Sometimes I take short cuts in my writing. I assume that everyone will make the leap with me from one thought to another without my stating the obvious step in between.
This is a mistake on my part. It is bad writing.
Twice in recent days I have spoken here about "racism" in the heartbreaking instances of missing aboriginal women in BC and Manitoba and all across Canada.
The racism which I am suggesting is NOT in the selection by lunatics and murderers of aboriginal women as victims, although that may in fact be an issue.
I am referring to the sluggish reaction of the police.
Let me be clear.
If 20 young blond white women were abducted or murdered or gone missing from Vancouver's west side, all bloody hell would break loose.
One woman was tragically murdered here in recent months and 75 police officers were assigned to the case.
Nobody begrudges the dedicated and thorough response that this shocking incident enjoyed.
But it does point up a dreadful double standard.
Three years before Robert Picton was even suspected of anything, three years before the police launched the final concerted effort that would end at Picton's farm, I had an aboriginal woman and a female Vancouver police officer on my radio show. We were talking about the native woman's missing sister. We were all suggesting that there was an awful pattern here, that some serious investigating needed to begin.
Both the woman and her sister had lived in my house with my wife and son and their two brothers many years ago when I was running a treatment centre. They were all children at the time, the children of a very wonderful woman who had spent many horrible years drunk.
Some of those children developed into citizens as adults. But one of the girls ended up on the street - a prostitute and addict.
While officials ignored the obvious, more women disappeared. They were murdered.
We are encouraged to learn from history.
But the Highway of Tears shows that we have not.
Justice delayed is justice denied.
But investigation delayed is murder.
Monday, August 31, 2009
My recent employer of record, Langara College, is in the soup.
That's OK. Getting in the news is good for them.
The College offers many course in the so-called "Alternative Healing Arts and Practices."
Do you know anyone who has died from shiatsu, touch therapy, massage or music?
Maybe once a year somewhere on this bouncing ball we call Earth a frightened soul runs off to some ashram or other to find a "better" way to deal with cancer and makes an early exit.
But who has just about the biggest Territorial Imperative known to humankind?
The medical profession, of course.
So now the BC Medical Association, which represents doctors, is criticizing Vancouver's Langara College for training the public in therapies that are "medically useless" and potentially harmful.
Isn't one of the primary dedications of medical practice "Do No Harm?"
Can the BCMA claim as clean a track record as the many happy (possibly deluded) people who practice these sundry and colorful voodoos?
Hasn't it been demonstrated over and over again that if you believe a treatment is helping you, then it often does.
The study of "energy healing" and like courses is very much in demand. So is the practice. Patients are lining up at store fronts everywhere to partake. Herbal medicines sell in the billions of dollars world-wide.
That doesn't make it right or good science, but show me the person whose toe has fallen off after acupuncture.
The BCMA desperately needs to take a Big Pill and mind its own business.
Posted by David Berner at 9:46 AM
$2.49 for 24 bottles of water?
Yes, kids, that's the going price in some American discount stores. Even national brands such as Aquafina are flying off the shelves for a song.
The love of bottled water is disappearing fast, as cities and other governments are cancelling their contracts and encouraging employees to drink from the tap.
Well, at least we won't have to watch one-day stubbled CEO's carrying their ubiquitous bottles to press conferences.
I still have giant bottles of water delivered to my house every month. Some of my friends point to this idiosyncrasy as one of the many signs of my oddness. So be it.
I have bottled water in the car and I take bottled water to the tennis court.
I recycle the bottles.
Am I poisoning myself? Am I poisoning the famous environment?
And pass the bottle, will ya?
Posted by David Berner at 9:35 AM
Sunday, August 30, 2009
This comment relates to both of your files today. First, a little disclosure on my part. 30-odd years ago while still living in Winnipeg we adopted our second child, a boy born to a teenage aboriginal mother. We were aware that there were complications during the delivery, a result of a lack of any prenatal care by the mother, but not until many years later did we discover that the mother had a lengthy history of alcohol abuse.
The combination of these factors resulted in years of frustration for our son and ourselves. Eventually, a diagnosis of ADD confirmed our worst fears. To make a long story short, a biography of our son would read like that of many young delinquents. In the 70's there was little help available for children like our son and today he still struggles with his addictive behaviour, but is finally making attempts at recovery.
While today it is commonplace to see ads warning women about the danger of drinking during a pregnancy, not that long ago the effects of alcohol and drugs on a fetus were not well understood. As I now understand it, the first trimester is particularly important in the brain development of a fetus. Impulse control, general intellectual development, and a tendency toward addictive behaviour seem to be a lifelong legacy of maternal substance use, not only substance abuse.
I firmly believe that the societal cost of this legacy is staggering, not only in financial terms but in the human misery and suffering associated with it. A national problem like this requires multiple interventions. But one that I have long believed would be worth considering is a voluntary prenatal programme that would provide financial incentives for women who abstain from alcohol and drugs during their pregnancy. Such an endeavour might even include residential supports of various kinds to enable some women to escape toxic social environments.
I realize that there are many public health initiatives intended to deal with this problem, but to the best of my knowledge, there is not a programme which offers women (particularly women with limited financial resources) financial incentives to protect their unborn children. Money talks.
