Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Putin says Group Sex is Better

Is Putin losing it? First he puts on a fake crane mask to help the birds fly to their breeding grounds by flying a motorized hang glider in the shape of a giant crane and now says group sex is better than one on one because you can take a break.  Last Friday on an interview at RT, the Kremlin supported English language network, he said that orgies like all collectivist activities allow the participant to go to the sidelines and recuperate. I wonder how all those kids in Nashi, the russian youth organization will take it. Although I'm not a fan of Putin, I have to admit that it's a refreshing break from the perfect family genre of the current American election cycle where it appears that the participants have twin beds like the TV shows of the fifties, children appear to be conceived by immaculate conception and the spouses of the candidates act like June Cleaver clones.

WWJD is now succeed by WWLD - What Would Jesus do replaced by What Would Lenin do. A new dialectic of relationships where the traditional family withers away. Although Lenin officially had a puritanical relationship with his dowdy wife and comrade in arms, Nadya, a lot of his biographers suggest that he also had an extramartial relationship with the exotic and beautiful Ineesa Armand during his exile. A revisionist template for the New Russian Man. Next item on Putin's agenda is to model naked on the cover of Russia's equivalent of GQ magazine with the hand of a member of Pussy Riot around his throat. Now I would buy that edition.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Other News

  On Friday September 7, 2012, Canada closed its embassy in Tehran and ordered all Iranian diplomats to leave the country within five days. The travel and warnings section of the Canadian federal government website ordered all citizens to avoid travel to Iran. Many neutral observers in the world have concluded that military action by Israel against Iran is imminent and this is a pre-emptive decision by Canada as a close ally and confidante of Israel in anticipation of military conflict. Last week, General Hossein Salami, Deputy Chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, said that any attempt to attack Iran would expand the warfare to the enemies’ land. “Any aggression against Iran will expand the war into the borders of the enemies,” he warned. “They know our power, and we won’t allow any aggression against our land.”

  Israel has made no secret of its desire to attack Iran before the November 6 American election date in order to maximize its leverage on the Obama administration which would be forced by the pro Israel stance of the Republicans to show that it’s tough on the “Muslim threat”.  While Israel by itself or with American collusion could deliver a significant attack on Iranian infrastructure, the expected Iranian military response perhaps by one of its “silkworm” anti shipping missiles against a tanker or naval vessel in the Strait of Hormuz would certainly draw America into a protracted trillion dollar budget busting, Middle Eastern war.

I’m amazed at the lack of coverage by American mass media that seem fixated on the 2012 election cycle with its outlandish character attacks and ignore obvious global events. The situation is deteriorating rapidly and events are moving along at a fast pace. Today the Toronto Star stated:

  At a news conference Monday, (Canadian immigration minister)Jason Kenney told reporters

Officials have been told to comb through applications from Iranian nationals to ensure anyone deemed allied with or part of the Iranian government — declared last week a state sponsor of terrorism — is barred from entering Canada.

“Many in the Persian community in Canada have been concerned that people who have been close to or members of the regime and their relatives, they believe, have in too many cases been able to establish residency in Canada and we want to ensure that people who may be inadmissible, that is to say those who perhaps are associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Al Quds force, the Basij, or senior members of the regime are not admissible to Canada under s. 34-36 of the Immigration Refugee Protection Act,” Kenney said.

UPDATE (Today):

Twenty five countries led by the US will hold a 12-day long naval exercise (starting Sept. 15, 2012) nearby Iranian waters, said sources in the British military .

During the maneuvers, participants will practice securing traffic in the Gulf of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf in hostile environment of an opponent. Western military makes no secret, the latter is Iran.

The US delegated three carrier strike groups. Presently, American nuclear-powered aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower are deployed in the region. Third carrier USS John C. Stennis will arrive in the area in the nearest time.

Great Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates dispatched large naval forces as well. Some episodes will be held with participation of NATO command authorities.

Except for securing and mine clearing activities in the Strait of Hormuz, the exercise includes strikes upon opponent’s warships, coast-based air defense batteries, missile and gun positions located near the Strait of Hormuz.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Legitimate Rape

Everyone has been talking about Todd Akin’s concept of legitimate rape but if you really want to know about the legitimate rape of women’s rights then all you have to do is observe the voting record of the elected officials in the Congress. It’s been a banner year for the Congressional Conservative’s aim to push women’s rights in America back to the fifties with an average of more than one anti-women vote per week in the 112th congress according to a new report released today. The executive summary of a report prepared by U.S. House of Representative’s committee on Energy and commerce (minority staff) says the following:

The House of Representatives have voted repeatedly for an extreme anti-women agenda in the 112th Congress. Since January 2011, the Republican-controlled House has voted 55 times to undermine women’s health, roll back women’s rights, and defund programs and institutions that provide health care and support for women.
House Republicans have voted to strip women of access to preventive health care and contraception, to eliminate federal support for reproductive and maternal care services, to cut funds for important nutrition programs for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and families, and to allow insurers to discriminate against women and charge them more than men for health insurance policies. They have voted against passing, improving, and funding important programs like the Violence against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. They have voted to end the basic guarantees that the Medicare and Medicaid programs provide to low-income women or women who are seniors. They have voted to increase the exposure of pregnant women and women of childbearing age to dangerous toxic chemicals. And they have voted numerous times to restrict women’s access to legal abortions.

