Author Archives: tdwatt23

On Taxis, Trains, Buses and Planes

(Ed. note cum Side note: Since I have now officially taken over the writing of this blog, it is no longer appropriate for the asides to be known as Ed. notes, so I have changed it to Side Notes. These are still critically important, yet mostly irrelevant asides which should be shared with you, but don’t necessarily connect directly with the main thrust of my point.)

Well here we are again, spending more of someone’s inheritance, just to make ourselves feel better. We are on Westjet Flight 1876 headed for 10 days in sunny Maui. How good is that!  Photo 27

Being the frugal-minded souls we are, rather than paying for Park ‘N Fly, we took a cab from our house to Lougheed Mall to catch the Skytrain down to Waterfront Station. This gave me an excellent opportunity to compare, in a fair and unbiased manner, transportation systems in Vancouver and Shanghai/Jiaxing.

Taxis

  1. In Vancouver (ok, ok, Port Coquitlam) you can call a taxi and book them in advance. I did this at 11:00 am for a 1:00pm departure from our house. At 1:05 I called to ask where it was. “Hmm, oh yes I see. Ok. He is on his way and will be there in just a couple of minutes.” Now right then I knew we were in trouble. No one EVER says, “I see. Ok” in a good way. Five minutes later he shows up. He drove a maximum of 5 km/hr below the speed limit, stopped at every yellow light and charged us $42.00. (Side note: I went online for interest sake checked how much a cab all the way down to Waterfront Station would cost us. It said 30km and $70.00. Either we got ripped off big time or – unbelievably – you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.)
  1. In Shanghai you can’t book a taxi in advance, they drive like maniacs, may or may not stop to pick you up and arbitrarily add money to the meter if it is night time, raining or some other reason you can’t understand because they only speak Chinese and I don’t. (Side note: Come to think of it, the meters are like the white lines on roads and traffic lights – merely suggestions to be followed – or not)

Skytrain/Shanghai Subway

  1. Where to start? Skytrain moves people from A to B. It runs on rails. Since the majority of the line is outside, the views are spectacular.
    Ok - so my photography skills don't match my writing talents...

    Ok – so my photography skills don’t match my writing talents…

    In Vancouver, the Millenium Line has cars which are about one-third the size of any Shanghai subway car. The majority of the people in our car were Chinese (Side note: I am not being racist – I recognized the language, even if I don’t speak it, so there).

  2. "So I'm blonde and not Chinese, who really cares?"

    “So I’m blonde and not Chinese, who really cares?”

    There are two – maybe three cars to a train. The cars hold maybe 50 people sitting and another 50 standing and run every 6-7 minutes. It cost $2.75 to go from Lougheed Mall to downtown. I understand that the “honour” system of paying is going away. Now they have actual turnstiles into which you will eventually put your ticket when you enter or leave. I say eventually because right now the turnstiles are wide open. Apparently it will take Vancouverites another month to learn how to use them. What they will learn then that they can’t learn now is beyond me. Is this just another example of how incompetent Translink is? Close the damn turnstiles!

  1. Shanghai Metro moves people from A to B. It runs on rails. It is 99% below ground – no views. The other 1% just has apartment towers and smog to see. The majority of the passengers are Chinese. (Side note: I am not being racist – we were in CHINA!) Shanghai subway trains are 16 cars long. They hold 60 – 80 people sitting and another 150 – 200 standing. You do the math. They run every 5 minutes. You can go from one side of Shanghai to the other – a trip of about 1 ½ hours on the subway for about $1.00. There is no honour system and they use the “tap-in tap-out” method quite successfully. God help the person who tries to jump the turnstile.

