Monday, 21 December 2015


I had a much better feeling after watching the Democratic Party debate than I did after the kick-ass debate of that other party.  All three contestants, Hillary Clinton, former First Lady and Secretary of State,  Berni Sanders, Vermont Senator, and Martin O’Malley, former Maryland Governor, were eloquent, far ranging, and respectful. There were differences in approach to problems but there was a remarkable degree of unity and friendship among them.    As governments are essential to civilizations we must study candidates and choose those we can trust with complex issues for the benefit of all humanity and the environment.   
  The far-ranging issues discussed included:   Daesh, Iraq, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Jordan, King Abdullah, Syrian  refugees, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt,  Tunisia, US health care, single payer, minimum wage, taxes, income inequality, free higher education, and gun obsession. The moderators failed to ask a question about vital climate change so our troika inserted it with Bernie giving the best and most passionate remedy.  
Two major omissions that both parties, and moderators, decline to face are the 67-year-long persecution of the Palestinians, a major source of world unrest, and the desperate need for the US to bar money from deciding elections.
  While listening to, and evaluating, the three contestants, visions of triumvirates, triads, and troikas kept haunting me.  Here was a new one that could work and revitalize the sorry world view of US politics.  The world was so relieved in 2008 at the emergence of the Obama-Hillary team that it granted a premature Nobel prize that failed to shield  against the fierce, determined, and long-lasting GOP opposition that lost its Grand Old Party status to become Guardians of Privilege.
  Three-person rule is not new to our civilizations.  Best remembered may be the failed Roman triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompeius Magnus, and Marcus Crassus, but that was predated by some 150 years by the one in the Chinese  Han Dynasty (2012-220 BC).  Then there are the triumvirates in Christianity (God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost), in Hinduisn (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), and Tamil, not to mention those in Russia (origin of the word Troika), Europe, and Latin America.
Debates like this should be a main source of learning about candidates rather than the costly and incessant TV sound-bites that are insulting to the intelligence of voters.   Among world democracies none wastes as much time and money on electioneering as the USA.  Even Bernie Sanders, who refuses corporate financial donations, has to rely on the generosity of millions of supporters to finance his campaign.  The US will not be a  true democracy until money is eliminated as the main ingredient.      Periodic, taxpayer funded, TV debates and limited mailings are a must.  We can judge politicians by their daily actions and the UK parliamentary question periods are a good example of democracy at work.  We do have scores of dissidents allowed investigative reporting but how many read, listen, and heed?  The oft-repeated phrase we hear at memorial services “Freedom is not Free” does not apply only to the warriors but, in a democracy, to all of us.              Over 700 years ago students at Oxford lamented in their poem “Sir Penny” that those who hold the heavy purse corrupt everything.   Sir Penny  must not select our politicians or determine our domestic and foreign policies. 
  The immaturity of the current system offends me.  Daily my computer screen is polluted with a minimum of eight requests for funding for politicians and issues, forcing me to delete all of them and to limit my donations to those who are doing something useful such as:  Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Concerned Scientists, and so many other deserving charities.
  While, to me, Hillary was the outstanding member of the troika with her knowledge, poise, and dedication, I do have few reservations.  Rightfully, she desires to work with, not against, the Muslim world and current  regimes, even the unsavory ones,.  But she does need to impose a large reduction in the military and financial aid to oppressors like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel.            She realizes that the US military, while massive, cannot remedy world ills and that, as Kipling warned us, “Single men in barracks do not grow into plaster saints”.  The US suffers from large hate groups and the greed of corporations that profit from human misery and this has infiltrated the military that has been guilty of numerous and world-wide atrocities making unforgiving enemies and nullifying the altruistic goals of the majority of a long-suffering military.
  So,  Hillary, Good Luck and, as you requested in your closing statement, May the Force Be With You.        


Tuesday, 15 December 2015


Our promising human species is plagued by numerous fatal addictions including: Alcohol, Biases, Capitalistic Greed, Cigarette Smoking, Drugs, Guns, Materialism, Procrastination, and Wars.
    Like most teenagers I tried alcohol and cigarettes.  Finding them distasteful, I chose a different addiction in stamp collecting which taught me a great deal about economics, history, geography, inflation, and politics.
     Painfully, I was to see scores of my cherished friends  succumb to the addictions of alcohol, cigarettes, and wars.  Wars were forced upon them but alcohol and cigarettes were self-inflicted.  These victims knew their addictions were killing them but they were incapable of escaping them.  For me, the cruelest loss was my talented sister, Ruth.  She never smoked but worked in a lawyers’ office where clients continuously filled the confined space with smoke.  Painful sessions of chemotherapy were unable to save her from lung cancer.
Early in life I understood what the extraction of minerals, fossil fuels, and the paving over of our best fertile soils meant to our future well- being.  Along with what I could see there were numerous authors who warned us, in best-selling publications, of the fatal path we were on.  But, I learned, these recent authors were predated by the wisdom of aboriginal people and the goals of many subsequent popular uprisings.
The enclosure of the Commons in English agriculture began in the 1500s creating masses of landless people to fuel the industrial revolution.   Voices opposing this were ineffective, and many were persecuted,  because a few became very wealthy and powerful while most remained in poverty.
There have been times, like the French Revolution of 1789-1799, where the masses prevailed, but the blood shedding was self-defeating, leading to Napoleon and even more blood letting. 
Today, I applaud my nephew, David, an Ottawa lawyer, for his successful world-wide efforts at curbing the use of cigarettes. He is called “a public health hero”. Yet his attempts to eliminate the harm being done to the still-addicted have yet to receive adequate acceptance.  He is promoting devices that can provide relatively-harmless nicotine, the addictive element,  minus the toxic smoke.
But now for our most frightening threat.  Our media, more interested in Terrorism and Donald Trump, has given Global Warming, grossly-inadequate coverage - except for the likes of the daily PBS hour-long news broadcasts of Democracy Now, led by Amy Goodman  She attends these climate conferences, and spent all two weeks at the Nov-Dec 2015 Paris conference, giving us excellent coverage of world-wide environmental activists including indigenous groups all pleading peacefully for the rest of us to take notice.  
Concerns for, and abuses of, our environment are not new.  Too good at obeying the command “Go forth and multiply” we have always been over-populated relative to fertile land and human technology.  The powerful have forced the less-so into inhospitable areas.  Amazing human ingenuity has allowed many of these to thrive at the cost of unending wars.  Environmental abuse started gradually, increasing with the industrial revolution, accelerating out of control in the last 100 years to the point where we now have millions of individual and group protesters warning we are well on the path to self extinction.
     A few notables:  John Muir started the Sierra Club in 1892; Rachel Carson wrote “Silent Spring” in 1963; Paul Ehrlich gave us “the Population Bomb” in 1968;  David Suzuki with radio and TV shows plus several books; Friends of the Earth founded by Robert Anderson in 1969, became international in 1971, has 75 member groups; Greenpeace, formed in 1971 to fight nuclear testing, then whaling, now climate; Christian Parenti of the Club of Rome who published “The Limits of Growth” in 1972; Bill McKibben who published “The End of Nature” in 1989; James Hansen, ex-NASA , has long and continuously warned us about climate change and calls the Paris talks all talk and no action; Al Gore’s 2006 “An Inconvenient Truth”;  Naomi Klein, who published 5 books including “The Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” in 2007,  “This Changes Everything” in 2014; and in 2011 Gwynne Dyer’s “Climate Wars”. 
     Then we have all those organizations such as:
350.0rg: Unites and helps activists in 189 countries.  Its name comes from the safe amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, 350 parts per million.  We have now passed 400.
Sierra Club: founded in 1892 by John Muir, while evaluating the Sierra Mountains, turning to civil disobedience when 52 members including Bill McKibben and president Alliston Chin were arrested outside the Whitehouse protesting the Keystone pipeline in 2013.
Greenpeace: Founded in 1971 to protest nuclear testing, it has progressed to a fleet of 5 ships fighting whaling, and is now active against climate change.
Idle No More: Formed in 2012 among Canadian First Nations to fight resource extraction companies harming the environment. Skilled activists have organized rallies across Canada.
Union of Concerned Scientists:  Formed during the Vietnam War to fight the government militarization of science. Now involved is sustainability research and fighting profits from climate-change inaction.
The David Suzuki Foundation that takes a positive view of Paris because of the largest-ever show of world leaders and the 50,00 activists who attended, marched, and protested in the area.
    There was encouraging rhetoric from the almost 200 heads of state who spent all of 2 days at the 2-week Paris conference but most depend on voters back home to have their words become actions.   How many voters realize the depth of the sacrifices that must be met?  It is easy to convince monied interests that profits can be made by investing in solar and wind energy and many have, yet both kill thousands of birds that we have only started to resolve. My wildlife daughter, Trish, is working with wind farms with some success.  Hydro-electric and tidal power pollute less but have some environmental problems.  Fusion power is still a dream.
     World appetites for beef and cars have exploded so how do we convince millions that mass transit is a must, that propulsion techniques for aircraft and shipping need less pollutants, that methane-belching cattle must diminish when our world has only 375 million vegetarians?   The increase in the healthy love of bicycles in North America has been more than offset by the increase of cars in China and India.
    If we need more worries there is methane, each molecule of which traps 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide.  Yes, there is less of them, but fracking and a melting tundra can release enough of them to equal 205 gigatons of CO2 making a 2.0̊C cap an impossibility.  Our one and only earth has already passed the 1̊C (1.8̊F) increase, giving us unheard of droughts, fires, and floods with associated damages.  We aim to stop at 2̊C even though many countries insist 1.5̊C would mean disaster for them. 
    Among the hundreds of global temperature studies, whose findings take us back some 800,000 years, there are a few that infer humans have little effect on climate, that it was warmer in Roman times, that Antarctica ice is increasing.  Deniers cling to these while ignoring such threats as the growing Chasm 1, now 50km long, 1 km wide, and 50 metres deep on the Brent Ice Sheet that will likely force the 8 modules of the UK Halley VI research station (the previous 5 gathered data since 1956) to move some 30 km.  They were built on skis but it is still a difficult move.  The former German base was lost when a 144 km chunk of ice broke off. 
     Yes, we do need to consider the arguments and fears of deniers.  We tend to believe what we want to believe and too often select only confirming studies.  Life and our universe are complicated so everything needs to be questioned.  Fixed minds do not grow intelligence.   Earth climates depend on variable cycles such as sun outputs, earth tilt (a 41,000 year cycle), precession (26,000 years), and shape of orbit (21,000 years).  Past temperatures are gleaned, fairly accurately, from tree rings, fossils, and cores drilled through miles of ice, rock, and sea sediment.  We can place ice ages and warm periods.  What is so alarming in about 97% of these studies is the unprecedented rapid rise in temperature over the last 100 years and continuing at a pace beyond life adaptation ability.  Either we stop it or it stops us.
     Our faith in the Green Movement is wounded when some of its members soften their stands due to large donations from wealthy polluters.  For instance Nature Conservancy accepted a gift from Mobil Oil of 2,000 acres on the Gulf coast to save the endangered Attwater prairie chicken, only to allow two new wells due to previous agreements so no prairie chicken now exits on this acreage.   Our biggest worry is the fact that the sacrifices each one of us must make for species survival is causing  far too many with comfortable life styles to deny that global warming exists or that we are the cause of it.  And this includes Donald Trump who could become president of one of the two top polluters.  Can Barack Obama or John Kerry prevail against the entrenched monied oligarchy that has stolen so many democracies?  Justin Trudeau appears to have more luck with his 10 provincial premiers.  We have always had those who lead in their opposition like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, but the need for money to fight money does hamper them.
     The current steps we are taking as a (mostly) united world are impressive but, sadly, not enough.  There remains far too much inequality and just too many of us.  Daesh, and several other like-minded groups, plus our retaliations (or is it they who are retaliating to our initial mistakes?), try to help but all in the wrong way.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015


