Tuesday, December 04, 2018

My grand-daughter was born December 3, 2018

She will not reach 12, apparently, before life on this planet is doomed to be inhabitable for humanity.

I take that very seriously. As soon as I became a father, that kind of thing started to matter - vibrantly; excruciatingly. Until then, it served as ...what? An excuse for nihilism? Bottoms up!

With my wife, I share a four-cylinder, gas-guzzling SUV, but at least we live in a highly energy-efficient condo in Montreal, heated (and powered) exclusively from renewable hydro-electric power, thanks to Robert Bourassa and other prescient Quebec politicians. We use public transit as much as possible, walk, or use shared services to economize, and understand that our gas costs more if we fill up on the island of Montreal, so we only take the car when we really have to.

And I expect this will be the last internal combustion vehicle we own - and appropriately so. Energy usage will not decline, but here in Quebec, I feel that we really understand that reality as a fundamental concept, alongside the practicality of maximizing our facility to harness whatever renewable energy resources we can access.

I have listened to the voices telling us the oil in Alberta and Saskatchewan will replace higher carbon-footprint coal used in China currently (to manufacture products we buy to assuage our Dollar-store need to consume, consume, consume extra plastics to make our lives more fulfilling - and yes, that rabbit-hole I have plunged myself into on many occasions myself). I call bullshit on that "need" to get the tarsands product to tidewater. Justin Trudeau is nominally championing that in order to (lamely) show he is not like his dad; as if he could somehow square that policy with being on the right side - i.e.: the non-suicidal side.

What to do?

I like JT because he espouses ideals that are high-mindedly progressive towards correction of bias and prejudice generally. But for all our sakes, this is the time to realise there is a bigger, more pressing crisis that requires his leadership. Time to stop playing nice and put his clout to the one issue that merits war-like attention: arresting climate change.

After all, what planet does he presume his kids and mine might inhabit?

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Thursday, June 28, 2018

Every Canadian should read Bob Rae's column in the Walrus

It is all about Canada-USA relations, and in particular, this uncomforting reality:

"It’s time we understood just how far apart our two countries are and act accordingly"

The whole text is here.

Interestingly, it comes just hours after the publication of this warning for the EU from the Guardian:
EU must 'prepare for worst-case scenarios' under Trump, top official warns

From that article, from European Council president, Donald Tusk:

“More and more people are starting to believe that only strong-handed authority, anti-European and anti-liberal in spirit, with a tendency towards overt authoritarianism, is capable of stopping the wave of illegal migration.”

“If people believe them, that only they can offer an effective solution to the migration crisis, they will also believe anything else they say. The stakes are very high. And time is short.”

Time for all of us to stop ignoring the painful truth. If you're not with Trump, you're not only against Trump,...

you're at war

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Stoke the Fire / Untermenschen (repost)

Stoke the Fire (performed live circa 2011)

Caught in machinations
Beyond your power?
Busy earning a living
You stoke the fire

And you wonder how they
Could let it happen
No time to question
How big is your picture?

Successive generations will be quick to damn us
Maybe they'll understand us

Recipe for murder:
Divide the horror
Give the people a scapegoat
Then point the finger

Gain complicity
Reward efficiency
Give the people procedures
They'll die to please

Perhaps the question to ask is: Does it really matter
Who pulled the trigger
Who filled the gas tanks
Who stoked the fires
That burn us



Monday, June 18, 2018

I'm with Lloyd - the USA is not a safe third country right now

I enjoyed another fantastic Father's Day in the company of my children, but all the while I fought back tears whenever I heard more of the sordid tales of asylum seekers' treatment at the hands of the US Department of Homeland Security. It's full-on psychological torture to the parents and to the kids to whisk them away from the only thread of security they know: one another.

So when a great humanitarian like Lloyd Axworthy has had enough of this to speak out forcefully, I believe all Canadians must listen.

