Monday, 28 November 2016

Toomas Karmo: DDO&P Sewage-Works Stormwater Facility: Queries for Province and Town, and Suggestions for Residents

One of my four Debian GNU/Linux desktops. Anticlockwise from top right: systems clocks, disciplined under Network Time Protocol (with, as usual, my local time - in the dark months, EST - in green, and UTC in red); a failed new earthen dam at Hadlock Point, Fort Ann, in  New York State (from http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Court-Town-owes-dam-failure-costs-2239655.php; Town of Fort Ann found liable in Appellate Division of state Supreme Court); earthworks failure documented by North Carolina engineering consultancy Foster Lake, from  http://fosterlake.com/blog/wp-content/new_uploads/IMG_3034.jpg; earthworks failure in Tasmania, from http://www.tasmaneng.com.au/Technical%20-%20Failure%20Gallery.html; a Debian GNU/Linux xterm ("glass teletype), showing some environmentalism-pertinent reading suggestions on which I have not yet acted. Barely visible as background wallpaper is part of a fine object for small telescopes in Ontario's autumn sky, the M57 planetary nebula.



Quality assessment:

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3'5 is "mediocre pass", 4.5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: Kmo had time to do a reasonably complete and (within the framework of the version 1.0.1, 1.0.2, .. process) reasonably polished job.






Revision history:
  • 20161129T0450Z/version 2.2.0: Kmo changed "one-metre bore" to "twenty-centimetre bore" (actually doing this ineptly, replacing "one-metre bore" with the incoherent phrase "twenty-centimetre metre bore", and in turn replacing this incoherent phrase with the required, coherent, "twenty-centimetre bore" around UTC=20161129T1712Z. - Kmo reserved the right to make minor, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.2.1, 2.2.2, 2.2.3, ... . 
  • 20161129T0429Z/version 2.1.0: Kmo added an appropriately themed graphic at the top of the blog posting. Kmo reserved the right to make minor, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3, ... . 
  • 20161129T0305Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo finished converting the point-form outline into coherent prose. He reserved the right to make minor, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, ... . 
  • 20161129T0001Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo had time only to upload a point-form outline. He hoped to convert this outline to coherent prose in multiple successive uploads, finishing this process at some point in the coming four hours. 

[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity to generate HTML that is formatted in different ways on different client-side browsers, perhaps with some browsers not correctly reading in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" which on many Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect "Cascading Style Sheets" problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via Toomas.Karmo@gmail.com.]


0. Preliminary Remarks


Helpful 2016-11-16 journalism by local reporter Kim Zarzour, uploaded to http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/6957885-richmond-hill-neighbours-furious-with-david-dunlap-land-developer-s-mountain-/ under the headline "Richmond Hill neighbours furious with David Dunlap land developer's 'mountain'", reminds us all how important hydrogeology continues to be in what has from 2007 emerged as Canada's weightiest heritage-conservation case - the David Dunlap Observatory and Park (DDO&P).

Hydrogeology figured prominently in the brave, and yet fruitless, 2012 and 2014 Ontario Municipal Board efforts of the Richmond Hill Naturalists (http://www.rhnaturalists.ca/) to block at least some of the envisaged lane-and-14-streets "Observatory Hill" subdivision, with its projected offensive 520-plus homes. The Naturalists' expert witness Gary Hunter (http://www.hunter-gis.com/) testified to the danger of breaching the Oak Ridges Moraine Aquifer cap under the eastern half of DDO&P.

As one source of danger, Mr Hunter identified the developer's possibly digging too deep in building a development-required stormwater management sump.

In the commonly accepted development-industry euphemism, such a sump is a "stormwater management pond". But I favour the term "sump" for its clarity. Here will collect, after all, no pondwater in the conventional sense, but instead a silty chemical brew. The misleading character of the euphemism emerges as soon as we note that under the Ontario Water Resources Act, a "stormwater management pond" is formally one kind of "sewage works". (I have barely glanced at the Act, with its many dozens of references to sewage. But I do note the use of this "sewage works" terminology, in an Ontario Water Resources Act context, in a 2016 Toronto and Region Conservation Authority book-length document, "Stormwater Management Ponds and Constructed Wetlands"  - retrievable through a Google search on the string Stormwater Management Ponds and Constructed Wetlands pdf sustainabletechnologies.ca.)


****

Kim Zarzour's just-cited 2016-11-16 journalism shows in what problematic, and to some minds frightening, way the would-be developer is now trying to address the persistent probem of the aquifer cap:


What used to be a heavily treed portion of the David Dunlap land fronting on Bayview is now a mountain of earth /.../

Residents in the community located at the southeast corner of the DDO lands say they were shocked last August to see the large berm appear where trees once stood.

What they thought would be a buffer of trees between them and the new DDO development is an elevated storm water pond, and they are not happy.

/.../

The Town of Richmond Hill has assured them the developer will landscape the berm, but residents say it's [a] bandaid fix.

Dan Terzievski, director of development engineering and transportation, said the town went through the planning process and public consultation along with a Master Environmental Servicing Plan with the developer DG Group.

The land nearest Bayview and Fern was determined the best site for the storm pond, he said.

"We were driven by a number of constraints. There is a shallow ground water table and potential Oak Ridges moraine aquifer issues."

The pond had to be relatively shallow to protect the integrity of adjacent wetland, he said.

The developer has agreed to put in "significant enhanced landscaping" and will certify the soil so the plants grow quickly, he said.

Terzievski said residents should not be at risk for flooding.

"It's designed by professional engineers and will be fully inspected and certified."

Water will be discharged into the storm system and in catastrophic storms, overflow channels will direct water toward Bayview Avenue.

"We've done the best we can in this particular case and at the end of the day, we hope to make everyone happy."


There are three broad possibilities here - in other words, three basic, a priori conceivable, scenarios.

First: it could, for all I know, be the case that Canada will in perpetuity avoid economic depression or other social disaster, and that the Town of Richmond Hill and any relevant commercial parties will therefore in perpetuity stay solvent. Under this optimistic scenario, the Town and any relevant commercial parties will in perpetuity have the money to pay for maintenance on the "sewage-works stormwater facility".

On my first scenario, those daunting retaining banks, with their aspect of a mountain when inspected from Fern Avenue, never do fail. So the ancient, putatively pre-European, wetland, perilously close to the sump, and just outside the developer's envisaged subdivision, and lying just north of Fern Avenue, never does get destroyed.

Second, we have the scenario of slow failure, in the remoter future, which I sketched in 2012, in that work-in-progress which is http://www.ddopark.ca/. More specifically, I sketched my second scenario in an essay at http://ddopark.ca/ANNN____bkgd/RNNN____futures/CNAN____dark.html. (Since http://www.ddopark.ca/ is mere work-in-progress, I have put it under password protection at the Web server. But readers of this present blog should feel free to visit, using as login name jessie and as password accuracy.)