The House of Representatives averaged one anti-women vote for every week that the House has been in session since Republicans took control in January 2011. Almost 5% of all House legislative floor votes since the beginning of 2011 have been anti-women votes. During these roll calls, 95% of Republican members voted for the position that was harmful to women, while 90% of Democratic members voted for the pro-women position.

This analysis, prepared at the request of Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman, Subcommittee on Health Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Ranking Member Anna G. Eshoo, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Ranking Member Diana DeGette, and Committee members Lois Capps, Jan Schakowsky, Tammy Baldwin, Doris O. Matsui, Donna Christensen, and Kathy Castor, provides a summary of the 55 times that House Republicans have voted against women in 2011 and 2012. Among these votes are:

Seventeen votes to allow health insurance companies to discriminate against women by charging women higher premiums than men or denying women coverage based on “pre-existing conditions” like being pregnant.
Eleven votes that cut women’s access to preventive care, including votes to repeal Affordable Care Act provisions that provide free preventive care for women and votes to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is used to support breastfeeding and immunizations and is budgeted to pay for breast and cervical cancer screenings for hundreds of thousands of women in 2013 and beyond.
Ten votes to restrict or roll back abortion rights or access to legal abortion, including votes to ban the use of federal funds to train medical students in the provision of abortions, votes to allow hospitals to deny emergency abortions to women’s whose lives are in jeopardy, and votes to prohibit the District of Columbia from using local funds to pay for abortions.
Seven votes to cut funding for key nutrition programs for women, including votes for significant cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) that provides nutrition, food counseling, and support for more than nine million low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and infants each month.
Six votes against protections for women from violence and discrimination, including votes against protecting the confidentiality of domestic violence victims, votes to oppose additional funding for grants under the Violence Against Women Act, and votes to place new restrictions on the citizenship rights of legal, foreign-born women who are victims of domestic violence.
Three votes to block access to reproductive and maternal care services, including votes for a budget that prohibits funding of Planned Parenthood and eliminates funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, which provides family planning services for millions of low-income women every year.
Three votes to undermine Medicare and Medicaid programs, including votes to end the basic Medicare guarantee and votes to turn Medicaid into a block grant, slash $800 billion in existing federal support for state Medicaid programs, and repeal $640 billion of new Medicaid funding from the Affordable Care Act over the next ten years.
Fourteen votes to weaken environmental laws that protect pregnant women, including votes to block EPA regulations that would protect pregnant women and women of childbearing age from exposure to mercury, a potent neurotoxin that poses particular risks to the brain and nervous system of unborn children.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

"The English are waking up!"

A historic Quebec election that returned the Parti Québécois to power ended in tragedy Tuesday when a gunman killed one person and wounded another, then tried to start a fire at the Montreal venue where PQ Leader Pauline Marois was celebrating her minority mandate.
Police said a suspect entered a vestibule at the back of the Metropolis nightclub and fired shots, wounding two people critically. The suspect then started a fire and ran away on foot.(Globe and Mail)
 An unidentified man wearing a balaclava, shorts and a bathrobe was heard to say in broken French, “The English are waking up, the English are waking up ... It's payback ... Yeah, yeah, that’s enough." as police detained him. Too early for more information (He was armed with a handgun and an assault rifle as well as an incendiary device. Police have identified the shooter as Richard Henry Bain, 62, from La Conception, Quebec who owns a hunting & fishing lodge in Mont Tremblant, PQ. He has a facebook page under this name but the website for the lodge has been taken down.) but this is a dangerous beginning to a separatist government. The new premier of Quebec began her victory speech with "As a nation, we want to take ourselves the decisions that affect us. We want a country. And we'll have it." The Canadian Prime Minister, Steven Harper, has consistently ignored the feelings of Quebec and appointed Anglophone members to traditionally bilingual positions. In Alberta, Quebec is considered to be a cesspool of indulged,spoilt complainers who would be better out of the country and the tar sands wealth have given Albertans a sense of superiority to the hated Easterners. They compare Canada to a cow that eats in the west, gets milked in the center and craps on the maritimers.

