Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Message for Canada – Beware the Ides of March and a Trump Presidency, by Gerry Warner

Message for Canada – Beware the Ides of March and a Trump Presidency
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner

Surprise, surprise. I didn’t get an invitation to President Trump’s inauguration. But in the unlikely event I had, would I have attended? Not likely and I suspect most other Canadians wouldn’t either except for Kevin O’Leary, the reality TV star – if “star” is the right word – of the Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank and would-be leader of the Conservative Party.
That’s right. After the devastating defeat of the Iceman himself, Stephen Harper, Kevin O’Leary is now considered one of the frontrunners in the Conservative leadership race. Can you imagine a North America led by Donald Trump and Kevin O’Leary, both of whom learned their political chops in the la la land of reality TV?
Perish the thought! But in a digital world ruled by Facebook and Twitter this is not as bizarre as it sounds.  In a world where the American president is one of the biggest fans of Vladimir Putin, anything is possible.
But let’s get back to the Great White North, which like it or not, shares the world’s longest undefended border with a country led by a loquacious loudmouth determined “to make America great again.” What will this mean for the 35 million of us shivering in the snowy attic of North America?  Nothing good, I’m sure.
For starters, the Home of the Brave and Land of the Free has caught another bout of protectionist fever and Trump with his world-wide business empire is the Ultimate Protectionist.  The implications of this for Canada are starkly obvious. Good-bye North America Free Trade agreement. Good-bye the newly signed Trans-Pacific Partnership and good-bye making any agreement that will benefit Canada in its dealings with the Colossus of Washington. How can a country whose industry is already largely owned by Wall Street stand up to the American juggernaut? The only reason we’ve done as well as we have is that, like it or not, Americans are hardly aware of us and when they do think of us it’s in terms of the Gentle Giant of the North that always does what it’s told by Uncle Sam and wouldn’t harm its biggest trading partner.
Hey, don’t knock it. It’s thanks to this indifferent attitude towards Canada that we’ve done as well as we have in dealing with the American Empire. They haven’t invaded us since the War of 1812.  Despite their bellicose policy of Manifest Destiny more than a century ago, all they did was gobble up large parts of Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, the Philippines and the Alaskan pan handle, when the British sold us out, and left us blissfully alone to cut down trees, till the land and play hockey. In fact, we did remarkably well in some of our past dealings with the “Military Industrial Complex” (Eisenhower’s term) such as NAFTA, the Columbia River Treaty and the Softwood Lumber Agreement. With more than 10 times our population and the world’s most powerful military, they could have dictated those agreements to us, but instead they negotiated and agreements were signed that allowed both countries to prosper.
Do you think Mr. “Make America Great” again is going to treat us so kindly? If you do, you’re dreaming in 3-D because Trump has already rattled his saber on NAFTA and his administration has engaged in similar saber rattling over re-negotiating the Columbia River Treaty and the Softwood Lumber Agreement, both of which affect us directly in the Kootenays.
However, maybe there’s hope. The last time Trump was in Canada he was caught in a brief CBC video in September boarding a plane and said he “loved Canada” and wouldn’t build a wall on the Canadian-US border. Maybe the great 18th-century poet Alexander Pope said it best: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.”   
Is there any “hope” for Canada in Trump’s breast? We’re soon going to find out.
                                                                                   
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who’s hoping that Trump will act completely out of character as president.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Understanding Christy Clark, Letter to the Editor


Understanding Christy Clark

Gordon Campbell’s Liberals came to power in 2001 with a promise of fair treatment of public sector unions.  With Christy Clark as his Minister of Education, in January 2002 the government stripped provisions from public sector unions.

In 2004 the BC Supreme Court found: “By passing this legislation without consulting with the BC Teachers Federation, the government did not preserve the essential underpinning of collective bargaining, namely good faith negotiation and consultation.”

The judge gave the government a year to rectify.  The Clark government imposed another contract, which the BC Supreme Court ruled on in 2014:  “The Liberals had no more bargained in good faith with the BCTF than in the first case.”