I started my 2012 essay by sketching the immediate future, say over the coming couple of decades - "the end of the Twenties and start of the Thirties",  I wrote there. Now, in 2016, that part of my sketch reads like a prediction coming true.

However, I continued my 2012 essay by taking a longer view, "toward the Nineties and the year 2100, or even a little beyond":

Later, as times get worse, the social development evident by 2000 or 2010 in Brazil reaches Canada. The wealthy live in gated communities, for the most part close to Toronto's business core, in such places as Soho and Cabbagetown, their electricity on for twenty-four hours a day, their homes artificially cooled in the increasingly brutal summers and artificially warmed in what used to be considered winter. The more outlying parts of Metro Toronto, such Davisville, Eglinton, Agincourt are less happy, though here, too, selected municipal services remain.

The real Brazilian favelas are in the outer suburbs, notably in Richmond Hill.

The DDO&P favela is better than some. Here, at least, two thousand people have the rump of an erstwhile park to their immediate west, and so they have enough room to dump what bedsprings may have to be dumped, to discard whatever improvised biochar-burning cookstove may have disappointed them by rusting through. They have even enough erstwhile lawn, in an epoch of climate change, to occasionally repay foraging for February dandelion greens.

The "stormwater management pond" is of course going or gone, its maintenance long abandoned, its leakage now accelerating, its leakage and overflow now cutting the first little gullies through what used to be a post-glacial wetland. In another fifty years, the gullies will be bigger.

And thirdly, we have the really grim stuff in the thinking of a local resident, reported by Kim Zarzour in her above-mentioned 2016-11-16 article: "John Chow said he worries about the dam breaking and flooding nearby homes."

Is Mr Chow extreme? Is he an alarmist? 

I have to be careful in what I write here, since if I am not careful I run the risk of legal action from the developer. Being now impoverished, through my DDO&P 2007-through-2015 casework outlays of 500,000 CAD or 550,000 CAD, I can no longer justify spending money on a lawyer, as distinct from basic groceries. If I were to be sued, I would have to self-represent. I could no longer contemplate retaining some distinguished Bay Street freedom-of-expression specialist, such as the Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP I retained for the 2014 DDO&P free-speech defence chronicled at http://www.karen-vs-toomas-blog.ca/ and http://www.karen-vs-toomas-legaldocs.ca/. In fact I have to be all the more careful because I know, both through informal conversations and through what I heard in a DDO&P session at the 2012 Ontario Municipal Board, that the developer did at some point in the period 2008-2012 warn of contemplated legal action against some homeowner or homeowners on or near Fern Avenue. (Subject to correction by the developer, I put on record here my belief that the case(s) never came to trial, but instead got - like my own 2014 casework at the hands of pro-subdivision politician Karen Cilevitz rather than at the hands of the developer - settled out of court.) So I neither endorse nor repudiate Mr Chow's quoted words from the community newspaper.

And for good measure I add that in writing what I am writing today, I have not yet started my inevitable, upcoming, round of discussions with residents, Mr Chow I presume among them, in the wake of Ms Zarzour's helpful 2016-11-16 community-newspaper reporting. I guess the first chats between residents and me - I live about two kilometres to their north - are liable to occur  at some later point this week, as my workflow may permit. 

All I can safely remark here is that Mr Chow's quoted words embody a third, conceivable, scenario. On his scenario, we have not perpetual successful maintenance (as in my first conceivable scenario), and not gradual berm failure decades from now (as in my second conceivable scenario). Rather, we have a sudden, catastrophic, berm rupture. This is the possibility I have tried to suggest at the top of my present blog page, by loading  onto my computer, and then incorporating within a full-desktop screenshot, photo material from a couple of jurisdictions far outside Richmond Hill. In local terms, we are to picture the hypothetical rupture releasing a great bore of water (I imagine it as a twenty-centimetre bore, like the tidal bores I have seen in Nova Scotia's Cobequid Bay), sweeping across the residential lots in and near Fern Avenue. We are on this third scenario to imagine the bore inflicting immense damage to a swathe of homes, and moreover at the onset of its quarter-hour of chaos also destroying the nearby ancient, putatively pre-European, wetland - permanently diminishing our municipal natural heritage. 


1. My Request to Ontario's Minister of Environment and Climate Change


We as taxpayers must study the risks.

Ontario's Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Honourable Bill Mauro, has already kindly relayed my past concerns about the aquifer cap (covered in this blog in my "Theology-of-Civics and DDO" posting from 2016-11-07 or 2016-11-08) to Ontario's Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Glen Murray. I today, at this early stage in what in the light of Ms Zarzour's 2016-11-16 reporting bids fair to become an eventual new Battle Royal, have a small set of preliminary questions for Mr Mauro's team. I communicate my questions to that team not only through this present blog, but also through e-mail and papermail:


  • How common in Ontario is this DDO&P sewage-works stormwater-facility design, in which a strikingly shallow dirty-water excavation gets surrounding by strikingly high banks? (Could Mr Murray's team supply me with some examples from outside DDO&P - perhaps from two or three or four Ontario jurisdictions outside the Town of Richmond Hill?) 
  • Has the developer ("Corsica", a subsidiary of DeGasperis family flagship DG Group (http://dggroup.ca/; "Bringing Life to Land", says the DG Group Web site)) fully discharged its legal duties in relation to the provincially required Sewage Works Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA)? (I might add here, for clarity, that the developer is "Corsica", a subsidiary of the DeGasperis family flagship DG Group. DG Group can be studied at http://dggroup.ca/. (This is the Web site with greenspace photorgraphy, bearing the slogan "Bringing Life to Land."  Corsica's Web outreach appears to comprise only http://observatoryhill.ca/ - a site which does not mention Corsica by name, but does show the corporate logos of four Corsica-connected homebuilders, and offers its visitors the possibility of subscribing to a newsletter.) 
  • How may the public inspect Corsica's Sewage Works ECA paperwork process, both as regards documentation filed by Corsica and as regards documentation generated in response to Corsica filings by one or another level of government? (For which parts, if any,  must we, the public, file Freedom of Information (FOI) requests? For which parts, if any, is access granted to us immediately, without recourse to FOI?)
Further, I have today, in this early stage of the possibly looming new Battle Royal, preliminary questions for the Town of Richmond Hill. As with the Province of Ontario, so too in the case of the Town I communicate my questions not only through this present blog but also through both e-mail and papermail (in the case of the Town using the Town Clerks' office(s) as my initial e-mail and papermail recipient). 