Buses

  1. You may still be wondering why we left PoCo yesterday for a flight today and took Skytrain to Waterfront Station. Good observation. Our very good friend Ken lives a 5 minute walk from the station, so we stayed overnight at his lovely home (Side note: Thus avoiding paying for Park ‘N Fly! YES!). In order to enjoy the “downtown experience” we took the bus from outside his front door to the Fifth Avenue Cinema and then back (Side note: We went to see Spotlight. A little background for you. I have a belief in God – whatever He or She may be and a healthy respect for what churches, all legitimate churches, try to offer their congregations. Ken and Terry don’t necessarily share my beliefs. Based on these differences, I thought we might come away with a little bit of interesting dinner conversation. Spotlight is the true story of the uncovering of a major scandal within the Roman Catholic diocese in Boston at the turn of the century. [Seems weird to say that about the year 2000.] Anyway, I came away stunned at what was discovered. Perhaps even more disturbing than what they discovered in Boston, was the list of incidents shown at the end. I cannot recommend this movie enough. If there aren’t at least 62 Academy Awards out of this then it is fixed by you will know who! This was a story I was totally unaware of ie Boston. It still gives me goosebumps thinking of it. GO! Anyway I digress – back to the buses.)

    A Fantastic Movie! GO!

    A Fantastic Movie! GO!

Vancouver buses are clean, comfortable, convenient and quiet. They cost $1.75 a trip if you stay in one zone. You may exit from either door on the bus. They only stop if someone is either at a stop or someone pulls the little cord. (Side note: Last time I was on a Vancouver bus was almost exactly 50 years ago – same cord!)

  1. Chinese buses. Hmm. Sort of clean – when the driver decides to use his dirty mop and dirty water to “mop” the floor and no Grandmother has held her grandchild over the litter basket to do either #1 OR #2. I swear. (Side note: Want proof? Search “images chinese kids poop on buses”) Sort of comfortable – if you aren’t forced back into the final row with about 6” of space between your head and the ceiling or 30 university students going home for a holiday don’t get on with their luggage and fill up the aisle. Convenient – I’ll give them that – lots of them, they go to lots of places with minimal transfers, lots of stops and generally on time. Quiet – not a chance in hell. First, anytime answers their cell phone, it is with “WEI!”. (Side note: I said this while I was chatting with a woman who came from Hong Kong 15 years ago and I thought she was going to wet herself. It is absolutely universal in the Chinese culture) The rest of the conversation is at just a few decibels lower – I mean the only people on a bus who didn’t know what they were talking about was us. Additionally, if you are sitting at the front and I am at the back, who cares – let’s chat/yell. The bus stops at every stop – whether or not there is anyone there or not or whether or not anyone on the bus is planning to get off. There is no cord. You may ONLY exit through the back door – God help the poor foreigner who has the audacity to try and leave through the front. On the other hand a trip anywhere in Jiaxing cost you about 23 cents.

 Planes

  1. We are flying on Westjet. First of all – THEY LEFT ON TIME. There were no – “We are just waiting for a few more passengers” or (1) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (2) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (3) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (4) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (5)“Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (6) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” announcements – You get the idea.

Since the flight was full, they asked if anyone wanted to check their baggage at the gate for free to create additional overhead space, it would be greatly appreciated. We did.

They announced even before we boarded that we could use our cell phones/tablets/laptops as long as they were in Airplane Mode and that there was Internet available for a small cost onboard ($4.99 for 30 minutes or $7.99 for the entire flight).

I thought I had purchased a couple of sandwiches but when the flight attendant came by, it appeared I bought them for the flight home. No matter, here are two on Westjet, since I wasn’t grumpy or snarky with her. Just imagine. (Side note: ie. the free sandwiches, not me being grumpy or snarky)

  1. We have flown China Eastern, China Southern, China Western, China Northern, Air China, China Air and every other possible derivation of Air, Direction and China. (Side note: We flew so much while we were in China, that this morning the US Customs officer, when he looked through our passports trying to find a blank page, commented that we travelled a lot. He stamped the last one!)

Anyway, THEY WERE NEVER ON TIME. eg “We are just waiting for a few more passengers” or (1) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (2) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (3) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (4) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (5)“Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” (6) “Last call for Mr. Geoff Watt” – You get the idea.