The Christy Clark government decided to appeal to the BC Court of Appeals, which overturned the two lower court decisions.  The case went to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2016, where it took 20 minutes for the court to restore the finding of bargaining in bad faith.

Christy Clark says on the Supreme Court ruling:

1.    “The government anticipated the ruling.” (Nov. 11 Vancouver Sun)

2.    “If it costs more money, that’s a good thing in lots of ways because it’s a good investment to put money into classrooms and our kids.” (Nov. 11 Vancouver Sun)

3.    Christy Clark says teachers’ win is opportunity to invest in kids. (Nov. 13 CBC)

4.    “Kids are only going to do better when we put more resources in.” (Nov. 13 CBC)


Those who believe in collective bargaining and democracy
can thank the teachers’ union.  Why did it take four courts
over 15 years for Clark to do what’s right?


We have had terrible government, but they are blessed with
a dysfunctional opposition who, by structure and operations,
are poised to steel defeat from the jaws of victory.  The NDP
leader says education will be the number one issue in the
May election.  Horgan will first face the self-inflicted hurdles
of gender equity and grizzly bears.

The continuing problems of union money and parachute
campaign managers appear insoluble.  Locals win elections
when Soviet Central Planning gets out of the way.  How long
does the party elite think they can continue running losing
campaigns before an alternative overtakes them?


William G. Hills
Cranbrook, BC 

250-489-1108









Saturday, January 14, 2017

Take heart! It will be warm again in July, “Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Take heart! It will be warm again in July
“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner
Yes, it’s cold out there, damn cold! But, believe it or not, this is not the coldest it’s ever been in Cranbrook. Far from it. And no, this arctic vortex we’ve been living in the past six weeks, doesn’t mean global warming has been reversed and we’re standing on the precipice of a new Ice Age.
But one thing at a time.
Officially, and I emphasize “officially,” the coldest temperature recorded at the airport by Environment Canada is minus 40 C on Dec. 30, 1968. So far this winter the coldest it’s been was minus 29 C on Jan. 4. That’s pretty damn cold, but far from the record. And it should be noted that weather records at the airport only go back to 1968 and it’s quite likely that Cranbrook has been colder than 40 below in the past, especially in the winter of 1949 – 50, generally considered the coldest in the province’s history.
However, one thing is for sure. This has got to be the longest cold snap in recent memory and most of us are just not used to sustained cold anymore. When you step outside and you feel the mucus freezing in your nose it kind of sets you back a bit. And the snow piles around the city are becoming a hazard to low flying birds, if not airplanes. Hats off to City plowing crews, who’ve been doing a yeoman’s job in trying circumstances.
But what about the global warming debate, which is still a “debate” in the minds of some people, if not the world’s scientists and weather experts? Doesn’t the brutal cold snap we’re experiencing now prove that global warming and climate change is a myth hatched by paranoid environmentalists, Greenpeace and the like?
Well, not exactly. 

If pictures don’t lie satellite pictures taken by NASA in the summer of 2013 show a shocking sight, namely a camera buoy at the North Pole “swimming” in open water, which ordinarily would be frozen solid year-round at one of the coldest spots on earth. But these aren’t ordinary times! The camera buoy is actually anchored to the ice, but the icecap itself has been overwhelmed by open water drifting as far north as the North Pole because of unprecedented melting of the Arctic sea ice further south.
The summer of 2016 also saw the unprecedented journey of the cruise ship Crystal Serenity through an almost ice-free Northwest Passage with more than 1,000 high-paying passengers and 600 crew aboard. This is the same Northwest Passage that’s been plugged by ice for centuries and taken the lives of hundreds who dared to try to sail through it only to be stopped by cruel ice floes and trapped in solid ice like the much mythologized and tragic Franklin Expedition in 1845.
So take heart as you head out to your vehicle in the frigid morning air hoping that the block heater is working and old Betsy will still start and take you to work where you can sit in a drafty office all day and day dream about that Caribbean vacation you’re not taking. And keep in mind that the weatherman is forecasting above freezing temperatures next week.
Maybe come the dog days of summer in July when the temperature climbs into the high 30’s you can book a ride on a deluxe Arctic cruise ship sailing the Northwest Passage so you can escape the torrid heat of a Cranbrook summer. By then, those bone-chilling mornings in January will just be a distant memory as you order another frosted margarita.
And don’t think of the rest of us back here snuggling up to our air conditioners or trying to cool off at the lake because we all know it may get hot in Cranbrook in August, but it’s a dry heat.



Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who has no desire to go to the North Pole, wet or dry.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A few honest, but brutal thoughts about 2017, by Gerry Warner


A few honest, but brutal thoughts about 2017

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Now that the year 2016 – what a bummer – is safely behind us, what can we look forward to in 2017? Internationally, I’d say cover your eyes. We know that death, horror and destruction is going to continue outside our borders so let’s concentrate our gaze on Cranbrook, which is still a pretty, good place to live despite all the mayhem happening abroad.

Get ready for major disruption on Second St. South. It’ll probably start around May or June and disrupt city driving all summer. But when it’s over a much improved driving experience will emergence for everyone on the south side not to mention tourists turning off Highway 3 only to encounter the kerklunk, kerklunk of Cranbrook’s residential road system. Does it justify borrowing $10 million to inflate the City’s road budget for a single year? Hard to say, but those opposed had their chance. Let’s get on with the job.

Speaking of jobs, the City is planning major upgrades to Idlewild Park and one being considered for the popular site is development of a swimming beach on the former City reservoir. There are pros and cons on this one. Cranbrook does lack a beach within City limits with Jim Smith, Wasa and Moyie Lakes being some distance away. However, I hope the City thinks hard about this one because Idlewild is easily accessible and a fine rustic environment for people and wildlife and a a crowded and noisy public beach is not exactly compatible with that.

Then there’s the old city Fire Hall, a fine brick edifice sitting unused and forlorn in the heart of the downtown with only a garish “For Sale” sign in front of it for company.  The ornate, two-storey building is one of only nine officially designated Municipal Heritage Properties in the city and received a Commercial Heritage Award in 1980. Yet there it sits mostly unused and empty since it closed in 2011 with rumors swirling about its future.

Will this fine building continue to languish in 2017 or will the City announce its plans? The previous City Council, of which I was a member, set aside $500,000 in its five-year capital plan to develop the heritage structure into a new Art Gallery, performing space and craft work shop facility for the city in conjunction with the Cranbrook Arts Council and spent more than $108,000 to remove the asbestos from the building to help this exciting project become a reality. The new council decided to take a different course, which it was entitled to do, subject to the provisions of the Cranbrook Community Heritage Register. Now it’s two years later and the fate of our heritage fire hall is still uncertain. Isn’t it about time the City announced its plans? Wouldn’t it be nice if Council reconsidered selling the building to the private sector and partnered with a group capable of repurposing it for the use and benefit of all Cranbrook residents instead of selling our silverware to the highest bidder.   

And while we’re on the subject of fate, we have to consider the fate of the City’s prime sport institution, which of course, is the Kootenay Ice, who have been playing better as of late. But regardless of how well or poor the Ice are playing the question hanging over the heads of the team is how much longer will they be playing in Cranbrook? The quick and brutal answer is not for long if crowds continue to average 1,500 or less at Western Financial Place.   

Continuing to be brutal but honest, I have to say I don’t believe the problem is a lack of marketing, as so many Ice fans like to claim, but rather the lack of warm buttocks in those comfortable seats. In other words, we the fans, are the problem – not Ice owner Jeff Chynoweth – who has delivered one Memorial Cup, three Memorial Cup appearances and took his team to the WHL playoffs 17 times.

That’s a damn outstanding record! It’s an incredible achievement for any owner and general manager whose job is to put a winning team on the ice. Therefore, I can only maintain, if we lose the Ice in 2017 it’s our own damn fault!


