Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Facebook denies us choice

This morning, I checked my Facebook account and discovered a message welcoming me to my Timeline-Preview.  Am I ever lucky!  I will be on Timeline on September 4, 2012 - whether I like it or not.  Do I get a say in the matter?  Do I get a choice?  No way, Jose!

Some people enjoy Timeline and that's fine.  I prefer to be more private.  I do not want every biographical detail of my life available online, especially since identity theft is so rampant. Even without the privacy factor, I still resent the fact that Facebook is not giving its users a choice.  I'm sure many people share the same opinion.

This is the message I and countless others received on Facebook.

Welcome to Your Timeline — Preview
Timeline is your collection of the photos, posts and experiences that help tell your story. People won't start seeing your timeline until September 4. This gives you a chance to:
1. Review what's on your timeline now.
2. Add or hide whatever you want.
Want people to see your timeline before September 4? Just click Publish Now. 

I am finding Facebook increasingly dictatorial and intrusive.

- Joanne

Joanne's Journal: August 28, 2012

Edition No. 9

Quote of the Day

I learned . . .that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back - that the essence of life is moving forward.  Life is really a One Way Street.
- Agatha Christie (1890 - 1976), English writer of murder mysteries
From At Bertram's Hotel [1965]

Is life really a One Way Street?  As August begins to fade away and we head into September, the subject of experience comes to mind.  I think about the 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray.  Murray's character, an egotistical TV weatherman named Phil Connors, lives the same day over and over again and is given the opportunity to correct his mistakes.  In real life, there are no do-overs.  You can't relive an experience.  You can't go back in time.  All you can do is learn and move ahead.

Experience is the best of schoolmasters, only the school fees are heavy.

- Thomas Carlyle (1722-1881), Scottish historian and philosopher
From Miscellaneous Essays [1838] "Goetha's Helena"

The light which experience gives is a lantern on the stern, which shines only on the waves behind us!

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), English poet, critic and philosopher
From Table Talk [1835] 18 December 1831

On this Day

On August 28, 1963, 49 years ago today, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.  Dr. King made the inspiring speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  His rousing 17-minute oratory in front of thousands of civil rights marchers was a plea for racial equality and it is regarded as one of the greatest speeches ever given by an American.

Joke of the Day

A man went for some medical tests and was diagnosed with  Tom Jones disease.  The man was taken aback.  He had never heard of such a disease.  "Is it rare?" he asked his doctor.  His doctor replied, "No, it's not unusual."

Joanne's Look-a-Likes

Gary Bettman and Count von Count 

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

Count von Count of  Sesame Street

Jose Bautista and a young Fidel Castro

Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays

Cuba's Fidel Castro

Roses and Thorns


ROSE: To the CBC for acquiring the rights to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Socchi, Russia and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  At a time when Canada's national broadcasting system is being slowing starved to death by a reduction in funding from the Harper government, our public broadcasting system was long overdue for a break..

ROSE: To Britain's Prince William for rescuing a Canadian woman from Barrie, Ontario.  The woman, Darlene Burton, was on vacation in Wales.  She was hiking along the Anglesey Coastal Trail when she slipped and  fell on a rock, breaking her leg.  She was rescued by a Royal Air Force helicopter controlled by Prince William.  True,William was only doing his job.  Nevertheless, with his status and his wealth, he could have be idling and spending his money on less noble pursuits.  Instead he has chosen to rescue people.


I am not intentionally picking on Mitt Romney.  The Republican candidate for president of the United States, however, has earned three thorns.  Hence, the triple crown of thorns goes to the former governor of Massachusetts.

THORN: To Mitt Romney for pandering to right wing "birthers" during a speech in his home state of Michigan.  Romney quipped that no one had asked to see his birth certificate.  This was a clear reference to the right wing theories about President Barack Obama not being born in the United States.  Romney later remarked that he had been joking and that he hadn't questioned Obama's citizenship. Yet that not how the crowd in Michigan perceived his remarks.  They cheered and laughed heartily.  They clearly believed that Romney was questioning the president's "Americanism."  The whole "birther" issue is ridiculous and has been discredited.  Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.  So why won't Romney and other Republicans put the matter of Obama's birthplace it to rest?  To their shame, they are playing to the xenophobic and racist elements of American society.  Of course, Obama's race can't be mentioned by the Mitt Romneys, Donald Trumps and Rush Limbaughs of America.  Instead, they paint the president as a foreigner, not a real American.  They are using code to convince white voters that Barack Obama is not one one of them.  How disgusting!  How unworthy of America!  Mitt Romney should have risen above that.