Finally, the national tragedy of so many murdered and missing aboriginal women does speak to the frightening presence of murderous men in our society. While racial explanations might explain some of this phenomenon, it seems to me that substance abuse and poverty in all its forms may also be a major factor. How can we tolerate child poverty to the extent that we do in BC and elsewhere and not expect tragic consequences. As the automotive ads so clearly put it, "Pay me now or pay me later".
Posted by David Berner at 4:26 PM
18 young women missing from Kerrisdale.
Imagine such a headline.
The world such as we know it would go mad.
But 18 young women have been missing or determined to be homicides near Prince George for many years now. All but one is/was aboriginal.
Only now, the RCMP have a serious suspect. His name is Leyland Switzer and everyone who knows him had him as "the guy" years ago.
Today the RCMP and their dogs are sniffing around the property and digging up old wells that smell of oil fires.
No doubt in the fullness of bureaucratic time, Switzer's name will join Picton's and others in the Gallery of Monstrous Ghouls.
But as I reported here the other day, 75 aboriginal women missing in Manitoba, over 500 in Canada.
Is there a quiet and bland and uninterested racism in Canada in the year 2009?
Posted by David Berner at 10:22 AM
Friday, August 28, 2009
There must be something in the air.
Only yesterday, writing about the extraordinary number of aboriginal women who are "missing" across Canada, I mentioned Northern BC's infamous Highway of Tears.
Today, we learn that a huge contingent of RCMP has appeared in the vicinity of Prince George, with a special interest in a local property. Conjecture is that this is directly related to the disappearance of a young woman from the area in 2002.
There is much more to this nasty story and we should all follow it closely.
In a related item, the Winnipeg Free Press reported yesterday that the Chief of the Norway House Cree Nation has proposed by-laws that demand that residents involved in illegal or destructive behaviour either seek treatment or get out.
This is a most welcome instance of Canadian aboriginals seizing the day, showing real pride in themselves and fighting for positive change.
The official response?
INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) has said that the group has no jurisdiction over such matters and their local bylaws will be meaningless and unenforceable.
On the other hand...
This week I am visiting the St. Norbert and Selkirk, Manitoba installations of the Behavioural Health Foundation, Canada's oldest, first and foremost residential treatment centre for addicts, alcoholics and others.
The resident clients of these facilities, old and young, are eighty per cent aboriginal.
It is a truly beautiful thing to behold.
Over one hundred kindred soul working together, maintaining sobriety and building for the future.
Why people feel they have to go to Italy or further afield to study the Therapeutic Community model is mystifying when it has been operating here so successfully in Winnipeg for so many years now.
I was the founder of this program forty years ago in Vancouver.
I retired from this work in 1976.
To see how the next generations have hauled this idea so much further up the mountain is inspiring.
The more programs like this are welcomed and funded, the fewer Highways of Tears.
Posted by David Berner at 7:43 AM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
It took more than three years of complaints and cries for action from citizens and family members and then the media for the police in and around Vancouver to finally acknowledge that someone was murdering and "disappearing" native women prostitutes.
Ultimately, the result was the arrest and conviction of Robert Pickton.
How many women died while the police twiddled?
In Northern BC, we still have the Highway of Tears.
Now Manitoba is experiencing the identical phenomenon.
Native prostitutes are disappearing or being found murdered in creek beds.
At least count, there are 75 aboriginal women missing in Manitoba.
That's the same number of police officers assigned to the case of Peter Ladner's murdered sister.
There are 522 aboriginal women missing nation-wide.
Yesterday, the Manitoba provincial government announced the creation of a "task force." It will be in place in a month.
Do we have at least two systems of justice and at least two auto-responses from police forces in this country?
That is, one for white folk and one for natives?
Yes, we do.
In the Manitoba cases, the link seems to be about crack cocaine and the Vietnamese drug dealers in Winnipeg, although nothing has yet to be proved or even on the docket.
While we read our papers, real women are being killed.
Posted by David Berner at 7:49 AM
Fifty years ago, an Olympic official proposed that in the case of black women, “the International Olympic Committee should create a special category of competition for them – the unfairly advantaged ‘hermaphrodites.' ”
The official's name?
You cannot write material like this.
Life. What a comic!
Pictured herein is Caster Semenya, who won the 800 metre final in the world competition last week. Her gender is being questioned.
Posted by David Berner at 7:36 AM
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Al-Megrahi may or may not be guilty of being the Lockerbie Bomber.
He was found guilty by a court of law and imprisoned for the crime until the other day when he was sent home to Libya.
There he was received as a hero and hugged by the well-known madman Gaddafi.
Mr. Gaddafi, by the way, is on his way to New York to address the Untied Nations. His request to pitch a tent in Central park was declined, so now he's moving into a mansion In Jersey next door to a Rabbi. You can't write material like this. It can only be reported.
Meanwhile, back at the Lockerbie nightmare, there are many who believe that Al Megrahi is innocent.
Here is one writer who believes this, and her thoughts are certainly worth the read.
In the end, however, whether this man is the bomber or not (and I am not saying that is unimportant), what remains is that his release stinks of politics and money and that the reason given for his release is not credible.