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who places the Kootenay Ice second only to his beloved Trail Smoke Eaters.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Watch out for the rebirth of the Moyie Pub next year, by Gerry Warner

Watch out for the rebirth of the Moyie Pub next year
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
Santa Claus may have a special treat in his bag this year for all those – and there are many – who have enjoyed a cold glass of suds and a plate of steaming fish and chips in the Moyie Pub over the years.
The “gift” won’t actually arrive until around May of 2017 when the new owner of the historic 1926 watering hole hopes to throw open the doors on a refurbished, family-friendly building that will appeal to everyone that enjoys a cold beer on a hot day and something to eat to go with it.
“It will still be a public house,” says Rob Chauncey, a former Pitt River  businessman now living in the old hotel with his wife and young daughter. “But it will be more family orientated and we want to take greater advantage of being right on the lake.”
The now shuttered pub was in the news recently when an old and somewhat mysterious train bell was returned to the small lakeside village after being sold to a Cranbrook antique dealer. After hearing about the bell’s sale, Moyie residents rallied and raised $2,700 in less than 24 hours to buy it back and donate it to the Moyie Museum.
    
Moyie Pub as it used to be
“It should be in the bar or the museum. It wasn’t theirs to sell,” says Amie Lubbers, an advertising consultant with Koocanusa Publications in Cranbrook and a Moyie resident. Repatriation of the brass bell rumored to have been on a steam train that plunged into the lake near Moyie in November 1925 was fine with him, says Chauncey, who contributed $500 to the purchase himself.  
Sale of the bell was a move that went “sideways” on the new owners, says Chauncey, who has a silent partner in the venture. “I had no idea what the bell actually meant to the people of Moyie. If I’d known, I would have donated it myself.”
Now that the bell issue has been resolved, Chauncey says he just wants to get on with completing refurbishment of the hotel which has slowed down in recent months because of some financial setbacks the new owners have experienced. But this is “normal” in a project of this nature and when you’re dealing with the expenses of trying to bring an almost century old wooden building back to life, he says.
“When we got into the building, we realized it needed a lot of work. But when you really get into the building you get a sense of what the building could be,” he says. The partners originally hoped to reopen the pub last May, but when they realized the amount of upgrading they faced, starting with the plumbing and bathrooms they decided to put the opening off until May of 2017.
“We had to make the building safe electrically and structurally so most of our budget went into restructuring things rather than just upgrading which took us to the off-season and we figured why rush it then when we could do things properly.”
When the pub re-opens, it will have more of a sports bar atmosphere and a family atmosphere as well, Chauncey says. “It will have a new layout and be more open. There will be a water feature at the bar and a games room and there will be a new floor.”  But the popular outdoor patio will remain and some apartments may be added on the top floor, he says.
And contrary to rumors, the partners have enough money to finish the project, he says. “There have been some hiccups along the way and I’m not going to say money has never been an issue. Money is always an issue. But we’re not even close to giving up on the place. We’re moving along. It’s not like things aren’t getting done.”
Chauncey says people who’ve have had a peek at the renovations inside have been impressed. “They were wowed. We’re bringing it up a notch.”


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who has hoisted a few in the Moyie pub himself.

   

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Trump’s cabinet picks bear an ominous message, Gerry Warner

