Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Monday, July 5, 2021

Life, Liberty, and Covid

Covid19, the great pandemic of our generations - but is it really? For the last year and a half we have witnessed the closing of the world economy, the printing of money like no other time in our history prior to 1929, and most significantly the alienating of people from one another on a mass scale. Truly, we live in the times that Orwell warned us against in his monumental work 1984. People turning against each other, families torn apart by distance, and most significantly their differing perspectives on the "virus". However, is it really the lethality of Covid that is driving the hardened opinions on both sides, or is it something more?

When the virus first broke out in BC it was relatively innocuous. The first quarter of 2020 witnessed 780 cases which broke down as follows: 299 hospitalizations; 106 of those went into the ICU wards; and a total of 108 died (presumably a number who died did so before getting to the ICU). The numbers showed the virus almost non-existent in populations under sixty years old, and of those older than eighty years old men faired significantly worse for than women. To put that in perspective during 2020, 1716 people died from drug overdoses in British Columbia (BC), 11,100 died of cancer and double that number for heart and stroke deaths. In 2020 a total of 41,148 people died in BC. Another perspective: in the most recent heat wave in BC 719 people died in 5 days read here .

Those were the early days of the virus however, and the numbers now are more significant. From BC's population of 5.1 million people a total of 2.9 million tests have been administered, 147, 705 cases have been diagnosed, 145, 200 have recovered, and 1756 deaths have been reported. You can keep up to speed on the numbers here. So in reality, the total numbers of  Covid deaths in BC, for the last year and a half, numbered 50 more than the amount of people who overdosed on drugs in one year.

As all of us watched the evening news reports back in early 2020, and witnessed Chinese people falling dead in the streets, having the doors on their homes and apartment buildings wielded shut, and their streets sprayed with chemicals, we collectively broke a sigh of relief that it wasn't here in Canada. Then it came, and we panicked. Not everyone of course. In fact many people did not take it too seriously at all, and in the summer it vanished like the seasonal flu, in the fall it came back like the seasonal flu, and now again in the summer it is vanishing - like the seasonal flu. Yet, "waves" of pandemics have been common in our species history. 

Take the Spanish Flu for example. A total of 2 million Canadians, from a population of 8 million (20%) were struck with that virus. Of the 2 million that were infected 50 thousand died or 2.5%. Of the total Canadian population that percentage was .06 or less than 1%. No vaccination was ever created for the virus and it ran its course. Fast forward to today and the numbers are: Canada's population 37.74 million people; 1,417,330 Covid cases (.04% of the population); and 26362 Covid related deaths (.0007% of the population). 

The numbers are startling yet indisputable - the Spanish flu was much, much worse than Covid19. Yet, and this is the crux of this post, we have reacted to it as though it was one hundred times worse. Our governments have closed our economies, suspended our constitutional rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of mobility and also freedom of speech - to put it bluntly, they have suspended our freedoms. Here is another set of numbers for you. Sacred numbers. Numbers you are meant to remember and immortalize each year: 56,638 - the number of Canadian troops killed in World War I; 141,418 - the number of Canadian troops wounded in World War I; 189,224 - total Canadian casualties of World War I; 22,910 - the number of Canadian troops killed in World War II; 57,847 - the number of Canadian troops wounded in World War II; and 80,757 - the number of Canadian casualties of World War II. These numbers do not include the Korean War and other engagements like UN missions or Afghanistan. 

The Canadians that died in battle did so for our freedom. Never forget that. They fought against regimes like the Nazis, and their equally despotic ancestors in the first war. They died freeing people from the suffocating grip of the Taliban. They died protecting people from the Communist Chinese, and on it goes. Their sacrifice was the price for our freedom. However, as the old veterans die off so does their spirit. 

