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LOCAL LATITUDE, GLOBAL ATTITUDE
Aspects of War Issue Columnists: Calvin White Don Sawyer Bob Harrington Lise Simpson Bernie Bates
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North of 50 CONTENTS
LOCAL LATITUDE, GLOBAL ATTITUDE
November / December 2012 - Vol. 10, Issue 05
Publisher Dean Wallis email@example.com Managing Editor TJ Wallis firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Sales email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Layout & Design: Penny Christensen email@example.com Administration Caralyn Doyle firstname.lastname@example.org
5 YOUR LETTERS
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11 BOB HARRINGTON: It's Your World: Realities of Life
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13 DON SAWYER: Fair Comment: Fear Strikes Out Reflections on the US Election 15 CALVIN WHITE: The White Paper: Nothing Draws Media Attention quicker than tragedy or scandal
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9 BERNIE BATES: Bee in the Bonnet: Abort, Abort, Abort
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The p ub l is h er r eta in s t he r i gh t t o e d i t a l l s u b m i s s i o n s , in c l ud i ng a r t i c l es a nd letter s to the editor, for brevity and clarity. Copyright is retained on a l l materi a l , text a n d g ra phi c s in this publication.
7 LISE SIMPSON: The View From My Window: Baby Blues
17 LETTERS FROM AFGHANISTAN: THE REALITIES OF WAR ON THE GROUND IN THE 21ST CENTUTY 19 CARTOON by Duncan Morris 20 IT'S A PUZZLER
OUR CONTRIBUTORS Calvin White, Don Sawyer, Bob Harrington, Lise Simpson, Duncan Morris, Bernie Bates, Jack Phillips
Cover Photo: Canadian Army Soldiers assigned to Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 22nd Regiment - Photo by CW02 Keith A. Stevenson, Supplied by Wikimedia Commons 4
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YOUR LETTERS Good afternoon, I'm not going to pretend to be overly concerned with what your advertisers think of your articles, as that is entirely up to their organizations, and i agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, i have one simple request: if you continue to publish such ignorant, antagonistic, flat out racist articles by Mr. Bates please do us all a favor and assign him a proofreader. Although I realize he is probably not a professional writer, his spelling and grammar errors are simply inexcusable if you want to be taken seriously as a publication. I just read his article about being a designated driver (at least i think that's what the point was...it was quite rambling) and it was quite honestly painful to see mistakes that an elementary student wouldn't make. I realize typos and spelling mistakes happen, but these were blatant and quite frankly i felt embarrassed for him to have his name attached to it. Although judging by his commentary in his article about the good old native days, as a caucasian i'm sure it is somehow my fault. If he is going to stereotype and insult my ancestors, please make sure it is at least readable. Thank you for your time, Vance Alexander
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$100,000 Prize to fight Global Corruption The University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Law at Allard Hall has launched one of the world’s largest prizes dedicated to the international fight against corruption and protecting human rights. The $100,000 prize will be awarded every two years to an individual, movement or organization that has shown exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption, especially through promoting transparency, accountability and the rule of law. “This prize provides a unique opportunity for individuals and organizations to be recognized for their efforts in advocating for justice,” says UBC Law Dean Mary Anne Bobinski. “Whether your work has inspired change in public policy or brought instances of injustice to the forefront, we encourage people from all over the world to nominate either themselves or others for this significant prize.” The Allard Prize for International Integrity was created by Peter A. Allard, a UBC alumnus, as part of his 2011 gift of $11.86 million to UBC’s Faculty of Law, the largest gift in the Faculty’s history, which supported the creation of the Faculty’s new home, Allard Hall. Throughout his career as a lawyer and businessman, Allard has assumed leadership roles in human rights, environmental advocacy and other philanthropic work. “I endowed this prize to recognize and support the fight against corruption, and the need to protect basic human rights through transparency, accountability and an equitable and responsive legal system,” says Allard. “Law schools play a crucial role in shaping future lawyers’ ethical standards and this prize will help to further the Faculty of Law’s leadership as a global centre for integrity and legal ethics.”
