DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Hugo Chavez, News, Nicolas Maduro, Politics, Venezuela, Wordpress

Venezuela: Shortages of basics alter shopping methods

Against the backdrop of the latest diplomatic squabble between the United States and Venezuela which has so far seen tit-for-tat expulsions – the score is tied at three turfings each – the New York Times has a piece on how the country is coping with its new leader. The title, To Venezuelans, Heir of Chávez Is a Poor Copy, is kind in that it seems to imply all was hunky-dory when Hugo Chavez was running the show.

Prices are soaring, the country is plagued by electrical blackouts, some neighborhoods go days without water, and protests tangle the already stifling traffic.

Under Chavez’ hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro things have gone from really bad to pretty much horrendous. When you take into consideration Venezuela’s vast oil reserves it boggles the mind why common everyday things like grocery shopping have taken on a wartime characteristic.

The Times article points out that “Prices are soaring, the country is plagued by electrical blackouts, some neighborhoods go days without water, and protests tangle the already stifling traffic. To top it all off, the cheap beer that helps people let off steam at many a weekend party has suddenly become scarce, too.”

“They’re supposed to have milk here” or “Chickens here but there are fights over how many you can buy” and even “We’re hoping to get some corn flour”

Members of my extended family living in Caracas and Cagua can attest to these day-to-day inconveniences. In fact the concept of grocery shopping has changed from simply going to one store, cruising the aisles and filling your basket with goods to driving around looking for line-ups outside stores and asking those waiting what they are hoping to buy. Shouting “They’re supposed to have milk here” or “Chickens here but there are fights over how many you can buy” and even “We’re hoping to get some corn flour” – an essential ingredient for Venezuelans – those in the queues keep shoppers up to date about what’s allegedly available inside.

So while cocktail-sipping diplomats are sent packing back to their homes, the people of Venezuela try to cope with a serious dearth of essentials. Actually these shortages would be serious in a very poor country; in a rich modern nation such as Venezuela they are both absurd and immoral.

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that. a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Liberal Leadership, Media, News, Opinion, Politics, Wordpress

New York Times calls out Canadian Prime Minister Harper on silencing scientists

Stephen Harper Photo by Remy Steinegger

Stephen Harper
Photo by Remy Steinegger

Ouch! Saturday’s New York Times carried a scathing editorial regarding the Canadian government’s and, in particular, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s attempts to silence scientists. In no uncertain terms the editorial called out Harper on his penchant for making it hard for scientists to communicate information that may not be to his government’s benefit. “Over the last few years, the government of Canada — led by Stephen Harper — has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists.”

This is more than an attack on academic freedom. It is an attempt to guarantee public ignorance.

Citing Harper’s enthusiasm for the Alberta “Tar” Sands pipeline project (the Times uses “tar”, those in favor of the pipeline call them “oil” sands), the editorial states “The Harper policy seems designed to make sure that the tar sands project proceeds quietly, with no surprises, no bad news, no alarms from government scientists.”

Did I say Ouch? That’s gotta sting Mr. Prime Minister…

The full editorial is below.

NYT-Harper

Logo_3DCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that. a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Daily prompt, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Humor, News, Wordpress

Daily Prompt: Server Not Found!

Today’s Daily Prompt – Service brings to mind an experience I had a couple of weeks ago. I walked out of an eatery – before ordering – because the restaurant had apparently been hacked by the same people who hacked the New York Times website. The results were the same: Server Not Found

NYT_Unavailable

Logo_3DCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that. a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Crime, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, History, Media, News, Wordpress

JFK Assassination: mystery plot solved

LeeHarveyOswaldEvery year come November Kennedy assassination  enthusiasts come out of the woodwork. Some are adherents of one or more of the many conspiracy theories – Magic Bullet, CIA, Cuba. Others are just curious about the whole incident and what we do and don’t know. While others are just trying to make a buck selling books, CDs and memorabilia. While the debates rage, one mystery has been solved, proven without doubt and with airtight evidence, and it does involve a plot.

While the debates rage, one mystery has been solved, proven without doubt and with airtight evidence, and it does involve a plot

Some things we know for certain; President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963; Lee Harvey Oswald was the assumed shooter; Jack Ruby killed Oswald before he could talk; Oswald is buried in Shannon Rose Hill Cemetery; NICK BEEF owns the plot next to him. NICK BEEF??