    Led by a few thinking brains scattered amid the 7.3 billion humans who congest this small planet we have attained a plateau that gives us a glimmer of hope that we may yet understand Life and the immense opportunities it offers.  Sadly our progress is mired in the mud of human ignorance that fails to know ourselves, the microscopic world, or the composition and frailness of the solids, liquids, gases, and energies that have, temporarily, so arranged themselves as to make Life possible.
    One of our current failures is called Terrorism.  It is rooted in Rejections and Misconceptions that breed Hatreds.  It is widespread but called by other, more soothing, names when we, or our allies, are guilty.
    Facts abound but selection is selective by this Human species now dominant after over 3 billion years of evolution which we cannot afford to waste.  Entrenched Self Interest and Greed limit the role played by the Media that is vital to remedies.  We are fortunate in what we call The Free World to have scores of dissidents,  investigative reporters, and whistle blowers who lift the veil, for those who will look, on our faults.
    Today, we see much of the human world united in mourning the shameful loss of over 300 lives in Lebanon, a Russian  passenger jet, and Paris by a group known as the “Islamic State”, “IS”, “ISIS”,” ISIL”,or “Daesh”.  It has brutally murdered thousands, the majority of whom have been other Muslims.  It arose amid the chaos we created as a result of the 2003 invasion of Iraq by US, UK, Australian, and Polish forces.
    Earlier, some of the current mourners have been mute at the massacre of thousands because the terrorists were allies and/or their own self interests.  Likewise we see inadequate action when terrorism arises in most regions of the world, even between husbands and wives.  This is ridiculous and nullifies the sacrifices we have made for the future we yearn.  How to remedy it?
    We humans need, and crave, human and animal  companionship, yet we divide ourselves into groups by age, economics, ethnicity, geography, hobbies, languages, philosophies, politics, sex, and whatever.  They can be a blessing or a curse, but they all limit the mingling of minds.
    We should have learned, over the last 12,000 years, that force begets force, solves nothing substantial, has sent over 8 billions to untimely deaths and destroyed innumerable infrastructures.
     Some of our many empires have done more good than harm and their legacies remain with us.  Many of today’s failed states were better off under Roman, Ottoman, British or French rule.  The new empire leader, the United States,  is difficult to rate.  It has, in spite of internal squabbles, done immense good and is capable of doing much more, yet it  maintains massive and unequalled force with military personnel in 130 countries on up to 1,000 bases, some large, some tiny, but all a source of friction.  The Roman and British empires were content with less than 50 bases each. The USA emerged from WWI as a force to be acknowledged but one that refused to join the League of Nations, later joining the United Nations which it has tried to dominate along with a few others granted veto power.  It still refuses to join several world organization including the International Criminal Court considering it a threat to US independence.  Can the US actually lead when it is plagued by flaws that include a kick-ass mentality, an obsession with guns, 1.096 armed militias with 100,000 members, a cruel penal system with the world’s largest number of inmates, inadequate health and legal care, a money-controlled congress, and an $18 trillion debt?  In spite of all this the US believes it can lead.  Into what?
What about other individual or groups of nations?  The US “Fund for Peace” think tank, using 12 factors, rates 178 nations. Finland ranks first with 17.8 “bad” points, Sudan last with 114.5. 
The rankings of other, selected, countries are:  Scandinavia takes the top 4 slots.   New Zealand #7, Australia 9,Canada  11, Germany 14, UK 18, France 19, USA 21, Japan 22. South Korea 23, Poland 26, Spain 27, Italy 32, Russia 42, Israel 48, Iran 63, Egypt 69, Saudi Arabia 78, Turkey 89, Ukraine 95, China 96.   
Of the 53 least viable states 35 are in Africa.   
World problems should be solved by a world organization staffed by individuals dedicated to the world.  Well, we do have the United Nations.  What about its peacekeeping role?
  The anti-conflict United Nations has no standing army, but it has suffered 3,395 casualties since 1948.  When the Security Council authorizes intervention it can call on 122 countries offering 120,000 uniformed personnel (3.8% female).  For each mission, the UN Policy Evaluation and Training Division provides help for selected field personnel who come on a 1-year rotational basis, for a current force of 15,845. 
    The vast majority of these are from cheaper and poorer countries resulting in an army that is not representative, sometimes poorly trained and screened.  Nepalese troops brought cholera to Haiti and UN troops have been guilty of rape in the Central African Republic by troops from the Congo where 400,000 women are raped annually.  Countries that have violated UN resolutions are led by Israel with 66 followed by Turkey and Morocco. The UN has  endured massive failures such as Somalia, Rwanda, and Srebrenica where a few Dutch troops were unable to prevent the massacre by Serbians of 8,000 Muslim men and boys.  But the UN has had a score of successes and warrant greater support.  To date they have been able to intervene in only 20% of the situations authorized by the Security Council.    For a frightened world the UN is our one best hope.
The leading donors to the UN are: 
Money:  USA, Japan, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Norway, France, Sweden, Canada
Troops:  Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Rwanda, Nepal, Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso, China   
   For non-UN and combat roles Daesh foes have expended $11 million daily and 2,230 bombs monthly.  IS replaced immediately their 20.000  killed with many from affluent countries, even including a few women.  What  motivates them?
    Drones that, without warning, have killed many civilians are a factor.  Four brave, risk-taking ex-drone veterans and whistle blowers are featured in the new film “Drone”now being premiered in Toronto and New York. They echo my ever-present qualms from my 1942-3 RCAF Bomber Command nights.  We had a few amazingly-accurate operation but most were indiscriminate.  When the USAAF joined us in 1943 with a promise of pickle-barrel daylight accuracy we found the pickle barrels had huge diameters. Today we have smart bombs and drones but the death toll of innocent civilians is still counted in thousands.  Is killing at a distance more humane than the intimate slashing of throats by Daesh?  It is the old story of the chicken and the egg.  Who started it all?
    It is incredible that any human brain would desire to destroy another such unique structure, the pinnacle of evolution and the most complex organism we know with its 100,000 billion connections and whose existence needs a mobile body made up of 75 million million cells, 90% bacterial and 10% human that can be compared to a colony of ants.  Each individual performs its tasks without knowledge of the overall purpose.  Is this not also identical for the 7.3 billion humans now congesting this planet?  Is there a purpose we cannot see?  Our bacterial cells are mostly beneficial but can, like humans, kill if they get out of their programmed niche.     Both cells and humans have the ability to influence others.  When Daesh takes over an area it forces the children into schools where they are immersed in their repulsive philosophy.  Many schools are financed by Saudi Arabia and its Wahabism that teaches all others are infidels.  We need to fight IS schools with UN schools.   Daesh is also financed by all those who buy their stolen oil and ancient artifacts.  Millions of us care only for our own greed and provide IS with $50 million monthly buying its smuggled-out oil, mainly in Turkey.  This also needs to be fought by a strengthened UN.
    All of our religions and philosophies have been born by individuals whose followers, blessed with oral and written skills, spread the word to others who yearn for meaning.  Today we have numerous groups fighting climate change, poverty, over population, animal cruelty, wealth inequality, police brutality, gun proliferation,  and so on.  Our survival demands we melt them into one UN force for good.