We often – and I mean often, had to wait for at least 30 minutes to turn any and every kind of electronic device on and then, just as often, had to turn any and every electronic device off 30 minutes before they even started their “final approach”. That final approach must have put us on glide paths so shallow that we skimmed treetops for 15 minutes before the runway.showed up. (Side note: I know what I mean – you figure it out)

Internet? LOL

Check your carry-on baggage? How the hell do you check 27 bags of Duty Free plus carry-ons plus clearly oversized baggage – let alone oversized carry-ons?

Purchase edible food before hand? If only! We often had trouble eating anything even included on our flights.

Well there you go – a fair, balanced and equitable perspective on two transportation systems.

Chambar - GO!

Chambar – GO!

(Final Side Note: If you find yourself downtown looking for an excellent restaurant, GO to Chambar on Beatty Street at Dunsmuir. Ok, maybe you better find yourself downtown looking for an excellent restaurant after making a reservation. Ken made the reservation on Monday morning for Wednesday evening and it was either 6:15 or 7:45*. It is superb – not inexpensive, but superb. Now we have been away so it may be old hat to all of you, but we thoroughly loved it. It is essentially a Belgian theme – tons of beer offerings and 4 different Moules Frites dishes. So of course, I had a Beety – a fantastic beet juice based cocktail. Terry had Moules Frites Vin Blanc, I had Moules Frites Congolaise and Ken had Sturgeon with a description so long I gave up trying to follow what the server was saying.. As they say in China – A Delicious Meal! Then go next door to the Devil’s Elbow for a drink and some great music! I want to move downtown but more on that in a moment.

*As I said, we stayed at Ken’s. He has a spectacular home overlooking the water in Gastown so we walked back to his place, a total of 6 blocks. I was amazed at the number of packed restaurants and cool looking bars on a chilly Wednesday night in late November at 9:30. As I said, I want to live downtown. I suggested to Terry that we could sell and then rent and move every three or four years to a different area of downtown. Gastown, Yaletown, False Creek etc. After considering my idea for a good 3.2 nano-seconds, she said no. Sigh.)

The Shoe Blog

IT IS BACK!

This is a Public Service Announcement!

One of the positives of travelling ANYWHERE in the world with the exception of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is that you are NOT required to remove your shoes. However, when travelling to the Home of the Brave, Land of the Free but Afraid of the Syrian Refugee, is that you do have to take your shoes off. Now, when you are older (like, say, 64) and struggle with back issues and are unable to bend over and tie up those shoes once they are off, you wait until you are able to sit. If in the interim you have a choice to take a people mover/moving sidewalk or walk, then walk. Otherwise, when you come to the end of said people mover/moving sidewalk, your untied lace will catch between the bed and the cover, causing you to come within a hair’s breadth of falling flat on your face, much to the very vocal amusement of the 20 or so people in line at Tim Horton’s (Side note: Why? They are the servers of the world’s worst coffee)

My dear Grandmother used to tell me to tie my shoes. Now I know why.

My dear Grandmother used to tell me to tie my shoes. Now I know why.

 

Ok – next issue: (Bearing in mind both Terry and I have been to Hawaii once each and I was in 1986) All About Maui!

 

 

 

Perspectives

In light of the horrific weekend in Paris and Beirut, here are some interesting statistics and some articles on terrorism.

Children dying from hunger/poor nutrition/water-related issues: on average 1 child dies every 10 seconds, all day, everyday or 3,000,000 per year

In Canada, the 2015 projections indicate that 214 people will die of cancer everyday or 100,740 this year

In the U.S., in 2012, alcohol-impaired driving crashes killed 28 people everyday or 10, 322 in total

Gun related homicides in the US average 9 people per day or 3348 per year

Terrorism is Overblown

You Don’t Want to Read This

Western Vulnerability

Terror Can Be Beaten

Terrorism is defined as attacks by non-state actors for political or other unknown motives. There were 39 countries where terrorism occurred in 2015.   The 4 “Western” countries are in bold. There were 289 attacks up to and including November 13. In the 289 attacks a total of 2332 to 4332 people were killed. This discrepancy is because although there were 100 fatalities, caused by the Boko Haram when they opened fire on northern Nigerian village, there are up to 2000 are missing.

