Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Maria Santos Gorrostieta - Astonishing HERO of Mexico's Undeclared War

Early in WW1 Alan Seeger wrote the lines to his immortal poem, I Have a Rendezvous With Death. He then faced up to his fears and remained in the trenches with his comrades. It's not widely admitted, but Mexicans were participant in that war, and northern states like Sonora and Chihuahua had already experienced trench fighting, artillery duels and aerial bombing... this before the Canadian Corps had landed in France. Mexico is today torn by in another internecine war, a blood letting of monstrous proportions which is callously ignored by we selfish Gringos to the north. The undeclared war in Mexico has taken 30,000 lives since 2006. One HERO of that war is Maria Santos Gorriesta, mayor of the small city of Tiquicheo in Michoacan. This astonishing woman has survived two ambushes, the first in which she lost her husband. In spite of the fact that she has children, and has already made enormous sacrifices, the Mayor of Tiquichero stands her ground. Like Alan Seeger (an American who volunteered to stand with France, long before his government did) Maria Santos has a rendezvous with Death.
Maria Santos Gorrostieta - Victiim of Mexican drug CartelsMaria Santos Gorrostieta, Mayor of Tiquicheo, hands out uniforms to very brave men, the volunteers against the heavily armed Narco-guerrillas who seek to eliminate opposition to their deadly drug network in Michoacan. IF SHE QUIT, WOULD THEY STAND? When she meets Death, will the world mourn a Hero?
Murdered Mayor - Maria Santos GorrostietaIn spite of being painfully mutilated, the Mayor has kept up with the duties of public office. Her critics have repeatedly claimed that she was exaggerating the extant of her wounds for publicity. A few days ago Maria Santos Gorrostieta did something characteristically brave. She allowed photographers to record her horrible wounds. The Daily Mail has the story here
Mexican heroine - the martyred Maria Santos Gorrostieta If you believe the baloney in the daily press, the "Drug War" in Mexico would blow away if Canadians and Americans would just stop buying Mexican drugs. That is far too simplistic, but more to the point... we have to get our heads around the fact that this is a WAR. The Drug Lords are targeting municipal government and media as well as State Police and national army units. They are seizing control of huge swathes of territory and they intend to hold it. The drug gangs have morphed into heavily armed guerrilla armies and many now openly display banners and uniform insignia such as shoulder badges. You've heard and read the nonsense that they buy all of their weapons in WALMART stores and gunshops in the American border cities. Well you can't purchase cases of fragmentation grenades, finned rifle grenades, landmines and belt-fed machineguns from a WALMART. The bad guys have connections to foreign governments who think that fostering anarchy in our hemisphere is clever politics.
Redacted evil - Maria the murdered Mexican MayorFinally, and this is a point I hammer into students every day of the week. If we rely on TV News editors to decide what is notable and worthy of current interest, and WIKIPEDIA to decide all of the rest, we are well and truly SCREWED. Below is the search prompt for Wikipedia. Note the cultural trash on display. That alone should be enough to dissuade anyone from proceeding further. BUT I did press search... in fact I did it several times, just to be sure. There is no page for MARIA SANTOS GORROSTIETA. God damn that's a bitter pill to swallow! What in the hell has "Lady Gaga" ever done except make an ass of herself?

WIKIPEDIA REDACTS WHOLE EVENTS FROM OUR HISTORY : An even more blatant example of the callousness of Wikipedia mavens was the the so-called "Winchester Atrocity" - an extraordinarily evil domestic atrocity which was ignored by the U.S. media, lest it detract from the public euphoria of electing a president of colour. Prof. Stix wrote a detailed article on how Wikipedia actively redacts entire events from modern history. Read "Invisible Victims" here.
An afterthought: In our Orwellian world, the spoken or written word carries no reliable or concrete meaning. The concept of "Declaring War" on a foreign country or people, the need to apply a coat of legal varnish, has fallen out of fashion. Our "Mission" in Afghanistan was initiated by Jean Chretien and inherited by a lesser Liberal, and is now the toy of a Tory prime minister. In our time, war is only "declared" against undesirable social conditions - the illicit drug trade, child poverty, terrorism, etc. The "War on Drugs" in Mexico was declared by President Felipe Calderon. To symbolize the seriousness of his commitment to the metaphor, his Excellency posed in the uniform of a five star general and toured a military base in Michoacan. Allan Wall has some thoughts on that at MEXIDATA.INFO I am convinced that the wounds on the body of Maria Santos Gorrostieta are far more eloquent symbols of the war on drugs in the State of Michoacan.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon - not a heroMexican President Felipe Calderon photographed at a military base on Jan. 3, 2007. He wears an army jacket and FIVE stars on his cap... one star more than allowed the officer to his left, the senior ranking officer in the Mexican Forces.

