Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

The following is an Associated Press article. Prepare to be horrified and disgusted. It begs the question. Why are we even maintaining diplomatic relations with this butcher communist state of China? Why are we continuing to trade with this society? Surely our sense of morals and ethics are so profoundly anathema to the butchers of Beijing, that we can afford as a society to pay more for whatever was previously coming out of China and find a way to source those products from western democracies or create and manufacture those products ourselves. China is everything that is wrong with humanity. It’s time to make the call and shut them out of world commerce. China is every bit as ugly as Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.

The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uyghurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.
While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”
The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.
The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.
After Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, the government ordered her to get an IUD inserted. Two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway. They gave Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a $2,685 fine for having more than two children.

If she didn’t, they warned, she would join her husband and a million other ethnic minorities locked up in internment camps ¬– often for having too many children.
“God bequeaths children on you. To prevent people from having children is wrong,” said Omirzakh, who tears up even now thinking back to that day. “They want to destroy us as a people.”
The result of the birth control campaign is a climate of terror around having children, as seen in interview after interview. Birth rates in the mostly Uighur regions of Hotan and Kashgar plunged by more than 60% from 2015 to 2018, the latest year available in government statistics. Across the Xinjiang region, birth rates continue to plummet, falling nearly 24% last year alone – compared to just 4.2% nationwide, statistics show.
The hundreds of millions of dollars the government pours into birth control has transformed Xinjiang from one of China’s fastest-growing regions to among its slowest in just a few years, according to new research obtained by The Associated Press in advance of publication by China scholar Adrian Zenz.
“This kind of drop is unprecedented ….there’s a ruthlessness to it,” said Zenz, a leading expert in the policing of China’s minority regions. “This is part of a wider control campaign to subjugate the Uyghurs.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry referred multiple requests for comment to the Xinjiang government, which did not respond. However, Chinese officials have said in the past that the new measures are merely meant to be fair, allowing both Han Chinese and ethnic minorities the same number of children.
For decades, China had one of the most extensive systems of minority entitlements in the world, with Uyghurs and others getting more points on college entrance exams, hiring quotas for government posts and laxer birth control restrictions. Under China’s now-abandoned ‘one child’ policy, the authorities had long encouraged, often forced, contraceptives, sterilization and abortion on Han Chinese. But minorities were allowed two children – three if they came from the countryside.
Under President Xi Jinping, China’s most authoritarian leader in decades, those benefits are now being rolled back. In 2014, soon after Xi visited Xinjiang, the region’s top official said it was time to implement “equal family planning policies” for all ethnicities and “reduce and stabilize birth rates.” In the following years, the government declared that instead of just one child, Han Chinese could now have two, and three in Xinjiang’s rural areas, just like minorities.
But while equal on paper, in practice Han Chinese are largely spared the abortions, sterilizations, IUD insertions and detentions for having too many children that are forced on Xinjiang’s other ethnicities, interviews and data show. Some rural Muslims, like Omirzakh, are punished even for having the three children allowed by the law.
State-backed scholars have warned for years that large rural religious families were at the root of bombings, knifings and other attacks the Xinjiang government blamed on Islamic terrorists. The growing Muslim population was a breeding ground for poverty and extremism, “heightening political risk,” according to a 2017 paper by the head of the Institute of Sociology at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences. Another cited as a key obstacle the religious belief that “the fetus is a gift from God.”
Outside experts say the birth control campaign is part of a state-orchestrated assault on the Uyghurs to purge them of their faith and identity and forcibly assimilate them into the dominant Han Chinese culture. They’re subjected to political and religious re-education in camps and forced labour in factories, while their children are indoctrinated in orphanages. Uyghurs, who are often but not always Muslim, are also tracked by a vast digital surveillance apparatus.
“The intention may not be to fully eliminate the Uighur population, but it will sharply diminish their vitality, making them easier to assimilate,” said Darren Byler, an expert on Uyghurs at the University of Colorado.
Some go a step further.
“It’s genocide, full stop. It’s not immediate, shocking, mass-killing on the spot type genocide, but it’s slow, painful, creeping genocide,” said Joanne Smith Finley, who works at Newcastle University in the U.K. “These are direct means of genetically reducing the Uighur population.”

