Nostalgia, Russian Assets, and Canada Votes


by Roxanne Tellier

If this column doesn’t actually get written, edited and/or published until February or March of 2020 …. don’t blame me.

NO ONE can resist the call of nineties arcade games! Remember Commander Keen,  Bio Menace, Mr Blobby, Duke Nukem and the rest of the Apogee Games? They’re back, baby! and as addictive as ever. I can’t believe this DOS dump of 2500 hot titles of the nineties .. the list is endless .. well, at least until you look for game 2501 ….

Here’s the link. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve had to come to the conclusion that America’s POTUS is, in truth, a Russian asset. I know – now you’re laughing and want to throw me a tinfoil hat.

But bear with me for a bit. Take a look at everything that has been accomplished in Trump’s first 1000 days – does America look any better than it did before he was inaugurated? Are America’s lower and middle class wealthier, or indeed even happier, than they were before he arrived? Is the country more secure, better positioned, now that most of her allies have been driven away, and her strategic alliances have been irreparably damaged?

Is America’s farmland protected from the devastation of Trump’s trade war that has seen family farms go bankrupt, only to be snapped up by Russian and Chinese investment companies?

For that matter, with the flood of rollbacks of regulations and legislation that once protected America’s parks, wildlife and water … are you happy with the devastation that’s been allowed to happen throughout the nation?   

Or are most Americans sick to death of the constant flood of criminal nonsense flowing from this White House?

It begs credulity to not see the strong link between Russia and Trump; he’s repeatedly  insisted that all of the Intelligence Agencies, venerable pillars in American governance, are against him, and are wrong in their conclusion that Russia interfered with the 2016 election. He’s insisted over and over again that Russia needs to be back in the G7, since he believes that it was only Obama’s prejudice against Putin that resulted in the sanctions against Russia, that he’s tried repeatedly to remove.  And at this very moment, Trump has his puppet, Attorney General Bill Barr, traveling the world, in a totally bizarre attempt to prove those intelligence agencies wrong about Russia’s part in the election.  

Putin’s long term plan to bring down America as a world power has always been to destroy it from the inside, and that seems to have been what has happened. The nation is divided, there’s no progress being made although trillions of dollars are being spent on nonsense, this president may well be the first to be not just impeached, but imprisoned, and his supporters are threatening a civil war should anyone be mean to their fair haired, orange faced, tweetheart.

And then there’s this ….

Gee. That’s not suspicious AT ALL.

And is it just a coincidence that Trump gave Turkey the go ahead to besiege Syria, and to begin a genocide against the Kurdish fighters who’d saved America’s bacon against the rebels … on Putin’s birthday?

Here’s a portion of what the Kurds’ commander in chief says about America’s betrayal of Syrian Kurds.  

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters evacuate a wounded comrade

” We lost 11,000 soldiers, some of our best fighters and commanders, to rescue our people from this grave danger. I have also always instructed our forces that the Americans and other allied forces are our partners, and so we should always make sure that they are not harmed.

Amid the lawlessness of war, we always stuck with our ethics and discipline, unlike many other nonstate actors. We defeated al Qaeda, we eradicated the Islamic State, and, at the same time, we built a system of good governance based on small government, pluralism, and diversity. We provided services through local governing authorities for Arabs, Kurds, and Syriac Christians. We called on a pluralistic Syrian national identity that is inclusive for all. This is our vision for Syria’s political future: decentralized federalism, with religious freedom and respect for mutual differences.

The forces that I command are now dedicated to protecting one-third of Syria against an invasion by Turkey and its jihadi mercenaries. The area of Syria we defend has been a safe refuge for people who survived genocides and ethnic cleansings committed by Turkey against the Kurds, Syriacs, Assyrians, and Armenians during the last two centuries.

We guard more than 12,000 Islamic State terrorist prisoners and bear the burden of their radicalized wives and children. We also protect this part of Syria from Iranian militias.

When the whole world failed to support us, the United States extended its hands. We shook hands and appreciated its generous support.

At Washington’s request, we agreed to withdraw our heavy weapons from the border area with Turkey, destroy our defensive fortifications, and pull back our most seasoned fighters. Turkey would never attack us so long as the U.S. government was true to its word with us.

We are now standing with our chests bare to face the Turkish knives”  (ForeignPolicy.com)

By every measure, Trump’s treachery has resulted in the deaths of thousands more innocents, and his botched attempt at stopping the horrific wave of genocidal murders only gave Turkey’s leader everything he wanted .. and more .. since the validation of Turkey’s annexation of Kurdish land came with the stamp of approval of the American government.

 “The cease-fire agreement reached with Turkey by Vice President Mike Pence amounts to a near-total victory for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who gains territory, pays little in penalties and appears to have outmanoeuvred President Trump.” (The New York Times)

“This is essentially the US validating what Turkey did and allowing them to annex a portion of Syria and displace the Kurdish population,’ the senior US official said. ‘This is what Turkey wanted and what POTUS green lighted.’(CNN)

America’s president gave Russia quite the present for it’s leader’s birthday. It would seem that Putin’s work here is done.

Some Trump followers are lauding the withdrawal of American troops from Syria as honouring a campaign promise to ‘end endless wars.’ However, the troops that are currently abandoning the Kurds to a bloody fate are not going home – they are being deployed to Saudi Arabia to be a PAID military for the Saud’s own war. 

Trump has remade the United States military in his own image… now .. they’ll murder for pay. Once proud soldiers are now mercenaries. You have to wonder if that is what all of them signed up for.