Afghanistan Iraq Philippines
Australia Islamic State Republic of Macedonia
Bahrain Israel Saudi Arabia
Bangladesh Japan Somalia
Bosnia and Herzegovina Kenya South Korea
Cameroon Kuwait Syria
Chad Lebanon Thailand
China Libya Tunisia
Denmark Mali Turkey
Egypt Niger Ukraine
France Nigeria United States*
Germany Pakistan West Bank
India Yemen

*The attacks in the US were the mass killings in Charleston and a killing at a free speech conference.

And now for something completely different.

The Return of The Shoe Blog

This is actually a wine bottle holder.

This is actually a wine bottle holder at Home Outfitters. Christmas idea, Terry…

This is actually a wine bottle holder.

Surprise, Surprise – Special Edition!

Well here we are again. I have been busy for the past two months trying to find interesting anecdotes to share with you. I have walked the lanes of Port Coquitlam, peering into backyards, I have joined a Fitness establishment, I have found a new office and also spent time in a couple of Starbucks and Coquitlam Centre people watching. All and all, I have made every human effort possible and I have come to a startling conclusion. Life in Canada is boring.

Anyway, let’s go for a walk.

Hope no one sleepwalks

Hope no one sleepwalks

Need any aluminium frames?

Need any aluminium frames?

Welcome to our friendly neighbourhood

Welcome to our friendly neighbourhood

This is our backyard - had a little rain on Saturday

This is our backyard – had a little rain on Saturday

And around to the front yards

The Port Coquitlam crows have joined the European Chafer Beetle to destroy many many yards in PoCo.

The Port Coquitlam crows have joined forces with the European Chafer Beetle to destroy many many yards in PoCo.

This reminded me of how many wires are stung in China - remember this is the front of the house.

This reminded me of how many wires are strung in China except neater but remember, this is the front of the house.

Doesn't everyone hold pine boughs back from the neighbour's fence with heavy twine? Maybe time for a saw?

Doesn’t everyone hold pine boughs back from the neighbour’s fence with heavy twine? Maybe time for a saw?

I don't know which is worse : 1. The wysteria has totally been let go 2. It has taken over and killed the tree 3. the roots are likely going to cause serious damage to the drainage around the house

I don’t know which is worse : 1. The wysteria has totally been let go 2. It has taken over and is killing the tree or 3. the roots are likely going to cause serious damage to the drainage around the house

2 words: Boo Radley

2 words: Boo Radley

We were only away three years, but when did Hallowe’en become a decorate your home, adult dress up to go trick or treating and something beyond a visit to the pumpkin patch event? Knapp’s Plantland set up this series of rides, putting “green” etc etc and then SOLD tickets for the rides. How gauche.

Knapp's October Festival

Knapp’s October Festival

Return to China

We have “returned” to China.

No words necessary

No words necessary

Really? You're going to cross the Lougheed Highway here? In the middle of the block? Really?

Really? You’re going to cross the Lougheed Highway here? In the middle of the block? Really?

是的,我们是,该死 (Ed. note: Yes we are, dammit)

是的,我们是,该死 (Ed. note: Yes we are, dammit)

These were four kids who were clearly of Chinese heritage who spent at least 2 hours at Starbucks on Nov. 4. "Take Your Child to Work" Day.

These were four kids who were clearly of Chinese heritage who spent at least 2 hours at Starbucks on Nov. 4. “Take Your Child to Work” Day.

On the other hand, unlike people in China, they cleared their table, putting all their garbage into the garbage can! Hen Hao!

On the other hand, unlike people in China, they cleared their table, putting all their garbage into the garbage can! Hen Hao!

Two more girls - shopping - on Take Your Child to Work day. I even saw parents (Moms) shopping with their children - guess their job is shopping.