For centuries, the majority was Muslim in the arid, landlocked region China now calls “Xinjiang” – meaning “New Frontier” in Mandarin.
After the People’s Liberation Army swept through in 1949, China’s new Communist rulers ordered thousands of soldiers to settle in Xinjiang, pushing the Han population from 6.7% that year to more than 40% by 1980. The move sowed anxiety about Chinese migration that persists to this day. Drastic efforts to restrict birth rates in the 1990s were relaxed after major pushback, with many parents paying bribes or registering children as the offspring of friends or other family members.
That all changed with an unprecedented crackdown starting in 2017, throwing hundreds of thousands of people into prisons and camps for alleged “signs of religious extremism” such as travelling abroad, praying or using foreign social media. Authorities launched what several notices called “dragnet-style” investigations to root out parents with too many children, even those who gave birth decades ago.
Story continues below advertisement
“Leave no blind spots,” said two county and township directives in 2018 and 2019 uncovered by Zenz, who is also an independent contractor with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a bipartisan non-profit based in Washington, D.C. “Contain illegal births and lower fertility levels,” said a third.
Officials and armed police began pounding on doors, looking for kids and pregnant women. Minority residents were ordered to attend weekly flag-raising ceremonies, where officials threatened detention if they didn’t register all their children, according to interviews backed by attendance slips and booklets. Noticesfound by the AP show that local governments set up or expanded systems to reward those who report illegal births.
In some areas, women were ordered to take gynecology exams after the ceremonies, they said. In others, officials outfitted special rooms with ultrasound scanners for pregnancy tests.
“Test all who need to be tested,” ordered a township directive from 2018. “Detect and deal with those who violate policies early.”
Abdushukur Umar was among the first to fall victim to the crackdown on children. A jovial Uighur tractor driver-turned-fruit merchant, the proud father considered his seven children a blessing from God.
But authorities began pursuing him in 2016. The following year, he was thrown into a camp and later sentenced to seven years in prison – one for each child, authorities told relatives.
“My cousin spent all his time taking care of his family, he never took part in any political movements,” Zuhra Sultan, Umar’s cousin, said from exile in Turkey. “How can you get seven years in prison for having too many children? We’re living in the 21st century – this is unimaginable.”
Fifteen Uyghurs and Kazakhs told the AP they knew people interned or jailed for having too many children. Many received years, even decades in prison.

Leaked data obtained and corroborated by the AP showed that of 484 camp detainees listed in Karakax county in Xinjiang, 149 were there for having too many children – the most common reason for holding them. Time in a camp – what the government calls “education and training” – for parents with too many children is written policy in at leastthreecounties, notices found by Zenz confirmed.
In 2017, the Xinjiang government also tripled the already hefty fines for violating family planning laws for even the poorest residents – to at least three times the annual disposable income of the county. While fines also apply to Han Chinese, only minorities are sent to the detention camps if they cannot pay, according to interviews and data. Government reports show the counties collect millions of dollars from the fines each year.
In other efforts to change the population balance of Xinjiang, China is dangling land, jobs and economic subsidies to lure Han migrants there. It is also aggressively promoting intermarriage between Han Chinese and Uyghurs, with one couple telling the AP they were given money for housing and amenities like a washing machine, refrigerator and TV.

“It links back to China’s long history of dabbling in eugenics ….you don’t want people who are poorly educated, marginal minorities breeding quickly,” said James Leibold, a specialist in Chinese ethnic policy at La Trobe in Melbourne. “What you want is your educated Han to increase their birth rate.”
Sultan describes how the policy looks to Uyghurs like her: “The Chinese government wants to control the Uighur population and make us fewer and fewer, until we disappear.”
Once in the detention camps, women are subjected to forced IUDs and what appear to be pregnancy prevention shots, according to former detainees. They are also made to attend lectures on how many children they should have.
Seven former detainees told the AP that they were force-fed birth control pills or injected with fluids, often with no explanation. Many felt dizzy, tired or ill, and women stopped getting their periods. After being released and leaving China, some went to get medical checkups and found they were sterile.
It’s unclear what former detainees were injected with, but Xinjiang hospital slides obtained by the AP show that pregnancy prevention injections, sometimes with the hormonal medication Depo-Provera, are a common family planning measure. Side effects can include headaches and dizziness.
Dina Nurdybay, a Kazakh woman, was detained in a camp which separated married and unmarried women. The married women were given pregnancy tests, Nurdybay recalled, and forced to have IUDs installed if they had children. She was spared because she was unmarried and childless.
One day in February 2018, one of her cellmates, a Uighur woman, had to give a speech confessing what guards called her “crimes.” When a visiting official peered through the iron bars of their cell, she recited her lines in halting Mandarin.
“I gave birth to too many children,” she said. “It shows I’m uneducated and know little about the law.”
“Do you think it’s fair that Han people are only allowed to have one child?” the official asked, according to Nurdybay. “You ethnic minorities are shameless, wild and uncivilized.”