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So .. is Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic presidential contender, also a Russian asset, as Hillary Clinton claimed? All things considered.. she’s certainly not much of a Democratic asset . I’m hearing so much back and forth on this today; on the one hand, people are scoffing at the very idea. On the other, well, Clinton has been right many times before. Can you really afford to just pooh pooh the idea?

The funny thing is – Hillary didn’t name Gabbard. Gabbard just immediately grabbed the quote and ran with it.

If we look at Gabbard’s voting record, it’s pretty easy to see a not so Democratic bent to many of her decisions.

From 2014 onward, Gabbard appeared regularly on Fox News to lambast the Obama administration for avoiding the phrase (“radical Islam.”) In one interview, she told the host that “the vast majority of terrorist attacks conducted around the world for over the last decade have been conducted by groups who are fueled by this radical Islamic ideology,” a statement that may be technically true due to the violence and instability plaguing Middle Eastern countries, but is wildly misleading considering that non-Muslims make up the vast, vast majority of terrorist perpetrators in both Europe and the United States.

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shootings in January 2015, Gabbard complained on Fox News that by “not using this term ‘Islamic extremism’ and clearly identifying our enemies,” the administration couldn’t “come up with a very effective strategy to defeat that enemy.” She told Neil Cavuto that “this isn’t about one specific group,” but about “this radical Islamic ideology that is fueling this,” and that it needed to be defeated “militarily and ideologically.” She characterized Obama’s refusal to “recognize” the enemy as “mind-boggling” and “troubling.”

Gabbard flirted with joining the Trump administration, taking an interview, and she also refused to denounce the appointment of Steve Bannon in the Trump administration. Breitbart, Bannon, and others quickly praised her. ” (The Daily Kos)

While Gabbard is basically a non-issue this election, I’d keep an eye on her performance over the next few years. It would be a shame for America to find itself with yet another Russian asset, next time around.

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Canada, you will have a chance to make a difference to your nation tomorrow.

On October 21 – VOTE to elect members of the House of Commons to the 43rd Canadian Parliament.  

And remember ……

Happy Thanksgiving! And It’s time to VOTE, Canada!


by Roxanne Tellier

I have only two things on my mind today …..

Freedom From Want – Norman Rockwell

First … Wherever you find yourself this Thanksgiving, on which ever day upon which you choose to celebrate the holiday, enjoy the moment.

I hope you are surrounded with people you love .. or like … or at least with people that you can tolerate, even if only in consideration of a nice, hot, three course meal at some point.

I hope that those that like turkey, get turkey and that those who like tofu, somehow enjoy that tofu. Probably with kale.

May your day of the giving of thanks begin with kisses and laughter, and end with more laughter, more kisses, maybe a little pumpkin pie, and definitely some Maalox.

Try to remember that it is a day for giving thanks – not a day to start a civil war. Kiss the cook. Kiss your mum. Hell, kiss everyone, and blame it on the after dinner drinks.

And most of all, remember to give thanks for your own gathering, and the people around the table. No one is guaranteed to be there next year, so love them now.

Happy Thanksgiving.

……………………………………….

Now .. get out there and VOTE!


Vote like your life depends upon it … because it does.

Lying Liars, Bullies & Cowards


by Roxanne Tellier

I’ve written before about the dangers of elected officials lying to the public. Twice, in fact. In modern politics, it seems that lying in public has replaced any pretence of integrity or any desire to have one’s tenure be remembered with respect.

Lying breaks our faith in others – once we know that someone will lie to us, we can never again truly trust that person. And it doesn’t matter why the lie was told, because the lie reveals something very important about the liar; the liar is a coward

There’s a reason that the book ‘Profiles in Courage’ is so slim .. it’s because most people are cowards. Oh, they talk a good game. Keyboard warriors slam those who disagree with their contentions. But put them in the same room with their opponent, face to face, and …. crickets. What are they going to do, pull out a gun? Not in Canada, thank heavens. A raised voice is generally our strongest weapon.

The media, bound by economics to depend on ratings and ‘hits,’ lies regularly, either to advance a cause, by omission, or to ensure that the fool sitting in front of the camera will be willing to return the next time they do something newsworthy enough to be asked back. They forget that truth is what is needed, and that you are allowed to talk over or contradict a liar. Profit has trumped truth.

Getting along with other people is integral to a workable society. Being friendly and helpful to others, while respecting their differences and opinions, is the glue that advances and enhances our society.

Humans have evolved to tell polite little ‘white lies’ in their daily lives, and most of us tell at least two a day. But there is a very clear distinction between ‘white lies’ that are meant to soothe the person being lied to, and ‘black lies’, which are antisocial, and meant to benefit the person doing the lying. 

Black liars are cowards, and cowards are afraid of being found unworthy. So they lie to cover their lack of abilities. They know that there will be consequences if people discover the truth about what they are, what they do, and why.

Those who stand behind liars and bullies for fear of the bully taking reprisals are cowards, who only have loyalty to themselves.

Right now, we’re watching a dismantling of nations. We have discovered, as people do when little can be hidden, that too many of the people in whom they are supposed to have unlimited trust, are liars and cowards.

In this time, when people have long been vaguely aware that governments are fallible, and that those same governments are often not working for the working classes, but rather for the enrichment of big businesses, a lack of leadership contenders has never been so blatantly obvious.

Whether in Canada or the United States of America, a huge swath of taxpayers feel that their concerns are being ignored, and that the world they will be leaving to their children has been hijacked by the wealthy,  in favour of the wealthy.  