Friday, 6 November 2015

Québécois, Canadien, Canadian Mind Sets - et al

I admire the Irishman from Eire who set out to visit his friend in Northen Ireland.  Tramping across the fields he came to a sign indicating that he had reached the border, necessitating a detour to the nearest approved crossing point.  No Problem.  He simply uprooted the sign, carrying it to plant on the far side of his friend’s house.  After his visit he carried it back to its original hole.  Borders can be so artificial and temporary.
An inward-looking group in Quebec continues to try to place another border on my Heritage as though it belongs to them alone.       As a Canadian, the igloo, the birch-bark canoe, the Fleur-de-Lis, the Union Jack, the Shamrock and the Maple Leaf are all mine, along with symbols of other immigrants.  It is a rich and proud heritage in a country labelled by the United Nations as the world’s best.  When, in 1965, we let the Union Jack take a back seat to the Maple Leaf flag we left the door open for further disintegration.
   Why do I cherish the French part of my Heritage?  Along with fine people from throughout the Commonwealth, and the World, I have worked with hundreds from Quebec and this includes Bomber Command, POW camps, and the Korean Air Lift.  Today’s educators and media ignore over 200 years of Quebec’s contributions to Canada and to British and Canadian military units. We also forget that only 6,908 men and 1,617 women crossed that ocean from France to New France.  What they accomplished in a harsh land against great odds is a tale worth knowing, teaching, and appreciating.
The first real Canadian from Europe was Samuel de Champlain who saw the potential of America.  In 1603 he proposed a Panama Canal.  In 1607 he united French settlements in Acadia.  His error was to allow the Hurons, Montagnais, and Algonquins in 1609 to con him into canoeing into what he named Lake Champlain.  This was Iroquois land.
To halt the charge of hostile Iroquois, Champlain and his two men, arquebus-armed, fired, killing three Iroquois  chiefs.  Champlain recognized his error in opposing such splendid physical specimens.  Mortal enemies were made who were later to ally with the British.  In 1615 he stood on top of Mount Royal (Montreal) and predicted that a great nation would arise there.  From 1616 to 1635 he made 25 crossings of the Atlantic vainly trying to turn French interests from the Royal Peltry (fur trade) to settlements. Discouraged, he turned his back on France and encouraged intermarriage with the Natives.  This  mix produced the famed coureur de bois, unexcelled in long-distance exploration and trading.  Side-stepping the Iroquois they ranged from Quebec to Hudson Bay to the Rockies to New Orleans.  They opened a continent peacefully while British settlers multiplied east of the Appalachians.  Pierre Esprit Radisson and Medart Chouart, Sieur des Groseilliers, promoted the Hudson Bay route, but failed to convince officials in Quebec or Paris.  Charles II in London, however, wined and dined them.  The British affectionately called them Radishes and Gooseberries.  Charles approved the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson Bay, with two ships, the Eaglet and Nonsuch (Winnipeg has a Nonsuch replica).
By the time of the 1759 British conquest the New France population had risen to 65,000, helped by my paternal ancestors. Jacques Chouinard, age 29, married Louise Jean, age 14, in Notre Dame Church, Quebec City, in 1692.  They had 17 children.  Even so, my ancestors from Ireland provided most of my genes.
A harsh land, plus indifference from France, produced a hardy race.  Always outnumbered they held off Iroquois and British attacks for 150 years.  To hide their weakness they often went on the attack with surprising success.  They defeated invasions led by Fitz-John Winthrop and William Phips in 1690.  In 1755 Charles Michel de Langlade, of mixed Ottawa and French blood, led 254 French plus 600 Natives to defeat General Braddock's and LtColonel George Washington's 2,100 men near Fort Duquesne (Pittsburg).
In 1756 France could hurl 100,000 troops against Prussia and Britain, but sent only 1,200 to defend Canada.  Louis XV, however, did send a little-known officer, Louis Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm who was to become the ablest general to set foot in the Americas.  At Ticonderoga his 5,000 men defeated James Abercromby's 20,000 troops.  In the 1759 siege of Quebec, Montcalm was betrayed by his own Governor who, to harvest his own crops, took the men that Montcalm had posted to watch for any Britons trying to scale the cliffs.  The British then scaled undetected.  Montcalm and the British General Wolfe were both killed in the ensuing battle that won Canada for Britain.  When the British colonists refused to pay a share of the costs of eliminating the Canadiens as a hazard to their expansion, Britain had to cut in half the pay of the victorious troops.  A great start for a new nation came when French women made long wool leggings for the bare knees of the Fraser Highlanders who volunteered to help with the harvest.  Many of the victors chose to take land grants in lieu of pay, remain in Canada, and marry French women.  General James Murray and Sir Guy Carleton, the first two British governors, protected the Canadiens from the influx of British merchants from the southern colonies.  The Proclamation of 1763 that forbade British settlement west of the Appalachians and the Québec Act of 1774 that left Québec with its own language, culture, and lands including the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, outraged British colonists, especially George Washington who had financial interests in land that would still be Québec's.  Agitators, including Ben Franklin, went to Montreal, trying to persuade Canadiens into joining the revolution.  They were ignored as British generosity, tolerance, and no taxes were much more than they could expect from an independent non-Catholic nation to the south.
After the American Revolution, 100,000  Loyalists fled, many to Canada which became a bicultural country overnight.  Not to be swamped, the Québécois went to The Battle of the Cradle, and families of over 20 became common.  Today, with English-speaking dominance gone and a less dominant Church, the birthrate has fallen to one of the world's lowest to the annoyance of Premier Jacques Parizeau who blamed immigrants and big business for the narrow defeat in the Referendum seeking independence, of 30 October 1995. 
During the unprovoked invasions of Canada in the War of 1812-14, Canadiens helped to save Canada.  In October 1813 Charles de Salaberry, whose grandfather fought with Montcalm against Wolfe, led 460 Canadiens with Native allies to defeat an invading force of 8,000 US in the Battle of Chateauguay, near Montreal.  To prevent needless slaughter by native allies, he paid a bounty for each US soldier captured unharmed.
Québec remained largely agricultural until The Great War when industrialization and urbanization spread  with English-speaking capital and executives, but political control never left the Québécois.  From the Boer War to World War II frictions arose over involvement in foreign wars which hampered Canadian contributions which nevertheless were truly magnificent, including Québec's.  Conscription was a divisive issue.  When German submarines sank ships in the St. Lawrence River, MacKenzie King closed the river to military traffic to quell Québec fears, but then all shipments had to go via Saint John and Halifax.
The Québec cultural revolution started in the 1950s.  The drive to become Maître chez nous was mainly peaceful and successful.  Desire for a separate country grew slowly from under 20% to 60% then sank to well below 50%.  English-speaking Canada tried to become bilingual while Québec became ever more unilingual, thus alienating would-be friends.  To English Canada, Québec is a case of Much wants More.  Québec has had more than its share of prime ministers (9 of 23)  and government jobs.  It received more than it contributed to the federal purse.  Of Canada’s 36 million, Quebec has 6.2 million plus 700,000 elsewhere in Canada.
To shatter Canada makes no sense and would create lowered living standards and world status for resultant entities.  Years of bickering, if not bloodshed, would follow.  Perhaps, in Québec, le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait pas. Canada is too great a country to envisage fragments joining the U.S. as dispirited  states.  Canada smarts under inferred U.S. indifference; Québec smarts under inferred Rest-of-Canada indifference; Newfoundland resents Québec indifference.  The Cree and Inuit have no desire to remain in an independent Québec.  Mexico complains of the U.S. “Colossus of the North” whereas Guatemala thinks the same of Mexico, and Honduras and El Salvador consider Guatemala  the Colossus.
A current gripe of those who speak only English is the rule that higher ranks in the civil service and military are reserved only for those fully bilingual.  Ever-changing English is a difficult language yet others are better at learning it than English speakers are at learning another language so many otherwise highly qualified people are by-passed. For instance 3 of the last 4 top RCAF generals here at NORAD are from Québec.
Canada has made great strides in correcting injustices, real and inferred, but sacrifices need to be shared and individual aspirations modified for the common good.  The United States commands patriotism from all its quarrelsome states.  Canada, while cherishing its mosaic approach, could adopt some of this.  The Canadian military has been beneficial in promoting integration, but is now too small to do the job alone.
The Québécois are not ethnically pure.  Many thousands of Native, British, Irish, and German genes have melted into the French "Habitant" culture, not to mention recent immigrants.  Of the 4,884 troops who took Canada in 1759, 33% were British colonists, 25% Irish, 23% English, 15% Scots, 4% German/Swiss and many of these men stayed to marry local women.    
On the world stage:  No human understands life.  No human religion can offer more than a guide, yet we can enhance contentment with empathy for all living things.  Do accept the enormous challenge of bettering human  mindsets.                

