Summer, cont.

Summer:

Gardening: Our hot, very hot and mostly dry summer continues. The garden, all except the roses is loving it, since we are able to water it from the river that flows past our home. The roses fear they have been transplanted to the deep South and have shut down production until more reasonable conditions return. Daylilies, hostas, echinacea, clematis and blue mallow are the stars of the moment.

I planted delphinums and staked them moments before a battering thunderstorm went through, so they are standing and about to bloom. I understand they are short-lived, so I will buy more next year to ensure a good clump.

Writing: Finally the last revisions are done, and the Facepainter has gone off to be set for paper production. Meanwhile, I’m at work on the sequel. A new character has stepped forward and I have to find something for her to do.

Do you know the organization called Great Courses. They finally have released a dedicated Canadian catalogue and some of the professors will be Canadian as well. Find them at http://www.thegreatcourses.com/ I followed one of their courses called Building Great Sentences, and now I’m doing a 30 lecture series on Analysis and Critique, How to engage and write about anything. The lecturer is excellent, my only quibble being that the lecture ends too soon.

Italy: We’re talking with our travelling companions about a trip in the fall of 2012 that would see us spending a few days in Venice, while they celebrate their fortieth anniversary, and then a road trip to Vienna, where we spend a few days to a week.

I’ve been studying Italian, through Rosetta Stone for several years now, with a year’s break to learn some rudimentary Spanish. I began again at the beginning with Italian and now approach the end of the third dvd. I received four and five at Christmas so I will press on. Learning a language, besides good for travelling, is supposed to be good for brain health.

Politics: Very sad news about Jack Layton. To be struck down like that in his moment of achievement is truly tragic.

What is going on with the Americans? They are just recovering from an economic disaster and now want to plunge into another one. Where are the adults?

That’s about it: writing, gardening, learning. Retirement is great!

Coalition

The attack ads, and the language of war in the reporting of the campaign, the appeal to fear, the creation of panic, all of these are part of this election as they have been of the last several. I’m tired of it, and of the politicians who have such contempt for the voter. We haven’t had a discussion of the major problems in this country.When one starts, ie the Liberal discussion on health Care, Harper falls back on the  “oh-my-god they might form a coalition”.  I

t appears to me that most people don’t even know what a coalition is, or that it is the usual way of doing politics in many vibrant democracies. If parties won seats in proportion to their popular vote, we would all ready have a government that represented the majority of people in this country, and yes at least two of them would have to agree on how to govern. That means that the NDP concern for the social network, the Liberal concern for health care and the social programs of the Bloc, as well as the environmental agenda of the Greens would be taken into account when drafting policy.

Or perhaps the Conservatives could convince one of the others to join them.

We would be less likely to have a government that was unresponsive to the majority of the  people, reflecting only the views of the neo-con right.

But what was Ignatieff thinking, giving Harper a gift like this? I suppose he got into the habit while teaching to answer questions honestly, and so continues. Yes, under our system a coalition is possible. Will that happen? Would it mean the government was any less representative of the people’s will. i don’t think so, to either question.

Oda

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/gerald-caplan/stephen-harpers-worst-enemy/article1913681/

The worst enemy of Stephen Harper described in this article by Gerald Caplan, is Harper himself, at least the mean-spirited, nasty, revenge-seeking, never-say-you’re-sorry side of the man. He punishes dissent as quickly as any Middle-Eastern despot, although not with bullets and truncheons. The article above is dealing with the ramifications of the Oda affair, which has the autocrat’s stamp all over it. What I found disconcerting was the line-up of members of Kairos, churches from the Anglican Church of Canada to the Evangelical Lutheran, to the Mormon Church, all of them working together for decades to bring compassion and health care to violated women in Africa. But they spoke out against the decisions of Harper with which they disagreed, and so the funding, long-established and carried forward for thirty-five years is gone, as has the funding for countless other smaller organizations on the other side of political debate.

And then they lied, yet again. “Who did that? Not me?” she says to the Commons committee, not to a newspaper, or her friends at lunch, but to Parliament. Apparently the Harperites despise, not just the Upper House, but the whole thing. And it’s not the first time.

Gerald Caplan writes that this reflects the abandonment of the view that a government of the people is responsible for maintaining civil society. That is the difference that Canadians, who value our civil society and its support of the ill and the weak and the old, will have to consider at the next election.

Go to the end of the article and read the list of activities Harper has indulged in over the five years he has been in power. Why would we want to keep him?

He isn’t conservative with our money either. Look at the millions of dollars that is the estimate to carry out his further acts of vengeance against those convicted of crimes, many of them minor ones committed by people with serious mental illness, condemning them to be stacked like cordwood in cells barely adequate for one let alone three or four. Our prisons are going to resemble those in the third world. And for what? Rehabilitation doesn’t occur under these circumstances. Education in crime does. Getting mental heath resources for children is extremely difficult in this country. Perhaps he could spend a few dollars at the root of the problem.

Freedom of Information

Canada ranks last in freedom of information: study – The Globe and Mail.

You knew this, didn’t you? Harper had a lot to say about freedom of information before he was elected. Now that’s it his government’s information, suddenly we have no access compared to other democracies, and we’re the go-to guys on how not to implement freedom of information acts.

