Archive for January 2008

FLU FLU FLU

January 30, 2008

And no health insurance.

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HAS KENNEDY SUNK CLINTON?

January 28, 2008

A couple of hours ago surrounded by most of his family, Senator Edward Kennedy stood up in Washington and announced to a round of cheers that he and his family were supporting Barack Obama for President of the United.

Kennedy’s decision was an enormous boost the junior senator from Illinois and a body-blow for the junior senator from New York. It would not be too much to say that Kennedy’s choice may have a decisive influence on Super Tuesday and the rest of the campaign.

Kennedy and his allies have solid roots in the liberal wing of the Democratic party as he also has in the labour unions and the latino population. These are all elements that Hillary Clinton was counting on.

By this extraordinary endorsement Mrs. Clinton’s forces are diminished and so is she.

The whole Kennedy dream indeed will never die because it has been united with the Obama dream. This is a potent political elixir.

Is Kennedy’s endorsement enough to swing the election against Mrs. Clinton?

Or will be it be old news by tomorrow?

SHOULD LATIMER GET OUT THIS TIME?

January 26, 2008

In 1993 David Latimer killed his severely disabled 12-year-old daughter and was eventually sentenced to life in prison. On Decembe 5 the Parole Board denied his latest bid for parole saying it was “struck” by Latimer’s lack of remorse. (Latimer has always argued that killing his daughter was an act of mercy.)

Latimer has now filed an appeal against the Board’s decision to keep him in prison. His appeal is predicated on three points:

The Board failed to taken into consideration the lenient sentencing recommendations of his first judge and of two of his juries.

The Board ruled against all the available evidence that Mr. Latimer presented a risk of reoffending while on day parole.

The Board erred in law by failing to consider the viability of a less restrictive option( than full incarceration) consistent with public policy.

Do you think it’s time to let Robert Latimer go?

IS ABORTION ACCESSIBLE IN CANADA?

January 25, 2008

This Saturday many Canadian women will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the striking down of Canada’s abortion law and the end of the persecution of Dr. Henry Morgentaler.

Most medical professionals expected abortions to increase. In fact thy have held pretty steady. Medical professionals think they know why.

Abortions are all right in theory, not so much so in practice. Fewer than one in five hospitals in Canada perform abortions. Prince Edward Island offers no abortion services at all. New Brunswick has created barriers to access, requiring referrals from two doctors.

Access to abortion services is almost non-existent in the North. There is not a single abortion provider north of the Trans-Canada Highway in Ontario. If a woman travels out of province or to the United States – which many women are forced to do because of lack of timely access domestically – she must pay for the abortion out of her own pocket. In the nation’s capital, Ottawa, the wait time for an abortion stretches to six weeks.
Drug-induced abortion (RU-486) – the method of choice of about one-third of women in Europe – is not available in Canada.

In the abortion case 20 years ago, Madam Justice Bertha Wilson wrote that a woman has a right to continue or terminate a pregnancy, free of state interference.

If abortions are legal in Canada, does the government have an obligation to provide them?

Or should legal abortions be made as difficult as possible to obtain?

SHOULD GAYS DONATE ORGANS?

January 24, 2008

George Smitherman is the Minister of Health in Ontario. He is also openly gay. Now he has criticized Health Canada for “ghettoizing communities” by applying rigid rules making it difficult for homosexuals to become organ donors.

Health Canada responded organ recipients should be aware of the risks and this means if they want to accept an organ from a sexually active gay man there is a higher risk.

Health Minister Smitherman doesn’t buy it. “Surely our doctors are able to judge the risks by a prospective donor without resorting to ghettoizing communities. Why would a regulation be written that ropes off prospective donors?”

But Health Canada insists some groups pose a higher risk. These include men who have had sex with another man even once in the past five years.

Do you think gay men should be able to give organ transplants the same as anybody else?

Or should there be government restrictions on gay men giving organs?

Or should the whole matter be left with the recipient and the doctor in the case?

SHOULD SPEED LIMITS BE RAISED?

January 23, 2008

Fifty-one per cent of Canadian drivers think the speed limits on our roads are too low. The speed limit is a trade-off between safety and efficiency. So if the speed limit were set at 50km/h on highways, it’s certain fewer people would be killed or hurt, but it is arbitrarily deemed a higher number of fatalities and injuries are tolerable since we set the highest speed at more than twice the 50km figure.

After the oil crisis of 1973 the U.S. government imposed a speed limit of 55 mph. Highway safety worsened. And when federal speed limits were raisedin 1995, traffic deaths dropped to a record low.

A study found that on Montana’s highways the safest period was when there was no speed limits at all. When Montana imposed speed limits the state’s fatal accident rate doubled.

By global standards North American speed limits are absurdly low. In Europe the limit is 120k or 130k.

The preponderance of evidence shows that there are massive economic costs in imposing unnecessarily low speed limits and that there is a logical case for raising speed limits on Canadian and American highways.

Wouldn’t it make sense to bump the maximum speed limit to 130 km/h based on the undestanding that any speed limit involves arbitrary compromise among fuel economy, safety and economics?