Posted by David Berner at 9:07 AM
APPARENTLY all of America is suffering from L.D.S.
That would be your Limp Dick Syndrome.
Cialis is not only the main broadcast sponsor for the entire PGA Tour this year, and that includes the majors, but now it is practically the banner and title sponsor for the 6 o’clock NBC News.
What is this telling us about life in the land of opportunity?
I wither at the thought.
Well, it says that Big Pharma never went broke underestimating the gullibility or sex drive of the average Yanqui He-Man.
It says that golfers are even stranger than I always suspected. (“Where’s my effing ball???")
And that NBC News will sleep with just about anybody for a buck.
I await your pithy conclusions.
Posted by David Berner at 8:59 AM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Let's re-visit Lockerbie.
The man found guilty of blowing up a plane in 1988 that resulted in many, many deaths has been sent home from a Scottish prison to Libya.
The public story is that he was released on compassionate grounds because he is dying of prostate cancer.
Like you, I took this nonsense at face value.
I argued about whether or not his prostate cancer was a good enough reason to free someone this evil.
I took all of this cover story seriously.
Until yesterday, that is.
I had my hair cut.
And my Libyan barber gave me the proverbial ear full.
"See if this murderer is still alive three months from now, or even a year," my barber asked.
Here is the real story, according to my scissors-brandishing source.
Libya is on the upswing.
Hell, it is flying high. One of the world's largest suppliers of oil and swimming in construction and new enterprise.
Last month, British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who has remained curiously silent on this release fiasco, was drinking tea with
Muammar al-GaddafiScotland is one of the few countries in Europe to not have benefited from Libya's current successes. France, Germany, Italy, almost everyone else has been cashing in. Put your ear to the stones at Peggy's Cove and Kashing! Kashing! you can hear the registers ringing.
So now, Abdel baset Al-Megrahi, the mass-murderer, is released from a poor Scots jail and greeted in Libya with a hero's welcome.
"He will now be a very, very rich man. He will write books and be treated like royalty," my source assured me, as he held a hand mirror to the nape of my neck.
Soon, haggis will be served at every cafe in Tripoli. Amidst the desert heat, locals will wrap themselves in Scottish woolens.
I avoided my own best rule for news - follow the money.
Prostate cancer - my butt!
What was I thinking?
Posted by David Berner at 9:02 AM
Monday, August 24, 2009
You've heard of VANDU?
That's the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, a "group" of junkies who, through repeated appeals to the blinkered and lazy liberal press, have claimed some legitimacy for themselves as spokespersons for somethingorother.
We want to shoot dope. Now fuck off and leave us alone.
Well, turns out VANDU has a Vancouver Island cousin, hanging about mostly in Victoria.
It calls itself SOLID, the Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users.
That's to distinguish itself from SORDID, The Society of Really Dead Intravenous Drug Users.
Now SOLID has considerable traction in out capital city. They squawk and folks listen. Why I don't know, but they do.
Seems Victoria is a mighty small and cozy place.
Because a woman named Shannon Turner is not only the director of public health for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, but she is also the committee chair for the Needle Exchange Advisory Committee.
Busy, busy, busy. Not to mention conflicts of interest. But hey...
Now, SOLID and Shannon have a melodramatic little issue on their hands.
The famous needle exchange (as bad an idea as has ever come down the pike) is supposed to open on Princess Street.
But the junkies - oh, I'm so terribly sorry - the intravenous drug users who have every right in the world to use illegal drugs and break into my home and car to get goodies to resell so they can be intravenous drug users - those good people, they want the new needle exchange to be on Pandora Street.
The Pandora site is smack up against an elementary school and the Conservatory of Music.
Although this is not reported in today's news piece, it is also cheek-to-yarmulka with Temple Emanu-el, Canada's first and oldest synagogue.
Now, I have two very personal reasons for being truly against the needle exchange being anywhere near this proposed location.
Two years ago, I performed a one-man play at the Conservatory. The whole experience was wonderful. On the off chance that I have to go back, I do not want to step over and through crazy using drug addicts to get to work. Nor do think young men and women who are wired on Mozart and Mahler should have to run this gauntlet.
My paternal grandfather, Rabbi Marcus Berner, was the Rabbi for many years, some decades ago, at Temple Emanu-el.
I would like to say, "Rest in peace," but that will be difficult with crazy using addicts pissing on your door stoop.
Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot. Israel is a pariah and a Nazi state and addicts have a medical problem and their rights. What have I been thinking?
Just a question or two before we all go out to play?
How far have we descended into the madness that we take non-groups like VANDU and SOLID seriously?
Why do we give free needles to filthy lying cheating manipulating non-tax-paying thieving addicts but not to seniors with diabetes?
And there's this:
"The high number of drug addicts in Victoria could be attributable to Victoria's soft stand on drug crime, Sgt. Hamilton said."
Posted by David Berner at 11:35 AM
As dreadful as humankind can be, it is still not often that I learn something truly horrifying.
Today was different.
Geoffrey York, writing in the Globe from Johannesburg, reports about 5 year old child workers picking tobacco in places like Malawi. These children, working 12 hours a day, are poisoned by the nicotine and suffer relentless and painful injuries and diseases.
