The east coast of North America really got hit by hurricane Sandy this week. Damage was much worse than expected and the costs estimated to be in the 2 billion dollar range are probably north of 23 billion. Over 50 dead and many more unaccounted for. One casualty of the storm was the sinking with 2 lives lost, of the replica sailing ship HMS Bounty. Built in Canada and used in many films over the decades, it is a treasure that will probably never be rebuilt again and that is a huge loss. The area of Staten Island in America looks like a war zone and help is slowly trickling in.
Some in the American media have tried to twist it into a judgement on the Obama administration but I think this has failed in the main. The Republican Governor, a Mr. Christy, who is a strong opponent of Mr. Obama was sincere in his thanks for the response of the federal government emergency services and the President in this disaster. Sometimes politics does retreat and the real humanity and spirit of the American people briefly shines forth again.
The election of the President and members of federal government take place this week and some pundits declare a race too close to call while others say the incumbent, Mr. Obama will handily win based on the way the American electoral college is set up. In the American Presidential system, it is not a case where the person with the most votes win. Rather the votes in electoral districts determine how many “electoral votes” are counted for the candidates. So a person can have more votes but still lose the election.
Whoever wins will have a terrible road ahead of him.
If Mr. Obama wins, he will face a Tea Party led Republican Congress determined not to do anything that might be considered as co-operation on the affairs of the country. They will defeat every proposal no matter its merits just because it is from him. And to heck with the consequences for the average taxpayer.
Gridlock looms and lower credit ratings loom and budget cuts are inevitable it would seem.
If Mr. Romney wins, well, that is the question is it not? Will he be able to cobble together a consensus on turning the American economy around? Will the Tea Party hardliners derail him? What about the promised goodies for the uber rich? And who will pay for all of the promises he made?What will happen to the American Health Care system?
Either way, interesting times ahead one would think.
Western Canada has been hit with various amounts of freezing rain and snow and cold temperatures. Even for this time of year, these conditions are early. Usually this does not occur until mid month or so. In fact for the past few years, snow that stayed on the ground in any large amounts did not happen until month end or early December. Obviously this is not the case this year.
Thieves in Amsterdam are targeting Porches, for their headlights these days. It seems that the high intensity lights also give off a lot of heat while consuming less power making them ideal grow lights for pot. I remember the good old days (?) when thieves stole cars for joyrides or for parts. Too mundane and pedestrian these days I guess.
Over in Japan, Chinese ship entered into Japanese territorial waters near the Senakau Islands Saturday for the second day according to news sources. This is the 10th time since September when Japan nationalized the island chain that an incursion has happened. While the East China islands are under Japanese control, China claims them as well and call them the Diaoyu Islands.
Does anyone still believe that Lance Armstrong is still innocent of charges of doping during his biking career? However, he was not the only one in that era you have to remember. And why is it only the athletes that are sanctioned or punished and not the officials and leaders of the sports? One famous American President once said that “the buck stops here” (at his desk) when assigning responsibility. Have you heard of the head of American baseball taking responsibility for the steroid usage scandal? Or the head of the Olympics for the same? Naw, they are too busy collecting obscene salaries and “gifts” and rewarding friends to think they share some responsibility.
It seems another Argentine vessel may be interred in a foreign port due to cash claims by American “vulture” fund lawyers. In 2001 the country defaulted on 132 billion on foreign debt. Since that time, all IMF loans have been repaid and a large number of creditors have settled as well. There remains outstanding claims, about 24% of the origional which refuse to accept any reduction in amount owed and they are and have been pursuing the Argentine government for a while. Of course the cynic in me wonders why this is allowed to happen when in the United States, companies can file Chapter 11 proceedings and stiff creditors. And yes, there is a difference between companies and governments but defaulting on loans by governments has happened throughout history and so called “vulture” groups rarely succeed in the pursuit of the outstanding money owing. One has to wonder what will happen if the United States is forced to default on its obligations if it cannot right its economy and bankers call in their notes?
It seems Mr. Putin in Russia is having some health issues these days. Reports have surface indicating that he is having back pain issues. Some discredited reports say this happened when he did his “flight with birds” adventure. Other reports are not so kind. Oh well, hope he gets better soon. The Olympics are coming up soon in Russia aren't they? I fully expect this human dynamo to participate in many if not all events. Except maybe the ladies figure skating.... but then again..... just kidding!
In the tech world, it seems sales of the Ipad mini are not blowing the doors off the walls in stores. Perhaps consumers are not ready to over pay for an under priced machine even if it has the Apple logo? Probably not, more likely it is due to the storm in the States yet reports out of flooded and storm damaged New York said that there were lineups at the Apple store when it opened for business and quickly sold out out of the product. It is ironic that the company that once railed against the monolithic big bad Microsoft corporation is now exactly what it once opposed? A big uncaring (according to some ) corporation more focused on profits than product or its workers?
Back to the mundane.. I made it through my birthday unscathed and as my better half would say, none the wiser. But then again, it was a quiet day and considering the journey undertaken to get to this moment and age, I was pleased.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that Remembrance Day is fast approaching and as the ranks of veterans from WW2 and Korea continue to dwindle, we should never forget them or the the veterans since then and the new ones that come from so called police actions or interventions – war is war only the scale is different. And you look around the globe, and you realize that war is still with us and still is big business for weapons manufacturers. We will never be rid of this evil will we?
Take care out there,flatlander52