Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crying Foul

Yes, copyright laws are meant to protect copyright holders from counterfeit flattery. Name-brand luxury items that enterprising entrepreneurs identify as potential money makers for themselves are taking away profit from license-holders and that rankles.

Pirating of licensed products through illegal downloading of music from the Internet, counterfeit-producing inferior products to undersell the genuine products, all present as problems to those who sell the original products at inflated prices and see their sales plummet.

The wide and widening availability of cheap knock-offs from China is an unstoppable phenomenon. Although many products are seized and the goods taken out of circulation, far more make it to the consumer resulting in the authorized version of the product simply sitting and getting dusty on retail merchants' shelves.

And those who take advantage of the opportunity to buy the knock-offs feel pretty good about the bargains they've taken advantage of. The Internet is an outstanding source for these goods. Area flea markets with small-time, week-end sellers another.

And that's the thing; the 'good' merchants who don't stock the knock-offs are left with their goods languishing, so they and the product manufacturers and government agencies take steps to inform people of copyright law and illicit and licit practices in sales.

People are informed through advertising and public relations initiatives that they're engaging in illegal activities buying those counterfeits. In the process they're denying the original designers, the authentic manufacturers, their just due. Of course, their 'just due' is comprised of a hefty profit for a product whose value has been vastly inflated.

Little wonder that consumers look elsewhere for a product resembling one that the brand names produce, but at a much lower cost. And here's the thing of it: both the brand name product and the knock-offs are produced where? China, of course.

The brand-name manufacturers complain that they can tell a knock-off by a quick glance; it's an inferior product. Cheaper materials are used in the construction, less attention to details; resulting in a product that won't last. But the truth is, there is built-in obsolescence in most products these days, and nothing lasts.

If there wasn't such an enormous gap in price - not value - between the name-brand product and the knock-off, it's likely there'd be little room for the producers to complain, they'd sell their product. As long as there's a ten-times differential in cost as currently pertains, the situation will simply continue.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Unethical, Immoral, not Illegal?

"If you have money, you live; and if you don't, you die."
That's the kind of matter-of-fact statement reflecting the hard life realities in impoverished countries of the world where medical treatment can be obtained but not by the vast mass of the population, only those who represent the elite, the entitled, the moneyed class. And of course health-tourists who travel to countries like India where they can obtain expert surgical procedures not recognized in Canada.

Thank heavens, we live in Canada. Where universal access to timely and state-of-the-art medical intervention is not only possible, but a matter of life. Life defeating death. We are indeed fortunate. Of course there's been a creeping incidence of private, for-profit interventions that we mostly decry; clinics and medical specialists who've opted out of our universal health care system.

But the universality of Canada's public health care system is an enviable one. Particularly when it works. And often enough it does. Occasionally it slips up and people are left untreated on the brink of expiration, cautioned to be patient and simply await their turn, and then there occasions a tragedy and that patient no longer needs to wait for his/her turn.

Now, we learn of another, odious practise recently revealed that appears to be common in Quebec. Where skilled surgeons supplement their comfortable incomes (which they claim, as people are wont to do, that those incomes do not reflect the value they give to their communities) display an unwonted venality. Accepting thick envelopes padded with thousands of dollars to expedite individuals to the top of the waiting list.

Alternately, agreeing to perform the surgery themselves rather than delegate it to an inferior-skilled practitioner or a junior surgical professional.
"I've learned that it's current practise ... everyone within these hospitals knows about it. It's systemic, and it's been so for a long time now."
This is a narrative through the mouth of a high-ranking physician with experience at a number of Montreal-area hospitals, explaining that obstetricians regularly deign to accept cash from families anxious to ensure that it is the contracted obstetrician who will show up at the hospital for the delivery, not whichever doctor happens to be on call at the hospital at the time.
"We wanted to have the operation done by (someone) who we know is the best. I gave it to him discreetly and he took it. He knew what was in the envelope. He took the money and never showed up."
That was one plan that went awry, when the surgeon quietly took possession of the cash-stuffed envelope and somehow a member of his surgical team managed to conduct the surgery, not he. A formal complaint is in the planning stages. Who will they complain to, the surgeon who forbore to act on his part of this sleazy bargain?

The hospital, which will deny that such a practise exists? The province which underfunds its health system, even as it continues to extend its grasp of another province's equalization hand-outs? This blackest of black markets is representative of another type of two-tier system we hardly imagined exists in Canada.

It helps immeasurably to know that the head of the Quebec Association of Specialists considers the phenomenon to be "disgusting, scandalous and indefensible", and that "It makes me very sad". All is not lost thank our lucky stars; the Quebec College of Physicians condemns any form of kickbacks.

Of course they deny knowledge of any complaints about the practise.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Liberation From Cowering Fear

Violence directed toward women can happen anywhere. No woman, it seems, is exempt from male rage resulting in vile behaviour that no rational discussion can adequately explain away.

Women have demonstrated that they are capable of performing well and with distinction in any area of professional endeavour. They have challenged society to recognize that women with their lesser physical strength can nonetheless compensate with their determination and intellect and vigour.

Nothing, no medium of social and civic employment is beyond a woman's reach now.

They fight fires, they serve on the front lines of conflicts, they are at home as principals in surgical operating theatres, they can conduct orchestras, become architects, heads of giant corporations, achieve success in academia, challenge men for scientific enquiry honours, sit as lawmakers in Parliament, and become chiefs of police.

If a woman is a chief of police surely she becomes immune to personal, intimate violence?

Whatever course of employment a woman sources for herself, she is still a woman. And as such vulnerable to the same kind of emotional fall-out that any woman anywhere is susceptible to. A woman who is married, in fact in a marriage spanning several decades, with semi-grown children, is still a married woman and a mother even if she is a chief of police.

And one such woman was accused by her jealous husband of having an affair. And he tormented her verbally, and then proceeded to beat her, breaking her arm, and temporarily altering the contours of her face.

As a woman and a proud professional whose profession brings her in close proximity to other women suffering such violent indignities in their lives she saw an obligation to her wider community and bared her problem publicly.

Belleville's Police Chief, Cory McMullen, demonstrated courage in the direct line of her profession, through her decision to make her private life and its collapse, public. Feeling she owed it to her community and to the women in her community who have suffered as she has, she admitted to her predicament.

And her husband, a retired and psychologically troubled former police officer, has received his sentence for assault causing bodily harm. Thirty days of incarceration, and 18 months of probation, his DNA on record as a batterer, and a lifetime firearms ban.

And of course, he will have to live with himself.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Small Minded?

That unfortunate deal that trusting Joey Smallwood, the first premier of post-Confederation Newfoundland signed with the Province of Quebec saw Newfoundland right royally screwed by a self-entitled, rapacious Quebec which refused to alter a patently unfair deal dreadfully disadvantageous to Newfoundland.

