Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday musings

Nelson Mandela is back in a hospital in South Africa with a recurring lung inflection as the cause. This incredible man sadly is nearing the end (age 94) of a remarkable life and will be remembered by history as long as man keeps honest records. Without him, it is doubtful that South Africa would have democratically and peacefully transitioned from a white apartheid regime to what it is now. That is not to say that life today in South Africa is perfect, indeed it is far from it but still, what could have happened instead is a horror well avoided because of this man.
Well, North Korea has re-instated the war footing against South Korea and discarded the cease fire dating back to the early 1950's. It has promised “rivers of nuclear fire” destroying the South and ridiculed the “pumpkin skinned” American nation.
As stated last week, really?
What world do their leaders live in anyway?
Even China is starting to back away from its unconditional support of this regime and actually implementing some UN suggested sanctions against them.
And yet the North Koreans keep on going down this road of self immolation.
This story is not over by any stretch of the imagination and one suspects that the next month or two may possibly see armed conflict explode on the world scene.
After all, this week 2 American super stealth bombers flew from the States over to South Korea to participate in war drills and of course the North Koreans went bat crap crazy over that display of American military superiority.
Many suspect the new child leader of North Korea has been backed into a corner by his military and is running out of options to stay in power without resorting to war of any sort with the South.
The government of Cyprus has submitted to European bankers demands and now the banks in the country are imposing a 40% - 60% tax on all accounts over 100,000 Euros. This will effectively start the removal of most Russian funds that have been deposited over the years by uber rich Russians. Many observers think most of that money is somewhat “illegal” to put it mildly. This money has in effect subsidized the Cypriot economy over the past number of years and with its removal, will slash the economy drastically and in effect will make the crash of 2008 seem like a hiccup in comparison.
And yet again the Cypriots ask – why them and not the Greeks, Italians or the Spanish?
The brutal fact is it is because they are a minuscule part of the European economy and as such the rest do not give a damn about them. This is being done to prop up bigger economies that still have not done anything about correcting their own bloated spending and state subsidized economies.
That day of reckoning may still come though.
Argentina has submitted a proposal to an American court to settle outstanding claims over what is termed “vulture loans” that arose out of the fiscal crash of 2002. The odds do not appear be in favour of a settlement as American courts never see any fault in American dealings with other countries, only the faults of those countries. Just look at the softwood lumber dispute between America and Canada or the country of origin for meat labeling between the same 2 countries. In both cases, international courts and laws have sided with the Canadian producers but always the American government changes the laws, impose new sanctions, money bonds and other irritants in an effort to continue the money subsidy flow that goes from it to special interest producer groups in America. Of course the fact that costs are keep artificially high on the States is of little or no consequence as long as the lobby groups are kept happy.
In Venezuela the political rhetoric leading to the election to replace the late President Chavez is intensifying. Already the “temporary” President is comparing Chavez to a South American Redeemer Christ and followers of Chavez (called Chavistas) are his disciples!
Another part of the world that has troubled days ahead.
Canada lost a quality individual this week in the person of Ralph Klein. He was a former Premier of the Province of Alberta. Both friends and foes agree that he was a man of the people and was not the smooth glib talking political hack that seems to run any and all governments these days. Blunt, loquacious, crude, magnanimous, short tempered, abrasive and shy, that was Ralph Klein. Yet in the midst of his era he steered the province through difficult economic times and restructured the civil service and many government programs with the end result that his government was able to pay off the accumulated Provincial debt. Something no other government in this day and age is capable of or even willing to try.
Have you started using “cloud storage” for all your computer files including photos, music and the like instead on in your own computer ? It is all the rage with the pocket protector crowd as they endeavor to show how “cool” and with it in this great geek tech age they are.
Well...... I have a problem with a few features of the “cloud” and will list some for you.
What happens to your files if the “cloud” completely crashes one day and all files are wiped out or are “hacked” by cyber criminals? How do you get them back when they are gone forever?
With your own storage, you can have an external hard drive connected to back up all your files or burn these files to a DVD if you want and store either in another secure site.
What about security?
Do you feel comfortable with spreadsheets with your financials or budgets out of your hands and in an off site “cloud”?
And your photos, if any are stolen from the “cloud” who knows what purpose they will be put up to. And also the destruction of your privacy and actual ownership – what happens to that?
And then there is the cost of “cloud” storage. What will the fees be in a year-two or three?
And if you refuse to pay any increase, are the files held for “ransom” or just deleted forever?
Maybe this is a reflection of this brave new Twitter, Facebook age where privacy for younger people is a goofy concept where they post for all eternity pictures and details of their lives at a drop of a hat with no regard or care about consequences. I think we have all heard stories about pictures of people either drunk or drug impaired that were posted online and then became public and were viewed by potential employers or soon to be former friends. The data posted on the Internet if there forever. Just because you hit the delete key does not mean it is gone forever. Indeed there is a story circulating in the province of Saskatchewan, never denied by the government, that all e mails done in that province are copied over to the American CIA which stores them forever.
Blogs like this also share the same fate.
So, whatever you post – think of the consequences.
One of my favourite authors, D. Dalton has had some interesting news recently.
Amazon in the United States (that really, really big company) started a competition for authors who submitted a new book for judging to them with rewards for the winner. From all the thousands of submissions provided, a short list of 500 was determined. Her submission made that select group! How great is that? So, once again here is the link to the web site for those interested in purchasing some of Dalton's works -
Anyway, speaking of Spring I received an e mail from Regina the other day with a few photos of the condition of yards and I just had to compare them to yards here.

