Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday musings

In Venezuela, the government is assiduously promoting via TV and radio the profile of the Vice President as rumors about the health of Hugo Chavez abound. Many analysts feel this attention to the Vice President is an attempt to position him to succeed Mr. Chavez sooner than later.
Foreign heads of state that have traveled to Caracas were not allowed to visit the President and even though he is purported to be in a military hospital in the city, no one on the staff will admit to having seen him. It is rumored that Mr. Chavez may be near death or may have already passed on.
A troubling situation and surely it will be resolved very soon one suspects.
I read an interesting article in an American news source the other day about the upcoming “Sequester” impact. By now you know what is supposed to happen when these budget cuts hit the country as a result of the government not being able to pass a legal budget very soon.
In the article (here is the link to this CNN report - ) the conclusions it draws is very interesting. In essence the cuts will have a minor impact on the American economy and while there will be some job losses, it believes that they are over stated and slanted by the industries to be affected. In addition, the military budget while decreasing to 2007 levels in the short term will be higher by 2019.
Interesting reading indeed.
In Canada, the Federal Government announced last year some changes to the way the Employment Insurance program runs for those people that are out of work. It actually had the nerve to say that people should prove that they are actually looking for work in order to receive benefits (money) and also to be willing to accept work within 100 kilometres. It also tightened the rules for eligibility for seasonal workers. It is kind of ironic that they protests that now have erupted (almost 6 months later) are mainly based in Quebec and a small Maritime province. Thereby lending credence to the common held believe among other Canadians that this system is skewed in favour of those not wanting to work all year long but rather be part time workers with full time pay during the winter when they are off.
The truth one suspects is somewhere in between.
The Canadian government established the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom this week. One wonders where Atheists fit into this scheme.
Poor France, this week the head of a large American tire manufacturing company declined to purchase an ailing French tire manufacturer citing the lack of work ethic of its staff, specifically only working three hours while getting paid for a full day and also noting other “failings”. Then a German MP, Michael Fuchs, deputy chairman of the Christian Democrats' parliamentary group told public radio that France was Europe's “problem child” and has to reform the work week – make it longer, and raise the pension age from 60 as the rest of Europe has done. He even said that Italy was doing a better job of addressing its fiscal problems that France.
A cynic might say that the French are taking a page out the attitude of the Quebec people towards fiscal responsibility and a work ethic.
Just saying.
Speaking of Germany, did you know that “peaceful” Germany is one of the worlds largest arms exporters with Saudi Arabia as a huge client?
Another week before the Pope resigns and the coverage from some media outlets (hello CNN etc.) is already becoming just a little over the top. From out of seemingly nowhere, a top contender, according to these “unbiased” (ha!) sources, is an American bishop (who also happens to be really, really anti Jewish in comments).
Like, really?
An American is the frontrunner?
Does one honestly think the the highly Euro centric, snobbish, Italian dominated Catholic Church would elevate an American over someone from Europe?
While possible, it is probably highly unlikely to happen as much of Europe really dislikes Americans ( oh yes, except for their money, foreign aid, military help, technology and the like -then they love the Yanks!) and the prospect of an American -gasp – LIBERAL Pope horrifies them.
Actually, might shake them up and help bring the Church into the modern world.
Don't bet on that though.
Italy will be having National Elections on the 24th and 25 of this month. In a land where 1 in 3 young people cannot find a job and daily living is getting more and more difficult, the choices are, to be charitable, weak at the best.
Running to head the country, a tycoon, a professor, a politician and a comedian and many say none are fit to be elected as a dog catcher.
So the saga continues.
Will the extreme xenophobic right surface with all its hatred of non native born peoples as was the case in Greece? That disturbing trend appears poised to continue and that is not good for any and all both in the short and in the long term for any country.
Have you noticed how that evil, vicious war in Syria has slipped off the front pages of the news lately?
Not glamorous enough anymore for the media one supposes. Something like the horror in Mali these days. And yet, we can and do get 24/7 coverage in North America over any rumors about a new product – real or imaginary from Apple Corp., or the latest buzz from the upcoming Oscars.
Crappy isn't it?
Oh well, sometimes it is impossible to actually have any new News all 24 hours a day that is really news so better to invent some or create some I guess. Speaking of that, have you ever seen the odd video report when some so called “Foreign Correspondent” is breathlessly babbling into a microphone in front of a slightly wobbly handheld camera with a backdrop of a “HUGE” angry mob that sometimes the camera actually pans the mob and there are maybe 25 people there?
In fact a couple of weeks ago when the Idle No More movement was proudly adopted by Canadian media and a clip was shown of a so called “massive” demonstration of those folks walking along the main street of Regina, a freeze frame of the web broadcast showed no more than 30 folks in the group. Yet the police closed off all traffic and were bending themselves into virtual pretzels to make sure that the protesters were not inconvenienced rather than the general public.
Too bad that there is no accountability and honesty office for media.
The problem with that concept though is that while nice in concept, a controlled media is a horrible thing in practice if allowed to happen.
Look at the media in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, North Korea etc.
But is it too much to ask for some balance or fairness from the media these days?
I was talking to my golf buddy in Regina the other day and it seems like the weather there is slowly warming up and that is a good thing. It was sad to hear him sob when I mentioned that I drove by a golf course filled with “duffers” today. Spring will get there one day – hopefully not in July though!
We had some nice days this week and took a short trip to a small town called Parksville to walk along the beach, pick up some sea shells ( a secret project my better half is embarked upon) and just enjoy the day. We saw some plants that I have no idea as to what they are but sure liked them for their colour and promise of great days ahead. All in all a good day.

Next weekend the local outdoor markets are supposed to open!
Take care out there,

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