Newfoundland earned a pittance for its energy production at Churchill Falls, routed through Quebec's power cables to their American marketplace, while Quebec did itself proud with its unethical treatment of a sister province.

And now that outgoing Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams signed a historic deal with the Province of Nova Scotia to together build a costly Quebec-skirting undersea cable system to directly route their energy output to their clients in the United States, and thus retain all the resulting profits where it belonged, Quebec has its nose out of joint.

When the project is concluded, Quebec sees itself being embattled in competition by a partner it had done so ill by.

The original deal does not expire until 2041, and Quebec insists that it will not alter one iota of the deal as it originally was signed onto. The toll they exact on Newfoundland for the use of their power lines is dreadful, but their conscience hardly bothers them. In fact, Quebec views this new venture by the Maritime Provinces to enrich themselves directly without having to pay a middleman, as an interference in their own energy future sales.

And to that end, Quebec has expressed its dissatisfaction directly to the federal government which has pledged to advance federal funding to help build the undersea cable to move power from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia. Quebec would be fine with the federal government advancing funding for a new NHL arena in Quebec City, but the province is desperately trying to convince the federal government that it is bad business policy to advance funding for the undersea cable.

Quebec's attempts to veto the federal government's plan to be of assistance to Newfoundland transcends arrogant condescension and registers high on the scale of malignant interference. The two provinces' plans to transmit hydroelectric power in a manner that would be ultimately advantageous to them as purveyors of their own assets is obviously highly deserving of federal support.

That the government of Quebec has taken it upon themselves to attempt to squelch that agreement is abhorrent and unworthy. That complaint to Prime Minister Harper regarding Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador's Crown-owned energy corporation's application really shows Quebec for what it is. And that is not a pretty picture, for a province whose grasping greediness is legendary.

Not surprising that Quebec chafes at the prospect of competition potentially eating into their own prospects and bottom line. But that federal infrastructure funding to help with the cost of building the power line undersea is a worthy initiative and it will go through. The Lower Churchill hydroelectric megaproject in central Labrador is a breakthrough for the province, and Quebec can bust a gut over it.

We can only hope they do, and it's painful.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Carefree, Careless, Reckless, Feckless

Well, that's what kids are like, isn't it? All of that; carefree, careless, reckless, feckless. Adventure beckons. There is nothing that 14 and 15-year-old boys cannot venture to do on their own, for themselves, to satisfy their quest for adventure. They are, after all, inquisitive and immortal; no harm could conceivably come to them.

Mostly because they are capable of facing any kind of situation of their own making. They can cope with the repercussions. Because they're bold, brave, capable and imaginative. Not too imaginative, verging on being able to foresee problems ahead.

No, that other kind of imagination that fosters images of rewards. Well, fortunately three teens from a remote area in the South Pacific, Atafu Atoll (see you've never even heard of it before!) were rewarded. They were discovered floating in a part of the ocean that ships rarely steam past, just before their due date was ready to expire.

It was October 5th when the three boys were last seen. They went out in a 12-foot aluminum boat to row their way casually between two islands in the New Zealand territory they were most familiar with, having lived there all of their tender lives. And then, zip. Feared lost forever, the New Zealand Air Force found no trace of them.

Their families went into mourning, holding a memorial service to honour the three dearly departed. Sixty days later, a New Zealand tuna-fishing boat happened to be coasting far off where it usually did, northeast of Fiji. When the first mate spotted three skinny boys in a small craft and asked if they needed any help. A classic understatement as it happened.

They had, in the latter days of their adventure, been forced to drink seawater, because rain had by then become scarce. A few coconuts, one hapless seabird (that must've tasted really awfully fishy, and what's worse, raw) sustained them, somehow. Oh, that, and their high spirits. They were described as being in physically weak condition, but mentally alert.

Sunburned and skeletal. Yes, it was miraculous.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010


"The document provides an inaccurate perception that we are unjustly overpaid for the limited work we do on behalf of our community. Unlike non-Mi'kmaq politicians, we do not receive vehicle allowances, pensions, benefits, insurance or dry cleaning reimbursements.
"It is unfortunate that once again, the public is too easily entertained by inaccurate, negative publicity once again focusing on the Mi'kmaq.
"The issues of compensation for chiefs and council in Atlantic Canada is complex at this time. We don't fully agree with the conclusions that have been reached." Glooscap First Nation Chief Shirley Clarke
Three hundred people registered on a reservation in rural Nova Scotia. And Glooscap first Nation has a modest number of politicians in their band council to govern that small band. Nothing, however, modest about those who govern the reserve, and certainly nothing modest in the nature of their tax-free take-home pay. According to recently-revealed records one band councillor made a whopping million dollars, tax free.

Like the overpaid CEO of a transnational corporation. Chief Shirley Clarke is furious about this public light of discovery being shone inconveniently on their shy little community. Moreover, with respect to First Nations salaries, it's no one's business. She speaks of the public revelations and the surprise it has generated as "inaccurate, negative publicity". Glooscap First Nations deserves better.

Yes, they do. But the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's release of those federal documents requested for the purpose of unveiling a rather scurvy situation that does no good whatever to the band members while grandiosely embellishing the lifestyles of those whom they trust to work for the good of the band is a reality. One that Canadian taxpayers are fundamentally interested in largely because they foot the bill.

Now the general public has evidence of what so many have suspected for far too long. That hundreds of reserve politicians are earning rich salaries that cannot be justified, let alone tolerated. Salaries, honoraria, travel per diems, all adding up to unconscionable expenses that detract from the economic and social functionality of the reserve. Obviously short-changed in the questionable equation.

Glooscap First Nations Chief Shirley Clarke and three councillors each took home a salubrious $209,000 in tax-free salary, honoraria and travel expenses. And one councillor earned $978,000, as nosy newshounds discovered. This Mi'kmaq reserve with 304 members, is governed by not only Ms. Clarke as chief, but her sister and their cousin, all handsomely remunerated.

Interestingly, but not particularly surprisingly, band members had no knowledge of such payment for the governance of their little community. They expressed feelings of shock. In fact, only 87 members of Glooscap now actually live in the community. A community that consists of a store and gas bar, video lottery parlour, band office and a health centre.

One woman on the reserve who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal - since entitlements are meted out to those who 'deserve' it, through quiet acceptance of the status quo - said her reserve, like so many others, is operated by a small group of powerful families - who do very well for themselves, while most residents remain unemployed and on welfare.

The times they should be changing.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mediocrity As Merit

We live in the age of the adoration of the serene witless, where mediocrity is seen as being meritorious. And why not? It does, after reflection, reveal a fascination with oneself, with the greater public. That public held in fascinated thrall to the fixed idea that only celebrity is worth emulating, that only those in the public eye who have attained the stature of the envied for having achieved notoriety by their witless behaviour are worth bothering with.