The Quebec Liberals deserved to lose with their corrupt, lazy and entitled sense of political power but the PQ is going to indulge its fantasies of an independent Quebec again without dealing with the realities that have come up in previous incarnations of being in power.

1) Quebec is indivisable. Unfortunately the native people of Quebec disagree and they hold vast tracts of the province. If an independent Quebec sends the police, then the natives have treaties with the federal government going back to confederation to stop them.

Native tribal regions of Quebec in red(Wikipedia)

2) Quebec will have successor rights to Canada's international treaties. In the last separatist referendrum, United States made it clear that any treaties with a newly independent Quebec would be negotiated from scratch with Quebec in a much less favourable negotiating position.

Professor Peter Russell has pointed out,"(Aboriginal peoples) are not nations that can be yanked out of Canada against their will by a provincial majority.... With few exceptions (they)wish to enjoy their right to self-government within Canada, not within a sovereign Quebec." International human rights expert Erica-Irene Daes warns that to deny the right of self- determination to indigenous peoples "will leave the most marginalized and excluded of all the world's peoples without a legal, peaceful weapon to press for genuine democracy...." This concern is connected to the fact that if Quebec were to be considered its own autonomous nation-state then it need not honour the treaties and agreements that were formed between Aboriginal peoples and the British and French monarchies and is now maintained by the federal Canadian government. This is a concern for many Aboriginal peoples in Quebec, whose rights, which include among others, the right to protect their Indigenous culture, would be without the legal or constitutional protection which is currently provided for in Canada. Concern for this may stem from what Aboriginal peoples perceive as neo-colonial or eurocentric attitudes which persist in the leadership of contemporary separatist leaders, such as Robert Bourassa, former Premier and self-proclaimed "Conqueror of the North".(Wikipedia)

3) Quebec is sustainable. The province can't feed its population with the local food production nor can it supply the energy it requires for heating or transportation. The balance of payments would soon bankrupt the country. Also a lot of the hydro Quebec electrical generating capacity lies in the tribal regions and the natives would expect compensation which would be a long term financial issue.

4) Quebec residents would keep their Canadian passports. With the Anglo backlash, this is highly unlikely and if they did then they would be responsible for the obligations of all Canadian citizens. I don`t buy Souveraineté-Association or in more defined terms an independent Quebec within a united Canada which some separatists have tried to sell as part of the ``le beau risque."

5) Quebec would have an independent monetary policy. Not a chance. If Quebec adopts a Canadian or American dollar then it gives up any monetary levers and would lack any input into monetary policy of the country whose currency it adopts. It would be in the same situation as Greece with the same consequences.

I was involved in the vote over the Meech Lake Accord of Conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, during the last separtist outbreak and I don't want to go through that again.

The failure of the Meech Lake Accord—an abortive attempt to redress the constitutional problems brought on by the adoption of the 1982 amendment without the Quebec government's approval—strengthened the conviction of most sovereigntist politicians and led many federalist ones to place little hope in the prospect of a federal constitutional reform that would satisfy Quebec's purported historical demands (according to proponents of the sovereignty movement). These include a constitutional recognition that Quebecers constitute a distinct society, as well as a larger degree of independence of the province towards federal policy.(Wikipedia)

Quebec is losing its political influence because of most immigrants which represent the majority of Canadian population increase settling in other parts of Canada. Also Quebec which used to have the highest birthrate in the country and bragged about the "revenge of the craddle" now has the lowest birthrate. This has lead to a resurgence of separatism due to fear of the future decline which has been encouraged by the Prime Minister's actions. On the other side, Quebec commentators like Gilles Proulx have a great time unloading on the têtes carrées or block heads as they call Anglos and he will have a field day with this shooting incident involving an Anglo so be prepared for some tough times if you live in Quebec.