Today we have people that are willingly throwing those very freedoms on the funeral pyre with the promise that it will lead to better things for all. Today in Canada you cannot travel freely without hitting a military checkpoint-like border installation in New Brunswick, or requesting advanced permission to enter into one province from another. Today the government of Canada is openly advocating "vaccine passports" which will imprison people without them within Canada or even within their own province. We are at the place where you need internal travel documents just like Communist USSR and Nazi Germany. In a sense, the government of Canada, and its eager minions in the provincial governments, are sticking a star of David on each of us that won't take the vaccine. What's next? Vaccine ghettos where you must live if you won't take the vaccine. This may sound alarmist to you, but think about where we were as a society 2 years ago and where we are now.

Another eyry complication of  Covid 19 is the division of opinion on how it should be dealt, or whether it even constitutes a real threat in a pandemic sense. After all, it has never happened in history before that people had to be bribed to take the vaccine with entries into lotteries as a reward for rolling the old sleeve up. These are things that should give most rational people pause to think. Yet it doesn't. People, families, friends are divided, but what is the division? The real essence of the division appears to be the belief that the rights of the majority trample those of the minority. It's an ancient problem, and one that was meant to be dealt with by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Yet, the Charter has simply been ignored throughout, and those that think they know best for others are cramming their opinions and policies down the throats of those that feel differently.

Let's follow their logic to its end: Eating fast food is causing an epidemic of  obesity, heart disease and death so we must ban all fast food and restaurants; driving your car could result in an accident that could injure or kill another; walking outside in the sun without sunscreen could cause skin cancer that requires hospital time, therefore denying another of hospital time, and so walking in the sun without sunscreen must be banned; and on it could go. We live in an era of unrivalled hatred, bigotry, judgement, self-righteousness, and complete disrespect for the opinion and freedom of others. These are the conditions that most totalitarian regimes came to power in throughout history. The well is being poisoned and that well represents the depth of the human kindness. 

Whether you believe Covid 19 is more dangerous than a run of the mill virus or not, whether you believe it's all part of an inter-governmental conspiracy or not, whatever your thoughts and feelings on the matter are, just remember the only thing that differentiates us from the animals is our ability to be spiritual beings. Once the values of freedom, compassion and understanding have been thrown in the trashcan of convenience there is but one direction to go, and that is down. Once freedom that was paid for by the blood of generations is lost it will take the blood of future generations to restore - if at all. At this moment in history I encourage you to be the person you are and not the scared shell of yourself that is being impressed upon you. 

                                                            BE THIS PERSON


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Modern Israel, and Old Promises

 Israel has the right to exist as a nation. Let's just get that one off the table right away. Israel, or more accurately the descendants of Jacob, whom according to the Bible the Lord named "Israel", finally became a reality for the Jewish people in 1949 after a guerilla war for independence with the British Empire. Initially restricted to a tiny strip of land sandwiched between Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and its old friend/nemesis Egypt, Israel has slowly gained in territory after consecutive successful wars with their neighbors.

According to the Bible, the Lord promised Abraham (Abram at the time):

    " On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: To your descendants I have given this     land, from the river of Egypt to the great River Euphrates." (Book of Genesis)

In other words, this:

Now many people refer to this Israel as an evil "Zionist" conspiracy to consume much of the Easter Mediterranean. However, that's not the truth. It's not a conspiracy at all when it has been laid out in the Bible for Christians to follow. There are a few problems with the concept though. 

The very first problem that immediately comes to one's attention is the sheer vastness of the Biblical Israel. It would include areas of the Middle East that are currently populated by between 40-50 million people, and those people have been there for thousands of years in most cases. Prior to 1939 Jewish communities were thriving in Europe, although often persecuted to one degree or another. After World War Two, and the horror of the Holocaust, there were six million less Jewish people in the world which could have helped populate a "Biblical Israel". Today, modern Israel has a population of  8.7 million people, of which 21% are Arab and another 5% are "other". On the face of things, Hitler's massacre of the Jews of Europe tended to undermine the fulfilling of  the Lord's promise to Abraham. Perhaps that was part of the purpose, but who can truly understand a hatred that deep. 

