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.

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.