2015 UPDATE:  There is finally a wikipedia entry for this incredible woman - a North American heroine totally ignored by the Gringo media.  Maria Santos Gorrostieta Salazar

Maria Santos Gorrostieta Salazar - R.I.P.

So far,  one of truly courageous women of our extremely bloody - 21st Century.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Countdown to Kabul - DND prepares to run a Frankenstein operation out of the Afghan capital

Canada's "Mission" in Afghanistan quickly became a war. We are allowed to number our dead but not to count our wounded, and the number of enemy our troops have slain is a state secret. By swatting at the pesky Taliban, and failing to neutralize Bin Laden, NATO has created a huge mess. We federal taxpayers will be funding the bloody cleanup for decades to come.

A Crusader army on the move was a cacophonous, colourful collection of men on horses, camp followers bouncing in carts, and weary servants with heavily calloused feet. The Canadians in Kandahar will soon be breaking camp and trailering their massive operation cross country to the Afghan capital - KABUL. Kabul where it's "safer" (Stephen Harper). Kabul where we will "no longer engage in a combat role". If you believe that, you better lay in some headache pills. There will be carnage in Kabul.

The super-base at Kandahar is impregnable. We are told that the new mission in the capital city, the training of Afghan National Police (ANP), will be a major scaling down of our war effort. That's odd, as training the ANP has always been an expensive component of our war in Afghanistan. I was first alerted to the ANP training boondoggle by an article in WALRUS magazine. That was about about eight years ago. More recently another WALRUS article caught my attention. THE ARCHIPELAGO OF FEAR by Charles Montgomery is here. You should find fifteen minutes to read it.

I suggest that in Kabul Canadians will be putting their balls on the block, and our military leaders know it. There is no way they will let Canadian cops run around Kabul naked. They just wouldn't do that. Military doctrine governs actions. Our cops do carry bad-ass weapons, and do pose in bulky body armour with bandoleers of mags, but there is no way they are going to go into firefights with Taliban urban infiltrators. Our policemen will be ambushed and their housing units will be bombed. (The PTSD settlements alone for 900 police trainers are going to put a big dent in our health care budget.)

If DND hasn't secretly promised to put in a few companies of regular soldiers to back up our cops from New Westminster, Edmonton, Regina, Sarnia and Moncton, Canada will contract for their protection to American, British or Australian mercenaries. There's no way Canadian cops will shelter under an Afghan security blanket.

I plan to write more about NATO's gold-plated policing contract in Afghanistan and the thankless role Ottawa has backed itself into. ISAF nations pay 100% of the payroll of the Afghan National Police, (although Japan footed that bill for one six month period) and they will remain a heavy burden on Canadian taxpayers for many years to come.

This is the peaceful image of our embassy published on a Canadian government website. Except for the mesh on the windows, the CCTV cameras and the flood lighting, it looks like it could be Kingston, Jamaica. In fact it is fortified and no Afghani citizens are allowed to go near it. The street is locked down. Concrete barriers block off both ends of the street and razor-tape festoons the perimeter fencing. There is a windowless "Panic Room" in the center of the compound where all civilian staff assemble when the alarm is raised.

The Canadian embassy is located in a wealthy neighborhood where the Afghan leaders keep their families and their property. Ever since the attack on the U.S. embassy in Saigon during the Vietnam War, guerrillas have made the hitting of embassies a high priority. If the Canadian embassy is attacked, you will NOT see it on television. You will only hear the well chewed and sweetened statements about "sacrifice" and "commitment". But the symbolism would be dire for a Tory government which has reneged on its solemn promise to get us out of this war by 2011. It is entirely up to us, we who have been lied to, to protest this war. When further Canadian blood is spilled, make it stick to the Tory logo.

The rear of the Canadian embassy has an improvised blast wall which will deflect a bomb blast or absorb RPG rounds. The compound is though, very vulnerable to even the lightest mortar rounds or to any improvised bomb projector. The IRA did it in London. The Taliban guerrillas will do it in Kabul.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

THE SOVEREIGN - Burnaby's first Skyscraper

This is the latest artists rendering of THE SOVEREIGN, under development by BOSA Properties. I think you will agree that it is very handsome design. The architectural pundits are describing this tower as the first true skyscraper in Burnaby, and it will certainly be the first to alter the skyline along the Metrotown ridge. THE SOVEREIGN will definitely tower over all other highrise structures along the Kingsway commercial corridor. Sales next month will be watched very closely by other developers who have projects in the proposal stage.