People have little faith in the ‘checks and balances’ built into government, because they see those in power blow right past those defences. And then it’s check .. and mate. Goodbye clean air and water. Hello oligarchy.

With elections on the horizon in both halves of North America,  there is a rise in the use of dirty tricks, innuendo, and accusations that are near slander. There are trolls and bots in social media, sent to shake our faith in all of the political contenders. 

It seems that we are now being coerced to choose our country’s leaders and representatives NOT by assessing who is the most qualified, but rather, by whom we’ve defined as the least corrupt, the least politically incorrect, or the least likely to indulge themselves at the tax payers expense.

Instead of a spectacle of intellectual and/or heroic giants battling it out for the prize of leading us, we watch maggots trying to convince us that they are less maggot-y than the other contenders. 

Our words and deeds teach others how we expect to be treated. The lesson these politicians have learned is that we expect a circus of high wire acts and fireworks, rather than a clear and cogent statement of policy. Like children, we wait to be delighted by Seussian spectacles.

 ” They’ll bang on tong-tinglers, blow their foo-flounders, they’ll crash on jang-jinglers, and bounce on boing-bounders!”

Rather than creating platforms or visions of a strong and united nation, these professional politicians seek only to win an election, form a government, and put into place formats to ensure their own enrichment. The voters are just the cannon fodder; the voters are the rubes the con men seek to fool.

And that’s sad.

I’ve always known that there are many people that haven’t the time, or just don’t care about politics, because they’re doing the things that build a nation.. having a family, buying homes, starting businesses, and buying stuff. They only care when it affects them, their children, or their pocketbook.

And that’s sort of understandable. We need those nose to the grindstone types, to keep the country ticking along. But it is still really frightening to see the lack of understanding from the voters,  to watch them be played and swayed by the machinations of the parties’ publicity wonks.

In the United States, the president, terrified of the prospect of impeachment, is now seemingly unable to say anything but lies. His Secretary of State was caught in several blatant lies to the public, and pretty much all of his administration and Cabinet are complicit in impeachable, illegal offences.

In Canada, the leader of the Conservative Party has been caught lying on his resume about his work record, and his education. His loyalty to the nation was questioned this week, when he told the media that he’d never spoken publicly about being a dual Canadian-United States citizen, because “no one ever asked me.”

Scheer stayed silent on his citizenship, even as the Conservative party regularly attacked politicians for their citizenships, like Michael Ignatieff in 2011, insinuating that he was ‘just visiting Canada’  They made a huge issue of former NDP leader Tom Mulcair and former Liberal leader Stephane Dion having dual Canadian-French citizenship. And in 2005, Scheer himself questioned the integrity of former governor general Michaelle Jean’s dual citizenship, asking in a blog written to his constituents if they could trust her, saying ” “Does it bother you that she is a dual citizen (France and Canada)? Would it bother you if instead of French citizenship, she held U.S. citizenship?”

It’s a breathtaking example of two-faced hypocrisy.

Do political parties, particularly on the right, no longer even vet their members, and potential leaders? Is it just a question of  being the right colour, having money, and being willing to toe the party line? 

We are going to find out a lot of things about ourselves in the next few months, on both sides of the border. We’re going to find out who we really are, and how much effort we put forward to understand the policies and platforms of those parties viewing for our votes. We’re going to discover if we are sheep that manipulative entities can herd into their enclosures, or if we are willing to make the time and effort to choose the leaders that will decide our countries futures.

It’s up to us all to stop accepting lies and dirty tricks as the foundation of political campaigns, and to demand truth and accountability from those we’ve chosen to lead our nations.

“In 2016, candidate Donald Trump boasted, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” In the coming weeks, we will find out whether he’s right about who he thinks we are as Americans”  Rep Eric Swalwell

Finally!


by Roxanne Tellier

” There is something almost arbitrary about this scandal instigating impeachment, given the barbarity of Trump and his administration. On a scale that includes keeping immigrant children in cages, I’m not quite sure where to rank the president’s pressuring the leader of a foreign country to investigate a political rival’s son. But it also doesn’t really matter. Impeachment is long overdue. If Trump’s call with Zelinsky is what gets us there, so be it.”   Alex Shephard, The New Republic

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been banging the impeachment drum since almost  the moment the inauguration balloons began to sadly deflate.

When the Democrats took the House in November 2018, public sentiment seemed to point to a belief that they would move towards impeaching Trump, based on any number of issues. And when the Mueller Report landed with all the grace of a mother dropping a baby on it’s head, the impeachment issue was again raised. After all, Mueller’s ‘conclusion’ was that he’d done his job, and now it was up to the Democrats to move forward.  

Nancy Pelosi, however, disagreed on moving to impeach the president. Repeatedly, she told her party and her country that she’d rather beat him, resoundingly, in the 2020 election.

Many of us wondered if America could last that long.

Beyond the mental and emotional exhaustion that has been engendered by Trump’s incessant need for excitement and attention, there was a case to be made that failing to prosecute the president for his misdeeds, based on a fear of electoral retribution, made us wonder how long the Dems could shirk their constitutional responsibilities to hold him accountable for his many crimes, whether real or perceived.

Of course, they – and we – knew that any accusation levelled at Trump or his administration would result in a solid phalanx of his highest level co-conspirators rising up through the swampy waters to defend his right to do whatever he wanted, up to and including a late night whim to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, just to see if it lost him any of his base. (It wouldn’t.) 

