Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Forces of nature

Many say that change is good. Well, it all depends on what the change is doesn't it. When it comes to nature and weather, it also depends. Many view the fall as a sad introduction to a harsh and tormenting winter. No doubt, winters can be brutal, but as with all seasons, it carries different opportunities, especially for photography. Fall is a beautiful time of transition and the green industry of photos changes to yellows, reds, orange and more. See some fall photos below as well as a capture of a great natural combo - a terrific red-pink sky, and a powerful surf at dawn.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Will voters make history again in the 2012 U.S. election?

In my last post, I said that the Clinton speech would help Obama, and boost him in the polls by 5% or more. Well, a CNN poll a few days later had indeed reported a relatively huge gain by the Democrats after their convention. Before the Democratic National Convention, the Democrats were at 50%, and in the post convention poll, they were at 59%. Since then, Obama has pulled ahead in swing states like Ohio.

Obama could very well make history again when the final results are in, by being the first president who won an election with an unemployment rate of 8% or higher. No president was re-elected with this status before.

However, it seems that there is either a lingering mistrust of Romney, and a perception of him not really relating to the average middle class Joe. Or, there is a broader understanding that the economic problems inherited by Obama, could not be, as Bill Clinton said at the Democratic convention last week, solved in four years by any president including himself. Or, both.

As well, while each campaign stretches or distort the truth to different extents, Obama is at least attempting to appear the honest and diligent choice. In an interview some days ago, he told a reporter that he is aware of his own short-comings, referring to the sluggish economic rebound, not the one he had hoped for.

Politically he should have the support of a sizable chunk of a number of major groups - African Americans 90+% support, women (with his abortion stand), gays (with his support of their marriage), and the Latino vote. At the Democratic National Convention, there were a number of Latino speakers, including a rising star in California, San Antonio Mayor, Julian Castro, and his twin Joaquin Castro, representative from Texas, so he is covering that base.

Bill Clinton was strong at the convention, telling Americans, that no matter who was president, no one could clear it up in one term. So with this support, and the possible new perspective of what the economy was like, and how slowly it is rebounding, voters at this point seem to be still willing to give Obama a second term.

He is likeable, and perhaps many voters appreciate that as the first black President, his sense of place in history, Obama will serve with integrity, and accept his human limitations.. and in doing so, realize that the opponent Romney, also has his limitations, and weaknesses. It's getting more interesting.

History can be made again. From this blogger's chair, there is a sense that people are becoming more aware of a broader economic picture of the recession that welcomed the Obama administration, and willing once again to evolve as voters in understanding economic and recovery perspective.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Clinton's Captivating Speech Could Re-elect Obama

Even if Bill Clinton had not been a successful president himself, the masterful speech he delivered last night will boost Obama's support, lessen Romney's and more likely re-elect the incumbent. Clinton's piece by piece analysis and perspective of the situation Obama inherited, and his subsequent economic efforts and achievements, were a huge part of the former president's sales pitch.

It was also his delivery, sometimes succinct, and folksy style of wording, where people not only understood, but could take it home, and talk about it, and believe it. He could drill down on details, and yet simplify for a broader understanding. It was spellbinding to watch. President Obama's record could not have gotten a more believable and superior endorsement. Clinton's delivery will certainly be studied in future university text books.

His mastery of political perspective, and especially presidencies since Reagan's time, gave him the apparent ease, persuasiveness, and indisputable story lines that simply stand out and above any speaker in the DNC or GOP national conventions. His speech approach was delivered in a way that the listener was convinced that this man was sincere, exceptionally well informed, and understandable. Much of it was understandable because President Clinton, could look at the larger picture, and sum it up in simplified ways. For example, when describing the Republican's pitch to voters, he put it this way.
"Now you gotta listen to this. They said that Obama received a mess, he did not solve it fast enough, so elect us back in."

This was after telling the audience that the eight years of Republican leadership was largely to blame for the mess that Obama inherited. Clinton's point was sharp, simple, and memorable.

Every word that he spoke captivated the audience in the auditorium, and they often responded with exuberant cheers and applause. Clinton's gauging of the audiences' excitement and noise, was thoughtfully built in to his delivery. He made sure that they were not going to miss anything he said. For example, he would say, "Now you gotta listen to this," or, "I want you to listen to me." It had the effect of convincing the audience of his own self-confidence, his conviction in the facts he was about to say, and his commanding authority to speak about Obama's record, and Republican contributions in causing the economic crisis.