Saturday, 24 October 2015


This episode took 13 key players.  It started as I was nearing the end of my 96th tour around the Sun on Spaceship Earth.  I was believing my failing stamina was insufficient for further travel on this planet when my nephew, David in Ottawa, knowing I had not seen my brother, Trevor, and his wife, Enid, in Port Hope for 10 years started to correct all this.  Trevor, now at age 94, was a WWII pilot who started an electrical wiring business in 1946 that grew into a large appliance and furniture store in which he still works every day.  His family consists of Paul, David, and Lisa.  Paul now runs the store with expansive show rooms and a warehouse of 1,000 items from mattresses to sofas, TVs, and appliances, somewhat ambitious for a town of 16,500 yet quite successful as they service what they sell.  His wife, Linda, and children, Nick and Sarah, also graced our gathering.  Lisa is a world traveller having worked in the UK, European countries, Israel, and visited many in the east before living in Australia.  Now, she and her husband, Rich,  have built homes in Prince Rupert, BC, and a half dozen large cabins on the north shore of Haida Gwaii with the motto “All the Beach You Can Eat”.  Lawyer David is a 100,000 mile-a-year traveller on Air Canada working with governments around the world but especially Washington and London where he maintains a bicycle.  In Ottawa he has cycled some 10,000 miles this year, often 160 km a time along country roads just to get a cup of coffee at favourite stops.
David conspired with my daughters, Valerie and Patricia (Trish) who could get a week off work at the same time to be my escorts for an Air Canada flight from Denver to Toronto where Lisa, all the way from the west coast and Valerie’s son, Braden, who is a computer expert in Wisconsin, arrived just before us to rent a car.       Lisa drove us to the Toronto home of daughter Diane, a retired registered nurse who ran an addiction ward and Mark, a lawyer and hockey coach, for dinner and a few hours with them and their grown family of Bryce, Jessica, and Derek.  It was then 120 km to Port Hope where Lisa and I stayed with Trevor and Enid while Valerie, Trish, and Braden had rooms in a nice hotel downtown on the banks of the Ganaraska River. 
  Saturday saw a reunion of 16 family members including David’s son, Adam, and girl friend, Katie, plus 3 from Oshawa & Scarborough.  Joan brought her mother, Ruth Garnett, now a widow.  We had not seen each other since  schoolmates in 1938, both remembering the time when one of the boys used his family car to pack in students to drive the 70 miles to the Toronto Royal Winter Fair.  Heaters did not exist in cars then so four of us were packed in the back seat under blankets.  I sat next to Ruth. 
     Unfortunately we boys were very shy of girls so failed to take advantage of the situation.  Fortunately we have all outgrown that handicap.
BOMBER COMMAND:  Sunday several carloads of us drove to the RCAF museum in Trenton that features the only Halifax in Canada, the aircraft most flown by Canadians in Bomber Command.  It had been retrieved in 1994 from 225 metres down in Lake Mjosa, Norway, where it had been shot down 23 April 1945. Karl Kjarsgaard, a Canadian Airlines pilot, found the location and sparked the flight of the wreckage to Trenton where 120 volunteers worked 16 years to rebuild it.  David made a substantial financial contribution.
I had visited it several times during this phase and knew many of the volunteers including Jeff Jefferies, head of the rebuilding team, now deceased, and Bill Tytula who, in a powered wheel chair, was on duty to escort my group around the displays.  
Being so precious and so cramped, visitors are not allowed inside the Halifax but installed cameras bring  inside images to screens on the balcony.  As I am one of the very few living survivors of those shot down in a Halifax, two old retired RCAF friends, Morris Gates, author of several books including the new 606-page  book on the Rockcliffe years of 408 Squadron during which it mapped much of Arctic Canada, and Tom Kupecz, still working on such tasks as NATO operations and who is the author of my Blog #084, published 09 January 2013 entitled “Conspiracies”, asked the current curator, Kevin Windsor, to make an exception for Valerie, Trish, and me, allowing us to crawl in through the rear small hatch that my crew had to chop open with an axe as it had been fused by cannon fire and frozen solid in a plunging, burning aircraft. 
In the Halifax I now had difficulty clambering over cross members and easing myself into narrow compartments wondering how I ever accomplished what I did back in 1942 and 43.  My eyes were moist as I recalled the 125 good young friends that WWII took from me, especially Pat Porter, after whom Trish (Patricia) is named.  He was the only one who had a chance to get out but sacrificed his young life to stay at the controls to fight the plunge and give the 6 of us the seconds required to cut our way out.
     After the inside tour we had a most interesting talk with the educational coordinator, Gina Heinbockel-Bolik, leaving a hard cover copy of my book with her for the museum library.
EMOTIONS:  Deep and mixed emotions drag me to this symbol of the best and worst of human activities.  It was part of Bomber Command that fought the longest, continuous battle of WWII, 2,074 days and nights.  After the Kriegsmarine U-boat rate of 75%, it suffered the highest casualties at 59%.  For almost 5 years it was the only weapon we had that could strike at Germany until joined by the USAAF 8th Air Force in 1943.
Effective navigational aids were too often jammed by Luftwaffe countermeasures so our inaccurate bombing, usually at night or over solid cloud, killed 600,000 German civilians and devastated vast areas.  It is a guilt I can never escape.   Hitler and his SS and Gestapo were also a curse on the German people and we must accept our blame for their rise, a story too long for this blog.
Of the 125,000 aircrew who flew in Bomber Command, 73,741 became casualties including 9,838 POWs.  Of the 6,176 Halifaxes built, 2,627 were shot down.  Aircraft flown by the 135 Bomber Command squadrons were: Blenheim, Whitley, Wellington, Hampden, Manchester, Halifax, Stirling, Lancaster, and Mosquito.  Survivors, after the war, were converted to needed pots and pans.
Squadrons were: UK 100, Canada15, Australia 8, Poland 4, Free French 3, New Zealand 2, Rhodesia 1, Czechoslovakia 1, Netherlands 1.  More Canadians flew with RAF and RAAF  than RCAF squadrons.  Life expectancy was five operations.  Survival rate of those shot down was 17%.  Mark's dad survived two tours on a Polish squadron flying Wellingtons.
OTHER IMPRESSIONS:   Both Denver and Toronto terminals are massive and confusing revealing the world’s over population. Greater Denver has 2.9 while Toronto 5.5 million humans.  Both offer wheel chairs to those of my age.  Arriving at Pearson Airport in Toronto, cultural diversity is immediately apparent.  Welcoming signs  are painted in a score of languages and costumes.  The women pushing my wheel chairs were mainly of Asian (India) origin.  Over 140 languages and dialects are spoken among 200 ethnic groupings.  Half of Toronto’s population was born outside of Canada. 
In spite of Ontario losing 300,000 manufacturing jobs to lower wage countries and the percentage of GDP for manufacturing dropping from 22 to12%, the hundreds of miles we drove looked clean, prosperous, and safe.  Highway 401 that extends from Windsor to Quebec City (Autoroute 20 in Quebec) has up to 18 lanes in the Toronto area packed with trucks and cars that can number 500,000 a day, the world’s busiest.
Canadians who put up with a record 78 days of political campaigning for the 19 October election would never endure the four years the unfortunate in the USA suffer.
What a pleasant surprise back at Pearson airport for the return flight!  After enjoying the free magazines and varied food in the Air Canada lounge we joined the throngs at the departure counters and there, in the adjacent counter, was good friend Donna Desroches from St, John’s, Newfoundland, en route to visit her sister, Betty Davis, and us in Colorado Springs.
Arriving back in Denver, Valerie’s husband, George, who had driven us to the Toronto-bound Air Canada flight, was waiting to drive us to Colorado Springs where Daughter, Barbara who, along with 3 horses, lives alone on a 44-acre ranch 27 miles away, was waiting in my house that she had cleaned and put in immaculate shape.
The family all got home safely and is once again widely dispersed, all thankful for these modern, and confusing to me, phones that provide instant e-mails, pictures, and even conversations.  
All in all I am being spoiled so much that I fear I will grow up to be a spoiled brat.               