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SIMPSON THE VIEW FROM MY WINDOW The Baby Blues
In the early weeks after our first son was born I stumbled around like a zombie, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, whilst the baby cooed and gurgled and charmed everyone he met. There were times my husband came home from work to find me still clad in my pajamas, and it is a testament to his wisdom that he did not remark upon this, but simply picked up his son with one hand and gently steered me towards the shower with the other. It took me two months before I could really relax and feel like myself again. The rest of my maternity leave, and my second maternity leave two years later, were incredibly special for me. So when I read about the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, announcing that she was returning to work just two weeks after having her first baby, my initial reaction was scepticism that she would be fit, both physically and mentally, to return to work so incredibly fast. My second thought was, “Marissa, you may have a Masters from Stanford, but you’re being a dummy. You don’t know what you’re missing”. A first-time Mom at thirty-seven, Marissa Mayer is a corporate marvel, the youngest CEO ever of any Fortune 500 company, hired by Yahoo just this past summer (already pregnant) after a successful executive run at Google. Her decision to return to
work so quickly immediately prompted heated debate on the Internet. “I wish the company, and Mayer, nothing but luck. They’re going to need it,” Janet Paskin wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “As a woman and a professional, Mayer just ratcheted up the stakes—not just for Yahoo, its customers and its investors, but for working moms everywhere, not to mention our children.” Many women applauded her decision to return to the boardroom. In a special article for The Globe and Mail, Leah Eichler wrote “Ms. Mayer is living out exactly what advocates for women in business have been striving for. She chose to take a high-profile job while pregnant and to combine a challenging role with motherhood in a way she deems appropriate”. Naturally, it was felt by many that should the CEO of Yahoo be a man, who returned to work just two weeks after a medical procedure, no one would bat an eye. To this, Allison Benedikt retorted on Slate. com, “Mayer didn’t just have foot surgery. She birthed a tiny human being. I do feel she has a responsibility to parent her infant fulltime for awhile”. I’m with Ms. Benedikt. Call me hopelessly old-fashioned, but aren’t the first few months of life an important time to bond with your mother, and feel her love for you? And isn’t it a crucial time for the Mom to put aside her own wants and desires, possibly for the first time in her life, and focus on attending to the needs of the human being she has brought into the world? I have no problem with her desire to return to work, it’s just the speed of her return that gives me pause. Some women are forced to return to work as quickly as possible due to financial circumstances. With a salary of one million US dollars per year, plus a stock grant of fourteen million, and a retention award of thirty million that will vest over the next five years, Marissa Mayer is clearly not financially constrained. She won’t be stumbling around in her pajamas, changing a dirty diaper at three a.m. while the baby cries. She won’t be racing the baby to the doctor because he sneezed, or going for three hour walks in the pouring rain because only the motion of the stroller puts the baby to sleep. She won’t be doing those things, because the nanny will be. She obviously loves the boardroom, but she’s not giving herself much time to get to love the baby’s room, or the baby who inhabits it. And that’s a crying shame. northof50.com
BC’s move to escalate natural gas production is contrary to government’s own greenhouse gas legislation: report (Vancouver) Just five years ago the BC government legislated targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), but the province’s 2012 Natural Gas Strategy risks breaking that legislation. The legislation calls for a 33% reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 and 80% by 2050. In a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ BC Office, CCPA senior economist Marc Lee finds that: • As of 2010, BC’s greenhouse gas emissions were down 4.5%. The province would have met its 2012 interim target of 6% below 2007 levels, if not for increased emissions from the natural gas industry. • Increased natural gas extraction and processing, mainly for export to Asia, will make it virtually impossible for BC to meet the 2020 target. In the study’s medium scenario, the rest of the economy would have to reduce emissions by 81% in order to accommodate growth in the natural gas industry. • The legislated targets do not count emissions from exported natural gas burned outside of BC. By 2020, these exported emissions could represent the equivalent of putting 24 to 64 million more cars on the road each year.
“The 2007 legislation to reduce GHG emissions indicated a recognition that we had to respond to climate change,” says Lee, “and we made some good progress at first. But with the 2012 Natural Gas Strategy we’ve abandoned any serious attempt to reduce our emissions.” The Natural Gas Strategy not only poses threats to the environment and climate, but would deliver few economic benefits for ordinary British Columbians: • Even if the most optimistic job creation estimates are realized, growth of the natural gas industry will lead to an increase in employment of just 0.1%. • In spite of record high extraction levels, government royalties from natural gas have dropped from $1.9 billion in 2005/06 to a projected $157 million in 2012/13. “The bottom line is that the government is breaking its own law,” says Lee. “Sticking to BC’s GHG law and a new round of climate action would create far more jobs than the Natural Gas Strategy.”
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"Bee in the Bonnet" ABORT, ABORT, ABORT!
by Bernie Bates
"To capture thee would be likened to hold a song, and in heart of hearts I know this to be wrong. Be thy will. Be thy own. For man was never meant to possess flesh and bone."(*) I only have but one life to live. How about you? As far as science, common sense and good old mother nature are concerned - it's only one life per customer - that's it. No do-overs, no extra innings or mulligan's. Once your candle goes out, it's game over. And don't let yourself tell you otherwise. The biggest lie ever told and sold to the masses was the ability to grant certain people life after their deaths. ... But if you still want to believe. Call now and the clergy will throw in heavenly acreage (simply pay the extra shipping and handling charges). Offer does not apply in Quebec. As you well know there's an election happening just south of the border. One of the hot topics, once again, will be the question of abortion. If you were to ask a gun toting, bible thumping, tea-party republican what they would do, if they had their choice. You can bet your enslaved little ass they'd have the woman-folk barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen - where they belong right? Or should it be the conscious choice of an individual woman? Who the hell thinks that way anymore? Ironically, the only ones who think in those terms are people like the Taliban and Christian extremists. The only other group of people who want to control a woman's private parts are pimps. Personally, I've never met a woman who'd take orders from me, unless she was asking: "would you like fries with that?" I dare any he-man out there in newspaper-land to tell his wife to walk two steps behind him in public, to speak only when spoken to and while your at it, brave man, try and tell her what to wear too. If you look back into our shared histories; a lot of tribal people had matriarchal societies where the elderly women ran affairs. Some of the first strong, confident and independent woman were the 1920's flappers. Sisterhood survived the dark ages, back in the 1950's, and went on to announce their arrival by burning their bras in the 1960's.
