Sunday, December 21, 2014

LAST SUNDAY OF LENT: A RENEWAL OF FAITH AND FAMILY



Today is the last Sunday of Advent.

Advent comes from the Latin word 'adventus' meaning 'Coming.'  The season of Advent has been set aside as a time of preparation since the 6th century

In churches today, readings, prayers, and reflections will focus on the narratives and events that surround the final theme of the Advent season: The Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus.

Today the fourth Candle of Advent, the Candle of Joy will be lighted remembering when the angel Gabriel told Mary that a special child would be born to her she was filled with joy.

Priests  will lead church rites that include the lighting of the third purple candle - the symbol of love - in the Advent wreath to emphasize the nearness of the joyous celebration of the  birth of Jesus Christ.

The two purple candles, which symbolize penance and hope respectively, as well as the pink candle, which symbolizes joy, will be re-lighted, leaving only the white center candle, which symbolizes Christ.

The white candle will be lighted during the Christmas Eve mass,  to herald the onset of Christmas.

What does Advent mean to you?

To me it is a time of renewal - of faith and family. A time to clean house, to prepare for the coming of the Infant Jesus and reflect on what that really means pray more deeply.


BRAD CABANA: YOU CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN

Like him, despise him, ignore him - Brad Cabana has more conviction than 90% of our society.

 He tells it as he sees it and has never felt a need to be differential to the powers that be. An attitude like that is sure to create a few waves in a nepotistic, paternalistic and partisan society like the one we are drowning in.

I have had a few disagreements with Brad, but on the whole I respect him not just for his indifference to the status-quo,  but for his intelligence, tireless research, diligence and exposure of the ugly side of politics.

True, he deleted me as a friend on Twitter last January because I called him a "media whore" after his comments about the relationship between fire and carbon-monoxide deaths related to the Dark NL experience of last January. 

Perhaps I was uncomfortable with the debate, perhaps I thought he was over the top, perhaps I thought it was unfair to peg the government with responsibility for the deaths of people who did not exercise common sense for their own safety. One thing is certainly true, had the government been prepared, Dark NL could have been avoided and those people would still be alive.

Brad is at the center of the Justice Orsborn controversy of the past few days. He released a letter from the Justice to than Premier Marshall stating concerns about naming the Corner Brook Court House after Danny Williams. The letter and the subsequent new stories including Danny Williams condemnation of the Justice have gone viral across the nation.

His blog post of Saturday, Dec 20th Danny Williams in Contempt is worthy of your consideration. Has the former premier crossed the line? Should he be held accountable for his verbal attacks on the Judge Orsborn? Should this disrespect for the administrators of justice not result in his name being struck from the Corner Brook Court House? Would any other lawyer in the province get away with this type of indifference towards the judicial system?

Brad has been the victim of "libel chill" but once again he perseveres against great adversity.

How can you not respect that.

CROSSING THE RUBICON: RACE AND POVERTY IN A DIVIDED NATION


"I'm putting wings on pigs
 today. They take 1 of 
ours, let's take 2 of theirs," 

#Shootthepolice #RIPErivGardner #RIPMikeBrown.


Criminal Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28 typed those words on Twitter hours before assassinating officers, Liu Wenjin and Raphael Ramos in their patrol car in Brooklyn. Brinsley had shot and wounded his ex-girlfriend earlier in Baltimore.

The demented coward claimed the cold blooded  murders were in retaliation for the death of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who was stopped by police and put in a fatal chokehold. 

Amateur video captured the event as Garner was heard gasping "I can't breathe" before he lost consciousness.A grand jury decision  not to charge the officer involved has led to weeks of protests throughout the United States.

I agree with Black President Obama who said said there was no justification for the killings and urged Americans to reject violence and harmful words and to instead embrace words that heal, and to seek out prayer and sympathy for the victims' relatives. 

Civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton stated that  "Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown in connection with any violence or killing of police is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases."

The assassinations underscore a the initial skirmishes in a potential "race war" that is ignored by the American mainstream media. The volatile polarization of race, poverty and perceived injustice is embedded in the the American consciousness. 

The U.S. Census Report finds that 50 million Americans are poor. A 2012 Pew Research Center showed that fewer Americans than ever believe in the American Dream mantra that hard work will get them ahead.

John Steinbeck  wrote in the Grapes of Wrath, “Repression works only to strengthen and knit the oppressed.” With each incident of a  chokehold death or indefensible police shooting followed by a grand jury decision that upholds these atrocities, the judicial system and the police become the enforcers of a perceived injustice.

This is an age where Dystopian books about the rich and ruthless preserving their grip on the poor majority have become uber popular not just with teenagers but with older adults. Is something uncomfortable ringing true? Are we suspicious of our governments and its increased intrusion into our day to day lives. 