Canadian Immigration Infographic
Canadian Immigration Infographic by

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Birthday Thoughts

My mother, grandmother and I in Trafalgar Square, London

    Two weeks ago was my birthday and as part of a long standing tradition, I had a special birthday dinner. When I was young, my mother prepared it at home but as time progressed and my circumstances became more affluent it was succeeded by dinner at a restaurant - at first with friends in a local  chain  followed by an outing with my ex in a more exclusive affair and finally with my adult children. Thus two of my daughters and I went to an ornate Italian restaurant on the evening of my birthday with the name of “La Fenice” on King Street in heart of the theatre district of downtown Toronto and not far from the location of the Princess of Wales theatre which is  playing, ”The War Horse”. The dinner reservation was for 7:30 pm so we could miss the theatre folk that usually pack the place after the Saturday performance and it wasn’t crowded so we got the window table where we could observe the exotic folk on the sidewalk pass by and see the latest fashionistas with their designer clothes strutting on the pavement. My youngest daughter who got her diploma in fashion management at George Brown College and goes with me on shopping expeditions for clothes to ensure that I’m up to date as well as meet her standards for dress, liked to critique the sidewalk parade which was quite thick on the balmy evening. She`s quick to notice a Christine Laboutine shoe or a Tilley shirt. The restaurant name is Italian for “the Phoenix” and references the opera house of the same appellation in Venice, Italy which is famous both for its premieres of such operas as Rigoletto as well as burning down several times over the years hence the name, rising from the ashes of its prior incarnation. One of the pictures on the walls shows the front of the opera house in the 1890s. The venue is known for the quality of its seafood and the charming / discrete waiter brought a platter of a number of freshly caught fish on ice that had recently been flown from the Mediterranean so the species were particular to that region. It was good that he was knowledgeable since my second daughter, the chef, has never found a restaurant that she couldn`t critique at length and send back any food that was perfectly cooked and plated. I found the fish on the small side and not that interesting although a native of the region would find them reminiscent of home. When I first went to “La Fenice” many years ago I would order the arctic Char which is related to the Salmon but more delicate and the fish would be big enough to feed two well. It’s hard to find the fish now days because of restrictions due to over fishing and the available Char are much smaller than in the past. I couldn’t take any pictures because my daughters now have a rule that dad doesn’t take pictures of the food when I go out with them. Frustrating but I understand.
My Uncle, Me, Grandmother and Aunt on their farm in the Yorkshire Dales.
  Started out with a bottle of rosé Zinfandel and a basket of fresh bread with olive oil and sweet aged balsamic vinegar that you mix yourself on a side plate. The wine didn’t have much body and was too sweet to have balance but the kids like it. For the appetizer, I ordered the “Bresaola della valtellina con mozzarella” which is cured beef with fresh bocconcini and “La Fenice” extra virgin olive oil that is their private estate brand. For the salad, I had the “Insalata caprese” which is a dish consisting of a variety of heritage tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. For the main course, I had their seafood platter which consisted of poached salmon, calamari and four large scallops with seasonal vegetables. Everything was perfectly cooked with none of the usual chewiness that comes from overcooking. For desert, I ordered the”Zabaglione”, warm whipped custard flavoured with Marsala wine and served with fresh strawberries. My second oldest daughter couldn`t finish her desert, ”Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Torte”, sponge cake that had layers of ground hazelnuts with a whipped milk chocolate ganache flavored with orange and Grand Marnier so I ate that as well. I finished with a Cappuccino. Usually I finish with a Niagara region ice wine or a glass of port but I’d had enough at that point with the extra desert. Ate more than I should but it was my birthday so I suppose that I had some justification.  Afterwards, they gave me a new leather wristband for my watch and a pair of new walking shoes for presents.
Farm with Angus the dog

  Life seems so short sometimes. One minute you`re changing diapers and next the children are off to university. The meal at the restaurant got me thinking about my childhood when I lived on my uncle’s farm in the Yorkshire Dales not far from the Brontë parsonage in Haworth where the Brontë sisters grew up.  I certainly understand the bleakness of the moors and the feeling of stepping on a wet spongy surface in the treeless fields under the constant cold rain. My uncle’s farm was on top of a hill overlooking a grey stony mill town which lay in one of the valleys that crease the Pennines. The area really hasn’t changed since Charlotte wrote ``Wurthering Heights `` which was situated in the local region although under a false name. He had a goat herd and bees as well as a greenhouse where he grew a variety of vegetables that certainly wouldn`t survive on the moors. The farm house known as Rock Cottage was modest but felt warm and safe especially on stormy nights when the wind would blow against the banging window shutters and the house seemed like an isolated pocket of humanity in the vast empty expanse of the moors. We ate exceptionally well compared to the general population since rationing continued in Britain until 1954 with cheese, meat and clothing being available in small amounts that could be obtained only with government coupons while we had access to fresh goat milk, cheese and butter as well as sugar from the honey while the people in the mill town below had to struggle. I, of course, being young was unaware of this until much later in my life because my relatives and family never discussed it.
Rock Cottage

  Britain at that time was a class society (and still is in many regards) so I with my North American accent and the cowboy boots that my mother had bought before we left for England, garnered the “cousin from the colonies” comments and was always an outsider although my mother’s side of the family were local and my great grandfather’s eldest son who was killed in World War 1 had his name inscribed on the plaque in the sanctum sanctorum of the private school in the area near the coast.
My uncle with his chickens

  Later after we moved back to Canada, I could always maintain a distance and study the scene and behaviour of the folks in the community from the aspect of a curious but intelligent observer - a trans Atlantic hybrid with my own unique nationality. Since then I've travelled much and learned a little.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Elliot
Honey gathering