THORN: To Mitt Romney for not releasing his tax returns as his father, George Romeney, did when he was Governor of Michigan.  In 1967, George Romney released 12 years of tax returns ahead of his 1968 presidential campaign.  When asked why he was releasing so many years' worth of tax information, Mitt Romney's father replied, "One year could be a fluke, perhaps done for show."  Oh Mitt, why can't you show some of the same integrity as your father?  What have you got to hide?  Some offshore tax havens, perhaps?

THORN: Speaking of offshore tax havens, a third thorn goes to Mitt Romney for remarking that big business was "doing fine" in the current struggling economy partly due to companies taking advantage of offshore tax havens.

THORN: To Pauline Marois, leader of the sovereigntist Parti Quebecois for calling for a ban on the wearing of religious symbols by public employees.  This would prevent many Jews, Sikhs and Muslims in Quebec from working in the public sector.  It is not inclusive and it is not the Canadian way.  If this is Marois' vision of an independent Quebec, it should be soundly rejected by the people of the province.   It is simply intolerant.




An NHL lockout looms and it seems inevitable.  The only question is whether the entire season and the Stanley Cup playoffs.will be lost.  I can't say that I have much sympathy for the owners or the players.  They are both greedy and overpaid.  The real victims are the small business owners near the arenas who depend on the hockey crowd.  The restaurant owners and the shopkeepers all stand to lose money and some will have to lay off employees.  I also empathise with the arena employees, those who sell tickets and programs and refreshments.  As for the fans, I hope they express far more displeasure than they did during and after the lockout of 2004-05.


So Roger Clemens is attempting a comeback at the age of 50.  He is playing for the Sugarland Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League.  Of course, Rocket Roger has motives and an agenda for his return to the mound.  According to Richard Griffin, baseball columnist for the Toronto Star, it's all about Clemens' ego and his legacy.  In his August 21st column, Griffin writes that Clemens is concerned about "his place in the hall of fame, and the negative reaction from the fans and the media after being acquitted of obstruction of justice and perjury on June 19."  Griffin contends that Roger wants to disassociate himself with others implicated in the steroid scandals.  Without a major league comeback, Clemens' name will appear on the same Hall of Fame ballot as Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.

As the 2012 major league season heads toward the finish line, the Toronto Blue Jays are once again out of contention.  It's been a trying year for Blue Jays fans.  All the injuries have been unbelievable.  At last count, the team has 14 players on the DL.  After a brief return to the lineup, star slugger Jose Bautista is out for the remainder of the season with a wrist injury.  He sustained the injury at Yankee Stadium back on July 16th and will undergo surgery.

This injury-riddled season is mercifully coming to an end for the Blue Jays. Once again, it's wait until next year.  The situation would have been easier to deal with, however, if the Jays had acquired a proven starting pitcher during the off season.  They didn't and they paid the price.

The Baltimore Orioles have been the most surprising team this season.  I hope they make the playoffs.  I'd rather see the Orioles win than the Yankees.  I'm tired of them winning all the time.

- Joanne

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Great Olympics Quiz 2012

                                                                © Bobbie Jean Peachey 


While you enjoy the London Olympics, you might want to take a break and try Number 16's 2012 Olympics Quiz.  There are 12 questions.  If you answer 14 to 15 questions correctly, award yourself a gold medal.  For 12 to 13 correct answers, you win a silver medal.  For 10 to 11, you receive a bronze.  Less than 10, you don't make the podium.  Are you ready to go for the gold?

!.  The 1940 Summer Olympics were cancelled due to World War II.  Where were they originally scheduled to be held?

A.  Tokyo, Japan

B.  Rome, Italy

C.  New York City, U.S.A.

D.  Helsinki, Finland

E.  Copenhagen, Denmark

2.  Including the London Games of 2012, how many times have the Olympics been held in London, England?

A.  The Olympics have been held in London four times.

B.  They have been held in the British capital two times.

C.  They have been held in London three times.

D.  The 2012 Olympics mark the first time the Olympics have been held in London.

E.  London has hosted the Olympics five times.

3.  Which famous boxer won a gold medal for the United States at the 1960 Olympics in Rome?

A.  Floyd Patterson

B.  Sonny Liston

C.  George Foreman

D.  Muhammad Ali

E.  Joe Frazier

4.  How old was Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci when she scored a perfect ten in a gymnastic event at the Montreal Olympics in 1976?

