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

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Monster Among Us

This represents the supreme dysfunction. An individual capable of conducting himself scrupulously as an elite, trusted and responsible military officer at the highest rank whose future has geared him toward even higher ranking within the Canadian military. An individual whose other, serial persona enables him to function without detection as a vicious psychopath, capable of sadistic violence, preying on defenceless women, while calmly comporting himself as someone beyond reproach.

Violating the sanctity of a woman's home to attack her mercilessly, and then leaving her to live out her agonized memory of helpless pain and misery for the rest of her life simply wasn't satisfactory enough for a man whose ambition was to ravage and brutalize women. He accelerated his predations to the final boundaries of horror, finding it within himself to systematically torture women he abducted, and agonizingly maim them physically and mentally before killing them.

Even while he was engaged in the pursuit of satisfying his demonic passions, he took time away from his pursuits to veer back to the persona of the respected colonel, contacting subordinates to inform them of his temporary absence from duty, instructing them in the manner in which he expected them to carry on in his absence. Then turning his attention back to the matter at hand; the absolute denigration of another human being.

This man, who had attained such an enviable position of trust and accomplishment, turned his face away from normalcy and a supposedly happily-married life to achieve a demented satisfaction through menacing and maiming, sexually assaulting and eventually coldly murdering his victims. Afterward, continuing his life as though nothing untoward had occurred.

Until he was detected as the monster he was. Two women dead and deeply mourned. Other women living tortured lives of misery in recollection of what a monstrous psychopath forced onto their futures. And a community wondering how it was even remotely possible that no one was able to detect anything unusual in the manner and behaviour of Russell Williams, a monster among us.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Muskoka Initiative continued

"The government has been quite clear that it would approve projects that met the criteria of the Muskoka Initiative, criteria that were approved by Parliament" Andrew MacDougall
Well, great, good to hear. That the government of Canada, albeit a Conservative-led government is reasonable enough despite the prevailing general conservative ideological slant against provision of birth control and abortion services to women in need, to recognize the need to work with any organization demonstrating it would abide by associated Muskoka Initiative criteria.

I'd give my government a big shining Gold Star for outstanding performance on that one.

Deciding, after doubts have been expressed to the contrary, that it would fund International Planned Parenthood Federation in its important work abroad, focusing on sex education, family planning and post-abortion counselling. There is no intention on their part to use the government funding of $6-million for support of safe abortions in developing countries, separately funded.

Bev Oda, the International Development Minister announced the $6-million over a three-year period; not very much money, in fact, but enough to count in some respects, well husbanded and directed. For projects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Sudan and Tanzania, to advance health and nutrition programs to benefit women and children.

The Government of Canada affirming it is prepared to work with any organization that is dedicated to abide by those simple, life-affirming criteria.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Only In Japan

In the context of a culture that has expectations that the social contract accepted widely within Japan with people respecting each other, their society and public and private property, it is hardly surprising, although it is admirable in the extreme, that Japanese exhibit the kind of honesty rarely seen elsewhere. It was recently revealed that the population has been responding to the discovery of lost wealth found in unexpected places by turning it in to the authorities for restitution to the owners.

In the wake of the dreadful tsunami that followed on Japan's record-breaking earthquake that resulted in a triple emergency hazard impacting on the Fukushima nuclear plant and surrounding area, envelopes, purses, safes and other containers have been found with money and valuables inside. Those making the discoveries have gone to great lengths to return them to central authorities, urging that the original owners be found and their property restored to them.

Needless to say, those Japanese who were not directly affected by the triple catastrophes would have compassion for those who were. But, in fact, it is generally reflective of the Japanese character, persona, psyche, that what belongs to others must be respected. Where else on Earth would you find bicycles, electric bikes, motorcycles and other conveyances left in central areas on busy streets, unattended, unlocked, unchained and never disturbed?

Where else might you find that people will place their coveted, treasured family heirlooms in the shape of fabulous, well-tended bonsai, sitting outside a door on an urban street, in crowded downtown Tokyo, and no one would dream of taking possession of it, or harming it? Where else would you see beautifully proportioned and painted fishbowls sitting outside the entrances of private homes on busy main streets with gold-and-silver carp swimming peacefully therein, and no one would think of harming or taking that treasure?

Where else could you see other than on busy thoroughfares in Tokyo, vendors of pricey jewellery displaying them casually on knock-down shelving as crowds throng past, and no one would conceive of the notion to steal anything from the vendor, distracted by serving a customer, an onlooker ignoring the opportunity to surreptitiously take an item without payment?

The Japanese public is scrupulously honest. People are not easily led astray. Tens of millions of dollars (yen) have been discovered carried away on flood waters as houses, automobiles, safes were washed out to sea, and then bits and pieces carried back inland. Over 5,700 safes have been recovered as nearby residents alert police to retrieve them from the waters.

Of the $30-million so far turned in by finders or discovered in various vessels, only a half-million has yet to be restored to its rightful owners. In those instances where ownership cannot be determined, the finders have waived their legal right to take ownership of the found treasure, insisting instead that it be included in a fund to assist those who were impacted by the tsunami.

Yet another incomparably admirable feature of the people of Japan.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why Would She Leave Without Her Purse?

How horribly sad, how dreadfully miserable to contemplate, that a young girl of seventeen can have her life snuffed out in a circumstance of happenstance and a sinister lack of moral responsibility on the part of a stranger, and not be missed for three days. It's difficult to believe that any young girl could be living in such emotionally straitened circumstances.

Living not with a supportive and loving family, but with acquaintances who believe they know her habits and thus simply accept that she is absent, while yet still somewhat concerned and wondering...

The mystery regarding her absence was cleared up when her body was found in a ditch. In a place where people normally take daily walks in the countryside, everyone seemingly passing by without realizing she was there, hidden by tall grasses. Those tall grasses hid her lifeless, bruised body.

It is speculated that the force of impact, a frail human body hit by a speeding motor vehicle, threw her bodily into the ditch. The driver of the vehicle evidently made no effort to determine what or who it was they'd hit. The driver of the vehicle simply accelerated and sped on, oblivious to responsibility.

She might have been breathing and if swift action had been taken, she might have been saved. Before dying, it would have been compassionate to comfort her in her agony. But her life ebbed away while she lay in that ditch. A ditch that was, in fact, not very far from the house of the acquaintance where she had been staying.

She had been known to enjoy taking long solitary walks in the evening hours. As, presumably, many other nearby residents did, also. She would never have known that this would be her last walk. Although she didn't return to the house, hadn't taken anything with her, including a purse which had been left behind, it hadn't occurred, evidently, to anyone to search for her.

"It wasn't that unusual for (Godin) to do that, but what tickles her is that (Godin's) purse was still home. Why would she leave (for three days) without her purse?" That is the question put forward by Manuel Lacasse, who had discovered the girl's body while cutting grass on his property, beside the ditch.

Coincidentally he is the ex-husband of the young woman with whom Jessica Godin was temporarily living. It was stated that she had on previous occasions absented herself for days at a stretch. If that's not too much of a stretch, how about casual unconcern for the whereabouts of a 17-year-old girl?

Clearly, it is not a very good idea to walk, as Jessica Godin did, along a lonely stretch of road in the town of Fournier. Surely someone has an aching heart for the loss of this young girl?

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Monday, September 26, 2011

No Complaints

Isn't it always a bitter pill to swallow - almost impossible to believe that someone in whom you placed your utmost trust as being incorruptible, someone who had appeared to the community of the faithful to be compassionate and fundamentally decent, capable and able to make most parishioners in the church they all attended - say, for example, a church named Blessed Sacrament, whose priest is now being subject to a police investigation, fallen from grace?

Fallen from grace in the opinion of the news media, hounding the selfless man who has given his all for the church and for those whose faith in him remains strong. Fallen from grace in the opinion of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, but not for those who feel a grave injustice has been done their former pastor, Joseph LeClair. For during his years with the parish he managed single-handedly, through the force of his charismatic personality and social skills to much enhance the status of that church.

