Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Explorer...Now She is Lost...

The Explorer lists in Antarctic waters yesterday after it hit some ice. The ship’s 154 passengers and crew escaped after a Norwegian boat picked them up.


`They promised an adventure but I don't think they ever intended to make it this good'

Now She is Lost...

The Explorer ended her 40 years of crisscrossing the Antarctica as she becomes the First Ship to sink in the frigid depth of the Ocean.

The first ship built to sail the Antarctic, she has the Firsts of many.

Operated by Toronto-based G.A.P. Adventures, Explorer is a small ship (75 meter long and 2,200 tonnes) with capacity of 100 passengers and 54 crews. But she was built to crunch ice as she plies the ice surfaced Antarctica.

All l54 passengers and crew were safely rescued by the National Geographic Expedition Ship Endeavor along with another bigger Norwegian Tourist Ship, The Nord Norge who arrived at the same time responding to the distress calls, and taken the passengers and crews on board and transported them all to Chile’s Air Force Base..

When Kruess’s ship arrived at the same, it was already four hours of waiting for the passengers and crew on board life boats and zodiacs and still dark.
There were 90 passengers, including 10 Canadian tourists, who paid Toronto's G.A.P. Adventures for a trip on its Antarctic cruise ship. Two of the crew were Canadian as well.

And here is an observation from Captain Kruess, Master of Expedition:

We experience breathtaking things down here, the landscapes, the whales, the penguins, the seals, it is difficult to describe, but this was the most dramatic thing I have ever seen,"

Kruess had worked on the Explorer for "one full Antarctic season" a few years ago, and knew many of the crew.

"We all know each other down here," he said
In an interview with the Star, Kruess called the rescue a masterful execution of seamanship and once the passengers and crew were accounted for, the shock set in that the Explorer, the ship that many of them had at one time or another worked on, was lying on her side, sinking as floes surrounded her.

And from one of the Endeavor’s crew “It was a small ship with a great crew, great camaraderie and lots of like-minded travellers. She went through some of the most incredible places in the world”.

The Explorer, she had gone places where few ships had been, finally gone to where few ships would ever want to be, under...

Read more from the pages of the toronto star, canada's largest...

--------------------And in a Sad Note:
Are we going for the Record?:

With Three Homicides (murders) in a span of 12 hours to Yesterday, the tally for this year is already 77, closing in the record of 89 in l991 and out of these, 35 were victims of guns...five more days and a month more to go and this could be one bloody year to remember..

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Taxing Bottled Water wouldn't just wash up....

Toronto City Council Plans to Tax Bottled Water Won’t Wash Up.

The idea was floated by one city councillor to tax bottled water at 5-cent for water bottled in the Province and 10-cents bottled outside at point of sale. But considering the number of retailers, this type of tax collection is soo expensive that the city Budget Chief is opposed to the idea and is not even certain if the city has the power to impose such tax. Under the law, the city can only collect taxes on alcohol, tobacco and entertainment, like concert tickets.

Unlike the province or the federal government, which already collect sales taxes, the city would have to set up a new bureaucracy.

I don't want to set up a department that's going to cost $8 million to $10 million to collect $15 million," said the budget chief.

But she added that if the city could have a sales tax that would generate $400 million a year, she'd be prepared to consider.

The idea of taxing bottle water is more of conservation than revenue. Most of these bottled water source are the same source of the tap water. And only 65% of bottles used for bottled water and other liquid drinks are recyclables and it took 20 million barrels of oil to produce the bottles for bottled water in America every year and imagine the oil used to transport them. Just turn on your taps, chill it and bottle it yourself and refill. Great lakes water tastes Great.

Before taking another sip from that expensive bottle of water, take a look at these facts..

Monday, November 19, 2007

Black-Focused Schools within the System??

Donna Harrow, left, and Angela Wilson say black-focused schools are available, as a right, if only the board follows its own alternative schools policy

Black Schools in Focus....

