Election spleen vent

I have just been to vote in the Ontario provincial election.

I must admit, I don’t find any of the candidates in my riding particularly enticing, but I have always said that if you don’t vote, you lose your right to bitch. So off to vote I went.

This is where it went a little sideways. Unless I am very much mistaken, the two official languages in Canada are English and French. So how come the people that were staffing the polling station were conversant in neither?

I have voted many times before, so the process is well known to me, but if I hadn’t gone through it before, I’m pretty sure that I would have had difficulty after the totally mangled explanation that was given to me by the elections officer. I wondered if it was just the one person that was dealing with me, but her partner was having similar difficulties with the next person in line.

I was very tempted to switch to French to see what sort of reaction that would provoke, but instead decided that the best course would be to simply vote and get out of there before I said.something that I would regret. Well I’m going to say it anyway. Why for heavens sake can’t the hiring criteria state ability to speak and understand either official language clearly is mandatory.

 

Attack adverts

It is election day -1 here in Ontario, and as a follow up to a prior article about attack adverts, I would like to reiterate my objection to disingenuous names. It isn’t the Working Families Coalition, it is a variety of teachers unions.

These have been among the most vitriolic of the attack adverts against Tim Hudak, and it gives the impression that it is a group of concerned citizens, when in fact it is a very expensive media campaign by teachers unions.

There have been many others including a particularly nasty set by “Project Ontario” who I have been unable to identify.

Let me state again. I have no objections to attack advertising. They are part of the political landscape. I would much rather see politicians talking about their own platforms rather than saying little about what they would do and lots about how awful their opposition is. Where I have an objection is when unions and other organizations spend millions of dollars on slur campaigns and then hide behind innocuous names like the Working Families Coalition.

Hopefully these attempts to paint Hudak as some latter day Faust who has sold his soul to big corporations will suffer the fate that they should and cause a backlash. The question one needs to ask when seeing attack ads like that is to wonder what has been promised for a group of unions to spend so much money.

Working Families Coalition

Day one of the advertising war in the election campaign, and a vocal PC opponent is about to open up the big guns.

Obtained by Global News, a new advertisement by the Working Families Coalition paints PC Leader Tim Hudak as untrustworthy and “misleading voters again.” The union funded organization will release the ad on Thursday.

Now I’m not against any organization taking out public advert time on any form of media, however I would like a little clarity. The coalition, which includes the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, and the Ontario Nurses’ Association, spent $2.1 million on .ads attacking PC Leader Tim Hudak during the 2011 election campaign and it looks like they are planning on doing similar this year.

.What I would like is a clear statement on these ads regarding exactly who is sponsoring them, rather than the somewhat benevolent sounding Working Families Coalition.

The Ontario Election

I’m just a voter, I’m not a political commentator or a candidate, but please don’t interpret that to mean that I am stupid. The Ontario Liberals must think exactly that.

Firstly, I am not going to forget about Orange or the Gas Plant fiascoes. It is not past history that  is water under the bridge, it is indicative of how the Liberal Government works. Dalton McSquinty may have been Premier, but Kathleen Wynn was at the big table during all of this, so her bleating that it wasn’t under her leadership rings very hollow. Wynn was not elected to the top job as an outsider, she was very much part of the leadership cabal that is directly responsible for these disasters.

Secondly, the Liberals have been in power for 10 years, so blaming anything on prior government again is very hollow. If you can’t fix it in 10 years, or at least make significant progress, then I don’t want you as my government because you have shown that at the very minimum you are incompetent.

Finally, again as the Liberals have been in power for 10 years, how come there wasn’t any movement on all of their brand new promises before now. These are just election promises that will be thrown to the political winds as soon as someone is stupid enough to vote for them. For both the NDP and the Conservatives, their promises need to be viewed with a cynical eye as to whether this is true direction that they are going to follow or just election rhetoric, but in the case of the party in power, if they aren’t already moving on some of these promises, then you know how much you can depend on them following up.

With a party in power, they have a track record and you can look at that record. With opposition parties, you have to take their promises with cynical faith. The liberal track record is not something to be proud of and that needs to be reflected in a resounding rejection of them on polling day.

Ukraine self rule vote

As a publicity stunt, you have to admire the Russian masterminded self rule votes in the Ukraine. The master stroke is Putin coming out in public and saying the votes should not go ahead, while the majority of the groups that are actioning these are heavily, if not completely influenced from the Kremlin.

I suppose there must be at least three people on the planet that believe these votes are going to be fair and not rigged about as tight as the highwire act at the circus, but those three must be buried in a mine somewhere in the Arctic. This bunch could give the crooked politicians that were rampant in Chicago in the last century lessons on how it is done.

All this is, is a way of giving the West some wriggle room. Western leaders are publicly criticizing Russia, but in the meantime France is still selling them warships, and it is business as usual except for some highly publicized “economic sanctions” that are frankly laughable.

What do you want to bet that the results of these votes are that 80% of the population voted and overwhelmingly they wish for self rule, and then the next step is a request for Russian annexation.