We knew in advance that the pearl clutching, eternal victims would level false accusations at those whom they would accuse of simply being jealous rivals, and call any attempt at bringing the executive branch into control as an undeserved ‘witch hunt.’  “Smoking gun? What smoking gun? ”    

But Trump, like any addict, simply couldn’t help himself. The very day after the Mueller Report toothlessly mamby pambied through a sorta kinda accusation of Russia having meddled in the 2016 election (to help Trump)  he was on the phone to the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenksky, asking for ‘a favour’ …. that Zelensky take his focus off protecting his own country to investigate the son of Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden.  

Trump subscribed to a debunked conspiracy theory that accused then Vice President Biden of urging the Ukrainians to fire the Kyiv general prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, in order to save his son, Hunter Biden, from being accused of corruption. In fact, this position on Shokin was supported by Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, European allies, and groups like the International Monetary Foundation. (IMF)

Trump’s phone call to the Ukraine was asking for ‘dirt’ on a political rival, from a foreign country – exactly what he’d been accused and found guilty of doing in 2016. “Russia … if you’re listening… ‘

However, his own Department of Justice so roiled the waters that the Democrats knew they’d have trouble convincing the nation to agree that this was an impeachable offence.

Trump’s call also had a more sinister overtone; a week prior to the call, Trump had told his acting White House Chief of Staff, Nick Mulvaney, to slow walk the Congressionally approved $390 million dollars of military aid that Ukraine desperately needed to fight back against Russian advances.

Implicit in Trump’s request for ‘a favour’ was that the aid might never actually reach the Ukraine at all, should Zelensky refuse to investigate the Bidens.

On August 12th, a whistleblower reported an ‘urgent concern’ to the Inspector General of the Department of National Intelligence (DNI) Michael Atkinson. After review, the inspector general deemed the complaint to be credible, and he kicked it upstairs, to the attention of the acting director of the DNI, Joseph Maguire.

For reasons that still don’t make any sense, Maguire opted to ask for the recommendations of both the Oval Office, and the Department of Justice, despite the complaint explicitly naming both Trump and AG Barr as the focus of the complaint. And .. wonder of wonders! both Trump and Barr thought it would be best to just let this complaint go, unheard.

On September 9th, the inspector general reported the complaint to House Intelligence Chairman, Adam Schiff, advising him that Maguire had dismissed the complaint. On September 19th, the House Committee met with Atkinson behind closed doors to discuss the situation, although Atkinson did not disclose the nature of the complaint.

But the word was now out on the street – something worthy of whistleblowing had happened in the Oval Office. No one knew what that might be – at first.

It wasn’t long before Trump, and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, began speculating to the press that it might be about this phone call. They hadn’t done it, they assured the world, but if they did, it would be okay because .. Trump is above the law. Or so it was inferred.

With information that pointed to an abuse of power, a request for help in getting dirt on a political rival, AND the appearance of a cover up in hand, Pelosi announced on September 24th that the House would begin a formal impeachment enquiry into Trump.

Unsurprisingly Trump’s defence was to produce a heavily redacted five page summary of the thirty minute conversation that they believed would exonerate the president. In fact, it only dug the hole deeper.

When the actual whistleblower’s complaint was declassified and released the following day, the nation discovered that the issues raised had to do with the president “using the power of his office” to solicit foreign election help, and included a description of efforts by senior White House officials hiding away and ‘locking down’ access to all records of the call.

Forget Roy Cohn – what Trump really needed was a Rose Mary Woods.

As more information has appeared, it’s become apparent to about 70% of Americans that this president needs to be investigated, and probably, impeached. The 30% that disagree are his ‘deplorable’ base, and his highest ranking party members, who have circled the wagons to protect his criminality…. again.

As Giuliani, Lindsey Graham, and other GOP talking heads made the rounds of the Sunday morning political talk shows, it became clear that they have decided to use the same old defences of the last hundred scandals; start by denying, deflect by saying someone else did the same thing, and then distract by having a temper tantrum, complete with raised voice and red face.

Just as he and his party did when Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual improprieties, they would blame and shame the victim … and let the accused walk free to take his throne again.

Last night, Graham was overheard having a full blown, loud conversation on his cell phone with “Jared” – presumably Jared Kushner, on a Jet Blue flight. He mentioned that he would be on Face the Nation, and coordinated his talking points, saying, “Listen – this is what I’m going to lay out. This is Kavanaugh on steroids! This is hearsay – and this person has bias.”

This morning, on Face the Nation, Mr Graham equated the whistleblower’s complaint to the sexual accusations against Kavanaugh, saying – without truth – that the transcript of the call, and the particulars of the complaint, were not matched. He became increasingly angry with the interviewer, who disagreed, and he then proceeded to demand to know, ” Who is this whistleblower? What bias do they have? .. I wanna know why the whistleblower was told about this phone call … Who told the whistleblower about the transcript? Who helped this person write this complaint? Who told the whistleblower about a phone call between the POTUS and a foreign leader? Who are these people and what are they up to?”

This is ‘whataboutism‘ to the nth degree; faced with what seems to be a credible accusation, that the president and his personal lawyer have, even unwittingly, confirmed, Graham reacts with indignation towards an unknown person who acted with more backbone and courage than Graham could ever scrape up in all of his miserable 64 years on the planet. Shoot the messenger! It’s a witch hunt!

Lindsey Graham wants to speak to your manager!

(damn … I’d love to know what they have on Graham. It’s gotta be some very, very fine kompromat.)