It is so hard to realize that plants will not sprout in Regina for another 2 months or so and yet here, things are just a-hopping. And now they are really starting to worry about possible extreme water flooding on the prairies all the way into the northern USA with some scenarios indicating almost the same level of devastation as occurred in 2011.
Hopefully this does not happen.
While here on the Island this is what our yard looks like-
Doesn't seem fair does it?

Take care out there,

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday musings

Well, as of this writing the drama surrounding the fiscal crisis in Cyprus is still unresolved one way or the other. The citizens reacted en masse in virulent and outspoken opposition to the terms of the fiscal bailout proposed by the ECB. That is to say that they wanted nothing to do with a government raid on their bank accounts to the tune of 6.75 % on balances under 100,000 Euros.
They asked a question that no one was able to answer – why them and why not was this done to the Greeks instead of the almost endless loans and write offs that were given to them?
And that is a really good question.
Cyprus has less than 3% of the European economy and they are to be held hostage?
And many believe the force behind this is the Germans.
A close look at the way the Euro structure was set up shows some interesting facts.
First with there being no central bank that all countries use, each country kept their own. What this did was in essence was to lower the cost of the goods produced by the northern countries (Germany, Norway and the like) while raising the price of the goods from southern countries like Italy, Greece, Cyprus. So the south has been subsidizing the north for years now.
Of course the southern countries then had access to cheap loans with the Euro and instead of paying down bills, they embarked on costly and expensive social programs. France is now teetering on that brink as well with over paid and under efficient workers complemented by an expensive health care system and other costly social programs deemed “basic human rights”.
And now the Germans are making the Cypriots pay the piper for all this.
Maybe the Germans should look at themselves and then propose a better way to start to resolve this crisis. One solution might be to have a common bank or another just might be for the Euro to be eliminated altogether – something that the fat cat bureaucrats in Brussels (and the French who seem to think their “grandeur' is linked to a pan Europa concept – with them as co-leaders with the Germans of course) will fight to the bitter end.
It just might happen though.
Did you notice that during the official installation of the new Pope that there was only 1 woman in the official party and she was the one doing the translation of the spoken word into sign language?
Speaks volumes of the way the Church thinks of women doesn't it?
The Argentinian Peso is really taking a pounding this week as it is now at almost 8 to 1 on the so called Blue market (underground). Last year at this time while we were visiting there the rate was half that. This is almost certainly a sign of serious inflation even though according to Government stats. this is not true.
Most times money markets rarely lie while history is littered with the remains of governments that have.
Hopefully the situation in Argentina corrects itself soon.
Speaking of fiscal confusion, in America this week the American Senate passed its first budget in over 4 years this week.
In 4 years....
And all reports indicate that it will not pass the House so this was basically no more than a P/R effort by politicians of both parties to embarrass those of the other party, and not really an honest effort at all.
The Federal Aviation Authority is slating over 149 airport towers for closure due to the newly imposed budget cuts, all the while making no effort to reallocate funds in secretive Research and Development programs to keep them open.
A large majority of the tower closures just “happen” to be in districts represented by the Republican opponents of the President – a Democrat.