I begin by respectfully asking the Town two preliminary questions of a legal or administrative character: 

  • Does title in the sewage-works stormwater facility stay in perpetuity in the private sector, or does it at any future stage pass to any level of government?
  • Which party (developer, Town, or other) is going to be keeping the sewage-works stormwater facility maintenance records, and in what form is that party proposing to be keeping them (will they be kept under generic office software, or under SWMSoft(TM), or under some sewage-works software application other than SWMSoft(TM)?), and with what level of public access is it being proposed to keep the records (archived subject to immediate public inspection, or archived with public access granted only subject to a successful FOI application)? 
I continue by asking the Town some preliminary questions about the construction in its geoemetrical - i.e., in its purely spatial - aspect: 

  • What is the volume of the facility, in cubic metres, as the maximum volume available for water storage before any emergency spillway is activated? 
  • What is the vertical height of the retaining berm, from the berm-adjoining dryland level grade up to the top of the berm, and what is its dry-side lateral, or "slant", height, and its wet-side lateral, or "slant", height? (For clarity: The slant height cannot be less than the vertical height, but may be significantly greater. If a minimal-area vertical cross-section through the berm, linking wet side and dry side along the shortest path, is everywhere  a right triangle with hypotenuse 5 units long, and with horizontal leg 3 units long, and with vertical leg 4 units long, with the wet side of the berm vertical and the dry side sloped, then the vertical height is 4 units, and yet  the dry-side slant height is 5 units.) 
  • Is it the case that (a) the facility floor is essentially level, or instead the case that (b) the facility floor incorporates a local micro pool, such as is used near an outlet pipe in some sewage-works stormwater facilities of some municipalities? In case (a), what is the vertical height from the facility floor to the adjoining dryland level grade, and what is the typical lateral, or "slant", height? In case (b), what are (b.a) the typical vertical and lateral height from the facility floor outside the micro pool to the adjoining dryland level grade, and (b.b) what is the vertical height from the lowest point of the micro pool to the adjoining dryland level grade? 
  • Is the thickness of the berm, at the point at which it meets the adjoining level grade, constant or varying, as a shortest-path distance linking dry side of berm to wet side of berm? If constant, what is this constant thickness? (In terms of my hypothetical constant-right-triangle example, this quantity is everywhere 3 units.) If varying, what is the minimum and what is the maximum thickness, as one proceeds around that closed curve which is the bottom-of-berm outer footprint at facility-adjoining dryland grade level, taking successive minimal-area vertical cross-sections through the berm from its dry (outer) side to its wet (inner) side? 
Next, I have preliminary questions for the Town regarding the construction in its material aspect: 

  • Is there a liner, and if so, of what material? (Clay is sometimes used, in some municipalities, in sewage works of this type.) 
  • Is there an anti-seepage collar, to prevent seepage through the berm, such as is sometimes used in sewage works of this type in some municipalities? If so, then of what material(s) is the collar? 
  • What material(s) are present in a typical minimum-area vertical cross-section of the berm? (Tamped ordinary soil? Tamped special soil, such as a clay? Aggregate? Factory pre-cast concrete, with or without rebar? Poured-in-place concrete, with or without rebar? Other material?) 
I have the following preliminary questions for the Town regarding sediment removal:

  • How many tonnes of sediment does the Town, drawing on its experience with Rumble Pond, Pioneer Park, or other such Richmond Hill sewage-works stormwater facilities, expect to remove over a 50-year period, and with how many separate operations over this period? (I give an example for clarity: if it is expected that at most 10 years can safely elapse between removal operations, then it will be expected that in the first 50 years of its life, the facility will be cleaned out 5 times - at the conclusions of, namely, Years 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50.) 
  • Is sediment to be removed be dewatering the facility and then moving onto its floor with appropriate equipment (such as, perhaps, backhoe, or clamshell digger); or on the contrary through some process, circumventing the necessity of dewatering,  either of mechanical dredging (as by long-reach backhoe, or by dragline) or of hydraulic dredging? If through dewatering, then is the dewatering to be carried out chiefly by pumping or chiefly through a drawdown pipe? 
Finally, I have the most important of my preliminary questions. In directing them to the Town, I address the safety concerns of above-quoted resident Mr John Chow: 
  • What are the dimensions and orientation of the emergency spillway(s)? 
  • Are there any devices (e.g., transducers with piezoelectric crystals, or wire-resistor transducers) monitoring (a) pressure on the inside surface of the berm (i.e., stress imposed on the berm), and (b) deformation of the berm (i.e., strain response to the imposed stress)? If so, how many such devices are there, and of what type; and what access do taxpayers have to the data streams which these devices produce? 

2. My Suggestion to Fern Avenue Residents


I will try to disseminate this viewpoint to the general public, including the Fern Avenue residents, not only via my present blog but also via a short comment at http://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/6957885-richmond-hill-neighbours-furious-with-david-dunlap-land-developer-s-mountain-/, and through some kind of podium speech at "Public Forum" or "Delegation" time in some Town Council or Committee-of-the-Whole meeting, and through visits with hardcopy printout to the individual Fern Avenue (or vicinity) homes. 

I would ask any interested residents, but most especially those on Fern Avenue, to indicate to me by noon EST on 2016-12-07 (WED), in individual e-mails to Toomas.Karmo@gmail.com or individual phone calls to 647-267-9566, what steps they now feel we, as taxpayers, should be taking. Should we, for instance, next convene a public discussion meeting among ourselves in one of the Hillsview Drive churches, inviting also the politicians, Town staff, and the developer? At such a meeting, I could try to answer questions regarding the ongoing DDO&P casework, in my modest capacity as a 2006-through-2008 Observatory staffer, and the Town and Corsica could also take questions from us. 


3. Concluding Remarks: Corsica Would Do Best to Abandon the Subdivision


I have said it on this blog quite a few times before, but it is worth saying yet again: Corsica's malign subdivision project is best set aside, with those unhappy 520-plus homes left unbuilt. It is best for the bulldozed 32-odd hectares to be now turned to some appropriate conservation-compatible government purpose, as a worthy adjunct to the adjoining projected 45-hectare municipal greenspace. I made a suggestion along these lines for Ottawa, as distinct from the Town of Richmond Hill, in my blog posting of 2016-08-29 or 2016-08-30, under the heading "Open Letter re DDO&P DND (Department of National Defence) Implications". And others, perhaps from within government, may have worthy suggestions of their own.

Let us leave the mountains of the envisaged sewage-works facility dry, if necessary cutting rainwater egress channels, and if necessary even making such channels snake through planted reedbed well outside the worrisome berm. We thereby on the one hand leave the nearby ancient, putatively pre-European, wetland safe, and on the other hand allay the legitimate safety concerns of Fern Avenue residents.