These efforts to uncover the whistleblower’s identity are not only dangerous to the wellbeing of the whistleblower, but in the long run, may well serve to compromise, and perhaps fatally damage, the very act of whistle blowing, which has been an important weapon in finding and rooting out political corruption at the highest levels.

At this point, it would seem that the whistleblower’s words have been corroborated, in some cases, by the president himself.

We can probably already guess exactly how Trump will defend himself through this trial …. he will react as he always does, with denial, deflection, whataboutism, and then just simply walking away to play another game of golf at the tax payer’s expense.  That’s his pattern.

Trump is incapable of seeing himself as a teammate in a party, just as good or as bad as previous American presidents, because he demands to be considered better than all the presidents who’ve gone before him. His allegiance to Russia is beyond troublesome, and Russia’s request that any phone calls between Trump and Putin remain classified also suggests that there’s been the same sort of extortion discussed in those calls – though which side is pressuring which is yet to be determined.

We know he will denigrate the media, and, with his usual projection, proclaim them  “the laughing stock of the world.” And we know he will dump manure on the heads of America’s intelligence officials, willy nilly, because any kind of intelligence just scares the pants off of little Donny.

And in the end, Trump will proclaim that the whole thing is ‘just a continuation of the witch hunt.’  But I don’t see any witches around here. What I see is a president betraying his country, to achieve his own personal ends.

The other day, Trump told his cronies that he believed the whistleblower was a type of spy, and he lamented that spies were not treated as harshly as they’d been, back in the day. Well, there’s a very large segment of the population that wishes that traitors who committed treason were punished as they were, back in the day, as well.

Be careful what you wish for, Mr Trump.

It’s Good News Week!


by Roxanne Tellier

Hey there! are you tired of constantly opening your browser or newspaper and finding an unending stream of reports of mayhem and horrible tragedies? Are you tired of reading about how cruel and nasty humans can be to one another? Have you asked yourself lately, ‘why does the media never have anything nice to say about anyone?’ 

Well, be morose no more, because today I have decided to divert that river of unrelenting malice and instead provide your tired eyes with a little good news.

I’ll take Good News Week Potpourri for $200, Alex …..

First up .. now come ON!  Couldn’t you watch this delightful toddler reunion forever?

Just be careful if you decide to search youtube for more videos of  ‘toddlers hugging’ or ”babies hugging babies.’ You’ll find enough sweetness there to bring on premature diabetes.

Have you ever wondered what North America would look like without the intrepid explorers who opened up the “New World.?” Raise a glass and wish a ‘happy birthday!’ to the Venetian merchant and writer, Marco Polo,  who would be 765 today, had he been gifted with eternal life. (Tell him he doesn’t look a day over 750 .. he’s a little vain)

His book, The Travels of Marco Polo, written around 1300, gave Europeans of the time a first peek at how the Eastern World, including China, India, and Japan, spent their days. Eventually, it caused people like Christopher Columbus to try and find India to see for themselves how the other half lived. Sadly, Mr Polo is today best known for a watery game children like to play in swimming pools. 

Scotland’s own J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved Harry Potter books series, is back in the news again for more of her trademark philanthropy. She’s been ‘memed’ before for having donated enough of her hard earned dosh to charity ($160 million) to fall off the Forbes billionaire list, after having been the first author to even make the cut.

Now she’s making headlines for donating another $18.8 million to the University of Edinburgh, for the further success of the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic she brought into existence in 2010 with her first generous endowment.

The clinic was named after the author’s mother, Anne Rowling, who sadly lost her fight to MS at 45 years of age.

In a Twitter post that went viral around the world, Japanese photographer Yasuto Inagaki caught the magic moment when his son – a major fan of  locomotives – was approached by a conductor of one of the bullet trains at the Nagano Station platform. The conductor gave the boy his hat to try on, and then offered the boy a salute.

Growing up, I never really had that love of trucks and trains and all things mechanical like the guys in the ‘hood did. Just not my thing.

But it would be hard not to appreciate how much joy this train conductor brought to this little fellow when he allowed the child to wear his official hat. 

“While it may have been a small gesture, Ingaki said that it meant more to his son than meeting Mickey Mouse.”

Does it sometimes seem like we just can’t stop bashing our youngun’s?  Millennials often get a bad rap for being isolated and seeming emotionally fragile. The other side of the coin is how many of these kids actually appear to be focused on improving society.

Brittany Wenger of Sarasota, Florida, coupled a love for computer science with an interest in artificial intelligence to invent an AI system that could diagnose breast cancer. In 2012 she developed a program called Cloud4Cancer that is 99.1 percent sensitive in processing fine needle aspirate tests, using AI to find patterns that are far too complex for humans to detect. 

In 2013, 15 year old Suman Mulumudi used a 3-D printer to create a smart phone app and device to optimize stethoscopes. Not only was his new product, the “Steth IO” superior to manual stethoscopes in sound, it could also create a visual graph of the heartbeat sound on the screen. Mulumudi then went on to  invent further medical improvements having to do with procedures meant to clear blocked or narrowed arteries. He again used a 3-D printer to develop his LesionSizer, which helps cardiologists measure lesions without changing or altering their technique.

3-D printers also allowed Will Wagner, principal of West Leyden High School, to create an engineering class project that designs custom prosthetics for people in need—particularly children.  Because kids grow so quickly, parents in many developing countries are unable or unwilling to pay for a succession of prosthetics. 