The local newspaper broke a story months ago, detailing how Pastor LeClair had frequented a local casino, and in frequenting that place of gambling sin, lost several hundred thousand dollars. Asking, rhetorically as it happened, where a modestly-remunerated priest might conceivably have obtained so much money to be gambled recklessly away. Speculating that someone in the thrall of an addiction would be a slave to his need.

That need, having to be serviced, would look anywhere it could for the funding to provide the thrill or the challenge or the satisfaction or whatever it is that drives people to surrender to the impulse to placate some inner compulsion. And in this instance it seems abundantly clear that Father LeClair chose to betray the fiscal trust placed in him by the parishioners and by the Archdiocese.

He is now in an addiction counselling program in Aurora, Ontario. He has a lawyer representing his interests, and it seems he will continue in the priesthood once his exposure to the addiction counselling has been completed. An accounting firm has completed its audit to complement the more cursory one done by the Archdiocese, and a rather large sum of money has been found to be missing.

Oversight was not sufficiently undertaken by the parish finance committee, it would seem, since Father LeClair was beloved and trusted. And the truth appears to be that there are many within the parish who are outraged that police have been invited by the Archdiocese to intervene and conduct an official investigation into presumed wrong-doing on the part of Father LeClair.

In question is the handling of Sunday collections, the misuse of church accounts, failure to set aside refugee sponsorship funding, and deficient accounting practices. The church has incurred four years of deficits. Father LeClair has time and again denied that he has done anything inappropriate, much less appropriated for himself monies belonging to the church.

He has admitted, ruefully, that he has a gambling addiction. And it is his considered opinion that diocesan officials bear their own responsibility with respect to the state of the church's finances.
Above all, there are many within the parish who are angry at the position that their beloved priest finds himself in, and they too blame the Archdiocese.

"I've put a significant amount of money in the envelope every Sunday and I have no complaint", was the observation from one parishioner, seeming to echo the sentiments of many. Father LeClair is indeed fortunate that he has inspired such trust and loyalty in those whom he has served so faithfully.

On the other hand, how does that old adage go? There are none so blind as those who will not see?

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Politically Connected?

There is so much to be aware of, in the quality of the foods we eat. Traditionally, it was the possibility that meat and meat products might be the source of harmful bacteria, and the handling of meat on the production line, in supermarkets and in the home was of critical importance to ensure food safety. And then the public became aware through news alerts that fresh fruits and vegetables as well could constitute a danger, harbouring deadly pathogens.

Nothing quite equalled the horror, however, of discovering that unscrupulous food producers and manufacturers in China were using additives in their food products that constituted a danger to health. Imagine, attempting to increase the protein content of milk by adding a chemical used to soften plastic in industrial applications, causing ill health to hundreds of thousands of Chinese and the death of infants.

But then, consumers are not always aware of what it is they're using, and they go right on blithely trusting and using non-consumable products like shampoo, hair conditioner, cosmetics that are laced with known carcinogens. Industry produces what is convenient, and cost-effective for them to use in their finished products. And government inspection agencies do the minimum to ensure public safety, because it is too costly to do otherwise.

We can, though, look for example, for organic products, if we wish to. There are no real guarantees until and unless all those who lay claim to organic production must do so under the law, under strict rules. We do, though, have the alternative to go to local organic farmers, seasonally, and take advantage of what they offer if we're willing to go out of our way to do so, and willing to pay a little more than for conventionally-grown produce.

Food scientists inform us that there are little-to-no advantages as far as nutritional content is concerned. For those who wish to avoid contact with and ingesting pesticide residues, there can be a difference, however, particularly with some types of soft fruits and vegetables. Many supermarkets now have large departments dedicated to organic products; we do have those alternatives.

In China, it appears, the population does not. Unless they're politically connected, wealthy, part of the foreign diplomatic community, or otherwise 'entitled'. Ordinary Chinese just have to lump it. It's not just that they cannot afford these alternate, organically grown very expensive products, it is also the absolute paucity of them in a country with 1.3-billion people. The use of fertilizer and pesticides ensures a greater yield of crops than does organic farming.

Organically grown and prepared products while in high demand are available in small numbers. The general public need not apply. "We have supplied them for almost 20 years. Our product cannot be bought in an ordinary supermarket as our volume of production is very little", explained a spokesperson for the State Council, China's highest administrative body.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Beast of British Columbia

When he dies the world will finally be rid of yet another psychotic psychopath. Clifford Robert Olson will be mourned by no one. Even his mother would shrink in disgust from his presence, recoil from his horrible legacy of anguished and forever-mourning families. He distinguished himself in the annals of human monsters, as a sadistic, vicious serious killer.

He had no conscience, no pity, not a shred of thought for the young human lives he took immense pleasure in destroying.

He claimed that he had taken the lives of up to several hundred young people. It is entirely possible. It was, however, the lives of almost a dozen young people whom he abducted, terrified, tortured and slaughtered, then tossed away, out of sight out of mind, ready to launch another attack, another death, that brought him finally to justice.

His contorted mind seemed to take pleasure in his dread notoriety.

Like child predators before him, he tempted the trust of young people by promising them something enticing to them. Very young children are often promised sweets or puppies to play with; Olson promised those whom he targeted the opportunity to have a job. His victims ranged in age from 9 years to 18:
  • Christine Ann Weller, 12 years of age missing November 19, body found Christmas Day 1980;
  • Colleen Daignault, 13 years old, last seen August 1981, in North Delta;
  • Daryn Todd Johnsrude, 16, of Saskatoon, visiting Coquitlam, last seen April 21, 1981;
  • Sandra Lyn Wolfsteiner, 16 years old, of Langley, last seen May 19, 1981 on the Fraser Highway;
  • Ada Anita Court, 13, of Burnaby, left her brother's Coquitlam home June 21, 1981;
  • Simon Partington, 9 years old, last seen riding his bicycle to a friend's house in Surrey, July 2, 1981;
  • Judy Kozma, 14 years of age, left her New Westminister home to visit a friend in Richmond, July 9 1981;
  • Ray King Jr., 15, years old went to the Canada Manpower youth employment centre on July 21, 1981 in New Westminster;
  • Louise Marie Chartrand, 17 years old, hitchhiked on July 20, 1981 to her waitressing job at Maple Ridge;
  • Sigrun Charlotte Elisabeth Arnd, 18 years old, a visitor to Canada with a tour group from Germany, last seen in July 1981;
  • Teri Lyn Carson, 15 years of age, left her Surrey home to apply for a job at the Guildford Town Centre, August 1, 1981.
The beast of British Columbia was arrested on August 12, 1981 and the following year pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him. He made a controversial deal with the prosecuting authorities, that he would lead investigators to where he had left the bodies of the dead youngsters in exchange for $100,000 to be handed over to his wife and child.

Incredibly, the monster had a wife, and they shared a child.

Prison psychiatrists testified that at no time was there ever evidence of contrition, regret on his part that Olson had murdered innocent young people. Unremorseful, he added that were he to ever have the opportunity he would simply continue killing to serve his insane personal needs. He felt no shame for the atrocities he committed.

Olson in fact wrote manuscripts and produced a video series that he titled Motivational Sexual Homicide patterns of Serial Sexual Homicide Patterns of Serial Child Killer Clifford Robert Olson. Giving his acts the quasi-legitimacy of a psychiatric and personality assessment of his own devising. The dozen videotapes expressing graphically Olson's depraved acts.

Improbably, Olson felt entitled to apply repeatedly for early release, after having served fifteen years of his sentence. Between August 1997 and 2010, the parents and the extended families of those whom he had abducted, tortured, assaulted and murdered lived in an agony of witnessing their children's murderer confidently smirking and challenging the justice system for early parole and release.

It was discovered in the last few years that Olson had been receiving federal old age security. The public reacted with furious indignation. Improbably, alerting the federal government that people took huge umbrage that their tax dollars were not only maintaining this monster and keeping him alive, but benefiting him with a bank account.