Sunday, 11 October 2015


   Some  32,000 years ago, small Neanderthal families were enjoying life here when uppity Cro-Magnons moved in and, with sex playing a role, made the Neanderthals extinct.  Both had female gods.
    Jumping to 10,300 years ago, a group of mesolithic Caucasians came to settle, cultivate Emer wheat near Jericho, make beer, and multiply.  They prospered until, around 3000 BC,  Egyptians filtered in.  By 1850 BC Sesostris III could argue the land should be Egyptian so moved in his army to make it so.  Few human arrangement are permanent.  1750 BC saw a horde of Asiatic Hyksos  sweep  in.  Then came the Caucasian Hurrians.  By 1500 BC the Egyptians were back, bumping into the Hittites, fleeing from Asia Minor.
So the Canaanites, still with female gods, suffered more see-saw battles on their soil for generations with no one learning that population increases lead to wars which lead to more wars and misery ad infinitum.
About 1,500BC Abraham and his Luddites arrived, bringing the male god of vengeance, Yahweh, to the local goddess societies. Slowly they were to become the ruling class among the Hapiru, the original Hebrews who, some 250 years later, were led out of Egyptian captivity by Moses who died en route in Jordan.  The later Israelis are one branch of this Hebrew group.  The Hebrew invaders were opposed by the Canaanites, including Moabites, Midianites, and Ammonites.  The Yahweh priesthood told the Jews this was their promised land but only if they first cleansed every living thing from it which they did and continue this approach today.
The original cleansing was not easy.  “Sea People”, fleeing Mediterranean climate change, came to form 5 city states.  These Philistines clashed with the Jews who considered them inferior as they were not circumcised.  David and Goliath were participants of this clash.  The Philistines had the closely-guarded secret of smelting iron.  The Jews did not, but used their wiles to steal the knowledge, forcing many of the Philistines (Phoenicians) to flee and set up colonies from Cyprus to Carthage to Spain. Many stayed, giving their name (Palestine) to the area. Then the oppressed-by-all Assyrians arose to conquer and become new oppressors in 722 BC, followed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The Jews integrated and prospered in 50 years of Babylonian captivity, altering many stories, like the Flood, as their own.  Persians took over in 536, and Alexander the Great in 331 BC.  In 167 BC, the Jews  drove out the Seleucids (Alexander’s heirs), forming  a kingdom with Jerusalem as capital.  Rome protected this Maccabean kingdom until 61 BC when, to support King Herod, it sacked Jerusalem.  After 2 Jewish revolts, the Romans evicted all those they could catch in 135 AD.
Jews dispersed to all corners of the known world.  Some were welcomed, some tolerated, some persecuted.  Then, in 632, the new religion of Islam prompted new aggression and Palestinians suffered more bloody battles until all were conquered and persuaded to convert to Islam by 720.  In 1100, Crusaders restored Christianity until ousted in 1187.  Frederick II restored Christianity in 1229 but, in 1244, Seljuk Turks, driven out of Asia by Genghis Khan and his Mongol horsemen, swept in to take Jerusalem and restore Islam.  In the 14th and 15th centuries, Palestinian suffering continued including the Black Death.  In 1516, Selim I began 400 years of Ottoman Turkish rule which fluctuated from good to bad and all points in between.  The Palestinian capital alternated among Damascus, Sidon, and Acre.  In 1831, the Egyptian, Mohammed Ali, an Ottoman provincial ruler, occupied Palestine.  He opened the area to  Western influences.
In Europe, Jews lived a mixed bag.  Disraeli got to the top of the greasy pole becoming the UK prime minister.  Christendom outlawed usury, leaving it to the Jews who then made fortunes in the banking business, so much so that they could finance the British 1815 victory over Napoleon.  This made Baron Edmond de Rothschild very rich, so he financed the return of Jews to Palestine. He bought  housing complexes, evicted the Palestine tenants, and brought in Jews.  By 1917 the Palestine population consisted of 8,500 Jews and 1 million “Arabs”.  These Jews, along with much larger contingents of Palestinians, helped the British and Australians free Palestine from Turkish Ottoman rule.   In short-sighted gratitude, the British promised both an independent homeland in tiny Palestine.  The Jews had a big advantage, many coming from Europe and North America with financial backing and with experience in democratic governing.  The Palestinians, under Turkish rule for 400 years, had none of this.  To mounting Palestine fears, Jews continued to arrive.  By 1930 the British declared there was no more land left but, with the rise of Hitler, 133,000 more Jews came, causing the 1937 Arab revolt that resulted in 5,000 Arab, 1,200 Jewish, and 500 British casualties.  When WWII erupted in 1939, Jews were 30% of the population and frictions were increasing.  While 1,200 Arabs enlisted in British forces, 27,000 Jews did and they were allowed to build a munitions industry to aid the British who by 1942 uncovered a vast Jewish network stealing British arms.  Meanwhile, in 21 extermination camps, the Nazis murdered 14 million people, 6 million of them Jews.  Surviving Jews flocked to Palestine, swelling their population to 600,000 among 1.5 million Palestines.  In 1948 the UK gave its responsibilities to the UN which was manipulated by Harry Truman to impose a Jewish state on Palestine with no similar Palestine state.  The US now had two footholds in the Middle East.     But the Israelis went on a rampage killing and forcing Palestines into exile to take control of 77% rather than the 44% that was UN approved.  So they were attacked by Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  Innocent Jews were also attacked in various Arab countries.  All sides lacked unity, but the Israelis emerged victorious, gaining much land.  In 1956 a UK-US-Israel force seized the Suez Canal after Egypt nationalized it.  World pressure, with the Commonwealth leading, caused a withdrawal.  In 1967 sabre rattling increased.  Israel, knowing it could not maintain mobilization, launched pre-emptive strikes, during which  Israeli aircraft and  torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty which was monitoring broadcasts.  Out of a US crew of 275, 34 were killed and 75 wounded.
Again the Israelis won and this time occupied Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, Northern Palestine, and the Sinai.  They annexed 2/3 of Gaza, Northern Palestine and about half the West Bank.  They moved 400,000 settlers into the remaining Palestinian West Bank and 8,000 into the smaller Gaza, forming over 100 settlements on Palestinian land, effectively denying them the wherewithal to form a state. 
In 1979 Israel, for peace with Egypt, returned the Sinai desert. Palestinian activists fled first to Jordan, their numbers causing Jordanian expulsion to Lebanon.  Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 to destroy them, but suffered its first defeat, withdrawing in 1985 except for a buffer zone which it held until 2000.  In 2006 they evacuated all settlements in small Gaza that had been left to Palestine. but retained control of its borders and trade   They also evacuated 4 isolated West Bank settlements.
  Palestine are a mix of Canaanite, Philistine, Hebrew, Egyptian, Hyksos, Hittite, Persian, Greek, British, Australian, French, German, Turkish, and other genes.  To call them “Arabs” is  a misnomer. The Jews are also a very complex and quarrelsome genetic mix.  Differences are cultural with Judaism taking the longevity crown.  As Israel has taken most of the land, the Palestinians have been left stateless, disorganized, over-crowded, mostly homeless, and poor (44% earn under $2.30 per day) in a land only 17% arable - the best of recipes for resentment and violence.  The Arab world has left them festering in refugee camps in order to pressure the West to reduce the extent and power of Israel.  With Western criticism, but no action, the Israelis continue to treat the Palestinians as we did the native Americans from Ellesmere Island to Terra del Fuego. 
The Israelis deserve credit for surviving, and building a viable and thriving state but have enjoyed considerable Western help and armaments, including German reparations.  Obsessed with survival in a hostile environment, they  accept billions of dollars in annual US aid, but decline US advice.  They ignore scores of UN resolutions.  They react to Palestinian insurrections with excessive force causing from three to a thousand times the Palestinian casualties as Israeli.  Hamas was formed in 1987 in reaction to a corrupt and ineffective PLO that was unable to halt the increase in Jewish settlements.  Palestinians, by destroying international aircraft on the ground, murdering Israeli athletes, and using suicide bombers, have not exactly endeared us to their cause, so we forget how desperate their plight is.  They have a tiny degree of freedom, but Israel continues to control their travel, exports, imports, and even jails.  Israel used tanks to break into a Jericho jail in 2006 to seize 6 Palestinians accused of doing to an Israeli leader what the Israelis had done to 7 Hamas leaders.  This was extreme humiliation to Palestinian moderates.  This, of course, does not excuse Hamas from using its hard line for other than a starting bargaining position, but it appears they have no one to bargain with, even though the Israelis make the same claim to excuse their actions and delays. 
Yet sane and moderate heads are numerous, and while thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have worked together as equals, there remain far too many real terrorists everywhere, clinging to religion, ignorance,  prejudices, hate, and greed.  They hinder progress in human rights.  Several US presidents , like Eisenhower, Carter, and Obama, sailed out to create a more peaceful world only to have their sails removed by special interests especially those who benefit from conflict and who manipulate news items to imply it is not they but the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah who are the terrorists.  Money does work as an invisibility cloak to the eyes of too many voters.
We are all one species.  What we do to others we do to ourselves, and our progeny suffer.         

