Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

GUest Blogger, Victor, Shines a Light on Our Town

We remember Sally when she won her Oscar. Her speech started with, " They like me, they really like me!"


Vancouver is the Sally Field of Cities. Let any group, anywhere, select Vancouver as a top city for anything, and the media gush. It becomes front page material.

This week, the Mercer Group ( is that a jazz band?) placed Vancouver in a top 5 rating. One of the criteria was weather. No Vancouverite can take credit for the weather. It is a free endowment. It would be ours to enjoy even if we were an urban backwater run by a delusional political cult of aging flower children.

Oh wait, we are.

So next week, rumor has it, the Cincinnati Linoleum Installers Union will select Vancouver as the best city for a convention. Clear the front page!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

TIMELY HEALTH CARE?

DAVE BRUBECK, R.I.P.

Of course, being a prolific and inspired and constantly toiling musician, Dave Brubeck was much more than Blue Rondo a la Turk and Take Five.

Nevertheless, these two tunes are iconic and blazed into our finger-snapping consciousness.

Here is the New York times thorough obit.

And below is the music...

PART OF THE FABRIC OF 20TH CENTURY MUSIC

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

XTRA! XTRA!

READ ALL ABOUT IT!

DOCS HAVE BRAIN WAVE!

In what passes for newspapers these days, this shocking revelation was carried across the country this morning:

"Doctors in Canada are so skittish about the medical use of marijuana that a third of MDs who have been asked to endorse a patient’s access to the drug never agree to it, a Canadian Medical Association survey suggests.

Another 25 per cent of doctors who responded to the survey said they would “seldom” be willing to support a patient’s access to medicinal pot; 64 per cent are worried that patients who request medical marijuana may only want it to get high."


Duh? You think?

No doubt, the good docs were on a fact finding mission to Katmandu or Vegas at the time.

Oh, it was just a survey.http://bit.ly/TF1VrL

Who put the IQ juice in the office coffee?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

From the Good Folks Who Bilked You the Canada LIne, will build Evergreen and, Lord knows, maybe the Broadway/UBC Ditch


November 28, 2012

Pierre Duhaime, former SNC-Lavalin CEO, arrested on fraud charges

By BERTRAND MAROTTE And PAUL WALDIE

Pierre Duhaime arrested Wednesday morning at his home and has been charged with three counts – conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud and making use of forged documents

Former SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. president and chief executive officer Pierre Duhaime has been arrested on fraud-related charges.

Mr. Duhaime was arrested Wednesday morning at his home and has been charged with three counts – conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud and making use of forged documents – said Anne-Frédérick Laurence, spokeswoman for the Quebec government's Unité permanente anticorruption.

He is being held in jail and will be released on bail, she said.

She said she cannot provide more details.

A second former SNC senior executive – Riyad Ben Aissa – also faces the same three charges, said Ms. Laurence.

Mr. Ben Aissa is currently being held in a jail cell in Switzerland.

Mr. Duhaime left the Montreal-based engineering and construction giant last March in the midst of a financial scandal related to improper payments through its international operations.

Investigations in that matter continue in Canada and Switzerland.

The provincial anti-corruption squad is investigating aspects of a billion-dollar contract SNC and its partners struck with the McGill University Hospital Centre to build a new hospital.

Arthur Porter, the former head of the McGill University Hospital Centre, resigned last year and has not responded to the allegations.

SNC and several other engineering firms were also targeted recently in a series of raids at their offices in the Montreal suburb of Laval.

Raids were also conducted at city hall as well as the two homes of Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt, who recently stepped down amid allegations of widespread corruption and collusion between the construction industry and government officials in Laval, Montreal and other municipalities.

Mr. Duhaime left SNC amid allegations he overruled the company's chief financial officer and approved $56-million in payments to unknown agents to secure contracts for the company. The money has gone missing and another company executive, Riyad Ben Aissa who ran SNC's Libyan operations, is in jail in Switzerland under investigation for fraud.

At the time of his departure, SNC praised Mr. Duhaime's contributions to the company and portrayed his removal as a "retirement." The company also paid him nearly $5-million in severance.

Mr. Duhaime, who is from Quebec City, became CEO of SNC in 2009. Tunisian-born Mr. Ben Aissa ran SNC's activities in Libya as well as the company's construction operations worldwide. That year, according to the board, Mr. Ben Aissa approved a $30-million contract to an agent to help win a contract.
The company alleged Monday that the agent's arrangements were not properly documented, had nothing to do with the project and the identity of the agent could not be verified.

SNC said on Wednesday it has no knowledge "of the specifics of any charges that may have been laid against [Mr. Duhaime]" and cannot comment further.

"As we have stated repeatedly, SNC-Lavalin has and will continue to co-operate fully with all authorities who request our assistance," the company said in a news release.

"We have voluntarily turned over information that we have to local and other authorities for them to take any actions that they may consider appropriate.

"We are unequivocal that no unethical behaviour or illegal acts must ever be tolerated. We believe that anyone found to have committed any wrongdoing in connection should be brought to justice."

In 2010, the McGill University Health Centre project was given a gold award for project financing by the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. The award cited the "innovative financing put in place by Groupe immobilier santé McGill, composed of SNC-Lavalin and Innisfree Ltd., as part of the overall project mandate."

British infrastructure investor Innisfree is SNC's main partner in the consortium financing and building the hospital.

Once finished, the health complex is to be leased to the Quebec government for 30 years.

"We're deeply troubled by the statements contained in the warrant alleging the fraud against MUHC, especially as we administer public funds for health purposes," Richard Fahey, spokesman for McGill University Health Centre, said in an interview.

The MUHC has been fully collaborating with investigators ever since they raided its offices for documents related to the case, he said.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Canada Line & Evergreen Line Builders Nabbed

Swiss probe $139M SNC-Lavalin laundering case


Company’s ex-VP Riadh Ben Aissa faces charges over Libya contracts
By John Nicol and Dave Seglins, CBC News