Now the public can sigh in relief that though the cancer ravaging his body is not working sufficiently diligently, it will eventually prevail and rid the world of a deadly cancer every bit as horrible a fleshly predator as the disease. And the grieving family members have the opportunity now to fantasize excruciating pain they hope he is experiencing.

He will soon be gone. The mind cannot but help musing on the quality of trust between Olson and his wife. On the kind of personality that would take supportive funding from the public based on the atrocities her husband had committed. On the genetic inheritance that such a child as the two created would end up with.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Not The Fire That Kills You

It is a horribly cruel twist of fate to lose those whom you love. Emotional attachments of the deepest order cut violently asunder by some accident, some occurrence that you are incapable of predicting. Being within the confines of your own home, secure in the knowledge that your wife and your children are all abed and asleep for the night, and morning will come and another day will dawn.

Except sometimes another day dawns and brings with it untold misery. A set of events have taken place completely out of your control and nothing you can do is able to turn things around. Certainly that is so when you're woken out of a sound sleep to the screams of a loved one informing you that the home you're sleeping in along with them is being consumed by fire.

At one time, not all that long ago as history goes back a long, long way, there were no potentially life-saving devices like smoke alarms. Now there are such early warning signals. And they are, by law, expected to be installed and operational in every home. All too often it happens after a deadly fire that the investigating fire officials come to the conclusion that no alarm was present.

Or the alarm was there most certainly, but disarmed, useless, its batteries long dead, the need to actively ensure that the measure to which all householders should comply by law, if not because of the personal acknowledgement that this is their personal responsibility to themselves and to their loved ones, simply ignored.

This seemed certainly to be the case in a fire n Alexandria when a young mother of three children died of smoke inhalation, as did her three very young children. The house itself, to begin with, was not in compliance with building codes in the observation of safety regulations. It had a single entrance/exit - the front door leading to the porch.

The porch was said to be the site where the fire (inexplicably?) began, soon engulfing the front of the house, and certainly the first floor of the house, with its stairway leading to the second floor where the family was asleep until the mother awoke and became aware of the dreadful situation. She screamed, alerting her husband, who was sleeping in another room.

He is the only survivor of this little family. At 26 years of age, he has 'lost' his common-law wife, a three-year-old little girl, and a 22 month-old boy, along with another infant of eight months. He'd meant to marry Sarah Cholette. Whom he'd known for all of two months when she became pregnant with their first child.

He'd had tattoos etched on his shoulder with the names of the three children: Chloe, Jacob and Maxime. And, he said in a later interview, post-burn-recovery, that he'd meant to add Sarah's name, and his family name as well, once they married. He won't now have to bother, for, as he now says "I lost everything. Everything. And I pinch myself. I swear to God, every day."

This father of three deceased infants, one trusting woman, reveals his values; tattoos. Pity his values had no room to include a modicum of vigilance for their safety, in ensuring that the smoke alarms in such a house were not in working order.
"I wasn't there for my family like I wasn't there for them in the fire. It was terrible how fast it happened. It's not the fire that kills you, it's the smoke."

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aquatic Biology: Dead Sea

Scientists Discover New Life in the Dead Sea
by Hana Levi Julian, MSW, LCSW-R New Life Discovered in the Dead Sea

Deep beneath the sea bed of a body of water long believed incapable of sustaining life, scientists have discovered new micro-organisms.

Researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev announced Wednesday they have found deep fresh water springs on the floor of the Dead Sea. These secret springs are apparently providing fresh water to the rapidly shrinking lake.

Meanwhile, a parallel study being conducted by German scientists has found new life forms in the mineral-laden waters.

The micro-organisms were discovered growing around the fissures in the sea floor.

The water level of the Dead Sea is dropping at an alarming rate – close to a meter a year, according to environmentalists.

The two research teams have been exploring groundwater springs that emanate from the sea floor in order to understand how the infusion of fresh water from the bottom of the sea impacts the unique ecosystem in the area.

The existence of the springs has been known for decades, as people have seen the ripples of water on the surface of the lake. However, scientists have discovered deep springs that were not visible from the shore.

Professor Jonathan Laronne and research student Yaniv Munwes developed the first system to directly measure spring discharge and to study the structure of the upward jet-like, plume flow as part of the German-funded SUMAR project. The two are members of BGU's Department of Geography and Environmental Development. Professional divers have also been involved in the work.

The findings show that there are systems of complex springs, hundreds of meters long and up to 30 meters deep. The springs appear through craters as large as 15 meters in diameter and 20 meters deep, with steep, finely laminated walls where there are alternating layers of sediment and minerals.

“By developing a measurement system for these springs, we will be able to determine more accurately how much water is really coming in to the Dead Sea,” commented Laronne.

While researchers have known for decades that the “Dead Sea” is a misnomer, the rich variety of life as evidenced in the vicinity of the springs was unexpected, said Dr. Danny Ionescu of the Microsensor Group, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen, Germany. Ionescu is leading the study of the micro-organisms.

While fish are not present, carpets of micro-organisms that cover large sea floor areas contain considerable richness of species, he said. The scientist has found some that were previously unknown in such highly saline environments, many unknown to science altogether.

“The micro-organisms in the Dead Sea water mainly belong to the domain Archaea, and they number around 1,000-10,000 per ml – much lower than regular sea water,” Ionescu said. But never before have microbial mats or biofilms been found in the Dead Sea, he added, and not much is known about sediment micro-organisms there.

These are not the same micro-organisms and algae which created a red tint in the waters of the Dead Sea in 1992, Ionescu said. Their discovery creates more questions.

An additional team is examining the connection between the mountain aquifer, springs occurring on land and submarine springs.

Dr. Christian Siebert, Dr. Stefan Geyer and doctoral student Ulf Mallast from the Hemholtz Center for Environmental Research – UFZ Halle, Germany, will explore the systems and their chemical properties together with Dead Sea expert Professor Aharon Oren of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The team is planning to return to the lake for more research in October.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 21 September 2011

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Harming Children

Anything for a vote. Politicians truly demonstrate time and again that they feel they will succeed with the electorate if they shed their conscience. Of course, with some politicians and their limited cranial capacity for sufficient brain power to fire up their intelligence quotient, conscience need not come into play if it is there at all. Their ignorance will suffice.

These are the politicians and would-be-successful candidates for high office who betray their lack of care in expressing opinions that have no solid base in fact. Who use the occasion of addressing the public to convey to them their opinion on sensitive issues of which they know little, but are determined nonetheless to speak as though they were authorities.

Of course this propensity to skew public opinion deleteriously for the issue at hand, and successfully for the planned ambition of the politician is not restricted solely to politicians. Some health professionals themselves have, on occasion, created panic in the minds of the population by suggesting that inoculations against disease themselves cause other health issues.

Only to be reprimanded by members of their own profession who are able to render proof that the accusations are unfounded and unhelpful. But the die is cast, the harm is done. The high profile case of The Lancet publishing an article by Dr. Andrew Wakefield claiming that the MMR vaccine (immunization against measles, mumps and rubella) causes autism spectrum disorder a case in point.

Where celebrities joined in the discussion, making uninformed, public declarations in support of Dr. Wakefield's thesis, causing a mass movement by parents refusing to have their children inoculated against these childhood diseases, leading to further medical complications as a result.

Dr. Wakefield's theory was debunked, The Lancet withdrew their support, and the British General Medical Council withdrew Dr. Wakefield's professional qualifications to practise as a medical doctor.

Current medical-scientific consensus that the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) is safe and effective and should be administered to young girls from age 12 up to protect them from the deadly scourge of the most virulent type of cervical cancer, is now on the verge of seeing a similar public relations disaster devolve.

There is no evidence, however remote, in the literature, to suggest that the HPV vaccine is dangerous. Its immunization use represents insurance against the later development of cervical cancer by young women. The medical community wholeheartedly advances its use as a needed societal protective device.

During the current pre-election process in the United States where the Republican Party is looking for its new candidate to run against Barack Obama in 2012's presidential election, the candidates are vying with one another for public attention. Presidential candidate hopeful, Michele Bachmann seems to be contesting Sarah Palin for the title of Queen of Misspoken.