So that some fool in South Carolina or Creston can light up a Lucky Strike and some exec in New York can fuel his corporate jet?
Free enterprise at its best. Letting the markets determine everything in life. The Fraser Institute and every body's Board of Trade writ large. The Bottom Liners in charge.
Make that the Bottom Feeders?
Much of the tobacco industry was stationed here in North America, but with slave and child labour available in Africa for less than $5 a month, the landscape has changed.
No doubt the Princes of Industry who run these atrocities have families.
The compartmentalized mind is a wonder to behold.
Posted by David Berner at 11:22 AM
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Patrick Kinsella - he who would rather not testify, thanks very much - boasted to BC Rail that his communications company had a "value-added component."
Getting the Premier elected and then re-elected would probably in the real world give a fella some extra grease.
More than once I have written in this space about the Great Triangle: Gordon Campbell, Patrick Kinsella and CN Rail Chair David McLean.
This has been for some time now the Great BC Buddies in Good Times Movie.
In this morning's Globe & Mail, Rod Mickleburgh reports: "At one point, CN Rail chair David McLean conveyed information to Mr. Kinsella that the deal appeared to be falling apart rather than dealing directly with BC Rail. Mr. Kinsella then conveyed CN's concerns to BC Rail, Mr. Bolton [Basi-Virk defense lawyer] said. “[Mr. Kinsella] may not be working for CN, but there's clearly a relationship.”
The defense will present further arguments to Justice Bennett on August 31st that they want Kinsella to be issued a subpoena.
Posted by David Berner at 10:08 AM
On Wednesday, I wrote about the truly mistaken and greedy plan for "revitalizing" the Little Mountain Housing properties at 33d and Main.
In yesterday's Courier, Tom Sandborn delivered a terrific piece spelling out even further the text and texture of this bad planning.
I had no idea until I read Tom's editorial that over 700 Little Mountain residents were forced out of their homes by this deeply uncaring government.
Where have they gone?
How much have their rents in their new digs gone up?
Who is paying for this disruption?
One sits by in horror and watches a democratically elected government in 2009 in Canada heave poor people from their homes and then say that the new development, which of course will involve corporate profits in the "new mix," will take years and years to appear.
As Sandborn so aptly closes his article, "A solution that put affordable housing ahead of a developer's convenience and politicians' expediency would be the real win/win."
Why is this public atrocity getting so little attention?
Can the mainstream media get any more complacent?
Posted by David Berner at 9:53 AM
Gordon the Chicken
Trevor the farmer was in the fertilized egg business. He had several
hundred young layers (hens), called 'pullets' and eight or ten
roosters, to fertilize the pullets' eggs.
Trevor kept records and any rooster that didn't perform went into the
soup pot and was replaced. That took an awful lot of his time so he
bought a set of tiny bells and attached them to his roosters. Each bell
had a different tone so Trevor could tell from a distance, which
rooster was performing. Now he could sit on the porch and fill out an
efficiency report simply by listening to the bells.
The farmer's favourite rooster was Gordon, and a very fine specimen he
was too, but on this particular morning Trevor noticed Gordon's bell
hadn't rung at all!
Trevor went to investigate.
The other roosters were chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing. The pullets,
hearing the roosters coming, would run for cover but to farmer Trevor's
amazement, Gordon had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring.
He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.
Trevor was so proud of Gordon, he entered him into the London
Exhibition and Gordon became an overnight sensation among the judges.
The judges not only awarded Gordon the No Bell Piece Prize but they
also awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.
Clearly Gordon was a politician in the making: Who else but a politician could figure out how to win two of the most highly coveted awards on our planet by being the best at sneaking up on the populace and screwing them when they weren't paying attention.
Do you know a Politician called Gordon?
Posted by David Berner at 9:50 AM
Friday, August 21, 2009
1. Quote of the Day: "Family want to be able to see their loved ones." This is the lawyer for Kimberley Noyes, who has been charged with murdering a young boy in Grand Forks. Noyes is being held in Surrey and her lawyer is kvetching. And what about the family of John Fulton, who has been killed, allegedly by Ms. Noyes. No doubt they too would like to see their loved ones. You see, once you kill someone and get caught a whole bunch of really inconvenient things happen.
2. The Globe editorial writers felt it necessary today to tell us how wonderful the free heroin trials were. We spoke yesterday at length and in disgust about this topic in the post immediately below this. The truth about this pernicious evil is that there was nothing remotely scientific about this so-called study. The samples were uselessly small, the subjects were a mish-mash of wholly unrelated types and conclusions were drawn from the skimpiest of "evidence." But that's democracy for you: You pay your $12.50, you buy your popcorn, and get an opinion. The Globe editorialists are often bang-on. But on this subject they are flat ignorant. They don't know the territory, period.
3. The man who was convicted of killing 270 people in the Lockerbie bombing in 1988 has been released by Scottish authorities and sent home to Libya because he has prostate cancer. So he dies in prison of prostate cancer? There's something wrong with that? People die in prison every day, some from prostate cancer. What has this got to do with Justice? You explode bombs on planes that kill 270 people, you can pretty much expect the occasional inconvenience, like dying in prison of prostate cancer. Compassion? Try, idiocy.