Royson James-Toronto Star Columnist:
There's a good chance that a mug shot of a young, black male will be on the pages of this newspaper this weekend – another victim of gun violence and public retribution that flows from the gang-and-drug culture. Almost immune, Torontonians spend little time connecting the dots between blood on the streets and failure at school. Until, maybe, when a stray bullet hits an innocent bystander like Jane Creba* in a public space.

*Jane Creba was a 15 year-old, on a Boxing Day shopping (a holiday after Christmas Day, Dec. 26, 2005) when she was fatally hit by a stray bullet fired during a running gunbattle between gangs of Black Youths, right on the busy downtown Toronto Streets.
Angela Wilson and Donna Harrow, both black parents have connected the dots and asked the Toronto District School Boards this summer to experiment with the black-focused schools as way of reaching at -risk students before they become thugs.
The Proposal ignited a fiery debate, that even the Premier toss his own Two Cents’ worth.
Donna Harrow, a grandma and runs a downtown community program has these to say:

The kids are killing each other. If we don’t take this as sympton of something, we are remiss as adults. It’s not going to fix itself.

Common estimate of Blacks dropping out of school at 40% and at age 16 more than half fell far behind in the Public School system that the only option is to quit.

'I can count more people who died from violent crime in Flemingdon Park than graduated from university'---MICHAEL COTEAU, school trustee.

Yet, Premier Dalton McGuinty says he's uncomfortable with an alternative school that aims to reach such kids. It upsets his sensibilities – along with those of many middle-class blacks – because it would be race-based.

The Toronto board has 33 alternative schools, created for all kinds of reasons – some pressing, like fear of physical attacks on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students; others merely philosophical, such as parents wanting a looser, less formal and structured school environment for their kids. Or one that stresses performing arts. Or year-round schools, of which there are an additional four. In all, 4,852 students attend alternative Toronto public schools.

This debate will get heat up, depending and how the pages of the dailies turn up with more mug shots of young Black Males victims of the night before and mug shots of Young Black males wanted for killings...or like Royson James wrote, when another stray bullet hit another innocent bystander in the Public Space like Jane Creba, that wakes up the consciousness of the whole city that there is a problem that’s needed some fixing, whatever it takes.... Check the pages of the Toronto Star for more details....

"This is a program that we need. I'm in the system. I'm a teacher. This is not the ultimate solution. But we take what we can get." -Kevin Cato, teacher

"There are important things to work through – content of curriculum, discipline, approaches to learning and navigating the differences in class, race, culture and differing immigration experiences of blacks. That doesn't mean it's not worth a try. I'm curious to see where it goes." "I'm trying to figure out why the angst. This is the fourth or fifth time this has surfaced. If it's about the achievement of black students, we should be willing to try what's possible. We need a curriculum and a school program that responds to the needs and expectations of students who are black." - Carl James, professor of education and sociology, York University

"You're talking about a 40 per cent failure rate. If this were any other community, something would be done. They would get on the stick." - David Watkins, teacher

We don't want a school where the first call is a call to the police; that has to stop. People are going to be teaching the children who are academically bright, capable, disciplined. We know they can learn. I've seen them in Africa, the Caribbean, in England. I've seen black schools where children sit and listen to their teachers and it can happen here as well. There are no guns. There is no need to beat them up." - Winston LaRose, Jane-Finch Concerned Citizens

"It must be funded by the government. It must be monitored by the best minds in our community and the broader society. What do the best minds mean? People who are trained with the sincerity and the morality and the understanding and the pride in our people. Not just see them as a number who come and because they come with a hood and a baggy pants, you pass judgment. You must love to educate. And ultimately, the Safe Schools Act that brings the police in and kick them out of school – there must be a way to respond to that, so we can show the world that we are about excellence and we are about education. - Dari Meade, concerned citizen

Friday, November 09, 2007

Lest We Forget...


The Canadian War Cemetery at Groesbeek is located atop a low, green hill just inside Holland on the Dutch-German border. More than 2,300 Canadians are buried or memorialized there, along with another 300 or so Allied war dead, mostly British.