To the dismay of infectious disease experts within the United States, who are united in a campaign to persuade the public that the HPV vaccine is completely safe and that their young girls should be immunized for their own future good health, Ms.Bachmann has intervened. To express her considered opinion on a subject she clearly knows nothing about.

Having spoken against the State of Texas Governor Rick Perry who had issued a later-revoked mandate for immunization of schoolgirls to avoid the potential of later contracting cervical cancer. Ms. Bachmann took it upon herself to deplore "innocent little 12-year-old girls" having a "government injection" which was "potentially dangerous".

She insisted on NBC's Today show she had met a woman from Florida who informed her after that debate that her daughter had become "mentally retarded" after receiving the Gardasil vaccine. Two bio-ethicists are offering $10,000 rewards to anyone who can bring forward the child who has so tragically suffered from the injection. But the harm has been done.

Despite that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement guaranteeing the safety of the vaccine, mothers will now be invested with the fears of their daughters being irreparably harmed by an inoculation meant to protect them from incalculable harm.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Everyone Does It ... ?

Juvenile adolescents, priding themselves on their maturity do justice to the low opinion in which they are held by their betters. It is just as well that these delusional teens who believe they have the 'right' to impose their version of ritual unwelcome by way of "froshing" on younger teens newly introduced to high school, are in a decided minority.

They feel completely justified in their attitudes that this is innocent fun, and it's perfectly all right since 'everyone does it'.

And it's highly unlikely that they will evolve, mature socially, as they grow older. These are the types of personalities that simply mature into a greater sense of entitlement at the expense of other people, who feel they are always right in whatever they do, and that complaints against their attitudes are unwarranted and unjustified.

Which led a group of Grade 12 students to exit their classes to protest the suspension of one of their own. Mostly young women, it would appear, with large smiles, posing for the photographers. And holding aloft signs protesting the unfair treatment of one of their own, obviously a young man held in esteem by these young women.

Declaring themselves convinced that the suspended teen, in his last year of high school, and being transferred to another school in the Ottawa Carleton District School Board was being dealt unfairly with. He was, after all, only having a bit of innocent fun. Driving his car with two other friends within, all of them tossing eggs at new Grade 9 students.

And in the process, crushing the back wheel of a bicycle being walked by a Grade 9 boy. And, thinking nothing of it, continuing on his way. The driver was later suspended by school authorities, the other two with him receiving ten-day suspensions each. It was a very small group of Grade 12s that were involved in the "froshing". That's the good news.

The bad news is that it happens at all. That Grade 9 students at Nepean High School must dread having eggs, urine, bleach, flour or whatever else takes the fancy of the bullies, tossed at them. Police have charged the suspended teen with failure to report a collision, under the provincial Highway Traffic Act. If he is found guilty, he will face a fine between $400 and $2000.

As a much-needed antidote to the bad taste of a group of teen-age girls carrying signs in support of their 17-year-old oafish friend who found humour in harassing younger students, a former Nepean High School student, now a Queen's University student, expressed his feelings, that he was "ashamed to see the resurgence that froshing has made into the culture of the school."

Nick Roy explained he served formerly as the director of a school program whose purpose it was to assist new students to integrate into the school. Before the initiation of the integration program in 2006, he said, froshing incidents were "very widespread and common" at the school.

The initiation rituals of froshing and hazing, had become "abnormal" in the years since the integration program was established, he said.

A resurgence since then of the bullying of new students was a surprise to him, the protests of other students represented an "undermining of the moral integrity sought by the (integration) program ... and "undoing years of progress" in fashioning a more integrated student body.
"You cannot paint a picture of froshing as something that 'everyone does' when the reality is that the vast, vast majority of students at NHS will not have any part of it."
Clearly, the statements issued by Nick Roy represent an antidote to the disgraceful conduct of the suspended teens, and of their supporters, happy to carry signs protesting the unjust treatment of their friends, content with the knowledge that their friends' bullying behaviour represented a reversal of decent societal norms.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beauty Is As Beauty Does

Gorgeous, absolutely symmetrical, stunningly beautiful young women. Their rhapsodic loveliness is enviable and almost impossible to believe. They have been endowed with superior grace and beauty. They stand out to be noticed and admired by those far lesser endowed with a genetic inheritance of physical perfection. It's almost immaterial what they are capable of doing, other than exhibiting themselves as rare jewels of humankind.

If they have also been bestowed with talent and intelligence then they are doubly blessed. But when they are so beauteous, who cares if they are capable of becoming surgeons, opera singers, astronomers, engineers? Their physical attributes, those glowing, perfect features, are all that anyone notices or cares about. And, for the most part, the same can be said for the women themselves. Determined to turn their extraordinary appearance into a cash cow.

So many of them take more pride in their outstanding physical presentation than the professionalism they can attain to, with the use of their cerebral capabilities. And they dream of being another kind of professional, one who is able to demonstrate her perfection on a fashion-show runway, adored by the masses, paid more than handsomely for deigning to display herself to women who passionately wish they too were so perfect.

Young, very young, lithe and lissomely-lovely women contend for recognition of their fabulous appearance and showmanship. And then, reality intrudes. Who could possibly imagine that the world has produced so many individuals of personal physical perfection? There are so many fabulously well-endowed young women, and they all vie for attention; as 'queens' at beauty pageants, as super-models at talent agencies.

But if they succeed, if they starve themselves of 'fattening' nutrients, if they are willing to accept degrading inspections, and the occasional insulting remarks about 'making the grade', and having to slap away too many hands eager to feel for themselves that fleshly perfection, they very well might present at the top of their field. For a few all-too-short years until the dewy beauty of their youth begins to fade.

Of course there is disappointment when the aspiring model comes face to face with the reality that it is only those rare top models selected for some mysterious presence that augments their great beauty that are paid those high wages all of them dream of achieving. Squalid hotel rooms, too much travel time, high hopes dashed, casual neglect and ending up in debt to the agencies that represent them are more often the end result of those high hopes.

And the allure of other, younger, preciously-perfect faces and bodies present themselves. Beauty is admirable, and it is a much-longed-for physical state, yet elusive with the creeping years, and not quite satisfying to the owner who eventually would prefer to be valued for a myriad of other attributes. Or so we ordinary mortals imagine.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sad, Shallow Values

Ear Surgery (<span class=Otoplasty
Ear Surgery (<span class= After Picture
There we are, photographs of a sweet-looking fourteen-year-old girl. Smiling broadly in the "before" photograph, looking gravely ahead in the "after" photograph. The cosmetic surgeon who performed the surgery on this child is no doubt smiling too, feeling she had done her utmost to make someone happy. And, of course, collecting the fee for services rendered.

Cosmetic surgery is certainly not healing medicine, although it has its place in reconstructive surgery when physical deformation has taken place due to disease or injury. On the other hand, there are no end of individuals who are dissatisfied with the features they have been equipped with by birth and by dint of their genetic inheritance.

People have "gone under the knife", for a variety of cosmetic concerns and dissatisfactions, to achieve smaller noses, lift and tuck chins, erase aging lines, suck away unwanted fat deposits, firm up buttocks, and augment breasts. In South America young girls popularly look forward to graduation gifts like breast augmentation from fond parents.

And in North America, where the entire society seems to subscribe to the general dissatisfaction with the vicissitudes of DNA and genetic inheritance in favour of striving for perfection, children as young as five are expected by their doting parents to undergo surgery to make them appear, they believe, more attractive.

"The idea behind doing it at an early age ... is we want them to enjoy the advantages", explained Dr. Tom Buonassi, a Vancouver facial plastic-surgery specialist. "If they have a very, very prominent feature ... it helps them emotionally at an early age." As it happens, about 60 - 70% of cosmetic ear operations this surgeon performs are done on children under ten years of age.

Cosmetic surgeons at clinics across Canada are busy performing cosmetic operations to amend nature's errors in equipping children with 'protruding' ears on youngsters barely out of Kindergarten. Are parents aware, one enquires of oneself, that any operation undertaken with anaesthetic carries risks?