A. 15 years old

B.  14 years old

C.  16 years old

D.  18 years old

E.  17 years old

5.  The colours of the five rings on the Olympic flag are blue, black, green, red and yellow?  Why were those colours chosen?

A,  A poll was taken among the athletes at the 1920 Summer Olympics and they chose those colours.

B. These colours were chosen because they include primary colours and bright colours.  The colours were meant to be emphatic and to stand out.  Thus, pastel colours were avoided.

C.  They were the favourite colours of the flag's designer.

D.  A French psychologist,, Dr. Marcel Rousseau, was consulted and he advised that those colours would have the most impact and be the most inspiring.

E,  Those colours were chosen because at least one of them appeared on the flag of every country.

6.  Why is a long distance race called a marathon?

A.  It was named after a town in Greece.

B,  The first winner of the Olympic long distance race was Demetrius Marathon.

C.  It is derived from a Greek word meaning "long race."

D.  It was named after Marathon, a Greek god known for endurance and strength.

E.  It was named to honour an ancient Greek politician, Adelphos Marathon, who was instrumental in promoting long distance running.

7.  Switzerland boycotted the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.  Why?

A.  The Swiss were upset with the Australians over a diplomatic incident.

B.  They were angry about the disqualification of a Swiss athlete at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.

C.  The Swiss boycotted the 1956 Games to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Hungary.

D.  They boycotted the 1956 Olympics in response to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser's nationalization of the Suez Canal on July July 26, 1956.

E.  The Swiss boycotted the Melbourne Olympics in support of Taiwan.. They were  the People's Republic of China decided to boycott the event because of Taiwan had been allowed to compete under the name "Formosa."

8.  When and where were the first Winter Olympics held?

A.  The first Winter Olympics were held in Oslo, Norway in 1920.

B.  Davos, Switzerland played host to the first Winter Olympics in 1928.

C.  They were held in Lucerne, Switzerland in 1924.

D.  They were held in Chamonix, France in 1924.

E.  They took place in St. Tropez, France in 1920.

9.  The great American athlete Jim Thorpe was stripped of  the gold medals he had won in  the decathlon and the pentathlon at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.  Why?

Thorpe in Stockholm in 1912

A.  It was discovered that his U.S. passport was not valid.

B.  It was learned that he had played professional minor league baseball.

C.  Three days after the Olympics, he was arrested for disorderly conduct and disturbing the public.

D.  He was charged with theft.

E.  It was revealed that he had gambled money that he would win both the decathlon and the pentathlon.

10.  No women were allowed to compete in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896.  At the time, who said that the inclusion of women would be "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect."

A.  Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics.

B.  Kaiser Wilhelm II, Emperor of Germany.

C.  Grover Cleveland, President of the United States in 1896

D.  Queen Victoria

E.  William Milligan Stone, the American educator and historian who escorted the U.S. Olympic team to the 1896 Olympics.

11.  Which of these statements about the first Winter Olympic is not true.

A.  In hockey, the Canadian team scored 85 times over three games without allowing a goal.  Canada won the tournament by scoring 122 goals on their opponents.  Only three goals were scored against the Canadians.

B.  An American, Charles Jewtraw, became the first champion of the Winter Olympics by winning the first event, 500m speed skating.

C.  Clas Thunberg of Finland earned five medals, including two golds, in the five speed skating events.

D.  The first Winter Olympic were originally known as Winter Sports Week.  It wasn't until 1926, during the 25th Session of the International Olympic Committee in Lisbon, Portugal, that they were recognized as the first Winter Olympic Games.

E.  All of the above statements are true.

12.  Who was Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera?

A.  He was the first athlete from Belgium to win an Olympic medal.

B.  He was the French flag bearer at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris.  He won two medals in swimming.