Today, most modern women are as equally educated, paid and share the same rights as any man. Through empowerment, encouragement and by setting great examples, women, I predict, will once again take their place at the top of the totem pole. Instead of political mud-slinging we'll have logical negotiations. Instead of fat-cat bankers we'll have pissed off cougars guarding our investments. And instead of expensive wars; ignorance, gets b*tchslapped on the floor of the UN Today there are over 7 billion people on this planet. That's a big number and growing. Think of all that daily bread (x 3 meals). And what goes in must come out (x 3). If you do the math, that's over 21 billion poops. Unfortunately, some of those 7 billion people are going hungry right at this very moment. And here's the bite of it; some of these hungry people aren't in some foreign land - they're right here in Canada, B.C., Westbank - within damned walking distance from your front door. As I said, I think abortion should be left up to the woman - not man. And therein dwells the real truth. Everyone thinks that the Muslims and Christians want to rule the world, where in fact they really want to control the womb. After all who wouldn't want to control the fountain of youth? Hell's bells; I'd bet you could charge admittance! Oh, wait. I forgot about the pimps. (*) An excerpt from the play: Endeavor, by B. H. Bates. THE END Bernie Bates is a writer and an artist Email him at email@example.com northof50.com
BC’s Natural Gas Strategy is bad economics and bad for the climate By Marc Lee BC’s quest to substantially boost natural gas development seems like a real winner at first glance: heaps of new jobs in the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) industry, billions in government revenues, and exports that fight global climate change by displacing coal in China.
wind-down, not ramp-up. Natural gas may be the cleanest burning fossil fuel, but it’s still a significant contributor to global warming, which is now breaking weather records all over the world and causing tens of billions of dollars per year in damage to housing, infrastructure and food production.
Alas, this story is too good to be true. Many are questioning whether these ventures work at all from a corporate profitability perspective, given interest by other countries in LNG exports. But it is also the case that economic benefits for ordinary British Columbians, in terms of jobs and government revenues, will be miniscule, and environmental costs high.
BC’s plans for expanding the natural gas industry would be like adding 24 million cars to the roads of the world. And emissions from extraction and production would mean BC breaking with 2007’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Targets Act, and its 2020 target of a 33% reduction in GHG emissions.
Last week’s front-page story that Chinese temporary foreign workers will be brought in to mine coal in northern BC should give us pause. Use of temporary foreign workers has surged in recent years, particularly in the oil and gas industry. In Alberta, more than 58,000 temporary foreign workers were on the job in 2011. Even assuming all work is done by British Columbians, the natural gas industry is very capital-intensive, and not a big employer. Extraction and processing of gas, plus various support services, amounted to about 7,000 jobs in 2011, or just 0.3% of BC’s 2.3 million workers. Jobs for LNG projects are mostly in the construction phase, with a much smaller number of long-term jobs. For the Kitimat LNG facility, the government estimates 3,000 short-term jobs in the construction of pipelines and the LNG terminal facilities, but only 125 long-term jobs once built. On the higher end, up to 2,500 long-term jobs have been claimed, if five large LNG plants are built. This seems willfully optimistic, but even at face value that latter number represents a mere 0.1% of BC’s current employment. As for royalties to the government, don’t bank on them. Current year natural gas royalties are estimated at $157 million, 0.3% of the BC budget, in spite of record high production levels. BC is basically giving away the resource right now, even as the North American market is flooded. BC’s gas reserves are not going anywhere – this is a finite resource after all – so why the rush to liquidate? A real commitment to reforming the gas royalty regime is needed to ensure that British Columbians receive fair compensation. Big picture: activity in this sector needs to be managed for 10 northof50.com
The government’s assertion that BC’s natural gas is good for the climate because it will displace coal use in China is wishful thinking. Natural gas will only pile on to China’s growing demand for energy. Meanwhile, Japan wants LNG to displace its nuclear capacity, which will mean a major increase in their emissions. Natural gas can only be a useful transition fuel if managed as part of an international climate action plan, and only if exported to jurisdictions that have GHG targets as tough as our own. Otherwise, it’s just another fossil fuel contributing to global warming. The infrastructure investments BC really needs are in public transit, building retrofits, district energy systems and waste reduction. Funded by a rising carbon tax, these investments would create 10-20 times the number of jobs per million dollars as fossil fuel investments. BC would be much better off by finishing what we started five years ago, and by making sure all political parties commit to obeying the law of the land by sticking to its GHG reduction targets. Some progress has already been made: GHG emissions were down 4.5% between 2007 and 2010. The BC government lacks a strategy to meet its 2020 legislated target. Jettisoning natural gas ambitions and making a new round of investments in a Climate Action Plan 2.0 is not only better for the climate, but it’s a much better jobs plan for BC. Marc Lee is a Senior Economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Co-Director of the Climate Justice Project. His recent report, BC’s Legislated Greenhouse Gas Targets vs Natural Gas Development: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, is available at http://www.policyalternatives.ca/ natural-gas-ghgs