Are we so shallow as a society that we wholesale subscribe to the notion that we must be as aesthetically perfect and beautiful as surgical intervention can make us? Do we see nothing awry in endowing our children such such sad values?

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oh, Jackie!

She was a wholesome, much-admired celebrity. She lived in a very transparent house. What's that old adage about glass houses? But she was patrician and beautiful, glamorous, poised, and represented an entirely new era in Washington: youth and vitality and a new and shining promise of an administration for which chivalry and civility, strength and agility were seen in the eye of an adoring public.

She also suffered tragedy, losing her husband well before his time. This was a woman with a sense of her time and her place. She had class. So much of it that she bartered it willingly for the opportunity to forge a second marriage; the first gave her power and prestige, and wealth as well. The second offered her a very different lifestyle, dripping with wealth, but besmirching her vaunted reputation as a discriminating woman of great taste.

Doubtless she cringed inwardly every time she read that title bestowed upon her: Jackie-O! Disgustingly common.

But she remains, as does her husband an American icon of a time now past, a time of innocence and intrigue, drama and the clash of civilizations in a muted way. What we have now is another kind of clash, that of a civilization as opposed to a brutal uncivil theocratic ideology. Innocence long dissipated, but drama and intrigue aplenty.

The world is re-visiting Jacqueline Kennedy (Onassis), with the release after almost a half-century of covert protection of her thoughts and perceptions, of those very thoughts and perceptions. Recorded months after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, she left them deliberately, for posterity. In her soft, ladylike, dignified voice, giving her impression of those whom she met in her official capacity as First Lady.

None of her descriptions are particularly unpalatable, most, in fact, merely express a reality in recognizing peoples' fallibilities. We are what we are, with our failed humanism and deep emotional and moral failings. Martin Luther King Jr., was an especial disappointment for idealistic Jacqueline who undoubtedly expected better from a clergyman, an ardent civil rights exponent, a champion of his people.

He was a skirt-chaser, and that truly is offensive. That she was married to a man who attained the highest office of the land as President of the United States, who was also an inveterate and enthusiastic womanizer is another truth, one she appears to overlook in favour of expressing her disgust with Martin Luther King.

Jacqueline Kennedy: In Her Own Words is not kind to those who fail to meet her standards. From "spitefully egomaniac" Charles de Gaulle, to pushy, bitter "prune", Indira Gandhi, it seems that Martin Luther King Jr., comes off the crudest, unforgivably repulsive in character. Openly drunk at her husband's funeral, an obvious lack of respect for his betters.

John F. Kennedy's promiscuity, common enough in men who attain great positions of power and prestige, simply didn't exist for her. But the wiretapes of the FBI informing her brother-in-law of Mr. King's illicit dalliances - even to planning "a party of men and women, I mean, sort of an orgy", revealed to her a truly flawed character, a "phoney", and a "terrible man".

One can only surmise how she must have reacted before her death at the public airing, escalation of stories and ongoing scandal of her husband's sexual liaisons with so many women other than herself including, famously, that poor lost woman, Marilyn Monroe. Her description of Ms. Monroe, now, that might be revelatory.

For her, it might have been the women who led her husband astray, poor man. For other men, they of course, would have initiated the disgusting process of gamey sex.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Dad, Mum, Grandpa and Grandma Are Sad

Six months after the tragic and monumental earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, tragedy reigns supreme. Not everywhere, of course, outside of Fukushima province where the disaster hit hardest, life goes on. As it must. People cannot possibly live their lives in fear, foreboding, apprehension, ongoing grief. Those people marginally impacted by the triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor implosion can, after all, get on with their lives.

Those who were at the epicentre of the triple tragedy are another story. They cannot get on with their lives, and the reasons are numerous. Many of the homeless, the victims, those who have returned to their dangerous and sterile and irradiated environment have seen no assistance from government, have had no compensation. They can no longer farm, nor forge a living for themselves. They live with despair.

But perhaps it is the survivors who lost those whom they treasured more than their own lives for whom life can never return to a time when it had value for them. These would be the mothers and the fathers of schoolchildren whose bodies were never recovered. Who wonder what happened to their beautiful young children, so eager to live, to learn, to discover. They will never have closure, whatever closure means to them.

They look for their missing children. They return to the place where they know their children were last, before that devastating tsunami hit, and they pine and they grieve and they weep and they keen and nothing alleviates their pain. They searched by hand, digging with their fingers until they became blunt and bleeding, into the rubble that might have covered their child.

One mother, a former teacher, did an astonishing thing for a Japanese woman; she learned how to operate a mechanical digger and was licensed to operate it. She works along with those firefighters and police and rescue workers who still come out to the sites to look, in vain. Her twelve year-old daughter has never been found.

And so her mother digs and looks. "This is not just for my daughter, but for the other kids still missing at this school. Just look around this site - what parent in the world could rest having left the body of their child under this rubble or floating out there in the sea?" Other parents found the body of their 12-year-old son, but continue to look for the body of their 11-year-old daughter.

About 83,000 people were made homeless by the events of March 11, 2011. Finally, 15,776 people were officially confirmed to have died, and another 4,225 are simply "missing". "Our children did not die because of the tsunami or the earthquake. They died because of the misjudgements of adults, whose duty it was to protect their lives", said one mother.

When the earthquake struck, the teachers at Okawa elementary school in the town of Ishinomaki, evacuated the children from their school, and assembled them in the playground. Then they could not reach agreement on what next to do. Whether to lead the children to climb up the wooded steep slopes behind the school,or just to remain there. They stayed where they were. After 40 minutes had elapsed the tsunami struck and washed the children out to see.

Mothers leave 'letters' to their children at the site. "I'm sorry I cannot find you Hana", one of the letters reads.
"I come every day, wanting to see you. You must be around here. You don't appear in our dreams and Dad, Mum, Grandpa and Grandma are sad. I'm sorry I can't do anything for you. So sorry. If I could see you in my dreams, I would hug you tight."

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Predators And Their Victims

It seems miraculous, and thank Fortune for miracles. Three-year-old Kienan Hebert has been returned to his family. He's far too young to cope with what has happened to him; spirited out of his secure bed in a bedroom of his family home during the night while his parents were fast asleep. It could scarcely be foreseen that he would be returned. Albeit returned as mysteriously as he disappeared.

The man assumed to have abducted him during the night, 46-year-old Randall Hopley, an obviously troubled man with a long troubled past is likely to have been the one who returned him. Just as it is likely he took possession of the child. This kind of episode, the abduction of a child from the child's bedroom while the unsuspecting guardians had no idea of impending disaster, occurred on an earlier occasion.

He had laid plans years ago to kidnap a ten-year-old mentally-handicapped boy from a foster home. He was apprehended, however, and strangely enough although it was quite clear that abduction was the motive, he was found guilty of breaking and entering. Despite that the presiding judge indicated that the incident was "better seen as an attempt to kidnap a vulnerable 10-year-old from his foster parents".

He had previously spent two years in prison for a sexual assault, and was convicted on another occasion of assault, among other criminal activities. Police indicated that the man was on probation for property offences of more recent vintage. But, they declined to elaborate, citing his "privacy and his rights". Such commendable delicacy.

In 1987 a psychiatrist warned the parole board sitting on Randall Hopley's case that he was likely to become a repeat offender. There are some indications that the man isn't the brightest bulb in the pack. Making it possible that the full purport of his activities in hunting down little boys doesn't quite inform him of society's and morality's abhorrence at his deviance and the danger he poses.

That's his possible excuse, one might suppose. And then there's the police, admitting or confirming that Mr. Hopley's presence, despite his crimes, had not been revealed to the community in which he resided. "We do have people who have been previously active in a variety of criminal offences and they live amongst us", said RCMP Corporal Dan Moskaluk.

"Some of them become quite good citizens and partake in our community and integrate back and some don't... There's not information that can be disseminated in every case about every criminal that lives amongst us." That's certainly politically correct. It amounts to a good deal of pussy-footing and a lack of responsibility and concern about predators and their victims.