C.  He was the President of the International Olympic Committee from 1950 until 1958.

D.  He was the first athlete to win a medal in diving at the Olympics.

E.  He was the first black athlete to compete in the Olympics.


1  A.

The 1940 Summer Olympics were originally awarded to Tokyo, Japan.  They were officially known as the Games of the XII Olympiad and were scheduled to take place in the Japanese capital from September 21 to October 6, 1940.  Due to the outbreak of war between Imperial Japan and China, the Japanese renounced the International Olympic Committee's Cairo Conference of  1938.  As a result, the IOC denied Japan its host status..

In July of 1940, the Japanese government withdrew its support for the Games.  The Games were then awarded to Helsinki, Finland, the second place finisher in the original bidding.  Following the outbreak of World War II, however, the Games were suspended.  They did not resume until post-war London hosted them in 1948.

2.  C

The Olympics have been held in London three times - 1908, 1948 and 2012.  They were first held in the British capital in 1908.  Rome, Italy was originally awarded the 1908 Games but had to bow out due to the  huge volcano eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906.  As a result, the '08 Olympics were relocated to London.
In 1948, London hosted the first post-World War II Olympics.  The 2012 Summer Games give London the distinction of being the only city in the world to have hosted the Olympic three times.

3.  D

Ali in Rome in 1960

In the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) won the gold medal for the U.S. in the boxing light heavyweight division.  There is an apocryphal Upon returning home to Louisville, Kentucky, the 18-year-old was refused service at a diner due to his race.  According to the story, his response was to throw Olympic medal in the Ohio.River.  The truth is that the gold medal was simply lost or misplaced.

At the Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, Ali was presented with a replacement medal by the late Juan Antonio Samaranch, then President of the International Olympic Committee.  At the Opening Ceremony of those Atlanta Olympics, Ali, trembling from Parkinson's Disease, lit the cauldron to open the game.

To watch a video of Muhammad Ali receiving his replacement gold medal, click on the link below.


4.  B

Nadia Comaneci was 14 years old when she won three gold medals and scored a perfect 10 at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal.  Nadia is the first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event.  She also won two gold medals at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow.  Born November 12, 1961, Nadia is now 50 years old.

5.  E

Those colours were chosen because at least one of them appeared on the flag of every country.  The Olympic flag was created in 1914 by Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games.  It was first flown during the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.

6.  A.

Marathon is the name of a town in Greece.  According to legend, more than 2,000 years ago a Greek soldier named Pheidippides ran from Athens to Marathon, a distance of about 40.2 km. or 25 miles.  He arrived in Athens tired and bleeding with the news of  Greek victory in a battle with the invading Persians.  After informing the townspeople of the Greek success, he collapsed and fell to the ground dead.  In 1896, at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, a race was held of approximately the same length as Pheidippides' run.

Statue of Pheidippides alongside the Marathon Road

7.  B

Switzerland and two other countries (Spain and Netherlands) boycotted the 1956 Summer Games in response to the Soviet Union's crushing of the Hungarian Revolution.  The 1956 Olympics were affected by
other boycotts too.  Egypt, Iran and Lebanon withdrew from the Games to protest Israel's involvement in the Suez conflict.  Less than two weeks before the November 22nd opening ceremony, The People's Republic of China boycotted the games over the inclusion of a team from Taiwan (Formosa0.

8.  D

The first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France from January 25,1924 until
February 5, 1924.  The event turned out to be very successful and it attracted 10,004 paying spectators.

9.  B.

Jim Thorpe was stripped of the gold medals that he won in the 1912 Olympics when it was discovered that he had played professional minor league baseball three years earlier.  Thorpe, one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century, was born on May 28, 1888 on Native American territory in what would later become the state of Oklahoma.  He was of mixed ancestry, aboriginal and European.  He had some French and Irish blood but he was mostly of aboriginal heritage, that of of Sac and Fox Nation.

About six months after winning his gold medals, Thorpe admitted that he had been paid to play baseball in North Carolina.  Not long after, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), declared him to be a professional and requested that he return his medals.  His name was deleted from the record books. In solidarity with Thorpe, decathlon silver medalist Hugo Wieslander
of Sweden, rejected the gold medal when it was offered to him.  Jim Thorpe died at the age of 64 on March 28, 1953.  In January of 1983, three decades after his death, the IOC returned Thorpe's gold medals to his children.

10.  A

Pierre de Coubertin, the French historian and pedagogue who founded the modern Olympics, was opposed to female participation in the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.