We have now learned where the Sales Centre is going in. I had been misled by City of Burnaby online records which give the tower location, 4509 Kingsway, as the site for a prefab presentation centre. Not true. I have every intention of purchasing a condo in this landmark building so I will take photographs of the architects model and other interesting details, and provide them in a future Blog.
In the Metrotown Skytrain Station a BOSA display ad has appeared for THE SOVEREIGN. The sales pitch is "SEE AND BE SEEN". Appropriate I think, for strata residences in Burnaby's first true skyscraper. (Photo submitted by Jeff Fan)

It is just as well that friendly BOSA staff NOT invite the curious to meet with them at the corner of Kingsway and Willingdon. That is the location of one of I.C.B.C.'s busiest red light cameras. It is a huge moneymaker! Last month I saw the camera fire at three cars in secession while I waited to proceed at the intersection. $ $ $ (For the information of foreign guests to The Runagates Club Blog, here in British Columbia a government monopoly controls automobile insurance. The government of B.C. made an election promise to get rid of the surveillance cameras at traffic intersections, and then reneged on that promise by handing that lucrative surveillance and trsaffic law enforcement authority over to the insurance corporation.) Below is the updated 2011 list for I.C.B.C. "real time" Laser Cameras in the City of Burnaby, B.C.
A news report on RCMP (Burnaby) - ICBC joint enforcement is here.

One of the local newspapers, the Burnaby NEWS LEADER, offered an interesting take on the release of current Property Assessment values. The number of homes valued at a million dollars plus, doubled from 2,248 one year ago to 5,114 today. A few of the new property millionaires may be fretting over higher municipal taxes to come, but Rudy Nielsen, President of LANDCOR Data Corporation urges them to be positive. "Get on your hands and knees and kiss the ground for the fact you live in British Columbia," he suggested. Reporter Jeff Nagel's article is here: Real Estate Rebound makes more Property Millionaires

Friday, January 14, 2011

The SOVEREIGN of Metrotown - getting dressed for his debut

The promised floor plans for the SOVEREIGN tower are not yet in, but the website has a nifty widget that allows us to admire the view from four different elevations. BOSA is promising a February 2011 launch but as of yesterday there is no activity on site - although a sales centre will appear soon. I admire the design of the building but having recently watched the superb documentary film IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON, my mind keeps juxtaposing the SOVEREIGN tower with the famous gantry and support deck which launched the Saturn V rockets for the Apollo moon landings.

The views from each unit on the upper floors of the SOVEREIGN tower will defy superlatives. Shown here is the line of sight toward downtown Vancouver and the north mountain wall.

In the absence of hard information on the SOVEREIGN tower, speculation is rife among Realtors. Chinese New Year is fast approaching and billions of freshly landed dollars are up for grabs, but don't discount the legion of locals who are desperate to sink their savings into something solid. The only SOVEREIGN secret anyone cares about is how steep the prices will be for individual units. They will sell at any price, but the risk is that Buyers saddled with extortionate prices, will be denied any viable resale potential.
Directly across the street from the tower property is the infamous "Crystal Mall". Why infamous? For a number of reasons including the fact that it's "THE CRYSTAL", not a mall but a marketplace. I well recall the intense speculative interest in the project in the late 1990s. All manner of promises were made - there would be retail anchors and a multi-screen cinema, etc. Never happened! (The major components did open in 2000 but many people averted their eyes as they drove by, for the longest time. It was painful.)
We had lined up a number of buyers for retail and residential units in THE CRYSTAL but whole blocks were sold out (unethically in my opinion) by insiders to pre-assembled buyers from Asia. The "Sold For" prices at the time were ludicrously high because the project was never exposed to the Marketplace. For several years the hapless suckers twisted and squirmed trying to unload bad investments. The complex itself looked sick for the longest time, but fortunately the Goddess of Property sometimes shines on the least of us. Those who didn't dump an impulse purchase, in time saw prices exceed what they had paid for a unit. Today the Crystal thrives and is a happy place to shop or eat.