Isn't it past time that concern for the well-being of potential victims trumped that of criminals?

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gaily Donating Blood?

We're living in enlightened times. Where formerly and up to the present gays have not and are not permitted to donate blood to Canadian Blood Services because of the risk of transmitting the HIV-AIDS virus, that antediluvian attitude may soon change. Should it?

We're living in an entirely changed society. One that accepts without question, the right of gays to live their lives without hindrance or criticism as is their human right. And as is guaranteed under Canadian law. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives them the recognition and the protection they deserve, as citizens of the country.

Physicians, student groups and gay rights' activists have lobbied and protested the policy that excludes men who have had sex with other men from donating blood. Unfair, the work of an oppressive society, not a free one like Canada. Offensive to the sensibilities of the gay demographic that they are singled out and denied that privilege.

That they may be carriers of HIV-AIDS, or other sexually-transmitted disease as a result of their alter-sex lives was, of course, the reason. To protect the general public from the possibility of being infected with a virus or a disease they had no wish to acquire. Understandably.

But a lawyer who represents the Canadian AIDS Society claims that screening tests for HIV/AIDS have improved over the years. "The challenge is making change palatable to various stakeholders, including Health Canada, the government and the people of Canada", he explained.

The reason Canadian Blood Services banned donations from gay men was that statistics held that they are at greater risk for HIV/AIDS infection. Logical and reasonable. Britain is leading the way evidently, changing its own long-held policy to allow men to donate if they haven't had sex with another man for a year.

The general public is fairly well accepting of gay rights. Seems gay activists are not equally tolerant of the right of the general public to be protected from the potential of contracting a dread disease. In constantly insisting on their rights they make little of the rights of the majority.

Whereas the gay community insists its minority rights are being abrogated by not being allowed to give blood, an act of civil altruism, the public's majority rights are being dismissed by virtue of the sense of goodwill extended to the gay community.

Where there is even a remote possibility that a gay man might wish to donate blood regardless of eligibility restraints, Health Canada and the Government of Canada should sit tight and insist on the status quo.

It's their hurt feelings of being rejected versus the other, larger group's assurances of blood-quality safety. No contest. It would be refreshing to see the gay community behave like responsible members of society, far less than the spoiled-brat-syndrome we're incessantly exposed to.

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Friday, September 09, 2011

Reproductive Technology Responsibilities

It hardly appears too much to expect that those engaged in providing artificial insemination services engage in reasonable, moderate business practices. They are, after all, dealing with human life and human lives. But then while this is an important issue for women wishing to conceive, fertility clinics are in the business to make money. They wouldn't be eager to impose a bottom line curb on profits.

One supposes that semen donors are a special breed. Not at all squeamish about the fact that they will have sired children through the use of their semen, and have no knowledge of the resulting children - and, of course, no responsibilities. It might be an ego thing for those men who supply their semen for this purpose; quite aside from the commercial aspect.

The knowledge that they have passed on their DNA seamlessly, painlessly, and without much of an effort to prepare the event by acquiring a life partner and investing much in the way of emotion and work to raise a family of young in a well-balanced household might seem attractive.

It seems strange to the onlooker that some men must simply be uncurious about the process, viewing it as a business arrangement, nothing more nothing less. Perhaps they take pride in the knowledge that there are many children brought into the world who resemble them, who have inherited some of their genetic qualities, including personality traits and physical appearance.

Things are not all that complicated for the donor, actually; it's an agreed-upon exchange. It's far more complex with respect to the clinics, those in the infertility industry who make up their own rules, make their own arrangements, operate their business for profit and gain. Operating guidelines, one might imagine, include medically vetting the health condition of the donor.

Other vital guidelines one might imagine, would be to ensure that no single donor is over-represented in the largesse of his semen distribution. Yet this vital area seems to have been casually overlooked. Although it's hard to believe that not much thought has gone into the potential of a single door, ultra-replicated through resulting offspring passing on genetic malformations as a possibility.

And when, as has recently been revealed, some sperm donors have been responsible for large numbers of offspring, anywhere from one hundred to a whopping unheard-of-thousand, accounting for years of donations, the potential prospect of half-siblings meeting without knowing their respective backgrounds, falling in love, marrying and having offspring of their own.

This does not result in healthy genetic exchanges; it does lead the way to inadvertent incest and tragic genetic mishaps. Even where a clinic and sperm bank does impose what seems like reasonable restrictions where donors can be limited to three live births per 100,000 population in a geography, in a bustling metropolis of millions, that can result in 75 offspring.

It's time that the federal government steps in to the situation to enact useful guidelines backed up by legislation reflecting best-practise rules on the limits of offspring to result from one donor.

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

THEIR Street


It's most unfortunate that most of the residents of Farincourt Crescent - being seniors certainly doesn't excuse their behaviour - chose to continue their protests against school buses using their 'adult lifestyle' street, thus annoying them no end by disrupting the peace and quiet of their immediate neighbourhood. Why those elderly, demandingly-entitled residents of Orleans, living in a newly-developed area feel their street must be treated differently than all others is puzzling.

All streets and roadways are open to the public. They are, furthermore, access-enabling in this particular instance where school buses have been using it to turn around because of a nearby-dead end street, where schoolchildren are picked up to be ferried to school. The residents appear to have formed an ad hoc committee of disgruntled grey heads, refusing to use their grey matter to consider a trifle more deeply what it is they are demanding.

No one has exclusive rights to a city street. Home owners have legal possession of their little plots upon which sit their houses and their gardens. Their homes are legally sacrosanct, and they may deny entry to any who wish to enter their homes unauthorized. They have no right, morally, ethically or legally to deny entry of public vehicles (or for that matter private ones) to a public roadway.

Their action of protest designed to stop bus drivers as they conveyed children to school this morning, in a bid to intimidate the drivers (what else can it be called when the purpose was to instruct the drivers with respect to more feasible alternate routes than their street) was an absurd exercise in stupidity. We don't necessarily grow wiser as we grow older.

"Our objective was simply to talk to the bus-drivers and inform them that it was time for them to use the alternate routes", explained one of the elderly protesters. Do school bus drivers have nothing else to concern them when they're tasked with the care of many children aboard a bus than to stop at the behest of angry residents and listen patiently to their tirades?

Do these annoyed elders make a practise of berating sales clerks in the supermarket when the items they wish to purchase are not available, or when they take umbrage at the steady rise of food prices? In a society where generations live in close proximity it behooves the elderly to offer due respect to the needs of children. A elderly-lifestyle gated community might better serve their wishes.

School boards have rules, too. One of which is that junior and senior kindergarten children cannot walk more than 500 metres to connect with their school bus. The bus stops are identified in specific areas to minimize undue walking times for very young children who have sufficient concerns in their young heads.

How do individuals reach the ripe age of 60 to 80 without being aware of their societal obligations?

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Crotchety Old Grey-Haired People

How soon we forget. That we are part of society, not separate and apart from it. Irrespective of age and perceived entitlements, that is. The fact is, society and the people within it cannot be separated by their status in life at any given time. Life is a continuum of ages, from childhood to adulthood to senior status.

It isn't too much of a stress to emphasize that care must be given to the support and protection of children. In any community there is an emphasis placed on the care and nurturance of children, of ensuring that their needs are met. This transcends one single family's concerns for its children. It really is a concern for an entire community, for society itself.

The manner in which current societies are structured has long gone beyond the confines of a tightly inhabited urban community, with schools centered in walking distance of students' homes. School busing has become a commonplace in the entrenched system of providing an education for the young and conveying them from their outspread suburban homes to the schools they attend.

The centrality of location and ensuring that children can make their way on their own to attend nearby schools has long been a thing of the past. Everyone is familiar with the ubiquity of school buses conveying children to and from school. And no one feels that elementary school children should have to fend for themselves.

So how it is that homeowners in a suburban area of Ottawa living on a crescent which they feel should be dedicated to seniors' lifestyles feel justified in campaigning against the presence of school buses driving down their street is puzzling. They claim that they should be exempt from the nuisance and noise involved in school buses shuttling up and down their street, interfering with their peace and quiet.

