America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By John Fioravanti

I have been so pleased by the excellent guest posts I have received from friends in the UK — David, Gary and Colette — as a part of Project Coexist, giving us a chance to see how people outside the U.S. view us these days, in light of the changes in our nation.  Today I am happy to share with you another excellent point-of-view from Canadian friend, John Fioravanti!

America Today: A Canadian View

I appreciate Jill Dennison’s generous invitation to be a guest on her blog site. As a retired high school history teacher, I don’t presume to be an expert on this topic or any other – nor do I claim to speak for any Canadians other than myself. Having said that, I believe that many Canadians are profoundly saddened and anxious by developments on our southern border since the Trump Administration took power.

Having taught American history for many years, I have some understanding about the events and ideas that shaped America from its colonial days. Like all nations, the United States has evolved throughout its history in many significant ways. Today, I see America at a crossroad as many of the foundational values are being tossed aside for political expediency.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Diplomacy is a dirty word in the Trump White House and I am horrified that the president resorts to bullying and personal insult in his conduct of relations with Canada and the other Allies. Where is the dignity and respect that normally characterize international relationships – especially with allied nations? These were the tactics used against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout the NAFTA negotiations. The worst part about that episode was that it utterly destroyed the trust that existed between Canada and the United States throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st.

Mulroney and Reagan sing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” at the 1985 Shamrock Summit.

I never expected Trudeau and Trump to become fast personal friends since they are divided by their political ideologies. Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan were both conservative leaders and good friends. Stephen Harper, a conservative, did not become friendly with the liberal-minded Obama. Yet, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau became good friends with Obama. My point here is that the political leanings of our national leaders often determine the temperature of the relationship. Under Donald Trump, that temperature has become decidedly frigid, and that benefits neither nation.

As I consider Trump’s poor behaviour in Washington and on the world stage, I am most concerned with his complete break with truth and honesty. I am appalled that so many millions of Americans still support him. Do they not value truth and honesty? Or are they just willing to subvert those values as a fitting sacrifice to achieve their political agenda? These are very troubling questions. I fear for my American cousins and for the rest of the free world.

Much has been written about the divisions within America. Donald Trump did not create those divisions, but he has single-mindedly exploited them to appease his base. In like manner, he has driven a wedge of distrust between the United States and her traditional allies. At the same time, Trump pays public homage to authoritarian leaders around the globe. His chaotic foreign policy has resulted in trade wars with allies and foes alike and the result is the isolation of America on the world stage.

I live a short two-hour drive from our southern border at Niagara but I have not driven across to visit friends in New York State since Trump took power – nor will I until America votes him out of power. That makes me sad. His mercurial policies cause me to be anxious and fearful about travelling in the States. Perhaps that is silly but it is my truth.

As a youngster, I remember being glued to the TV news as America’s cities burned during the race riots of the 1960s. As I listen to the white supremacist rhetoric and watch news reports of children and minority groups being targeted in mass shootings in America today, the old horror of those bygone days rears its ugly head.

Canada has its fair share of problems too. We have racial divisions of our own. There are people in Canada who think Donald Trump is a great example to follow. As a liberal, I’ve always done my best to accept that others have differing political and social views to my own, but I fear that American conservatism characterized by dishonesty and a total lack of integrity has made inroads among Canada’s conservatives.

Today, America is writhing in the midst of a political stalemate that has caused a partial shutdown of the federal government. Neither Trump nor the Democrat leaders in Congress are willing to blink. Meanwhile, thousands of federal workers find themselves used as political hostages who may lose their savings, their homes, and their peace of mind as a result. This is morally reprehensible!

Presupposing America can emerge from the next two years in one piece, will American voters elect leaders who will take steps to heal the nation and heal the broken relationships with the allies? Who can be certain? The divided house called America is frightening to behold. The fate of the free world hangs in the balance.

Thank  you so much for your perspective as one of our two closest neighbors, John!  I’m wondering if there are plans in the works in your own government to take steps, such as building a big, beautiful wall, to protect your southern border, for under our current circumstances, many of us may be fleeing to the north to escape political persecution here!