I have the highest hopes for THE SOVEREIGN, but again everything depends on how the marketing campaign is conducted. Burnaby Metrotown doesn't need another fiasco like THE CRYSTAL. Buyers are being told that a "famous" hotel chain is going into the building and that "retail giants" will take the floors on the ground level. Unfortunately the residential component will be 100% SOLD OUT before any announcements are made for the lower portions of the project. We just have to trust that all will turn out to everyone's satisfaction.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

4509 Kingsway - a SOVEREIGN to rule over Metrotown

In Greater Vancouver the 'greed meter' went up another notch on Monday January 3, 2011. On that day property owners began receiving envelopes from B.C. Assessments, all bearing a late Christmas gift - significantly higher values on what they own. It shouldn't have taken the reasonably alert by surprise, because a company called LANDCOR DATA CORPORATION gave advance notice on December 8. My wife used that 'heads up' to advantage and made money by sharing the info with Buyers who were dithering in December. (Thanks LANDCOR!) But she lost a sale today because, very predictably, a Seller in Coquitlam rejected her close-to-asking-price Offer, and just bumped up the Asking Price, justifying avarice by waving a just received 2011 Assessment.

The SOVEREIGN - BOSA Properties
Another useful 'Heads Up' arrived yesterday, this one from Jean Openshaw, a residential Sales Manager for Bosa Properties. (I see the Commercial Realtors also launched on this project yesterday.) Openshaw's email is very guarded but did offer a few details for the newest tower in Metrotown, Burnaby - which is guaranteed to sell out very quickly, no matter what they charge per unit. We always knew the $$ prices for the 162 condos at 4509 Kingsway would pinch, but Monday's big news news of steeper property values all across the board, will help Bosa staff justify very high sticker prices for those condos on floors 20 through 45. (Her email says "45-storeys and 511 feet,") Equally important is that while cities like Richmond have too many condos on the market, Burnaby still has room for growth.
The SOVEREIGN, 4509 Kingsway, Metrotown - BurnabyThis project has been in the works since 2005 but Bosa has finally given it a name other than "4509 Kingsway" It is now dubbed the "SOVEREIGN". I guess that was a no-brainer; the Sovereign will be the tallest tower on Kingsway, after all. In fact it will top out as the tallest tower in Greater Vancouver by virtue of the fact that it is being erected on Metrotown Ridge. To quote Ms. Openshaw- "Simply put, there is no high-rise residence that sits higher above sea level anywhere in Greater Vancouver." Something very cute we noticed in the email is that three bedroom apartments in the SOVEREIGN will be marketed as an "estate". I don't believe I've seen that before.

What I like most about this "landmark" project is that it is entirely "homegrown" - the developer, Bosa Properties is a Burnaby company and they have hired Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc., a firm which is located just five minutes from the project site. I am in fact eager to have a peek when the Sales Centre opens.

THe SOVEREIGN - 45 floors - Burnaby MetrotownThe SOVEREIGN, a 45 story landmark tower is now under development opposite Crystal Mall, the Chinese shopping complex in Metrotown, Burnaby. The pre-fab Sales Centre is going in this week, and Bosa sales staff are already chatting up registered buyers. The photo illustrates clearly the bottom ten floors for the hotel, and the upper fifteen floors which will host the 162 residential units.

The SOVEREIGN - located in Metrotown CentreThe 45 floor SOVEREIGN tower (street level retail, a premium hotel, and 25 floors of condos) will soon rise at 4509 Kingsway (V5H 2A1). METROTOWN CENTRE is the second largest shopping complex in Canada. The SOVEREIGN property sits opposite to CRYSTAL MALL , the Chinese shopping centre located at 4500 Kingsway, Metrotown.

2010 was an extremely interesting year in Vancouver property. I saw and heard plenty, and now kick myself that I didn't write a few Blog articles, if only to refute some of the baloney I read in the Vancouver SUN. I've resolved to change my writing habits. Articles on Gang warfare are by far the most popular among Runagates Club readers, but there are many other local issues worth exploring.

UPDATE- Further word from Ms. Openshaw which clarifies notes I had from another source. There will be "a total of 203 homes starting on the 20th floor all the way to the 45th. The first 3 floors are retail, 4 to 19 are hotel." Ms. Openshaw says site line photos will be ready soon. I will add them to this article when I receive them.

UPDATE - August 2015
I thought I would go back and slip in a photo of how the finished SOVEREIGN tower appears today.

The Sovereign, 4509 Kingsway, Metrotown Burnaby