This just lends more and more credibility to thoughts that these steep cuts are targeted at opposition politicians districts and meant to generate massive pain and anger against the Republicans and not towards the complete chaos in the government done by all parties.
How sad is that?
So, for a story to shake your head upon we go to Vancouver, Canada.
There is an area in the wonderful city that is similar to many other cities throughout the world in that it has once seen better days and now is an area that most people make a conscious effort to avoid due to its reputation as a “seedy” and dangerous end of town. It is called Commercial Drive. Recently a couple of business have opened their doors in formerly abandoned buildings and have hired people from the area to work there. One is a classy restaurant and another is a pizzeria. Both have programs to offer free or low cost meals to people of the area and are actively involved in the community.
So what is the problem?
It seems that there are some “professional” anarchists that are incensed that anyone wants to change the character of the district. Imagine offering employment to the unemployed! Instead these “people” are vandalizing the businesses and picketing in front of them and physically harassing their clientele in an effort to drive the business out of the area. They demand that instead of offering employment and cleaning up parts of a filthy area and having more taxes flow into civic coffers to help pay for social programs that the government keep the area the way it is (no “gentrification” for these folks!) and also increase welfare payments to these non working parasites.
Maybe instead of always bowing down to these “citizens” the government should gather them all up, put them on a plane to, say, Syria or Iran, and just drop them off there to live for maybe a year as “guests” of those countries social welfare system, OK?
If any survive, maybe if they are allowed back into Canada, they might appreciate what this country can offer to its people. Unfortunately many seem to think that just being in Canada or being born here entitles them to have a way of life paid for by others while they do not have to work a day at all-ever.
That is not the way it is and maybe they should learn this and fast.
Speaking of Russia, you have to love the story about how the rich run that country. In Moscow, many of the uber rich now hire taxis disguised as ambulances (with luxurious interiors) to rush them through the crowded streets with sirens blaring in order to get to wherever they want to get to. No waiting in traffic for these special folks!
Also news reports indicate that Boris Berezovsky, a Russian tycoon who fled to sanctuary in England has died at the age of 67. A one time “buddy” of Mr. Yeltsin and Mr. Putin, he fell from favour over the years and his death is apparently shrouded in accusations of “mysterious” causes supposedly at he behest of Russian authorities. Whether true or not, another outspoken critic of the Russian political system is now silenced.
Easter is on the horizon, I wonder if that will be the next cause for activists. That is, will a movement emerge to abolish this time because the religious connotation makes atheists feel discriminated against?
Don't scoff – in Saskatoon a “gentleman” was so offended by message on transit buses wishing a Merry Christmas this past December, that he has taken his hurt feelings to the Provincial Human Rights junta, oops, sorry, Board for help.
Never ends does it?
Meanwhile here on the Island, while on a walk (sorry snow bound Saskatchewan) this week I saw what can be called a rare sight – a Canadian Navy submarine! Amazing to say the least. I thought all 2 were in drydock or something like that. I bet the Russians, Chinese and the Yanks are trembling in their shoes at this display of military might from Johnny Canuck – right?

I finished off the day with a walk around a local waterfront park and considered it a day well spent.

Now that Spring is officially here, may the melt start on the Prairies and warmth return to this wonderful country.

Take care out there,

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!