Posted: Nov 25, 2012 11:20 AM ET

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2012 11:55 AM ET

Prosecutors in Switzerland have formally indicted former SNC-Lavalin executive Riadh Ben Aissa on allegations he laundered vast sums of money tied to at least $139 million in mysterious payments by the company, according to Swiss public broadcaster RTS.
CBC News has also learned RCMP officials are working with Swiss police and have travelled to Switzerland to assist in the joint investigation.
Citing multiple confidential sources in Switzerland and North Africa, RTS investigative reporter Yves Steiner told CBC News that Swiss authorities have tracked money flowing from the Canadian engineering conglomerate to Swiss bank accounts registered to companies in the British Virgin Islands. Some of the funds then went directly into Swiss bank accounts controlled by Ben Aïssa, Steiner said his sources told him, and Swiss officials are working with the RCMP to get to the bottom of the mystery.
"Swiss investigators are interested in this network of companies and accounts, transfers that were allegedly authorized by Riadh Ben Aissa to obtain contracts in Tunisia and, especially, Libya," RTS reported Sunday.
The RCMP has not commented on these latest reports but has previously refused to answer questions, citing the ongoing investigation.
Ben Aissa was arrested in Switzerland last spring and remains in jail on suspicion of money laundering and corruption of public officials related to his business dealings in North Africa.
Prosecutors have also charged Geneva-based lawyer Roland Kaufman with money laundering and corruption. According to RTS, authorities accuse him of helping Ben Aissa to set up two companies, Dinova and Duvel Securities, registered in the British Virgin Islands. The broadcaster reports investigators are probing millions of dollars in payments from SNC-Lavalin to those companies’ Swiss bank accounts dating back as early as 2001.
CBC News placed multiple calls to Dinova and Duvel Securites last week but was unable to reach either of the lone directors listed on the company’s registration records in the BVI.
Swiss authorities are still trying to sort out the exact movements of the $139 million, Steiner said, and have interviewed several SNC-Lavalin officials. CBC News has confirmed that some interviews were completed in April, and that Sami Bebawi, Ben Aïssa's predecessor as head of international construction projects, flew to Switzerland last week to talk to Swiss prosecutors.
"I have many, many sources who say, 'OK, there is a system of corruption, there is a system of money laundering — or could be used for this kind of thing at least — in fact based here in Geneva,'" Steiner told CBC News.

$139M more than double what SNC audit found

The RTS report that investigators are tracking $130 million Swiss francs ($139 million Cdn) only deepens the mystery around SNC-Lavalin payments to procure construction projects given the company’s own announcement in March that audits had discovered only $56 million in improper payments.
Neither Ben Aïssa's Canadian nor his Swiss lawyer would comment on these latest allegations. Reached Saturday, Canadian lawyer Michael Edelson did say, however, that Ben Aissa is not pleased with a recently launched civil suit by his brother against SNC. On Nov. 5, orthopedic trauma specialist Rafik Ben Aissa filed a $5-million lawsuit against SNC-Lavalin accusing the company of using his brother as a scapegoat and damaging his family’s name.
An RCMP officer watches over the lobby of SNC-Lavalin's Montreal headquarters during a police raid in April. An RCMP officer watches over the lobby of SNC-Lavalin's Montreal headquarters during a police raid in April.(Graham Hughes/CP)
"SNC-Lavalin knowingly allowed and condoned the use of millions of dollars to fund lobbyists in the Middle East to get lucrative contracts with major leaders of some countries, particularly in Libya," the suit claims. None of its allegations have been tested in court.
The company declined CBC’s request for an interview with its CEO and would not answer whether Riadh Ben Aissa could have singlehandedly approved and concealed the $139 million in payments.
“We continue to collaborate in all investigations with authorities as they are pursued,” SNC-Lavalin spokesperson Leslie Quinton said in an emailed statement.
“Because these investigations are ongoing and we continue to cooperate, unfortunately there is nothing further that we are able to add at this time, except to reiterate that we hope that if anyone is found to have committed any wrongdoing, they are brought to justice,” she said.
The ultimate purpose of the $139 million in SNC-Lavalin payments remains unclear.
However, an SNC insider — the same person who anonymously accused Ben Aissa of wrongdoing in a December 2011 "poison pen" letter to company directors and executives — told CBC News "more has to be done" within the company.
"There is no way that kind of money is moved without approvals" from people still within the company, the source said. "Employees who detested the rule of Ben Aissa are sympathetic to Ben Aïssa's [brother's] lawsuit that claims that the management knew and encouraged his acts.
"This is not a story of foreign criminals, but a sad story of Canadian greed."
With files from CBC's Brigitte Noel and Jeremy McDonald

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

De-Spare Me, puleeeze (Rhymes with sleeze)

B.C.’s Conflict Commissioner Paul Fraser says he sees no problem investigating an allegation against Premier Christy Clark, even though his son is a longtime friend of Clark’s and works as a senior official within her government. “I don’t perceive a problem in making a decision in this case that will have nothing to do with my son’s career,” Fraser said Thursday in response to a question on the issue by The Vancouver Sun.


 You cannot make up stuff like this.

But you can read the whole story here.http://bit.ly/RJ5MCM

t won't make you feel any better about the comic sham we used to call a democracy here in beautiful British Columbia, but you can read it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

THREE NEW TV SHOWS

Below you will find the three latest SHAW TV shows. We recorded the piece on ACTIVE AGING back in July before our summer break, and the next two items on RESTORATIVE JUSTICE and PROJECT LIMELIGHT over the past two weeks.

On Monday, our guest will be David Moscrop, who believes that men should be active feminists.

Cheers,

David

KIDS AT WORK

JUSTICE FOR ALL?

GETTING ON?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller

In the mid-'80's, I spent an entire day with Phyllis Diller in her home on Rockingham Drive, right down the street from where O.J. didn't murder anyone.

She was a warm and gracious host.

During the interview, which we were filming for a CTV show called "The Performers," Phyllis made me deviled eggs. The whole piece took place in her bright red kitchen, with her at the counters and me sitting at an old-fashioned work table in the middle of he room.

In the living room, she had a marvelous oil painting of her great friend and mentor, Bob Hope.

I remember especially two moments in our conversation.

Me: Phyllis, when you were writing ad copy for a radio station in Sausalito and supporting five children by yourself, did you have any idea that you had this much ambition?

Phyllis (Slamming down the fork she was using to mash the eggs in a bowl): Absolutely! I wanted it all and I've got it all!

When we finished the interview, she sat at the work table, smiled and said, Thank you, Gregory Peck.  So sweet.

In addition to being one of the most successful lady stand-up comics of all time, she was a movie star, played the lead in "Hello Dolly" on Broadway and on tour practically everywhere, and was an accomplished concert pianist. I first met her when she played with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. I was doing a play at Stage West Dinner Theatre with Norman Fell ("Three's Company's Mr. Roper") and he took us backstage after her wonderful performance.

As often the case, the best place to read an obit when we've lost a good person is the New York Times. Here it is.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

ONE, SINGULAR SENSATION

I was sitting in what was then the CBC cafeteria on Hamilton Street.

I saw Marvin Hamlisch walking down the front steps. I dashed out and introduced myself. I was working as a story editor for the evening television news.

Would he do an interview with me please?