” Since launching the program on both of their high school campuses seven years ago, students have made more than 75 prosthetics for children in need. Not only has the program helped students to learn about design, it has helped them forge real-world connections with other children around the world. According to Fast Company, Leyden students recently got to video-chat with a Syrian boy who had lost his hand in a war-related accident—and they got to witness the moment he tried on his new prosthetic for the very first time.”

People in the United Kingdom were cheered this week when word of a strange friendship between a dachshund and a baby porcupine made the news.

A zookeeper at the Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire, England brought home a baby porcupine she had been hand-rearing after it’s mother rejected the little one. Her little weiner dog, Fig, took an immediate liking to Diablo the porcupette, and they have been BFFs and running partners ever since.

While I’m a big animal lover, my neighbours are not as fond of the local wildlife as I. I know, because they keep telling me. Despite their  pleas, I continue to feed and water the flora and fauna, because life is hard when you’re a small creature that has been forced from it’s habitat to accommodate the huge humans who want to build houses and stores, right where your tree used to grow. The least I can do is provide them with clean water.  

When this photo of a squirrel sniffing wildflowers went viral last week, amateur photographers all over the world rushed to duplicate the photo. It’s beginning to seem like it was the squirrels who invented that whole concept of ‘stopping to smell the roses.’ 

So – are you feeling any happier now, after our trip around the world? According to the 2019 Happiness Report, Canada is the seventh happiest place to live. (Finland is the happiest country, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The United States slouched into 18th place)

It’s said that the happiest people are the givers, not the takers. So often we forget how little it can take to bring joy into the lives of others. We’re living in ‘interesting times,’ and the days can be unsettling and stress-filled. Sometimes we just need a reminder that life is short, and that being kind is as much a choice as being unkind.

And sometimes it takes a squirrel to remind us that we too, should take a moment to stop and smell the roses while we can.

And I’m back!


by Roxanne Tellier

… with your Sunday political sermon, though it’s a day late. Time to catch up on what you may have missed over the last couple of weeks, and to get a sense of the direction we seem to be heading towards as Canadian election fever sets in.

In other words… where are we going and why am I in this hand basket?

Looking specifically to Canada, I’m getting very nervous about how Canadians feel about the parties from which they’ll choose their next leader. And one of those reasons is because of a lack of charismatic leadership.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a lifelong Liberal, and will vote for Trudeau again, because I agree with most of his stated policies. However, I’m unhappy about some election promises that were either not kept, or kept very badly … looking at YOU, new cannabis legislation… what a mess that is!

I wanted electoral reform, incontestably part of the Liberal platform in 2015, and that was off the table after the first year.

“The Special Committee on Electoral Reform was created in the spring of 2016, and it delivered its report in December. It proposed two things. The first was that Canada replace its traditional system of voting (the ­single-member plurality system known widely as the first-past-the-post model) with a proportional system of representation (where seats in the House of Commons would be allocated according to the proportion of votes each party received). Second, it recommended that the idea be put to a referendum.”  (reviewcanada.ca)

However …. On February 1, 2017, the newly appointed Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould announced that the government was no longer pursuing electoral reform and it was not listed as a priority in her mandate letter from Justin Trudeau  In the letter, Trudeau wrote that “a clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged” and that “without a clear preference or a clear question, a referendum would not be in Canada’s interest. ”  (Wikipedia)

The Liberals never wanted proportional representation, so it’s not surprising that an excuse was found not to pursue it with the people. But I’m still angry that it was taken off the table.

Still, even the National Post, notoriously right leaning, had to report that “The Universite Laval’s Centre for Public Policy Analysis’s latest reading — updated since March — shows the Liberals have entirely fulfilled 53.5 per cent of their 2015 vows, partially lived up to 38.5 per cent and broken eight per cent.”

92% of promises kept. Unfortunately, the 8% not kept are the ones I was hoping to see fulfilled. Still – I’m just one Canadian, out of 37 million. Got to be a lot of people who did have their wishlist met.

I still say, when I”m looking to the other parties that are in the race, it’s the lack of a strong, compelling leader that stands out. At least to me. Your mileage may vary.

Andrew Scheer has the look of a Howdy Doody puppet, and the wooden emotions to go along with the image. He’s 3 parts Harper and 1 part the preacher from Footloose. The dimples and simper can’t hide his lack of connection to the actual citizens, that is, those of us who haven’t been living off the taxpayer dollar for the last 15 years, which is most of his life to date. This is a guy who has not paid for his own housing or meals in so long, he couldn’t tell you the price of a kilo of sugar if you stuck a gun to his head. His idea of transportation costs entails having the taxpayer fund over $2,035,886 of luxury travel, just in the time since he became an MP. This is your guy if a Conservative plutocracy is what you want for your government.

I voted NDP in the last provincial election, but I can’t say that I’m sold on Jagmeet Singh asPrime Minister. Remember when Margaret Wente gushed over his ascension to leadership? 

Those turbans! That beard! He was just the kind of figure to make progressive folks feel good about themselves, their party and their prospects. GQ, the men’s fashion magazine, profiled him in rapturous terms, calling him “the incredibly well-dressed rising star in Canadian politics.””

Ah, but we were all so much older then – we’re younger and more racist than that now.

Elizabeth May, bless her heart, remains our Green Queen, and with climate change such an important issue top of mind right now, there are many who will put their X beside her name, just because there’s Green in the party’s title. Google the party’s platform to see what else the party has in mind for the country.

As to Maxime Bernier and his People’s Party -well, on the bright side, it’s looking like his main contribution to the election will be drawing support away from Scheer’s Conservatives.