Do you agree?

Of course we could save both gas and lives by driving at 50 km/h but that would be silly, wouldn’t it?

SHOULD A CANADIAN SOLDIER TOAST THE QUEEN?

January 22, 2008

Captain Aralt Mac Glolla Chainnigh (Gaelic version of Harold Kenny) has been a soldier in the Canadian armed forces since 1975. He is currently an associate professor of physics at Royal Military College, Kingston, and an officer of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.

During his entire military career the Captain has objected to toasting the Queen at regimental dinners, saluting the Union Jack or singing God Save the Queen. The Captain argues that Canada, as a sovereign nation, cannot be at the same time beholden to a foreign queen. “It’ a logical impossibility.”

The Captain goes on. “I recognize loyalty to the people of Canada alone. I could drink a toast to Elizabeth — if I knew her. I could drink a toast to her as head of state of the United Kingdom … But I cannot in good faith toast her as the Queen of Canada.”

The Captain presented his case to the Federal Court and this week the judge turned him down flat saying an exception for the Captain, then others, would lead to chaos. “Whether Captain Mac Giolla Chainnigh likes it or not, the fact is the Queen is his Commander-in-Chief and Canada’s Head of State.”

The Captain says he cannot afford to appeal the case but he is hoping some republican groups in Canada will pick up his cause.

Do you think the Captain has a case?

Or should he be compelled to toast the Queen at military functions?

SHOULD MEDICAL MARIJUANA BE EASIER TO OBTAIN?

January 21, 2008

It is legal for authorized Canadians to use medicinal marijuana to relieve symptoms of cancer, AIDS, eipilepsy and other conditions. The problem is that while it is legal to use dried cannabis, it is very difficult to legally obtain it.

The government arbitrarily restricts the users to three unsatisfactory options: to grow the marijuana themselves (many are too sick to do so); to deal with a licensed producer who is forbidden to grow for more than one user at a time; or to deal with a licensed dealer, Prairie Plan Services located in Manitoba. This last is said to be inferior quality and fewer than 20 per cent of the 1,983 users in Canada deal with PPS.

Having recognized marijuana as legal for medical use, surely the government cannot turn around and make it so difficult to obtain that users are forced into the black market at high costs.

At the very least th government should make it possible for designated outside suppliers, who are already tightly regulated, to produce high-quality marijuana for more than one authorized user at a time.

Medicinal marijuana should be in th business of relieving pain, not causing it.

Do you agree?

COULD A PERSON BECOME ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET?

January 19, 2008

I’ve just read about a young chap who spends eight to 10 hours a day on line. Part of that is writing for an on line movie magazine, browsing Facebook where he has 800 friends and surfing the net for an overwhelming amount of information.

“I don’t have a girl friend because I spend too much time on the net.”

Another cyberspacer says many people have jobs where they can spend much time on line and as soon as they get home they go on full time.

One Montreal researcher is concerned about the potential for cyberspace addiction. He and his associates want to interview people who are worried about about a loved one’s excessive internet use. (514-389-6336) Apparently studies have shown that about six per cent of Internet users are addicted.

The definition of cyberspace addiction also included offline acttivities such as excessive video-game playing. Warning signs include withdrawal symptoms, loss of personal relationships and unsuccessful attempts to cut down.

So how much time do I spend on the Net? I”ve never timed it but it includes reading and posting on my blog, reading and commenting on other blogs, reading newspapers (New York Times, London Independent, Huffington Report) googling information. My rough guess is that this mounts up to about three hours a day.

An addict? I don’t think so. An enthusiast. Indeed.

Do you know anyone addicted to the Net?

About how much time do you spend on the Net? Doing what?

SHOULD WOMEN BE ABLE TO USE THEIR HUSBAND’S NAME?

January 18, 2008

Some time ago my wife, Catharine, was in the hospital for a hip operation. Trouble was her friends couldn’t find her. They were told there was no Catharine McKenty listed. Instead (unknown to them) she was listed as Catharine Turnbull, her maiden name.

That’s right. In 1981 Quebec passed a law decreeing that women keep their own names when they marry. At the time feminists hailed the law as a step toward the equality of the sexes. Now, many brides chafe under this regulation. “I detest the fact the decision is imposed on me,” said one.

The current controversy pits women demanding freedom to choose against those who hail the law as a landmark for women’s liberation. One feminist explains that the idea behind changing one’s name is that women are (men’s) property. They’re being passed from the father’s authority to the husband’s authority .

In the United States there is freedom of choice. But most American brides take their husbands’ name. Most American consider a woman who keeps her own name as an affront to her (husband’s) masculinity.

The big argument among contemporary Quebec women for changing their names is convenience. They plan to have children and they want everyone in the family to have the same last name. And they don’t buy the argument they are letting down the feminists who fought for the change a generation ago. They may admit it was their mother’s issue but it is not theirs. (Not when they have a woman running for president in the U.S.)

What do you think?

Should the Quebec government soften its stance on married names?

Or would modifying the law on married names be a step back for the feminists?

And how do you handle the name problem if you are a female patient in a hospital?