It's Your WorlD
by Bob Harrington
Realities of Life I found a very comfortable stump on a side hill, and was sitting there this afternoon, watching darkening clouds which heralded a thunderstorm only a few hours away. A pileated woodpecker was giving its loud, ringing call from the dense forest below. Not too far from me, a red squirrel was sitting erect, seemingly staring at the storm clouds on the horizon as well. I’ve often noticed red squirrels sitting in such a manner – almost as though sitting in a state of suspended animation. All in all, it was a peaceful setting. Around me there was quietness and unhurriedness that I realize is a sharp contrast to what people are subjected to when they choose the tense environments created by our social striving. I recall reading in Hans Selye’s book, The Stress of Life, that severe or persistent stress in humans provides evidence of increasing blood pressure, heart abnormalities, kidney damage, and thickened arteries. He indicated that stress, as such, is less harmful if it is balanced and varied. He discussed the wisdom of a life of diversity, and indicated that death often comes “because one vital part has worn out too early in proportion to the rest of the body.” Sitting there, with the squirrel as a companion, I realized that we do choose our own pace in life. If we sell out to the Money God, and pursue dollar bills all our lives, we can only wind up with something as synthetic as money itself. Somehow it reminded me of a man I met, up in the Nechako Plateau area of B.C. He lived well away from town, at first appeared to be a rustic, but soon showed himself to be a self-taught philosopher of remarkable insight. He commented to me, as an observation made over three-score years of life, that “subsistence farming is the one manner of life that enables a person to really come to grips with reality.” Since life is a whole, it must be lived as a whole – no mass-produced specializations for this man! He pointed out that such a way of life needed the philosophical insight that life entitles us only to a living, that we are not here to get rich, but to attain the even greater richness of understanding. With realization of his purpose, a person was then free to work at gaining his livelihood with simplicity and dignity. On one occasion, I spent a week with him in the “off season.” The garden was “done” for the year; the potatoes were in the root cellar, along with carrots, turnips and other winter staples. Hay was in the barn, wood in the sheds, and he had time to spend as he chose. One early afternoon, he said, “I think that nothing would be finer than ling for supper.”(Ling or ling-cod as they are sometimes called are a species of fish found in many inland waters of B.C.) So, it was agreed that we would go ling fishing. The lake was about a mile away, and we walked, because as he said, he enjoyed walking, and it
was cheaper, healthier and more satisfying than driving – besides he commented, “There are so many things to be seen in life, that I don’t want to spoil my time by riding.” The fishing trip was a success, and as we fished he smiled and nodded, calling my attention to the fox sparrows flitting in the willows and alders along the shore, giving a sort of silent requiem to autumn. The thing I noted is that he noticed everything about him. To him nature was an unlimited broadcasting station. That night, after grace, we feasted on ling, potatoes, carrots and hot biscuits, and topped the meal off with blueberries and cream, and large mugs of coffee. He said soberly, “You will note that this meal comes almost entirely from this land. Well, in truth, all meals come, in every sense from the land, but this is something that people no longer realize. That lack of understanding,” he said, “may yet cost us our lives.” I asked him, with curiosity, if saying grace was really meaningful to him, or if he did it as a habit that he had developed since childhood. He gave me an answer, with a smile. “Why Bob, I say grace because I am grateful. I am grateful for the ling that swim in the lake, for the potatoes and carrots that grow in the earth, for the blueberries from their bushes, and as well, for the beauty of the land and sky and water, for the air I breathe, and for the understanding I have gained in living.” My stump on the hillside today, with its approaching fall thunderstorm, with its silent, meditative squirrel nearby, was a very simple and real experience. I have come to the conclusion, that if we are to understand things, we must consciously sharpen our senses, allay our discontents, and open ourselves to all that simple experiences can offer. Not all people can live and enjoy the simple life. That may be true, but the important thing is that you can if you want to.
Check out Bob’s latest book Testimony for Earth: A Worldview to Save the Planet and Ourselves. Bob’s books are available at Bookland in Vernon and Kamloops, Mosaic Books in Kelowna, and Hooked on Books in Penticton. northof50.com 11
Genes and immune system shaped by childhood poverty, stress A University of British Columbia and Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics (CMMT) study has revealed that childhood poverty, stress as an adult, and demographics such as age, sex and ethnicity, all leave an imprint on a person’s genes. And, that this imprint could play a role in our immune response. The study was published last week in a special volume of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that looks at how experiences beginning before birth and in the years after can affect the course of a person’s life. Known as epigenetics, or the study of changes in gene expression, this research examined a process called DNA methylation where a chemical molecule is added to DNA and acts like a dimmer on a light bulb switch, turning genes on or off or setting them somewhere in between. Research has shown that a person’s life experiences play a role in shaping DNA methylation patterns. Members of the media can download a video of Kobor speaking about DNA methylation and his research at https://www.dropbox.com/s/jgp9mpamme8ibcb/Michael%20 Kobor%20Interview.mp4.