"They've already turned me down," he said.

That year Marvin Hamlisch had done the impossible. He won the Oscar, the Tony and Emmy and a Grammy all in one year! Rita Moreno got all four prizes but not in one season as Hamlisch did.

And this was the year that he was here in town to do two concerts with the VSO at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the year that CBC supper hour news had no room for him.

Not to worry, I said. I'll arrange it.

"Only on one condition," was his answer. "Get me a piano."

I got him the piano and we did a terrific piece which included his performing a beautiful new song by him and Carol Bayer Sager called "Two Boys." He also told some wonderful Barbra Streisand stories. (SEE THE VIDEO FOLLOWING.)

When certain people die, the only place to read the obit is in the New York Times. Enjoy and remember the tunes as you go about your business today.

A Little Classic

Thursday, August 2, 2012

PALIMPSEST


Gore Vidal, 1925-2012

Prolific, Elegant, Acerbic Writer






Wednesday, August 1, 2012

fuel to the fire

Thanks, Susan!

CHICKEN LITTLE, HERE

Forget all the other noise passing as news:

The Premier pretends to care about the environment. The Premier has one setting - Snarl. She loves a fight, a contest, running for office or an arm-wrestle. She wouldn't know a pipeline if she fell over it. Worse, she shows her basic values. You want us to carry the risk of this thing? Give us more loot.

It's OK. We have only a few more months of this lack of leadership and vision and then we can start slogging the next guy.

NBC's Olympic coverage is late, pre-empted by the web and xenophobic in the extreme? Try the genius  over at CTV. Last night they spent three or four hours trumpeting a great tennis match between Canadian Raonic and French star, Tsonga. How many times did the granite Brian Williams - clearly the most boring sportscaster in history - tell us that a real treat was on the way?

When the coverage finally arrived - a 3-setter that ended 25-23 in the third for Tsonga - what we lucky souls got to see was a 90 second summary. Thanks, boys. Super coverage.

So forget all that.

There was only one real story and it stretched over at least two days and this was it:

Blackout cuts power to 670 million Indians

This is the future, kids.

 This story, which I expect to see repeated in one form or another on a regular basis coming from every place on earth that may still have the power with which to transmit the tale, is where we are heading.

Between air conditioning, the internet and the colossal inability of governments to do almost anything right, I believe we can predict meltdowns of so-called basic services of this magnitude to appear with frightening regularity.

Canada is a bubble.

We live in an amazing paradise. No mortar shells, no banks run by Bob and his cousin, Neil, an apparent abundance of space and natural resources and governments that may be stupid and annoying, but are not shooting or arresting citizens by the carload for their thoughts or opinions.

How long can it last?

I have no idea.

But I am not placing any bets.

Monday, July 30, 2012

THE WHOLE STORY

The liner notes below are all about the video that follows. Most lovers of jazz could not tell you how many times they have listened to this album. If you don't know it, here it is. So many You Tube pieces are small tastes; this is the whole matzoh ball. Savor it and save it.

Mile Davis - Kind Of Blue Full Album Concert Full HD Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released August 17, 1959, on Columbia Records in the United States. High Quality Sound Audio FLAC Which Preserve Quality of Original Uncompressed Audio Sound Recording sessions for the album took place at Columbia's 30th Street Studio in New York City on March 2 and April 22, 1959. The sessions featured Davis's ensemble sextet, which consisted of pianist Bill Evans (Wynton Kelly on one track), drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley.

After the entry of Bill Evans into his sextet, Davis followed up on the modal experimentations of Milestones (1958) and 1958 Miles (1958) by basing the album entirely on modality, in contrast to his earlier work with the hard bop style of jazz. Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been described by many music writers not only as Davis's best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time. On October 7, 2008, it was certified quadruple platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It has been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time and Davis's masterpiece.

The album's influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical music, has led music writers to acknowledge it as one of the most influential albums ever made. In 2002, it was one of fifty recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In 2003, the album was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Accolades

Kind of Blue has been cited by writers and music critics as the greatest jazz album of all time and has been ranked at or near the top of numerous "best album" lists in disparate genres. In 2002, Kind of Blue was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.In selecting the album as number 12 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, Rolling Stone magazine stated "This painterly masterpiece is one of the most important, influential and popular albums in jazz". On December 16, 2009, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring the fiftieth anniversary of Kind of Blue and "reaffirming jazz as a national treasure". It is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, described by reviewer Seth Jacobson as "a genre-defining moment in twentieth-century music, period."

Track listing
All songs written and composed by Miles Davis except where noted (see content section for more information). Only six complete takes of the five songs on the album exist:.
No. Title Length
1. "So What" 9:22
2. "Freddie Freeloader" 9:46
3. "Blue in Green" (Miles Davis and Bill Evans) 5:37
4. "All Blues" 11:33
5. "Flamenco Sketches" (Miles Davis and Bill Evans) 9:26
Reissue bonus track
No. Title Length
6. "Flamenco Sketches (Alternate take)" 9:32
Tracks 1, 2 and 3 (side one on the original vinyl release) recorded March 2, 1959; tracks 4 and 5 (side two) recorded April 22, 1959. All tracks recorded at Columbia 30th Street Studio, New York City.
Personnel

Musicians
Miles Davis -- trumpet, band leader
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley -- alto saxophone, except on "Blue in Green"
Paul Chambers -- double bass
Jimmy Cobb -- drums
John Coltrane -- tenor saxophone
Bill Evans -- piano (except "Freddie Freeloader"), liner notes
Wynton Kelly -- piano on "Freddie Freeloader"

MILES DAVIS - KIND OF BLUE (Full Album)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

THE UNIVERSAL TONGUES - MUSIC/DANCE

THE GNUS

1. "If the legislative assembly were a public company, it would be delisted."

The Auditor-General's scathing report on the Provincial Legislature's utter inability to keep records of spending tax dollars is more than embarrassing. It's infuriating. 

One of the favorite past times of legislators, politicians and bureaucrats is telling non-profit charities that they must be more responsible and keep better books. In short, they are regularly demanding that people involved on a daily basis with the poor, the addicted, the underprivileged and the dis-empowered should also be CPA's in their spare time - like such front line workers have spare time.

In spite of challenging work loads, most charitable organizations do a great job of accounting for the way they spend money.

Now let's see what the kettle-calling-everybody-else-black can do about cleaning up their own arrogant mess.

2. Why is Post Media, the parent company of most Canadian dailies, spending its dwindling resources having columnist Christie Blatchford hanging out for ages in a Winnipeg courtroom?

The case is about as tabloid sleazorama as they get. A Manitoba judge and her husband may or may not have propositioned a man into three way sex.