Posted by David Berner at 8:23 AM
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Did you know that most States in the Onion allow people to openly carry guns, including assault rifles?
And that many allow the carrying of concealed weapons?
The President is trying to bring health care coverage to millions of American uninsured citizens.
The Republicans want to kill this initiative because they know it will murder the presidency. Their interests are entirely political, self-serving and without concern for 50 million of their fellow citizens who are always a cough away from catastrophic illness.
Their M.O. is fear and more fear and then a dash more fear.
Fear sells deodorant and pampers and Kotex and cars.
On Monday in sunny Phoenix a nice man showed up at a rally protesting Obama with an AR-15 slung most casually over his shoulder.
The AR-15 is not a bag made by Prada.
So the radio and TV talk show hosts sit in their comfortable air-conditioned and totally secured studios viciously feeding more fear and frenzy to the pot, while Joe LunchBucketHead goes packin'.
This is way beyond ugly.
Try really sick.
Posted by David Berner at 9:03 AM
B.C. Lottery Corp. raises weekly play limit to $10,000Hello...
Raising the Internet gambling limit on PlayNow is cynical and thoughtless.
The best argument this idea-and-morality bankrupt government can make in defense of the indefensible is "well, other people do it." Meaning that other Internet sites allow huge limit or no limit gambling.
Posted by David Berner at 8:54 AM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
We all agree that we have a housing crisis, especially for the homeless and for low-income families.
We all agree something aught to be done.
The first and primary villain in this continuing story is the 30 years of bad Federal Government, regardless of who was in the Big Chair.
Central Mortgage and Housing (CMHC) at one time lived up to its mandate and provided a steady flow of funds for social housing projects across the land.
The day they stopped, you started to see the results on your street corners.
But now, we add to the mix the Triple P (Public Private Partnerships) obsession of Premier Gordon Campbell.
The City of Vancouver and the Province got it into their woolen heads that the Little Mountain Housing site at 33d and Main - which has been accommodating hundreds of families for a great many years - should be torn down and replaced with something "better."
Of course, the Preem's idea of "better" always involves a profit for someone, preferably someone he knows.
God forbid, he should just build something BECAUSE IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
So, in this case, we have a company called Holborn Properties calling the shots.
The city does not control the timeline. The province, through BC Housing, chose Holborn Properties as the developer of the site in May of 2008. The terms of that deal are confidential.
Why should any of us know what our tax dollars are doing?
Holborn, by the way, has its own problems.
Holborn put a $500-million downtown Vancouver Ritz-Carlton project on hold in February, citing poor sales of luxury condos in the hotel-condo project.
Oy Vey. Poor babies.
So a social housing project, tied by the way to almost every other potential social housing project in the province, will probably take years and years to develop and complete.
Because the whole House of Canards depends on the global economy, the fortunes of one development company and a deal that even the City Of Vancouver hasn't been allowed to see.
The Mayor is a huge advocate of solving housing problems. Or so he would have us believe.
But the Mayor, like you and me, is powerless in the face of Backroom Deals, PPP's, and the utterly wrong ideology of a Premier with no real sense of social responsibility.
Posted by David Berner at 8:53 AM
The news that the B.C. government has taken over Tourism BC - previously an arms-length Crown Corporation - is both good and bad.
The good is that someone should have wrested this agency away from its handlers ages ago. Any supplier who has had contractual dealings with the office will testify that professionalism and street smarts are not singularly evident.
Frankly, the place has been in snooze and comfort mode for a while.
The bad is that the government is behaving like Big Brother.
You just seize an operation and pull it into the bunker without any conversation?
Kevin Krueger, the Tourism Minister and ICBC claims adjuster, has some special skills in this area? He ran a front desk at a Best Western?
What gulag are we living in exactly?
Ah, yes, the Winter of Our Discontented Games.
2010 trumps all policy decisions.
Know it. Face it. Get used to it.
Posted by David Berner at 8:43 AM
It appears that a mentally disturbed woman has murdered a young boy in Grand Forks, B.C.
This is a tragedy on a hundred different fronts.
The mayor "criticized cutbacks in the province that have led to reduced services for mental health patients over the last decade. “I think what we've lost here is mental health support in the community,” he said. “The community sees [this] as a health problem as much as a crime problem.”"
Governments, like individuals, have priorities, and we and they are consistent in our choices.
Recent provincial and federal governments have shown a distinct lack of interest in something as baffling and time-consuming and labor-intensive as mental health problems.
The results, on a daily basis in all our communities, speak for themselves.
Posted by David Berner at 8:29 AM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The other day, we spoke here about Lotto monies being held up and not distributed to community groups that have been promised such.
Here's the scenario.
Province yanks $1 Billion a year from our stupid pockets as we buy gambling tix that have a hope in hell of ever paying off. OK. So be it. We are dumb and poor and we dream. I am among you, believe me.
Province then passes on about 15% to charities and community groups.
Or at least, they say they are passing on this money.
So you are running the Lake Cowichan Flugelhorn Consortium and you buy new mouthpieces, music stands and a side of donuts for your group on the promise that money is soon to arrive.
Rich Coleman is the Villain here. He is the Social Development Minister and he's the guy who is supposed to yell down the line to the minions, "PAY THE LOSERS ALREADY!'