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


How about a look at Saudi Arabia to decide if it warrants our continued support?  Does it present 2 faces:  educated politicians to the West, but anti-West teachings in its madrassas?   Over the last decade it has been the world’s 19th largest foreign-aid donor, but its wide-reaching Islamic schools are another story.
For the first time women may now vote in the December 2015 municipal elections and may even field candidates but they may not drive a car to reach the polling booths.  They may not go anywhere without a male chaperon, they must wear an abaya (long black cloak) and head scarf.  In a few areas they may now remove face coverings.  They may not use swimming pools.  The rule against them competing in sports was relaxed for the London games. Women who are raped can receive lashes for getting into the situation.  
Was it not a Saudi by the name of Osama bin Laden who went on an anti-US spree because he objected to US military and economic dominance in his country?  This led to the well organized and carried out despicable 11 September 2001 assault on the US whose strange reaction was to turn on its former staunch friend, Saddam Hussein, to whom it had offered nuclear know-how and weapons and did supply chemical weapons for its 8-year war with Iran, followed by a continuing war in Afghanistan.  I do not remember even a slap on the wrist to the Saudis.  In fact, Saudis in the US were allowed to quietly fly back home.
For 200 years Arabia has embraced and exported Wahhabism, an extreme form of Sunni Islam that teaches  that all others, including other forms of Islam, are heathen enemies barred from heaven. 
Humans are not as  difficult to herd as cats but it is helpful for those aspiring to dominance to establish schools to inculcate the youth.  Especially since 1970, the Saudis have heavily financed setting up madrassas in countries including: Afghanistan (Taliban), Northern India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Philippines, and the Persian Gulf, a big help to IS recruiting while officially fighting IS.     Perhaps, a little history and geography: 
In 1902 Abdul Aziz bin Saud captured Riyadh, then took 30 years of warfare to unify the area as Saudi Arabia.  In 1990 it absorbed 400,000 refugees when Iraq invaded Kuwait, but none of the current wave.
Only 1.7% of the land is arable.  The climate is harsh and the economy relies on oil, natural gas, iron, gold, and copper. It has 25% of the world’s oil reserves.  The population is 17 million.
The dominance of the US in Arabia began is February 1945 when FDR met King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud  aboard USN Quincy and formed a lasting friendship.     There were mutual benefits. The Saudis needed water and improvements to their oil extraction for which the US provided the technology and the military protection. The US gained a Middle East foothold but the continued and growing US presence became annoying to some Saudis yet, as long as the oil and money kept flowing, the annoyance was controlled and muted.
      Growing world importance fueled Saudi ambitions to the point where today it is the world’s biggest importer of arms and one of the world’s top deniers of human rights.  The numerous suppliers include Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan, South Africa, Sweden (now quitting), the UK, and the US which exceeds all other countries combined.  All lack the moral fibre to avoid complicity in Saudi atrocities including a conduit to Daesh (IS).  As long as the munitions factories remain busy and the CEOs get their bonuses, who cares?  Canada has shattered its peacekeeping glories by a recent $15 billion, 14-year deal, devoid of any assurance the weapons would not be used to deny human rights.
Billions may applaud Pope Francis’ plea to erase the international arms trade, but the few who have the power to do so tell him to keep his nose out of business and to stay within the confines they allow religion.
Saudi 2015 income from pilgrims should be $18.6 billion. Saudi Arabia also hosts the Hajj, the annual Mecca pilgrimage, compulsory for all Islamic adults, physically and financially capable, to make at least once.  Preparations can be questioned. Some 160,000 tents are erected to help accommodate 2 million visitors, but, of the last 40 years, 14 have been marred with a total of over 4,500 killed and 3,100 wounded due to suffocation in stampedes, poor tunnel ventilation, collapsing buildings and cranes, gunmen, and inter Muslim friction.  About 400 Iranian Shi’a’s have died.  In 1989 sixteen gunman were hung for firing on pilgrims.
In Yemen, the Sunni Saudis lead a 9-nation air attack on the Shiite Houthi rebels (anti Al Qaida) turning the civil war into a top humanitarian crisis.  Saudi bombings have had a high civilian death rate.  Daesh is gaining influence, killing 130 in a Shiite mosque.
Enough for one brief blog?