YAWN.

Christie Blatchford is a very good writer.

This piece of trash non-story could have been covered by a Winnipeg Free Press intern.

There are no bigger issues in the Canadian fabric these days?

And they wonder why the old business model is collapsing?

Decisions to go on for days on such trivia and gossip like this don't help.

Monday, July 23, 2012

WOMEN, THE MEDIA & POLITICS

FRIEND VICTOR ON GUNS, GANGSTERS & GOMMORAH

The Colorado massacre, in one of those bleak coincidences, occurred during the same week as the anniversary of the murder of 77 people in Norway. It occurred a week after the shooting of 22 people in Toronto.

These examples, and others, show that crazy, evil people bent on murder, will find the means to do it. Ask the parents of the Jewish kids who died in Belarus last week.

The gun availability in America is of course ludicrous but it has willing, non-american participants. The gun of choice for ghetto gangstas in America is the Glock, a product of Austria. It has been celebrated in the songs of numerous rappers. Lee Oswald used an Italian assault rifle. France was the major supplier of Iraq's nuclear program. Europeans preach peace and sell death.

These events usually result in a having the same bromides trotted out such as the root cause being poverty. Norway has the world's richest economy on a per capita basis. It still produces mass murderers. The shoot out in Toronto did, admittedly, occur at a street party in a government housing project. But organizers of the party bought $1500 worth of cognac to distribute on the sidewalk. Poor in Toronto is upper middle class in Somalia.

What is most worrisome about America is that the lines of hatred are deeply an indelibly drawn. Vast segments in both the Democrat and Republican camps loathe the other side. It is not a friendly policy difference for these folks as it was in the 1950's. It is hatred. It is like Northern Ireland circa 1970. It will not get better. Add to that the class hatreds, racial hatreds, religious hatreds, generational hatreds. It is a pile of tinder awaiting a careless match.

By all means restrict the guns. The hoards of haters will find other ways. Obama recently bragged about hacking Iran's defence computers using Israeli technology. He didn't say much when the New York Times revealed that China had hacked Pentagon computers. On almost a monthly basis, some hacker brings down operating systems in millions of computers.

How long will it be before some embittered computer hacker will over-ride hospital computer systems, changing drug doses to poison and shutting down breathing apparatus? How long before traffic control systems are locked in red lights by mendacious hackers just for the fun of it? Far-fetched. I hope so.I know better.

You cannot have a country that is a cocktail of hatred and technology without the unspeakable happening.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

KILLING POLICY

Forget the Movie Massacre Madman.

The world is filled with major league nut jobs lurking in the bushes.

That's not the point.

The point is this:

In the last 60 days, this fellow bought from local shops four guns and 6000 rounds of ammunition, including a drum magazine that fires a bullet every second.

The villain is public policy in America.

We understand the position of the NRA. Cleverly and consistently misreading the Second Amendment, Yankee gun supporters believe in their hearts that they must have the right to own guns, lest they be imprisoned by a totalitarian government.

OK. We get it. Citizens must have the ability to protect themselves from the Official Protectors. Gotcha.

But, tell me this.

When someone walks into a local store and buys automatic weapons and 6,000 rounds of ammo with some loads that will fire with every heart beat, to what party is he heading? A revolution? An uprising? An insurgency?

What is a civilized person in a civilized neighbourhood up to exactly when this is his idea of shopping?

How can a body politic allow the neighbourhood slurpy vendor to dispense this kind of savage fire power like it's Tuscan Chicken Sandwich to go?

No politician in "the greatest country in the world, blah, blah, blah" has to date and to my knowledge had the unarmed courage to stand up to the NRA and its fellow travelers and say, "Enough. We will have guns, but there are some that will not be available and we won't be able to buy Uzi's on the internet."

I look forward to such a day, but I am not holding my breath.

Friday, July 20, 2012

One More Massacre

Posted by in The New Yorker

The murders—it dignifies them to call them a “tragedy”—in Aurora, Colorado, have hit us all hard, though the grief of the friends and families of the victims is unimaginable. Still, it hits home, or someplace worse than home, for any parent who (as I did, as so many did) had a kid at one of the many midnight screenings of the new Batman movie last night, they having gone to see it the moment it opened. Once again, as so often before, the unthinkable news is disassembled, piece by piece, into its heartbreaking parts. After the Virginia Tech shooting, the horrifying detail, as I wrote at the time, was that the cell phones were still ringing in the pockets of the dead children as their parents tried to call them. In Colorado, you can’t expunge the knowledge of the sudden turn from pleasure to horror that those children experienced. As the smoke bomb went off, some of the kids inside apparently thought that it was a special effect, part of the fun, until they began to see “people holding themselves.” According to the Aurora police, the suspect, James Holmes, who is twenty-four, was carrying both a rifle and a handgun. The bullets were fired so freely that they penetrated the wall separating one movie theatre in a multiplex to devastate people in the next one.

The truth is made worse by the reality that no one—really no one—anywhere on the political spectrum has the courage to speak out about the madness of unleashed guns and what they do to American life. That includes the President, whose consoling message managed to avoid the issue of why these killings take place. Of course, we don’t know, and perhaps never will, what exactly “made him” do what he did; but we know how he did it. Those who fight for the right of every madman and every criminal to have as many people-killing weapons as they want share moral responsibility for what happened last night—as they will when it happens again. And it will happen again.

The reality is simple: every country struggles with madmen and ideologues with guns, and every country—Canada, Norway, Britain—has had a gun massacre once, or twice. Then people act to stop them, and they do—as over the past few years has happened in Australia. Only in America are gun massacres of this kind routine, expectable, and certain to continue. Does anyone even remember any longer last July’s gun massacre, those birthday-party killings in Texas, when an estranged husband murdered his wife and most of her family, leaving six dead?

But nothing changes: the blood lobby still blares out its certainties, including the pretense that the Second Amendment—despite the clear grammar of its first sentence—is designed not to protect citizen militias but to make sure that no lunatic goes unarmed. (Jill Lepore wrote about the history of the Second Amendment in The New Yorker recently.) Make sure that guns designed for no reason save to kill people are freely available to anyone who wants one—and that is, and remains, the essential American condition—and then be shocked when children are killed. For all the good work the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence tries to do, nothing changes. On the last episode of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom,” Jeff Daniels’s character, in a scene set shortly before the Gabrielle Giffords gun massacre, was thought to display political courage by showing, accurately enough, that it’s a lie to say that Barack Obama is in any way in favor of gun control. This was said in Obama’s defense.