And let us put forest back onto all possible parts of Corsica's 32-hectare moonscape. We may hope to achieve our reforestation less through government largesse than through a local citizen initiative - drawing therewith on some local pledges of volunteer tree-planting labour made back in 2012, and still archived.


[End of this blog posting.] 



Friday, 25 November 2016

Toomas Karmo: DDO&P: Letter to Ontario's Ministry of Municipal Affairs, on OMB Reform

[For this blog upload of my 2016-11-25  papermail and e-mail to the Government of Ontario, I reproduce (since some readers may find this helpful) my graphic from a blog posting of 2016-08-01 or 2016-08-02. I also copy herewith the caption that I used on 2016-08-01 or 2016-08-02, making a couple of minor tweaks:] The DDO&P subdivision conception, showing the developer's proposed stormwater sump, lane, 14 street, and 520-plus homes. This plan comes ultimately from http://richmondhill.ca.  The southern (the longest) edge of the "DDO&P Trapezoid"  is of approximate length 1.5 km. The trapezoid encompasses an area of 72 hectares, of which around 32 hectares will be lost if the proposed subdivision  is constructed. The parts within the trapezoid coloured in green, and comprising around 40 hectares, are the greater part of the Town's envisaged rump park. To this must be added, however, the 5-hectare parallelogram (the "Panhandle Lands") abutting the trapezoid's southern boundary, and ultimately to be incorporated into the rump park, and shown on this plan in white rather than in green. The long sides of the parallelogram are aligned exactly north-south. -  I have modified the Town's cartography by adding an irregular orange-yellow curve, highlighting one particularly offensive part of the developer's conception - a clutch of putatively luxurious homes which it is proposed to erect in the immediate vicinity of the main telescope dome. It was this that I above all was hoping to suppress, impoverishing myself by spending heavily on casework - most of it in financing the courageous, yet fruitless, 2012, 2013, and 2014 legal actions of the Richmond Hill Naturalists  (http://www.rhnaturalists.ca), at the Ontario Municipal Board hearings and in Divisional Court. -  It is a  mystery, which I privately and subjectively hope will eventually attract the attention of Ontario's Attorney General, why the Richmond Hill Naturalists did not, with all their light-pollution testimony, persuade the Ontario Municipal Board to save at least the orange-bounded terrain. - Something like 70 percent or 80 percent of the trapezoid, from the western boundary to a roughly north-south straight line not far from its eastern boundary, is a Cultural Heritage Landscape (CHL) in the meaning of the Ontario Heritage Act. One  feature of the DDO&P casework is thus the developer's attempt to establish that houses, putatively including McMansions, can with impunity be built within a CHL. This feature gives the case a heightened legal interest, for all Ontario land-law analysts.


Revision history:
  • 20161125T141100Z/version 2.0.0; Kmo corrected a very bad, although in bytecount terms minuscule, error: he had written "100,00 CAD" in reporting the costs awarded against the impecunious Richmond Hill Naturalists by the OMB, where in fact "100,000 CAD" was required. 
  • 20161125T224500Z/version 1.1.0: Kmo corrected the Cilevitz legal-documents URL (incorrect in this upload, but fortunately correct in what he used when composing his submissions, both on paper and in e-mail, for the Government of Ontario). 
  • 20161125T224500Z/version 1.0.1: Kmo improved the caption of the image, by making a couple of adjustments (one of these being very necessary: he had carelessly written "rectangle", where "parallelogram" was needed). 
  • 20161125T224200Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded the text he had papermailed earlier in the afternoon to the Government of Ontario, and which he was about to e-mail to them (at one point, however, changing, for clarity, a "blogspot.ca" to a "blogspot.com". He accompanied the upload with an image not present in the papermail or in the anticipated e-mail. 


[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity to generate HTML that is formatted in different ways on different client-side browsers, perhaps with some browsers not correctly reading in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" which on many Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect "Cascading Style Sheets" problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via Toomas.Karmo@gmail.com.]


Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20161125T192533Z


TO:


  • OMBreview@ontario.ca
  • Ontario Municipal Board Review, Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Provincial Planning Policy Branch, 777 Bay Street (13th floor), Toronto ON M5G 2E5 


FROM:




CC:


  • premier@ontario.ca
  • KZarzour@yrmg.com, newsroom@yrmg.com
  • mcohn@thestar.ca
  • [possible others (including possible delayed cc)]



1. Preamble



I write as a 2006-2008 staffer at Ontario's David Dunlap Observatory (DDO) and as a community activist.

My involvement in the case can be studied, if necessary, at four places on the Web:

  • http://www.metascientia.com/PNNN____lit/QBNN____ddo_closure_discussion.html - my essay concerning the ongoing importance of DDO to Canadian science, and on the incorrectness of the 2008 University of Toronto decision to discontinue its astrophysical research at DDO
  • http://www.karen-vs-toomas-blog.ca/ - my principal site for documenting the detailed record, in the David Dunlap Observatory and Park (DDO&P) conservation case, of a municipal politician, Ms Karen Cilevitz (conservationist until 2010 or 2011; from 2011 onward, a proponent of development on the envisaged 32-hectare, 14-street "Observatory Hill" subdivision at DDO&P; elected to Richmond Hill Town Council in 2014) 
  • http://www.karen-vs-toomas-legaldocs.ca/ - background legal documentation for the Karen Cilevitz aspect of my casework (detailing Karen Cilevitz's legal attempt to suppress my Web  publication of her detailed record, and defining our out-of-court settlement: I refrain here from commenting on our settlement terms, and instead refer interested readers to my commentary-on-terms at http://www.karen-vs-toomas-legaldocs.ca/GNOC____20140505__settlement_schedule_c.pdf)
  • http://toomaskarmo.blogspot.com/ - my general current blog, on scientific and theological-philosophical and political matters of interest to me;  I tend to post to this blog on the topic of DDO&P once a month or more; in fact I am posting this current letter on that current blog, as a service to the general OMB-interested Ontario public

2. The 2012-through-2014 OMB  Public-Policy Failure at DDO&P


The heritage conservation failure at the David Dunlap Observatory and Park (DDO&P; a case which triggered OMB hearings in Richmond Hill in 2012 and 2014) highlights the need for OMB abolition or reform.

DDO&P emerged from the 2007 University of Toronto announcement of an intended sale as Canada's weightiest heritage conservation case.  In a sequence of events from 2008 onward, this 77-hectare property was damaged, to a point at which it will be difficult or impossible to argue for its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Around 32 hectares was lost to a developer, who is now in process of building 14 streets, a lane, a stormwater sump, and around 520 or 530 units of housing. Of the original 77 hectares, only about 45 hectares are now envisaged as eventual public-use greenspace.