Cyprus is the 4th European country to feel the effects of the Greek fiscal crisis. The debt has been spread through various banking institutions and of course they do not want to lose money on these loans so.....they in essence “screw” citizens of other countries when they have to refinance their own economy because of less than intelligent decisions made by the politicians of said country. What the bankers did is really wrong. In order to get funding, well, of course the innocent citizens of Cyprus have to pay the piper. The banks imposed a new tax on all citizens that have their savings in bank accounts. Those with less than 100,000 Euros will pay a 6.74% tax and those with more will pay 9%. And it is a done deal and the funds were frozen by the government under cover of night and are gone from the accounts.
So, now a government taxes your income, you bank the money and then they tax it again.
Yes, really, and please tell me why this is not: a)wrong, b) immoral, c) evil?
And do you think other governments are not watching this closely and hoping to sneak this into their countries as well?
Of course politicians and bankers can and always do raise their wages without regard for anything or anybody so such disgusting taxes never affect or bother them.
Have you read in Canada about another insidious trend in politics that is emerging where politicians when caught abusing the public purse or parliamentary law, merely say “oops, not my fault” or the “rules were vague” or “someone gave me wrong approval” and then repay the money and stay in the job? The odd one may resign but immediately throws their hat back into the ring to get re-elected.
No criminal charges for these people.
What the heck is going on here?
Is there now officially one set of rules for politicians -i.e. no punishment, and another set for the average citizen – you break the law and at a minimum you pay a fine?
Look at British Columbia where a top government staffer and a cabinet minister purportedly broke the laws about the proper use of government money in regards to work for the people and the work for the party-and the punishment was being allowed to resign. No recommendations of pressing charges and law officials were also strangely mute.
Some Federal Government Senators have abused their housing allowances and it seems that having been caught, all they have to do is repay the money and they keep their jobs.
Tell that to the small company bookkeeper that took money from their employer to pay for a gambling habit that now resides in provincial jail (an actual case in Saskatchewan).
Where is the fairness in that?
I do not know about you, but I am so tired of the constant bleating of so many groups of how they have to be paid so much in order to stay in their field and in the employ of whatever company or government department they work for. To list a few professions – how about Lawyers, Teachers, University Professors, Nurses, senior Government Executive Managers, Doctors, Police etc., - tell me again who held a gun to their heads to force them into their career and who forces them by what law to remain there? These same people blithely look at other people working their butts off and say to them – well if you do not like your job-change professions. Maybe they should look into the mirror and use their own advice. Maybe society is slowly getting tired of being held hostage by these self entitled groups.
And remember this, the taxpaying base is shrinking due to more and more taxes and the money pot is and will continue to shrink.
So the new Pope is wanting to direct the Church towards caring for the poor. Hmmm, I kinda thought that was always supposed to be the goal of the Catholic Church. Perhaps the top folks there have for a long, long time chosen to ignore this concept while living large through incredible amounts of money (non trackable-how cool is that?) from the over one billion supporters?
Just like the top dogs at the UN, International Olympic Committee, large Banks- get the picture?
So in America fiscal ruin still has not emerged as a result of the Sequestration Act. It is early yet but maybe the impact will not be as traumatic as predicted by the White House?
Time will soon tell one supposes.
And it is rather ironic that the Republican Party that for so many years defended a strong, ever higher funded military has completely changed policy and now almost gleefully endorses the cuts to the armed forces budget and programs.
Why has the hate for the President by the Republicans been allowed to damage that great country to the effect it has to date and it definitely will even more in the future?