It’s embarrassing, that’s what it is. And a little frightening. What is it they don’t want us to know?

Madness in Iran

Iranian woman could be executed this week, son says – The Globe and Mail.

It’s so horrifying, it’s hard to keep writing about it. I can’t imagine living it. Sakineh remains in that hell-hole of a prison, at the mercy of authorities who have no sense nor compassion. Ramadan ends so her son, who hasn’t seen her for weeks, believes she will be executed sometime after Thursday.

An idiotic British newspaper publishes a picture purporting to be Sakineh without a headscarf. It isn’t; it’s another woman, but the sadists in that prison lash her 99 times, again. How much can one woman endure? The Iranians do all this in the name of religion. I don’t believe it. I think the people in charge have the same sadistic, murderous minds and souls that Nazi concentration camp guards had, and in a better world, they would be the ones in the prisons.

The British newspaper bears considerable responsibility. What did the editors think would happen to Sakineh when they published that picture? Or do they share the same sadistic mind-set, oblivious to the suffering of their victims?

Please sign the petition http://www.freesakineh.org

Iran

The Guardian reports this morning that the deaths by stoning of the (mainly) women in Iran’s prisons are being quietly change to death by hanging. The article, goes on to remind us of the appalling state of justice in that Republic. The cases include that of a fifteen year old child bride, accused of her elderly husband of adultery, condemned not only to die by stoning but also to live for three years under that sentence because she was not yet eighteen. What a mockery.

Meanwhile Sakineh herself is tortured into reading a “confession” on television. Her lawyer is now in Norway, having been arrested in Turkey and offered safe haven in that country of EU officials intervened in Turkey. He of course can and is speaking to the press.

Please keep up the pressure on Iran. Sign the petition at http://freesakineh.org/

Ottawa Notebook – The Globe and Mail.

The census, still in the news. Earlier this week Tony Clement complained that he felt all alone in the census fight, with so many groups against him. Apparently he thinks he is the only one with revealed truth on this issue.

Then, the government, throwing a bone to Quebec, moves questions on language to the short form, because they couldn’t be assured of accurate data in a voluntary long form! Now do these people actually ever listen to themselves?

Writing

I spent an entire morning this week talking to Sean, at Microsoft for Word for Mac about a  strange problem with my manuscript. All the quotation marks were reversed. Sean couldn’t solve the problem for me and finally, I did a manual review and changed them all. As to the service from that department, it was great. Two phone calls back, the first to give me an update on the progress, and two days later to tell me that despite their best efforts there didn’t seem to be a solution.

Now comes the slogging part of writing — reviewing the galley proofs.

More on the Census

Canada’s stat crunchers join census fight – The Globe and Mail.

One week until the new census goes to press. One can see the strategy the government is employing. It is clear they – being he, Harper – thinks that if they hold on, beat the drumbeat of the jail time problem, until it is too late to change the census, it will all just go away, become yesterday’s news.

The problem is that often works for them. Who will remember that the rights of the citizens of Toronto and elsewhere were trampled during the G20 fiasco?

Who will remember that Harper refused to include abortion in his women’s health initiative?

I think it’s important to remember these events. The pattern of authoritarian behaviour worsens over time as governments become more entrenched. Without an accurate census and without the comparison to before, the government will be able to tell us what it wishes, with no facts to confuse us.

The census is about fact. It should be saved. Why on earth don’t they just remove the jail time penalty and leave it as mandatory, with a fine for refusing?

Kandahar airbase was attacked today.  What about that leaked information on the war? How much truth is there in in what we have been told? Or is it more government manipulation?


The Census

It has been an unusual week. The conflict over the census, which cost a good man his job and lost the services of that same career civil servant to the government, has spread to interprovincial affairs, with most of the provinces weighing in on the side of keeping the long form the way it is, minus the threatened jail time. Today Jack Layton wants to sit down with the PM and work out a compromise. John Ibbitson in the Globe talks about Tony Clement “defending a false fact”. All along I thought there were no false facts, just facts and non-facts.

The Conservative government has been unable to say “we made a mistake” for all these long years they have been in government. Since they imported Guy Giorno, a former Mike Harris staffer, the attitude of the government seems to me to have become more hard-nosed, and certainly more small-c conservative. I suppose he’s on Harper’s wavelength or Harper on his. Things didn’t go well with Harris originally and I sure don’t like the retread.

The news from Iran is bleak. No word on Sakineh and now her lawyer has disappeared, his wife and brother-in-law held without legal representation. Add your voice, sign the petition. http://freesakineh.org/

Guarding the coasts-followup

CBC News – Canada – Order to cut navy’s coastal vessels rescinded.

One day later, and they have resided the order to mothball the ships. A person can’t keep up with the changes in policy in this government. The overnight polls must have been bad, or they started getting calls form their “base”.  No mention of where the money is coming from or what they plan to cut instead.

Masks Off.

CBC News – Nova Scotia – Masks off at G8 protest: rally leader.

Some time ago I wrote about the Black Bloc, and those who cover their faces during protests. The CBC reports today that the organizers of a rally at the G8 in Halifax are going maskless, or at least asking those who show up  masked to take them off. A good step forward, I say.