The truly incredible ascent of Sarah Palin a case in point. Where once people were admired for their intellect, their acumen, their sound judgement and universal values and, if they were in the political arena, pursuit of upholding the good of the public weal, they are now intimately invested in the private lives and idiosyncrasies of those who make themselves famous by being infamous.

Sarah Palin - inspired-and-failed vice-presidential candidate who managed to utterly amaze the Republican Party who, along with that old war-horse John McCain who really did know better, placed their trust in a down-home, plain-talking beauty queen mom who revelled in hunting and raw sports by revealing the shallow surface of her inclined cerebral functioning - has never looked back.

Her peccadilloes only made her fans more fond of the woman. She could attire herself splendidly in elegant designer clothing paid for by the Republican Party, but she was still that woolly-checkered hunting jacket backwoods-lover that they adored. And her tongue may have experienced difficulty tripping over words her vocabulary lacked, but they loved her - because she was just like them.

Most importantly, an unabashed and proud anti-intellectual, and let's hear it for them down-home folks! Who don't need no universal health care shoved down their tobacco-afflicted throats. Only those candidates reflecting her authentic street smarts need aspire to public office for the Tea Party set.

Unpretentious and outspoken and confident and brash, and able to put anyone who put her down in their dunce-capped place. If Barack Obama could speak of the audacity of hope, she could audaciously forward her impeccable credentials as a soccer mom, a sometimes-state-governor-when-it-suits-her, acclaimed author of a self-reverential autobiography, and presidential aspirant.

She exemplifies the zeitgeist of her time, uninformed, unlettered, self-absorbed and star-struck with her own entitled celebrity status.

You betcha.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Cleansing Ceremonies

If it were that simple. As a gesture to bring closure, to thrust away the brutal reality by destroying artifacts once in the possession of a now-despised individual who at one time was thought to represent the sterling qualities of a man of high repute and a credit to the Canadian Armed Forces, it was a representative gesture.

Nothing will expunge the reality of former colonel Russell Williams' horrendous acts, however.

He is now situated at Kingston Penitentiary, not all that far geographically from CFB Trenton, but a world apart.

As a twice-convicted murderer, rapist, thief, pederast and tormentor of helpless victims, he will without doubt spend the rest of his life incarcerated. Far from his status of having been particularly selected for his leadership qualities as a future elite in the Canadian Armed Forces.

A wounded Armed Forces took steps to retrieve the equipment used by Mr. Williams to take it out of possible circulation, to gather it for disposal. His uniforms and tunics, anything and everything, including personal equipment allocated to him as a custodian of honour in the Forces, anything that reflected his years of steady advancement as a trusted and honoured senior air force officer. Incinerated.

The medals that were bestowed upon him gathered and set aside. For future disposal. If only the memory of what he had committed, the agony and suffering he caused, the families he left in deep mourning could be cleared away as painlessly.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Transgendered Day Of Tribute

One imagines that outside the gay and transgendered community and perhaps police forces, no one - that is, within the general public - has much of an idea of the reason behind the annual November 20 day of tribute in memory of those within the transgendered community who have lost their lives as a result of violent prejudice.

The really interesting thing in this item is that the Ottawa police represent as the first within Canada to officially recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance.

One could go so far as to venture the opinion that most people in society have little idea that a transgender demographic even exists. And if they do they have scant interest in the phenomena. Additionally, most people in Ottawa, while believing the very term, let alone the reality of transgender is anomalous, harbour no ill will against those individuals who celebrate life as other than their born gender.

That this small community of individuals whom life has burdened with gender confusion feel themselves marginalized can hardly be surprising. Most individuals or groups who present as dramatically different than the mainstream find themselves in a like position. It's not fair but it's reality.

As a reflection of narrow, judgemental minds who resist the very thought of humanity's gender differentiations apart from the 'norm'. Just as society's majorities feel entitled to view themselves as expressing the views of everyone. And just as people, by their very nature, view with suspicion those who are in any way 'different'.

On the other hand, it's also no one's business how people present themselves, their gender preferences, and how they're predisposed to live their lives. And since it represents a very intimate selection, it should be kept private. At the tribute held at the main Ottawa police station, which included speeches, a moment of silence and a banner hanging from the second-floor balcony, it was a time for introspection.

"We want the public to know, no matter what community you belong to, you will be treated equally. We do care and we care about you", testified Superintendent Paul Moreau of the Ottawa Paramedic Service, pointing out that there are also paramedics who are of the trans community, and how irrelevant that is to their dedication to their tasks, their professionalism and their pledge to treat all equally.

In view of all of this, it comes as quite a sour note that a number of transgender activists intent on hanging a banner from a Queensway overpass didn't really help their cause. It could be construed as a deliberately non-constructive move, a provocation quite unnecessary under the circumstances. The message is oblique enough to the general public, what would they take out of a banner that reads "Remember Stonewall?"

Most people have no idea there were riots in New York City in 1969, and which initiated the gay rights movement. That is history specific to the gay and transgendered; it has little-to-no meaning to the general public. Which is not to say that they would not be horrified at the bullying, assaults, humiliations visited by social troglodytes on the gender-differentiated community.

Matters have since changed, enormously. No one wants to return to the dreadful days when gays were targeted by thugs and assaults and murders were committed. The plague on a small minority within society that that represented was an assault upon all society. Enough people of good will were convinced that the harassment and violence had to stop, and enough reacted against it to make a difference.

The additional insistence that the banner be hung where it was unlawful to do so merited the activists' arrest. Which incident did nothing to further the cause; instead it blemished the occasion. Civil disobedience to laws enacted for the safety and security of the entire society are not to be cavalierly dispatched with at the behest of those who feel they are exceptional.

Refusal to divulge their names when they were taken into custody was just another incidence of petulance with authorities who have gone out of their way to express sensitivity to an unjust piece of history. Those same authorities who have committed to upholding the rights and freedoms of all of society.

In other words, the transgendered activists were just kicking themselves in the ass to no good purpose.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Royal Pain

Really, are people that utterly devoid of personal interests that are meaningful? It is nothing short of amazing that people invest so much interest in the affairs of celebrities. And when it comes to celebrities who are of royal birth, it seems that no one can get too much of a 'good' thing. This absorption in the affairs of the Royal Family of Great Britain, particularly those representing the younger generation is fairly amazing.

It does come as a bit of a revelation, however, to note that after a week of gushing praise for a young man who, after having a very intimate, live-in affair with a young woman over a period of eight years, has finally succumbed to the pressures his elders have placed upon him to grow up. It does take a certain level of maturity to understand that living common-law does not quite reflect the traditions of the royal mores.

It takes a certain level of personal introspection to persuade oneself, evidently, that playing the field does not quite express due recognition of accepted social behaviour for one whose birth places him second in line to ascend the royal throne of Great Britain. Tradition and heritage and observation of social niceties are a pain, no doubt.

