homeless downtown Montreal

I spent a few weeks this year near the Berri-UQAM Metro station on Rue Sainte-Catherine, heart of downtown Montreal. There are a LOT of homeless people. It reminds me of a major American city in that way.

One survey (Douglas Mental Health University / 800+ volunteers) counted 3,016 homeless in the city. 10% aboriginal. 10% immigrants. Veterans 6%.

Other guesstimates have been 10 times as high.

I was there during warmer months. During winter these folks need to find someplace heated.

A harsh and boring life, seems to me. They all seem to have cigarettes. Somehow.

IMG_0114

Not sure what can be done to reduce the numbers. A guaranteed minimum income experiment — or new kinds of free housing — could be tried.

 

 

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I’m not celebrating the 4th of July

His approach is not working. Five months into his first term, Mr Trump presides over a political culture that is even more poisonous than when he took office.  …

The Trump presidency has been plagued by poor judgment and missed opportunities. …

Economist

Unethical, immoral, illegal and unconstitutional. If you still support Trump I’d prefer we never speak again.

The Hama massacre – Syria 1982

The Hama massacre (Arabic: مجزرة حماة‎‎) occurred in 2 February 1982, when the Hafez Syrian Arab Army and the Defense Companies, under the orders of the country’s president Hafez al-Assad, besieged the town of Hama for 27 days in order to quell an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood … 

The massacre, carried out by the Syrian Army under commanding General Rifaat al-Assad, effectively ended the campaign begun in 1976 by Sunni Muslim groups …

… the lower estimates claiming that at least 2,000 Syrian citizens were killed, [5] while others put the number at 20,000 (Robert Fisk),[1] or 40,000 (Syrian Human Rights Committee).[2][6] … 

The attack has been described as one of “the single deadliest acts by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East”. …

Hama 1982

I visited Hama in 1994. All these buildings had been bulldozed to the ground. The town rebuilt.

It was very quiet.

It was Hafez al-Assad, president of Syria, and his brother Rifaat al-Assad responsible for killing those thousands of Syrians.

In 1994 his the dictator’s eldest son and successor Bassel had just died in a car accident. Hafez turned to his his younger son Bashar. 

It’s Bashar al-Assad who’s killing Syrians in 2017.

Once seen by the international community as a potential reformer, al-Assad has few friends left. Russia continues to protect al-Assad in the the UN Security Council. 

2015

In June 2014, Assad was included in a list of war crimes indictments of government officials and rebels handed to the International Criminal Court. …

Nobody knows exactly how much money Assad and family have extracted from Syria. One estimate says Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has amassed up to $1.5bn (£950m) for his family and his close associates. Hidden out of the nation, of course.

Sooner or later al-Assad will be gone. What comes next may be even worse — the tiny impoverish, war torn country the spoils of many different warlords.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah

This sad week got a little sadder. 😦

Leonard Cohen, the hugely influential singer and songwriter whose work spanned five decades, died at the age of 82. …

Cohen was the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties and early Seventies. Only Bob Dylan exerted a more profound influence upon his generation, and perhaps only Paul Simon and fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell equaled him as a song poet. Cohen’s haunting bass voice, nylon-stringed guitar patterns, Greek-chorus backing vocals shaped evocative songs that dealt with love and hate, sex and spirituality, war and peace, ecstasy and depression. He was also the rare artist of his generation to enjoy artistic success into his Eighties, releasing his final album, You Want It Darker, earlier this year. …

Rolling Stone

Click PLAY or watch Hallelujah on YouTube.

the World hates Trump

Just back from my 3rd trip overseas in 2016, everyone I meet abroad hates Donald Trump.

Paul Thomas – New Zealand Herald in July, 2015

Trump personifies everything the rest of the world despises about America: casual racism, crass materialism, relentless self-aggrandisement, vulgarity on an epic scale. He is the Ugly American in excess. …

The greatest threat to America? Republicans

The Ugly American
The Ugly American

Drumpf fans, I expect, are happy when the world hates the USA. And that’s sad. 😦

stop North Korea

More needs to be done. Imagine a world where Drumpf – and this even worse egomaniac – both have access to nuclear weapons. 😦

… On Mr Obama’s watch the nuclear-weapons and missile programme of North Korea has become steadily more alarming. Its nuclear missiles already threaten South Korea and Japan. Sometime during the second term of Mr Obama’s successor, they are likely also to be able to strike New York. Mr Obama put North Korea on the back burner. Whoever becomes America’s next president will not have that luxury. …

North Korea is thought to have a stockpile of around 20 devices. Every six weeks or so it adds another. …

A nuclear nightmare

It is past time for the world to get serious about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions

North Korea

Ideally the world would strike a deal with North Koreans who want Kim gone. Depose him for better leadership.