“We found biological residue of early life poverty,” said Michael Kobor, an associate professor of medical genetics at UBC, whose CMMT lab at the Child & Family Research Institute (CFRI) led the research. “This was based on clear evidence that environmental influences correlate with epigenetic patterns.” The amount of stress hormones produced by adults was also linked with variations in DNA methylation. Like the chicken and the egg, Kobor says it is unknown whether increased stress as an adult could leave marks on DNA or whether the marks may play a role in the amount of stress hormones released. Kobor, who is a Mowafaghian Scholar at the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), and his colleagues also found that methylation patterns were predictive of future immune responses, suggesting that early life experiences could play a role in our response to illness later in life. 12 northof50.com
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SAWYER FAIR COMMENT Fear Strikes Out – Reflections on the US Election
We planned our cross-continent jaunt to our winter home in Fairhope, Alabama, so we would be in New Orleans for election night. There we knew that if we lost, at least we would be surrounded by a city of sympathizers getting drunk alongside us. And if we won, where better to be than the greatest party town in America? We made it through those vast, empty (though often lovely) red states in the middle of America and arrived to the welcoming eccentricity of New Orleans as the polls were closing. I realized how anxious I was when I went out to get some booze at the wonderfully named WINO (Wine Institute of New Orleans), where you get to buy tastes of dozens of wines, and found myself not only stocking up but getting pretty loaded on shots as the first counts scrolled across the store’s TV screen. Fortified and prepared, I returned to our hotel, where our daughter and a friend joined us at our hotel, both of them sporting big buttons advocating the election of a marvellous young woman running for New Orleans city council. Then we hunkered down for the results. You know now that Obama won, and my two overriding emotions Tuesday evening as the results became clear were relief and, unexpectedly, hope. The Obama victory itself contributed to former, but I think we have all become too cynical – or realistic -- about what the American political system is capable of to be optimistic about fundamental
change emerging from the electoral process. No, for me the hope was not based on Obama’s victory but the demographics of the election -- and some of the non-presidential results. A few years ago an American friend said that the country would not change because it wanted to but because of demographic shifts would force it to. This election proved him correct. The day after the vote, right-wing broadcaster Bill O’Reilly whinged that Romney lost because “The white establishment is now the minority.” And in a very real sense, he was right. A breakdown of the voting results reveals the face of a changing America: in 2012, 72% of the electorate was white, down from 74% in 2008 and expected to drop to 70% or less by 2016. Romney drew an astonishing 89% of his vote from this shrinking demographic. On the other hand, the African-American (13% of the electorate) and Hispanic (10%) vote, both up from 2008, went 93% and 71% for Obama. And 18-29-year-old voters, unexpectedly up from 18% of the electorate in 2008 to 19% in 2012, went 60% for the president. Even the Asian vote, a relatively prosperous minority, voted 73% for Obama. Perhaps most telling was the women’s vote. Women made up 54% of all voters in 2012, and as a demographic voted 55% for Obama, representing an astonishing 18% gender gap. The new demographics were brought home graphically as cameras at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago and Romney’s in Boston swept across the audience. In Chicago, a cheering throng of young and old; black and white; people in business suits and dashikis; women, men, children and youth; Hispanics and Asians waved American flags and danced in the stands (Democrats are way better dancers). At Romney headquarters, clean-cut white men in business suits and coiffed, high-heeled women (most of whom looked eerily like Ann Coulter) watched dejectedly as the results flowed in. Even if they’d been winning, you just knew this crew would be no fun at all. One commentator remarked that the Republican Party was “too old, too white, and too male” to be successful in a changing America. They were out of touch, perhaps terminally so, and their attempts at fomenting hatred and division had failed. Reverend Al Sharpton put it simply: “For once, hate lost. Last night hate was the real loser, and today is a better day for the real America.” Before I am written off as being, yet again, naively optimistic, note that Obama’s victory (in an unexpectedly easy triumph) was just part of the evening’s progressive landslide. To everyone’s astonishment, the Democrats picked up two senate seats, including Elizabeth Warren, who may be one of the most progressive senators ever elected. Twenty women, the most in history (including the first openly gay senator), now sit in the US Senate. Obama won the popular vote by 3 million votes, the first Democratic president since Roosevelt to win the presidency by more than 50% of the electorate – and he has now done it twice. Key tea party ideologues, vicious anti-women candidates, and hate mongerers went down to progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate. For the first time, state referendums approving same-sex marriage were approved in three states. Other northof50.com 13