On the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month...

A tribute by the Veterans to their fallen comrades... please watch and listen to this reading of "In Flanders Fields" by three World War II veterans for whom this poem has special significance.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Are They Less Canadians???


Ken Cao, centre, from Markham, fishes with friends near Jackson’s Point on Lake Simcoe. There have been reports of assault, mischief and theft against Asian-Canadian fishermen in the area.

Hate Crimes or Just Hooliganism? The Human Rights Commission will soon find out and the Police is investigating them as Hate Crimes...

The Ontario Human Rights Commission has launched an inquiry into a string of recent assaults against Asian Canadian fishermen.

Chief commissioner and former Toronto mayor Barbara Hall made the announcement just days after York police revealed they'd laid more charges in the recent attacks.

"The first part is we're setting up a hotline, which we'll run for a month. We're encouraging people who have experienced violence or witnessed violence to contact us," Hall said after the news conference. "Then we'll be providing support, whether it's legal support (for anyone seeking damages) or counseling."

The commission plans to report back with recommendations.

A month ago, the Toronto Star broke the story about Asian Fishermen victimized by theft, assaults and mischiefs and four cases were confirmed. Since, more came forward, saying they too had been a victim of what the local youths called “nippertipping”.

"Nippertipping," a term coined from a derogatory word for the Japanese and the rural prank known as cow tipping, consists of sneaking up behind fishermen and shoving them in the lake.

Account of assaults stretch from Peterbourough to Kingston (Peterborough is 135 kms from Toronto, while Kingston is 260, both East) although is some cases in Westport for example, (45 minutes north of Kingston), some residents say the motivation for the attacks is not “racism’ but illicit nighttime fishing in supposedly protected sanctuary.

A coalition of Asian Canadian community groups called on police to investigate the attacks as hate crimes. Both York police and the Ontario Provincial Police announced they would be calling in their hate-crimes units, and last Sunday, police announced they had laid charges in four of six confirmed assaults.

Throughout these developments, a 23-year-old Toronto man has been fighting for his life. Yesterday marked an important day for Colin and Terry Berwick – their son, Shayne, pulled through a milestone surgery.

His skull was successfully put back together."You just can't imagine. The first time he opened his eyes. Elation. You just can't describe," Colin Berwick said yesterday after leaving the hospital. "Things are still crazy. I'm only working half days. I go to work, come home, pick up Terry. We're at the hospital every day. (Our son) Michael is there every night. Then on Saturdays we try to take some time for ourselves. We volunteer at the arena."

Doctors initially gave Shayne a 10 per cent chance of surviving. He and some friends had been fishing off Mossington Bridge in the town of Sutton, late at night Sept. 16, when two of his friends where pushed into the river by some locals, police said.

A fight broke out between the two groups. Shayne and his friends sped away from the bridge in a Honda Civic. One of the town kids chased them in a truck, police said, eventually running them off the road. Shayne and a friend were thrown from the car.

He's been in hospital ever since.

Trevor Middleton, 20, of Sutton was charged with two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. On Oct. 22, police said he would also be charged with two additional assaults in the bridge incident. Last Sunday, Nicholas Perry, 19, also of Sutton, was also charged in the same altercation.

Police also learned of a fifth incident on Aug. 5, where a 37-year-old Toronto man was thrown into the water. Scott MacEachern, 19, who had already been charged in connection with an assault Aug. 6, was charged.

"We've now laid charges in four of six known incidents," Staff Sgt. Ricky Veerappan said following yesterday's news conference. "These are being investigated by the hate crimes unit, these are lengthy investigations, and we're still looking for witnesses."

"This is incredible news," said lawyer Avvy Go.

"Since the story was reported, we've heard of at least one incident going back as far as two years ago," she said.

People who believe they've been the victim of a racially motivated assault while fishing can call 1-866-237-1897 after Nov. 7. Interpreters fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Korean and Tagalog are available.

From the Toronto Star, published November 3, 2007 in its Toronto and Area Section