The constant militarization of police departments in the United States must reflect a belief that something is coming. Even here on our rocky isolated outcrop in the North Atlantic, RNC recruitment videos of police training to push back riots create controversy. Why do our local police need to be so militarized? 

One can only hope that the actions of cowards and murderers do not become the rallying cry of the underprivileged, that these acts will instead lead to healing what ails society before it is too late.

 


A TOAST TO JOHN A

__________________________________

"Yes, but the people 
would prefer John A. 
drunk to George Brown sober. 

Sir John A Responding to a heckler.
 __________________________________ 

John A MacDonald, a Scottish Highlander was The first Prime Minister of Canada.  Instrumental in bringing the provinces of Upper and lower Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick together. He brokered deals that brought British Columbia, PEI, and the great North West Territories into the federation as well.

He was also quite a drinker, the public however was quite tolerant of his indulgences. He often made light of his drinking and used it to as a source of humor. After a particularly long evening, nursing a hangover,  he was no longer able to unable to hold his own and threw up on the the platform. His opponent pointed and said "Is this the man you want running your country, a drunker.!"  John A pulled himself together - green to the gills and retorted " I get sick sometimes not because of drink or any other cause, except that I am forced to listen to the ranting of my honorable opponent."

A staple of my television viewing growing up was CBC's Front Page Challenge. I will never forget this discussion on Sir John A's reputation for the drink on an episode in 1989.

The Royal Canadian Mint is releasing a a $2 coin featuring Sir John A. Macdonald's portrait "against a map of Canada in the background" and a banner bearing his name. The coin's outer ring is to include four images of a maple leaf — two at the top and two at the bottom — with the years 1815 and 2015 inscribed.  

The new coin should make for some interesting advertising campaigns from the brewing and distillery industries.

I am looking forward to toasting the Conservative Prime Minister at an #nlpoli get-together in the New Year with a drink purchased with the new toonies!




INTERESTING PHOTOS

I stumbled on an interesting post at Rosey News entitled 23 rare photos that will tell you some of the most fascinating facts in history. 

Here are three that I found most interesting.





WILLIAMS CRITICISM UNDERSCORES DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT

Headlines like "Williams fires back at criticism" illustrate the challenges with trying to have a discussion about serious issues of public administration  and conventions in our province.

I don't think anyone, except the most staunch anti-Danny folks would question the naming of a public building or a public vessel after a former premier, living or dead.  For example, I have not been opposed to naming the new school in Virginia Park - Danny Williams Academy despite the school districts opposition to naming schools after individuals.

I doubt that any lawyer or judge would somehow be biased in the administration of justice because the building they are practicing in or rendering a decision in, is named after Danny Williams. It is just a name.

However perception is reality. 

Justice is supposed to be bind, thus the perception that justice is unbiased is just as important as the reality.  So, for a moment let us forget that who the Corner Brook Court is named after. Let us pretend for a moment that it is irrelevant.

What is relevant is that the name reflects a powerful name in the current  legal, business and political world.  The perception of the weight and power that that individual has is amplified and cemented when that name is given to a significant forum for legal decisions in the province. One could argue that such a decision ignores the perception of reality and casts a shadow on the independence of the courts.

This in noway reflects the contribution made by the individual or the esteem in which many in this province hold him. 

In true form, Williams himself has entered the fray taking direct aim at the acting chief justice of the provincial Supreme Court's trial division for writing a letter last summer to then-premier Tom Marshall raising concerns about the inappropriateness of the decision. 

"The perception of any linkage or relationship between the court and a living individual is problematic", Orsborn argued, adding that "The clear separation of the various branches of government is important to society; the perception of that separation is just as important."

His point was valid. Justice has to be seen to be blind as well as be blind.

The naming of the courthouse was not a popularity contest. Mr. Williams should not consider it a personal attack on his contribution (and continuing contribution)  to the province he loves that some of us believe it was wrong to name a courthouse after him at this time.

Yet, the former premier is not only defending Marshall's decision, he has attacked the messenger saying that Orsborn crossed the line, between the judiciary and the Executive Branch of Government. That is unfortunate because I do not feel this criticism was about Mr. Williams. It was the precedent. 

The decision and the reaction are all too familiar. This is a government that has on too many occasions shown a careless disregard for perception, tradition and the law over its tenure.

The most recent example was naming an experienced and unelected junior lawyer to the provincial cabinet with no regard for the constitutional conventions that are the foundation of the Westminster structure of government.

When individuals like you and I, or Judge Orsborn, can not speak truth to power without condescension and personal attacks- our democracy is weakened. 

This disregard for rules, written and perceived, is what is at issue here.