Two more girls – shopping – on Take Your Child to Work day. I even saw parents (Moms) shopping with their children – guess their job is shopping.

On The Other Hand

Now I admit that I rarely shop at Superstore. I wish to overpay. However, this ice cream is perhaps the best I have ever enjoyed – not the product specifically but the flavour – Chocolate Fudge Crackle with Peanut Butter. I was in heaven!!

Unbelievable!

Unbelievable!

And finally, one of the teachers in Jiaxing sent this to me. I was really touched.  (Ed. note: Hey – this isn’t supposed to be all about Geoff)

watt

The Shoe Blog

Did I say life in Canada is boring? 2 hours of sitting at Starbucks and these were the highest heel I saw. Pathetic.

shoe

Don’t Fence Me – Is it In or Out?

(Ed. note: Walls have been built since ancient times, to mark borders, protect kingdoms and settlements, or keep out unwanted people. In more recent times, walls have also been built to serve as memorials and structures of art – but not in this blog.)

The Great Wall

The Great Wall is the culmination of many, many walls built to protect China from invasion, mostly from the Mongols. Its success was sporadic over the centuries.

The Ming Great Wall (明長城; Ming changcheng), built by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), forms the most visible parts of the Great Wall of China today. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi) from Jiayu Pass in the west to the sea in Shanhai Pass, then looping over to terminate in Manchuria at the Hushan Great Wall.[1] This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.[1]

The Ming Great Wall, built by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), forms the most visible parts of the Great Wall of China today. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 5,500 miles from Jiayu Pass in the west to the sea in Shanhai Pass, then looping over to terminate in Manchuria at the Hushan Great Wall. This is made up of 3,889 miles sections of actual wall, 3223 miles of trenches and 1,387 miles of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.

 Hadrian’s Wall

Archaeologists have revealed that some parts of the wall remained occupied well into the 5th century. Hadrian’s Wall fell into ruin and over the centuries the stone was reused in other local buildings.

Hadrian's Wall: According to restored sandstone fragments found in Jarrow which date from Ad 118 or 119, it was Hadrian's wish to keep

Hadrian’s Wall: According to restored sandstone fragments found in Jarrow which date from Ad 118 or 119, it was Hadrian’s wish to keep “intact the empire”, which had been imposed on him via “divine instruction”.

The Berlin Wall

The Wall effectively separated Germans for nearly 30 years. Once completed only small numbers succeeded in crossing it. Many died in the process. Eventually it became impossible to cross. Considerable ingenuity was used by those attempting to reach the West. East Germans tried to go under or over. There were tunnels. Some tried balloons. The numbers involved were miniscule, Crossing was just too difficult. Say what one may about the Wall, there is no doubt that it was effective.

The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the

The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart” (German: Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) by GDR authorities, implying that the NATO countries and West Germany in particular were “fascists” by GDR propaganda.

The Peace Walls of Ireland

In Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, the walls have become tourist attractions. Those in West Belfast are visited most.

And if a visitor goes to the right spot, he or she can sign the wall, joining previous signatories that include former U.S. President Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama.

Barriers known as Peace Walls were built of stone and steel in various areas of Northern Ireland to keep the two communities apart -- effectively, to keep people from killing each other. They were meant to protect neighborhoods and restore some sense of peace.

Barriers known as Peace Walls were built of stone and steel in various areas of Northern Ireland to keep the two communities apart — effectively, to keep people from killing each other. They were meant to protect neighborhoods and restore some sense of peace.

Israeli West Bank Barrier

In 2002, Israel began building a wall to separate itself from the West Bank, to the consternation of Palestinian authorities and some international observers. That wall is supposed to be 420 miles long when it is competed.

Israel's military says the West Bank's security fence -- it is mostly barbed wire rather than concrete -- has made it more difficult for terrorists to cross the border.