The developer's incursion is specially egregious in the vicinity of the dome which houses the largest telescope on Canadian soil.  Housing lots, of McMansion dimensions, in my opinion with light pollution impending, have been allowed to encroach to within even 150 metres of the dome.

The light-pollution threat was explained at OMB both in 2012 and 2014 by the Richmond Hill Naturalists, whom I financed as their principal donor. (I have lost the bulk of my life savings on DDO&P casework, expending 500,000 or 550,000 CAD for the benefit of the Richmond Hill Naturalists' cause, and am reduced to what now seems to be financial insecurity.)

(A) Any consideration of OMB in its heritage-conservation aspect must include an analysis of faults in the OMB decision writing in 2012 and 2014. These faults are so glaring as to call, in my respectfully submitted opinion, for a judicial enquiry:

  • In 2012, the OMB's errors included the alteration of light-pollution expert Bolton's testimony, in a key passage, from the "cannot" in the court reporter's transcript to a "can". (Bolton had said on the witness stand, in language transcribed by the court reporter (Ms W.Ponka), that light pollution cannot be subtracted at the electronic camera of the telescope without degrading the astrophysical signal. It was this that OMB, in a decision-writing error, altered into a "can". The effect was to twist Prof. Bolton's words away from their intended sense into the opposite sense.  The error assisted the aspiring property developer.)
  • In 2014, the OMB passed over, as somehow of negligible weight, the detailed arguments of light-pollution authorities Luginbuhl (brought to the witness stand from Arizona) and Shore (brought to the witness stand from Italy). If the OMB dissents from key testimony, it must either reason its case for dissent, to an appropriate number of sentences in its decision, or forfeit its intellectual legitimacy.
(B) Consideration must also be given to the relations between the OMB and the Conservation Review Board (CRB). An application for leave-to-appeal at Divisional Court was argued for the Richmond Hill Naturalists (I likewise financed this) by Dr Rory Gillis of Lenczner Slaght Royce Smith Griffin LLP in 2013.  The Court, being obliged to follow the law, found that CRB (which in 2009 had recommended the conservation of more at DDO&P than was ultimately conserved under the 2012 and 2014 OMB) was legally impotent to bind OMB, and therefore found itself obliged to deny our request for a Court appeal. The effect of this Divisional Court work is, in my own respectful submission qua legal amateur, to expose CRB, under present legislation, as toothless, and to even to show that a Cultural Heritage Landscape designation imposed by a municipality under CRB advice is toothless against OMB. 

The overarching question for Ontario is now the following: How can OMB be directed to give cultural-heritage cases an appropriate level of culturally literate analysis?

This broad question can be put into concrete terms as the following pair of questions with narrowed focus:

(a) What legal mechanisms can be constructed to ensure that future OMB heritage-relevant decisions attract judicial review when expert-witness testimony is in the opinion of competent observers mishandled?

(b) What legal mechanisms can be constructed to ensure that future OMB heritage-relevant cases are handled with a proper sensitivity to prior CRB decision-writing?

3. Conclusion


It may be that OMB reforms can be put in place to prevent another abuse such has been perpetrated, to the dismay of the community and to the detriment of community activists, at DDO&P.  - In using the strong term "abuse" here, I note not only the immense financial harm I have myself suffered, but additionally a ruinous award of costs, to the absurd sum of 100,000 CAD, by OMB against the Richmond Hill Naturalists in 2015.

It may, alternatively, be the case that OMB is now best abolished.



Sincerely,



Dr Toomas Karmo 





        Monday, 21 November 2016

        Toomas Karmo (Part B): USA Election, and the Hopeful Example of a Dissenting Wartime German Bishop


        Quality assessment: 


        On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3'5 is "mediocre pass", 4.5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: Kmo had time to do a reasonably complete and (within the framework of the version 2.0.1, 2.0.2,   2.0.3, ...  process) reasonably polished job. 




        Revision history:


        • 20161122T1653Z/version 3.0.0: Kmo added a few important sentences, underscoring the uncertainty that remains around one of the key questions - how much did Bl. von Galen know about the Holocaust, and how much did he say? Kmo also added a reference to Prof. Beth Griech-Polelle's book on Bl. von Galen. - Kmo reserved the right to make tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks, over the next 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 3.0.1, 3.0.2, 3.0.3, ... . 
        • 20161122T0248Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo finished converting outline into coherent prose. He reserved the right to make tiny,  nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks, over the next 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, ... . 
        • 20161122T0001Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo did not have time to upload finished version just yet, and so uploaded a mere point-form outline. He hoped to convert this outline into coherent prose at some point in the next three hours. 


        [CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity to generate HTML that is formatted in different ways on different client-side browsers, perhaps with some browsers not correctly reading in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" which on many Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect "Cascading Style Sheets" problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via Toomas.Karmo@gmail.com.]



        [The interest of continuity is served by starting with a reproduction of the last paragraph from last week's upload of "Part A" of this present essay, before proceeding to the start of a new section:]

        I cite Argentina as a specially lurid example from this hemisphere, and yet am in my sketchy way aware of others. Even Canada, I gather, witnessed odd things in the hyper-Catholic Québec of Maurice Duplessis (1890-1959). How far in this unhappy direction, I ask, can the socially conscientious Catholic go? 

        2. How One Reich Bishop Handled the Extinguishing of Civil Liberties

        Germany's record of resistance to its misgovernment under the Third Reich seems, on the whole, feeble. 

        I recall my depressed, despairing reading, in a Toronto bookshop, possibly some six or twelve months ago. The book I skimmed in that elegant little shop - it sits on Bay Street, in other words on the street from which financial analysts and corporate lawyers run Canada - was a recent, probably an authoritative, treatment of the Catholic Church under the Reich. Its picture was dark. The book painted a sorry scene of compromise and accommodation, to the point of cowardice - a kind of anticipation, in Germany, of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in its own feeble, indeed almost nonexistent, response to President George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq. Or, again, it was a kind of anticipation of the feeble response of Estonia's 1944-through-1987 within-Estonia university élite to the ruling Party, under the 1944-through-1991 Soviet occupation. The book cited instance upon instance of bishops, or other senior Catholic clergy, within the Reich saying basically, "Well, we have our reservations on Reich policy, and we would urge all our parishioners to consult their consciences, and it is ever so important for each of us to think hard about the issues, and of course we cannot in all our necessarily diligent ethical deliberation ignore the legitimate demands of civil authority." In a time of political and moral crisis, such soft-talking serves only to discredit Catholic moral authority. 