Nurdybay met at least two others in the camps whom she learned were locked up for having too many children. Later, she was transferred to another facility with an orphanage that housed hundreds of children, including those with parents detained for giving birth too many times. The children counted the days until they could see their parents on rare visits.
“They told me they wanted to hug their parents, but they were not allowed,” she said. “They always looked very sad.”
Another former detainee, Tursunay Ziyawudun, said she was injected until she stopped having her period, and kicked repeatedly in the lower stomach during interrogations. She now can’t have children and often doubles over in pain, bleeding from her womb, she said.
Ziyawudun and the 40 other women in her “class” were forced to attend family planning lectures most Wednesdays, where films were screened about impoverished women struggling to feed many children. Married women were rewarded for good behaviour with conjugal visits from their husbands, along with showers, towels, and two hours in a bedroom. But there was a catch – they had to take birth control pills beforehand.
Some women have even reported forced abortions. Ziyawudun said a “teacher” at her camp told women they would face abortions if found pregnant during gynecology exams.
A woman in another class turned out to be pregnant and disappeared from the camp, she said. She added that two of her cousins who were pregnant got rid of their children on their own because they were so afraid.
Another woman, Gulbakhar Jalilova, confirmed that detainees in her camp were forced to abort their children. She also saw a new mother, still leaking breast milk, who did not know what had happened to her infant. And she met doctors and medical students who were detained for helping Uyghurs dodge the system and give birth at home.
In December 2017, on a visit from Kazakhstan back to China, Gulzia Mogdin was taken to a hospital after police found WhatsApp on her phone. A urine sample revealed she was two months pregnant with her third child. Officials told Mogdin she needed to get an abortion and threatened to detain her brother if she didn’t.
During the procedure, medics inserted an electric vacuum into her womb and sucked her fetus out of her body. She was taken home and told to rest, as they planned to take her to a camp.
Months later, Mogdin made it back to Kazakhstan, where her husband lives.
“That baby was going to be the only baby we had together,” said Mogdin, who had recently remarried. “I cannot sleep. It’s terribly unfair.”
The success of China’s push to control births among Muslim minorities shows up in the numbers for IUDs and sterilization.
In 2014, just over 200,000 IUDs were inserted in Xinjiang. By 2018, that jumped more than 60 per cent to nearly 330,000 IUDs. At the same time, IUD use tumbled elsewhere in China, as many women began getting the devices removed.
A former teacher drafted to work as an instructor at a detention camp described her experience with IUDs to the AP.
It started with flag-raising assemblies at her housing compound at the beginning of 2017, where residents were forced to chant: “If we have too many children, we’re religious extremists ….That means we have to go to the training centres.” After every flag-raising ceremony, police rounded up parents with too many children – over 180 – until “not a single one was left,” she said. Officers with guns and tasers hauled her neighbours away at night, and from time to time pounded on her door and swept her apartment for Qurans, knives, prayer mats and of course children.
“Your heart would leap out of your chest,” she said.
Then, that August, officials in the teacher’s compound were told to install IUDs on all women of child-bearing age. She protested, saying she was nearly 50 with just one child and no plans to have more. Officials threatened to drag her to a police station and strap her to an iron chair for interrogation.
She was forced into a bus with four armed officers and taken to a hospital where hundreds of Uighur women lined up in silence, waiting for IUDs to be inserted. Some wept quietly, but nobody dared say a word because of the surveillance cameras hanging overhead.
Her IUD was designed to be irremovable without special instruments. The first 15 days, she got headaches and non-stop menstrual bleeding.
“I couldn’t eat properly, I couldn’t sleep properly. It gave me huge psychological pressure,” she said. “Only Uyghurs had to wear it.”
Chinese health statistics also show a sterilization boom in Xinjiang.
Budget documents obtained by Zenz show that starting in 2016, the Xinjiang government began pumping tens of millions of dollars into a birth control surgery program and cash incentives for women to get sterilized. While sterilization rates plunged in the rest of the country, they surged sevenfold in Xinjiang from 2016 to 2018, to more than 60,000 procedures. The Uighur-majority city of Hotan budgeted for 14,872 sterilizations in 2019 – about 34% of all married women of child-bearing age.
ven within Xinjiang, policies vary widely, being harsher in the heavily Uighur south than the Han-majority north. In Shihezi, a Han-dominated city where Uyghurs make up just 2% of the population, the government subsidizes baby formula and hospital birth services to encourage more children, state media reported.
Zumret Dawut got no such benefits. In 2018, the mother of three was locked in a camp for two months for having an American visa.

