News for Youse: Crack deliveries at VGH, Shell hell, Brian Who?, and Miss Universe
If you haven't had time to read the morning papers or watch the news, here are some things you can discuss around the office water cooler:
Do you want some crack or heroin with your dinner? This morning, Vancouver General Hospital officials are dealing with the fallout of a sensational CBC story about security problems at the psych ward.
Dealers are posing as pizza-delivery drivers to bring street drugs into the facility near Vancouver City Hall. CBC also reports that lax security has patients escaping at will through various unlocked doors, upsetting parents and police.
Administrators want a new building. And Health Minister Mike de Jong is blaming the NDP government of the 1990s.
You read that correctly. De Jong, who was first elected when Kurt Cobain was topping the charts, is truly living in a time warp. In the midst of the B.C. Liberals’ third term of office, he insisted that it’s not his government’s fault that mental patients are leaving the hospital and sometimes killing themselves. He might as well have said, “Blame Glen Clark.” Is it any wonder so few Liberals supported his recent leadership campaign?
The other big local story concerns the fumes around an old Shell gas station at the corner of Granville Street and West 41st Avenue. Up to 78 residences have been contaminated by an ongoing gas leak, but stay calm folks. The oil giant says everything’s okay. Besides, the homeowners should be grateful that they don’t live in Ogoniland in Nigeria, where Shell’s operations really created havoc.
Meanwhile in Toronto, Madonna showed up at the Toronto International Film Festival for the premier of W.E., which she directed. There are already too many jokes out there about Madonna’s film career, so why pile it on? The execrable Shanghai Surprise, termed “Flop Suey” by one critic, provided sufficient fodder for a lifetime. Poor Madge.
And if you don’t give a shit about beauty pageants—but you still want to flirt with pretty young airheads in the office who actually care—tell them that you admire Miss Angola, 25-year-old Leila Lopes. She was crowned Miss Universe last night in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
She attributes her victory to "inner beauty", not her leggy look. Then you can admit you were slightly crestfallen that the hometown favourite, Miss Brazil, was the second runner-up. Just don't say you like the owner of the pageant, Donald Trump. Most young women think he's despicable.
Okay, enough of the fluff. On the national-news front, there’s talk of Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen entering his party’s leadership race. Yesterday, the ultimate backroom boy, Brian Topp (Brian Who?), stepped forward as a candidate. He's the party president who drove Jack Layton to the right in recent years.
Topp was endorsed by former leader Ed Broadbent, who backed Layton in the 2003 leadership race. It’s got us wondering why Honest Ed never seems to support a leader from within the NDP caucus. What does he know that we don’t?
Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that the national poverty rate rose last year to 15.1 percent from 14.3 percent the previous year. This means 46.2 million Americans are considered in need.
All those needy people probably weren’t encouraged by last night’s debate among Republican presidential hopefuls. The thuggish Rick Perry tapdanced around the greasy Mitt Romney’s questions about whether he would maintain social security. And libertarian Ron Paul—celebrated by his supporters for being a straight shooter—sounded awfully evasive when Wolf Blitzer asked if people should simply die if they don’t have medical insurance.
Listen to the tea partiers applaud when Blitzer asks if a man without health insurance should be left to die.
In the 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy to overlook important stories that unfold gradually over time, like priests taking liberties with the altar boys. Another one of those big, gradually unfolding game changers is the massive movement of people from rural to urban areas.
According to the China’s National Bureau of Statistics, 230 million peasants became migrant workers in 2009. Holy shit. That’s almost seven times the population of Canada.
The Chinese news agency Xinhua captured this story with a series of photos of empty chairs.