**late update – the so called results are now being made public and it is 90% in favor, which is even higher than the 80% I predicted. Now all I am waiting for is the annexation request.

FDA and vaping – ridiculous part 3

I just thought I would post this to ensure anyone reading this blog is up to speed. For any of my fellow vapers in the USA, you need to get active on this before big brother and big tobacco take your vaping away from you. For those of us in Canada, we need to keep a very close eye on Canadian regulations, as it is quite typical for Canada to follow the USA’s lead

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its long-awaited draft regulations for electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and other low-risk alternatives to smoking. The regulations offer little benefit, according to The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA), the leading advocate for the current and future consumers of low-risk alternatives to smoking. However, CASAA believes that should the FDA finalize the rule in its current form, it will inflict devastating harm on consumers.

“This is a classic case of government imposing a ‘solution’ and then looking for a problem,” said CASAA President Julie Woessner, J.D. “The regulations do nothing to address real concerns, and instead are a slow-motion ban of the high quality e-cigarettes that have helped so many smokers quit. The rules would mostly require busy-work filings that impose huge costs with little apparent benefit.”

The proposed regulations are based on a faulty understanding of the science, reports CASAA Scientific Director, Dr. Carl V. Phillips. “FDA has cherry-picked the available evidence,” says Phillips, “blindly accepting any assertion that favors aggressive regulation and ignoring the overwhelming evidence about the harms that these regulations would cause.”

Although the regulations do not openly ban the refillable devices that are preferred by experienced users, they impose a costly registration and approval process that would effectively eliminate them. Such registrations offer minimal benefits, but ensure that only a few large companies who mass-produce small and disposable products would be able to afford the necessary filings. Additionally, while the regulations do not immediately ban the variety of popular flavors for e-cigarette liquid, they signal an intention to do so in the future.
“Our research and others’ shows that higher-quality hardware and appealing flavors are important for smoking cessation,” says Phillips. “Many former smokers report that they were always tempted to go back to smoking while using the smaller devices with imitation tobacco flavoring, but they quit smoking for good when they found better hardware and flavors that no longer reminded them of smoking.”

It is estimated that as many as a million American smokers have quit or substantially reduced their smoking thanks to e-cigarettes, and many are already making plans for a black market if these regulations take effect. Those smokers who are using e-cigarettes in a transition stage could easily return to smoking–and future potential switchers may never be able to make the transition–if the restrictions on high-quality products are imposed. Woessner, who quit smoking thanks to e-cigarettes, fears such impacts. “If I had been limited to only those products that would exist under this regulation, I would probably still be smoking.”

CASAA is preparing a response that will point out the flaws in the proposed regulations and is organizing its members and hundreds of thousand of other e-cigarette users in an attempt to persuade FDA about the harms this regulation would cause. Should that fail, it plans to fight the regulations in court.

CASAA is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, public health, membership NGO. It does not represent the interests of industry. Donations are not tax-deductible as a charitable contribution.
Contact: Carl V Phillips, CASAA Scientific Director, 651-503-6746, cphillips@casaa.org.

FDA and vaping – ridiculous part 2

This is important to me as vaping has allowed me to give up cigarettes. Rather than my pack a day habit, I am now simply vaping. I haven’t had a cigarette since October, and all of my prior efforts to quit had been unsuccessful.

The proposed FDA regulations are going to insist that any vaping products, such  liquids must be reviewed and prior to  being allowed to be sold. The application fee is $2500 just to start, Then they also have to pay an additional $1500 per ingredient. Now some nicotine juice only contains as few as 4 or 5 ingredients, which means that the combined cost for the PMTA would be about $10,000 dollars. But that is misleading. That is for each juice, so if you manufacture 25 juices at 4 levels of nicotine, that is 100 applications, so a total of a million.

The exact rules are

1. Products that were already on the market as of February 2007 are grandfathered in and allowed to be sold without review, although the FDA could hypothetically order them off the market.

2. Products introduced between February 2007 and March 2011 are allowed on the market while under provisional review. Producers have had to submit applications, but they are allowed to continue selling while the FDA reviews them.

3. Since March 2011, all new products must receive FDA approval before being sold.

This will totally destroy the small vaping community, just leaving the big players (who are mostly owned by big tobacco companies now), as most, if not all current vaping products came into existance after the 2007 date, so that will put all of the current market under review.

If there was one shred of evidence that vaping was dangerous, I could look at this and say that it was for health reasons, but there isn’t. It is ludicrous that vaping is falling under the Tobacco Control Act. One interesting note is that the Tobacco Control Act was fully backed and negotiated by Philip Morris. They knew what they were doing. 

Not only that but the review process is a snail. It has been reviewing applications for four years on tobacco products, currently has more than 150 employees working on reviews, has received approximately 4,000 applications, and has managed to rule on only 34 of them. 

 

FDA and vaping – ridiculous

refillable vaporizer The FDA has come out with a draft regarding its position on vaping and it is now open to public commentary. I’m in Canada, so not directly affected, but where the US goes Canada seems to like to follow. The proposed FDA regulations are restrictive and very far-reaching and any vaper needs to take note and hopefully act.

