Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday musings

Well, today is the day we take off on our 24 hour long trip to Argentina. I hope all goes well and that we have not forgotten to pack what we need. I have figured out the time difference between here and Buenos Aires and it is a 3 hour amount, where if it is 3 here, it is 6 there.
Anyway, remember how I have mentioned how nice this winter has been? I am attaching a photo of the street view from the front of our house where you can see the lack of snow. Normally there are snowbanks on the side of the street that are 3 to 4 feet high!

It seems that there might be an agreement in sight in the debt write off process in Greece. Numerous reports indicate some sort fiscal write off will happen in the next week or two. I would not feel too sorry for the banks and investors as they have re-insured the debts many times over and at the end of the day will not suffer any great loss, probably they at worst will break even.
In America, the race for the Republican nomination continues with the rhetoric become bitterer every day. A note of desperation and frustration seems to be emerging from the Gingrich camp as it seems that Milt Romney is gathering delegate support ahead of Tuesday’s party election in the State of Florida. I watched part of an all candidate’s debate the other night and was saddened as how the candidates seem to assume that the voters are idiots, have no knowledge of the state of the economy, world politics, anything. From moon bases to promises of more money for pet State projects, while promoting reductions in federal spending, less taxes for all (where is the money coming from to pay for running the government then?) I shook my head. The topper was a couple of different questions. One asked whether a candidate supported Statehood for the territory of Puerto Rico – the candidate-Santorum talk for 5 minutes and at the end said – maybe, maybe not. Then the question as to the state of relations with Cuba arose.  Three candidates- and specifically Mr. Gingrich spoke in terms of facilitating unrest and more embargoes to affect regime change – this in a blatant attempt to pander to Cuban American voters. Only Ron Paul said that the USA should deal with Cuba like they do with Communist China, Communist Viet Nam, Russia, which is to establish trade relations with Cuba. Why is it that Cuba is such a burr under the saddle of the Americans? Do they yearn for the good old days under Battista where the island was ruled like a kingdom by a few wealthy families (some would say robber barons) and exploited the heck out of the people?
Here in Canada the Prime Minister announced (of course not in the country but rather in Davos, Switzerland while attending another of the seemingly endless economic summits where photo ops abound but little substance emerges) that Canadians better get used to retiring at a later age (67 vs. 65) and with reduced benefits as well. He cited the costs to the government as the ranks of retiring people will swell during the next 2 decades and the number of people working to support this will decline due to a smaller proportion of young people in the work force. Apparently encouraging immigration is not an option for this government. Indeed, no mention was made by him as to whether the pensions of these politicians will be reduced as well – as if!
I see where the Arab League monitors in Syria are suspending their visits to areas in the country due to the increasing violence. Is it just me or do you also think that this mission was a waste of time and just window dressing to try to impress the international community? Syria really is at the brink of civil war and the next few months may be crucial to its survival and ability to avoid widespread carnage.
Speaking of Iran and its nuclear industry, the Americans, as evidenced by President Obama on Tuesday night have made it clear that they will not allow that country to develop nuclear capabilities. I am just wondering where this steely determination was when Pakistan did so, when Israel did so, when North Korea did so and when China did so? Instead, except of in the case of North Korea, the Americans give huge amounts of military aid and trade to Pakistan and Israel and have established great trade relations with China – their international banker of choice.
Is this a double standard?
 You be the judge.
I watched a report on CNN the other day on the state of the housing market in the United States. It is staggering as to how much the value of houses has dropped in the last few years and the huge amount of houses that are either abandoned or in foreclosure. Industry “experts” suggest that it will take almost five years for the foreclosure glut to be dealt with and only then will house prices start to appreciate again. Meanwhile here in Canada the city of Vancouver has achieved the dubious distinction of being declared the most expensive city in the world to live in, in terms of owning housing. Here on the Prairies the cost of housing is expected to increase by 3-5% this year. Yet almost every other day in Eastern based media, reports continue to insist that the housing “bubble” will burst this year and prices to decline. Hard to see but time will tell.
I have to mention that it seems that the Province of British Columbia is considering the sale of wine and beer in grocery stores (never happen here in Puritan Saskatchewan by the way). Wow, imagine that, getting in step with a large portion of the Western world. Of course opponents say you will see drunks in the aisles of the grocery stores, but after being in Hawaii a number of times, I have to say that that was something I never saw.
It seems that in Israel there is a growing movement of attacks by ultra orthodox religious folks against women that are dressed in modern attire. It seems that these zealots have plenty in common with their enemies in Muslim camps that figure women should be clothed head to toe and sit at the back of buses. Ignoring the fact that teachings say that men should avert their eyes from women to prevent impure thoughts, they figure that women are chattel and should be accorded no rights or privileges.
Fools – but dangerous fools.
Well, that is it for this week, we have taken our cat to the vacation chateau while we are gone and he did not seem too upset, but I know that there will be hell to pay when we come back from Argentina. I only hope that he survives the month there especially since he is an older (18 years!) cat and we know his time with us is getting shorter. But knowing him, he will have gained poundage and will be a hellion when we see him again.
Oh, I forgot to mention this little bit of news – today marks the first anniversary of my blog! Can you believe that I have actually been doing it for a year? I must admit I never thought it or  I would last this long and now we will just see how long this adventure goes.
Next blog comes from Argentina and hopefully there will be some photos included. I am curious as to how much world news I will be able to access while there.
Take care out there,

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