referendums in Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana possession. Every single incumbent Democrat in the house and senate won re-election. Analysts reiterated that more than a victory for the Democrats, the election represented a triumph for progressive policies and progressive candidates. Not all is rosy, of course. The usual Washington gridlock will continue and the Republicans, who retain control of the house, will do their best to protect the interests of their billionaire funders and corporate buddies, but something has changed. While it is true that many congressional members elected by the so-called “Tea Party” movement in 2010 retained their seats, an analysis of their constituencies reveals that these are the Taliban of America, the evangelicals and social conservatives terrified of modernity, clinging desperately to outmoded ideologies and yesterday’s candidates. The fact is that in 2012, the politics of race, greed and hatred were dealt a solid left hook. The Republicans are not on the canvas yet, but they’re woozy and confused. They threw every dirty punch in the book at this president, including outrageous attempts at voter suppression, lies that suggested Obama had ties to Castro and Venezuelan president Chavez, and a more than a billion dollars of ultraconservative “super-pac” donations spent almost entirely on attack ads, and they failed. It is also encouraging that with his re-election Obama is already beginning to address issues he dodged during the campaign including climate change, immigration policy and tax increases for the wealthy. With his first term behind him and a clear mandate for progressive change, perhaps the Obama we thought we were electing in 2008 will finally stand up. And if nothing else, America escaped the truly horrific spectre of Romney-appointed Supreme Court justices and Karl Rove and other architects of the Iraqi debacle retaking the reins of power. As Chris of MSNBC said, “Fear has struck out. This other America may be a reality.” For the first time in 45 years, I believe it could be true. of losing the lore of the past before we have refined the science of today. We must look aft and learn.” I found this sentiment echoed in the oddest of places: the 1971 Musgrave Harbour year book I was perusing with old student and new friend, Myrtis. The yearbook was dedicated to local elder Jessie Russell, who had turned 102 that year. In the dedication – and remember, this was 41 years ago – one of the students had written, “We would do well to consider in this time of ecological crisis traditional attitudes toward the environment. When we live in close relationship to our surroundings, we tend to respect it and help it to endure. There is a tradition of wisdom that we must not forget. The kind of life we have here will last only if we can grasp those traditions and qualities which give life substance. If we reject all the ways of our forefathers...it will not suit us and our way of life will die.” Perhaps when placed in a broader context, this is the very challenge facing humanity. Can Newfoundland jump the widening divide and show us how to use the past to stay upright and on course as we sail into stormy, unknown waters? I don’t know, but after this visit, at least it seems possible. 14 northof50.com
Lax regulation of industry, under-pricing jeopardize BC’s water and hydroelectricity resources: study A new study warns that BC’s water and hydroelectric resources are at risk of being depleted by industrial users, thanks to lax reporting requirements and extremely low water prices. Released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the University of Victoria’s POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, the study identifies gaping holes in key information relating to the water that major industries use. For example, of the 31 water licences held by pulp and paper companies — large consumers of water and hydro — only one requires water metering. “With our government actively encouraging eight new mines and three massive natural gas processing plants in BC by the end of this decade, the strains on our interconnected water and energy resources are approaching a crisis point,” says lead author Ben Parfitt, CCPA resource analyst and POLIS research associate. The study also notes that water usage fees are so low that industry has little incentive to conserve. For example, natural gas companies are setting global records for water usage in controversial fracking operations in BC, yet pay at most token fees. An Olympic swimming pool’s worth of water in BC costs just $2.75, compared to $175 in Quebec. “Many municipalities, irrigation districts and others understand the need to conserve water and energy,” says co-author Jesse Baltutis, a researcher on water policy and governance with POLIS. “Where conservation is treated seriously, there’s invariably a commitment to quantify what is used and to price it fairly.” “BC’s water and water-derived energy resources are vital assets, but population growth, climate change, and increased water-intensive industrial activity are pushing the limits of secured access to water and energy across the province,” says Parfitt. “Our report is sounding an alarm for policy-makers that we need much better governance and integrated management of these public resources.” The study concludes that the province must act quickly to protect its water and water-derived energy resources:
• Publish accurate, timely reports on all water use (no such reports exist). • Appropriately price water and energy resources. • Promote resource recovery to conserve water and energy resources. • Better protect watershed lands — a key prerequisite to safeguard our water and hydroelectric resources. “With these four basic changes, it will be easier for the province, municipal and regional governments, and First Nations to reach new agreements about how to more effectively manage our key water and hydro resources,” says Parfitt.