Alas. Rich is no where to be found.
Neither are the funds already spent.
I know, all you hard-nosed successful Type A Free Enterprise Worshippers will scream, "Yah, well they shouldn't;t have spent the money of they didn't have it."
Please. Join the real world.
ps...Rich is the tall guy.
Posted by David Berner at 9:32 AM
"A bit more promotion would be useful."
The god of all gods, the Supreme Kvetch on High, the man who runs a completely unchecked world government bigger and better than any James Bond villain could have ever thirsted after...
His name is Jack Rogue...uh, sorry, Jacques Rogge, that is, Count Jacques Rogge (we kid you not, he is an actual Count, whatever that may be), and he is the president of a governing body that supercedes all local sovereign governments.
We speak, of course, and humbly and on our trembling knees, of the (shudder, shudder, genuflect) INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE.
Rogue feels we are not pushing the Games enough.
Has he ever checked into the local press?
Day after tiresome day, our print and radio and TV sources are filled to the overstocked gills with 2010 "news" stories.
Jack, baby, get serial.
Posted by David Berner at 9:23 AM
The Globe & Mail editorial this morning has rightly called Taser International's charges of bias again st Thomas Braidwood "ridiculous."
This straight-forward condemnation of a the company points out that "Twenty-five people in Canada have died after being tasered, yet most police forces in Canada have been loath to acknowledge that the stun gun is dangerous."
Scusa me, but isn't that more than the number of people who have died from gunshot fired by police forces in the same time period?
Referring to the Robert Dziekanski incident, which I continue to call Murder, the editorial makes clear "A video of the incident showed as horrific a piece of brutal and incompetent policing as this country has witnessed for some time."
Time for the Taser executives to try a little of their own medicine or be extremely quiet.
Posted by David Berner at 9:14 AM
Monday, August 17, 2009
Do you not yearn and crave for a political party or one political leader for whom you could, with full enthusiasm and endorsement, vote?
(Oops. The last time I said those two words, 20 years of my life went by.)
I need a party or a leader the thought of whom does not make me hurl.
That immediately eliminates the Federal and Provincial Liberals, The Torch Premier and Iggy Pop.
That discounts Stephen Harping.
So I return to my voting roots - the NDP.
Look at this exciting and productive national convention just held in Halifax.
Nothing new put forward, nothing challenging accepted, no Big Public Policy announcements.
With the national media attending in full force and the opportunity to make a minor splash ... nada.
Listen to this milquetoast: "I think the conversation certainly got started."
That's Jack Layton, and that's the problem.
All the political instincts of a rabbit.
Shiny white teeth and a moustache. Then what?
Do these folks not want to win or govern or exert some influence?
Yesterday, I mentioned that Adrian Dix might be a better leader for the NDP provincially than Carole James. No doubt there are many people who might be a better leader than Carole James. She is not terrible. Se doesn't make awful toe-stubbing mistakes. And she is up against a huge Liberal machine. But she just doesn't grab us, does she?
Does Jack grab us?
I don't think so.
Does the National party have a real war plan? Doubt.
Does it have a future?
Not until it finds new blood, a new leader and some core selling points built on core values.
I'm ready to get excited. Just let me know when it's all starting.
Posted by David Berner at 8:21 AM
Sunday, August 16, 2009
While Carole James may not be setting new heights for political leadership, one of her camp is demonstrating the best traditions of a good opposition member.
I speak of Adrian Dix, the NDP provincial health car critic.
It is Dix who keeps supplying me and you with these delicious tidbits of flesh and flash around the Premier's ongoing disregard for citizens.
Posted by David Berner at 10:17 AM
Community groups left in dark over funding
Thousands of cash-strapped organizations growing anxious as province freezes lottery money
What are we talking about here?
Little league sports, seniors’ clubs, school parent associations, softball teams and soccer clubs, parent advisory councils that are trying to build playgrounds.
This isn't very mysterious.
Idiots like me and possibly you buy Lotto tickets in the hope that we will hit the big one. We should get a life, I know.
Much of that Lotto money is designated to help local charities - more than 1700 local charities.
The money should be distributed with dispatch.
Keeping thousands upon thousands of citizens hanging on the edge while Rome fiddles is cruel and unnecessary punishment.
This speaks to bad policy and worse execution.
Execution may be appropriate here, but possibly in some other direction.
Oh, I'm sorry.
The Burnaby Little League hockey teams won't be competing in The Big Snowjob next year.
Posted by David Berner at 10:07 AM
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I live in a fantasy world.
I really do.
About some things (work, projects, friendship), I am responsible, focused, dedicated, a Detail Man to the last dot.
About others (money, housework, money...), I am the reluctant child, refusing to grow up and get on with it.
Year after year, I pay my taxes late - VERY LATE.
At home, I stumble through the dust and cobwebs until choices are minimized and The Big Clean Up must begin or else.
(Laundry is exempt. Laundry falls into my Obsessive Bin, and from there to the MACHINES!, bless their little whirling hearts.)
Noticing that my vacuum cleaner did not seem to be really getting all the stuff and popcorn kernels from one of my favorite middle east rugs, I did the unthinkable.