Only in America. Every country has, along with its core civilities and traditions, some kind of inner madness, a belief so irrational that even death and destruction cannot alter it. In Europe not long ago it was the belief that “honor” of the nation was so important that any insult to it had to be avenged by millions of lives. In America, it has been, for so long now, the belief that guns designed to kill people indifferently and in great numbers can be widely available and not have it end with people being killed, indifferently and in great numbers. The argument has gotten dully repetitive: How does one argue with someone convinced that the routine massacre of our children is the price we must pay for our freedom to have guns, or rather to have guns that make us feel free? You can only shake your head and maybe cry a little. “Gun Crazy” is the title of one the best films about the American romance with violence. And gun-crazy we remain.

The horror is touched, inflected, by the way that the killings now intertwine with the everyday details of our lives. The killings will go on; the cell phones in the pockets of dead children will continue to ring; and now parents can be a little frightened every time their kids go to a midnight screening of a movie designed to show them what stylized fun violence can be, in the hands of the right American moviemaker. Of course, there have been shootings at school, too. We’re a nation of special effects.

Photograph by Barry Gutierrez/AP Photo.

Friday, July 13, 2012

A LITTLE NEWS FROM THE STREET

A friend, who is a keen observer of the passing parade, emailed this gem the other night.



I talked to a Vancouver cop the other day. I asked whether they ever had to attend at the junkie condo complex at 16th and Dunbar. The cop replied " Every day".

The cop went on to explain that almost all of the calls were about resident addicts going "batshit" because they have mental health issues.

Remember that Larry Campbell and Sam Sullivan, neither of whom have any credentials as clinicians, assured us that people with dual diagnosis ( i.e addiction plus a mental illness) would be cured by giving them a nice place to live.

I can think of a few addicts who had a nice place to live. Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain etc.etc.

Why does the DSM ( dumb shit media) in this town never, ever follow this up?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The case of the S & M Mountie raises some very deep and important issues.

What part of anyone's life is private?

What are your personal sex life and choices to do with me?

Why did JFK and countless Presidents before him have many mistresses without the knowing press exposing them, while no modern President could possibly escape public attention for "wandering?"

Must police, athletes, entertainers, celebrities, teachers, politicians (who are, after all, law makers) and judges hold to a higher standard than labourers or ornithologists?

There may or may not be ready answers to these and similar questions and there may or may not be a broad general principal available in such inquiries.

But in this specific instance, I think the lines are reasonably clear.

The fact that Cpl. Brown enjoys torture sex scenes in his private life is not only no concern of mine, but please, sir, don't bore me with your war stories. I have no interest. And you have the right to engage in any sexual practices that are consensual and do not result in injury or death.

BUT.

1. Putting yourself "out there" on video is just flat stupid. It could also be interpreted as the height of narcissism and ego or a pathetic cry for help. Whatever it might be, it's shamefully idiotic. Which alone gives one pause to consider how much I want this fellow charged with protecting me.

2. The officer was somehow in the mix of the earliest part of the investigation into the horrendous Pickton murders of women. So, let me see if I understand this, because it's starting to feel like a case for Lisbeth Salander of Dragon Tattoo fame. A police officer who gets his sexual pleasures from torturing or pretending to torture and slice up women is somehow on the scene and knowledgeable about the worst torturer of women in local history. Now, we can be really worried.

Our Provincial Justice Minister, Shirley Bond, has weighed in on these events:

S&M Mountie won't be asked to quit

 But Bond disappointed by officer's actions
 
Excuse me?
 
No one deserves to lose his or her job without due process, but I am hearing no noises off that this officer is being thoroughly investigated. Yes, there is some inquiry, but what is it?

If this man's personal behaviour has not sullied an already much battered force, what heinous actions would it take?

If ever transparency was called for it is now.

Worse...so much about the Pickton case has refused to come to light. 

Will we ever learn which upstanding citizens were regular guests at the party?



THE OPEN ROAD

There are many things to admire about Maui and to enjoy while there.

At the top of the list is that all beaches and beach access are public.

There are countless private and gorgeous homes and dozens of fabulous, pricey resorts, all hugging the seashore.

But all people, including Canadian visitors of less modest means, staying in relatively affordable condos for a week or two can have their morning and evening walks along the open ocean front or swim or body surf in any of the local waters.

This may not be the case along all American coast lines; I have no idea.

But it is a refreshingly democratic notion and one that I think most of us cherish.

Which brings us to this headline:

Point Grey Road seawall proposal draws mixed reaction

Some residents worry about environmental degradation, but others say a public walkway would reduce traffic congestion

This notion should be a no-brainer.

Of course, we should be able to walk and bicycle along the shore from Kits Beach to Jericho and beyond. Duh?

Any opposition is only about greed and status.

Next!

Now, let's see what of what stuff Vancouver City Council and Parks Board are made?

MORE JOY - WHO SAYS ROMANCE IS DEAD?

A Word of Explanation

The Vancouver Province has pulled from its website the animation (shown below) created by its editorial cartoonist, Dan Murphy, that satirizes Enbridge's massive ad campaign in support of its Northern Gateway pipeline.

In the original ad, Enbridge claims that the pipeline is "a path to our future," while families and fish frolic in sylvan settings to placid music. In the parody, a fictional official comments with increasing distress as the ad is repeatedly interrupted with giant oil splotches.

Wayne Moriarty, The Province's Editor-in-Chief, says the animation was removed at the request of Enbridge "because it contains copyrighted material." He admits that use of the material might be protected under fair use laws, but says the newspaper chose not to pursue the matter. He points out that The Province has run editorials critical of the pipeline, and insists that the decision to pull the satire has nothing to do with the $5 million campaign, which is running in his paper and The Vancouver Sun (both of which are owned by The Pacific Newspaper Group), among many other media outlets.

Moriarty denies a rumour that Murphy has been fired because of the cartoon. Murphy was not available for comment.

ENBRIDGE SPOOF

Friday, June 29, 2012

"FAMILIES FIRST" PREEM STRIKES AGAIN


 

B.C. government ends kids' science program

 
 
 
 
A popular program that brought science learning to hundreds of thousands of children across the province will come to an end after Premier Christy Clark's BC Liberal government stopped its funding.
The chair of Science World's board of directors said Thurs-day his organization will no longer be able to run the BC Program for the Awareness and Learning of Science (BC PALS), which included a series of educational science programs in communities across the province.

"Science World [would] roll up in a truck and it [would] take its hands-on, highly visual and entertaining form of science learning to kids that just don't get to experience that," said Andrew Harries.

"Why it's so important is we are of the view that graduates in science, technology, engineering and math are the natural resources of the future," he added.

