Covid-19 Nonsense, Five Days Old

Mask-Ready
A first in over 20 years: shaven and mask-ready!

March 16, 2020

Dearest Niece,
Thank you for thinking of us!
Sorry you couldn’t get through last night. We are thus far without symptoms… but not without crazy shopping stories… which I am saving for my memoirs… or a big party during a lull between pandemics…
Our phone message bank was full. A first for us. Our devices are powered up. My memory, as usual , is sporadic and, at 10% charged, suspect. Auntie  mentioned the PHONE MESSAGES FULL crisis last night and I will immediately see to that. It slipped my “mind.”

Continue reading “Covid-19 Nonsense, Five Days Old”

How Successive Hypocritical Canadian Governments Disempower First Nations

Using Buckshot Legislation To Decimate First Nations Rights

Pamela Palmater knows how badly First Nations have been treated historically and how small amendments squirrelled away in many huge omnibus bills by PM Stephen Harper have been cynically used by PM Justin Trudeau to divide and conquer – particularly in the current Wet’suwet’en pipeline issue.

Sicily and Malta.9

 

Blue Grotto - Qrendi 9:30 AM Sunday
A spectacular view of the wave-fashioned coast near the Blue Grotto at Qrendi, Malta

On Sunday, March 21, we took a small minibus on a guided visit to the south of the island of Malta. What looked like a long lineup and the diminuitive boats didn’t inspire enthusiasm, and we’ve seen other grottos, so we passed on this short trip. We shopped for souvenir tea towels, etc and my camera had brunch.

While I was waiting in a surprisingly nice gift shop the owner pointed up over my head to the official Flag of Malta . She said something I remember sort of like:

“You know we have this other flag. It was given to us by the British, having bombed the crap out of us during WW II!”

For more on the history of Malta that explains the above quote and the Arabic influence see the first post on Malta: Sicily and Malta.7

We then motored east to the lovely seaside port of Marsaxlokk, very busy and fascinating on a Sunday. We enjoyed the colour of the buildings and shopped at the large, pleasant market that stretched for quite a distance along the shore selling everything under the formidable Maltese sun.

At the Church of Our Lady of Pompeii a homily was being preached about Archbishop Oscar Romero of Salvador, canonized a week earlier. Being out of touch but remembering this martyred hero very well, my first thought was “Is Liberation Theology alive and well here in Malta?” Research done at home later dismissed that hopeful idea.

It seems to have required an Argentinian, Pope Francis, to finally beatify in 2015 and recently canonize Saint Oscar Romero, murdered by a right-wing death squad on March 24, 1980 while celebrating mass. Bombs outside the Cathedral in San Salvador also killed between 27 and 40 others and wounded over 200. (See above link.)

But back to our story… We sauntered back to a corner where our minibus would pick us up before noon, still enjoying the place and chatting at the corner with our fellow Sicily/Malta traveller, Shay.

Then our little group returned, past many dwellings not far from the airport that have been built to house refugees, safely to our hotel. For the last time, we took the #14 bus to Valletta, where we ate in an interesting restaurant. Our table was beside a Bullfighting poster from 1996.

We were transferred to the airport once again, one of the things that Insight Vacations includes in the price of its tours. Our route home was Valletta > Catania > Frankfurt > Toronto.

Taxiing before takeoff from Catania, Sicily’s Mungibeddu (Beautiful Mountain), and its godlike namesake nymph, Aetna, gave us a special farewell blessing:

Finally We See Etna!
We got our only decent view of the top of Mount Etna

Our time in Sicily and Malta was full of history, art, fun – and a little luck.

Fridays For Future – Toronto

 

For humans to have a future on Earth we must urgently make some complicated  choices to stop our fouling of the delicate biosphere, which we carelessly “nest” in and share with other living things from the tiniest to the huge.

Speakers we listened to yesterday were mostly young people. They came from across Canada and the Lakota were with us from the U.S.A. Many speakers were indigenous. A lot of chi miigwetches (“big thank yous” in Ojibwa) were heard.

Some speakers at Friday’s “Strike” were a little naïve in statements that listed a whole bunch of things that apparently can and must all be done. Many hard trade offs will have to be made. There will be winners and losers. But we adults had given up trying to stop abusing the planet and have been asleep for decades while the rug was gradually pulled out from under the democratic system. It has happened on our distracted, gadget-smothered watch. We’ve spent way too much time managing our complicated, mostly electronic, “toys.”

While we’ve fiddled like a famous Roman Emperor, our planet has caught fire.

And household recycling, for instance, has become a farcical, shallow, population-fooling exercise. Our cities are afraid to admit how much has been spent on those opaque plastic bins and huge, blind, job-cutting trucks that carry so many “recyclables” that are, by design or circumstance, non-recyclable eventually to dumps. Instead of dealing with the problem, we have used fossil fuels to transport our garbage across oceans to poor countries destitute and/or corrupt enough to accept it.