When she returned home under house arrest, officials forced her to get gynecology exams every month, along with all other Uighur women in her compound. Han women were exempted. They warned that if she didn’t take what they called “free examinations”, she could end up back in the camp.
One day, they turned up with a list of at least 200 Uighur women in her compound with more than two children who had to get sterilized, Dawut recalled.
“My Han Chinese neighbours, they sympathized with us Uyghurs,” Dawut said. “They told me, ‘oh, you’re suffering terribly, the government is going way too far!’”
Dawut protested, but police again threatened to send her back to the camp. During the sterilization procedure, Han Chinese doctors injected her with anesthesia and tied her Fallopian tubes – a permanent operation. When Dawut came to, she felt her womb ache.
“I was so angry,” she said. “I wanted another son.”
Looking back, Omirzakh considers herself lucky.
After that frigid day when officials threatened to lock her up, Omirzakh called relatives around the clock. Hours before the deadline, she scraped together enough money to pay the fine from the sale of her sister’s cow and high-interest loans, leaving her deep in debt.
For the next year, Omirzakh attended classes with the wives of others detained for having too many children. She and her children lived with two local party officials sent specially to spy on them. When her husband was finally released, they fled for Kazakhstan with just a few bundles of blankets and clothes.
The IUD still in Omirzakh’s womb has now sunk into her flesh, causing inflammation and piercing back pain, “like being stabbed with a knife.” For Omirzakh, it’s a bitter reminder of everything she’s lost – and the plight of those she left behind.
“People there are now terrified of giving birth,” she said. “When I think of the word ‘Xinjiang,’ I can still feel that fear.

Read Full Post »

There was a time when people cared

Common values and dreams were shared

A simpler world existed then

A one where most of us have been

A time before the age of bytes

When easy travel unveiled sights

And sounds and tastes and new delights

Nothing was wrong, all was right

Now we walk a narrow path

Stray too far and nature’s wrath

Will strike you down with vengeance black

But you gotta keep going, no going back.

Read Full Post »

A more seasonal day. Finally waking up to cool breeze. The temp is hovering around 16C, far cry from the mid 20’s we’ve been waking up to.

My Son is entering day 5 of his quarantine. Thankfully he’s ensconced in the guest house and we do get to talk, albeit from the social distancing distance. It’s mentally challenging to survive it, but after spending 8 months in the recon unit of the Estonian army, I think the lad can overcome any challenge. Reacclimating to a world in chaos, where rules are arbitrary at best and seem to change with the tides, is an immense challenge. Maintaining focus on each day and not obsessing about the future is hard to do when you are still young. For me it is easy, I’ve pretty well accomplished my goals and settled into semi retirement. For youth of today, it is very much a frustrating exercise to not worry about the future. So, time to share some words of wisdom from my volleyball coaching days. I impressed this upon my teams whenever they made mistakes on the court, and encouraged them to adopt these principles in their lives.

How to improve Self-talk.

Positive self-talk can enhance your performance. Negative self-talk hurts your performance. Cope with negative thoughts by “thought stopping”. Concentrate on the undesired thought briefly and then use a cue or trigger to stop the thought and clear your mind. The trigger can be a simple word like “stop” or a trigger like snapping your fingers or hitting your hand against your thigh. You pick a cue that works for you.

So when a negative self-talk creeps into your brain, thought stop it and then replace it with positive self-talk. Because most negative thoughts occur under stress, first try to halt the negative thought (by using thought stopping); then take a deep breath; as you exhale, relax and repeat the positive self-talk.

Use the following guidelines to create your positive self-talk:

Keep your phrase short and specific

Use the first person and present tense

Construct positive phrases

Say your phrases with meaning and attention

Speak kindly to yourself

Repeat phrases often

And if you think this is trite, then you need to practice Self-talk. I find myself “thought stopping” on a daily basis. It works.

Read Full Post »

Good day readers! It’s going to be another blistering hot one. Humidex values will be 40C! Yee hah!

Scouring the news this morning I came upon this hilarious bit in the Guardian, regarding allegations John Bolton makes in his book/expose on Donald Trump. I couldn’t resist posting it.

“Trump asked if Finland belongs to Russia. Of course this irritates us Finns,” Hussein al-Taee, a Social Democrat MP, tweeted on Thursday.
But, he added, “attracting attention for his bad geography isn’t Trump’s biggest worry.”
Meanwhile, Tuuli Kamppila, a Finnish political activist, tweeted of the president’s alleged question: “That’s nothing, Putin still thinks Ukraine is part of Russia.”

Come on, that definitely made you chuckle! Admit it.

The latest pandemic numbers are mind blowing. I have not looked at the Johns Hopkins stats for over a week and it would seem we are not anywhere near to beating back this Covid-19. Over 8 million cases worldwide and deaths approaching 500,000. It’s a reminder that even though I live in a covid free zone, with influx of tourism in full swing, it is prudence and caution that has to govern our behavior. I even scooped a mask from my local bank yesterday, carrying it in glove box of the car, ready for use. One of the tellers got a little peeved that I took one, they were apparently only for in bank use for people who wanted to wear one in the bank. Sorry, I had already picked it up, and considering the interest payments on various loans they have collected off me thru the years, I do not at all feel guilty taking a mask!