If for example the dreaded Obamacare Act is so wrong, why not work to elect a Republican in the next Presidential election and then repeal it?
Probably because almost all opinion polls reflect a cruel reality of life. Almost all citizens want the pluses of government largesse because they believe that somehow they really do not pay for that but at the same time will also support any and all efforts to curb government programs that do not benefit them. A case of wanting your cake but not wanting to pay for it and politicians pander to this in order to get elected.
And other countries should not be smug about this – look at the money being poured into the Canadian Health Care system with poor results and accountability. Same thing. France with its vacation policy. The list goes across the board.
Ewald Heinrich von Kleist, a former German army lieutenant who took part in a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler, has died at the age of 90. It is important for history and people to remember that indeed there were some courageous Germans that stood against the evils of Nazism and not for people these days to pretend that the Holocaust and the Second World War did not happen for the reasons that they did and that the horrendous toll of millions killed and murdered ever be forgotten.
In France, in what is sadly, horribly poor judgement by the judiciary because of the leniency of the sentence, a man in Brest was sentenced to a one year suspended prison term after he was found guilty of placing a camera phone in the toilets of supermarkets in the towns of Brest and Quimper and taking over 1500 photos of women in the stalls.
What the hell is the matter with the judge in that case?
A slap on the wrist for this?
Many would say, but of course, that is the French for you – blasted sexual hypocrites.
Many would agree.
Spain is raising the early retirement age from 61 to 63 and will save 5 Billion Euros (6.5B Canadian) a year. One has to wonder as to the retirement system in Europe. Is it totally dependent on state funds to the retiree? If so, no wonder the economies of so many countries are being stretched to the breaking point.
In North America (both Canada and the USA) people can retire when they want to and at any age. In Canada there is a state funded pension but that is paid into by the citizens and the employer to be paid out based on total lifetime contributions started at a reduced rate if wanted at age 60 or at full rate at 65. There is also a supplementary pension available starting at 65 regardless if one collects the aforementioned one, but that is not enough to live on but intended more as a supplement to existing pension income. More importantly, there are many options available to the individual to invest into self funded retirement saving programs and money markets that for many can and do form the foundation of their retirement income with the state pension being a supplement to those.
In America, I am not sure as to what the system is in terms of government participation but there is a private component available. Perhaps someone can let me know?
Speaking of bright spots in the world, in Pakistan, the government has reached the end of its 5 year term and has peacefully stepped down in advance of new elections. This in a country with a long history of military coups. Positive news indeed.
On the other hand, the President of Afghanistan comes out with the bizarre accusation that the Americans are collaborating the the militant Al Qada to overthrow his government.
Right, the Americans who have fought this bloody endless war for 12 years are actually working hand in glove with the enemy?
Sadly one has to wonder why the Yanks ever went into this place in the first place. No good ever seems to come out of that semi feudal land – ever.
Just ask the British and the Russians.
What is in that country worth the cost that these countries have paid?
Whatever it is or was, it does not excuse imperialism does it?
North Korea is testing short range missiles and warning once again about nuclear fire – what is with them anyway?
Back here in Canada, poor old Saskatchewan got socked again with a couple of late season snow storms, really – enough!
Let the melt begin, please?
Not to say too much but next week I will get in my second game of golf – tee hee...
Finally, I lost another friend this week. One of the sad parts of when one is no longer a young person but slowly aging is that people you know slowly leave you behind. He was a good friend of my parents and I had the pleasure of meeting him a number of times, not as many as I wanted but he lived a world away in Europe. So this week is dedicated to F.B. In Germany, rest easy and in peace.............