Single-use plastics, happily not used by those at the Climate Strike for drinks, must be eliminated, not taxed. Our tap water is drinkable, yet Nestlés is raping underground and pristine lake water in both wealthy and poor, thirsty settlements worldwide to put environmentally under-priced water, plain or profitably flavoured and coloured by that corporation, into single-use bottles! Council of Canadians is trying very hard to fight this here. This is a great, doable start.

Anyone who has been in a hospital has seen the mountains of efficient, but polluting, throw-away plastic packages that keep throw-away, plastic-plus-metal medical syringes and other tools sterile. Eliminating these will not help to make or keep free health care for all easy to maintain. Finding our way through complex environmental and economic issues will not be as easy as expressing our goals in attractive slogans. But somehow we must change fast.

One thing Greta Thunberg is right about is that we need awareness, political protest and real sacrifice for these hoped-for changes to become reality. The handful of families that control the world by dominating our Cabinets, Prime Ministers and Presidents can no longer be resisted simply by voting. Humans are becoming glamorous turkeys – just one more exploitable farmyard resource.

So we quickly need to learn to use our backbones and our legs.

Rain-assisted Birding Bonanza

 

 

This spring we have had some lousy weather, not much fun for us until the spring migration of birds through “Our Woods.”

The bad weather (wind and rain and cold) has turned into a blessing, since the warblers, kinglets and other migrating species that fly north through our back yard and the park with a stream behind us have been forced to sleep over a few days more than usual. A frequent walk north by the two small lakes is great, but we can see them from our dining room bay and master bedroom windows because they like to visit our back yard.

This year we have been paying extra attention and had several first sightings, including the northern goshawk, canvasback duck and pied-billed grebe (see previous post.)

Anita saw a black-throated green warbler last week – a first for this year.

May 10 was a birding bonanza! A spectacular first-ever sighting of a male Scarlet Tanager, and in OUR back yard! Our Spotter saw at the bay window the Tanager, a catbird, Nashville warblers, a female yellow warbler, a palm warbler, a black throated blue warbler, female, then male rose-breasted grosbeaks, white throated and white crowned sparrows, a song sparrow, and a brown thrasher.

On May 13, with the aid of my Spotter’s keen eye and my SONY 200 mm zoom lens we were able to clearly identify a Philadelphia vireo, vireo species being very difficult to distinguish from each other. See last photo above.

The grosbeaks stayed from the 10th to the 14th, departing this morning before 7 A.M. on a rare fair weather day. The white-throated sparrows stayed over a week and the white-crowned since Friday. They haven’t left yet!

Today an American Redstart was finally seen after being heard for a few days.

We are still hoping for an indigo bunting, having seen one in 1996 on the back lawn and in 2011 at the sunflower seed feeder.

The hummingbird feeder went up today. My target was May 3…

My SONY alpha A-6000 mirrorless SLR has come in handy for getting enough detail on birds that don’t wait around for me to take notes. I’ve used it mainly set up for quick action: continuous shooting medium or high (important for quick-moving subjects like warblers and swallows feeding over water). I was able to confirm the rough-winged swallow from its shape and colour with the very blurry photo above. I have been playing with DMF auto focus with manual assist to fine tune or rapidly and crudely adjust focus. Perfection is impossible in some situations.

Sicily and Malta.3 – With The Tour Bus

October 13 – We Visit Siracusa with the Tour

The Greek theatre, Ear of Dionysius and the Apollo Temple area are shown here. The tour also explored the Piazza Duomo, with which we were very familiar. Our local expert was excellent in describing these sights.

 

 

 

Then we had a lunch break and left for Ragusa, about 2 hours away including a rest stop.

Siracusa to Ragusa Ibla
90.3 km on the Bus with Tour Director, Barbara, and our skillful, creative, safe driver, Roberto.

Ragusa-Ibla – The Old Town

Our local expert for Ragusa was again excellent in describing these sights. We visited the Old Town on Friday afternoon and slept in Ragusa.

On Canadian Hypocrisy – A Limerick

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 11.10.27 AM

Recently Canadian Cabinet Minister, Jody Wilson-Reybold, tried to respect the Rule of Law as Attorney-General of Canada in deciding to let the courts continue to prosecute Québec Company SNC Lavelin for paying bribes to land lucrative  Libyan contracts between 2001 and 2011. Shortly after that the Minister was demoted from her tricky dual role of Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to Minister of Veterans Affairs by PM Justin Trudeau.

Flashback to the recent, embarrassing and ongoing fiasco in an extradition case requested by our frenetic regime to the south:

Prime Minister Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland repeated over and over and over that Canada is a Rule of Law country after arresting Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou on December 1, 2018 and holding her for extradition to the USA, where she may be prosecuted. President Trump made remarks that imply that the USA is using this threat of prosecution as a bargaining chip to get a better trade deal with China – all of this at the expense of Canada’s relationship with China and putting at serious risk three Canadians being prosecuted by the Chinese for various crimes. One of these, Robert Schellenberg has been convicted and, since the jailing of Ms Wanzhou, sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

 

Neoliberalism’s Legacy

Ravens on steps at Barr'd Island

This Chris Hedges post inspired my listing below, but my own blunt, scruffy and ornery mood soon took over, so don’t blame him…

