Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday musings

In Bremen, Germany this week, legislation was passed to allow Muslim workers to take Islamic religious days off.
The days off will be without pay.
An Austrian investor, Rudolf Haberleitner indicated on Friday that he would take over hundreds of one-time Schlecker branch stores closed this year in Germany when the drugstore chain collapsed earlier this year. The bankrupt firm had over 5,00 branches and 25,000 employees. His early plans involves over 600 stores and looks to start in the early New Year.
It is good to hear something positive these days in terms of religious accommodation and in business matters as well.
Over in the United States politics as usual seems to be the tired refrain emerging from both the President and the Republican Party as they refuse to deal with the fiscal cliff mere days away now. Every one of those people seems determined to avoid doing their job at any and all cost. For crying out loud, if they were working for a living, say like a clerk in Walmart – their asses would be fired in a New York minute for incompetence.
And somehow the citizenry seems paralyzed by this and does nothing to galvanize these cowards into action. I caught a video clip of some far right wing hacks on CNN the other day where they both long and earnestly dissed the pop singing phenom PSY and his viral hit, Gangnam Style. They reflected longingly on the music and style of Elvis Presley. Do they not realize he has been dead for decades?Are they even on the same planet as the rest of the world? That fiscal cliff will in all likelihood devastate the weak economic recovery in the States and cause ripple effects throughout the ENTIRE PLANET!!!!!
And they talk about a music video.... fools.
I am so sorry America, but what the hell is going on with you people?
In Canada, the head of the Bank of Canada resigned effective early next year to take the equivalent position with the Bank of England. He is doing what all good skilled people do and that is going where the challenges and the rewards are best. His 5 odd years here were a boon for the country and his loss will be felt, as evidenced by the slight drop in the value of the Canadian Looney but that being said, as in the business world, the loss of one person in a large organization does not doom the firm but rather gives it an opportunity to renew and rededicate and improve. And so it will be for the Bank of Canada as there are many capable people more than willing to fill his place and the country will do well.
OK, something that I do not understand is the whole thing about shark fin soup. Who can possibly justify the death of a shark just for its fin to be removed and used as stock for soup? The same kind of idiot probably loves to use ground down rhino horn for its supposed “health” benefits. This constant killing, actually slaughter of a non human species just for some pathetic whim is beyond the pale and those that do it and those that promote and profit by it should be....... well, let's just say that there should be a punishment strong and humiliating enough to stop these cowardly practices.
Off we go to North Korea, the land whose previous glorious great leader, Kim Jon Il once shot 11 hole in ones the very first time he golfed, a news report where archaeologists recently found the area with the remains of a Unicorn once ridden by an ancient Korean king.
OK, works for me.
Unicorns and glitter abound in North Korea it seems.
Of more concern are reports that the country in in the process of attempting another trial launch of a long distance rocket. No money or resources to provide food and adequate shelter for many of the citizens but more than enough for the military.
You notice how more and more money is being poured into the military around the globe these days? And it is not just so called rogue states only doing this, indeed look at the great debate in the United States about the doomsday scenario forecast if the fiscal cliff budget cuts come into place in the New Year and how the reduction in the military budget will ruin the country. I remember how after the Second World War countries around the world downsized their military and turned the fiscal resources towards the domestic economy with the resultant boom in the wealth and standard of living of those countries. Indeed many believe that the period from 1950 to 1990 will be looked back upon as the true golden era of the world.
At the United Nations, the General Assembly voted to recognize “Palestine” as a non-member observer state. It now joins the Vatican in this regard. Just what does this accomplish anyway?
Indeed on Friday the Jewish government announced plans for 300 more settlements in disputed areas. It is going to be really difficult to create a Palestinian State in what will soon be territory mainly occupied by Israelis isn't it? Do you think the settlers will just pack up and go? Not with the American government backing them as well it seems as the oh so mighty Canadian government these days. I bet the governments in the Middle East are shaking in their boots at the muscle flexing of the Canadian government in support of Israel these days.