Regardless of your preference, please remember that, unless you are a white male, someone fought for your right to vote. Someone may well have died, fighting for your right to vote, and it is important that you exercise that right. Because – your vote does count. If it didn’t, the bad guys wouldn’t be constantly trying to suppress that right.

Maybe you’ve already made up your mind, and made your choice, and are happy with it. If so, I’m glad to hear it. What worries me, honestly, is the voters who tend to vote ‘against’ rather than for; or those who vote their ‘gut’ without understanding the platforms of the party leaders. The time has long gone when you could just close your eyes and pin the tail on a prime minister, and tell yourself that it didn’t matter, because all parties are the same. They are not.

On the plus side, and whether you are into politics or not, our entire electoral race lasts only a few months, so there isn’t time to get too bogged down in nastiness and slurs. Well – unless you want to. Lots of people love to argue on social media. Have at it, if that turns your crank.

A few short months. Not like in the United States, where Trump officially filed his re-election campaign with the FEC on January 20 , 2017, the day of his inauguration. He didn’t want to miss a penny of the donations he could keep requesting, nor the adulation of his base, who could be relied upon to keep massaging his ego.  

We’re still fourteen months away from the next presidential election, and I’m already over it. Pretty sure Trump is too – after all, he called off his trip to Denmark because they laughed when he wanted to buy Greenland, and sent Pence to visit Poland  (“Congratulations, Poland! on the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion!”) so that he could stay at Camp David to ‘oversee’ Hurricane Dorian, and fit in a couple rounds of golf. And then he apparently cancelled a secret meeting that he’d planned to hold at Camp David with some Taliban leaders, to celebrate the anniversary of 9/11.  I’m beginning to think this guy just doesn’t feel like presidenting any more!

It’s a whole new world, isn’t it? I mean.. do you remember when we worried that impeaching Trump would result in a Pence presidency? Now we know that, no matter how low Trump goes, there’s always another abyss he’s programmed into his GPS. Worse =we’re all gonna get tweeted to death on the ride there.

This is the hell in which Americans now find themselves, looking down the barrel of fourteen months in which the average citizen can never really be sure that what they’re being told, by any of their leaders, or the heads of federal services, is true, or just what they’ve been told they have to say, in order not to contradict their Dear Leader.

It’s not even so much a flood of DISinformation as it is a bombardment of MISinformation, the likes of which no society can be expected to deal with gracefully. Like headless chickens, we can only bob and weave, ducking each new onslaught of lies and untruths aimed at what is left of our sanity. And even once the liars are gone, the bully pulpit power of those lies will continue to warp the minds of Americans for generations to come.

I’m hoping that Pelosi finally finds her spine and allows the Dems to begin impeachment proceedings, but I’m not holding my breath. In truth, it’s immaterial if the Senate won’t pass it; the point is to put the spotlight on all of the crimes and misdemeanours that have happened during Trump’s reign of errors and terrors, so that all Americans can see clearly what’s been going on in the halls of power since January 2017.

We have to accept that there is NO savior coming to America. We thought Mueller might be the guy to vanquish the goblin, but he didn’t, or perhaps he couldn’t, under paid lackey AG Barr’s sovereignty.

Right now it seems like the Dems are just crossing their fingers and toes, and praying that everything will be hunky dory if they can make it from here to Nov 2020 without Trump releasing a load of nuclear ejaculate in the direction of whatever country displeased him at breakfast.

I don’t believe that a lack of action is the right course to take, but I’m not running for anything, and I’m not American. I have my own Canadian election to worry about.

My bigger fear, like that of other countries around the world, is that not beginning impeachment proceedings now will lead to a second, third, fourth and for life tenure of his presidency, which, once he’s tired of playing Emperor, he’ll pass down to Ivanka. 

And that’s a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worse enemy.

What to Do in Toronto Before Going Into Labour (Day)


by Roxanne Tellier

It’s June of 1968, and Marymount High School has only recently gone co-ed. Before that, the girls wore kilts and giggled in the west end of the building, overseen by nuns, while in the east end of the building, the boys wore ties and had chalk thrown at them by priests or lay teachers whenever they acted up.

It’s sweltering, and there’s no air conditioning. Most of us are trying to catch a whiff of summer through the huge windows that have been cracked around the room. A friend covertly palms me a lyric sheet .. it’s from the new Crosby Stills and Nash album. “Wooden ships, on the water, very free and easy!” And another “ Guinevere  had green eyes.. like yours, lady like yours.”  

My eyes are brown. My lip curls.

There’s this long haired guy in some of my classes who has a vibe midway between Jim Morrison and Charles Manson, and he’s got a ‘following’ because he’s the coolest guy in Montreal and he’s always got access to the best pot. His name is Gerry. One of the hangers on to his crue is a guy who eventually becomes a drummer for a rather famous Montreal band.

(The three of us get busted on the next April Fool’s Day for performing a half-assed attempt at a Black Mass, complete with virgin and stolen communion wafers. But that’s a story for another day.)

And Gerry hands me a poem he wrote, that is terrible even by 1968 standards, and then intones, from his perch in the back of the class … “Summer’s almost gone… “

Flash forward ….. it’s 2019, and it’s been 50 years since Woodstock and my school days. I look at the calendar and realize that summer IS indeed almost gone, and for people of my age, that means the dread of six to a hundred months of snow and ice.

But for most Torontonians, the start of the Canadian National Exhibition – aka The Ex – is the shock that tells them that another year is drawing to a close. Soon the kids will be back at school, and before you know it, we’ll be choosing costumes for Halloween, and making our Christmas lists. The funny thing about a year is how quickly the back end runs away from us.