Trump’s cabinet picks bear an ominous message Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
If one can take anything out of the President Elect Trump’s cabinet picks so far, only one conclusion can be reached –  head for the exits or crawl into a deep cave,  because the next four years aren’t going to be pretty.
What else can be said about a US president cozying up to possibly the most dangerous man in the world? That, of course is Vladimir Putin, the steely-eyed president of Russia and former KGB chief, who Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain describes as a “butcher, a murderer and a thug.”
But that’s what Trump did when he named ExxonMobil oil executive Rex Tillerson secretary of state in charge of US diplomacy. Tillerson has been chummy with Putin for years, so much so, that in 2013 Putin presented him with an “Order of Friendship Award,” the highest award Russia can give to a foreigner. Yet no less than the CIA says Putin was personally involved in penetrating the security wall around the US election in order to help Trump win. With “friends” like that who needs enemies? I guess now we know what Trump meant when he said the election was “rigged.”
But Tillerson is only one of several bizarre Trump cabinet picks. Many heads swivelled far to the right when Trump announced alt-right member and white nationalist Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, the man whom a scathing Bloomberg Business Week article described as “the most dangerous political operative in America.”
You think this is hyperbole? Listen to Bannon’s own words in an interview with The Daily Beast in late 2013. “I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.” And you thought Karl Rove was scary.
And it doesn’t end with Bannon. Trump has always been a climate change denier and in one of his daily tweets called global warming “a Chinese hoax” to put a damper on American industry. So who does he appoint to head the Environmental Protection Agency? Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, an evangelical fundamentalist known for fighting federal environmental regulations under the guise of “states’ rights and described by the New York Times as a “puppet of polluters.”
Then there’s former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s appointment to head the Energy Department, an agency he once said should be eliminated and now he’s in charge of it! Perry’s also another climate change denier, who calls scientific evidence on the issue “a contrived phony mess.”
But surely a pattern is emerging here. As the world knows now, Trump doesn’t think. He tweets and soon there’ll be a president whose biggest policy decisions will be expressed in no more than 140 characters. Can 140 characters bring peace to the Middle East, put blue-collar workers back to work, restore the American  economy to its former heights, reverse climate change, build a wall on America’s southern border, stare China down, stop the growing ascendancy of Putin or put Hillary in jail? Of course, I’m being a tad factious here, but we’re entering unchartered territory with a Trump presidency.
Sensing they were a nation in decline, Americans craved change in the election and never was an election craving answered more successfully than Trump’s hollow slogan “to make America great again.” But is a Wall Street billionaire, real estate flipper, discharged bankrupt and reality TV star the change agent that millions of Americans say they desperately need?

In the next four years – or less – I think we’re going to find out. Will Trump emerge as a new messiah or as another political charlatan and rogue Commander in Chief?  Judging by his cabinet picks so far, I can only conclude the latter.

Fake news” preferred to real news in the US, Gerry Warner

Fake news” preferred to real news in the US
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
So it has come to this. “Fake news” is now outperforming real news and has been cited as a major factor in Donald Trump becoming president.
If you don’t believe it, you have my sympathy because I didn’t believe it at first either. But there is proof. Hard statistical evidence to show that fake news “stories” carried on social media, especially Facebook, gathered more eyeballs and resulted in more clicks than any other form of media engagement in arguably the most bizarre election race in American history.
It also resulted in a crazed Trump supporter armed with an assault rifle bursting into a family pizzeria in Washington DC two weeks ago bent on ending a child sex ring allegedly operated by Hillary Clinton according to a fake news story he read on-line. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28. of Salisbury, North Carolina is now in custody charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after firing two shots in the pizzeria but injuring no one as terrified patrons fled into the street.
Welcome to the new reality of social media and what it can do in a digital world.
But as unbelievable as this story may seem, it becomes more understandable if we can believe an analysis carried out by BuzzFeed News, a relatively new Internet giant, known for compiling listicles (10 best/10 worst etc.) and doing exacting statistical studies on the Web. In a post election study, BuzzFeed discovered that in the early part of the campaign major, legitimate new outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News and others were engaging more voter response to their stories in terms of shares, reactions and comments than Facebook. But in the final three months of the campaign this dramatically changed as Facebook responses pulled ahead of the top 20 major media outlets by a margin of more than one million. (8.7 million to 7.3 million). Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg played down BuzzFeed’s findings commenting: “I think the idea that fake news on Facebook — of which it’s a very small amount of the content — influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.” But the New York times took Zuckerberg to task saying the Facebook CEO was in denial and accused Facebook of spreading “misinformation” to its 1.8 billion users.
Just some of the false “news” stories carrier by Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets during the election campaign included Pope Francis endorsing Trump. President Obama signing an executive order banning the national anthem.  orner  from being played before sporting events, Hillary selling arms to ISIS and many more.  Paul Horner, one of the many purveyors of fake news stories on Facebook, told CBS News that Trump supporters were endlessly gullible. “My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything,”
So there it is. In the Age of Social Media if you post it or tweet it, they will read it and repost or re-tweet it no matter how outrageously false and unbelievable it is. Fact checking is not part of the equation. Neither is verification through multiple sources. Illusion triumphs over truth, fantasy over reality, lies over facts. People will believe what they want to believe and if their beliefs happen to be racist, misogynist, anti-Semitic or plain ignorant, tough! It doesn’t matter because they can always find a story or “news” on the Net that will justify their beliefs no matter how abhorrent.
 George Orwell, one of the greatest journalists that ever lived, put it this way: “In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Now with the Pew Research Centre saying 44 per cent of Americans use Facebook as their primary “news” source and 62 per cent of Americans use social media for “news” overall, maybe it’s time for another revolution.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who never knowingly wrote a “fake news” story, though he wanted to a few times.
  