Here is the entirety of his and Allan Rock's opinion piece from The Globe and Mail:

Canada and the United States added a new dimension in 2004 by agreeing to regard each other as, in effect, safe havens. Each barred asylum-seekers arriving from the other at official points of entry, reasoning that no credible claim of persecution could be made in either.
But things have changed. Donald Trump’s administration’s harsh approach to migrants has created fear and uncertainty among asylum-seekers in the United States. Sadly, the United States no longer offers them a safe haven. Beyond demonizing migrants, Mr. Trump’s appointees have adopted inhumane practices.
Asylum-seekers are being detained at astonishing rates in the United States, often in deplorable conditions. Despite having no criminal record, many are jailed while their applications for asylum are pending, mostly in private prisons. Human Rights First reports that three-quarters of asylum-seekers in U.S. immigration proceedings are detained at some point, compared to 16 per cent of refugee claimants in Canada. Recent reports about the treatment of migrant children, in particular, demonstrate just how unsafe the U.S. immigration system has become: U.S. officials recently admitted that they “lost track” of nearly 20 per cent of the children formerly in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Despite this fiasco, Attorney-General Jeff Sessions recently announced a policy of separating asylum-seekers from their children, some as young as toddlers. The United Nations calls this an “arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and a serious violation of the rights of the child.”
Consider Ms. L, an asylum-seeker who fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo with her seven-year-old daughter. After they were detained upon arrival in the United States, Ms. L’s daughter was taken from her and sent to a facility more than 2,000 miles away. They were jailed across the country from each other for four months. Ms. L. fled brutality only to have her daughter taken from her arms by U.S. officials: Who could blame her if, feeling unsafe, she wanted to cross into Canada to seek protection?
And those fleeing from the United States to Canada have good reason to fear harm if the United States returns them to their countries of origin. The vast majority are from war-torn states with high levels of violence and human-rights violations. Most are at serious risk of persecution and torture in their native lands. In fact, more than 50 per cent of the refugee claims made by persons who enter Canada irregularly are granted.
Some Canadians have demanded that the “safe third country” prohibition on entry be extended to cover the entire border, not just official entry points. But surely that is the wrong approach. It would seal off any chance to escape for those many who are being mistreated and put at grave risk of return by a U.S. administration with vastly different policies from the one we dealt with in 2004.
In our view, a much better solution would be to suspend the “safe third country” arrangement until conditions in the United States change. The United States is no longer “safe” for asylum seekers. And, unlike 2004, we can no longer regard our duty to them as met simply because they are within U.S. jurisdiction. Just as our government responded with strength to Mr. Trump’s absurd trade sanctions, we should make crystal clear that we will not be complicit in his mistreatment of refugees.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government have earned Canada a well-deserved reputation as a humane refuge for the forcibly displaced. And Canadians, in communities across the land, have opened their hearts and their homes to sponsor and support refugees. Let’s make sure that our policies at the border reflect “the Canadian way” and are worthy of the values we cherish.

Canada is a huge land. Stinkin' huge. We have ample space, resources, and no reason to turn people away who need refuge. I know we are lucky here. The people whom we welcome are my neighbours and co-workers and children's best friends. They are not at all unlike my ancestors who fled potato famine or religious intolerance or economic destitution just a handful of generations ago. We can always welcome a few more. We are one humanity, and we need to act like it.

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Friday, March 30, 2018

Preying on Me - Original Song #37

I was living in the Mile End
Lovely place to find a friend
Course you know no one there
Is just like me

English, French, Greeks
Indigenous and artists
Lots of folks I call the blister-hearted
And that includes the Hasids

They’re always doing lots of prayin'
They gotta do a lot of prayin'
Gotta do a lot of prayin'
For sinners like me

And meanwhile on the internet
Trolls are spinning
Dark dark webs
They’re telling all these scary tales
Once upon a lie

They spread hate to create bigots
Then they churn and circulate all that made-up shit
Like that ain’t what toilets are for

The trolls are doing lots of preyin'
Yeah they’re doing lots of preyin'
They’re out there doing lots of preyin'
On the young and the weak

Now morons out there in the war rooms
Making plans to cloud us in mushrooms
They can't believe they can't play with
All their nuclear toys

They're doing lots of playing
Armageddon games they're playing
And Christ, it never ever stops preying
Preying on me

Now that brings me back to those Hasids
They aren't too caught up in our consumerist greed
And they may not be your creed
But I think they seem to know what we need

We need to do a lotta prayin'
There ain't nothing left but prayin'
I'm really down with all the prayin'

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