Also this week the body of Yassar Arafat was dug up in order to retrieve some “samples” for forensic testing. This may but probably will not put to at end one way of the other rumors of poisoning by Israeli agents as the real cause of his death. The question is, if disproved – who in the Arab world will believe it?
And if proven, then what?
In Egypt, despite massive protests and boycotts in the parliament by the non Islamic fundamentalist opposition, a draft constitution has been passed and will be voted on in the near future. Meanwhile counter protest demanding imposition of Sharia Law are starting to emerge and violence is increasing. Anyone beside me notice that the lot of women in Egypt has not improved one iota since the overthrow of Mubarak? Yet women were at the forefront of the uprising and many were assaulted and raped in the process with no justice ever meted out.
I remember talking to a person many years ago who said that the biggest failure of the West in its dealings with the Middle East and far East was in thinking that the values of the West would be adopted by those areas. This person said one could not change history and the societies that evolved in those regions as a result. To expect that men would relinquish their complete domination of women and be accepting of different viewpoints would be a fatal mistake. In the arrogance of my youth I thought that such thinking was oh so limited and not in keeping with the “real” world.
More and more I think I was wrong and this wise person was right.
Not a happy line of reasoning.....
In Buenos Aires, a little known story about the effects of unmanaged growth and lack of pollution controls continues to grow. Near Argentina's capital, years of growth along the Riachuelo river basin have gone largely unchecked. As companies flush heavy metals into the water, residents are being forced to suffer the side effects. The water is filthy and so contaminated that residents that live in the slums along the river cannot drink or bathe in it without drastic health consequences.
Does anyone there care?
Over in Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff vetoed parts of a controversial oil royalties bill that pit Brazil's oil-producing states against the rest of the country in a battle over future oil wealth. The bill would have pooled all royalty money so all regions could draw income from it. In Canada the royalties stay with each province but there is a scheme called “equalization” funding that in essence taxes so called “have” provinces on their surplus earnings and transfers that to “have not” provinces to balance out the confederation. Of course provinces like Quebec “cook” or fudge their fiscal books so that they end up with the rest of Canada subsidizing their social welfare state and fight tooth and nail against any attempt to actually balance the systems of payments. This way you have subsidized education, day care and the like while such things do not exist in the rest of the country. Ironically, the rate of taxation in Quebec is among the highest in Canada.
Enrique Peña Nieto took over as Mexican president this week, offering a shot at redemption for the party that shaped modern Mexico if he can bring about an end to years of violence and economic under performance. Returning the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to power after a 12-year hiatus, the 46-year-old Peña Nieto aims to use a recent improvement in the economy's fortunes to spark faster growth.
Time will tell.
November 28, was the 543rd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, who founded Sikhism and is the first of 10 Sikh gurus.
Well, we had our first frost of the winter season this past week but luckily the flowers in the back porch escaped with no damage. It is still difficult to grasp that we are now in December and just the other day our lawns were mowed. Back on the Prairies the people tell me the snow is higher and deeper than in many a year and the cold and bitter wind dominates. We feel blessed to be here and yes we know that the month of December traditionally is very wet and gloomy with some short lasting snow falls, but know, we are OK with that.
One of the things in moving to a smaller city is the change in scale for events. This week we went to a local German Craft Fair fully expecting to see many tables of goods ranging from clothes to food items. Well the Fair had about a dozen tables with some food and some, you could say non German related items for sale. The kitchen did offer up a number of tasty items such as rouladen and the like and that was fine. One has to admire people for doing Fairs like this and enjoy them for what they are and what they might become in the future.
Next year we will go again and have another fun outing.
We put a few Christmas “thingys” out front the other day and indeed have gotten a few compliments on them. 
I do draw the line at inflatable lit up plastic reindeer though!

take care out there,

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