Peace and quiet, as the wag said, is available in plentiful amounts in the grave. "We feel that as an adult lifestyle community we should be allowed that peace of mind. Our children are grown up, we've lived through this," complained one woman. "We're done, we're retired, we want our peace and quiet, basically. And it does not involve buses."

Ah well, but it does involve buses. No street is an island on its own; there are interconnections to other streets. No children evidently live on the street itself, but because of the location of the nearby bus stops where children await pick-up, it is convenient for the buses to use the route that incorporates this street.

The irate elders who live on this 'seniors' street' would prefer the children to walk an additional block to be picked up at another corner to eliminate the need for the buses to travel down their street. The parents of the children, understandably, do not wish their young children to be thus inconvenienced as far as time and potential danger are involved.

Besides which, as the parents point out defensively, the current arrangement is temporary. Once all the building of new homes and new streets is completed, alternate routes can be found. "It is a public street", pointed out one of the parents who has four children to be picked up, including a four-year-old whom he doesn't want walking on his own.

"We don't want to be seen as crotchety old grey-haired people. We bought into this lifestyle. We paid extra money for it and we feel we deserve our peace and quiet now." Soon enough, madame.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Justice: Steadily Catching Up

Justice sometimes holds her balance and her light of reason high, but has feet of lead. We would like to think, as law-abiding, reasonable citizens of Canada, that everyone is equal under the law, and everyone is equally responsible to obey the law. And that those who will not and do not because they feel themselves and their 'cause' to be above the law, will be brought back to reality by the application of the law, justly and evenly.

The Caledonia, Ontario 'incident' is still raw, has still not been settled. Native demonstrators claiming the land upon which new housing was being built, was theirs and the builders not entitled to the land they paid legal title for saw a victory when the Government of Ontario purchased the land, and handed it to the demonstrators. And there they squat, still making life miserable for people living in the area.

All the violence that ensued in September of 2007 onward, with the seizure of the housing development, a standoff with police, road blockades and torching of police cars, threats and violence and intimidation against non-natives has never been adequately addressed. No one held to account. All those years later, though, one young man, Richard Smoke, 22, has been found guilty and awaits sentencing.

Richard Smoke, along with some other youthful native companions launched an attack on Sam Gualtieri, 56, who had been building a house for his daughter, and who discovered Richard Smoke and his companions in the house, ordering him to leave. Instead, Richard Smoke violently attacked Mr. Gualtieri, in the process injuring him "just a notch below culpable homicide", as described by Judge Alan Whiten.

For which crime of aggravated assault and break-and-enter, Richard Smoke was ordered into custody to await a sentencing hearing. The young native man, Richard Smoke, was seen standing over Mr. Gualtieri, repeatedly hitting him with a piece of lumber, before he was finally restrained, and Mr. Gualtieri rescued from certain death. He suffered broken bones in his left and right cheeks, his nose and shoulder.

These years of recovery see Mr. Gualtieri with speech and vision impairment, ears ringing, hearing impaired, an inability to balance himself on his legs, unreliable memory, and unable to return to his profession as a building framer. His external wounds have healed nicely enough. But the brain damage he sustained under the vicious beating given him remain an invisible injury that has diminished the quality of his life substantially.

This is one portion of justice being meted out. Far more needs to be seen to. The Government of Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police have much to answer for in the manner in which they comported themselves during this illegal and violent (and ongoing) assault against a community. That young toughs with a perceived grievance could feel confident that their violent actions would not be apprehended is an insult to law and order.

The craven, political surrender to the arrogant entitlement to break the law and make life a misery for other people on the part of native protesters without the gears of government and assurances of safety and security swinging into action, is unforgivable.

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Monday, September 05, 2011

A Stray Bolt of Lightning

Most people who regularly go camping in a wooded landscape have experienced huddling in a tent while rainstorms and thunderstorms rage about them. You do, in a way, get used to them, once you've experienced the first one. It's not comfortable, but it is endurable. And eventually the rain does stop, the thunder ceases its incessant clashing, and the lightning strikes ebb. You sit there, waiting.

If the storm has occurred at an awkward time, when you wanted to prepare your dinner, you've got to wait it out. And hope that the woods will speedily absorb all that moisture. Of course by then you know that you can rely on your tent to keep you dry. Although you also wonder whether the high winds that invariably accompany a rousing thunder storm will blow that tent over, and you with it.

The suspense is eventually over. The wind, the thunder, the rain gradually move off elsewhere to complicate others' lives. And you emerge. And you get on with your life, appreciating how much cooler it is now, fresh-and-fragrant smelling. And look at that - the sun is out, the birds are singing. All's right with the world. There's nothing quite like the camping experience.

Of course it isn't all that pleasant when you're canoeing and get caught out in the middle of the lake with the sudden onset of a storm. Or when you're alpine camping, got your tent set up on the flattest portion of the side of a mountain top, and you've been day-hiking elsewhere on other peaks, see the approach of the black thunderclouds and scramble to get back to the tent before it hits.

And then sit there, two or three of you in the tent, waiting out the furious thunder sounding as though it knows you're there and wants to make sure you know it's there. And the rain pelting down, threatening the stability of the tent perched on granite, on that slight slope. Knowing that you'll survive, so you might as well appreciate the power and the majesty of the spectacle above.

It's entirely different, though, when a tragedy occurs. How likely is it, after all, that people, two young adults and an infant - keeping dry in their tent set up in a wooded area in a camp ground with other tents, rough cabins, rough amenities and plenty of other people around - get hit by a stray bolt of lightning? With all those trees standing guard around the tents, why the tent?

This must surely be what the young wife of the young man who was killed by a lightning strike on Sunday morning at Alfred-Plantagenet will occupy her thoughts with. The 26-year-old Ottawa man was taken by ambulance to Hawkesbury General Hospital, where he died. His wife and their infant son were injured but they will recover.

From their injuries, of course, never from the loss of the child's father.

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

"There's No Parents"

It's true, infants are little mischief-makers. They know no better. They are, like all of nature's young, curious about what surrounds them. They love to explore. To investigate the curious, to determine for themselves to the best of their immature abilities what the forbidden consists of. For their own safety those who are responsible for their well-being must pay close attention to the movements of toddlers. For they know not what they do.

Nor can very young children, invested in satisfying their sense of incautious adventure, begin to imagine the harm to which they can come. It is up to the adults around them to do that for them. Parents seem to have a false sense of security if they imagine that other adults share that deep care for their children that they have. They may believe that if the temporary care of their children is placed in the hands of professionals, that deep care is guaranteed.

Particularly when an establishment with the comforting-sounding name of the Markham Village Childcare Centre which is provincially licensed and inspected, assures them through their commercial website that security is an outstanding priority; doors always locked, people gaining ingress only by a staff member, children not released to anyone but those who are authorized.

And if that childcare centre also boasts awards for 2009 and 2010 for "Best Day-Care Centre in Markham", a designation selected by the Markham Economist & Sun's Reader Choice Poll, then complete parental assurance of reliability and trust can be assured. That confidence in the trustworthiness of the daycare centre however, may now be in jeopardy.

It has, in fact, been temporarily shuttered. Until such time as its license has been restored by the provincial Ministry of Children and Youth Services - revoked because it was found the centre had insufficient food for the 28 children the facility had enrolled, and it was also absent a qualified supervisor.

Which might explain why when eleven toddlers in the playground did not return to the interior, only five did, and the remainder were not missed by staff, the question of capability arose.

"Five of the children returned and the three remaining children were found by employees of a neighbouring drugstore. Staff at the childcare centre were unaware that any children had left the playground." This, the explanation of the suspended license because of "an immediate threat to health, safety or welfare of the children who receive those services".

One little boy had his hand caught in the door of a Shoppers Drug Mart, another little girl was in the parking lot, and a third little girl was in the store, wandering about. The wailing of the child who could not free his hand alerted staff at the Drug Mart to the presence of unaccompanied children.

"We got all three of them in here, and I thought to myself, this makes no sense, there's no parents."