My grandson is involved with something that has to do with watching other people play video games in one of the buildings at the Ex. I’m not sure I will go this year. I don’t like walking the miles necessary to get from one side of the site to the other, trying to find my friends who scored a nice paying gig at one of the little band shells. I don’t gamble, so the Casino is out. And I’m pretty much over the need to score a .99 cent bowl of spaghetti, if that even still is a ‘thing.’

But – you should go! If you have kids, and if going to the Ex is the way you mark the parameters of your life, you should go! Because the Ex is whatever it means to you, whatever ritual you need to do to put a comma in the summer of this year before trotting on to the Fall. Go. Shoot an air rifle at a booth manned by fast talking carnies! Play your birthday at the Birthday Game tent, or toss a ring over a glass and win a doll. Eat a corn dog or something that should never have been covered in chocolate before being fried. You’d never eat it if it wasn’t ‘just this once!’ Do it! Do it NOW.

I’ll soon be making my own little tour of places that won’t be as much fun in a month or two. I want to join some friends who regularly loll at Sugar Beach, which is down at the foot of Lower Jarvis Street adjacent to the Redpath Sugar Factory, for an afternoon of music and margaritas. I want to enjoy the park’s brightly coloured pink beach umbrellas and candy-striped rocks. It’s part of Toronto’s waterfront, and .. it’s free!

One of my fave things to do in summer is to jet down to the easternmost end of the Beach, past the Balmy Beach club, where a lot of the locals gather to exercise their dogs. I miss my dogs, and this is a nice way for me to get a little sun, and to try to steal a little affection from some of the dogs who race across the sand, and throw themselves madly into the water to fetch the sticks or balls their owners toss in for their entertainment.

I’m a water baby.. I need to be near water. But sometimes I need a little more excitement than that caused by the  passive eyeing of the hind ends of dogs and the Lake Ontario horizon. That’s how I found myself one afternoon drifting through the harbour on a one hour tour of the Islands.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to be a tourist in your own city, there’s a ton of ways to explore. I recently took to Groupon to find the cheapest tickets to a few attractions.

The boat tour I mentioned was only one of a half a dozen different ways to sail off, at any time of the day. The boat I chose was a bit low end, but at $12, was what I needed at the time. There’s also a ‘pirate’ ship you can book, a Great Lakes schooner, and lots of ‘party’ boats with music and booze. Maybe you and your main squeeze could take an evening cruise, and sail off into the sunset together!

Feeling a little more adventurous? Why not try a two hour tandem kayak down the Humber River! You can give that a try during the week for as little as $23 dollars.

Or how about indulging your inner child, with a game of mini putt golf! There’s a new  entertainment complex that just sprang up downtown that combines food, booze and nine holes out of a choice of three different courses of 27 unique themed holes. Fulfill your dream of golfing drunk!

For $43, you can sign up for 10 salsa & bachata classes at Steps Dance Studio in Rosedale. Spice it up with a little hot sauce! 

“At her studio, Jennifer aims to make Latin dance accessible to all people, even those who have no previous dance experience. Beginning with basic step patterns and technique, lessons progress through more advanced skills such as partner turns, syncopations, styling, and more complex turn pattern combinations. To add a little variation to the mix, Steps Dance Studio also runs monthly workshops and studio parties.”

Who knows? there may be a  Latin lover in your future!

When it comes to music, we Torontonians are really spoiled. Through the week there are jams at the Black Swan, Grossmans, The Tranzac, and so many other locations.

But Saturday afternoon is when you can hear some of the finest jazz, by some of the finest musicians, that I’ve ever heard  – at The Pilot, on Cumberland, just west of Bloor. From 2:30 to 5:30, you’ll be blown away by the chops of the likes of Chris Wallace, Dave Hutchinson, Steve Koven, Aaron Davis, Bernie Senensky, Nick Morgan, and Jeff King. The last time I was there, I was completely knocked out by drummer Mark  Micklethwaite. Watching him play is like auditing  a master class. Awesome sauce!

Outriggers Saturday matinee, 3:30-6pm

Or maybe you’re in the mood for a trendy Beach brunch while being serenaded by Toronto R&B and soul vocal icon, Johnnie Wright at Outriggers, on Queen at Beech, across from the venerable Garden Gate Restaurant, aka The Goof. Johnny has had a regular Saturday afternoon matinee gig there forever, accompanied by master keyboardist Michael Fonfara, and the ever-entertaining, versatile Robbie Rox on congas. Can you think of a better way to while away a summer’s day from 3:30 to 6pm?

In my east end hood, August is when the Danforth Village BIA takes over Stephenson Park (between Westlake and Main St, one street south of the Danforth) every Wednesday night, from 6 pm to 9 pm. There’s bands, food, a beer tent, and lots of run around room for the kids.

I missed the first two Wednesdays, but hope to catch at least one of the next two scheduled. On August 21,  Little Magic Sam aka Sam Taylor will hold court, and on August 28, The Stephen Stanley Band will rock the joint..

There’s only two more Kensington Market Pedestrian Sundays left as well. On the last Sunday of the summer months, the streets are given over to the people. Enjoy music, local vendors and art on streets that are closed to traffic from noon to 7 pm. Always a great place to people watch!

So now you have several ways to have fun with the last two weeks of August, beyond the venerable CNE, and at prices ranging from zero dollars to ‘the sky’s the limit!’

YOLO, babes. Enjoy!