Israel’s military says the West Bank’s security fence — it is mostly barbed wire rather than concrete — has made it more difficult for terrorists to cross the border.
“In areas where the fence has been completed, such terrorist attacks have dramatically declined, ” the Israel Defense Forces website says.
But the advocacy Stop the Wall website says the fence amounts to an annexation of 46% of the West Bank.

Hungary – Serbia Border

As Europe grapples with a wave of migration of historic proportions, various countries are building walls and fences to try to hold back the flood, notably Hungary. The country -- where officials say that an average of 1,000 people per day are crossing its borders illegally -- has begun building a fence on its southern border with Serbia. The fence will be 13 feet high, officials say.

As Europe grapples with a wave of migration of historic proportions, various countries are building walls and fences to try to hold back the flood, notably Hungary.
The country — where officials say that an average of 1,000 people per day are crossing its borders illegally — has begun building a fence on its southern border with Serbia. The fence will be 13 feet high, officials say. And

Hungary PM plans new migrant wall along Croatia border


(Ed. Note: from Yahoo News)

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban hopes to build a new wall along his country’s border with Croatia to keep migrants out, he told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview to be published Thursday.

After Hungary fenced off its border with Serbia in a bid to shut off a massive influx of refugees and migrants, Orban said people smugglers would simply change their routes and find new ways into the European Union.

“Since they can no longer pass through Hungary, they will change route and go through Romania, probably,” Orban told Le Figaro.

“That’s why we also decided to build a fence at the Romanian border, along the Mures River. And we will probably build another along the Croatian border. We are following their trail,” he said.

(Ed. note: No photo – yet)

Britain has said it will build a fence more than two miles long in Calais, France, at the entrance to the tunnel under the English Channel. Migrants have gathered in large numbers in Calais, hoping to stow away in trucks and make the crossing into Britain.

And then of course we have Mr. Trump and Mr. Walker with their idea to build a wall between Canada and the US.

So do border walls work?

Not according to Ruben Andersson, an anthropologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the author of a book titled “Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe.” 

For one thing, Andersson said, walls tend to be built for domestic political reasons by governments that want to be seen to be doing something about migration. For another, it seems that where there’s a wall, there’s a way. In other words, people who want to cross a border badly enough will find creative ways to circumvent a wall — even if it means taking greater risks by crossing elsewhere.

“These fences are not solving anything,” Andersson said. “Numbers are not going down. People will find a way.”

“Fences also generate novel and more dramatic entry methods, such as the collective ‘runs’ at the fences we have seen at various borders in recent years,” Andersson said.

Finally

Listen up folks – there are two sides to every vinyl single.

Living In a World We Can’t Grasp

(Ed. note: 3 disparate perspectives today)

Sam Jones, Kareem Shaheen in Beirut
Friday 11 September 2015

As neighbouring nations struggle to cope with scale of crisis, agencies report that Syrian refugees stranded in exile may go back to war-ravaged homeland.

Conditions for Syrian refugees in the Middle East are so dire that some are now considering returning to their war-ravaged homeland rather than endure poverty, hunger and a futureless exile in the neighbouring nations where they are stranded, the UN has warned.

Some refugees have been reduced to begging on the streets of the Jordanian capital, Amman, or selling flowers and living rough in Lebanon, aid workers say.

Read More…

Photoblog: Syrian Refugee Crisis

The EdmontonJournal sent columnist Graham Thomson to Jordan and Lebanon for two weeks to witness Canadian relief efforts during the Syrian refugee crisis. The trip was partly sponsored by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, which did not approve or review his work. He explored Syrian refugee camps and overwhelmed Lebanese villages, to report on this growing humanitarian crisis.

Click here to see some of the photos that Thomson took while on assignment.

One of the UN's 250 informal "tented settlements" in the Bekaa Valley.

One of the UN’s 250 informal “tented settlements” in the Bekaa Valley.

 

Don’t overstate risk of terrorism among refugees, experts say

The risk that some Islamist terrorists could infiltrate Canada posing as Syrian refugees is a valid concern but shouldn’t be overblown, say national security specialists.