NICK_BEEF

Rex C. Curry for The New York Times

For a number of years the grave beside Oswald’s has been marked by a similar simple stone with NICK BEEF engraved on it. The stone appeared mysteriously and, being in any way associated with the JFK assassination,  theories have been bandied about. Who was Nick Beef? Some said that it was placed beside Oswald so people could ask directions to it rather than ask for Oswald as his family has requested no directions be given to his resting place.

The New York Times has solved the mystery: Nick Beef is alive and well and living in New York

The New York Times has solved the mystery: Nick Beef is alive and well and living in New York. He does have a connection to the JFK assassination, but merely as a child who saw the President the night before he was killed. Nick Beef isn’t his real name, but upon learning that the plot beside Oswald was available, he bought it. Several years later he had a stone installed with the NICK BEEF engraving.

Mr. Beef, 56, is a writer and “nonperforming performance artist” with a penchant for the morbid, he says, who has never done stand-up comedy — an important point. He says that Nick Beef is a long-held persona; his given name is Patric Abedin

At last the Oswald plot has been exposed, burial plot that is

The Times article goes on to tell Mr. Beef’s story and explains away the mystery grave marker. At last the Oswald plot has been exposed, burial plot that is.

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Crime

Guns, race and poverty: statistics, the New York Times and The First 48

A&E

As time passes since the Newtown shooting, it would appear some are taking a less knee-jerk look at gun control and are stepping back a bit to see a fuller picture. I must admit that while I watched the wall-to-wall coverage of the Connecticut tragedy I was taken aback by the virtually complete lack of African-Americans. Other than the occasional police officer there don’t seem to be any people of color in Newtown.

A recent Op Ed piece in the New York TimesWho Pays for the Right to Bear Arms? by David Cole raises the issue of race, poverty and guns.

Racial disparities in gun violence far outstrip those in almost any other area of life. Black unemployment is double that for whites, as is black infant mortality. But young black men die of gun homicide at a rate eight times that of young white men.

This fact isn’t new, sadly. For years inner city Blacks and Latinos have been the victims of gun-related crimes at  much higher rates than other segments of society. One only has to watch a few episodes of A&E’s The First 48 to get an idea, albeit from an entirely non-scientific source:  this program illustrates the work homicide detectives in various US cities do to bring justice to victim’s families in the wake of murders, but it is amazing that a vast majority of the victims are either Black or Latino and often those accused of or those who confess to the crimes are themselves Black or Latino. Is the US made up of rolling fields of farmland, a few suburbs  and a series of densely populated inner cities where young Blacks and Latinos, due to poverty, are intent upon killing each other?

If the nation were to view the everyday tragedies that befall young black and Latino men in the inner cities with the same sympathy that it has shown for the Newtown victims, there would be a groundswell of support not just for gun law reform, but for much broader measures.

At least the subject of race and poverty and crime is coming to the attention of the media. Now if only something can be done to remedy the inequalities before entire generations of Blacks and Latinos are wiped out.

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Montreal, Politics, Polls, Quebec election 2012

Thoughts on Quebec’s upcoming election and maple syrup: none of it reassuring

JACQUES BOISSINOT/THE CANADIAN PRESS(l); CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS(c); CLEMENT ALLARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS(r)

With less than 48 hours until the real polls open in Quebec the Parti Québécois appears to be within grasp of a majority. In Chantal Hebert’s column in Toronto’s The Star she points out that unless a majority is achieved things will be tough for the Parti Québécois.

If the Parti Québécois wins next week, Pauline Marois’ first act as premier-elect will be to cancel the tuition hike that has pitted the student movement against premier Jean Charest. But unless the PQ secures a majority, it might have a hard time selling a hostile National Assembly on what the Liberals and the Coalition Avenir Québec see as an act of capitulation.

Meanwhile the Globe and Mail reports that Marois is trying to reassure Anglophones. Paradoxically Marois has stated throughout the campaign that she will strengthen Bill 101 if elected – this alone flies in the face of reassuring Anglophones. When asked how she proposed to reassure Anglos she said ““Ah… We’ll find ways to get along.”. Not very reassuring at all!!

I realize that a provincial election, even one that is a potential map re-drawer, isn’t earth shattering outside of Canada. But I though the New York Times would have given a bit of a look in its large Sunday edition. However it seems to have passed on the election and focused on…maple syrup. Granted it is a huge theft of maple syrup, but really!

World Briefing | The Americas      Canada: A Theft Casts a Pall Over Breakfast Plates

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