Monday, 21 September 2015


Standing at the podium I had my back to a restored Thunderbolt, so opened with: "I always feel nervous standing here because, even though we had Red Crosses all over our box cars stuffed with POWs, 9 of those things made 27 strafing passes at us as we raced across the field seeking ditches. They shredded the Australian beside me but all I got was a mouthful of mud as I flung myself into a ditch."
I also added:  "I need to let you know that I, about 15 years ago,
along with 2 other RCAF, painted this entire hangar floor. You must agree it has held up quite well."
  What you see before you is an old relic who is about to complete 96 voyages around the sun, but who, in all that time, has failed in his life-long quest to find a meaning for Life.  Why does this globe, that could be a paradise for all, remain an ugly battleground?
  Today, we recall the 1940 Battle of Britain which was a turning point in a war that had to be fought and it is right that we remember the sacrifices of those who made our victory possible.
But,  there have been numerous books, movies, and speeches glorifying them, including my own words many times.   I have known and corresponded with 33 authors on the WWII aerial combat, 2 in Argentina, 4 in Australia, 11 in Canada, 2 in Germany, 6 in the UK, and 8 in the US, 14 of the 33 in my home or theirs.  16 have used extracts from my book and I have used extracts from 5 of theirs.  One author tells of the 10,000 Argentines who rushed to join the RAF.
I would also like to inject the neglected reminder that if Neville Chamberlain, the so-called appeaser, had not quietly placed orders for all the aircraft we needed, we would not have won.  

Today,  let me dwell for a few minutes on the sacrifices of some of those trapped on the side that lost the most, including the war.
Pre war,  Roderich Cescotti joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 at age 18 because he wanted to fly.  What a shock when he found himself flying bombers in the invasion of  Norway and the Battle of Britain.     Several times he was holed by Hurricanes, Spitfires, and flak.   On his 12th raid, 15 Sep 1940, a Spitfire put 30 holes in his Heinkel 111K.  He was badly crippled, barely managing to struggle home  to his Belgium base where he crashed landed.  As he struggled to get out of the wreck, Göring arrived for a surprise visit and all hands, including Rod, had to immediately assemble for inspection.     When Göring saw this dirty and blood-stained man in the ranks he started to criticize, then grinned broadly on learning Rod’s story so ordered an aide to get an iron cross which he pinned to Rod’s torn uniform. 
Seventeen years later, I met Rod when he led the first 300 cadets of the post-war Luftwaffe for pilot training at  Centralia, Ontario,  where I was Chief Ground Instructor.  His was not an easy task as the Military was very unpopular in Germany so uniforms could not be worn in public and in Canada there was still resentment against all Germans.
He was grateful when he saw I was sincere in my welcome and when my family entertained his family several times in our home.  We forged a lasting friendship.
Each course was half Canadian and half other NATO, so I paired each Canadian with a cadet from another country both for lodging and training.   I sought private talks with as many cadets as I could.    Joan and I organized dances every Wednesday evening for all cadets.  I would send 2 large buses to London where a school official, Sylvia McPhee, would pack them with girls.   I had the cadets write and perform a skit half way through the evening.
On one such evening in 1957,  I was talking to a Luftwaffe cadet who mentioned that during the war he had been a high school student  doing night duty manning an 88mm gun that could hurl shells up to 40,000 feet from a lone and isolated battery near Rotenburg that crippled my Halifax in March of 1943 and that he was manning that gun that night.
We did manage at much-reduced altitude and speed to carry on and bomb Berlin, but were easy prey for the fighter that finished us off near Hamburg on the way home.
We became good friends with this cadet, who was responsible for my downfall, and his friend (Rohde and Römer).  They left us in 1958 with two large charcoal drawings they did of Bavarian pubs that still grace our recreation room. 
Rod Cescotti and I maintained a correspondence as he served at many diplomatic and NATO posts in Europe,  retiring as a Major General.  He gave me copies of 5 of his books while he has copies of 2 of mine.  He had flown practically every model of Luftwaffe bomber, fighter, and reconnaissance aircraft on all fronts.  In 1987 he, and his wife, Otti, entertained us for a week in their Fürstenfeldbruk home near Munich. 
   His daughter, Viola, wrote us of his death in February 2015, at age 95.

* * * * * * * * * *
Then,  there is Oberst, (Colonel), Freidrich Wilhelm von Lindeiner, who, as commandant of my Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Silesia, Germany, so organized his small staff, mainly of Luftwaffe too young, too old, or too war wounded to  serve on the fighting fronts, that it became my Alma Mater rather than the hell hole it could have been.  Luft III contained 6 compounds holding 11,000 POWs, all aircrew from 22 different countries.  He treated all POWs, including Jews and Soviets, with respect.  An excellent book about him, entitled “From Commandant to Captive”, has just been published and I have an e-book copy.
It is co-authored by my friend, Marilyn Walton in Ohio, whose Dad, now deceased, was also a POW with me and on whom she wrote a 487-page book, “Rhapsody in Junk” (the name of his B-24 bomber).   Her new book echoes my comments in my book, “It’s All Pensionable Time - 25 Years in the RCAF”. 
She uses Lindeiner’s memoirs that were found by author Art Durand with whom I had discussed both our books in my home and agreed to free use of each other’s material.  His book was published in 1988 under the title “Stalag Luft III - The Secret Story”, mine in 1981 with an e-book update in 2014.
    Von Lindeiner was a gentleman of the old school where chivalry was paramount.  A member of the Prussian Army he served in German East Africa, earning the Pour Mérite medal during the 1905-07 Maji-Maji  Rebellion.  In WWI he was wounded 3 times on the Western Front.  He married a Dutch baroness, Henriette van de Groes.
He sought retirement when the Nazis, whom he despised, came to power.  His talents were such that his request was denied, so he joined the Luftwaffe as the least Nazified of the armed forces. 
Promoted to major he became a member of Göring’s inner circle then Hitler’s Western staff. 
Throughout this he ensured his Luftwaffe refrained from hitting civilian targets or mistreating prisoners. 
Both he and Göring had many enemies including Himmler, Goebbels, and Ribbentrop, so when put in charge of Luft III he had a continuous battle to keep us under Luftwaffe control rather than SS or Gestapo.
Too many of us believed it was our duty to make their lives as miserable as possible so treated them with more disdain than they treated us.  I argued we should cultivate them as we would need them post war.  
Our compounds were heavily treed giving some semblance to a resort but concealing our constant escape activities forcing the Germans to cut them down, thus turning our camp into a dust bowl without protection from wintry breezes.   Most of our escape attempts were thwarted by our guards who knew, but could not find, Harry the tunnel we managed to complete.
   Worried von Lindeiner repeatedly warned us: “Escaping is no longer a sport due to your ruthless bombing.  If you get out from our protection the SS and Gestapo will kill you.”   I had talked with him and believed him but many did not.  I continued to work, among other activities, for the Escape Committee but had no desire to escape, knowing it would be suicide.
Throughout all these years we prisoners with Red Cross food ate considerably better than our Luftwaffe captors, yet they never stole any of it from us,
When the Great Escape occurred, Lindeiner was arrested, court marshaled and faced 18 months imprisonment.  With help from friends he avoided this but was put in charge of an infantry unit fighting the Soviets who wounded him, leaving him for dead.  He now had 17 war wounds.
Allied forces found and handcuffed him although he had never handcuffed any POW. He was sent to the”cage” in London, blamed for the murder of the 50.  He languished in slowly improving conditions for 2 years before in June 1947 being reunited with his destitute  wife. 
They lost their Dutch estates confiscated by the Dutch, their Berlin properties to Bomber Command, and their Sagan estate to the Soviets then the Poles. They lived in poverty for a decade.  He wrote his memoirs and died in 1963 at age 82.
I also had lasting friendships with Italians who had fought against us.  In my book and my blog site, now with 134 essays,  are descriptions of incidents where common Luftwaffe soldiers risked their lives to save us from the wrath of the SS, Gestapo, and civilians irate from our area bombings.  Far too many of them were badly treated by British, Canadian, and US forces after they surrendered.
So, your responsibility, as proud members of our armed forces, is to preserve human dignities while preventing wars rather than fighting them.  Not an easy task, but I have great confidence in you.   Perhaps you could invent weapons that fire, not bullets, but contraceptives.
So to you, from failing hands, I throw the torch.  Be yours to hold it high, not to continue conflicts, but to abolish them.
May the gods, in whatever form of  energy or matter they may be, bless you.