But what is so tremendously laudatory about someone like Prince William - whose scatter-brained mother lost her way while seeking public adulation and notoriety, some of whose values and characteristics appear to have been absorbed by her son - finally agreeing to assume the mantle of sober second-thought and personal responsibility is beyond most thinking people.

It's a huge relief to have the tail-end, pick-up tidbits now located in small sections in the middle of the newspaper, rather than on the front page with huge, congratulatory headlines and lush photography. Now, can we all just let it go, and await the progression of the hallowed plans to proceed as they may?

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Friday, November 19, 2010

A Beastly Situation

Women love handbags. They appear not to be too concerned about pricing in their absorption with owning beautiful handbags. Fabricating and marketing handbags seems an assured way to operate a successful business enterprise. And there is a Montreal-based designer of women's handbags whose abhorrence of the use of animal skins to produce them, leads this company to manufacture handbags made entirely of vegetarian-based materials.

The company, Matt & Nat, produce their animal-free, faux leather purses and belts in recognition of the owners' vegetarian philosophy. In fact, it's hard to tell the faux from the real thing. The business employs eighteen to produce their product and pride themselves on being a vegan business. This reflects the owners' scruples, for they are themselves strictly vegetarian.

When hiring employees they make it quite clear that they do not welcome meat or fish on their premises. Employees know the rules and if they bag their lunch to their workplace they are free to bring what they will, sans meat. "But no, we do not police it; we do not go around checking people's lunches and people do make mistakes."

Employees can take their lunch at the variety of non-vegetarian restaurants in the area, or eat their meat lunches on nearby street benches. They also have the option of taking part in the company's meat-free potluck lunches. There is also a library of vegetarian cookbooks that anyone is free to peruse for inspiration.

Now, a disgruntled former employee is thinking of taking her dissatisfaction with her former employer's policy to the Quebec Human Rights Commission, claiming her human rights were violated. One can only breathe a sigh of relief that the Quebec Human Rights Commission felt the complaint to be 'interesting', but declined to investigate it as a human rights issue.

In an interview on the CBC, the woman, who insisted on anonymity (for herself, not the company), explained "It's a free country. I think we should eat what we want." Right. So why, when the terms of employment were explained did this woman use her free will to accept the job? It's a free country; she could have looked elsewhere for employment.

That would have spared her from the nasty business of sneaking meat into her purse, hiding it in her car to circumvent the company's vegetarian-only policy. And it would also have spared the rest of us of having to hear about this pernicious nuisance complaint.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Priceless Relief

There are seventy-five thousand (75,000) Canadians who suffer from multiple sclerosis. Canada is sadly distinguished by having one of the highest rates of MS in the world. A puzzling statistic, and certainly nothing to boast of.
W5 exclusive report on a groundbreaking new experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis, including the first-time the

Visual Symptoms
Symptom Description
Optic Neuritis Blurred vision, eye pain, loss of colour vision, blindness
Diplopia Double Vision
Nystagmus Jerky Eye Movements
Ocular Dysmetria Constant under- or overshooting eye movements
Internuclear Ophthalmoplegia Lack of coordination between the two eyes, nystagmus, diplopia
Movement and sound phosphenes Flashing lights when moving eyes or in response to a sudden noise
Afferent Pupillary Defect Abnormal pupil responses
Motor Symptoms
Symptom Description
Paresis, Monoparesis, Paraparesis, Hemiparesis, Quadraparesis Muscle weakness - partial or mild paralysis
Plegia, Paraplegia, Hemiplegia, Tetraplegia, Quadraplegia Paralysis - Total or near total loss of muscle strength
Spasticity Loss of muscle tone causing stiffness, pain and restricting free movement of affected limbs
Dysarthria Slurred speech and related speech problems
Muscle Atrophy Wasting of muscles due to lack of use
Spasms, Cramps Involuntary contraction of muscles
Hypotonia, Clonus Problems with posture
Myoclonus, Myokymia Jerking and twitching muscles, Tics
Restless Leg Syndrome Involuntary Leg Movements, especially bothersome at night
Footdrop Foot drags along floor during walking
Dysfunctional Reflexes MSRs, Babinski's, Hoffman's, Chaddock's
Sensory Symptoms
Symptom Description
Paraesthesia Partial numbness, tingling, buzzing and vibration sensations
Anaesthesia Complete numbness/loss of sensation
Neuralgia, Neuropathic and Neurogenic pain Pain without apparent cause, burning, itching and electrical shock sensations
L'Hermitte's Electric shocks and buzzing sensations when moving head
Proprioceptive Dysfunction Loss of awareness of location of body parts
Trigeminal Neuralgia Facial pain
Coordination and Balance Symptoms
Ataxia Loss of coordination
Intention tremor Shaking when performing fine movements
Dysmetria Constant under- or overshooting limb movements
Vestibular Ataxia Abnormal balance function in the inner ear
Vertigo Nausea/vomitting/sensitivity to travel sickness from vestibular ataxia
Speech Ataxia Problems coordinating speech, stuttering
Dystonia Slow limb position feedback
Dysdiadochokinesia Loss of ability to produce rapidly alternating movements, for example to move to a rhythm
Bowel, Bladder and Sexual Symptoms
Symptom Description
Frequent Micturation, Bladder Spasticity Urinary urgency and incontinence
Flaccid Bladder, Detrusor-Sphincter Dyssynergia Urinary hesitancy and retention
Erectile Dysfunction Male and female impotence
Anorgasmy Inability to achieve orgasm
Retrograde ejaculation Ejaculating into the bladder
Frigidity Inability to become sexually aroused
Constipation Infrequent or irregular bowel movements
Fecal Urgency Bowel urgency
Fecal Incontinence Bowel incontinence
Cognitive Symptoms
Symptom Description
Cognitive dysfunction Short-term and long-term memory problems, forgetfulness, slow word recall
Mood swings, emotional lability, euphoria
Bipolar syndrome
Aphasia, Dysphasia Impairments to speech comprehension and production
Other Symptoms
Symptom Description
Uhthoff's Symptom Increase in severity of symptoms with heat
Gastroesophageal Reflux Acid reflux

Impaired sense of taste and smell

Epileptic seizures

Swallowing problems

Respiratory problems
Sleeping Disorders

Inappropriately cold body parts

Autonomic nervous system problems

Any wonder that MS sufferers would give just about anything to be relieved of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, to be able to live a normal life, and anticipate a normal life expectancy? The dread diagnosis delivered, sufferers learned to live as best they can with that neural disorder. And then an Italian doctor - Dr. Paolo Zamboni - theorizing that MS is really a vascular disease, concerned over the effect it was having on his own wife, tried something different.

He felt that veins in the neck of MS patients were being clogged by an excess of iron, and named the phenomenon 'chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency': CCSVI. It is more popularly called "Liberation Therapy". He decided to attempt to clear the blockage to restore proper blood flow to the brain, as an experiment. And he found that it worked; there was relief from the symptoms for those of his patients who submitted to his procedure.