"Any government that doesn't recognize that is shortchanging its society."

Over the past seven years, organizers say, the program has reached an annual aver-age of 190,000 people in communities such as Dease Lake, Haida Gwaii and Invermere.

The program also allowed free field trips to Vancouver's Telus World of Science for kids in kindergarten through Grade 7. It also included career networking events, allowing high school students to learn more about careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Harries said money from Science World's gate receipts and donors helped to fund the PALS program, but "those funds are certainly inadequate to run the program without the government contribution."

Provincial funding for the BC PALS program began in 2005, when the Ministry of Education gave Science World a $5-million grant over five years.

Funding was extended during the province's Year of Science in 2010-11 and then again last year when the province contributed $1 million toward BC PALS.

But this year, Education Minister George Abbott told Science World there was no money to renew the funding.

Grahame Rainey, president of the BC Science Teachers Association, said PALS was a very effective way to get kids interested in science.

New Democratic Party education critic Robin Austin called the decision "dreadful."

jfowlie@vancouversun.com

 
 
 

YOUNG GENIUS

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

FROM A FRIEND & COLLEAGUE

 
 David,
 
Excellent column ... and well-expressed on your part (as usual!) ... what's intriguing is InSite's total unwillingness to allow an independent assessment of the operation or to get into any kind of fact-based debate. For example, my wife was co-chair this year of the Governor-General's Leadership Study Tour (BC portion): it's a group of future leaders from across the country -- and from all sectors, labor, business, public service, inter alia -- who spend 2 weeks travelling and learning as much as possible about issues in various communities.
 
Inevitably, the Downtown East Side was a big part of their stay in Vancouver, so InSite and the Carnegie Centre were on the itinerary; but because Amelia also works with me at Gospel Mission, she included a visit to the Mission and, in particular, The Lord's Rain (our facility that provides showers every morning), as well.
 
Hmm ... that reads like she included it out of self-interest. Not at all: she wanted to show the participants a positive story to balance the negative stuff they invariably hear about the DTES. (I blogged about it -- http://revdowntown.blogspot.ca/2012/06/never-pass-up-chance-to-testify.html, and Amelia provided a follow-up to "the guys" -- i.e. the people who come to the Mission: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aI4HZI5Qtxo&list=UUuzQq_KsPmb548qSB-3LZKw&index=1&feature=plcp)
 
But here's the point I'm getting to: the tour participants were not permitted to talk to the actual people who use InSite due to "regulations" -- they could only talk to the staff. I visited Freedom's Door in Kelowna, which is a recovery house for some of the worst-asses you'd ever not want to meet in a dark alley, and the pastor there -- who beat drugs and did time in prison himself -- agrees that the ONLY solution to addiction is complete abstinence, and tough love to go with it. A local deep thinker who supports harm reduction recently refused to debate Nick at a public forum, saying "he'd heard enough from him already". (Indeed, I mentioned harm reduction when I met with some of the residents at the house, and a general shudder went around the table.)
 
And let me lay something else on you: God is on the side of those who believe in harm elimination as opposed to harm reduction, and He proves it with such things as you getting your voice out there. I've seen Him bless places like Recovery House and Anchor House in Brooklyn with success in turning lives around, and I've seen Him bless Gospel Mission by keeping the place going in spite of the odds. It doesn't matter what opinion polls, courtrooms packed with rent-a-mob supporters or "peer-reviewed" studies say*, as Graham Cooke says, "one person, plus God, is always the majority."
 
Or, in the words of the noted philosopher, Opus the Penguin, "if two million people do a silly thing, it is still a silly thing".
 
* One more thing: doesn't "peer" mean "someone of the same ilk"? So if the study is written by a high-minded, self-serving lintbrain, doesn't it mean that the peer review is also done by high-minded, self-serving lintbrains?

--
http://twitter.com/drewdsnider
Let's not get hung up on "finding ourselves". If we seek God and love others, "finding ourselves" becomes (a) unimportant and (b) unavoidable.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


 

McMartin: Can David Berner reduce harm reduction?

 
 
 
 
 

Columnist Pete McMartin

Photograph by: Ian Lindsay, Vancouver Sun

David Berner is 69, and still swimming upstream.

One of these days, the current may turn in his favour.

It hasn’t yet. It won’t soon. But Berner, whose resumé includes actor, talk show host and drug addiction counsellor, has never wavered from his belief:

He is vehemently against the prevailing practice of harm reduction.

Not only does he not see it reducing harm, he believes it encourages and nourishes drug addiction.

“There’s a giant emperor’s new clothes,” Berner said, “and it’s called ‘harm reduction.’ And it not only has political sway these days, it’s pretty well the accepted wisdom of our time. It’s taught in universities, and governments all over the world sing to this tune.

“So needle exchanges, Insite, free crack pipe kits, shot glasses of whiskey to so-called chronic alcoholics ... those kinds of things are anathema to us.”

“Us” is the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, of which Berner is executive director. The Network was founded in 2006 by former B.C. Conservative MP Randy White, whose own brand of politics was famously incendiary. One of his more notable utterances — “to heck with the courts,” his solution to overturning same-sex marriage law — has been cited as one of the reasons the Conservatives lost the 2004 federal election.

Berner came to his views on drugs through more liberal and practical routes. He was with the Company of Young Canadians in the 1960s when he founded the X-Kalay Foundation Society, a residential treatment centre for addicts and alcoholics.

Berner was 24.

“They [the CYC] put up no money other than giving me $235 a month as a salary. Me and two aboriginal guys from the B.C. Pen put $130 of our own money on a table and rented a house at Fifth and Macdonald. We had no idea what we were doing and just through accident and hard work and the tenor of the times it took off. And four years later, there were 125 people in residence. And then we duplicated it in Manitoba.” [The Manitoba chapter has since been renamed the Behavioural Health Foundation, and is still in operation.]

Berner’s treatment philosophy, formed through trial and error, was one of tough love. Violence was not tolerated. Drugs were not tolerated. Backsliding was not tolerated. Break any of the rules and you were gone.

“When I started doing this work, I would say there was more of a sense of containment here. But in 1967, there were very few options for an addict. You could continue to do heroin. You could OD. You could go to prison.”

But about 30 years ago, Berner said, there was a sea change in sociology. A dark side to the expansion of civil liberties began to be felt.

“Suddenly, it was not only okay for people to live lives of misery, but there were people who said, ‘We’re going to help you.’

“Now, for addicts, for people who are lousy at choice-making, there are thousands of choices. There are dozens and dozens of recovery centres, of detox centres, Insite, needle exchanges. Everybody and their aunt are trying to help you.”

