April 13, 2012
Map of Mauritania - photo LonelyPlanet
Mauritania in northwest Africa is the last country in the world where slavery is still practiced and in fact condoned. This country is primarily Muslim in religion and desert-like in geography. It is estimated 10 to 20% of the population live in slavery. In the year 2012 of the 21st century this is shocking to say the least.
The country supposedly abolish slavery in 1981. Yes that’s right 1981! However, it is still widely practiced, even though the government denies it exists. In fact the nation only made slavery a crime in 2007.
How and why does slavery still exist in 2012? Here are some reasons,
- the government does little to discourage it.
- it is difficult to enforce laws because the country is huge and largely empty in the Sahara Desert.
- local Islamic leaders (imams) speak openly in favor of slavery.
- racism is rampant, lighter-skinned people have historically owned darker-skinned people in the country. The “White Moors” are a light-skinned Berber people who speak Arabic. They are the power class in the country and have traditionally owned slaves. The “Black Moors” are darker-skinned people who also speak Arabic. They have historically been enslaved by the White Moors.
- the population is poorly educated. Most slaves don’t even understand they are enslaved.
- to most of Mauritania’s slaves the idea of being owned and treated as property is normal and has been for centuries.
Here are some facts about Mauritania taken from the CIA World Factbook:
Population: 3.4 million
Enslaved Population: 340,000 to 680,000
Year Slavery Abolished: 1981
Year Slavery became a crime: 2007
Convictions against slave owners: One
Area: 400,000 square miles
Location: western Sahara Desert, Northwest Africa
Languages: Arabic, French, regional languages
Official Religion: Islam
Literacy rate: 51%
Population Density: 8 people per square mile
Percentage living on less than $2 per day: 44%
Government: Republic currently under military rule
Legal system: Mix of Islamic and French civil law
Gained Indepence from France: 1960
Military coup: 2008 (overthrew first democratically elected leader)
What will it take to bring this country and its people into the modern world where they can live free and determine their own destiny? The only way this situation will change is if other countries pressure them to change. Rooting out and eliminating this institution so deeply rooted in the tradition and history of Mauritania will take the supreme effoct of all freedom-loving countries. Write your government representatives and make them aware of this issue and your concern for it. Slavery is reprehensible and unacceptable to the human race.
CNN Online Article
CIA World Factbook
February 20, 2012
Crude oil and subsequently gasoline and jet fuel are about to get much more expensive and hard to come by. The Middle East is heating up again. Iran has just shut off the taps to the UK and France for imposing sanctions. Iran is close to becoming a nuclear power. If that doesn’t scare you it sure should. Iranian leaders have publicly stated on several occasions that they intend to wipe the State of Israel off the map. Israel will be sure to make a preemptive military strike in an attempt to stop Iran. That will light the fires.
A nuclear exchange of any kind in the Middle East could contaminate the oil fields for thousands of years let alone kill millions. Unfortunately the government of Iran consists on Islamic extremists who could care less about consequences.
Almost all of the crude oil imported by the United States comes from the unstable Middle East. Any restriction of exports from that region will be catastophic to the American economy and will force them to take action to maintain oil flow. That action is sure as hell not going to be sanctions, but will surely be military intervention.
Unless the West can break its reliance on oil imports from unstable, unfriendly countries and soon war is imminent.
November 9, 2011
Grandpa in France
Dear Grandpa Sendell,
I am writing this letter as a Remembrance Day tribute to you and all the others that served our country so unselfishly.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to talk to you about your experiences in the Great War of 1914-1918. I was too young and not very knowledgeable about such things at the time. I certainly did not appreciate your sacrifice, nor did I have any concept of the conditions in France where you served.
I am now in my early sixties with children and grandchildren of my own. I have researched my family roots including the military side of it. Through my research and readings on your military experience I have come to have a deep connection with your experiences. My only regret is that I can’t speak with you directly about this period of your life. This letter is my attempt to do that in a public way.
I discovered you enlisted in the 3rd Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in 1915 to go overseas. You were assigned to the Canadian Army Service Corps within this division. There you drove munitions trucks from the rear areas to the front lines under heavy enemy fire. Now I realize why you were such an excellent driver.
Even though these trips were made under cover of darkness, the enemy could hear the sounds of the truck engines and rained heavy artillery fire down on the roads approaching the frontline trenches. Many of your fellow drivers were killed instantly when shells ignited the explosives in the trucks. The stress of driving under these conditions must have been unbearable.