Here’s a lawn maintenance reminder to all you grass cutters. Equal tire pressure is critical for a decent cut. I’ve carved out divots all over my lawn because I got lazy and did not pump up the one tire that has a slow leak. Not that I’m a rabid manicurist, but it does make one satisfied to see a well mowed lawn. That should emphasize how far removed we are here in the County, from more serious events affecting the world! And loving every minute of that! Looking forward to visiting some local wineries and craft brewers this weekend to enjoy some patio beverages. Cheers to all!

Read Full Post »

I’ve been away for a few days. Needed a change of scenery. Even a lakeview gets tiresome sometimes. It’s quite a marvelous thing to be able to say that. Truly blessed. This essay by Brian Lilley perfectly captures my thoughts about Trudeau’s pointless waste of time and money in pursuing that useless seat at the security council. Trudeau chased this seat and wasted $millions in our taxpayer dollars as nothing but an ego project. Glad to see he failed. I disagree with Lilley’s conclusion though. He errs in saying Canada has lost it’s soul as a nation. It’s Trudeau who has lost his soul. We are still perfectly fine as a nation. This Prime Minister does not define me as a Canadian. He’s just at the helm now. Kind of like the guy down south. Both will meet their political end soon enough, but they certainly do not define their nations.

Very happy to see an accelerated opening of our economies. Yes, inherent risk with those moves, but it is necessary. Got to get people away from the rapidly developing welfare state mentality that bailouts encourage. I’m disappointed that we have extended the CERB program in Canada. Paying people $2,000 per month when there is work to be done, is such a disincentive to work. Those payments will become a drag on our efforts to get to some kind of normal and move forward. One small example. My work involves hiring cleaning agencies, and they are all struggling with finding help. Nobody wants to work when the government cheques just keep on coming! But hey! It’s a beautiful sunny day and the summer solstice is fast approaching. Bonfire time!

Brian Lilley…..Toronto Sun.

Trudeau’s bid for security council falls flat.

What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?
That very biblical question is one that Canada should be asking itself in the middle of this charade that has been Canada’s bid for the temporary security council seat at the United Nations.
For the second time in a row, Canada has failed to secure that temporary seat. Despite millions spent and Trudeau pressing the flesh with questionable world leaders, our bid got 108 votes to Ireland’s 128 and Norway’s 130.
That’s six fewer votes than Stephen Harper got 10 years ago when it took three ballots for Canada to lose.
In 2010, Canada lost primarily for standing up for Canadian principles. This time we lost despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throwing those principles out the window as he sought votes.
“A seat on the UN security council will be an additional lever and an extra way that Canada can make sure that our voice and our values are being heard at the highest levels,” Trudeau said Wednesday as the vote was ongoing.
His response made me wonder what Canada’s voice would say and what values we would put forward had we won.
The campaign for this seat would say that Canada’s voice is now silent on human rights abuses in countries we wanted votes from and that we now value cozying up to some of the worst abusers in the world. We’ve all seen the embarrassing way that the Trudeau government has dealt with China.
The PM has adopted a policy of appeasement when it comes to the dictators in Beijing — be it the kidnapping of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor or the abuse of many of Canada’s industries.
We saw Trudeau’s health minister dismiss questions about China lying about COVID-19 as a conspiracy theory and his foreign affairs minister refusing to utter the name, “Taiwan.”
That’s not the worst of what Trudeau has done to sully Canada’s soul in the quest for this seat.
In the House of Commons on Wednesday, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer asked Trudeau to condemn three specific world leaders that Trudeau lobbied for support. As you could imagine, Trudeau didn’t do it.
“On June 11, the Prime Minister had a call with the Sultan of Oman,” Scheer said. “Will he condemn Oman’s repeated arrests of anti-government activists?”
“We’ve continued to be engaged around the world on issues that matter to Canadians,” Trudeau responded.
“On May 6, the Prime Minister had a call with the Emir of Qatar. Will he condemn Qatar’s use of slaves to build a soccer stadium?” Scheer asked.
On this one Trudeau said Canada stands for human rights but refused to condemn Qatar’s abuse of workers that many organizations say amounts to treating them as slaves.
“On June 11, the Prime Minister spoke with the President of Rwanda. Will the Prime Minister condemn the murder, frequent arrest, torture and imprisonment of opposition politicians and investigative journalists?” Scheer asked.
Trudeau’s reply was a long-winded answer that can be summed up as saying Canada will continue working with African nations.
No one is saying we shouldn’t work with African nations. But, shouldn’t we also be condemning governments that jail, torture and murder their opponents?
If Canada no longer stands for free and fair elections, for speaking out for political prisoners, and against modern-day slavery, then who are we as a country? What values will we be promoting around the table of the security council?
When Canada helped bring about peacekeeping at the United Nations during the Suez Crisis, it was by taking a principled stand even if it angered our allies Britain and France. Now we won’t stand on principle and we play footsie with regimes that don’t reflect our values.
We’ve lost the seat but also lost our soul as a nation along the way.
Canada truly needs to find its way back.