        And I recall also, from just a few weeks ago, my discomfort, or even my muted horror, upon viewing YouTube material from the late April of 1945. The final minutes of the footage showed ordinary citizens being directed by Allied military authorities to view the carnage at one of the camps - Bergen-Belsen, if I recall. What was upsetting, or worse, was the casual attitude of citizens. Having been obliged to gaze on pits and corpses, and I presume having been obliged to hear from some of the emaciated survivors, these citizens were filmed walking away, dressed in good Sunday clothes. They were chatting and smiling and perhaps even laughing, as though strolling home from some public picnic. 

        On the credit side of the ledger, we of course have the heroic, doomed, anti-Reich resistance of the "White Rose" movement in Bavaria. 

        In Berlin, we have the putatively happy example of a bishop, Konrad von Preysing (1880-1950; created a Cardinal by Pius XII in 1946), whose anti-Reich record I must some day scrutinize. 

        In this present essay, I wish particularly to highlight the example of Clemens August Graf von Galen  (1878-1946; likewise created a Cardinal by Pius XII in 1946, and beatified 2005-10-09; now formally "Blessed Clemens August, Graf von Galen", but for brevity I write here merely "Bl. von Galen"). At the end of my essay, I will be suggesting that although the United States and the Third Reich should not at this early point in the evolving American situation be too closely paralleled, Bl. von Galen's life nevertheless does furnish a moral of contemporary relevance. 

        ****

        "Von", in "von Preysing" and "von Galen": one's hear sinks upon seeing the preposition (literally, "of", "from", but in fact a mark of aristocracy). If you are a "von", you are a "von". It is a bit like being "Sir James Foppingue" or "Lady Foppingue" in the UK. My limited encounters - perhaps just two or three in number, and for the most part from decades ago - with titled UK persons have been happy. But how much can be said about the unhappy experiences of my forefathers in Estonia, or old "Estland", with their German counterparts, the vons!

        One of my paternal grandfather's grandfathers (so my own nonagerian grandfather told me in 1974, in his last summer in this life) was whipped by his local (German) landowner, for having sought - if I recall, for having submitted a formal application - to leave that landowner's estate for some different estate. Whether the contemplated departure was legal or illegal, I admittedly do not know. The incident occurred at some now-uncertain point, I presume in the 1830s, 1840s, or 1850s. The emancipation of serfs was not simultaneous across all of present-day Estonia: two different legal frameworks applied in the two provincial jurisdictions into which Estonia was split, I think from the first tsarist days (after the 1700-1721 Great Northern War, which saw Estonia, with its local post-1208 German barons, pass from Stockholm to Moscow) right up to the Kerensky provincial-government reform of 1917. And I do not know what legal powers sometime serfs had to move from estate to estate, whether prior to their emancipation or in the wake of it. The story in any case struck my grandfather in 1974, and still today strikes me, as sad.

        Happier, and yet also indicative of the general Estonian attitude to the local German aristocracy who so tediously administered us from the early 1200s until 1918, is Grandma's "Incident of the Fur Collar".

        Grandma, or more precisely Mum's Mum, had relatives in our longstanding university city, Tartu. These folks were, while Estonian ("eestlased"), rather than German ("sakslased"), nevertheless possibly inclined to be "kadakasakslased". "Kadakas" is "juniper", and "kadakasakslased" are "juniper Germans" - people right up to 1939 or so who, while Estonian, liked to put on various refined, and therefore German, airs. "Kadakasakslased" might allow themselves a bit of German at the dinner table. They might have some German magazines or books ever so casually lying around the parlour. They would ensure that their children were conversationally fluent not in Estonian alone but in that most culturally exalted of Estonia's pre-war "three local languages".  (With English not yet in the ascendant, the Big Three were Estonian, Russian, and as a language-of-high-literary-culture German. The Big Three were the "kolm kohalikku keelt", as in the prewar shop signs saying "Siin räägitakse kolm kohalikku keelt" - "The three local languages are spoken here.")

        People are, to be sure, complex. The Juniper Germans were surely in some instances also Estonian patriots. Further, individuals who were ethnically German could also be estophile. Who nowadays could even say in which of the two antagonistic ethnicities were anchored those literati observed leaving a 19th-century Estonian "cultural evening'? Gott sei Dank, they were heard to say, jetzt kann Man deutsch sprechen.  ("Thank God, now one can speak German" - this sigh of relief vented, I presume, upon exiting to the street, their wearisome Evening Seminar, or their wearisome either-native-Estonian-or-estophile-German Evening Lecturer,  having finally fallen silent.)

        At any rate, as I say, Grandma herself - this was possibly in the 1920s - had Tartu relatives of a Juniper German tendency.

        I should add, before finishing my small skandaalne anekdoot, that in Estonian, the name for one particular fur-bearing mammal is almost exactly the same as in English.

        One of Grandma's Juniper relatives showed off her hew overcoat: Ekateriina, kuidas Sulle meeldib minu uus nahkkrae? ("Oh, Ekateriina" - or, kinda-sorta, "Oh, Ekateriina darling" - "how do you like my new fur collar?") Grandma fingered the imposing new garment. One has to imagine her fingering it with the practiced air of a Woman Who Knows Her Furs, and then delivering her appraisal in the tones of some Tartu matron, ensconced in a café, biting into a specially luscious éclair: Mmmmmm.....skunks. 

        Also happy, and yet again indicative of the general Estonian attitude to their from-1208-until-1918 German rulers, is that political cartoon with those two university students. I searched hard in Google Images last week. But alas, I could not find the cartoon. Perhaps nobody has uploaded it to the Web yet. Nevertheless, it must be well known, back in Estonia. The year of original publication - if I can trust my visual memory, then in some periodical fancy enough to sport a novel thing, colour printing - was 1900 or 1910 or so.

        Depicted are two strikingly similar young persons, Studenten in German and tudengid in Estonian. (It can be seen from this linguistic example how Estonian tends to borrow from German words for its more citified, as opposed to its more agrarian, concepts.) Both are to be thought of as from Tartu University, the old Kaiserliche Universität zu Dorpat founded in Napoleonic times by a moderately enlightened tsar for the primary benefit of the local ruling German families. On each is the thin cavalry moustache, on each I think is the tightly knotted necktie, on each is the Germanic student-corporation (i.e., duelling-society) cap, and I suspect across one shoulder of each sits the normal student-corporation ceremonial sash. Each is staring into his beer, with an expression of distaste such as is appropriate when a bad smell suddenly surfaces in one's Bierstube.

        The caption, when translated from Estonian to English, reads thus: "Ah, Mr Saar, people find us very much alike, you know. Wasn't your mother a chambermaid on my father's estate? - No, Baron, you are mistaken. My father was, however, your mother's coachman."