The FDA seems to be grouping vaping under tobacco regulations, which is very silly, but I suppose as a lot of e-juice contains nicotine, there is a certain twisted logic. It is like grouping mouthwash under the liquor control board because they both contain alcohol. The draft regulations are a very long read, but there are three areas that stand out.

Age control – the FDA is looking to restrict vaping to 18 or older. To my mind, this is sensible and should move forward, although there is a great deal of evidence to support the position that banning something makes it even more attractive to those under the age of majority.

Warning labels – the FDA is proposing that e-liquids have warning labels on them. Again, this would seem sensible and I have even less objection to that than the age limits. Lets face it, a lot of e-liquid contains nicotine, which is addictive. That being said, so is caffeine and I don’t see coffee being similarly controlled.

The third area is the one that I have huge problems with. The FDA is proposing that all vaping gear and supplies needs approval before it is legal to sell them. This imposes a huge and probably unmanageable overhead on small manufacturers and sellers. This would hand the vaping world over to the large manufacturers, especially big tobacco, who already have to live under these restrictions. Most vaping gear consists of either batteries or units that contain coils to vaporize e-liquid. It is ridiculous to control these units – heck its like trying to control flashlights. As far as e-liquids are concerned, there is something to be said for a full statement of contents and potentially a ban on including certain products such as diacetyl which can be found in certain food flavorings, but approval – no – that is going way too far. That would mean that a small boutique e-liquid manufacturer would have to get approval for each and every liquid they create, for each mix of PG/VG, for each level of nicotine and for each flavor. That is something that would be completely unmanageable for a small outfit and would force them either underground or out of business.

Please watch this video – it does a good job of explaining what the FDA is proposing here

If there is any evidence that vaping is in any way dangerous to health, either to the vapers themselves or more specifically to those around them, then lets see that evidence and use that as the basis for sensible regulations. If I was suspicious, I would say that big corporate interests had significant input into these regulations with the intent of taking control of the vaping industry, and if these regulations proceed through as they are, then there is a pretty good chance that they will succeed.

For those of you that are vapers in the USA, or friends of people that have given up smoking by switching to vaping, you need to contact your congressman and tell them how much vaping has helped in your lives. This legislation must be stopped or heavily amended. It is just wrong that something that has helped me and thousands of others is going to be treated this way.

 

Truth or dare

SchaubleA senior German minister has come under fire from both the Russian government and German MPs for comparing Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea with Hitler’s invasion of the Sudetenland in 1938.

Wolfgang Schauble, Germany’s finance minister and a veteran of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat party, made the remarks during a discussion with German schoolchildren earlier this week.

“We know this from history. Hitler used such methods in Sudetenland – and a lot more”

The Russian foreign ministry summoned the German ambassador to complain on Thursday.

“We consider this kind of pseudo-historical excursion from the German minister to be a provocation,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. “This analogy is a crude distortion of historical events and facts. An official occupying such a high placed position must give an account of his words,”

Additionally Herr Schauble has been criticized from within the German political ranks, and Angela Merkel has distanced herself from the remarks.

Lets stop mincing words. The Russian actions were an invasion, not a legitimate annexation, or protection of Russian citizens.There is a significant Russian troop presence on the border between Ukraine and Crimea, and that sure as heck isn’t there to prevent a response from Ukraine, whose army consists of 36 solders, 5 bicycles and a dog.

Herr Schauble has said that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes and he is right.

Fort Hood

forthoodThere has been another tragedy at a US Military Base, and again it is Fort Hood.

The soldier who killed three people at Fort Hood may have argued with another service member prior to the attack, and investigators believe his unstable mental health contributed to the rampage, authorities said Thursday. Spec, Ivan Antonio Lopez was a 34 year old military truck driver and Iraq war vet, who was being treated for anxiety and depression.

Now the effect of war on soldiers and the aftermath are a subject that needs looking into. If we send our young men and women into harms way, then there must be an obligation to deal with the outcomes. Whether this be physical scars or mental ones, needs must be met. Will it be possible to help everyone to the full extent they need? – no probably not, although a best effort is needed. What will be true, as in all things in life is that despite everyone’s best effort, people will fall through the cracks, and the best that can be done is to ensure those cracks are as narrow as possible..

The lesson to be learned here though is not that this is an ex-soldier, shooting military personnel on a military base. It is that he was using weapons that were not military issue. Weapons are very tightly controlled on a military base and only issued on an as needed basis. The military realizes that they are dangerous and does its best to keep them under control. This is not true in the world outside of the military. Guns are far too easy to obtain, and in this case, rather than a fist fight breaking out there was a mass shooting.

The NRA will have you believe that the answer to this is more guns not less. If everyone has a gun, then these mass shootings will not happen as people will be able to defend themselves.

Poppycock.

Shootings will still happen. People will crack and make bad decisions and the fact that they have easy access to guns leads to those bad decisions being fatal rather than bruising.