Read Full Post »

There is positive news coming from Queen’s Park. Restaurants may soon be able to open patios and the 5 person max rule may be adjusted as well. And, the premier’s office is also considering opening rural regions early vs one rule for all. Great news for us rural dwellers and the small business that desperately needs to get going again.

A local restaurant has reinvented itself. Bloomfield Public House is now a Market. They have added several coolers and stock all kinds of deli delights. Local cheese, fresh produce and various meats. Plus, you can buy beer and wine as long as you buy a 25 cent bag of chips! Their patio area is also ready for action as soon as the government relaxes the restrictions. Mind you, the prices are certainly no bargain, but considering this is Bloomfield’s only market, and the stuff they stock is high end and fresh, I think they will fare quite well with this new approach. So good for you Laura and Elliot for finding a way to go forward and provide employment for several people.

And there is a chip stand open a short drive from the house! Just outside of Consecon on Stinson Block. Providing the usual burger and fries and standard chip stand fare, open Tuesday to Sunday. Awesome!

A humpback whale has reached Montreal by way of the St. Lawrence River, according to a marine mammal expert. The whale was spotted underneath the Pont de Québec earlier this week, swimming upstream. By late Saturday morning, it was near the Jacques-Cartier Bridge in Montreal. “It’s a very unusual situation,” said Robert Michaud, the co-ordinator for the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Network. Michaud said that, as far as local marine biologists are aware, this is the first time a humpback whale made its way into Montreal waters.

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Haley Irwin has announced her retirement from the Canadian women’s hockey team. The 31-year-old forward from Thunder Bay, Ont., won Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014 and silver in 2018 with the Canadian team.
Irwin also represented Canada in five world championships winning one gold and four silver. She compiled 38 goals and 42 assists in 108 career games for the national team.

Have a great day y’all!

Read Full Post »

Come on rain. I don’t feel like dragging the hose around today. So. It’s a challenge finding positive news stories in this day and age. But I think I succeeded. So here’s some snippets from the latest. Have a great day y’all!

(The Guardian): Solar, wind and other renewable sources have toppled coal in energy generation in the United States for the first time in over 130 years, with the coronavirus pandemic accelerating a decline in coal that has profound implications for the climate crisis.
Not since wood was the main source of American energy in the 19th century has a renewable resource been used more heavily than coal, but 2019 saw a historic reversal, according to US government figures. Coal consumption fell by 15%, down for the sixth year in a row, while renewables edged up by 1%. This meant renewables surpassed coal for the first time since at least 1885, a year when Mark Twain published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and America’s first skyscraper was erected in Chicago.

CASTRIES, St Lucia/KINGSTON (Reuters) – A cluster of Caribbean islands are reopening this month for international tourism, hoping to burnish their reputations as oases of tranquility after containing their coronavirus outbreaks and implementing strict new public health protocols. The Caribbean, known for its palm-fringed beaches, turquoise water and colonial towns, is the most tourism-dependent region in the world. The move is a pilot test for other regions planning to restart tourism after pandemic-induced lockdowns.
Antigua and Barbuda, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Lucia are the first to reopen this week. Jamaica and Aruba are set to follow later in the month, with July target dates for the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

TORONTO/BENGALURU (Reuters) – Two of Canada’s largest telecoms firms on Tuesday teamed with Sweden’s Ericsson (ERICb.ST) and Finland’s Nokia Oyj (NOKIA.HE) to build fifth-generation (5G) telecoms networks, ditching China’s Huawei Technologies for the project. Bell Canada (BCE.TO) and smaller rival Telus Corp (T.TO) eschewed Huawei, which analysts said would ease the Canadian government’s thorny decision on whether to allow the company into Canada’s 5G network.
Bell, Canada’s second-largest cellphone provider by wireless revenue, announced it would partner with Ericsson for its core 5G network. Previously, it said Nokia would provide other parts of its 5G tech. Telus picked Ericsson and Nokia as its equipment suppliers, the company said in a separate statement. Rogers Communications (RCIb.TO), the other dominant telecoms operator, has already partnered with Ericsson.