Neoliberalism’s Grand Achievement: 8 Families now own half of the Planet’s “wealth”

A concise, incomplete history of it’s ascendency:

  • Sharing the wealth was invented to deal with uppity, but needed, unionized workers in the 20th century
  • A phoney science called “economics” was born and nurtured
  • They stumbled onto a flawed idea called “free” trade
  • Corporations were soon made into “persons” with rights and the ability to live forever; that’s much longer than real persons live
  • Those rights grew and grew as worker’s power shrank
  • Human rights, such as clean water, became “commodities” – sold at a positively pornographic price in some places
  • Market “freedom” inevitably led to privatization: fewer and richer Rich vs more and poorer Poor
  • Entertainment and gadgetry kept the middle class distracted – a worthy crowd control project presented to government/corporate/labour think tanks in the 70’s
  • Monopolies were made legal instead of criminal
  • Unemployment Insurance was euphemized Employment Insurance in Canada
  • Companies were allowed to use their employees’ pension savings, including the workers’ own contributions leaving just a bunch of promised numbers in the safe
  • Banks were allowed play with insurance and sell mutual funds
  • Crazy shit like derivatives became a way for the banks to get richer – until they didn’t
  • Your taxes and mine went to bail out poorly managed banks and their overpaid executives
  • Car companies were bailed out even though they broke their pension promises
  • Private equity firm(s) gobbled up peoples’ houses at auctions as if they’d planned it.
  • “Disaster Capitalism” took control of natural and organized disasters
  • Little wealth was created, just redistributed upward
  • The good freedoms of the many (association, speech…) were replaced by freedoms of the few (monopoly, price gauging, foreclosure…)
  • Human beings are now just another “commodity” to those above eight families.

One Huge Piece of Fake News – MH17

cockpit-mh017 3.jpg
Bullet Holes? photo credit: anderweltonline.com

A 1970’s quote that  John Pilger recalls he heard directly from Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler’s film maker:

“Propaganda always wins, if you allow it.”

And she calmly said that it succeeds against the well-educated, liberal bourgeoisie. Will you allow it to win? Some of my closest, smartest friends have been conned.

*********

November 27, The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) continues to be exposed as having used critically flawed “evidence” to discredit Russia… The latest presentation from Russia, on Sept. 17, 2018, is thoroughly damning in its destruction of the JIT’s claim on May 24 that:

the BUK-TELAR which was used to shoot down flight MH17 originated from the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian armed forces.

The Russian response on September 17 was extremely thorough about the production and shipping details of the missile the JIT identified. Lt. Gen. Nikolai Parshin took 12 painstaking minutes to explain that this BUK (whose casing and venturi serial numbers were identified by the JIT) found in the crash area

was delivered by rail 29 December 1986 to military unit 20152 of the Ukrainian army and never sent back to Russia.

Russian Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov then attacked the video used by the JIT to explain the movement of this BUK from Russia to Ukraine. Konashenkov used sophisticated, carefully explained, geometrical evidence to demonstrate that the BUK truck was superimposed on another video of parts of its alleged “route” to the launch site. Then Konashenkov said:

This is conclusive evidence that Ukraine was not just involved in this tragedy but it also manipulated the international investigation.

Konashenkov then played a recording of a 2016 conversation between servicemen preparing for military exercises in Odessa. Ukrainian Armed Forces Col. Ruslan Grinchak suggests to one of his soldiers who is objecting to an order:

Hey! If this keeps going on we will take down another goddamn Malaysian Boeing and everything will be great again. So, that’s what we will tell them.

Konashenkov also explained that in July 2014, when MH17 was shot down, the colonel was the commander of the 164th radio technical brigade, nr A1451 of the Ukrainian Air Force. […] “In other words Grinchak knew exactly what was happening in the air over Donbass, because it was his job.”

The General then stated that Ukraine was clearly involved in the MH17 tragedy and has concealed key information from the JIT that would lead to evidence of Ukraine  involvement.

Here I have to credit the brilliant source of the information I used for this entry. Most of what I have said above is clearly explained in this September 17 post by Max van der Werff ( @MaxvanderWerff ). I’ve been following him since June 2015. I followed the tragic MH17 very closely from July 2014 for two years. I still have a keen interest in everything that has happened but only report from time to time when the occasional breakthrough is made.

This is such a time. I’m not holding my breath for the truth to come out. It’s been four years and four months since the shootdown and February 22, 2019 will mark 5 years since the US-promoted coup d’état that ousted Viktor Yanukovich and started this whole mess that I call the “Blame Russia Chorus.”

And I suggest you don’t believe the coming deluge of fakery on Crimea and the recent Azov Sea provocations. This may well be a deliberate Ukraine ploy, one spin-off of which is to feed the phalanx of complicit Western MSM and thus distract the couch potatoes from paying attention to the above.

Propaganda has very deep pockets and there is much to study.

Read my post MH17 – A Continuing Study if you care. There is a big piece of my life that has gone into all that has happened leading up to the criminal February 22 coup d’état and the resulting tragic deaths, sanctions and cynical machinations that have ensued, continuing to destabilize our world.