Where Is The Logic?????

toddler ironingThose of you who have a toddler in the house, let me ask you a question:  Do you allow your toddler to iron the laundry?  No, of course you don’t for he/she would likely get the creases crooked in the pants, and then what would you look like in that next business meeting?  Do you allow your toddler to load the dishes into the dishwasher?  Why no, silly, for half would be turned the wrong way and never get clean!  And would you allow your toddler to cook your supper?  Heh heh heh … only if you like your food to come on a stick!  There are good reasons that you don’t have your little one iron, clean, or cook, and the main one of those reasons is that he has no idea what he is doing when it comes to those things.  Well, guess what?  The ‘man’ sitting on his oversized patootie in the Oval Office is no better than your toddler in that he has no clue what he is doing.trump big butt-2I can tell you what he is doing … he is destroying.  He is on a course to destroy the environment, society, and most recently, the economy.  Yes, that economy that he has wrongfully taken credit for, that economy that he inherited  from the previous administration, that economy that has been, all things considered, pretty darned good.  But, not satisfied with that, he has now begun a trade war, not with our enemies … oh no, to our enemies he is most generous … but he is determined to go to war with our friends!!!

From The Washington Post, 31 May 2018

“President Trump campaigned on going hard after China for ripping off the United States on trade. Yet a year and a half into his presidency, Trump has put more tariffs on longtime U.S. allies than he has on China, his supposed “bad guy” on trade. The Trump administration announced new tariffs Thursday on the European Union, Canada and Mexico.”

tariffs-2Trump has been playing some game that only he understands, threatening the tariffs, then promising exemptions, then threatening again.  But alas, yesterday he decided the tariffs would go into effect at midnight last night.  If any of you republicans think this is a cheer-worthy move, think again.  This was a foolish, foolish move for two major reasons.

First, Canada, Mexico and the European Union (EU) are our allies, our friends, the countries we count on to help in times of trouble, just as we expect to help them when needed.  Friends do not treat friends this way, and the backlash is justified and expected.

The Mexican government said it would target U.S. exports of pork bellies, apples, cranberries, grapes, certain cheeses and various types of steel. Canada said it would slap dollar-for-dollar tariffs on a range of U.S. products, including whiskey and orange juice. And the European Union indicated it would levy taxes on about $7 billion worth of U.S. exports, including bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and jeans.

Reactions from our allies:

French President Emmanuel Macron called Mr Trump to tell him the tariffs were “illegal”. Mr Trump told Mr Macron there was a need for the US to “rebalance trade” with the EU.

UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the 25% levy on steel was “patently absurd”, adding: “It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies.”

Gareth Stace, head of trade body UK Steel, said the tariffs were “no way to treat your friend” and called on the government to safeguard the industry’s 31,000 jobs.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, said the US move was “totally unacceptable” and rejected the claim that his country posed a national security threat to America.

The White House received a significant amount of domestic flak, too. Both the steel industry and steelworkers’ unions decried the tariffs. Other manufacturers were no less concerned: One study suggests that the tariffs could kill up to 40,000 jobs in the automobile industry alone.  One of Trump’s own, republican Senator Ben Sasse said …

“This is dumb. Europe, Canada, and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents. We’ve been down this road before — blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression. ‘Make America Great Again’ shouldn’t mean ‘Make America 1929 Again.’”

And Financial Times journalist Ed Luce had this to say …

“Launching a simultaneous trade war against America’s allies and adversaries conforms to no known international rules of logic. It will raise domestic prices, cut U.S. jobs and reduce America’s global influence.”

Even chief bootlicker Paul Ryan was not happy, saying the move “targets America’s allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China”.

tariffs-3The second reason this is a fool’s errand, of course, is that it is a move almost certain to create economic instability both in the U.S. and across the globe.  Remember that extra $5 – $6 dollars the ‘tax cut’ bill gained you on your paycheck?  You will soon be spending all of that and more just to buy the same amount of food and other goods that you bought a year ago.  Prices will rise, and when some cannot afford the higher prices, buying will slow, and when buying slows, manufacturers will cut jobs.  That, of course, is an over-simplified explanation, but you get the idea.

Trump’s stance against globalism is ridiculous, for today’s world is a global world.  Nations must engage in global trade in order to bolster their economies, and in global cooperation in order to ensure their security.  It is no longer the world it was pre-WWII, but Donald Trump has no knowledge, no experience, and no willingness to listen to the experts, so he does not understand international relations or economics any better than your three-year-old understands how to iron the clothes.  The difference is that your toddler will someday learn … Donald Trump will not.

My Place in the Sun???

I thought I had found my ‘place in the sun’ when I saw this Facebook post:

island-ad.png

One commenter with knowledge of the area cautions that it is beautiful but remote.  Yeah, so what’s the problem?  I like remote.  And while I really wasn’t looking for a job, I wouldn’t mind working again if that were a requirement.  I have numerous job skills ranging from bus driver to teacher to accountant, so surely there would be something for me, right?  I felt my heart beating just a bit faster.  And daughter Chris is a nurse … every town needs a few nurses, right?  Thumpety-thump, thumpety-thump … I need to start cleaning out closets and the shed … trim down our excess ‘stuff’ so there isn’t so much to have to move … passport … make a list …

Clicking on the link, I first looked at the pictures …

Pretty nice, eh?  I’m in love already! It is Cape Breton Island.  Interestingly, this is not the first time that Americans have been invited to relocate to Cape Breton … So, back to the ad …

“If you love to be outdoors surrounded by nature as far as the eye can see with fresh air to breathe and are looking for a job. Stop now and search no longer, as there as an opportunity of a lifetime in a small town called Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada.”