(Reuters) – Warner Music Group Corp WMG.O, the world’s third-largest recording label, said on Wednesday it sold more shares than earlier planned to raise $1.93 billion in the biggest U.S. listing so far in 2020. The company increased the offering to 77 million class A shares at $25 per share, valuing it at $12.75 billion. It had initially proposed to offer 70 million shares, and had set a target range of $23-$26 per share for the IPO.

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) – China’s Huawei Technologies acted to cover up its relationship with a firm that had tried to sell prohibited U.S. computer gear to Iran, after Reuters in 2013 reported deep links between the firm and the telecom-equipment giant’s chief financial officer, newly obtained internal Huawei documents show. Huawei has long described the firm – Skycom Tech Co Ltd – as a separate local business partner in Iran. Now, documents obtained by Reuters show how the Chinese tech titan effectively controlled Skycom. The documents, reported here for the first time, are part of a trove of internal Huawei and Skycom Iran-related business records – including memos, letters and contractual agreements – that Reuters has reviewed.
One document described how Huawei scrambled in early 2013 to try to “separate” itself from Skycom out of concern over trade sanctions on Tehran. To that end, this and other documents show, Huawei took a series of actions – including changing the managers of Skycom, shutting down Skycom’s Tehran office and forming another business in Iran to take over tens of millions of dollars worth of Skycom contracts. The newly obtained documents appear to undermine Huawei’s claims that Skycom was just a business partner. They offer a behind-the-scenes look at some of what transpired at the two companies inside Iran seven years ago and how intertwined the companies were. The documents are variously written in English, Chinese and Farsi.
Huawei declined to comment for this story.

Read Full Post »

Day 63

8:06 am. Overcast, 11C, rain. An indoor day. Maybe.

This is the final installment of the Pandemic Diaries. Your faithful scribe is tired of the whole issue. Burned out as it were. No worries, I’ll keep blogging but not under this journal headline. There are so many other topics and ideas swirling in my head. And tagging them with ‘Pandemic Diaries’ tends to skew my thinking toward that disaster theme. I’m sure most people are frustrated with, and also tired of the relentless barrage of pandemic information. And all of it is bad. Negative. I’ll try to limit my pandemic posts to positive information. Even though the reality is bleak as hell, I’ll leave the Trump crap and burning of America reviews to other writers. OK. I know I’ll slip from time to time just so I can get a good rant off my chest. But the intention being to instead look for stories that get the mind into the plus side of the ledger. Reopening of business. Relaxing of restrictions. Humor. Fiction. Sure, a lot of my writing will be about pandemic derived or driven issues, but hopefully I can scribble about the light instead of the dark. Stuff that does not depress me nor you. In any event, this post closes that chapter. Basta. Enough.

Stay with me here. Going to take a little pause and grind some more coffee beans for a fresh pot. I feel like drinking java today.

Aaahhh… That satisfying sip. Freshly ground ‘Kicking Horse Kick Ass’. Outstanding coffee from Invermere BC. I love their copy, fun writers.

“If there’s something worth doing, we think it’s worth doing great. This remarkable blend of beans is the spirit of Kicking Horse Coffee, and a bold invitation to wake up and kick ass with us.”

I vaguely recall blogging about this in an earlier post. But no matter. Good things are worth sharing many times over.

It is not going to be a relaxing morning, that’s for sure. Not after several mugs of black coffee! Soon the heart will start beating like a mad drummer pounding out a call to war. If the rains stay away for a few hours I’ll fire up the weed whacker. Have not yet done that and there are places on the estate that require some whacking.

A call to arms in the land of the free
Tell me America is this the future you see?

Read Full Post »

The link at the end of my foreword is one I highly recommend you clik to. It is an essay by David Smith, published in today’s ‘The Guardian’. This is the most accurate and devastating review of Donald Trump that I have read to date. It encapsulates the madness and incompetence that have poisoned his presidency. I was going to leave Trump alone for a while, but it is impossible to ignore this man. The idea that he might rule over America for another 4 years is still too real a possibility. So we have to keep writing about him and ensuring that our brothers and sisters in the USA can rid themselves of this toxic personality before he completely destroys that marvelous country and its people.

When Donald Trump crowed about the SpaceX launch of two American astronauts as if it somehow signified the superiority of America over all things living and managed to find a way to do it in an aggressive and threatening manner, I could not leave it alone. Trump used this peaceful launch of astronauts to the International Space Station by saying Washington would soon have “the greatest weapons ever imagined in history.” During a time of incredible crisis in America, when the populace is angrily rising against him, when words of hope and positivity are so desperately needed, he still manages to throw out a remark that is vulgar and threatening!