“It is possible that among the stream of wretched refugees desperately looking for a way, that there might be some who aren’t exactly the people we want to bring in,” said Reg Whitaker, a security and intelligence expert and one-time advisor to the commissions of inquiry into the Air India bombing and Maher Arar affair.

Whitaker was reacting to comments Wednesday by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper about how national security will dictate the pace of Canada’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis.

“When we are dealing with people that are from, in many cases, a terrorist war zone, we are going to make sure that we screen people appropriately and the security of this country is fully protected,” Harper said at a campaign stop in Welland, Ont.

“We cannot open the floodgates and airlift tens of thousands of refugees out of a terrorist war zone without proper process. That is too great a risk for Canada,” he added during a question-and-answer session.

Harper’s remarks continue a security narrative the Conservatives launched after the fatal terror attacks by ISIL sympathizers in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu almost a year ago. National security is a key plank in the party’s election platform.

But the government should not be presenting refugee resettlement here as an either/or option with anti-terrorism efforts, says Scott Watson, an associate professor of international relations at the University of Victoria.

“I think it’s possible to do a large-scale operation of assisting refugees that (also) has a thorough screening component for security reasons, if there was enough political will to do so. I think both can be done,” he said.

“The vast majority of the people have no interest in contributing to further violence. There could be a couple of people who are sympathetic to ISIL coming in, but if there’s proper security screening and proper integration once refugees are brought into the country, I don’t think it’s something we need to be concerned about.”

Besides, “there’s much better ways for them (ISIL) to do what they want to do than to use refugees as the means of doing it,” said Watson.

He and Whitaker have done extensive research on the rise of national security fears that have accompanied concentrated waves of immigration to Canada. Harper’s framing of the Syrian refugee crisis in security terms is similar to concerns, ultimately unfounded, that communist infiltrators would accompany the arrival of Hungarian refugees to Canada in 1956, or with the Cambodian and Vietnamese boat people in the late 1970s.

Whitaker concludes many refugee groups now tend to be seen as importers of external political conflicts to the West.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officers overseas are responsible for much of the security vetting of refugees and immigrants. Many refugees understandably have no official identity documents. But, “you can’t go back to the Syrians or an area that’s no longer under Iraqi government control and say, ‘by the way, is Mohammed a resident of Erbil?’” said Ray Boisvert, a former CSIS assistant director of intelligence.

“You try to do your best to interview them and get a decent sense of their background and see if you can poke any holes in it.”

Boisvert, too, says the current humanitarian need outweighs possible risks from terrorism. “It is a very manageable risk if you’re conscious that there is a risk and that you do not undermine the efforts of CSIS assets to do their job in the screening process.”

Said Whitaker: “When you think about these people crossing the Mediterranean in rickety and unseaworthy boats, some of them drowning and many of them being asphyxiated in trucks, and the mobs that are trying to make their way from Greece and Turkey to Germany, and the idea that somehow through all that you’re going to get people who are carefully planted, who are then immediately going to get accepted into Canada and start wrecking havoc is just plain, downright silly.”

 

 

Dangers of Visceral Reactions

(Ed. Note: My original thought was to continue to be a glib, flippant observer of societal ills and, in fact, I was all set to publish my first post in that vein, when a friend sent me the following after an evening of discussion and wine. I will definitely be my old where did that come from self, but I think given the seriousness and timeliness of the situation I’ll start with this one.)

Perhaps we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis or perhaps, as some may suggest, we are in the midst of a massive invasion by terrorists.  Or perhaps, most likely, it is a combination of both. It is difficult to accept that within the 800,000 refuges descending into Europe there are no terrorists. Just as there are thousands of legitimate refugees. It is easy to sit in the comfort of our homes in western Canada and express our views – but they need to be views supported by facts and not just emotional reactions. Over the next while I will be searching the internet for information about this crisis to offer you balanced perspectives on the situation. Hopefully they will contribute to good discussions. If you come across anything you wish posted, send it on to me.