I ventured into - yuck! - the garage, dug out the vacuum cleaner box - you know, the one with all those attachments that look like they were made by a guy bending balloons for kids in a hospitable ward.
And there they were: two perfectly preserved bags of pristine, green vacuum bags.
I ripped one free from the plastic and read the instructions. It was the first time in...are you ready? Maybe, 10 years, so I had to read the instructions.
Open your vacuum, pull down the full bag. DO THEY HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT FULL REALLY MEANS? Push the roller forward. Pull off the old bag, etc, etc, etc...
The full bag looked entirely like a beached whale.
The hose to which the full bag has been attached neigh these decades or so was so full of compacted dust and dirt that I had to take a pair of chopsticks from the kitchen drawer to extract and clean it.
All of this mess lay on the prepared Globe & Mail pages.
When I wrapped The Remains of the Day and carried my little baby down the several flights of stairs to the garbage bin behind the house, I looked and felt remarkably like someone in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, lovingly, dutifully carrying a pod person to bloom.
I appreciate that this is the second time in recent weeks that I've mentioned Body Snatchers and the Pod People.
Clearly these two movies have had a deep and lasting psychological imprint on me. Go explain.
I also watch Dexter, the TV episodic about a serial killer, but that's another story.
What about my Hoover?
Haven't seen sucking like this since, since..well, never you mind.
Suffice it to say, the carpets themselves are practically being devoured by my ancient Hoover. I mean I've had this thing for at least 20 + years.
O.K. I've only used it 50 or so times in all those years, and I've only changed the bag - tops - twice.
What a beaut.
I love my Hoover.
I may complete rehabilitate myself and change the bag again before the calendar year is out.
Well. Let's not get carried away.
Maybe before next Passover.
Posted by David Berner at 9:44 AM
Friday, August 14, 2009
Governments across Canada are cutting scholarship monies previously available to high school graduates.
Never to be outdone, The Education Premier has topped them all.
"British Columbia sent letters to 185 of its leading high school students this month informing them of the cancellation of the Premier's Excellence Awards, which for more than two decades have given thousands of dollars to high-achievers who stayed in the province for their undergraduate education."
This bit of penny-wise, pound-foolish decision making will save the province about $240,000.
In other words, lunch.
The future is in their hands. The future is our children. And so on into the good night.
These are cliches that slip from the lips of political leaders at every foto op and chicken dinner.
Sending thousands of civic employees to the Olympics as "volunteers" at a cost in the many millions, now that's O.K.
But encouraging our students to succeed?
Wait until The Games are over.
Are you still not getting the picture?
Posted by David Berner at 8:58 AM
"The Fraser Health Authority will cut elective surgeries by 10 to 15 per cent, place a cap on MRI procedures and reduce management positions in an effort to meet a budget shortfall of up to $160-million that the opposition alleges was hidden from the public during the last provincial election."
News that managers and adminstration staff may be sent packing is not so dreadful.
But this is:
"Services for seniors and the mentally ill will be cut. They include services for sexual abuse victims and the scuttling of the New Westminster domestic violence response team."
Let's see now.
Seniors, the mentally ill and sexual abuse victims.
No longer priorities for the Olympic Premier.
Are you still not getting the picture?
Posted by David Berner at 8:46 AM
Thursday, August 13, 2009
"I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year."
– President Barack Obama, February 24, 2009
Yesterday, I wrote in this space about health care in America and Canada.
There were some wonderful responses.
Two of my friends were quick to point out that I pay much more than $168 every three months for my coverage.
Here are their comments:
From David M:
You do NOT pay $168 every three months for health care. This is an
illusion born of decades of government propaganda. Here are the actual
Health care accounts for 45% of government spending. Therefore, it
sucks up 45% of all government revenue.
So, that means if you buy a microwave oven and pay $15 sales tax, $7
of that goes right into health care. If you pay $2000 in provincial
income tax, $900 goes to health care.
Do we have a single tier cost system. Only if one is math challenged.
In BC, if your salary is $100,000, your provincial income tax is
$8500. About $4000 of that goes directly into health care. That's $333
a month for health care plus the $56 a month for MSP for a total of
$389 a month for health care.
If your salary is $28,000 a year you pay $1000 in provincial income
tax, meaning $450 a year goes into health care. That's $37 a month
plus $56 for MSP for a total of $93 a month for health coverage.
Thus, if these two hypothetical taxpayers are sitting in a doctor's
office awaiting exactly the same procedure, one person is paying 4
times as much as the other for the same service. Whether the rich
should pay more is a whole other debate. But the facts are (a) we have
a multi-tier system regardless of what lying politicians say (b) Our
MSP payments do not remotely cover our total contribution.
Posted by David Berner at 9:16 AM
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Oxymoronic, I know.
Almost as impossible as happy marriage, Catholic university, military intelligence, liquor control board...
In this case, it is true.
Bravo is running the original first year of "Law & Order."
Over the years, I had the great pleasure of interviewing Michael Moriarity - "Ben Stone," Rene Balcer, the show runner and Executive Producer, and the great Stephen Hill - "D.A. Adam Schiff."
They were all marvelous interviews.
The first year or two of this wonderful series was filmed in a gritty, neo-realistic style. One had the sense of being in those stuffy rooms and on those scary streets.