When I compare your military record with the timeline of battles fought in the Flanders area of France during the time you were serving, it is obvious you experienced most of the brutal encounters of that time. It is fortunate you survived and returned to us here in Canada, so many of your friends and fellow soldiers did not.
Grandpa I value greatly this historical connection you gave our family. We treasure it with tremendous pride. Frankly I and others of my generation wonder how you did it. Your country and King called and you gladly gave up years of your life to serve under dangerous and dreadful conditions.
It’s shocking and sad to realize how young the soldiers were that went to war. I can only imagine what it was really like, but at least now I have a true appreciation for your experience. Bless you and all the others for your service to our country. We will never forget.
Your loving grandson,
Steve B. Davis
July 20, 2011
Darren savoring victory-photo by Russell Cheyne, Reuters
On Sunday the prestigious British Open was won by Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke. The forty-two years young Clarke was playing in his 20th Open, but golf was not the only story here. The human interest saga behind the beaming face of Darren Clarke far outweighs the golf.
Clarke was probably one of the best golfers never to have won a major tournament. For those non-golfers there are four major tournaments in the world, The Masters, The US Open, The British Open, and the PGA Championship. It is every golfer’s dream to win one of these. In Clarke’s case he won his home country’s Open which made it doubly special.
Darren has had to fight not only the other golfers and the courses over the years, but a terrible tragedy as well.
Five years ago his wife Heather died of breast cancer. Since that time he has struggled on the course and in life. Darren had to raise two young boys on his own while making a living on the golf course. Clarke came through these troubles with strength and dignity. One of the first calls he made after winning the tournament was to his sons. His fiancée stood by him during the tournament. Life is coming together again for Clarke.
British Open champion Darren Clarke is a fine man who deserves to enjoy this win. May good fortune continue to shine on him.
June 6, 2011
On this the 67th anniversary of D-Day we must remember the sacrifice the servicemen of the Allied Powers (Canada, Britain, the United States, France and Poland) made on the beaches of Normandy, France that fateful June day in 1944.
When you look at the photos of aged veterans commemorating that event, realize that on June 6, 1944 these were mere boys and young men who dashed from the landing craft across the beaches under murderous fire from the entrenched German positions. A terrible number of these young men died there on that beach in the battle against tyranny.
The Second World War had been raging for four long years to this point. The invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 resulted in the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe less than one year later. It was the turning point of the war in Europe. If the invasion had failed the war would have dragged on for many more years.
April 3, 2011
Pumpjack on Prairies
Stats Canada projects in the next decade about 30% of the Canadian workforce will retire. In my industry alone, oil and gas, it will leave about 40,000 job vacancies. This is without the impact of oil prices and activity levels.
Virtually ever other industry including small business will be impacted by the boomers leaving the workforce. Now it will give younger persons starting out great opportunities, but most of the rookies in the workforce need about ten years to build experience to the levels of those workers leaving. This results in a knowledge gap.
Some of this knowledge gap can be filled by hiring the boomers back as consultants on short term basis. Most boomers don’t want to quite cold-turkey anyway it seems. Many of my friends who have retired out the door ahead of me are back working part time. Great opportunities for all generations it seems.
“Severe labour crunch forecast for oilpatch as workers retire”, by Dino O’Meara, Calgary Herald, March 29, 2011.
“The Decade Ahead 2010-2020″, report by Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, 2009.
June 10, 2010
2010 Stanley Cup Champs photo by John J. Kim/Sun Times
Long suffering Chicago Black Hawks fans can rejoice. Last night they won their first Stanley Cup in 49 years. The last time they hoisted the cup was the 1960-61 NHL season. That year Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Glenn Hall, and Pierre Pilote led them to the championship.
The Hawks have had many opportunities to win since 1961, but haven’t been able to finish it off. Since the 1961 championship the team has reached the finals 5 times and lost every time. Here is their record in the modern era from 1960 to present.
1960-61 won over Detroit Red Wings
1961-62 lost to Toronto Maple Leafs
1964-65 lost to Montreal Canadiens
1970-71 lost to Montreal Canadiens
1972-73 lost to Montreal Canadiens
1991-92 lost to Pittsburgh Penguins
2009-10 won over Philadelphia Flyers
Congratulations to the Chicago Black Hawks and their fans for a well played final and a well-deserved victory.