11.  C.

Clas Thunberg of Finland earned five medals, including three golds, not two, in the five speed skating events at the first winter Olympics in Chamonix, France in 1924.

12. E

Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera, who competed for France at the 1900 Olympics in Paris, was the first known black athlete to participate in the Olympic Games.  He was a Haitian-born French rugby union footballer.  He was also the first black Olympic gold medalist as he was a member of the French team that won the Olympic title at the first Rugby Olympic Tournament.  In addition., Henriquez de Zubiera won a silver medal in tug-of-war at the 1900 Olympics.

- Joanne

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

America is gun crazy!

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre

It is difficult for Canadians to understand America's deadly obsession with guns.  South of the border, devotion to the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.runs so deep that it borders on the sacred.  When some Americans refer to the Second Amendment, they speak with a tone of reverence in their voices.  How dare anyone even question the holy writ of the right to bear arms?  How dare anyone inconvenience God-fearing Americans by placing any regulations on their gun purchases?

The Second Amendment is being used as an instrument to intimidate those who advocate sensible gun regulation.  America is justly proud of its Constitution and the gun lobby brazenly takes advantage of that pride in order to achieve its goals.  Constitutions, however, are not written in stone.  Times change and technology changes.  That is why the U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times to date.  It has been amended to abolish slavery, to give women the vote and to establish and revoke Prohibition.

The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, only 15 years after the United States had won its independence from Britain.  It reads as follows:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

In 1791, the young American nation was faced with internal and external threats to its security, especially from England and France.  The right to bear arms was intended to give citizens the power to form militias in order to overthrow  those who would gain control of the United States government by force.  With a considerably smaller population, much of it rural-based, 18th century America bore very little resemblance to urban 21st century America.  In the 18th century, hunting was a necessity for many Americans if they were to have their daily subsistence.  They used shotguns, not semi-automatic weapons, and they had large families to feed.

The Second Amendment is outdated.  It reflects another time and another era.  In the wake of recent events, it's more urgent than ever for Americans to commit constitutional sacrilege.  The latest horror show occurred this past Sunday (August 5th) at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The gunman has been identified as a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran named Wade Michael Page. Six people were shot dead and three were seriously wounded in the brutal attack.  Page, a neo-Nazi, was killed by police.  Authorities recovered a legally-owned 9 mm semi-automatic pistol at the scene.  Wisconsin, by the way, has some of the most lax gun laws in the U.S.  In 2011, the state passed a law permitting citizens to carry concealed weapons.

The tragedy in Milwaukee comes only two weeks after a shooting rampage at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado in which a crazed gunman opened fire at a screening of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises.  The accused gunman, James Holmes, 24,  had little difficulty in assembling a veritable military arsenal.  According to Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates, Holmes possessed  four guns and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition, all obtained legally.  He had a 100-round drum magazine clipped into his Smith & Wesson semi-automatic.

James Holmes' mental instability was known prior to the theatre rampage.  According to an ABC News report, the psychiatrist who treated Holmes contacted a University of Colorado police officer to express concerns about his patient.  It is also known that Holmes was recently denied membership at a gun range in Byers, Colorado.  The ranges owner found Holmes' voicemail to be "incoherent, just bizarre, really bizarre - slurring words, but he didn't sound drunk, just strange . . ."  Yet this man was able to acquire weapons legally.

On September 13, 1994, the United States Congress passed a ten-year prohibition on the manufacture of certain semi-automatic firearms for civilian use.  This federal ban on assault weapons, however, expired back in 2004.  Although President Barack Obama promised to reinstate the ban during the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, he has yet to deliver on his pledge.

It is also interesting to note that Obama's 2012 Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, signed a permanent assault weapon ban during his tenure as governor of Massachusetts.  When Romney signed the ban on July 1, 2004, he declared, "Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts.  These guns are not made for recreation or self-defence.  They are instruments of destruction with sole purpose of hunting down and killing people."  Romney, of course, doesn't make such statements now because it's not politically expedient.  He's campaigning to be President of the United States and he seeks the endorsement of the powerful National Rifle Association.