take care out there my friends,

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday musings

Now the drama begins in Venezuela now that Hugo Chavez has passed on.
Ignoring the constitution and with approval of an apparently cowed judiciary, the Vice President had himself sworn in as President and announced the Presidential election for April 14th. This allows him to remain front and centre in the public eye with generous air time support from all forms of media. Critics claim this is illegal but it is going to happen no matter what they say.
The new President announced that Mr. Chavez will be embalmed and lie in state forever in a clear crystal case viewable by the general public. Confirming to many critics of the late Leader that he was in the vein of Lenin, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh and Mao Zedong – all quite non Democratic leaders to say the least.
Reports are also trickling out that Mr. Chavez knew well before the recent election that he was terminally ill but decided to conceal this from the electorate in order to win his Presidency again.
Here in Canada some pundits liken it to the fate that befell a certain Mr. J. Layton, leader of the Federal NDP that emerged from the last election as the Official Opposition rather than the usual position of a distant third ranked party in the parliamentary chambers.
One has to ask where being honest with the general public fits in with the actions of these 2 people and in fairness, others that have done the same in politics over the years. Are the concepts of honesty and integrity now passe and out of fashion?
In America, reports are emerging how senior government officials are directing staff to enforce to most aggravating and visible public service cuts due to the”SEQUESTERIZATION ACT” in order to goad opinion against the Republican Party and promote passage of the fiscal goals of the President. Efforts to minimize these impacts and find ways to spread the “economic” pain throughout each department are ignored or decided against.
How is that in the public interest?
Where is the honesty in that?
In Canada reports state that a First Nations Chief in Saskatchewan, Roger Redman, who represent a band of 443 people takes home more money than the Canadian Prime Minister. He claims that is not true but provides no data to support that claim.
Is this fair?
And First Nations people wonder why so many other people in Canada distrust them and offer little support for their claims.
Many wonder how 4% of the population can so affect the lives of the other 96%.
After the mess that was the result of the elections in Italy where no party won a clear majority, financial rating agencies cut the country's credit rating this week. Just what the country needed as it continues to struggle to reclaim control of the economy and its debt obligations. One of the men running for President was convicted in court of wiretapping charges and sentenced to one year in jail. Under the Italian system, he does not actually go to jail but will be free while he appeals and the odds are that no matter what the outcome, he will never set foot in jail. Such is the Italian way for the rich and famous people that live there. So, the possibility that a convicted “felon” will possibly become the President of Italy is very, very real.
And that in itself, is so very, very unreal.
Speaking, OK, writing, of Italy, all the Cardinals of the Catholic Church have finally made it to Rome to start the election of the next Pope in the coming week. Wonder if, when they huddle in the Do Not Disturb secret voting room or Enclave, will they order in pizza when it drags on or will they order fried chicken? Yes, this is an irreverent thought, but then again, what do they do for food in those sessions? Of course minor issues like, say, sex scandals, a bank that has no control/oversight running amok and unaccountable, gay and female phobia to name a few matters, well those will be ignored and swept under the carpet as usual one supposes.
So, North Korea is going to unleash a “rain of nuclear fire” on Washington via missile attacks any day now according to them?
Like, really, really??
Oh those poor buggers, they will feel like the bug and not the windshield if and when that nonsense kicks off. Their missile attack will never make it to American shores but any that make it off the ground and into the air will at best make it over Canada before they are shot down to fall on Canada – oops, just a case of collateral damage to Johnny Canuck. Then all hell will probably envelop the Korean peninsula as a solid wall of flame, fire and radioactivity will incinerate any and everything there (sadly probably including most of innocent South Korea and a good chunk of China as well). Of that there can be no doubt.
But at least the North Koreans will have shown the Americans what for, right?
Over in Germany, a disabled man in the town of Schwedt in the state of Brandenburg was driving home on his scooter when local police pulled him over for going faster than 6KPH. And not just one police officer but 5! They must have been really scared of this disabled man one supposes. Anyway, they made him walk the rest of the way home, pushing his scooter. Definitely not like the police in some American cities where many stories are reported in news media where “stars”/rappers etc. are pulled over for illegal vehicles/driving, etc. and only given a “stern” warning and off they go and do it again.
Here is a little reported story that will bear watching as it develops over the year in France.
The French Prime Minister had directed all agencies to effect a reduction in costs of 5 billion Euros next year. This sounds like an impossible task especially when the French President just announced plans to pay expectant fathers (actually spouses of women expecting) bonuses!
Unbelievable, here one top official says cut costs and the other says, in essence, money is no object.
Almost like the fiscal relationship between the province of Quebec and the rest of Canada one supposes.
Speaking of the environment, you ever wonder why most of the world media jumps all over countries like Canada for its “dirty” impact on the air quality of the planet yet not one of those so called ethical media outlets has the courage to pound away with the same ferocity at the governments of India and China for what their countries are doing? Have you seen clips where Beijing is shown with all its citizens wearing face masks walking in the streets under orange skies (dust borne wind aided pollutants) or the same from India? No media slams them for the ever increasing new dirty coal burning power plants coming on line almost monthly.
No, the environmentalists are given a pass on this aren't they?
In Canada, check out the actions and politics of the Suzuki Foundation and that of its founder.
Just saying.
OK, got my first golf game of the year this past week.
What a joy, what great heights and also at the same time, what depths of despair did I experience.
Yup, it is wonderful to know that even though I now can golf almost 2.5 months earlier than I could on the Prairies, my game still is the stuff of legends. A tale of heroics and at the same time a tale of horror.
But on the plus side, while I had great and not so great shots, I did not lose a single ball!
And that is wonderful, almost a miracle and will not be forgotten, that is for sure.

And yes, I did send these pictures back to folks on the Prairies just to torment them and I would like to say I am sorry for doing so, but really, just cannot.
Anyway, take care out there,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday musings