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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Not Quite Settled

Can any scientific body be more trustworthy for the quality of its findings, more respected for the presence of internationally renowned scientists on its roster than CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research? Likely not. The CERN team on its CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUdoor Droplets) project which studied the influence of galactic cosmic rays on Earth's climate through the media of aerosols and clouds have reached an interesting conclusion.

Basically, it would seem, that the United Nations team on the environment has got it wrong, that it is not human activity that it is responsible for 'global warming', now called Climate Change, but rather that it is the source of all life on Earth, our Sun, that is responsible. And here is their explanation:

Cosmic rays and cloud formation

CLOUD is an experiment that uses a cloud chamber to study the possible link between galactic cosmic rays and cloud formation. Based at the Proton Synchrotron at CERN, this is the first time a high-energy physics accelerator has been used to study atmospheric and climate science; the results could greatly modify our understanding of clouds and climate.

Cosmic rays are charged particles that bombard the Earth's atmosphere from outer space. Studies suggest they may have an influence on the amount of cloud cover through the formation of new aerosols (tiny particles suspended in the air that seed cloud droplets). This is supported by satellite measurements, which show a possible correlation between cosmic-ray intensity and the amount of low cloud cover. Clouds exert a strong influence on the Earth’s energy balance; changes of only a few per cent have an important effect on the climate. Understanding the underlying microphysics in controlled laboratory conditions is a key to unravelling the connection between cosmic rays and clouds.

The CLOUD experiment involves an interdisciplinary team of scientists from 18 institutes in 9 countries, comprised of atmospheric physicists, solar physicists, and cosmic-ray and particle physicists. The PS provides an artificial source of ‘cosmic rays’ that simulates natural conditions as closely as possible. A beam of particles is sent into a reaction chamber and its effects on aerosol production are recorded and analysed.

The initial stage of the experiment uses a prototype detector, but the full CLOUD experiment will include an advanced cloud chamber and a reactor chamber, equipped with a wide range of external instrumentation to monitor and analyse their contents. The temperature and pressure conditions anywhere in the atmosphere can be re-created within the chambers, and all experimental conditions can be controlled and measured, including the ‘cosmic ray’ intensity and the contents of the chambers.

Well, what was abundantly clear to the scientists involved was that it is cloud cover that is the determinant of global warming or cooling. When the Earth is shielded by clouds, or clouds are, conversely, not present, alterations in the percentage of Earth shielded from cosmic rays cause global temperature variations - up - or down. The sun's cosmic rays being the main sources (or cause) of cloud formation, deductive reasoning and the results seen from the reaction chamber produced in the answer.

Fascinating, is it not? It is not anthropomorphic-based activities that act on our environment to produce atmospheric global activities that result in warming and cooling trends, but our great life-benefactor in nature, our very own sun. Human C02 emissions, they aver, on the basis of their impeccable research cannot be faulted for environmental changes, with carbon dioxide emissions from human-sourced activities the culprit. Other scientists have been whispering that carbon dioxide is essential to life itself.

Dr. Jasper Kirkby, the British experimental particle physicist who heads up the CLOUD project has been cautioned to present the findings, but not to interpret them minutely, and to release the findings discreetly, without fanfare, to ensure that a hornet's nest of environmental denunciation does not rain down on his head, that of CLOUD, and inevitably upon CERN. The current orthodoxy expounded passionately by the UN's IPCC is not to be aggressively challenged.

For, as patiently explicated by CERN's director general, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, were it to happen that the sun and not mankind is pointed out as the fount of the environment behaving in a manner that is claimed to be singularly and increasingly dangerous to this Globe and its creatures, the resulting ruckus "would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate".

The science, obviously is not quiet "settled".

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A Truly Lavish Dream Wedding

Indulgent: Kirsty Lane, pictured with husband Graham, planned her dream wedding at a Tudor-built hall and laid on a free bar for guests along with two bands and a fireworks display
An extravagant, lavish spread never to be forgotten. Offering those fortunate enough to attend that wedding a memorable event setting the standard for all others. Here's hoping that there are enough brides-to-be out there that are sensible enough not to attempt to emulate someone like Kirsty Lane whose marriage to her betrothed gave their community in northwest England enough to talk about for years to come.

It wasn't just the costly luxury, of course, although that was impressive enough. Very imaginative, indeed, to offer guests face-painting, a free bar with all you could drink, feathered face masks, two bands, a harpist, a saxophonist, a magician and for heaven's sake! fireworks! Fireworks, you know the kind, they create quite an amazing display of light and sound.

There were other kinds of fireworks that resulted from this social occasion, later to be revealed.

The bridesmaids wore little fur tops over their glorious gowns. The bride, 29, but very ambitious for herself obviously, displayed a jewelled iPad cover that cost as much as a diamond ring. She had the diamond ring too, of course. And Kirsty Lane didn't forget the people who had employed her, they too were invited to the festivities.

It was only fair, after all. Her employer thought so highly of this young woman. He was on record as saying how implicitly she was trusted. The company was a good employer and quite obviously Ms. Lane was an outstanding employee. That's a very nice combination that works to everyone's advantage. "Up to the point we had no idea", said he.

And doubtless wondered how the gracious young woman whom he had hired could ever afford such a spectacular display. She had worked at Pure AV, an audio visual company. And the head of that company, Peter Sutton, was a guest at the wedding held at Great Hall at Mains, near Blackpool, capable of hosting 200 to 300 people.

"The wedding was the most lavish thing I've ever seen", Mr. Sutton said. Mr. Sutton also explained to the Lancashire Evening Post that his former employee suffered from "unbridled greed" that had nearly ruined his business. As it was, two people had to be discharged as a result of a money-flow problem the company experienced.

Little wonder, since the company was missing about $240,000 which Kirsty Lane had carefully extracted for herself to enable her to plan and pay for her dream wedding.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Ignorant Effrontery

Grand Canyon National Park: Indian Garden 4278
That's an interesting way for a travelling guest in the tourism category to make an impression on the host country. Treating a significant natural resource that draws visitors by the hundreds of thousands to marvel at stupendous natural geological features as though it is a trifle that can be casually vandalized.

Of course, the man in question, a visiting Canadian, Lucien Lionel Chenier did not feel that spray-painting his name on the Duck on a Rock formation constituted vandalism. Rather, he obviously felt he was honouring the site by adding his name to it. He chose a site that the Grand Canyon national park considers to be culturally significant, as one of the original features of East Rim drive.

The Arizona unit of the National Park Service was alerted to this man's egotistical attempt at eternalizing his name at such a significant site. Imagining that it would remain there forever, a mysterious emanation in glowing red paint, respected and permitted its place in the pantheon of American natural sites of great beauty and esteem.

As he explained to National Park Services Park Ranger David Robinson, he tossed the spray-paint can into the canyon after a tour guide and bystanders noticed what he was doing and began shouting at him to cease and desist. An affidavit from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Flagstaff, Arizona, clarifies that the "Luci" he managed to paint was a mere portion of his name.

He had chosen the Duck on a Rock site purposefully, since "it was so special that if he left his name, then his kids would be able to see it 20 years from now". Mr. Chenier has been charged with damaging United States property in excess of $1,000, and of littering. He was, in fact, on a bit of a sight-seeing tour, having visited a number of spectacular natural sites.

The RV trip he shared with his wife (who might even now be wondering how it was she had joined herself with someone quite so cretinous) began in Ottawa, up through the Yukon to Alaska, down through British Columbia and into the U.S. through Washington State. A dream route, to be sure. He has demurred at divulging what other U.S. parks they visited.

It is entirely possible that some sharp-eyed visitors will come across brightly-lettered tags elsewhere in due course in other parks, spelling out this man's name. Somewhat like shouting it jubilantly from the roof-tops, but more long-lasting. As for the damage done to the Grand Canyon, it will cost roughly $8,000 to remove the paint.

It is at an awkward height and angle which will require a restoration team to approach it with ropes and other safety equipment. The full charge for which, along with an additional penalty should surely be charged to this Canadian visitor to an American geological site of great renown.

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