How many more tragedies must there be before sanity is restored?  I wish I could be more optimistic, but Americans can't seem to shake their gun frenzy.  Support for gun control in the U.S. has actually been decreasing.  A Gallop Poll, conducted in January of this year, found that 50 per cent of Americans are at least somewhat satisfied with gun control laws.  42 per cent are either very or somewhat dissatisfied.  In 2001, however, 57 per cent indicated that  they were dissatisfied.  Sadly, those are the kind of statistics that delight the National Rife Association, the largest and wealthiest gun rights advocacy group in the U.S.

According to its website, the NRA has 4.3 million members.  If that number is accurate, it translates into an enormous amount of money in membership fees.  Even if the number is lower, the NRA still wields a tremendous amount of power.  Its leader, 64-year-old Wayne LaPierre, receives $970,300 per year in salary.  LaPierre has served as vice president and chief executive officer of the NRA since 1991.

What do we know about this influential and powerful man?  We know that he's never met a gun he didn't like.  For the past 21 years, LaPierre has endeavoured to strong-arm elected officials into opposing any form of gun control.  His organization steadfastly defends the rights of Americans to carry concealed guns and it condones the selling of semi-automatic weapons..  The NRA also provides insurance to its members to pay for the legal costs of shooting someone in "self-defence."  Only three days after the Colorado shooting, it had the audacity to seek donations.

To put it bluntly, the NRA has blood on its hands.  Its actions have strongly aided and abetted gun violence throughout the United States.  It is a malicious organization that equates guns with freedom.  It present itself to Americans as a group of brave patriots, staunchly defending and protecting their constitutional right to bear arms.  Unfortunately, millions of Americans are deceived by the NRA's sophistry.

After the latest gun nightmares, it's high time that prominent American leaders stood up to this gun bully.  One would think Americans had already seen enough after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 and the shootings in Arizona that almost took the life of former Rep Gabrielle Giffords and left six others dead.  How free are American citizens if they cannot walk into a movie theatre without worrying that some madman with a semi-automatic weapon is going to gun them down?

It is heartening that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City has taken both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to task for their "deafening silence" on gun control after the horrors in Colorado and Wisconsin.  Bloomberg, a long-time advocate for stricter restrictions on firearms, challenged the two presidential candidates to outline their plans for curtailing gun violence.

Michael Bloomberg should be applauded for his leadership and courage in speaking out unequivocally in support of gun control.  On the day after the shootings at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, he stood on the steps of a Sikh community centre in Queens New York.  "Just two weeks after the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, we've seen another mass shooting," he stated.  "One in which it appears there were some warning signs in the shooter.  And still, the two presidential candidates have not given the American people a plan to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.  Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns.  The fact that criminals, terrorists and other mentally ill people have access to guns is a national crisis."

Although I have no interest in target shooting and hunting, I am well aware that many people do.  I also recognize that there are many responsible and law-abiding gun owners.  Those responsible owners should be willing to undergo a waiting period and strict regulations before being allowed to possess a gun.  No civilian, however, should be permitted to purchase a semi-automatic weapon.  No law-abiding civilian requires such lethal arms.  Their only purpose is to take human lives.

If someone is truly responsible and law-abiding, they should be willing to endure some inconvenience for the sake of the public good.  No one enjoys having to go through security checks at airports.  It is tolerated because it serves to protect the safety of air travellers.  For some perspective on the issue of inconveniencing hunting and sporting enthusiasts, here are the words of Sarah Brady, wife of James Brady, the White House  aide who was wounded and left disabled during a 1981 assassination attempt on then-President Ronald Reagan.

The gun lobby finds waiting periods inconvenient.  You have only to ask my husband how inconvenient he finds his wheelchair from time to time.

I am in favour of gun registries.  We in Canada had a long-gun registry until it was ended by our Conservative government which has been foolishly relaxing gun control in this country.  The fact remains that the easier it is to obtain guns, the easier it is for them to fall into the hands of criminals and mentally unbalanced people.  Another factor that can't be ignored is that some criminals obtain guns by robbing the homes of law-abiding gun owners.

America has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world.  According to FBI statistics, there were 12,996 murders in the U.S. in 2010.  Of those homicides, a whopping 8,775 were gun related.  When will this madness end?  James Madison, fourth President of the United States and the author of the Second Amendment, would be appalled by all this carnage.  In 1791, he could not have envisioned semi-automatic assault weapons or dazed gunmen such as James Holmes.

- Joanne