And while harm reductionists would claim that the services they provide are humanitarian and meant to save lives, Berner said, they don’t question the consequences.

“They say, ‘I’m going to give you a clean place to shoot up, but I’m not going to ask you where you got your drugs, or how you got the money to pay for your drugs or what you’re going to do after you’ve shot up here.’ And what they do after they’ve shot up is break into your car to feed their habit.”

The result, Berner said, is that they ultimately harm everyone — themselves, since they remain addicted and continue to live in misery, the people and family members around them, and society at large, since they feed crime while draining away valuable government resources.

And the proof of this futility, to Berner, is the Downtown Eastside. Hundreds of social welfare agencies and hundreds of millions of dollars have failed to eradicate or even lessen the problems of addiction.
Yet politicians and academics, Berner said, continue to be seduced by the arguments for harm reduction “because it sounds clever and smart.” Those politicians and academics, though, he said, haven’t been grounded in the dirty practicalities of addiction.

“There will never be enough for addicts because addicts always want more. So the question is, do we put our resources into harm reduction or do we put our resources to help people get clean?
“The first thing I would do if I was elected mayor? I would stop the flow of a million dollars a day to the hundreds of social welfare agencies. I would just stop it.

“The second thing I would do is, I would not have people asking, ‘Can I give you a clean needle?’ but I would have people going down there and saying, ‘Let’s get you clean. Let’s leave this life behind.’

“But the context now is, harm reduction has become so pervasive a reality, it’s really part of the culture now.

“But it’s a big giving-up. It’s a big shrug of the shoulders.”

pmcmartin@vancouversun.com
 
 
 

A PUZZLEMENT

Let's see now.

Our "Families First" Premier has a department that tries to close group homes and cut services to people with developmental disabilities.

That little riot gets exposed.

A few months later, the Good Leader's Social Development Minister, Stephanie Cadieux, (that's her in the wheelchair) awards the executives responsible for these cruel outrages a major pay boost - about 10% - in an economy that is dead flat, if not rushing completely downhill.

How do any of these folks - the Preem, Her Minister of Social Undevelopment and the overpaid mandarins - sleep at night?

I used to ask of people like this...what gulag are we in?

Now, I might ask...exactly where in Africa are we?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

AS I WAS SAYING...Thanks, Mo!

SMALL MERCIES

No longer can life be considered brutal and short.

There is clear evidence of a loving God.

So many have been feeling disenfranchised, powerless. Nobody listens.

And so it has seemed for so long.

But now, a kind and thoughtful deity has given us this.

Better yet, event this.


Will the Blessings never cease?

Now, melancholy and separation are forever vanished.

"I'm gtng a pepC. U?"

Forget drugs. Every teenage girl in the Western world is addicted, attached and enthralled. And so are her mother and her sister and her aunt and even a few million alleged guys.

Not since the Coca-Cola has there been such a successful marketing campaign.

Playing directly into every sorry sap's urgent need to be needed, this clever toy - the hand-held computer-phone-camera - is now issued at birth.

As we speak, some clever sod, toiling in a suburban garage in Sherman Oaks no doubt, is perfecting the gun feature to make this instrument complete and perfect.

Imagine being a teacher in a classroom today! Yikes! I take back every harsh word I have uttered about the BCTF. Teachers are my new heroes. Who in his or her right mind would dare interrupt the flow of creativity from one of his or her charges who are supposed to be studying mathematics.

And speaking of flow...Have you noticed how texters can walk through rush hour traffic without harm.

Just more evidence of Divine Attention, I say.

Friday, June 15, 2012

WHAT ME, WORRY?

It's been a year since the Stanley Cup riot and, despite its laid-back reputation, Vancouver still seems like such an angry city. If people aren't angry about bike lanes, they're angry about roads, cars, motorcycles with loud pipes, the June weather, the economy, oil tankers, housing prices, Asian investors, the rich, the homeless, store clerks, Gregor Robertson ... especially the bike lanes.

 Just ask businessman Rob Macdonald, who was campaign fundraising chairman for former Vancouver councillor Suzanne Anton, beaten soundly by Robertson in last fall's mayoralty election. Macdonald, a big supporter of cycling in B.C., says the downtown folks he talks to are very angry with the way the bicycle lanes have been introduced and the harmful impact they're having on downtown Vancouver.

"There's unhappiness with the civic government," Macdonald said "And then, of course, there's a feeling of impending doom for the downtown business community of the NDP, the socialists, taking over again."
Indeed, he himself gets angrier by the minute as he talks about the poor design of the bike lanes, their lack of safety and the serious accidents he says they've caused: "The City of Vancouver should be charged with f------ manslaughter."

So should this newspaper columnist, according to those who take issue with my mildly expressed opinion on the possible risks of marijuana smoking and use it to indulge in an orgy of name-calling. Forget mellow yellow, Vancouver has to have the world's angriest pot smokers ... in addition to its angriest hockey fans.

 We in Terminal City love to make mountains out of molehills. We're the Charlie Sheen, if not Mel Gibson, of anger management ... or lack of it.

Veteran Vancouver broadcaster David Berner points out that Vancouver is a divided city. Every day, he says, he meets people who are very sweet and kind. And every day, whether as a pedestrian or a driver, he meets people who are simply "deranged."

 Berner told me he used to joke on the radio that Vancouver is the only city that sells new cars without turn signals:

 "I mean, people are so unkind. I've actually had people drive almost over me, and then give me the finger for daring to walk across ... at marked intersections." 


 The reason for this anger, he added, is that Vancouver has an adolescent culture: "This is not Venice or Paris where people are used to having a glass of wine. This is still a frontier town where every 70-year-old wants to wear designer blue jeans." I completely agree, especially about the blue jeans. 

Sports writer Jim Taylor, though, says Vancouverites have every right to be angry about last year's riot: "You'd have to be brain-dead not to be angry about that."

 And Tourism Vancouver boss Rick Antonson insists that Vancouver is a passionate and spirited city, not an angry one. "The last thing you'd want to be is a robot city," he added. Antonson is absolutely right. A bunch of angry robots is the last thing we need to have to worry — or get angry — about.

jferry@theprovince.com

© Copyright (c) The Province

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PETE NAILS IT


Housing activists stalk a 'gentrifier' at his West Van home

On the premise that a man's home is his castle, a group of "housing activists" - whatever that means - swarmed out of the Downtown Eastside Monday night, crossed the other side of the tracks and invaded West Vancouver, where a man's castle is his home.

They then laid siege to developer Steven Lippman. They picketed his place and, according to The Sun's story, were "brandishing signs and pitching tents nearby."