Hello!  I’m on my way!

But … as the saying goes, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.  Turns out the ad was just a tad misleading. 

“The Farmer’s Daughter Country Market which is a very special part of cape Breton is hiring workers and providing an opportunity for anyone who is qualified to start a new life and a new job with incredible benefits. They’re already hired all the qualified local residents that needed a job and there’s no one left. So, they decided to post an ad on Facebook, a call out or all those who’re interested into moving to the countryside, lead a simpler, happier life, closer to nature.farmers-daughter-e1521918622136.jpgIf you take pride in being friendly, helpful, and positive and have skills in the food industry or customer service, then you are who we are looking for. We cannot offer you big money (wages in local small Cape Breton businesses are not high) but we can offer you a great incentive to come and try us out. One thing our business does have is LOTS of LAND.”

And at the very end of the article, an update:

-UPDATE: They have hired 3 families from British Columbia and will be looking to hire 3 to 4 more in the Spring.

Okay, well … back to the drawing board … sigh.

Saturday Surprise — Armchair Traveler

Weekend … it’s finally here … the WEEKEND!  That moment you have all been waiting for for a lonnnngggg five days has finally arrived!  So, do you guys have big plans for the weekend, or just planning to hang out and relax, maybe paint the kitchen?  Me, I will be watching them knock a few out of the park at the Super Bowl.  What?  That was last weekend?  Oh drat.  I can’t believe I missed it for the 25th year in a row!  So, who won, the Mets or the Cowboys?  What?  Really?  Okay, well … moving right along here, what would you like to do with our short time together today?  Are you up for a bit of traveling?  Great!  Then grab a seat, fasten your seatbelt, and let us travel in our armchairs to … India!

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I first happened upon a picture of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India, a few weeks ago, but as I was on some other mission at that time, I bookmarked it and promptly forgot about it.  Tonight, I happened upon it again and thought it might make an interesting point of origin for our weekend jaunt.

Shri Harmandir Sahib, known worldwide as the Golden Temple, was built starting in 1581, and completed in 1589.  It is a Sikh temple and has been rebuilt numerous times, after being destroyed, also numerous times, by Muslims invading from Afghanistan.  It is built around a man-made pool, and when it was destroyed in 1757, and then again in 1762, by an army led by Ahmad Shah Abdali, they filled the pool with garbage!  Not very nice, eh? It was, once again, rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, using marble and copper in 1809, then was overlaid with gold foil in 1830. This has to be getting expensive, I should think!

golden temple 2.jpgIn the early 1980s, the temple became a center of conflict between the Indian government led by Indira Gandhi, some Sikh groups and a militant movement led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale seeking to create a new nation named Khalistan. In 1984, Gandhi sent in the Indian Army as part of Operation Blue Star, leading to deaths of over 1,000 militants, soldiers and civilians, as well as causing much damage to the temple and the destruction of Akal Takht. The temple complex was rebuilt again after the 1984 damage.  I must say, they are persistent!

The Golden Temple is an open house of worship for all men and women, from all walks of life and faith.  I like that, but I also like the fact that every single day, they provide more than 50,000 free meals to anyone … that’s anyone … who needs a meal.

DCF 1.0There is a huge communal kitchen and volunteers come in every day to help prepare the meal and clean up afterward. Lentils are cooked in huge vats, on open fires, that take two people with large wooden paddles, to stir. The kitchen uses 12,000 kilograms of flour, 1,600 kilograms of pulses (lentils), 1,600 kilograms of vegetables, and 1,400 kilograms of rice per day. About 25 percent of the food is donated.

Did you enjoy your visit?  Where to next, friends?  I thought to visit a bit more of India, but … let us head over to London, for there is something going on there with the hedgehogs …


Britain’s hedgehogs, for all their iconic cuteness, have fallen on prickly times. The hedgehog population has been on the decline, and the people want them back!

hedgehog

In the 1950s, some estimates placed the British hedgehog population at 30 million. A 1995 study put the number closer to 1.5 million across England, Scotland, and Wales. Over the last two decades,  hedgehogs have declined by roughly fifty percent in the countryside and by a third in urban enclaves. Now, as cute as hedgehogs may be, here in the U.S., people go to all sorts of machinations to keep critters such as hedgehogs out of urban areas, for they damage yards, eat flowers, and so on.

Michel Birkenwald, a London jeweler, has become one of London’s most enthusiastic engineers of infrastructure for animals. He founded and self-financed Barnes Hedgehogs around four years ago. The group drills the holes in fences and other obstacles for free to provide hedgehog access, and generally advocates for the welfare of wild hedgehogs. Once Birkenwald has crafted a passage, he usually affixes a sign reading “Hedgehog Highway,” with the creature’s spiky silhouette.

hedgehog highway signIt seems that the decline is, at least in part, due to urbanization, thus a decline in hedgerows, the wild shrubbery that has been replaced by buildings, roads, etc.

While Birkenwald is drilling holes in fences and other obstacles to allow hedgehogs safe passage around town, there is yet another hedgehog advocacy group, Hedgehog Street.

hedgehog-street.pngApparently all these efforts are working, for a report released this month indicates that the rate of decline is slowing.  Hooray for the hedgehogs!  I cannot believe I am sitting here at 1:00 in the morning writing about hedgehogs!  Have I finally lost my bloomin’ mind?Sonic


And one final stop on Filosofa’s Saturday Surprise train … let’s head to Canada where there is a rare phenomenon called ‘snow rollers’.

A rare wind is blowing up cylindrical “snow rollers”—a phenomenon that occurs only when wind, snow, and moisture synchronize in a rare confluence of conditions.

When the wind is strong—but not too strong—and the snow is light—but not too light—and sticky, a steady wind can roll snow into neat, spiral cylinders. They dot a field of snow like icy bales of hay. They start small but can grow around two feet in diameter.

snow rollers-3Snow rollers can be kind of cute as they skate across a field—but just imagine if you didn’t know anything about these and came across a field of mysterious cylinders. Aliens? Nope, just nature.

snow rollers 2Well, my opinion, for whatever it’s worth, is that my Canadian friends can keep their snow rollers, for I am ready for spring, for wildflowers and bumblebees, for brisk morning walks and grilling out in the evening.

flower-bee.jpg

Well, friends, I know you all have fun things to do this weekend and you’re eager to get to them, and I certainly do appreciate you popping over to spend a few minutes with me.  What better way to start the weekend than with a song, yes?  Have a wonderful weekend, keep warm and safe.  Hugs ‘n love from Filosofa!

Gotta love Stevie Wonder, yes?

Black History Month In Canada… Mary Ann Shadd Cary – by John Fioravanti

Alright, who made off with the re-blog button? 

reblog

This is how it’s supposed to look!

I have fallen behind on sharing John’s wonderful, enlightening posts about Black History Month in Canada, and I was planning to share two of his today.  But there was no re-blog button to be found.  Yes, I know I’m half blind and not seeing quite right, but I checked several other fellow bloggers posts, and … no button.  Checked my own … still no button.  So, sigh, I am forced to use “Press This” to share John’s post.  The main reason I prefer ‘re-blog’ is that it shows the first part of the author’s post, enough to grab the reader’s interest and  makes them want more. Other reasons I prefer ‘re-blog’ include that it is quicker, and it also notifies the original author.  In the interest of doing that, I will take the liberty of providing a brief snippet here, and ask you to please click the link to read the rest, for this lady in the annals of history is truly remarkable!

Text dividersMary Ann Shadd Cary – Educator, Publisher, and Abolitionist

 

Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary, educator, publisher, abolitionist (born 9 October 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware; died 5 June 1893 in Washington, DC). The first Black female newspaper publisher in Canada, Shadd founded and edited The Provincial Freeman. She also established a racially integrated school for Black refugees in Windsor, Canada West. In 1994, Shadd was designated a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada.

via Black History Month In Canada… Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Filosofa’s Look Into The Present …

Yesterday I was riffling through some older posts, in search of the first post of my Monday morning, Jolly Monday, feature, which I never did find, but I came across an interesting post that I wrote in March 2016.  It was meant to be humorous, and was, in a dark sort of way … a predictive piece about what a Trump presidency would look like after the first six months.  Remember that at the time, I was sincerely convinced that Trump stood absolutely no chance of winning the election, so it was a bit easier then to be rather glib than it is today.  But still, there is some humour in it, and most importantly, it is somewhat of a comfort to see that at least some of my predictions did not come to pass.  At any rate, I thought I would share this today … if for no other reason than a chuckle or two, and to give you further reason to never trust my predictive skills.

DATELINE: 15 JULY 2017

It is July 2017, and President Donald Trump has been in office for six months now.  Much has changed since the beginning of the year.  Let us first look back at the past six months, then we will look at what is happening in the big Gold House today.
The immigration crisis in the U.S. has reversed itself and turned from a problem of immigration to one of mass emigration.  Whereas one year ago, we were mostly concerned with Syrian refugees flooding the country, the concern now is U.S. citizens trying to flee the country.  Some 250,000 fled over the U.S./Canadian border during the first quarter of 2017.  Canada closed its border to U.S. citizens at the end of March, and the latest wave of emigrants have been heading over the Mexican border or attempting the 90-mile journey to Cuba in yachts and other small pleasure craft.  So far there have been few mishaps, however as more and more people try to leave U.S. territory, that is likely to change soon.  A small number have fled to the European continent; however, the EU has made it clear that immigrants from the U.S. are persona non grata.  EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, in his statement last Friday, said, “Americans made their beds last November.  Let them wallow in them.”  Meanwhile, President Trump has issued an executive order stating that any U.S. citizen caught trying to leave the country will be imprisoned for a minimum of 90 days and subject to waterboarding during that time.  This is a reversal of the statement that Trump issued in February when the emigration began and he reportedly said, “I don’t give a shit.  Let them all go.  I don’t need them and they are the ones who will be sorry.  They will be sorry.”
President Trump and Vice President Palin recently returned from a trip to Russia where they met with Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials.  Trump pledged military aid to Russia for its effort to gain control over remaining Ukrainian and other territories.  “We’re gonna send them planes and bombs … lots of bombs … lots of bombs”, Trump told reporters yesterday.  Ms. Palin, asked what she felt was accomplished by the trip, answered “Oh MY … I did sooooo much shopping!  I got the most adorable little bolero!”
Trump News, formerly Fox News, is reporting that the senate failed to confirm Trumps nomination of Judith Sheindlin (aka Judge Judy) to fill the current opening on the Supreme Court.  Trump ordered the senate to reconsider the matter and take another vote on Monday, stating that if the confirmation is not forthcoming, he will “fire all the senators who voted against the nomination”.  Informed by aides that he does not have the power to fire senators, he responded “I will pass a law.  I will pass a law so that I can fire senators.  I will pass a law.”  Informed that he does not have the power to single-handedly pass a law, he fired the aides.
President Trump has announced that he will not attend the Global United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in November.  “Climate change is all a hoax.  It’s all a hoax and those people are boring.  I like people who want to have fun.  All those people do is sit around and talk about a myth.  Climate change is a myth.  We’re gonna take the oil and we’re gonna burn the oil and we’re gonna burn the coal.  I like to spend my time with people who are fun.  Those people aren’t fun.”  In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Trump replied to the question of how he plans to ‘take the oil’: “We’re gonna take the oil, okay?  We’re gonna take the oil.  They are gonna give us the oil just so we don’t bomb the [bleep] out of them.”
Which brings us to today’s news.  Kim Jong-Un, Supreme Leader of the DPRK (North Korea) issued a warning that if all sanctions against North Korea are not lifted by the end of this month, he will launch missiles armed with nuclear warheads at the United States and other western nations.  President Trump responded by saying “we will bomb him first.  I’ve got a nuclear arsenal at my disposal and I will use it.  I will bomb all of Korea off the map.  I will bomb the shit out of them.  Bring me that red phone.  Where is that red phone?  I will bomb them now!”  An anonymous source within the White Gold House tells us that the red phone could not be found and that the president has ordered a new one to be delivered tomorrow. Defense Secretary Chris Christie was fired for apparently losing the red phone.  The world stands at the brink of all-out war, a brink as we have not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.  We can only hope that this is resolved without disaster, as was the Cuban Missile Crisis.  President Trump is no Kennedy.
I really started out with the intention of this being a humorous piece, but every time I read it, it seems less funny.  I considered not even posting it, but I will and let the chips fall where they may.  Feel free to remind me that humour is supposed to be funny.  I apparently forgot how to do funny. 
And the comments at the time:
  • “The six scariest words I have heard in some time, ‘President Trump and Vice President Palin’.”
  • “Yes, there is such a thing as dark humor…”
  • “It is funny, in a weird and twisted way… 😉 Funny, but also sad. Well, if you need to emigrate, I will vouch for you… and tell the EU administration that you definitely have not voted for Trump! 😉”

 

A Letter, A Letter … I Got A Letter!

coat of arms

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

 

Ms. Jill Dennison

xxxx xxxxxx xxx

xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xx, USA  xxxxx

15 June 2016

Dear Ms. Dennison,

Thank you for your letter of 13 November 2015, and subsequent telephone communique. I am delighted that you and your family have expressed interest in coming to Canada to live in the event of certain possible election results in November.  You seem to have studied the requirements, and I am sure you will have no problem passing the background check.  I must inform you, however, that there is currently legislation under consideration that you need to be aware of.  If passed by Parliament, the legislation would effectively close our borders to citizens of the United States at 12:01 a.m. on 9 November 2016 in the event that Americans elect Donald Trump as their next president.  It is indeed unfortunate that we need to do this, however it is, as I am certain you will understand, a measure necessary for the safety of Canada and our citizens.  There would be no way for us to identify, with hordes of American citizens pouring over our borders, which might be supporters of Mr. Trump, coming into our country to stir racism, cynicism, bigotry and hatred.

This is the first time we have considered such a measure and we do so with heavy hearts, as we have always considered Americans to be our friends and allies. However, there is too much risk involved.  I am certain you understand, as you live every day among such people and the dangers they pose to a civil society.  The threat posed by those who follow the ideology of Mr. Trump is no less than the threat of those who follow terrorist groups in the Middle East, and we simply cannot have Canada turned into another Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, or worse yet, become a puppet of the United States!

I would suggest, if you are still interested in relocating, that you send in your application form before the end of this month, as the paperwork, background checks, employment tests, etc., can take a few months to process.  If you relocate to Canada prior to 9 November, there will be no problem, but after that date there will be a two-year wait, during which time your activities, contacts and electronic communications will be monitored to determine if you have connections to any supporters of Mr. Trump.  Also remember that at least one member of your family must have a firm job commitment before you will be allowed to enter the country as residents.

One last thing.  In answer to your question about wedding gifts, since your wedding was in 1970, nearly fifty years ago, there will be no issue with any wedding presents you may still possess.  You may bring them into Canada with no customs fees.  I must say that you apparently take very good care of your possessions!

So, in closing, please feel free to contact me if you have any other concerns or questions, and I am happy that you have chosen Canada as your next potential home.  It appears, based on what you have told me, that you and your family will make valuable contributions to our great nation.  Thank you again for your interest!

 

Sincerely,

trudeau sig

 

I have been under the weather this week, but when I received this letter in the mail, it did wonders for me!  Thank you, Prime Minister!

 

The Road to Toronto …

Sometime last year, probably in the fall, I joked that if Trump were elected president, I was moving to Canada.  It was a joke, and I meant nothing by it, as at that time I did not think there was a snowball’s chance in hell that da trumpeter would even get past first base on the path to the nomination.  I really believed he would drop out after the first round of primaries, so it was easy to joke and jest about his candidacy.  I laughed a lot way back when.  I laugh a lot less now.  And I think more seriously about moving to Canada. I have been wrong many, many times in my life, but never before have I been so wrong as when I believed my fellow citizens were too smart to follow the babbling buffoon, aka Donald Trump.

I am not alone!  After a discussion with my daughter the other night, we decided to look into the requirements to become residents of Canada.  When I began typing a phrase, “relocate to Canada” into Google, I only got the first few letters before it suggested the exact thing I was looking for … apparently many people have been looking into this!  And, Google provided me with over 23 million results to my search!  A few of the results:

  • Do Americans Really Move To Canada Because Of Politics? : NPR
  • Can Trump-Dodging Americans Really Move To Canada?
  • How To Move To Canada If Trump Wins – Refinery29
  • ‘An alternative exists’: the US citizens who vowed to flee to Canada
  • A guide for Americans who want to move to Canada if Trump wins
  • Want to Move to Canada If Trump Wins? Not So Fast | Rolling Stone

So those of you who reside in the U.S. and still have your sanity, you are probably curious about the qualifications for moving to Canada before next January.  Here is the short-list:

  • Visit Canada to determine where you would like to live (we have decided on Toronto, as it is the southern-most point, so more temperate, and closest to the U.S. in case we wish to visit)
  • Determine which type of permanent Canadian residency best suits your qualifications. (since my daughter is a nurse and I am a CPA, we will choose ‘skilled workers and professionals’)
  • Print the application form
  • Submit the completed application along with the applicable processing fee
  • Wait for the Citizenship and Immigration Canada office to process your application, receive an official Canadian Permanent Resident card.
  • Pack your stuff and rent a truck.

Simple.  One interesting thing to note:  if you have wedding gifts among your possessions, you must have gotten married within the past 3 months, or be planning to get married within the next 3 months, otherwise you will have to pay customs fees on them.  Now, this has me wondering … though my wedding was 40+ years ago, I do still have some of my wedding gifts, such as kitchen tools, pots and pans, etc.  (I take care of things and almost never throw anything away if it has even one more bit of use.) Does this mean that, since I received them as wedding gifts, I will have to pay duty on them?  Hmmmmm …. I will have to delve deeper into that.

Just a few days ago, I discovered that there is yet another option:   “Ireland Is Seriously Accepting Trump Refugees From The U.S. — Here’s Why”    The first line in this article is “Google has seen a spike in searches for “how to move to Canada” since Trump started his campaign.”  REALLY???? I wonder why?!?!  Anyway, the article is short, but a couple of the comments were fun:

  • “Let’s all move to Ireland and come back when America is no longer populated by idiots. Its [sic] should only take 100 years or so.”
  • “How high is this island? Is it going under water?”

Ireland is a beautiful country and one I would have liked to visit, but I think I will have to stick with Canada.  I am not rich, and I think it would take all my savings and then some to relocate to Ireland.  But for those of you who are younger and more adventurous than I … it might be something to consider!

Now, you may be wondering if I am serious about relocating or if it is merely another of my snarky anti-Trump-isms.  And the answer is … I don’t really know.  I am at least half serious. The values that are important to me, the ones I have built my whole life around, are human rights, equality for all people, inclusiveness, and most of all respect.  Donald Trump appears to be the antithesis of everything I believe in, and I am not certain that I want to, or even can live in a country led by a man who shares not a single one of these values.  I might argue (yes, I argue with myself all the time) that by staying, I could continue to fight against Trump and his policies; that if all the good people leave, what happens to the nation?  That is where the “I don’t know” comes in.  My voice in the cyber-world is very small, and for the most part I am already ‘preaching to the choir’, as most of my readers already share my beliefs and values.  So, am I making a difference?  Probably not much of one.  And my ability to make a difference in a world of Trump would be even less, as I believe he fully intends to find ways to silence his detractors.

So, all joking aside, yes, my family and I are giving serious consideration to a move in the event, unlikely I hope, that Trump wins the election.  Nothing, however, is set in stone, and I keep my fingers crossed that my fellow citizens will ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ before it is too late.  I still believe that common sense, morals, values, and all the rest reside in the hearts of most people.

Updates and Addendums

Today I have just a few updates to the past week’s stories:

  • The wild fire in Alberta, Canada, (A Tale of Two Tragedies) is still not under control, even after a week of major firefighting efforts. In fact, the latest news is that Canadian officials are expecting it to be months before the fire is fully extinguished.  The biggest concern at present is that the fire could double in size and reach a major oil sands mine, and even the neighboring province of Saskatchewan. As of today, it is estimated that the fire has consumed more than 494,000 acres and is continuing to grow, aided by high temperatures, dry conditions and high winds.  My heart goes out to those who have lost their homes and everything they owned, but also to the hundreds of firefighters who have been working 30 or more hours straight without sleep.  I cannot imagine.

 

firefighters rest

Firefighters take a short break after more than 30 hours on the job.

  • FILES-TURKEY-POLITICS-MEDIA-TRIAL-SENTENCE

    Can Dundar (L) and  Erdem Gul (R)

    Can Dündar, (A Turkey of a Turkey … In Turkey) the Turkish journalist who was facing a possible life sentence for a documentary he produced, was fired upon by a gunman just outside the courthouse in Istanbul prior to sentencing on Friday.  The gunman was apparently a novice, as all three shots missed Dündar, though another journalist was slightly injured by a ricocheted bullet.  Though the gunman claims to have been acting alone and says that he wanted to teach Dündar a lesson, two other people were also detained.  Dündar blames Erdogan for the attack, saying “We know very well who showed me as a target,” accusing Erdogan and pro-government media of whipping up a climate of hatred against him.

A few minutes after the attack outside the courthouse, Dündar was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison, convicted of publishing secret state documents. while fellow journalist Erdem Gül received a 5-year sentence. The sentence is certainly less than the life sentence that was a possibility, but it still reeks of dictatorial and punitive limits on the press.  In Dündar’s own words, “In the space of two hours we have experienced two assassination attempts: one was done with a gun, the other was judicial. The [jail sentences] we received are not just to silence us. The bullet was not just to silence us. This was done to all of us, to scare us into silence, to make us stop talking.”  Turkey now ranks 151st among 180 countries in the world press freedom index.

  • baby elephantIn September, member states of the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) will meet to discuss, among other topics, the elephant ivory trade. (Of Elephants and Ivory …) I was, and am yet, perplexed to find that even among the African nations this is a divisive issue.  Apparently Namibia and Zimbabwe are in favour of opening up the ivory trade, while Kenya supports a complete global ban on all things ivory.  I have to say that in this case, I side with Kenyans. In the 1970s, Africa had about 1.2 million elephants, but now has 400,000 to 450,000, or about one-third the 1970’s population.  Obviously, the possibility of extinction in the next 20-30 years is a very real phenomenon if the ivory trade is allowed to continue.  How terribly sad that anyone in their right mind would value a piece of jewelry or a billiard ball more than the life of one of these majestic animals.

