Tag Archives: Gordon Brown

Column: Focus Campaign On Real Issues

My latest in The StarPhoenix

When I was growing up, the United States was larger than life.

It was the peak of the Cold War and we thought at the time only Ronald Reagan, the United States military and our Canada Cup hockey team was standing between us and the evil Soviets.

Fast forward and I am now reading that much of the U.S. Navy is rusting out because they can’t afford maintenance or spare parts (how very Canadian of them).

S & P downgraded the U.S credit rating, and the government just cut $900 billion dollars from its annual budget.

Many economists think this could send the country back into recession. China is now saying it is growing tired of buying up U.S. debt.

In more tangible terms, one third of American high school students don’t graduate or graduate late. In 2005 the American Society of Civil Engineers released a report card on U.S. infrastructure, giving the U.S. a D, with the highest mark being C+ for solid-waste handling.

One in five Americans are now on food stamps. The country no longer looks so large or powerful.

Europe is in worse trouble. Greece seems about to topple, Portugal and Spain are teetering, and Italy’s debt is 120 per cent of its GDP – around $3 trillion.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown said that he sees G20 and IMF intervention coming to the continent very soon.

In Asia, China is battling inflation at home, which is generally fought with higher interest rates and a reduced flow of investment capital.

If Goldman Sachs is right and the United States does head into another recession, Saskatchewan will probably escape this downturn in a similar way to how we did the last one. Demand for our potash, oil, and food will remain constant if not increase, which means maintaining the status quo will be pretty tempting.

Foreign investment dollars will tighten up, however. Expect tourism and manufacturing to face some challenges due to a weak U.S. dollar and foreign markets struggling because of austerity programs abroad.

Despite our strengths and good luck, Saskatchewan is a $46-billion conomy in a $62-trillion world, which means if the world markets convulse and shudder, we will feel it.

While we can’t totally avoid what is happening out there, we can take this time to figure out how to come out ahead. Former prime minister Paul Martin told the Globe and Mail recently that Canada will attract the best and brightest from around the world because of our stability. He also added that investments in infrastructure and education would continue to push the Canadian advantage.

We have the time to figure out how to make the right investments. It took Canada and Saskatchewan almost a decade to find our way out from our economic crises of the 1990s, and expect it to take at least that long for the U.S. to recover.

Saskatchewan elections are typically pretty mundane affairs. We tend to look at election issues and promises for the short-term view. We have an election coming up in November that doesn’t have many issues that either party seems to be able to use.

Instead of creating fictional quotes for radio ads, why not talk about some of the more substantial issues facing the future of the province? What should Saskatchewan look like in 2031 and how do we get there?

We need to ask what it will take to attract the top talent to Saskatchewan. How do we create an atmosphere of innovation and entrepreneurship in a province historically dominated by Crown corporations?

What role does the University of Saskatchewan play in our future and what resources does it need to fill that role? Do we have industries or technologies where targeted investment would allow them to take off ?

What do race relations look like in 2031? Are our public schools preparing children adequately for the future?

How are we going to pay for it? Do we use non-renewable royalties to fund government operations now or should we be creating our own version of Alberta’s heritage fund once the oil and other nonrenewables are gone?

I guess the first question we should ask is: "Are we are ready to have an election about real issues or should we settle for one dominated by fear mongering, childish stunts and ridiculous debates?"

I would prefer forwardlooking election platforms and some real vision from both parties to figure out where we are going and how will we get there.

Times like this only come by once in a lifetime.

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

The News Corp. Coverup

This is from the Columbia Journalism Review.  It’s structured in a way that you want to read and watch all of it.  My question is how did everyone not see this coming?  You have a news organization that has made it’s name being intellectually dishonest and selling sensational stories and now they seem shocked that this could have happened.  I like Prime Minister David Cameron but News Corp. is engaged in this kind of stuff all over the world.  My gosh look at the libel suits brought against the News of the World.  This kind of behaviour is part of their corporate structure and they rewarded their staff for doing it.

Update: Here’s more.  Predictably there looks like there is a cover-up.

What it takes to be a New York Times photographer

Great video and story about what it takes to be a New York Times staff photographer.

“I think we’re finished now. Thank you. Thank you.”

The voice was clipped, the accent British and the tone could not be mistaken as an invitation to debate. Richard Perry, a staff photographer for The New York Times, was being told that his time to take pictures of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown was over.

Mr. Perry was having none of it. “In this town, you can’t be a photographer that is trying to accomplish something and have one person come up and say, ‘You’re done now,’ and you go, ‘Oh, O.K., I’m leaving.’ You have to be a little tougher to manipulate than that.”

At NYU, a Global Role For an Ex-Prime Minister in the New York Times

Mystery of the Nile

Mystery of the Nile Mark and I watched the IMAX movie, Mystery of the Nile last night.  I never knew this but until 2004, no one had ever travelled the entire Blue Nile River from it’s source to the Mediterranean Sea.

It’s a journey that took 114 days and was done by a team of explorers and amateurs led by Pasquale Scaturro and Gordon Brown.  They faced rapids, bandits, Nile crocodiles, civil war in Sudan, and other seemingly insurmountable challenges as they make their way along all 3,260 miles of the river to become the first to complete a full descent of the Blue Nile.

It’s a great journey but after watching it, I was somewhat disappointed as I wanted more.  A two hour film was not enough time to show a 114 day, 3,260 mile journey.  They could have made an entire television series or a long mini-series just on their adventures with the Nile crocodiles and several episodes could have been dedicated to the people they met as the floated down the Nile River, their adventures with bandits, and even the background of the cultures they are engaged in. 

So for all of you filmakers out there, feel free to steal my idea and make this series.  I’ll be the first to purchase it.

Dog eat dog

Just another day in a collapsing global economy.  An Irish and Canadian bank cause some problems for a Wisconsin school board

In separate statements, the Royal Bank of Canada and Stifel Nicolaus said board members signed documents indicating they understood the investments’ risks. Both companies said they were not financial advisers to the boards but merely sold them products or services.

While in Iceland, they may or may not be branded as a terrorist country while England freezes a banks assets.

Icelanders say that it is now nearly impossible to get foreign currency into or out of the country. Many banks have refused even to transfer money to Iceland. Importers are having difficulty paying their foreign bills, and exporters are having trouble getting paid by their foreign customers.

Many people in Iceland are also furious about what happened to Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander. The British government’s seizure of its assets precipitated the immediate collapse of its parent bank, Kaupthing, which the Icelandic government had been propping up and had hoped would survive.

“Kaupthing was the last, best hope of the Icelandic banking system, and it was killed there and then,” Andres Magnusson, an editorial writer for Icelandic Financial News, said in an interview. “This really was the last straw. A lot of Icelanders are asking, ‘Excuse me: who’s the terrorist here?’ ”

In case you were wondering why the Icelandic government doesn’t cough up some money.

“The compensation that we would give would be twice as much per head as the reparations Germany faced in the Treaty of Versailles after the First World War,” she said. “That is something we cannot afford.”

Iceland should know better as any student of history knows nations have no friends, they only have interests and it was in Gordon Brown and England’s best interest today to stab them in the back.

The end result is that Iceland’s GDP could shrink by 85% and according to some articles, have their economy set back 40 years.  While the blame is directed at the banks, this article documents how the fiercely independic Icelandic spirit has made the situation worse.

While the ideal of globalization is that in a global economy we should all be interested in helping each other, the reality is politics is local and Gordon Brown is accountable to the English electorate, not the Icelandic.