Clinton also, piece by piece, refuted major claims made last week at their national convention, against President Obama. He made the Republicans look terrible, misleading, and simply, the wrong party to vote for.

The job of Obama in his speech tonight should be that much easier because Bill Clinton covered much already. It should be easier if Obama can now present a more detailed, plausible and persuasive economic plan for the next four years, and also, expand on the themes from the last two nights of speeches on creating more opportunities for the middle class and youth, and investing in broader health coverage.

The pressure is on, and he has to connect with listeners, and give a clear vision of what they can expect. His speech has to be remembered. Two nights ago First Lady Michelle Obama gave a tremendous speech about her husband, which could win some voters. Bill Clinton made history with his speech, and supreme support for re-electing Obama. It is being hailed by veteran political analysts as the greatest he has ever delivered. Tonight, it will add to the challenge of President Obama, to give a memorable, hopeful, constructive speech, that is his own, and that will linger in the minds of the electorate.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Having a ball

"Hey, catch!"

"Having a ball"

"Oh waitress, may I have a napkin please?"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Iceberg Alleys

Looking out through the village of Quidi Vidi at our northern visitors enjoying a beautiful sunrise.
Several local berg watchers get a little too close as the iceberg suddenly decides to break apart. The ice was breaking apart and sliding towards them, as they made a wise decision to reverse course.
Fire and ice

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia ( CML) A good news story for cancer researchers

The public is invited to the GEO Centre, Monday, April 2 from 7 - 10 pm for presentations on CML. Two guest speakers will speak on the disease. See below for more detail.

Friday, February 24, 2012

NL Thrombosis, Blood & Immune Disorder Project March 1 Event

If you or someone you know has a blood or immune system health problem like leukemia, myeloma, lymphoma or blood clotting complications, please let them know about event at the Geo Centre. Specialists will speak about these conditions and research being done.

March 1, 2012
7 - 10 p.m.
GEO Centre
St. John’s, NL

Dr. M. Larijani will present “The human immune system; links to
leukemia and lymphoma”

Dr. R. Chitsike will present “An overview of Venous Thromboembolic
Disease including Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary
Embolism (PE)”

This event is open to the public.
The talks will be of interest to health-care professionals,
students, patients with their families and friends.
The lectures will discuss issues of interest for patients
living with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma,
hypercoagulability, deep venous thrombosis
and pulmonary embolism.

Question and answer period to follow presentation.

Cash bar. Refreshments will be provided at 9 p.m.

Refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Newfoundland Winter Coastline

Sure it's wet, slippery and often bone-chillingly cold, but it also completely changes how our environment looks, and provides months of photo opportunities. It also helps to highlight what an interesting province we live in, with so much geographic variety. Below are some recent captures.

Friday, January 27, 2012

This Blog Desk has Projected that Newt Gingrich will Not Win the Republican Nomination

Last night's Republican debate in Florida was dramatic, snarly, funny, and fascinating. It also changes the tide, again, in Mitt Romney's favor this time.

All four candidates scored points at various times. Rick Santorum was notably forceful, but yet, needlessly long on some answers. Ron Paul was funny, but he does have an interesting vision of how to fix some problems for the country, like illegal immigration, and relations with Cuba. Gingrich does not project the most positive image or the most cheerful attitude especially when it comes to his main rival Mitt Romney. He and his campaign team have been digging plenty of research on Romney, but at one point Romney was prepared and shot back about Newt's similar dealings with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It seemed to catch Gingrich off guard.

Romney was caught a few times as well, but his presentation, delivery and more positive spin on his perceived image as super rich man, was confident and well received by the audience. His delivery was to the point, without hesitation and energetic. He said that he isn't going to apologize for being rich, and more forcefully as he's done before, turned it into a positive. He held it as a success, which employed many others, and led by one who knows how to be successful. He framed it as an asset for the American people and the economy. It was hard to argue with that final word on that particular segment.