But the world of medical science is resistant to profound changes in direction to what has been assumed, until it has ironclad proof that a new direction and a new medical protocol is proven to be truly successful. Neurologists are accustomed to treating MS patients and utilizing coping strategems to try to stem the tide of physical deterioration. Canada does not recognize the procedure, although some provinces are open to research to prove or disprove its efficacy.

The MS Society itself is withholding judgement, and not forging ahead, urging its members to have patience. It is expensive to purchase pharmaceuticals to deal with the symptoms; they can range from $20,000 to $40,000 annually. Saskatchewan is the sole province thus far to allocate research funding into the new treatment. In the meantime, a steady stream of Canadians have been going abroad to receive treatment, in Poland, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, Italy, Kuwait, Jordan, India, California - and the United States.

Most MS sufferers who have had the treatment report slight to marked amelioration of symptoms. For some people their symptoms have all but disappeared; for others after an initial lifting of the symptoms and a return to almost-normalcy, a slow return of the symptoms has developed. Now, another set-back has emerged, with another world first in the ongoing saga of MS and the controversial new treatment.

An Ontario man in his mid-30s has died from complications associated with the treatment. Further complicating an already-complex situation on which so many desperate people have pinned their hopes for the future.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Unassuagable Grief

Suicide, is there any really workable prevention? When desperate people quietly attempt to internally solve their inner turmoil and communicate to no one, whether they are loved family members or trusted friends, the bleak misery their lives have become? It is not possible for someone who has never suffered such feelings to understand them, to imagine the profound sense of loss and helplessness that those who wish to take their lives must feel.

Perhaps if people knew they themselves would live haunted lives. It truly is hard to imagine what would drive a young girl whose genetic endowments were reflected in intelligence, sociability, physical beauty, and an aspiration to succeed academically and in sports, to contemplate taking her life. Surely she must have thought deeply about it; the very thought of never seeing her parents again, experiencing the joys she must surely have lived with at times.

Thinking of a great void in place of being, feeling, knowing, a huge and deep emptiness where her mind and her physical presence should be in the shared lives of family and friends and those not yet met, including a future that held such great promise. Fourteen-year-old Daron Richardson might not have envisaged a future for herself, so that taking her own life - away from herself, from those who loved her, might not have seemed such a finality to her.

Mysterious, puzzling in the extreme that this young girl who had a close network of friends upon whom she relied, realized nothing whatever of the dreadful turmoil in their friend's mind. Nor did her family, by all accounts, have any inklings that her beloved daughter required help and understanding to help her leave the dark recesses of despair and emerge into the brightness of being.

How utterly, profoundly helpless parents are when they observe a child and see normalcy in development and social cohesion, a happy child where a happy child should be, only to realize after that child is lost that there must have been a deep desperation they knew nothing of. One cannot begin to imagine how lost and alone that child must have felt.

Another living, human tragedy.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blame Foreign Affairs

There's something about Mexico and Canadians visiting there as happy tourists. Fate must somehow be ambivalent about their commingling. An over-representation - at least it must seem so to the victims and their families - of mishaps occurring to Canadian visitors to Mexico has surfaced in the last year or so.

That's a sad and sorry thing for Canadians eager to take their leisure in the sun-soaked atmosphere of the southern third representing the tip of North America, and it's a sad and sorry thing for a poor country highly dependent on tourism. But Mexico is wracked with violence. Every country has its demographic of underprivileged, but Mexico has more than its share.

It has, too, more than its share of crime and degraded living conditions, and a policing and justice system that does not appear capable of coping with the enormous challenges confronted on an everyday basis. Drugs, smuggling, corruption, the proliferation of arms and poverty represent a deadly mixture for any society, and Mexico's is becoming increasingly dysfunctional.

News keeps coming out of that country of the miseries associated with the drug cartels virtually commandeering law and security in certain of its provinces, transforming an idyllic landscape into a vast slaughterhouse as the deadly drug trade and the challenges of competing drug lords meet head on.

And Canadians, who love to venture to the country for their 'dream vacations' sometimes meet violence and even death where they expect to be greeted with a fulfillment of their dreams.

In the latest carnage which has not quite been satisfactorily explicated, five Canadians and two Mexicans died in what is purported to have been a methane gas build-up at the Grand Riviera Princess Hotel at the resort of Playa del Carmen. One might assume that Canadians would be aware of the inordinately large numbers of fellow Canadians who have met with foul play in Mexico, and they might think twice about travelling there.

After all, the prevalence of crime and violence is not the only caution; in countries not equipped with the same standards of safety for building in areas said to be swamp lands where gas build-ups in mangrove swamps can occur, or where propane gas is used extensively for energy needs which can potentially result in explosions, due caution is required.

On the other hand, the facade of safety and the impressive luxury present at resorts far from the poverty of Mexican cities, seems reassuring. And the wide swaths of sandy beaches, the exotic flora and fauna, the gentle breezes and sun-filled days and warm, dreamy nights in a romantic atmosphere does relax one's cautionary observation.

Having said which, people exercise their right of free choice to make arrangements with loved ones to travel to the country in the full knowledge that there may be a certain element of danger. Downplaying the potential for danger to achieve the allure of experiencing the promise of sun, sand and play.

In this instance, a young boy was killed along with his father, a newly-married man, a middle-aged woman and another mature man - and many other Canadians severely injured, in the explosion at the hotel catering to Canadians. And then, predictably, it is the Government of Canada which bears the brunt of disgruntled disaffection when people in duress complain that diplomats have not rushed comfortingly and immediately to their rescue.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Mixed-Martial Arts for Children?

Not bad enough that children playing hockey end up with a substantial number of worrying concussions? Let children be children, after all; they're fascinated by rough play and have no internal barometer that will inform them when things are getting out of hand through the velocity and depth of their physical interactions. Which is generally why adults take it upon themselves to supervise such activities.

Kids, in particular young boys, are irresistibly drawn to physical excess, they're born to throw themselves wholeheartedly into competing with one another under physical duress. They take pride in their ability to manoeuvre, to feint, to exert physical strength; it's empowering and stirring for young boys to measure themselves against the physical prowess of their peers.

For the most part, if they're that way geared, that's all right. Under certain common-sense constraints. On the other hand, sometimes those 'constraints' aren't as reliable nor as intelligent as the children themselves, when their guardians or their coaches get carried away by emotional momentum and forget their roles.

Mixed-martial arts suddenly the newest craze for young boys to get involved with, how about that? On the other hand, predictable enough. Whatever goes for general society will eventually work its way down to the junior level, so that eight- and ten- and fourteen- year-old boys whose parents are enthusiastic about their boys experiencing 'sport' activities get involved.