THE WHITE PAPER
othing draws media attention quicker than tragedy or scandal. The recent suicide of a Vancouver 15 year old girl as a result of persistent bullying is a case in point for both though it's unlikely that most recognize the scandal aspect. This was not the first person driven to suicide because of bullying. That's the scandal. We all know about the deep damage which bullying causes. The latest tragedy has only brought it to headlines once again. And once again, there will be news commentary, quotes from experts and educators, tearful pleas from parents or others bereaved, and asserted commitment from school districts to enact anti-bullying programs. All talk. All forgotten about as soon as our attention is drawn elsewhere. That's both the tragedy and the scandal. Glossy brochures in every school in Canada tout all manner of anti-bullying DVD's, manuals, and curriculum units that can be purchased at special discount rates if acted upon now. Speakers are available to "train" teachers in how to make their schools bully-free zones. northof50.com 15
But next year there will inevitably be another similar death. And in the meantime there will be thousands of kids of all ages living with unarticulated suffering because they are being bullied. If we really wanted to, we could eliminate bullying in our schools and massively counteract its occurence outside schools. All educational leaders have to do is to place it on the same level that they place curriculum. Each school week, an average of five hours are devoted to each subject that is taught. The message? That's what is important. That's what matters. Physical education, band, math, woodshop, computer assisted drafting, etc, etc. all constitutes what really matters. Most schools have a mission statement and a list of school goals adorning their front foyer - the code they supposedly consider as their governing direction. Just words. In practise on a daily basis, schools are about the subjects being taught. That's where the energy goes and that's how they are evaluated. death and suicide don't dent that ruling ethos. We could change this. All we need to do is make it a priority to teach kids how to get along and respect each other. The curriculum needs to fit into that on a practical and observable basis. Values need to be taught. Communication needs to be taught. Every year. Selfawareness, resourcefulness, creativity, and self-care needs to be taught. Rights need to be taught. From the beginning to graduation. I asked a grade 12 non-academic English class what they would do if any of them were the principal of a school in which a student committed suicide due to bullying. A 17 year old boy blurted out, "Close the school!" What he meant was he'd do something drastic because he would see it as needing drastic action that had to be responded to. In other words not just more words. A response that meant something, that sent a message. More specifically, schools need to attack the underlying paradigm that countenances bullying. By definition we see bullies as stronger than victims. A person who allows him/herself to be pushed around or who doesn't fight back is a "pussy". When someone threatens you, the desired response is to "stand up" to the threat. Don't let them push you around. Thus, we establish within our kids a sense of failure just waiting to arise. We create a polarity of either or. You are a winner or a loser. A "man" or a "pussy". Fight back or run away. There are only two choices. To be afraid is bad.
Instead of giving the superiority to bullies, we need to teach kids about bullies, to expose the weakness of that behaviour, to advertise the weakness of that behaviour. Instead of posters that bleat about saying no to bullying, about standing up to bullying, we need posters that describe and explain how bullies get made, what goes on inside someone when they are bullying. Posters that say, "OF COURSE I"M AFRAID. WHO WOULDN'T BE AFRAID OF SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN HURT AND NOW WANTS TO HURT." We need to engage our students from the beginning in understanding what we are as humans. And we need to teach and elicit from them doable strategies to use when feeling any kind of threat. A sort of self-defense for the mind. When someone walks up and taunts, "I'm gonna kick your ass!" We need to have kids trained in a variety of responses, one of which is "What's wrong with you?" A client of mine recently was assailed via email by racist threats made to her by someone she thought was a friend. She was hurt and scared. Despite her maturity and intellect, she did what most of us do, she accepted the other person's dominance and internalized the negativity she felt bad. The other person did bad, but she felt bad. By a stroke of ingenuity, she decided not to carry the hurt. Instead, she posted the racist attack on her own Facebook page and invited comment. By doing this, she instantly depersonalized the situation. She made the attack objective. Others then weighed in and condemned the vicious email. By taking charge of the situation instead of fighting back or absorbing the punishment, she transformed how she was affected. By taking charge and simply exposing the situation without her own commentary, she felt powerful. The burden was lifted. She was no longer a victim. We naturally assume that we can teach kids how to do physics or carpentry or play an instrument. For some reason we don't want to teach them how to think and how to live.
Calvin White is a retired high school counsellor who lives in the North Okanagan. He has over 70 essays published in various Canadian daily newspapers, including the Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun and Province. If you have any comments on this column, you can write to Calvin White at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Calvin White c/o North of 50째, Box 100, Armstrong, BC V0E 1B0
THE REALITIES OF WAR ON THE GROUND IN THE 21st CENTURY JACK PHILLIPS, a retired Canadian Air Force Military Engineer, was given a rare opportunity to observe, in fact to be part of the realities of war on the ground in the 21st Century, when he was invited to Afghanistan to act as construction and maintenance support for the troops at Camp Julien on the outskirts of Kabul between January 2004 and September 2005.