Friday, 28 August 2015


     Since my blog #092 of 16 March 2014, entitled “Russia et al”, that gave some historical background and that argued, even though most of Russia is in Asia, its soul is in Europe where it originated, criticisms of Vladimir in the Western press continue to outweigh praise.  Not so in the rest of the globe - and I am actually finding increasing numbers of Western books and articles heaping praise on him.
Is the time nigh when we can ask Peter the Great and Catherine the Great to allow Vladimir the Great into the club?
The old adage about casting the first stone behooves us to first look at ourselves:
There are many signs that some Western nations, or oligarchs within those nations, have joined others to revive, for personal gain and control, the “Great Game”, that started in 1838 to contain the Russian Bear and keep him from warm water ports.  Is there any other reason for us being so rude and vindictive to Putin?
In sympathy for the losses of 9/11/2001 he presented the US with an impressive 100-foot-tall split structure, steel coated in bronze, embracing a 40-foot nickel tear drop, and containing the names of all those killed in 9/11/01 and in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.  Vladimir and Bill Clinton attended the 2006 unveiling of this caring gift but, instead of it being erected near ground zero, it was hidden 7 miles away in a Brooklyn naval terminal no longer in use where few New Yorkers ever see or hear about it.
At a G8 heads of state meeting Canada’s Stephen Harper greeted Putin with, “All I have to say to you is: Get out of Ukraine!”.  Putin was too polite to tell Harper to get out of Quebec (Ukraine was a founding part of Russia while Quebec a founding part of Canada).
In 2013, when San Francisco invited a Putin delegation to attend ceremonies thanking the Russian Navy that happened to be there and which had lost 6 sailors in saving hundreds from the fire, 150 years ago, not one US state or federal official attended.
Obama and Merkel failed to attend the Sochi Olympics which were a success and a boost to Russian pride.
Western leaders boycotted the 09 May 2015 Russian WWII Victory Parade.
It must be galling for many world politicians to live with the fact that G8 citizens give the following favourable assessments to their leaders: Putin 87%, Merkel 67, Cameron 49, Obama 45, Abe 38, Renzi 36, Harper 32, Hollande 28.   (as of 23 July 2015).
I understand Putin’s feelings when he states that the breakup of the USSR is a world catastrophe.  I too feel a loss as the British Commonwealth and Empire drift apart.  Belonging to such a vibrant, multi-cultural organization that did more good than harm for the world gave me a sense of pride. If circumstances offer Putin a peaceful opportunity to restore some of it, who can blame him if he does?    
So, what has Putin actually accomplished to earn the world’s highest rating?  Mikhail Gorbachev (President 1985-91) in agreeing to the breakup of the Soviet Empire got the promise from the US and the rest of NATO that they would not move one inch towards Russian borders.  His successor Boris Yeltsin (1991-1999) did mess things up so that Russian oligarchs seized much of former Soviet enterprises for their own, rather than the people’s, benefit.          When Putin succeeded Yeltsin in 1999, did he not follow the old advice of keeping your enemies near you when he appeared to embrace many of them.  He has erased a few oligarchs by using corruption charges but far from enough while remaining one himself.
But, Putin came to power during mass discontent and drunkenness among a disillusioned populace and he  gradually improved the economy, increasing the GDP from $754 billion in 2006 to $2,907 in 2014.  He and president Dmitry Medvedev stood up to Georgian aggression against Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2008. George W. Bush sent Condoleeza Rice there with aid for Georgia while the 2009 UN mission declared Georgia the aggressor.
Chechnya presents a real challenge for Putin.  Fighting Russian expansion since 1800 it has suffered oppression and mass deportations with only Islamic terrorists supporting their cause.  Putin’s crackdown on them brought US approval in its war against terrorism.  How Putin handles this festering sore in the face of world indifference will influence his road to greatness.
Self-defeating Western sanctions against Putin’s inferred interference in Crimea and Ukraine continue to hurt Europe’s exports and its need for Russian oil and natural gas - and to force Putin to successfully embrace BRICS, a country association offering a huge challenge to US world dominance even with their scary world ratings for Corruption.  With 100 = no corruption, they rank: Brazil 43, Russia 27, India 38, China 36, South Africa 44. This compares with: Denmark 92, Canada 81, UK 78, Germany 78, Japan 76, US 74, France 69, and Ukraine 26.  
Our sacred promises not to move NATO one inch closer to Russia?  All shamefully broken!  Today NATO tanks and aircraft, including Canadian and USAF, hold exercises along Russian borders - something no Russian president should tolerate.  Putin has had to divert funds needed elsewhere to increase his military budget in 2015 to $81 billion, still well below the US spending of $610 billion.  China spends $216 billion, Saudi Arabia 81,  France 62, UK 61, South Korea 59, Germany 47, Japan 46, and Brazil 32. 
In 2014 there were 186,382 wealthy Russians move abroad, many choosing London, and taking $150 billion with them, a sizable loss to Russia. 
The Russian population, declining for years, has stabilized under Putin jumping from 142 million in 2008 to 146 million in 2014.
An active sportsman, Putin has a black belt in Judo and is the honorary president of the European Judo Union.  He enjoys skiing, hockey, white-river rafting, and horseback riding.  He is noted for his solo jaunts on horseback into back country which he claims gives him a chance to rest.  Meeting people like shepherds he is known to stop for brief visits to their homes.  He champions wildlife, actively helping conservation groups for tigers, whales, leopards, and polar bears.  He is a strong supporter of the Russian Geographical Society. 
Is that not the sort of guy you would like to call friend?  Why do so many westerners think otherwise?
In 1991, with the breakup of the USSR, the Ukraine chose independence with elected president ViktorYanukovych who desired good relations with both Europe and Russia.  What followed is much too murky to adequately explain or understand. Soviet job security gave way to capitalist opportunists seeking instant wealth, so unrest grew.  Political rivalries among Viktor Yushchenko, Yulia Tymoshenko, Petro Poroshenko (preferred by Obama), and Yanukovich did not help as rent-a-mobs infiltrated peaceful protests.  Violence and much bloodshed added great misery.  In 2014 Putin did send a huge convoy of humanitarian aid to Russian-oriented Eastern Ukraine and is accused of providing military assistance and some of this is likely true, especially the missile that shot down in July 2014 the Malaysian airliner with a large loss of Dutch lives.     While Russian troops did mass for a while on the border, Putin showed remarkable restraint even though NATO was increasing its presence on Russia’s western borders. He ordered troops back from the border and, during the Crimean uprising to rejoin Russia, he had Russian troops, legally stationed there, remain in their barracks.  But he did not need them to persuade Crimeans who were mostly Russian, to rejoin Russia. 
     The new, non-Soviet, Ukraine and Russia are only 24 years old. They both have immense problems.  The loss of Soviet controls have allowed corruption to flourish in both countries. Forced bribes, that amounted to $30 billion in 2005 have jumped to $306 billion in 2010.  They do not need Western interference, well meaning according to our media, but with ulterior motives.  Europe also is not free of immense problems.
Confrontation is deadly to both.  We have had heart-warming Russian co-operation in our space and other programs.    Putin is not the ogre we paint him to be and we are not the saints we think we are.  We do need to reassess our empathy and respect.  
When the world has only one super power, peace, on its terms, can last hundreds of years but when the  inevitable collapse occurs, chaos can be widespread and long lasting.
Humans are difficult to educate, manage, control, and keep free of Greed but the dangers our world now faces demand we try.