        Estonian attitudes to the Herrenvolk are, then, complex, and not altogether happy. But I think I can write favourably here about Cardinal von Galen without myself being accused of a Juniper German tendency.,

        ****

        Before I set out to extol Bl. von Galen's remarkable record of resistance to the Third Reich and to draw from this a moral pertinent to the current American crisis, I will set out the relatively few points appearing on the negative side of the ledger.

        A quick check of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clemens_August_Graf_von_Galen confirms, as one might perhaps already have predicted from the "von", that Bl. von Galen was not in general warm toward liberal democracy. Particularly embarrassing here is the Wikipedia account of a Baltic point - not, indeed, touching Estonia, but all the same touching too geographically close for comfort:

        During the First World War, von Galen volunteered for military service in order to demonstrate his loyalty to the Kaiser. As parish priest, he encouraged his parishioners to serve their country willingly. In August 1917 he visited the front lines in France and found the optimistic morale of the troops uplifting. /.../ In 1916 and 1917 he welcomed reports that the German military had a plan to colonize Eastern Europe, stating that German Catholics should be moved into the area, especially Lithuania, with the goal not of expelling the Lithuanians, but educating them to think and feel as Germans.

        (The two emphases are Wikipedia's, not mine.)

        We have also Wikipedia's reference to a 1932 book from the future Cardinal, bearing the prima facie discouraging title Die Pest des Laizismus und ihre Erscheinungsformen ("The Plague of Laïcism and its Forms of Expression").

        Wikipedia goes on to document the future Cardinal's initial, prewar, qualified support for the Reich.

        And after the Hitler war, Wikipedia finds the Cardinal, or future Cardinal, in strife with - of all people - the British Zone administrators. Personally, I am a bit pained by this British development, willing though I am to entertain the possibility of fault on both sides, or even of fault on the British side with innocence on Bl. von Galen's. One does recall the advice given to Estonian refugees who found themselves in non-Soviet Germany, in the course of their flight from Stalin: Try, if you can, to get into the British Zone; the British are specially humane.

        ****
        So much, then, for the negative side.

        On the positive side of the ledger, I recall first how struck I was to read, now perhaps 20 or 30 years ago, the Estonian translation of "Mit Brennender Sorge" ("Põleva murega" - "With Burning Concern" or "With Burning Sorrow"), an encyclical promulgated by Pius XI (born in 1857, raised to the Papacy in 1922, deceased in February of 1939), on 1937-03-14. The translation I had was reprinted in the cold-war exile-Estonian Catholic periodical Maarjamaa (edited by paater Vello Salo (1925-)). But it appeared originally in some official organ of our tiny prewar Estonian Catholic community. It might, for all I know, have been a little bold of the then Estonian Catholic community to publish it - Estonia was then labouring under the authoritarian rule of Konstantin Päts (1874-1956), the formally proclaimed Estonian foreign policy was resolutely neutral (this, it was vainly hoped, offered the Republic some prospect of survival in case of the feared large-scale 1930s European war),  the two thousand or so Estonian Catholics cannot have been socially mainstream in so predominantly (and at that time so self-consciously and demonstratively) Lutheran a country, and "Mit Brennender Sorge" was unambiguously anti-Reich. From my reading, a couple of decades ago, I remember especially a dark passage in which the then Holy Father remarks that whereas the 19th-century enemies of the Church had proceeded from a philosophical stance of atheism, its enemies in the then-modern, 1930s, world were zealous believers. (I presume the Holy Father was referring to the dark deities of Volk, Blut, and Boden on the German side, and of the Proletarian Dictatorship farther east - all venerated with a religiosity alien to the skeptical, secularist, markedly less crazy, 19th century.)

        This autumn I find, to my surprise and happiness, that Bl. von Galen was one of the small committee of German prelates who helped compose "Mit Brennender Sorge" for the Holy Father's eventual promulgation.

        ****

        Earlier this year, I heard a set of Lenten talks on Bl. von Galen, delivered by a Toronto priest who is now perhaps emerging as the principal living English-language authority on the long-dead figure. The speaker was Fr Daniel Utrecht, of the Oratory of St Philip Neri (in Toronto's rather poor, socially rather stressed, Parkdale district, south of Bloor and a half-hour walk to the east of Bathurst). I see today from https://www.tanbooks.com/index.php/the-lion-of-munster-the-bishop-who-roared-against-nazis.html#product_tabs_Product_Details that his just-completed book The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis, has beome available (for around 30 USD, as a hardbound 2016 November publication, comprising 450 pages, at Saint Benedict Press, LLC, under the imprint "TAN Books"). On the strength of https://www.firstthings.com/article/2005/11/hitlers-hammer-the-churchs-anvil, I speculate that this book will emerge as a kind of corrective to the only book-length treatment of the topic so far published in English, Prof. Beth Grieche-Polelle's approximately 200-page Bishop von Galen: German Catholicism and National Socialism (asserted in a review at  https://www.firstthings.com/article/2005/11/hitlers-hammer-the-churchs-anvil to lack objectivity - the review's case against Prof. Grieche-Polelle makes detailed citations, asserting in particular a surprising mistranslation of Pius XII from Actes et documents du Saint Siège relatifs la seconde guerre mondiale).

        ****

        Without having yet inspected this just-published work from Fr Utrecht, I wish to table Bl. von Galen's wartime record herewith, quoting from Wikipedia. I seek here to cover everything from that record as Wikipedia gives it, quoting impartially, and omitting only most of Wikipdia's quotations from outside parties praising the Cardinal (along with all of Wikipedia's  footnotes):


        In 1941 Galen welcomed the German war against the USSR as a positive development. Many German resisters had rallied to the cause of Germany when Hitler invaded Poland, Bishop von Galen among them, offering a patriotic benediction. /.../


        /.../

        While the Nazi extermination of the Jews took place primarily on Polish territory, the murder of invalids became public knowledge because it took place on German soil and interfered directly in Catholic and Protestant welfare institutions. Church leaders who opposed it – chiefly Bishop von Galen and Theophil Wurm, the Lutheran Bishop of Württemberg – were able to rouse widespread public opposition. /.../ 

        In 1941, with the Wehrmacht still marching on Moscow, Galen, despite his long-time nationalist sympathies, denounced the lawlessness of the Gestapo, the confiscations of church properties, and the Nazi euthanasia programme. He attacked the Gestapo for converting church properties to their own purposes – including use as cinemas and brothels. He protested against the mistreatment of Catholics in Germany: the arrests and imprisonment without legal process, the suppression of the monasteries, and the expulsion of religious orders. But his sermons went further than defending the church, he spoke of a moral danger to Germany from the regime's violations of basic human rights: "the right to life, to inviolability, and to freedom is an indispensable part of any moral social order", he said – and any government that punishes without court proceedings "undermines its own authority and respect for its sovereignty within the conscience of its citizens".Galen said that it was the duty of Christians to resist the taking of human life, even if it meant losing their own lives.