The government of Venezuela announced the other day that Mr. Chavez is now “fighting” for his life and undergoing another round of chemotherapy, now in Caracas. Many see this as almost the last stage in the life of the President and worries about the future stability and direction of the country mount.
Sadly many “pundits” in America are almost gleeful with the prospect of his death. Perhaps the conveniently forget that he was responsible for many years of the continuing shipment of oil to America during the winter months for almost next to nothing for conversion into heating oil for people on the east cost while their own government ignored the same people.
If Chavez does die soon, the stability of many countries in South America and even the Caribbean will be affected. The most likely one is Cuba who has a large trade/services infrastructure relationship with Venezuela. In exchange for much needed oil imports, the Cuban government sends large numbers of doctors and support staff in exchange programs to help the Venezuelan people. If a new regime discontinues that program, both countries populations will suffer as a result.
Speaking of Cuba, Raoul Castro, the President has announced that he will, as his brother Fidel did, retire from office (2018). This has infuriated many American government officials and expatriate Cubans, the majority that live in Florida and have a large electoral influence. Imagine that, that the Castro brothers will not be forced out of office by economic or military means but rather by old age – the injustice of this offends them.
If this does happen, who will they attack then?
As well, what fate will befall the political direction of Cuba?
I think many Americans and ex-Cubans imagine that life in Cuba will revert to the old days under the dictator Batista who ruled with a fair amount of American support. As well many rich Americans and American companies ran parts of that island like their own little kingdom with disregard for the rights of the people. One suspects that no matter what happens in Cuba after the Castros' are gone, those “good old days” will not return.
Brazil announced this week that it intends to build a new shipyard capable of constructing French designed nuclear submarines. Somehow one never equates that country with navel might. One has to wonder as to what water borne threat they want to defend against with such a vessel.
Oh well, as everywhere, politicians love to spend money and try to divert the peoples attention from mundane things like roads, taxes, pollution, graft and the like.
Italy had the general election I mentioned last week and as predicated, bugger all got resolved. Maybe the Italians, Greeks and the people from Quebec have it right. Spend money without regards as to where it comes from and never intend on paying it back, once you get in debt so large, who will dare to bankrupt you and lose their lent money as a result? Look at the large banks and car companies in America in the last few years, they did the same and the government gave them money instead of locking their doors and throwing them out on the street – which is what would happen without a doubt to the average taxpayer if they defaulted on their mortgages or bank loans.
And in America the long forecast “sequester” has become a reality.
I find it strange that the President keeps going forth on all forms of media as to how national parks, border services, military support staff, schools, food programs and the like will suffer harshly but not saying that this will not happen in a day or so but more like within a month. And that in reality the cuts amount to a 2% cut in budgets all across the board. Now if you are like most people, if someone said that you will have to reduce your expenses by that amount, I suspect that most likely you could. Indeed some people say that government could fly less, and definitely go coach fare and not first class. Government could also reduce some purchases and see if they can start to tender out these purchases rather than sole sourcing as many as it does. And maybe the ignorant finger pointing butt covering politicians should have their pay cheques stopped, their gold plated pensions and office perks cut by 50% and stay that way even after this mess is resolved. And what about limiting the terms of these politicians to a maximum of three? Maybe they would actually work to deserve their wages because it may surprise these folks but they work for the taxpayer, not the other way around as so many seem to think.
So the Pope is now retired. Or is it the ex-Pope?
Anyway, he leaves the Vatican to a really nice castle in Italy to be in seclusion and, well, not really sure what he is going to do.
But then again at age 85, does it really matter?
That being said, one wonders if he left the Catholic Church better or worse for his rule?
Time and history will be the judge.
One day though, the Church will have to face the evil of the abuse its priests sexually inflected on young people and do something honest about it. Also the issue of gays, women priests and birth control will not go away and the sooner it moves into the real world, the sooner it can reclaim its relevance and legitimacy and attract people to it again.
A good first step would be the election of a modern day style Pope in the coming weeks – but one doubts that result.
Remember how North Korea exploded another nuclear device underground a couple of weeks ago? Reports are coming out where Japanese and American scientists cannot find any evidence of radiation from the supposed test. This means that the North Koreans have either developed a new type of bomb, or found a way of hiding all traces or maybe just blew up a bunch of explosives and pretended that it was a nuclear weapon all in an attempt to get concessions such as food from the world community (read: Americans).
Also in Japan, fish caught in waters near the Fukushima Nuclear power plant (it had that partial meltdown almost 2 years ago) display incredibly high amounts of radioactivity. Some power plant officials suggest that this is a result of other sources and not from potentially another leak into the water from the plant.
Right, maybe they are correct, maybe not.
Here in British Columbia the ruling Provincial government has been under intense scrutiny and scorn over a leaked document showing how it was to use (and apparently to some degree did) both party and government staff in a plan to document and enlist swing ethnic groups of voters in the upcoming election.
Wrong, wrong and probably illegal but definitely immoral. That being said, you have to believe that all political parties everyone have a similar policy paper securely hidden from sight that they use.
That is just the real world unfortunately.
Not right, but the real world.
Here on the Island, the open air market that I was led to believe was to open this week actually will be opening mid month.
But on the plus side I went to a local golf course and booked my first game of the year for next week. I find that a little strange as usually on the Prairies golf starts in late May, but what the heck, I do not mind in the least. Bad part of this is this gives me more opportunities to lose even more golf balls over the year – an expensive thought!
Take care out there,