Kids do fool-hardy things on their own, tempted by speed and the volatility of situations. Most parents would not encourage their young boys to hang onto the bumpers of cars, hunkering down on skates so the driver doesn't know they're hitching rides. Pretty exciting stuff for the kid being dragged along until he wants to let go; pretty dangerous scenario where anything could go wrong.

"It's hot, it's modern. It's on the tip of everyone's tongue" coos the owner of a Toronto-based mixed-martial arts installation. So, it's popular, it represents a new engagement. Fathers want their sons capable of 'defending' themselves on the street, standing up to 'bullies', gaining confidence in their physical prowess.

In the process exposing the kids to the dangers inherent in punching, kicking, grappling, twisting, buckling, wrestling, wracking. Few holds barred, a smorgasbord of moves and manoeuvres. Boxing and jiu-jitsu, separately, just plain old single-purpose martial arts have lost their lustre....

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reality Television!

Reality television; could anything be lower? It represents prime entertainment to couch slugs who enjoy a kind of public voyeurism. Granted, it can be fascinating, witnessing how people comport themselves in social situations, and perhaps even more so in intimate situations and intimate physical social situations, but doesn't it end up being rather degrading as a spectacle?

It is instructive? Does it tell us anything worthwhile about human nature? Is there anything useful in the camera focusing on people reacting to day-to-day situations, often in a way that does not credit them with social intelligence? And if producers are anxious to cash in on the public fascination with such 'entertainment' shows, what better way to garner publicity than to focus on the most pernicious of human interactions?

All the more so, if their initial feels for pick-up by various stations haven't resulted in anything positive. Create a buzz. Make people take notice. And what better way to do that than to do something verboten, something that may, on the surface at least, outrage public sensibilities? Canada vaunts itself as a multicultural/mosaic of tender acceptance.

Where people of various ethnic minorities, cultures, heritage, nationalities, (values) gather in the bosom of this receptive nation to fashion a new life for themselves and their progeny. And all together we happily exist in a state of exceptional tolerance and curiosity about the quaintness of other peoples' customs.

There is no need to be concerned about racism or anti-semitism, or either covert or overt discrimination, because Canadians, wherever they originally came from, understand fully that when they arrive at these shores, all former animosities and misunderstandings are to be set aside in favour of one big happy family.

But that's so tame, what within that scenario would impress people, compel them to turn on their sets at that particular hour to eagerly anticipate the launching of a new show, to be named Lake Shore? Well, the antidote to sleepy boredom is an injection of the naughty potential of proposing a note of anti-semitism; that'll make them sit up and take note.

And so they did. All that priceless free news-advertising, complete with interviews of the failed contestants, and the youth-blooming photographs of those selected for starring roles, particularly one fetching woman of Turkish origin who mouths the ultimate provocation..."especially Jewish people" for an explanation of her particular dislikes.

The producers are innocent of any intention to create an atmosphere of antagonism and an undercurrent of racism, to give a special frisson to the show. No, that was not their intention at all. Nor did they attempt to subtly manipulate those whom they might consider for the show to determine whether they had it in them to be well, socially provocative.

So tune in, and get your eyes plastered on that screen to watch as eight young and attractive starlets compete with one another for badge of outstanding bigot-of-the-show; reflecting real life in real time. Really.

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Counsel For The Defence

Former part-time University of Ottawa Professor Hassan Diab has much to lose, he must obviously feel, if he is extradited to France, as per the request to Canadian authorities of French judicial authorities. French judicial authorities who are convinced that they are in possession of evidence sufficiently stable and useful to mark this man as a prime suspect in the bombing of the Copernic synagogue in Paris, in 1980.

This crime of terrorism, meant to convey to the Jewish diaspora that no Jew is safe as long as Israel 'occupies' territory that Palestinians and the greater Arab community within the Middle East are determined to recapture, for as far as they are concerned Israel exists as an unlawful entity and peace and good order will not be restored until and unless 'Palestine' is once again in the hands of Palestinian Arabs.

Who will, under a newly-established sovereign state of Palestine, where once stood Israel,and incorporating the other two-thirds of the territories, permit Jews who traditionally lived in the area as the original "Palestinians", to reside there still, under the aegis of a new Palestinian government. They would, of course, be elderly and presumably quiescent. All other Jews must decamp for they will not be welcome under this new state administration.

That is an ongoing story, underwriting the two-state solution which appears on the surface of this intractable problem, which gives a veneer of legitimacy to the 'struggle' of the Palestinians to achieve that which should be theirs by right-of-birth-and-prior-occupation. Ever since the State of Israel became a reality, its neighbours have attempted every type of violent assault to dislodge it from the geography.

The establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organization by its former head, Yasser Arafat, was just one additional tool of conflict and combat in a guerrilla war to convince the Jewish State it had no business residing in the Middle East. Most Palestinians applauded the work of the PLO, and many joined its ranks. Either to support it by force of arms, or to be part of what appeared to be a new and effective political movement.

One that was dedicated not to diplomacy, offering an attempt at compromise bringing potential solutions to the conflict to result in a fair and just division of the contested land, but to violence. As part of that violent outlook meant to lead irrevocably to wearying the enemy's conventional army by the tactics of an elusive guerrilla force that could melt easily into the greater civilian population that supported it, the front was widened beyond the Middle East.

France now, with the tenacious determination of a particular terrorism specialist, Marc Trévidic, a 45-year-old French examining magistrate, is convinced it has all the evidence it requires to launch a credible trial against Lebanese-Canadian Hassan Diab. Mr. Diab has continuously expressed his innocent, shocked disbelief that he would be targeted, claiming total innocence, complete non-involvement in the bombing.

His defence lawyer, Donald Bayne, has implicit trust in the veracity of his client's statements of innocence. And in pursuit of his goal of persuading Justice Maranger of the innocence of his client, has cast aspersions on the French judicial system, Justice Trévidic, and the quality and sources of the evidence gathered to be used in a trial, should Mr. Diab be extradited as requested, despite the best efforts of his defence counsel.

Someone impersonating Lawyer Donald Bayne has been going about writing scathing comments on blogs, imputing odd motives to people watching the unfolding events, and relieving themselves of their opinions, as is common to a society that values freedom of expression. Someone by the name of "Donald", feels free to label bloggers 'liars', when they disagree with his singular version of events. As per the following:

"Although Mr. Diab has strenuously and repeatedly denied ever being a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a PLO offshoot, his family did inform investigators that they had all belonged." (A direct quote from the blog being commented upon titled "Origins of Evidence", posted on "Politic", 12 November 2010.)

YOU are a blatant lier. No such allegation exists anywhere. This is purely your own invention. It appears you wish to follow in the footsteps of the Grand Inquisitor (Trevidic) by making things up. I challenge you to provide one iota of evidence that anyone in Hassan Diab's family has ever stated that they are a member of PFLP. Do you not have even one shred of decency? If you really care about the victims of Copernic then you should give a damn about the truth. Sadly, it appears you do not care about either. (And so ends the diatribe. But because the blog's author could not verify what had been repeated, and not verbatim, from memory, the offending statement was removed.)