Pitched tents? In West Vancouver? Canada's toniest municipality hadn't seen such civil disobedience since 2006, when angry residents railed against the construction of the Eagleridge Bluffs bypass, while lunching on brie and lattes.

Lippman's crime? He buys rundown properties in the Downtown Eastside and fixes them up. He does this with the intent of making a profit. Imagine. Most recently, this includes the expected purchase of the single-room occupancy Wonder and Palace hotels, the court-ordered sales of which are scheduled in B.C. Supreme Court today.

Fighting this sale is an organization called the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council. The council, the storied history of which goes all the way back to, oh, 2010, branded Lippman as "a notorious gentrifier," and believes the 72 rooms of the Wonder and Palace hotels will be renovated, and then have their rents raised beyond the means of welfare recipients and senior citizens on government pension. Thus, the Council's following call to action:

"Come embarrass Lippman on his own turf," the council's website urged, "and call for him to cancel his plans to buy the Wonder and Palace hotels with a family friendly picket line in front of his swanky West Van home. Tell him that these hotels are 72 peoples [sic] homes, not investment properties!"
Aside from the hilarious detail of a "family friendly picket line" (kids get arrested free!) and the use of the word "swanky," which I believe was last uttered in a Bowery Boys movie, I was most struck by the assumption that these hotels, by virtue of their hyper-politicized location, were exempt from the usual rules of capitalism. They're not investment properties! They're Downtown Eastside homes! And Downtown Eastside homes are never for sale, unless, of course, the government buys them for social housing. And then it's okay.

But it's not okay any more. Decades of social experimentation have only perpetuated the Downtown Eastside's problems, not solved them. Its concentration of social housing has created a ghetto, not a neighbourhood.

And there are signs that the people who live there and want it to be a true neighbourhood have had it up to here.

Last year, the Strathcona Business Improvement Association, the Ray-Cam Community Association and the Inner City Safety Society compiled a report entitled Vancouver's Downtown Eastside: A Com-munity in Need of Balance. In essence, it suggests that the hundreds of millions of tax dollars the social welfare system pumps into their neighbour-hood is not only not the solution, it may be the problem.
"Maintaining the Downtown Eastside as a high or special needs social housing enclave," it states, "will not help to stabilize either the community or the city as a whole. The term 'vulnerability' now describes not only a majority of community residents but also the neighbourhood itself. Continued expansion or concentration of vulnerable individuals into already adverse social conditions will lead to neither their safety and health nor that of the neighbourhood.

"The vast majority of social housing units - both those newly built and renovated - have been targeted to the highest risk, street-involved individuals and have deliberately excluded others within the low-income population who face fewer obvious challenges, seriously unbalancing what was a stable albeit poor neighbourhood."

In other words, enough already. The Downtown East-side has its problems, yes, but efforts to solve those problems have been targeted overwhelmingly at high-risk individuals. And when government does that, it doesn't result in fewer high-risk individuals, it results in more. Government policies in the Downtown Eastside have been a magnet for them, to the point where they have over-whelmed the neighbourhood's ability to deal with them.

"Area families, seniors, working people, schools, community centres and business argue that no neighbourhood can remain healthy when populated by an over-abundance of high-risk or high-impact individuals. These individuals also fail to receive the support they need in a community where capacity is already compromised and over-whelmed by existing needs."

There needs to be more private investment in the Down-town Eastside, not less. There needs to be less social housing in the Downtown Eastside, not more. And if there is a growing need for social housing in the future, the rest of Metro Vancouver should do its duty and shoulder its fair share.

May I suggest West Vancouver might be a good place to start?

pmcmartin@vancouversun.com

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The End of Books?

NOT ANOTHER POLITICIAN? PULEEESE...

Let me join the throngs of outraged West Coasters who have properly decried the nutty little mandarin decision to close the Kitsilano coast guard station.

Now we have the embarrassing sight of a Maple Ridge MP making a public spectacle of himself by defending this idiocy. Like they've got lots of oceans in Maple Ridge...

The man's name is Randy Kamp, and I hope he's got a back-up plan for after the next election.

Friday, May 25, 2012

RANCH DRESSING, PLEASE



SOCIALISM

You have 2 cows.

You give one to your neighbour.



COMMUNISM

You have 2 cows

The State takes both and gives you some milk.



FASCISM

You have 2 cows.

The State takes both and sells you some milk.



BUREAUCRATISM

You have 2 cows.

The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other and then throws the milk away.



TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM

You have two cows.

You sell one and buy a bull.

Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.

You sell them and retire on the income.



VENTURE CAPITALISM

You have two cows.

You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.

The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.

The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.



AN AMERICAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.

Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.



A FRENCH CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You go on strike, organize a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.



AN ITALIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are.

You decide to have lunch.



A SWISS CORPORATION

You have 5,000 cows. None of them belong to you.

You charge the owners for storing them.



A CHINESE CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You have 300 people milking them.

You claim that you have full employment and high bovine productivity.

You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.



AN INDIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.

You worship them.



A BRITISH CORPORATION

You have two cows.

Both are mad.



AN IRAQI CORPORATION

Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.

You tell them that you have none.

Nobody believes you, so they bomb the crap out of you and invade your country.

You still have no cows but at least you are now a Democracy.



AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION

You have two cows.

Business seems pretty good.

You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.



A NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION

You have two cows.

The one on the left looks very attractive.



A GREEK CORPORATION

You have two cows borrowed from French and German banks.

You eat both of them.

The banks call to collect their milk, but you cannot deliver so you call the IMF.

The IMF loans you two cows.

You eat both of them.

The banks and the IMF call to collect their cows/milk.

You are out getting a haircut.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

THE TIME IS HERE

Barack Obama on Wednesday became the first president in U.S. history to personally endorse same-sex marriage, putting one of the most socially and culturally divisive issues in American politics at the forefront of his campaign for re-election.

After several years in which his personal views on gay marriage had been "evolving," Obama said he felt it was "important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married."

Those first two paragraphs are a direct quote from this morning's Vancouver Sun.

Yes, there are more pressing issues at hand in the current U.S. election. The American economy and the American sense of pride are both wobbly. Jobs, productivity, immigration, the role of government, all of these and more have huge daily impact on the lives of all our neighbours south  of the border.

But this matter of equal rights and opportunities for gays is also important, and President Obama's forthright declaration is courageous, righteous and historic.

This is called progress and all the  agencies that call themselves Family Somnethingorother and exist only to hate a tiny segment of the community are whistling in the wind.

I have attended two gay marriage ceremonies in recent years, one in Toronto and one in New Westminster. Both events were beautiful and both couples are doing just fine, thanks for asking.