Moriarity, before he succumbed to demon drink and a few other of his unique peculiarities, was one of America's great, great actors.
Hill was a lesson in acting week after week.
The show has continued to be pretty darn good, but nothing as superb as those first few seasons.
Bravo, 8pm, Monday to Friday.
Posted by David Berner at 9:10 PM
Every day for the near foreseeable future, I will share with you the number of actual bicycles I have seen on the Burrard Street Bridge as I drive over it in my car.
The number is just to the right of this column.
The largest number I have ever seen since the One and a Half Million Dollar Ideological Miasm was instituted is 11.
But a friend told me yesterday that he counted 12!
Now, I don't drive over the Burrard Street Bridge every day, but most days. And I don't always drive over at rush hour, but often enough.
An important caveat:
I do not work for the government or Vision Vancouver, so my numbers may not match theirs.
But you knew that, didn't you?
Posted by David Berner at 2:03 PM
I appreciate that the devil is in the details.
And that President Obama's health care initiatives may be craggy and rife with almost as many problems as the ones he is trying to solve.
He is trying to find health insurance coverage for almost 50 million of his fellow citizens.
And the hysteria and lies and near-violence and death threats against the President himself are astonishing to me.
Hideous and repulsive.
And the fear implied in words like "socialism" speaks so much of rank ignorance, lacking of facts and information.
This simple fact remains.
I pay $168 every three months into my publicly funded health care system.
For a great many years, I have cost that system darn little.
As I age, I cost the system more.
I see my doctor more often in his office.
I have had two heart "procedures" in the last four years.
Nobody asks for my credit card.
No insurance company argues with me about what they feel bound to pay.
Americans and Africans ( South Africa is in the midst of the identical struggle to reform their own system, which is rife with iniquity, based largely on color!) should be looking to Canada as a hopeful role model not as the devil incarnate.
Posted by David Berner at 8:57 AM
I'm afraid you've grossly underestimated the extent of the problem. While the uninsured are, of course, in deep doo doo, those of us 'lucky' enough to have "health insurance" (really just the 'illusion' of health insurance) in the US are, in some respects, even worse off.
My wife and I pay $364 a month for insurance through my job at Tulane university. For this, I receive the dubious privilege of arguing with United Healthcare about which part of which bill they may or may not bestir themselves to pay. The way it works is, I go to the doctor (first, of course, coughing up my $25 "co-pay" in front). He takes a look at me, and if that's all he does that's the end of it. If, however, he actually treats me in any manner, in about three weeks (although I have received them up to six MONTHS) I receive a calculation containing the actual cost of the procedure, minus whatever United has decided to pay. What's left is the "patient responsibility," which is mine to pay.
As near as I can tell, there is no sure way to ever determine what this will be. The insurance contract itself contains pages of meaningless, deliberatly misleading blather, all of it undecipherable, even by colleagues with degrees in higher mathematics. Their website is no help. I've even tried calling their 1-800 number while in the doctors office, only to receive an ultimate accounting wildly different (and always larger) than their representative's 'quote.' Imagine a healthcare system run along the lines of a shady used car dealership and you get the idea.
At a recent 'enrollment meeting" (don't ask) United asserted that they would now pay for a "routine colonoscopy" every five years for men over 50. After a morning spent wasted on the phone with a representative I now understand that the word "routine" means something very different in insurancespeak and that if I want fiber optics technology shoved up my ass this year I'll need to fork over $1800.
Then there's the "lifetime cap" for treatment. On most policies this is about a million dollars, which seems like a lot, until you get a load at what a couple of weeks in the ICU costs. Once you've exceeded that your family has a choice between letting the hospital kick you out on the street to die or bankrupting themselves paying out of pocket.
For a lot of people though, things never get that far due to a nifty process insurers call 'recission.' If you get sick and start costing them money, algorhythms in their computers red-flag your file and their team of adjusters go to work looking for egregious reasons to cancel your coverage; childhood asthma that you forgot to include on your original application, say, or a change in meds your doctor noted on your chart but forgot to inform you of.
Unfortunately even Obama's 'reforms' still leave private insurers in the catbird seat. The uninsured will receive government subsidies to assist them in buying private insurance (talk about "socialized medicine," only in this case the risk is socialized while the profits are privatized). The 'public option,' if it happens at all, will likely be so compromised and ineffectual that only the poorest and most disenfranchised will opt for it, reinforcing the notion that "government" can't do anything right.
I'm sad to say it, but this latest "health care reform" bill is looking more and more like a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic
Posted by David Berner at 8:54 AM
- Cable TV
- Car and home insurance
- Chiropractors, naturopath
- Golf Fees
- Gym Membership
- Gas for your car
- Heating Fuel
- Income Tax Prep.
- Legal Fees: for wills, P.Of A., advice, etc.
- Hockey/Football/Baseball Game Tickets
- Home purchases
- Home heating oil
- Magazine Subscription
- Movie Tickets
- Newspapers Subscription
- Pizza Delivery
- Restaurant Service
- Theatre Tickets
- Used Car purchases
- Vacation Travel: airline ticket and hotels
- Tim Hortons Coffee
Posted by David Berner at 8:51 AM