News - some good, some bad

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Life is filled with coincidences that if you read of them in a novel you'd likely say what a stretch!

Two weeks ago I wrote a scathing remark about reporters who hound people for comments at the most distressing times. Since then a whole different message has reached me.

Two young men were killed in the collision between the train and the bus in Ottawa. One of them had close family ties in Tillsonburg and Bayham. It was reaffirming to hear that reporters treated the families in Ottawa with the greatest respect and consideration. There was no sticking microphones in people's faces and asking intrusive questions.

The announced closing of Kingston Penitentiary brings to mind many stories. You will read or hear about them elsewhere. I like to explore the meaning of words, such as penitentiary. Let's take a look. It doesn't appear in my dictionary of word origins. Penitence appears, but we are directed to the word pain. That seems to be a reasonable link. The slangy contraction of penitentiary to pen which can be thought of as a cage certainly relates to pain

The use of the sadistic cat-o'-nine-tails in early years left backs cut to bloody ribbons, certainly relates to physical pain. Being locked in a box that resembled a coffin set on end inflicted mental anguish.

Penitentiary, however, refers to feeling sorry for one's behaviour. Time in the pen does promote real repentance in some people. The vigorous use of pain can make one feel sorry for getting caught and to resolve never to do anything that will send one back to the rock pile.

Prisoners in Kingston armed with sledge hammers provided tons of crushed limestone for all sorts of uses.

Pain turns others into angry rebels who end up in the recidivist cycle, being sentenced again and again for increasingly violent behaviour.

Prisons have been renamed correctional centres as society's response to criminal behaviour changed. Lack of money was and is responsible for the failure to succeed in this goal. Prisons as a result are colleges for learning to be smarter criminals.

Some men and women cannot be cured of criminal behaviour either by use of pain or by psychiatry. Kingston sort of security remains necessary.

The much delayed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report came out this week. As usual we are being blamed for causing life-threatening changes to our lonely little third rock from the sun.

Simon Kent in the Saturday London Free Press reminds us the panel reports it is "extremly likely" that this is true. He reminds us that in the 1970s "there were scientists who made unchallenged assertions that the earth was heading for...a new ice age."

Kent writes, "Never prophesy about anything that can be tested in your own lifetime."

It concerns me that the editors of two highly respected journals, Scientific American and The National Geographic have swallowed the IPCC whole.

We in Ontario have suffered the flight of industries as a result of the huge cost of energy brought on by the former premier.

The resulting lack of jobs has created a population of angry and disillusioned men and women. When you can't afford a car you may borrow some else's without permission and siphon gasoline to fuel it.

Will there be a boom in construction of rehabilitation centres?




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