Another problem, and one that haunts Israel through out the world is the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinians, and to a lesser extent its neighbors. Again, returning to the Bible, the Lord tells Moses that before taking the Jewish people out of Egypt he must gather up all the gold and silver from amongst the Jewish people and turn it over to the Pharos in order to ease the sting of his loss - in a sense compensation. It didn't work as the Pharos chased them down shortly afterward, but Moses had done his part. So even though Moses had vanquished the Pharos, and the Exodus was happening as a matter of fact, an ethical attempt to remove the "sting" was still necessary.

Unfortunately, modern Israel has simply lost this lesson in humbleness. In fact, it can be easily argued that the government of Israel has attacked with arrogance and impunity whomever it deems as a "threat to its security". Of course it is not alone in crying wolf. "National security", "terrorism", etc are phrases that are bounced around now by many governments seeking to restrict freedoms and impose their will upon other nations. The problem for the Israeli government is that it has always claimed the high ground. It also claims to have the "most moral" army in the world. Despite the boasts, the Israeli army has been absolutely brutal in dealing with dissent from the Palestinians and others. While on the one hand it has become far more wise in its dealings with Iran insofar as it strikes critical components of their nuclear regime while avoiding an Iraq-like  conventional bombing of Iranian facilities,  it blows its own feet off by "knee capping" hundreds of Palestinians who are simply protesting, albeit angrily.

In its dealing with the protesting Palestinians and even Israeli Arabs, the Israeli government has lost all sight of  proportion, moderation and wisdom. It has committed multiple crimes against humanity during the Palestinian uprisings. It has in effect broken its covenant with the Lord:

            Thou shalt not kill;
            Thou shalt love thy neighbor;
            Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors house, 
            or anything that is your neighbors.

Now, inside Israel itself, the Orthodox Jewish people are in near full revolt of the non-Orthodox Jews. Issues such as compulsory military service or observance of the Sabbath, for example have sparked deep anger. Even the idea that Israel is a nation-state has provoked joint protests with Palestinians and Orthodox Jews walking side by side against conventional Israel. In other words, the Orthodox Jewish community appears to believe that modern Israel is breaking its covenant with the Lord as well.

I suppose in the end we are just simple people,  and it isn't our place to judge a covenant made thousands of years before us between the Lord and Abraham. We can only guess and observe at whether it has been broken and what ramifications may come from that - if any. That being said, whether you agree or disagree with the approach Israel takes, we must not bring ourselves to the point of heaping hatred against them. Israel, or the "descendants of  Jacob", have a place of prominence with the Lord. Whether you agree with that is irrelevant. If you don't believe me ask Nimrod...

Monday, May 11, 2020

The Coronation of Andrew Furey - Part 3 - Paddick, Risley and Nalcor

On March 3, 2010, Doctor Andrew Furey announced (officially) that he was running to take the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party, and by ricochet the premiership of the province. The video of his announcement can be found here . He makes two very telling statements in his address:

at 8:49 on the tape:

"This change will not be just generational - it will be transformational" ; and

at 14:59:

"Our thriving technology sector has shown the world that geography means nothing when it comes to bold, new ways of thinking in areas such as ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, ON-LINE SECURITY AND INNOVATION. Our brightest minds can be see as far as SILICONE VALLEY, the technology giants are taking notice."

I've capitalized the parts of his address that give a simple glimpse of the truth that Andrew Furey and his associates have in mind for the province, the country and the world. Before we start, I would like to draw your attention to Furey's promise of a new politics of transparency. You can listen to the whole spiel in his speech at the link above. The ink had literally not dried on the Liberal Party's postponement of the race when Furey deleted every leadership/Liberal tweet from his account. Almost insignificant if it didn't hint at a lack of transparency lying just over the horizon.

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series I outlined a series of business relationships between the people behind Furey - Paddick, Myles and Risley (to a lesser extent). It's time now to focus on that threesome, and their friendship with Furey. As mentioned before, Myles recruited a young and ambitious Paddick and mentored him. Myles and Paddick then partnered with Risley. All of which is detailed here . It all gets a little tangly after that. Suffice it to say that Risley acted as the banker through his Clear Water Fine Foods company, while Paddick acted as the brains and Myles as the facilitator. They became a very successful team.

