Sunday, May 22, 2016

One of these things is not like the others 

Canadian politics has apparently entered its silly season just before everyone takes the summer off and goes to the lake.
While Canada discusses Sophie's workload and "elbowgate" -- both such important news stories! -- in the United States we see Hillary Clinton gearing up to do battle with Deadbeat Donald.
Forgive me if I think that what is happening down south is much more consequential and ultimately more meaningful than either of our scandals-du-jour.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016


Duck family gets police escort to safety | Saskatoon StarPhoenix:

Members of the Saskatoon Police Service bike unit help a family of ducks navigate their way through downtown on Thursday afternoon. The officers were able to guide the feathered family to the South Saskatchewan River after blocking traffic for a short time at the intersection of 5th Ave. N and 22nd St. E and as they crossed Spadina Crescent towards the riverbanks.

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

Oh, they're just pets, let 'em suffer.... 

This just infuriates me.
A volunteer group organized through Facebook is ready, willing, able and on the spot to rescue the Fort McMurray pets.
Instead of helping them, some bureaucratic RCMP officers are preventing them -- they're not "official", you see. Its actually some municipality job or maybe the SPCA -- though neither have bothered setting up any rescue yet, but they're getting to it any day now, yes siree! And its just dogs and cats anyway, so who cares....

Sam Sansalone, who’s based out of southern Alberta but has taken on a leadership role in the Facebook group Fort Mac Fire - Pet Rescue, where many of the efforts are being co-ordinated, said group members rescued about 230 pets on Wednesday and Thursday.
But on Thursday, and again on Friday, police kicked them out, he said.
He said authorities told them that the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo was taking over pet rescue duties, and there was a risk that people working independently might loot houses under the guise of attempting to rescue pets.
Sansalone said he understands that concern, but that official resources are spread too thin, and civilians should be allowed to help.
Plus, Wood Buffalo’s rescue effort didn’t start until Saturday. Sansalone said he was worried that would be too late for many of the pets.
“This is a mass grave, in basements, in crates,” he said.
And The Globe and Mail carefully titles its story "SPCA asking evacuees to register pets left behind in Fort McMurray" when the story is actually about the volunteer group -- they're the ones who set up a facebook group and they're the ones who are organized already to rescue the pets. The SPCA could have done this. The Municipality of Wood Buffalo could have done this. The RCMP could have done this.
But they didn't.
Instead, they seem to be putting their best efforts into preventing the rescue of animals that dying as we speak.

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

Stories of courage from Fort McMurray 

I'm sure every one of the thousands of Fort McMurray families has their own story of what happened to them during the evacuation, but here's one of the most thrilling stories of courage that I've seen so far:
If Cora Dion only needed transport for two horses as she fled Fort McMurray with her twin 15-year-old daughters, three dogs and a cat, the family’s escape from Alberta’s worst wildfire in years would have been fairly straightforward.
But she had four horses. And a trailer for two....
So they joined the vehicular torrent on Highway 63 — Dion, the dogs and the cat in her truck; two horses in the trailer; and Gwen and Carly riding the two remaining horses.
They didn’t even have time to saddle them both: Carly rode bareback; Gwen took charge of Addie, a six-year-old thoroughbred who, as a racehorse, is high-strung by nature.
Sometimes they took the shoulder, Dion driving slowly alongside. Where there was no shoulder, they were on the road, in traffic. ...
“Seriously, for my daughter to jump on a six-year-old thoroughbred and ride down the highway, that takes guts,” she said. ...
“We had Harleys driving right behind. Normally a Harley would cause great stress, especially in a really young horse like Addie.”
“My horse, she’s very much the leader of our little herd there, and you could tell she was very visibly trying to suppress her stress. She was pretending to be calm, but when we pulled her off she was drenched with sweat.” ...
As Dion and her girls waited for their next ride at the junction of highways 63 and 881, a stranger with a four-horse trailer pulled up beside them.
“I don’t know who you are, but load in — let’s get going,” she recalls him saying.
“He literally put my horses in his trailer and we were on the road in five minutes.”...
They’ve no idea when they’ll be able to go home or what will be left when they do. (So far, from what they hear, the house is still standing.)
Especially painful is the thought of the animals they left behind: a corn snake, a bearded dragon, and a ball python named Demetrius who probably won’t make it without carefully controlled heat and humidity.
Hunter, their 10-year-old cat, was nowhere to be found when they left. Dion hopes he can take care of himself for a little while.
“Honestly, now that I look back, it was pretty terrifying,” Dion says.
But at the time, she was in survival mode.
“I was just, OK, this is what we have to do.”
Other families evacuated included Syrian refugees who had only arrived in Fort McMurray four months ago:
As members of Fahed Labek's family from war-torn Syria fled the inferno engulfing their adopted Alberta hometown, he recalls them staring back at the flames in Fort McMurray.
"They said, 'OK. We left the fire and now we saw another fire. From fire to fire,' " said Labek, 43, who fled the approaching wildfire on Tuesday.
Labek lives in Fort McMurray with his wife and two children. He helped relocate his mother, sister, brother-in-law and their two children to his home in late February.
They are among about six families of Syrian refugees that resettled in the city in recent months....
Labek and his family left in a rush for oilsand workers' camps to the north of the city, expecting a 45-minute drive. Instead they drove for eight hours and when they arrived, apologetic aid workers told them no beds were available.
The family, including his 68-year-old mother who is in a wheelchair, set off again for Edmonton.
When their car broke down they were picked up by other evacuees in two different vehicles. Labek was awake for 42 hours before everyone reunited in Edmonton at about 6 a.m. Wednesday.
"Now we have another story. I have to find a place to stay, I have to find some food," Labek said Thursday.
"We don't have clothes for my kids, we don't have milk. For my kids, we don't even have diapers."
The evacuation order happened so quickly that people couldn't fill up their tanks -- now hundreds of cars are abandoned on the highways, and the government has sent tanker trucks and set up mobile gas stations to allow owners to get their vehicles moving again.
Here are before and after photos from The Weather Network:

Nobody has died so far, and two babies have been born during the evacuation.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Thought for the day 

Calvin and Hobbes

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Duffy should please just shut up for a while 

I think Canada has had quite enough of Mike Duffy.
I know I certainly have.
Apparently we aren't supposed to hold this grown man responsible for understanding such complex rules as:
1.  If its not Senate business, don't ask for reimbursement; and,
2.  If you live in Ottawa, don't ask for reimbursement.
Most other Senators had no difficulty acting ethically and with the rules. But poor Duffy just found it too hard.
After the greediness and ineptitude and poor judgment displayed throughout his trial, Duffy now is adding insult to injury by asking for retroactive pay for the two years he was suspended from the Senate.  And I think it is quite likely he will get it.  So he will pocket years and years of the income taxes I worked to pay.
So no, I'd just rather not hear any more from him for a while.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

NDP leadership woes 

So Saskatchewan NDP leader Cam Broten has resigned after losing his seat, and federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair was voted out - though apparently he still wants to hang around embarrassing the party for the next two years until they finally elect a new leader.

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