Third World Invasion: Eyewitness Description, September 5, 2015

SEPTEMBER 6, 2015 BY TNO STAFF— IN EUROPE · 15 COMMENTS
An eye-witness account from Kamil Bulonis, a Polish travel blog writer, who was present on the Italian-Austrian border on September 5, 2015, as swarms of Third World nonwhites  poured across the border to invade Austria and Germany (A translation from Polish):(Please note: all pictures from the Hungarian-Austrian border)
 Trash 02
“Half an hour ago on the border between Italy and Austria I saw with my own eyes a great many immigrants …
With all solidarity with people in difficult circumstances I have to say that what I saw arouses horror … This huge mass of people – sorry, that I’ll write this – but these are absolute savages … Vulgar, throwing bottles, shouting loudly “We want to Germany!” – and is Germany a paradise now?
I saw how they surrounded a car of an elderly Italian woman, pulled her by her hair out of the car and wanted to drive away in the car. They tried to overturn the bus in I travelled myself with a group of others. They were throwing faeces at us, banging on the doors to force the driver to open them, spat at the windscreen … I ask for what purpose? How is this savagery to assimilate in Germany?
I felt for a moment like in a war … I really feel sorry for these people, but if they reached Poland – I do not think that they would get any understanding from us … We were waiting three hours at the border which ultimately could not cross.
Our whole group was transported back to Italy in a police-cordon. The bus is damaged, covered with faeces, scratched, with broken windows. And this is supposed to be an idea for demographics? These big powerful hordes of savages?
Among them there were virtually no women, no children—the vast majority were aggressive young men … Just yesterday, while reading about them on all the websites I subconsciously felt compassion, worried about their fate but today after what I saw I am just afraid and yet I am happy that they did not choose our country as their destination. We Poles are simply not ready to accept these people – neither culturally nor financially.
I do not know if anyone is ready. To the EU a pathology is marching which we had not yet a chance to ever see, and I am sorry if anyone gets offended by his entry …
I can add that cars arrived with humanitarian aid – mainly food and water and they were just overturning those cars …
Through megaphones the Austrians announced that there is permission for them to cross the border—they wanted to register them and let them go on—but they did not understand these messages. They did not understand anything.
And this was the greatest horror … For among those few thousand people nobody understood Italian or English, or German, or Russian, or Spanish … What mattered was fist law… They fought for permission to move on and they had this permission— but did not realize that they had it!
They opened the luggage hatches of a French bus—and everything that was inside was stolen within short time, some things left lying on the ground …
Never in my short life had I an opportunity to see such scenes and I feel that this is just the beginning.”
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The Times They Are A Changin’ *

* With credit, thanks and apologies to Robert A. Zimmerman

We have now been home for two months and, generally speaking, all settled in to our old/new routine. We have supped, dined, visited and golfed to our hearts’ content. We have watched with mild interest how the politics of BC and Canada are done – and the ones in China continue. We now realize how much the Chinese economy depended on us –  you know – their market crash (Ed. note: Anyone else see they have found the fall guy for that already? Its always the journalists fault. Good thing we got out). Terry is getting a little less excited when she goes in to Costco and sees the vast expanse of goods available for purchase. Geoff has, sadly, seen how little chance there will be for shoe photos.

What has occurred to me is how much I enjoyed writing the blog. That plus the numerous positive comments we have received over the past two months. Knowing that none of you are particularly interested in our daily lives here in Poco, I have made the arbitrary decision to change the focus of our/my writing but to continue with the blog, admittedly, with your forbearance and help.

In the next couple of weeks watch for the unveiling, updating and new direction of The Jiaxing Express. Hell, there may even be a complete rebranding and new name.

I’m excited about it (Ed. note: BTW – Terry has no idea what is happening so don’t waste your time pumping her for information) and hope you will enjoy the new version just as much as you did the old version.

Zàijiàn xiànzài

Home and Happy

Home and Happy (Ed. note: Re Geoff – See bold, italic, underlined word above)