Friday, December 2, 2016

Our best laid plans sometimes go astray but that’s not always a bad thing, Gerry Warner

Our best laid plans sometimes go astray but that’s not always a bad thing
“Perceptions” by Gerry Warner
Something funny happened to me on the way to Prague, Czech Republic. I got there all right and all I can say is what a beautiful city it is. The medieval architecture, cobblestone streets and soaring spires of its numerous churches will live in my memory forever.
But my plans to take an ESL teaching course and teach abroad fell through. The  karma wasn’t right for it and I can’t give you a better reason. But I can offer you some valuable advice.
Go to Prague someday. You won’t regret it.
Aside from producing some great hockey players, Prague is home of the “Velvet Revolution,” the “Velvet Divorce” and was at one time the centre of the Holy Roman Empire, a city drenched in history if there ever was one.

From a few scattered huts along the river Vitava, Prague emerged as a small city in the 10th Century to rise in prominence as the Huns and the Visigoths were busy sacking Rome. Called “The Times of Saints and Blood,” the Prague royal family was awash in blood with Queen Ludmila strangled by her daughter-in-law and her grandson Vaclav murdered by his brother, but later made a saint.
The mid-1300s were the Golden Age of Medieval Prague when the King and Emperor Charles IV made Prague the centre of the Holy Roman Empire and started the building of the many architectural wonders that tourists enjoy so much today like St. Vitus Cathedral overlooking the Old Town, Wenceslas Square, named for Good King Wenceslas, the patron Saint of the Czech Republic, and the Charles Bridge, sometimes called “the Bridge that Never Sleeps” and lined with dozens of gnarled statues from Prague’s rich, Czechoslovakian history.
By the mid 1500s, Prague was the capital of Bohemia, which was only one kingdom belonging to the mighty Holy Roman Empire along with Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and numerous German states. The empire dissolved in 1806 and Prague became part of the powerful Hapsburg Empire until it broke up in the wake of World War I and Czechoslovakia became a country of its own in 1918.
But not for long.
By the late 1930s, Nazism was goose-stepping across Europe and Adolph Hitler’s Wehrmacht troops swallowed up Austria and Czechoslovakia and the Western allies, consumed with appeasing Hitler, didn’t say boo. The Munich Agreement (Peace in our Time) was the death knell for the briefly-lived Czech Republic and to this day many Czechs have felt a “Munich komplex” about their country’s history and its tragic betrayal by the allies, according to a wonderful historical guide I picked up at the Prague Info Centre near one of the many ornate bridges that span the Vitava. 
Czechoslovakia re-emerged as a country again after World War II, but quickly fell under the yoke of communism and became a stolid satellite of Moscow. In 1984, when I attended the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, I was told by several experienced Europe travellers not to visit Prague because it was depressing and the people were dour. I regret now that I heeded their advice.
Whatever the case, my advice now is to go if you want to enjoy one of Europe’s most historic and glittering cities chock-a-block with palaces, cathedrals, monuments, haute cuisine and little hole-in-the-wall restaurants where I had tasty goulash in a bread bowl that I’ll never forget. Not to mention the unique “astronomical clock” on the stone tower in Old Town Square which shows earthly time and time in the cosmos.
To be honest, the heavy hand of communism can be still felt to some degree in Prague in some of the boring Soviet era, Stalinist style buildings, but also in a positive sense in the very cheap and efficient transit system boasting both underground subway lines and above ground rail trams and buses. 
It’s not every country that can use the word “velvet” to describe the revolution that saw it break away from the Soviet Union and use the same word again to describe the amicable divorce between it and Slovakia.
By all means, consider a holiday to Prague. Good King Wenceslas would approve.