He takes a celebratory and happy moment when scientists go into space to work collectively with their colleagues from other nations, and weaponizes the moment. Who exactly is that remark intended for? Is it directed at the American people? At China? But that has been the theme of Donald Trump’s presidency. And now, at the juncture of George Floyd’s murder, record unemployment, Pandemic depression, a population frustrated and starved for honest leadership, Donald Trump’s presidency and the United States of America have come to a critical moment. America is at a crossroads. The path it now takes will forever define it and the world.

“The story of Trump’s presidency was arguably always leading to this moment, with its toxic mix of weak moral leadership, racial divisiveness, crass and vulgar rhetoric and an erosion of norms, institutions and trust in traditional information sources. “


Read Full Post »

Day 62

7:04 am. Sunday. If you live in southern Ontario you are waking up wondering WTF is going on with this weather??!! Plus 8 at my place. Rain. But at least the birds are chirping like crazy. Compare that picture from a couple posts ago to today’s. That’s how quickly nature has changed the foliage!

Day of reflection. Day of prayer. Especially now. It really does seem like the United States of America is on the verge of collapse. And the murder of George Floyd was the catalyst. Combined with millions of unemployed frustrated citizens, fear of a pandemic that is nowhere near to being brought under control, and finally and probably most importantly, a President who has become totally unhinged. His actions over the last few weeks confirm that Donald Trump wishes to rule by edict. Ignore democracy. My way or the highway. If you do not agree with him, you are an enemy. Twitter is the latest subject of his wrath. In trying to do a public service, posting warnings about fact checking on his tweet like they do with any erroneous and spurious tweets, they have unleashed another maelstrom of madness by Trump. Now he threatens the very agency which has allowed him to spread his hateful and outrageous messaging to the world. Cities are burning. Protests show no signs of abating. Police and military presence is getting stronger by the day throughout America. God help us all.

I spent a couple hours last night watching the end of Joe Rogan’s dialogue with Edward Snowden. Snowden is the person who released a flood of classified information to the world, unmasking the way US agencies like the CIA and NSA collect information on everybody. Illegally. I highly recommend you take the time to listen to this man. It will change your perception of what he did and why he did it. Snowden is not a traitor. He deserves commendation and support for showing the deep state of America’s surveillance on its own citizens. Scary stuff. I’m going to buy his book ‘Permanent Record’ which goes into detail about this issue. This is not conspiracy stuff, it is real!

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will invest C$30 million ($21.8 million) to enable its provinces and territories to promote holidays in their “own back yard” because of the closure of the country’s borders due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Destination Canada, the country’s national marketing body which usually focuses on luring international visitors, is due to announce the new funding later on Sunday, according to a statement seen by Reuters before its official release. (ed: What a pittance. We dole out $billions in other pandemic assistance programs and can only throw a little bone at the industry which is in peril of total collapse.)

Another night of unrest in every corner of the United States left charred and shattered landscapes in dozens of cities Sunday as years of festering frustrations over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police boiled over in expressions of rage met with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Cars and businesses were torched, the words “I can’t breathe” were spray-painted on buildings, a fire in a trash bin burned near the gates of the White House, and thousands marched peacefully through city streets to protest the death of George Floyd. (ed: It is a dangerous and scary time in America. And because of the situation in USA, it is scary and dangerous for the rest of the world. Look at the signals China is sending out now! With it’s greatest adversary now in turmoil, it’s only a matter of time before China strikes at Taiwan or elsewhere.)

Brazil registered a record 33,274 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, its health ministry said, raising the total to 498,440 in a country with one of the world’s worst outbreaks. The death toll in Brazil from Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, increased to 28,834, with 956 new deaths in the last 24 hours, the ministry said. (ed: Sadly, the Brazilian people are now paying for the ignorance and stupidity of their leader Bolsonaro. Sound familiar?)

In a dramatic pivot, US president Donald Trump has postponed the Group of Seven summit that he wanted to hold in June. He will also expand the list of countries invited to attend the rescheduled event to include Australia, Russia, South Korea and India. Speaking to reporters on Air Force One during his return to Washington from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Trump said the G7 in its current format was a “very outdated group of countries. (ed: Of all the times this meeting should proceed, it is now. The world is in crisis. I do however agree with expanding the group to include those other nations. Hard to ignore 1.5 billion people.)

The world has passed the milestone of six million confirmed coronavirus cases, with 6,048,384 confirmed infections worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The US is the worst-affected country in terms of cases and deaths, with 1,769,776 infections and 103,685 fatalities. (ed: mind numbing statistics.)

And so I leave you for another day! If you have some greater being to which you look for direction and solace then pray today.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »