As Obama pointed out on Friday, the news briefings on mass shooting are all too common, to the point of routine. The Oregon shooting seems to have had a religious connection in the shooter asking students to identify themselves as Christians—if they admitted this, he shot them in the head, if not, in the legs. Early reports indicate he had a thing against organized, institutionalized religion, a common feeling, but one usually acted on by just staying away from churches.
Obama indicated frustration, a sentiment that he has displayed many times on this issue. He knows he’s largely failed in making any progress on gun control, and with only a year to go, he will leave with little accomplished.
He asked reporters there to do homework on it: compile stats on Americans killed by terrorists, and compare that to ones killed by fellow Americans in mass shootings. A few news agencies have done that, and any form of graph shows the results are obvious. The main deaths from a terrorist activity occurred on 9-11, almost three thousand killed in the Twin Towers attack. There have been a few since that, such as at the Boston Marathon, but compared to home-grown gun deaths, any terrorist plotting stutters along the bottom line, while domestic gun violence soars at stratospheric levels above. Continue reading
I wasn’t surprised by the news this morning that the Grand Jury in Ferguson, Missouri decided not to charge the police officer who shot and killed teenager Michael Brown several weeks ago. In fact I don’t think anyone I know would have been surprised. It was expected.
Despite my writing what I thought was a pretty good article back in December of 2010 about the improvement in race relations in America, that nation and its racial issues still is a charged situation that is not through exploding.
I can see a number of reasons for ongoing trouble. Continue reading
Occasionally things you see or hear do a twist on your brain—too bizarre to fit into place in the view you have constructed.
So it was when I (wait for it . . .) first heard Vladimir Putin singing “Blueberry Hill”. I kid you not. Where do you fit that? The memories of Fats Domino with the original hit, of Richie Cunningham warbling his theme song, fade—or perhaps are driven from the mind. Continue reading
For a number of years when I first started working down here, I used to take wedding pictures. Something of a hobby, made a little money at it. I would just do a budget job, flat fee, take about 72 pictures (two rolls of 36, for those who have forgotten, or never knew the days of Kodachrome), and when the first prints were back, I would just hand over the prints and negatives to the couple to do what they wished for copies and enlargements.
“Let me tell you an interesting story,” I said to a few friends in early December. “Thirty years ago…” I started, and I’m sure they hoped I didn’t fill in all the missing time, but I had their attention.
Saturday evening. July, 1983. I was watching TV when Ellen said the unforgettable words: “Didn’t you have a wedding this evening?”
KaPow! Out of my chair! The wedding was at 7 pm, was about ten kilometers away, and it was almost that time. I grabbed my camera equipment and raced out the door. Continue reading
Several months ago, I got a renewed interest in the music group The Seekers. I was converting some LP records to CD’s and owned two of their albums from back in the ‘60’s. They were, and still are, a group based in Australia, with memorable hits for my generation like Georgie Girl, I’ll Never Find Another You, A World of our Own, and the haunting The Carnival is Over. They were probably the last of successful folk-based groups, and managed to bump both the Stones and the Beatles off the charts in the days when those groups were expected to be on top.
The Seekers story is interesting. They left Australia to try for success in Britain—booked as entertainment on a cruise ship to cover transportation costs. Shortly after their arrival, their popularity took off. Much of their sound came from the wonderful voice of Judith Durham—she was very much the “Seekers sound”. But Judith had issues of her own, particularly ones of poor self-esteem and lack of confidence. Despite appearing in the dreams of most young men at the time, she thought she was overweight and unattractive, and despite later being described by Elton John (he once played piano for them) as possessing “one of the purest voices in popular music”, she wasn’t even confident in that ability. She decided to leave the group at the peak of their success to pursue a singing career of her own. She did have that, mainly singing jazz in America with her husband pianist Ron Edgeworth. The remaining Seekers had an assortment of replacements for her through the years, none of which was a Judith Durham. Continue reading
Pierre Trudeau once said, in reference to our American neighbours, “Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”
Certainly, along with many other things, we share a financial bed. When the elephant rolls in a wakeful night, we will feel it.
The US heads toward an election this November, and the number one concern in the Obama-Romney choice for president is which man can solve their economic woes. Neither candidate seems to possess magical answers. There’s a reason for this: there are no magical answers. The US is in the most difficult financial situation in its history, one not likely to be repaired by just tweaking and tinkering. While Canada holds an enviable position in a shaky economic world, we are certainly not immune to the US plight, and we will feel the effects of their struggle more than we will feel that of the European community.
It’s hard for us to appreciate the US debt situation. No doubt the man on the street identifies economic trouble mainly by the loss of his job or that of his neighbour, or by the escalating cost of buying gas or groceries. Curiously, fingers point at Europe and its debt crises, and attention seems to be diverted from the US mess. Perhaps the world has developed such a belief in America as a “superpower” that they scrounge up faith that somehow, miraculously, Americans will easily find their way out of this jam. Continue reading