One might think that Donald Bayne, defense attorney for Mr. Diab would be horrified, were he to become aware that someone might be impersonating him, trolling the Internet to find views that he found offensive, and vigorously commenting on them, insisting people are "liers" (wonder if that's anything like being a liar?), and challenging the writer's sense of decency?

One might also feel that it is precisely because the truth is being sought that Mr. Diab should return to France to stand trial; if he is innocent he will be a free man once again. Sadly, this "Donald" who withholds his full identity from scrutiny, appears not to care about either the truth or the yet-haunted victims of the Copernic synagogue bombing who desperately seek closure to their nightmare.

And for those who might be interested in pursuing the little drama being carried out in a downtown Ottawa court of law, the series of very interesting articles written by The Ottawa Citizen's Chris Cobb might make good reading - for any who missed their appearance, last week. A link appears below. On the other hand, the writer of this blog thought that in response to the accusations leveled by "Donald", a few sentences written by Chris Cobb might pique interest:

Trévidic’s interest in the Copernic case was apparently spurred by information unearthed in police files of the former East Germany.

His hands-on approach to investigation is articulated, according to French newspaper Le Monde, by a sign in his office: “Assis, debout, mais pas couché” (“Sitting, standing, but not lying down”).

“When I take on a case,” he said, “I reread everything from A to Z and create spreadsheets to capture any existing paths and any that may not have been uncovered.”

One uncovered path led him to Lebanon, where he apparently found and interviewed Diab’s father, sister and friends from his youth.

According to lawyer Bernard Cahen, Diab’s friends said they were all members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which was not illegal.

Read more:

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Maritime Handouts

Unkindly, but reflecting an obvious reality, Canadians outside the Atlantic provinces have traditionally thought of the Maritimes as being populated by lazy, pogy-addicted people. Who excelled at the fine art of working for short-but-adequate periods of time, then applying for unemployment insurance. At a remunerative rate higher than elsewhere in the country, reflective of shorter working periods than elsewhere, as well. A useful routine for the lazy and the unambitious.

Why work, after all, why put yourself out, why expend unneeded energy, when you could just sit back and rake in the money anyway? It's not a matter of demeaning yourself, since after all, everyone does it. If it is that much an accepted way of life there is no reason to feel guilty about being a slacker. Above all, it works, doesn't it? Who hasn't met someone from the Maritimes who matter-of-factly mentions he's just come off a spate of work and is relaxing from the effort, on EI?

Now, suddenly, it appears to have occurred to some political elites in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia that it needn't be that way, and shouldn't be that way. Where's the pride in it? Besides which, an addiction to the teats of federal hand-outs by way of the notion of provincial equality is becoming out-moded as previously entitled provinces have suddenly found themselves "have" provinces in their own right, mostly through natural endowments to be extracted and commodified.

The "dependence syndrome" has drained the Maritimes' populations of energy, innovation, ambition, entrepreneurial skills and created a population of dull do-nothings with their hands perpetually in the give-me position. But here's the other side of the story: those same provinces were once powerhouses of industry and accounted for a good portion of the production of wealth in the country.

It was a federal government plot to reduce their capability and transfer it to provinces like Ontario instead that placed the Maritimes in their now-absurd position, by convincing them that trade be transferred from their American neighbouring states to their fellow provinces. And that turned out to be one stinker of a deal. Which the feds, taking pity on the poor Maritimers, sought to amend, by the brilliant fix of transfer payments.

What a dud of an idea.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reflections On the United Nations

The maniacs are now in control of the lunatic asylum. Well, so what? It's not as though we haven't had ample opportunity to become accustomed to it, after all. It's business as usual, actually. Anyone who might be surprised just hasn't been paying attention. Doublespeak lives and black can be white, in case anyone questions this new reality. Veracity and principle have nothing whatever to do with this, for they have surrendered themselves too, to the new reality.

After all, if people repeat any absurdity to themselves often enough they tend to believe it. The arrogance of self-confidence can be very persuasive. And within the United Nations a great confidence game plays itself out. Whereby the most trenchant and pernicious governments can portray themselves as concerned with human rights and freedoms while practising the most obviously anti-human rights, racist, belligerent and morally corrupt methods of administration.

There is strength in numbers. Simple as that. And when there are sufficient numbers of non-functional, dysfunctional, dystopian states - those whom even international criminal courts condemn for their criminality and genocidal abuse of their own people to support one another - the audacious contempt for their principled counterparts that they convey manages to somehow bring them support denied the legitimate, just states.

The United Nations is vastly over-represented by flailing states. Those that haven't yet reached the nadir of failure, but getting there, with plenty of like-minded, similarly-failed governments to give support to one another. They buttress those states whose disregard for the rule of law, for the rights of their own oppressed populations, and whose governments threaten the balance of world order, in a kind of evil cabal of the majority.

Why the free, democratic states submit to this state of affairs, allowing themselves to be cowed by the blame of historic colonialism to keep them in check through a misplaced sense of guilt over what cannot be now altered and which should be consigned to the dustheap of history, is debatable. But there it is, the miserable human-rights-offending states of the world control the chambers and offshoots of the United Nations, and the democracies tremble in dismay.

Libya, where arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances, torture and abysmal prison conditions are the order of the day, reflecting fairly accurately what passes for justice in other Arab and Muslim states, is elevated to serve on the UN Human Rights Council. Where it, along with countries like Iran and Turkey and Syria and Venezuela feel free in the strength of numbers to assail the human rights records of countries like Canada and the United States.

Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabist Islam wields a strict sharia unwilling to permit women any notion of equality under the law and where religions other than Islam are not tolerated, and where the news is strictly controlled, and where freedoms are necessarily truncated to the will and whims of the ruling royalty, is elevated to the board of the new UN Women agency. Iran's ascension was just narrowly defeated, oddly enough.

Burma sees fit to praise Libya's human rights record, and China smiles broadly and fondly on its charges. Algeria enthusiastically praising Libya for its "incessant effort to protect human rights", which more than adequately turns reality on his head and spins the Globe in a counter-direction threatening to toss human life into the chaos of complete confusion; bleak and without hope.

States are free, under this amazing new reality to fund and encourage international terrorism, to threaten their neighbours with annihilation, to foster an aura of nuclear invincibility through determined acquisition of a dire weapon the world sought to isolate from the clutches of pathologically sick minds, and to no avail.

And there is the United States' ambassador, sucking in his gut, and absorbing the thrusts of knife-sharp accusations that it stands alone at the zenith of destructive policies that wreak havoc on the vulnerable world that has struggled far too long under the restrictive leash of American control. The times they are a-changing.