A Tale of Two Tragedies

Syria1Yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, a Syrian refugee camp near the Syrian town of Sarmada, just 11 miles from the Turkish border was bombed into oblivion.  This was a refugee camp, not a military installation.  There were makeshift tents and thousands of civilians who had already been the victims of the violence in nearby Aleppo that currently defines the nation of Syria.  It is reported that more than 30 people lost their lives, and the rest lost what few belongings they had, as well as friends and family members.  This is a tragedy beyond words, a tragedy for which there can be no justification, no defense.

It is unclear as yet whether the aircraft that dropped the bombs was Syrian or Russian, but in light of the brotherly relationship between al-Assad and Putin, perhaps it is one and the same.  The bombing was almost certainly intentional and, as such, is being investigated by the United Nations.  If found to be intentional it will be considered a war crime.  Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, said it was “extremely unlikely that these murderous attacks were an accident” given the tents could be clearly viewed from the air. There was absolutely no military presence in the camp, only refugees fleeing for their lives.

This tragedy begs the question: what kind of a person could pull the lever or push the button to drop bombs on a place where there are only people already in distress, people barely surviving and fighting for their lives and the lives of their children every day? Certainly, I suppose, it is easy for al-Assad or Putin, sitting in their modern offices, smoking and drinking their tea, to give the order.  They do not have to be the ones to look down, seeing the human misery, and destroy humanity within the blink of an eye.  It is nothing more to them than giving an order to have the car lubed.  But the person flying the plane, the person opening the doors and actually causing the bomb to release, looking down and seeing tents burning, knowing that human beings are within those tents, seeing, perhaps, people afire trying to outrun the savagery.  How can anybody do that and still call themselves a human?

Syria2

Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra, from St. Petersburg, at Palmyra’s Roman Theater

You can read the story in The Guardian. Meanwhile, Putin generously sent one of Russia’s finest symphony orchestras to the recently re-captured Palmyra to play Bach for those who weren’t too busy fleeing for their lives or just trying to survive another day. Isn’t that an interesting contrast?  About 130 miles between the soothing music of J.S. Bach and the screams of dying refugees.

 


 

A wildfire raging out of control for over three days in Alberta, Canada has forced the evacuation of some 88,000 people from Fort McMurray and surrounding areas.  The fire consumed thousands of homes and businesses.  Damages will be impossible to estimate for some time yet, but the loss of tangible property is accompanied by losses that can have no price tag … family pictures, beloved pets, and most of all, peace of mind.  Fortunately, there have been no casualties directly from the fire, although in the mass exodus there was one fatality from a car crash. The initial cause of the fire, which started last Sunday, is unknown, but the winds caused by El Niño and exceptionally dry, hot weather as a result of recent climate changes have worked to spread the fire.

Alta Wildfire Evacuation

Smoke fills the air as cars line up on a road in Fort McMurray, Alberta on Tuesday May 3, 2016 in this image provide by radio station CAOS91.1. At least half of the city of Fort McMurray in northern Alberta was under an evacuation notice Tuesday as a wildfire whipped by winds engulfed homes and sent ash raining down on residents.

Though most of the evacuees went south, some 25,000 were directed north into an area of oil sands, where supplies quickly began to run low.  Today, they are being led by Royal Canadian Mounted Police cruisers and monitored overhead by helicopters through Ft. McMurray and to safety south of the burned area.  To date, more than 1,100 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air tankers have been fighting a total of 49 wildfires across the province, with seven considered to be raging out of control.

Among those who were evacuated and lost everything they had was a family of Syrian refugees who arrived in Alberta a mere two months ago.  “My kids, mom say, ‘What [do] we have to do? You said to us we will live there, we will live happy. Why that happened to us?’” Labak told the Globe and Mail in halting English. “That’s very bad. I can’t answer to them anything.”


Two tragedies, very different in nature, one caused by the cruelty of man, the other by the forces of nature (with, perhaps, some help from man).  Both heartbreaking stories.  Yet the main story of interest to many in the U.S. today is what Donald Trump is doing, where he is, who is or is not supporting him.  Make no mistake, I do my share of writing about Trump.  But today, I am much more caught up in the human suffering in Syria and in Canada. These two stories break my heart for those affected, and they also make me look around at my own family, my friends, and realize that we have so much for which to be thankful.