Gingrich appeared to be look foolish on another topic. He has promised that he would put a permanent manned station on the moon by the end of his eight years in office. With a $15 trillion debt, high unemployment, many home foreclosures, setting aside tens of billions more for a moon post, just don't seem like a priority, and Ron Paul in particular dismissed that idea. In fact, it was a gradiose idea, and nice maybe, in the future, but at this moment there are not a lot of people calling for employment on the moon. In ways Ron Paul appears radical, certainly not mainstream, but he often appears to possess great common sense.

Most of the exchanges were interesting to hear and see, but Romney did the best job of presenting himself strong, confident and avoiding a more sort of cantankerous debating style that Newt Gingrich seemed to embody.

One final point about why Newt Gingrich will not be the ultimate winner in this race - sadly for him and his supporters, there are big Republicans who have come out and voiced their opposition to him. Bob Dole, Nancy Pelosi, and others have made it clear that they are no Newt fans. Pelosi say that he will never be President.. ‘There’s Something I Know’. The press has been reporting that he does not have a lot of party support.

So, at this point, from this perch, it appears that unless divine intervention happens, Mitt Romney will be the Republican candidate to run against the Democrats in November. There are still many states to go yet, and things can change, so we will see if this prediction is correct.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

NL House of Assembly for Rent

Obviously there's not much to discuss or debate in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, since the HoA was only open for business 33 days last year.

That's been a trend for years now, a diminishing number of days open to discuss the issues facing the province. Thirty-three days is not even enough to talk about the pros and cons of the Muskrat Falls hydro development proposal itself.

It really does seem that that development is a given to go ahead in many representatives' minds. There are good arguments against developing it, and there are perhaps most of us who are just confused about whether or not it will benefit the people and our province, or whether it will create a much deeper debt hole.

Hmm, that's one major issue. There does not have to be a uncivilized brawl in the House of Assembly, and it doesn't have to be a debate for that matter, but more so a discussion, and objective discussion about the long-term benefits and negatives about this. At this moment, if it came to a referandum on that development, this voter would vote against that development because the argument to develop it is not appealling. The idea of us the people, having to service an even larger debt than our current $12 billion, is really non-sensical. Who are really the winners in this? Nalcor's people are kept busy and some rake in pretty hefty salaries, so higher hydro rates won't hurt them.

In todays Telegram, former finance minister Dr. J. Collins also wonders why Muskrat Falls seems to be shoved along without there first being lots of sober analysis, and answers to other issues: Here's part of what he had to say:
Does Nalcor accept that, worldwide, energy-generation and inextricable-linked politic-economic forces are presently in such serious turmoil that now is decidedly not the time for hugely expensive local commitments with probable irreparable consequence? (Especially so for the “bolt-from-the-blue” Muskrat Falls, left rudderless by its mentor.)

• More specifically, has enough weight been given locally manageable wind-energy possibilities? (Nalcor’s own consultant, Navigant, has said no).

• Has potentially available energy (minimum 530+ MW) from now-extant Labrador sources been investigated as thoroughly as has Muskrat Falls? (This includes Upper Churchill “recall power” of 170 MW, now exported south, Twin Falls 225 MW, Menihek 18 MW and unused CFLCo power, 120+ MW.)

• Has upgrading on island hydro electric capacity been considered in detail? (Current capacity is 57 per cent utilized — Bay d’Espoir itself only 51 per cent.)

• Has possible acquisition of liquified natural gas for Holyrood oil replacement been given the in-depth attention it obviously deserves? (Jurisdictions elsewhere are actively doing so.)

• What are the details (if any) of negotiations with Hydro-Québec concerning added purchases from Upper Churchill? (Hydro-Québec now sells to Ontario, the Maritimes and into the U.S.)

• What possible use can a 35-year-old, low-capacity sub-sea link to Nova Scotia be for our province upon ownership in 2053, 12 years after Upper Churchill power contract’s final termination? (Twin Falls and lines were shut down upon advent o the larger Upper Churchill in 1976; will this be the fate of Muskrat Falls — and Gull Island — when superceded by access to Upper Churchill power?)

These (and other) concerns are not quixotic but aim squarely at the core of the matter. Nalcor (and government) ignore them at their peril.
If the House of Assembly will only be open for provincial business for only a month again this year, perhaps the chamber can be rented out to other groups for profit.