However, and it's a big however, Paddick entered the realm of public life when he "volunteered" to become Chair of the Board of Nalcor Energy, the province's energy crown corporation, in November, 2016. It just so happens that Paddick and Risley have another business together. A big business in fact. An electricity based business to be precise. Yes, the current head of Nalcor Energy's Board, a crown corporation, is run by  a man who is, and always was, in a potential conflict of interest. You may be aware of a Salt Wire story last year on Paddick complaining he and the Board weren't being paid enough.  The story put it like this:

"Brendan Paddick volunteered and was appointed chair of the Nalcor Energy Board of directors in 2016. He says he took the position largely because he felt a sense of patriotic duty."
But is that true?

Paddick and Risley's venture into the electrical utility market started in 2014 according to their company's website, which you can find here . The website states:

"Mr. Paddick and Mr. Risley founded Cormorant and in 2014, purchased Power Tel and Power Traxx. 2 years later, the acquisition of Eptcon Limited and its fully owned subsidiary, One Line Engineering was finalized in 2016. With the addition of the two companies, our group is becoming one of the largest Ontario-based contractors in the power transmission and distribution industry, and the future synergies will allow us to become a significant player across entire Canada and North America"

(their English, not mine)

In reality, What is Cormorant Utility Services started out as 9099166 Canada Inc on November, 24, 2014. That corporation was amalgamated into another corporation on February 25, 2015 (one quarter later) named Power North Holdings Inc. On March 1, 2017, four months after Paddick "volunteered" to Chair Nalcor's board, Power North Holdings, and another Paddick/Risley company named Columbus Utility Services were amalgamated into what is now today Cormorant Utility Services Inc, Cormorant Atlantic Utility Services Inc. In addition to the four companies listed as controlled by Cormorant (above), it also has a controlling 50% interest in a Calgary-based electrical corporation named BowArk Energy Limited.

As of this time I cannot find any disclosure whatsoever of these interests by Paddick, Nalcor Energy, or the government. Their various press releases on appointments of Paddick can be found Here: Provincial Government here ; and Nalcor here . This failure to publicly disclose the energy/electricity holdings that Mr. Paddick does own creates a serious and palpable potential for conflict of interest. The question to be asked is why? Why don't the various bios and announcements include his experience as an owner in the electrical power/transmission industry? Would it not be common sense to show the man is just not a "cable guy" who got lucky, but also a man deeply experience in the power industry?

There are now some real questions here. Have any of Paddick's companies being doing business with Nalcor on Muskrat Falls or any other supply and services contracts. Given Paddick's business interests, is he steering Nalcor toward privatization? It is very suspicious that the President of Nalcor is a man who built and has holdings in a private energy corporation, and now the Chair of the Board has the same (albeit less). What are the Liberals planning to do with Nalcor and even the liquor corporation for that matter? After all, Wayne Myles, the Chairman of the Board of the Newfoundland Labrador Liquor Corporation also owns Terra Nova Foods Inc ( a large distributor in the province) and sits as Chairman of the Board of Distribution Group Inc (which he also owns).

That brings us back to Andrew Furey. For a man that claims to be bringing in a transformational change to the province, an administration based on "transparency" (can we not just say "the truth"), the facts say otherwise. Furey's biggest immediate, and most public backer (politically as well as to his charities) Paddick is most definitely not being transparent with the public. He is most definitely in a potential conflict of interest, which as the chair of the province's largest crown corporation is a big deal. Have you heard Andrew Furey talk about that? No you haven't. That may not be surprising from a man so concerned about health he starts mercy missions to Haiti, but also has owned a bar with two other gents in Harbour Main for decades - drinking not being the most healthy past time...

The next part to this series will involve Furey's involvement with artificial intelligence. Those Silicone Valley folks he talks up in his campaign address, Paddick, Myles, Risley and a few others will all feature in this. Their intricate web of companies have been established for years now, operating quietly on the sides. Now that Furey is attempting to become Premier of this province people must know exactly who they are selecting to lead them. This series is intended to do just that. They won't get in through the side door without scrutiny. The public deserves no less.