Jack on his way to Dubai
During this period, he sent dispatches to the local newspaper in Kincardine, Ontario, where he and his wife Joyce lived at the time. Excerpts from his first dispatch, dated February 12, 2004, give an idea of the grim living conditions, the dull daily routine of survival and the devastation that war wreaks on what was once a civilized country. He writes:“Dropped off inside the gate at Camp Julien, I stood, dirty, disheveled and dispirited, surrounded by a dusty heap of bags ... and waited for my sponsor to guide me through Day 1. My boss, the Construction Engineering Manager, met me with a Nissan SUV, into which we heaved my bags and rumbled off to the tented quarters in the lower camp. I was met there by a couple of my seven tent mates, who quickly moved me into my 10ft by 7ft canvas cell* containing a camp cot, foam mattress, sleeping bag and a locally-made tin barrack box. One 40-watt bulb on a clamp-on lamp provided lighting which must be off by 10pm ... ... I couldn't help but notice the utter grayness of it all: dust-coated green canvas buildings, joined by gravel roads and gravel walkways, surrounded by gravel grounds – not a blade of grass nor a tree to be seen. Overseeing us from towards Kabul is the bombed-out hulk of the King's Palace and 180 degrees to the south sits the abandoned Queen's palace. Camp Julien occupies the once lovely gardens that joined the palaces before the wars ... When the Canadians built this camp, the ground between the palaces had to be cleared of munitions, mines and UXOs. The topsoil was then removed and a bed of gravel was laid down over the entire area, before moving in the tent city ... As part of our training before we departed, we were given lists of items and documents to bring with us to theatre. One such item was a small flashlight, the importance of which was indelibly impressed upon me on Night 1. After eating an early supper in the dining room in the upper
camp, I walked outside to pitch-blackness. The only lights to guide me were those being carried by people going about their business, in different directions of course. I managed to find the timber footbridge across the 10ft deep ditch that I had to cross to get to the lower camp where the accommodation tents were ... I was lost in a black void.” *Each tent structure is divided into eight cells, four to each side of a centre corridor and cordoned off with visual privacy screens. Phillips goes on to tell how, almost an hour later, he found his sleeping quarters among the endless rows of tents, and how, jetlagged and exhausted after three days of travel, his weary mind wondered what on earth he had gotten himself into....
Snow on King's Palace
He continues, later:“Life here in Camp Julien is austere to say the least. We civilian non-combatants are rarely allowed outside of camp – and only for work-related tasks, with armed military escorts. We see nothing of 'Afghanistan' except for those glimpses we catch from the armoured vehicles as we shuttle between Camp Julien and the Kabul International Airport – an airport where there are more machine-gun-toting authorities per capita than any other, I'm sure. But enough of that. We're talking about my routine here in this strange, almost surreal patch of gravel, housing literally hundreds of people from at least a dozen different nations ...“ Excerpts from a dispatch written six months later, on August 29, 2004, describe the duties of Phillips's team and tell of the heat, in sharp contrast to the freezing winter conditions when his sleeping bag was regularly frozen to the insulated wall of his tent cell ... with him in it:-
CME BBQ 2004
“It's Friday afternoon ... the Sabbath here, and very quiet. No contractors are into work ... It is hot (about 40 degrees C) and sunny on our high (6,000 ft.) plain just within the boundaries of Kabul, between the Queen and the King's palaces ... ... I'm part of a group of about 400 civilian noncombatants who support the Canadian Forces' mission in Afghanistan. Our role is to make life for the Canadian soldiers here as comfortable as possible by providing all the services necessary to sustain them in the field. These services include: laundry and housekeeping; augmenting vehicle and equipment maintenance; material management; communication and information systems; construction engineering design and project managment; food services in three huge kitchens with nine dining rooms; fire protection services; environmental services and recycling program; roads and grounds maintenance and, to complete our small town in the wilderness, we built, operate and maintain a utilities package comprising power generation and distribution, water treatment and distribution, water bottling plant and a sewage collection and treatment system.” Camp Julien
Phillips began his duties as Deputy Construction Engineering Manager, responsible for writing the Preventive Maintenance Program for the infrastructure at Camp Julien. He was promoted to Deputy Project Manager responsible for all contractor support functions and finally made Construction Engineering Manager, responsible for preparing the Camp Julien Drawdown Plan. Toward the end of his first month in Camp Julien, he sent an e-mail describing a soldier's memorial service. It gives an idea of how violence invades even the most personal, private and respectful moments in the theatre of war. Phillips writes:“We formed up in a hollow square, facing the granite memorial put in place last October when two other Canadian solders were killed by landmines. It was pelting down snow and cold enough to cause shivers in almost everyone present (or was that a different coldness causing that?) The arrival of the generals and their bodyguards, the dignitaries and their bodyguards and the clergy were the only movements as we waited for the service to begin. There were no shuffling noises, no sniffling noises, just respectful silence as the service continued with muted speeches and eulogies.
Then, a blast in the distance - we glanced uneasily towards the city center. We noticed that the bodyguards became restless, and then we watched them as they, in turn, approached their respective charges to whisper in their ears. We knew something serious was amiss. Meanwhile, the service continued without falter, to the conclusion when we all bid farewell to Corporal XXXX as his coffin was slowly moved, on the back of a cargo truck, off the parade ground to begin the final leg home. At the end of the parade, Major General Leslie confirmed to us all that, yes indeed, two blasts had occurred, with one British solder killed and several other people injured. As we dispersed back to our work places, we couldn't help but wonder what the future held for us.” Jack Phillips now lives in Vernon where he is President of the Vernon Lawn Bowling Club in lush, peaceful Polson Park – a far cry from the gray gravel desert he inhabited in Afghanistan. When asked what he learnt about himself when he was there, he says: “While I am glad that I had this opportunity to work overseas in an austere environment and observe how a medieval society lives, I feel blessed for having the very good fortune of residing in Canada. Our problems and issues are infinitesimal in comparison to those of Afghanistan.”
The Memorial to two fallen Canadian soldiers Camp Julien, Kabul, Afghanistan
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