Why not make some money on this, to at least pay for the heat bill there. Perhaps it could be rented to say, another economist like Prof. James Feehan, who thinks that developing a multi-billion dollar Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity project is not necessary, and imprudent. Incidentally, according to Dr. Collin's letter to the editor, James Feehan will be hosted by The Harris Centre (no date given at this point) to give his views on the whole development.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Newt Takes the Gloves off for Mitt

Some people are sports junkies, and some are political junkies. A party leadership race is very much like a sport. There are many competitions, lots of critical numbers involved, and timing is a key technique to score points. This blogger has a partial addiction for both, sometimes. One of those times is now, during the U.S. opposing party's election primary process.

Boy, it's scary how fast time flies. Seems like only the day before yesterday that the world was wondering if Barack Obama could actually win the Democratic nomination, let alone become the first black president. Here's the big picture presently: It is four years since then, and it's the Republican's turn to select a party leader to run against President Obama next fall.

The U.S. election process just seems like a continuing process that never really ends, from one election to another. The Republican party has been forever whittling down its list of candidates since last year, and talk about potential candidates began years ago.

There were 9 candidates in the fall debates, and between debates, scandals, polls and state primaries, there are now four left. One of those will battle Obama in the new "election of the century" in November. They all (that is, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich) have their humanity points, i.e., strong and weak points. Romney appears strong on the economic side, largely due to his multi-millionaire success status. Gingrich comes across as a sharp, thinking man who has decades of political experience, and a politically savvy set of antennae that can sense and know the feel of the state electorate, the media, and thus, mentally prepare passionate attention-grabbing responses. Such was the case on Wednesday night's debate when he was asked by CNN's moderator John King, about his alleged "open marriage" suggestion to an ex-wife.

Ron Paul is bold and in some ways a bit radical, for a conservative Republican candidate. In the debate Wednesday, he quipped in one response, that the media, CNN, is run by a corporation.. meaning that CNN and others, have a certain agenda which is of interest to a big profit driven system. Rick Santorum is not so familiar so far to this observer, but he seems to have a clean slate. LIke the others, he is unapologetically a faith-based candidate and who not infrequently invokes a God/religious or moral reference. Personality and speaking-wise, he is not as interesting as the other three.

Wednesday's debate was the big lead-in to Saturday's primary vote in South Carolina. These are still early days and the magic number of number of delegates needed to win is 1144. Up until Monday, Jan. 16, Mitt Romney had the most momentum, but in the last six days, the political veteran Gingrich's political prospects are, like Lazarus, being strongly resurrected. A small miracle? Maybe. Gingrich was Speaker of the House of Representatives for four years during Clinton's presidency, and was close to Ronald Reagan's presidential office back in the 1980s. He has certainly had a big share of the limelight, and been a major influence on American politics and its economic policies. So one could think perhaps he has spent his political energy and already peaked.

Several months ago, other candidates regularly got their share of attention. There were the debate gaffs.. like the time Rick Perry on live tv, could not remember a 3rd federal department he had alluded to a few seconds prior. Then there was the charismatic, millionaire pizza expert Herman Cain, whose alleged marital infidelities created too much heat in the kitchen, and Cain could only offer half baked excuses. For him, "it' had been a slice" as they say. Michelle Bachmann of the Tea Party was always one to watch, partly because some of her past statements, like the time she suggested that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation, were ripped to shreds.

Gingrich has been confident, outshone by others, but this wise politician's timing seems to be dead on. His rise is taking away the silent, yet hesitant assumption of many that the younger and richer Mitt Romney would win the Republican nomination. In fact, Gingrich convincingly won the state of South Carolina on Saturday night, and the most recent debate was a strong factor because Gingrich slammed a couple of home runs that night.

This political race is getting closer, and like the marathon the process is, Newt is definitely a marathon runner, and has paced himself to catch up with the leader Romney, and is now poised to overtake him. The next meet is in Florida on Jan. 31, but all athletes will be working out, their strategies, lines, solutions, and ammunition. As they all said after the South Carolina results came in, this fight is going to be long.

As it stands now, the two frontrunners are Romney and Gingrich, and they will likely be the last two standing. The present score of delegates are: Gingrich - 25; Romney - 14; Paul - 10; Santorum - 8. This week was a game changer for Newt, but it's too early to say who will ultimately win first place. It's getting more dramatic and lots more drama will happen as we see other political heavyweights join candidates' team, and determine the plays and the score.