There simply is no accounting for the provocative insanity of the United Nations' membership, values and creatively destructive pathologies of disdain, hatred and revenge. So much for building a fairer, more just and accountable world order.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Extraordinary Heroes

Anthony Farrer, 8  and Doreen Ashburnham, 11 after their cougar encounter in September 1916  will be showcased in a major new exhibit on heroism at the Imperial War Museum in London, to be unveiled this week as part of a Remembrance Day tribute to Commonwealth recipients of the Victoria Cross and other awards of bravery
Anthony Farrer, 8 and Doreen Ashburnham, 11 after their cougar encounter in September 1916 will be showcased in a major new exhibit on heroism at the Imperial War Museum in London, to be unveiled this week as part of a Remembrance Day tribute to Commonwealth recipients of the Victoria Cross and other awards of bravery

Photograph by: Handout, Postmedia News

The courage of two Canadian children in confronting the reality of the moment, understanding that they directly faced death, and spontaneously deciding they would defend themselves, defied the seeming inevitability of death - each defending the other as best they could. For an eight year old boy and an eleven year old girl, companions in an outdoor adventure that swiftly turned deadly, this was no mean feat.

Their heroic partnership in defeating the natural predator that attacked them and meant to consume them has long been consigned to the annals of historical curiosities, and likely forgotten. It has been almost a century since Anthony Farrer and Doreen Ashburnham, two children who lived on Vancouver Island near Cowichan Lake, British Columbia, suffered the terror of an attack by a 85-kilogram wildcat, on a rural horse-riding trail.

Their struggle to assert themselves physically over a powerful and savage adversary well equipped by nature to overcome the puny counter-attack by two young children, did finally end with the cougar slinking off, defeated by the children's will to live. The badly injured children who had, by turns, attempted to beat the animal with a riding crop, with their bare hands, miraculously managed to make their way home, where their serious injuries received medical treatment.

The little boy, 8 year old Anthony Farrer, whose scalp was almost torn off while the girl struck the cougar repeatedly with her fist, gouged its eyes and thrust her arm into its mouth in a desperate attempt to have it loose her friend, required 175 stitches. And 11 year old Doreen Ashburnham, who had been severely bitten on the back and buttocks while pinned down by the cougar, as Anthony beat the animal with a riding crop, suffered deep wounds and blood poisoning.

Their courageous struggle for survival is now being commemorated by an exhibit on heroism at the Imperial War Museum in London. Their inspiring story will be exhibited along with those of over 200 Victoria Cross recipients, representing the top civilian award for bravery in the Commonwealth of Nations. The exhibition has been titled Extraordinary Heroes.

Extraordinary indeed.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ignatieff Says

Well, the man does say peculiar things. It is as though this purportedly brilliant mind, this academic-in-waiting-to-assume-the-prime-ministership-of-Canada, never really thinks things out adequately in his mind before speaking it; his mind, that is. Unlike the care he takes when writing books; say a book like "Blood & Belonging" in his salad days, writing of 'journeys into the new nationalism'.
"Germany is one of only two modern states that allow their scattered tribes a right of return. The other state, of course, is Israel. Two nations who believe that nationality is in the blood are in the process of discovering that the blood tie can be thin indeed."

"The illusion that Britain is an island of stability in a world of troubles does not survive a day on the streets of Belfast. In reality, there is more death by political violence in Great Britain than in any other liberal democracy in the world. Since 1969 there have been three thousand political killings and more than fifty thousand people have been seriously injured. More people have died, per capita, of political violence in Great Britain than in India, Nigeria, Israel, Sri Lanka or Argentina, all nations which the British regard as more violent than their own."
"Genocide" is a worn and debased term, casually hurled at every outrage, every violence, even applied to events where no death, only shame or abuse, occurs. But it is a word that does mean something: the project to exterminate a people for no other reason than because they are that people. Before the experience of genocide, a people may not believe they belong to a nation. Before genocide, they may believe it is a matter of personal choice before they belong or believe. After genocide, it becomes their fate. Genocide and nationalism have an entwined history. It was genocide that convinced the Jews and even convinced the Gentile world that they were a people who would never be safe until they had a nation-state of their own."
Theoretically, as a scholar of human nature, Michael Ignatieff - who would be, if he could, and he is determined that he will become the next Prime Minister of Canada - 'gets it'. He understands the scourge and the dreadful pathology of racism, specifically of anti-Semitism. But this is an academic thing, it is nothing he has experienced, and nothing he will ever experience. He can be neutral because it does not move him.

It does, however, move someone like Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who rejects it categorically, naming it for the psycho-social atrocity that it represents.

Mr. Ignatieff, on the other hand, can be emotionally removed from the very concept, even while deploring it, as any thinking human being would be moved to do. And while deploring it, he cannot at the same time, help but utter caveats. Israel is a difficult place in a difficult part of the world, and there are times, he claims, that the country's actions and reactions are of questionable content, as in the matter of 'disproportionate' in its reactions to extreme provocations.

This is the beauty of the academic mind; it lingers happily on the minutiae of human interaction, response, and fallibility. It can stand in scholarly judgement. And it can be quite pleased with itself in the process. So while Mr. Ignatieff is happy enough to repeat that Canada has an obligation within the United Nations to help end the "one-sided anti-Israel resolutions" that regularly emanate from there, he expresses some cautious caveats.

Canada should act and react and behave in a morally-supportive manner, but not without a certain degree of restraint. That restraint would evidence itself in holding its counsel when it is meet to do so; that is, to ensure that no one is offended. Particularly Canada must not be seen to be offensive in its too-enthusiastic support of Israel, by the Muslim Bloc of nations.

Yes, he says, Israel must be defended, and yes, anti-Semitism is a horrible pathology, but Israel is not beyond criticism.

What has one to do with the other? Why enter the criticism of Israel into the narrative when the discussion is the evil incarnate of slandering, abusing, delegitimizing and isolating a country and its people? Setting the stage from emotional, verbal violence to the eventual acceptance through normalcy, of physical violence? Israel is an offence in its existence? Disparage its actions. Set the stage for "we told you so".

Removing yet another international irritant on the world stage. If Israel is attacked for its policies, that has nothing to do with attacking all Jews. Anti-Israel does not equate with anti-Semitism. Does it? If it does, that is unfortunate. But in rushing to defend the country, it is well to remember that there are huge numbers of enemies to be made. Who will combine their influence to refuse Canada votes for the temporary UN General Assembly.

And that is unfortunate. Intolerable, according to Mr. Ignatieff who most certainly would have deported himself far differently, as Canada's chief executive. If that might have been interpreted as leaving Israel to flounder, friendless and alone, so be it. If that is seen as a green light to the hordes of eager anti-Semites, most unfortunate.

Let alone all Jews wherever they live in the diaspora as citizens of nations on a global scale, from India to Sweden, Poland to Canada.

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