella also has worked as a communications consultant ("But I am not a lobbyist!") for BC Rail and CN Rail. Hm...
McLean is the CN Chairman and major fundraiser for...you know...Gordon Campbell.
Now, there's also Martyn Brown to consider, but that would make our neat triangle a box or a rhomboid or a moibus strip or something curving ever deeper in on itself until it finds its own entrails as delicious desert.
Brown is the Premier's chief of staff, who after he stopped having daily social intercourse with Kinsella during an election campaign, was having regular conversations with Kinsella about ...you guessed it...CN Rail.
Question: CAN YOU GET ANY COSIER THAN THIS AND STILL BE ON THE GOOD SIDE OF JAIL BARS?
Which raises the other question: Why will this administration, which should be spending the next several months testifying in court but will not, win yet another election?
Because, as morally bankrupt as this group of shady wheeler-dealers is, they will continue to be perceived - and regrettably with some justification - as more "capable" than Carole James and the NDP.
Regrettably, because we urgently need a new fresh gang of cutthroats at the helm to plunder and pillage us.
With some justification, because as much as I am historically an NDP voter, James and her party have yet to show the necessary royal jelly.
So, like thousands of you, I am stuck at another voting booth between a rock and a hard place.
Of course, I have already made my decision.
I will vote NDP.
The current Triangle should move to Bermuda.
Posted by David Berner at 10:24 AM
Friday, April 3, 2009
Federal Transport Minister John Baird and Liberal Senator Colin Kenny did something unusual the other day.
They decided to behave like interested responsible citizens.
Fearing the worst about lax security at Canada's largest and most expensive airport, Pearson International, they wandered through an unlocked doorway somewhere around the back end of things and strolled right onto the tarmac.
Four plain clothed RCMP officers accompanied them. These officers are now being suspended and many are shrieking in their highest voices at the two politicians for being reckless and "stunt-driven."
All of those reactions are, of course, way beyond the point and the pale.
The real issue is that you and I must take off our Clarks and reveal to the world our favorite brand of Aquafresh and aftershave and not buy (the latest environmental devil) bottled water, while crazy people could simply walk through unguarded side doors to terror.
If this is the case at Pearson, what about YVR and every other airport in the nation?
YVR, of course, is an exception. In this case, one need only be concerned if one is suddenly seized by the irrational urge to staple something.
We have - do we not? - the world's longest, largest, coldest, iciest coastline. And exactly how guarded is that? Last we looked the so-called Coast Guard couldn't put out a barbie fire on the back deck of an Evinrude runabout if lives depended.
The Minister and the Senator have done us a solid. They have dramatically pointed out a gaping inadequacy that needs fixing.
Thank goodness we are such a placid, harmless lot. The maniacs who live to strap bombs to their bellies don't often think Canadian.
But they will in time.
And who will stop them?
Posted by David Berner at 9:45 AM
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The paramedics are on strike.
Give them what they want. They deserve it. And more.
There is much in our health care system to improve and change.
We spend too much on administrators and middle men, on pharmaceuticals and shrinks. We have failed to track in even the most basic ways what some supplies cost us; learn from retail about inventory.
We have way too many over-seers and boards and groups. We need to simplify and localize.
But having said all that, we must have one of the greatest health care systems on earth.
This is my second experience with paramedics, for example. The first was 25 years ago in Winnipeg in aid of my mother. Again, these folks are amazing. Knowledgeable, efficient, re-assuring, kind, and professional.
Whatever they are being paid, it's not enough.
The nurses at VGH in Emergency and Cardiac Care are astounding. Knowledgeable, efficient, re-assuring, kind and professional. This was my second visit to these wonderful people. If you should have the misfortune to be in need of their services, you will have the good fortune to be in their care.
The doctors and attendant technicians are equally laudable. Knowledgeable, efficient, re-assuring, kind and professional.
Twenty some years ago, people with angina died. Not always and not right away, but the mortality rate was high. Today, it barely measurable.
Even the technique of entering through the femoral artery to perform an angiogram and angioplasty has dramatically improved in the four years since my first experience. This time, thanks to a collagen plug in the wound, almost no post-op bleeding and certainly no post pain.
We can and must continue our vigilance in trying to bring down costs and improve our system every day in every way.
But simultaneously let us remember how lucky we are to have what we have.
Posted by David Berner at 11:18 AM
Of all the egregious, duplicitous low acts offered our way by Wall Opaque, the man who poses as Attorney-General, nothing can come close to his latest.
The BC Supreme Court has rightly declared key elements in Campbell's election gag law unconstitutional.
People can now spend basically what they want arguing their political points of view in public.
We call that free speech.
Bill 42 was a clear attack on that democratic privilege and it deserved to be hit with a shovel.
But Wally will not rest.
He has attempted - and as of this morning's news, failed, we are happy to report - to ask for a stay of proceedings.
His transparently dubious excuse for this blatant political creepery is that the government needs time to react.
How does this man sleep at night?
How has he so completely failed to understand and respect the basics tenets of the very social order his sworn to protect?
Massive shame on him.
Posted by David Berner at 11:05 AM
For years, the corner of Willingdon and Canada Way has housed one corrections or mental health facility or another. Without, as far as I can recollect, a single untoward incident.
Now the provincial government wants to build a prison there, a pre-trial holding joint.
There is little that I like about the Campbell Liberal administration, but this plan seemed perfectly reasonable to me.
Of course, I don't live in Burnaby.
Moreover, I am not the Mayor of Burnaby; nor do I have a wife who is running on May 12th for the NDP.
My name isn't Corrigan.
The good burghers of Burnaby have cried long and loud - just like you and me - about the current wave of gang violence and the felt need for some old fashioned Law and Order.
Like prisons for bad guys, for instance.
Not in my neighbourhood.
We want lock-ups for pistol-packing mothers alright, but we want them somewhere on the left side of the moon...say, Lac La Hache.
The Good Mayor, knowing well the limits of his constituents thinking powers and tolerance and seeing a good opportunity to further the political aims of his spouse jumped all over this one.
There will be no pre-trail centre at Willingdon and Canada Way in the foreseeable future.
And all because of down and dirty politics.
Posted by David Berner at 10:55 AM