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who can never get enough of historic Europe.


Monday, November 21, 2016

When all else fails, go to the Czech Republic, by Gerry Warner

When all else fails, go to the Czech Republic
Perceptions by Gerry warner
Well, you won’t have Warner to kick around anymore! At least for a while. Let me explain and please forgive me for channeling Richard Nixon.
By the time you read this, I’ll be 30,000 feet or so in the heavens on a KLM flight from Calgary to Amsterdam and then on to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Prague, Czech Republic.
In Prague, I’ll be taking a one-month intensive course in teaching English as a second language and if things work out according-to-Hoyle which they seldom do, I may be spending more time in the country formerly known as Czechoslovakia until the so-called “Velvet Divorce” of 1993 when Czechoslovakia became two separate countries; the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Actually, that’s no longer quite true because the Czech Republic is going through another name change that will see it become “Czechia,” a name I won’t try to pronounce but you’ll probably see on TV on the uniforms of the Czech hockey team when they play in the annual International World Jr. Hockey Tournament in Toronto in December.
No, I’m not fleeing North America in the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning victory in last week’s election.  But Czechia may be an interesting, if not safe, place to land in light of what the US may become under the sway of “Herr Donald.” Yes, that’s an allusion to Hitler which I truly hate to make because I was hoping against hope that Trump might surprise us again by continuing to act graciously as he did for a brief while when he spoke to Clinton and Obama in the aftermath of the election. Unfortunately, two events since Trump became “President Elect” have me thinking differently and fearfully.
First his appointment of Steve Bannon as his “Chief Strategist.” Bannon is the man Bloomberg Business Week calls “the most dangerous political operative in America” and one of the leaders of the “alt right,” a secretive, white nationalist, extremist group. Now as chief strategist, the former executive chairman of the ultra-conservative Briebart News, will never be more than a heartbeat away from Trump or the Oval Office. The mainstream media, which underestimated Trump throughout the campaign, calls Bannon a misogynist, an anti-Semite and a neo-Nazi and there is evidence to back up these toxic allegations. Commenting in The Guardian, Michael Keegan, president of the progressive pressure group People for the American Way, said: “By choosing Steve Bannon as chief strategist, Trump has made clear that he intends to carry the racism and anti-Semitism of his campaign straight into the White House.”
Then there was the sickening story Tuesday about the small-town West Virginia official that posted a message on Facebook about First Lady Michelle Obama saying, “It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House. I'm tired of seeing a Ape (sic) in heels."  In response to this incendiary, racist posting, Clay, West Virginia Mayor Beverley Whaling replied, “just made my day Pam.”
I’m not making this up. Pamela Taylor, the official who sent the post has since been fired and the mayor forced to resign. But how do you respond to a racist outburst like this? If ever there was a beautiful, gracious and classy First Lady it’s Michelle Obama. So, was this an isolated incident of toxic racism or is it typical of how millions of Americans think? I’d like to think it isn’t. But if it is, there’s more than a swamp that needs draining in Washington and I manifestly think Trump is not the man to do it. He would only add to the problem and trigger a potential race war. And Trump hasn’t even finished naming his cabinet yet in a cut throat battle a CBC commentator called a “knife fight.”
But maybe this is just another example of the mainstream media getting it wrong. There must be some sort of an explanation for the malignant hatred floating in the ether since Trump’s great victory. In the meantime, there’s only one thing I can say for sure.
I’m so glad I’m going to the Czech Republic.


Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who hopes that Trump will soon realize that being President is more than just another reality TV show.