        Hitler's order for the "Aktion T4" Euthanasia Programme was dated 1 September 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland. As word of the programme spread, protest grew, until finally, Bishop von Galen delivered his famous August 1941 sermons denouncing the programme as "murder". On 3 August 1941, in one of his series of denunciations, Galen declared:

        "Thou shalt not kill." God engraved this commandment on the souls of men long before any penal code... God has engraved these commandments in our hearts... They are the unchangeable and fundamental truths of our social life... Where in Germany and where, here, is obedience to the precepts of God? [...] As for the first commandment, "Thou shalt not have strange gods before me," instead of the One, True, Eternal God, men have created at the dictates of their whim, their own gods to adore: Nature, the State, the Nation, or the Race.


        Galen's three powerful sermons of July and August 1941 earned him the nickname of the "Lion of Münster". The sermons were printed and distributed illegally. Hitler wanted to have Galen removed as a bishop, but Goebbels told him this would result in the loss of the loyalty of Westphalia. The sermons protested against Nazi policies on euthanasia, Gestapo terror, forced sterilization, and concentration camps. His attacks on the Nazis were so severe that Nazi official Walter Tiessler proposed in a letter to Martin Bormann that the Bishop be executed.

        On 13 July 1941, Galen attacked the regime for its Gestapo tactics of terror, including disappearances without trial, the closure of Catholic institutions without any stated justifications, and the resultant fear imposed on all Germans. The Gestapo, he argued, reduced even the most decent and loyal citizens to fear of ending up in a cellar prison or a concentration camp. As the country was at war, Galen rejected the notion that his speech undermined German solidarity or unity. Quoting Pope Pius XII's Opus Justitiae Pax and Justitia fundamentum Regnorum, Galen noted that "Peace is the work of Justice and Justice, the basis for dominion," then attacked the Third Reich for undermining justice, the belief in justice and for reducing the German people to a state of permanent fear, even cowardice. He concluded: "As a German, as a decent citizen, I demand Justice".

        In a second sermon on 20 July 1941, Galen said that all written protests against the Nazi hostilities had proved to be useless. The confiscation of religious institutions continued unabated. Members of religious orders were still being deported or jailed. He asked his listeners to be patient and to endure, and said that the German people were being destroyed not by the Allied bombing from the outside, but from negative forces within.

        On 3 August 1941, Galen's third sermon described the continued desecration of Catholic churches, the closing of convents and monasteries, and the deportation of mentally ill people to undisclosed destinations, while a notice was sent to family members stating that the person in question had died. This is murder, he exclaimed, unlawful by divine and German law, a rejection of the laws of God. He said he had forwarded his evidence to the State Attorney. "These are people, our brothers and sisters; maybe their life is unproductive, but productivity is not a justification for killing." If that were indeed a justification for execution, he reasoned, everybody would have to be afraid to even go to a doctor for fear of what might be discovered. The social fabric would be affected. Galen then remarked that a regime which can do away with the Fifth Commandment (thou shalt not kill) can destroy the other commandments as well. Galen went on to raise the question of whether permanently injured German soldiers would fall under the programme as well.

        Thousands of copies of the sermons were circulated throughout Germany. The resulting local protests in Germany broke the secrecy that had surrounded the euthanasia programme known as Aktion T4. The local Nazi Gauleiter was furious and demanded Galen's immediate arrest. Joseph Goebbels and party pragmatists preferred to wait until the end of hostilities to avoid undermining German morale in a heavily Catholic area. A year later, the euthanasia programme was still active, but the regime was conducting it in greater secrecy.

        /.../


        The sermons inspired various people in the German Resistance. The Lübeck martyrs distributed the sermons. The sermons, influenced the Scholl siblings in founding the White Rose pacifist student resistance group. One of Galen's sermons of 1941 was the group's first pamphlet. /.../


        In his history of the German Resistance, Theodore S. Hamerow characterised the resistance approach of Galen as "trying to influence the Third Reich from within". While some clergymen refused ever to feign support for the regime, in the Church's conflict with the State over ecclesiastical autonomy, the Catholic hierarchy adopted a strategy of "seeming acceptance of the Third Reich", by couching their criticisms as motivated merely by a desire to "point out mistakes that some of its overzealous followers committed" in order to strengthen the government. Thus when Bishop Galen of Münster delivered his famous 1941 denunciations of Nazi euthanasia and the lawlessness of the Gestapo, he also said that the church had never sought the "overthrow" of the regime.


        There is admittedly almost nothing in this Wikipedia account to illuminate Bl. von Galen's stance regarding the Shoah. Persons of high clerical rank are, or at the very least are obliged to be, informed in detail on even secular matters: how much, then, was known at the various diocesan desks in Münster? If Bl. von Galen knew the essence of the case, then how much did he say - both before VE Day and after VE Day?

        A possibly relevant fact here is that however well or poorly informed ecclesial officers in a diocese might be, Reich military officers did tend to get significant information, simply in the course of the conversations that must be normal as squadrons and divisions get moved around. The British interned a group of such military officers within the UK and bugged their recreation room. To help things along, a British official would occasionally enter the recreation room, steer the casual chat in the direction of treatment-of-prisoners or the like, and then say, "So sorry, must be getting back to my office..." - Incredibly, the detainees did not see through this ruse, and would start talking among themselves on their now-launched theme after the seemingly casual official had left. The recordings made by British monitoring personnel at the other end of their audio lines, while I think not establishing a comprehensive grasp of the Final Solution by rather ordinary Reich military officers (officers, that is, without direct involvement in the running of concentration camps), nevertheless suggest that some part of the story was leaking.   

        I await, then, Fr Utrecht's book with anxiety. If Bl. von Galen turns out to have dodged the Shoah, he is in some measure compromised. In that unfortunate case, however, his broader anti-Reich record (as I have just cited it from Wikipedia) will surely still stand.

        General Conclusion,
        Regarding the Transcending of Personal Background


        The internal Republic of the individual, like any Republic, has its security concerns. Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins writes,

        There is your world within.

        There rid the dragons, root out there the sin

        Your will is law in that small commonweal.

        One key to security in the internal Republic is the correct handling of depression. Depression cannot be overlooked or downplayed. Yet depression must be transcended. This point is put as follows by pastoral theologian-activist Jean Vanier, in a central (I would in fact suggest, the central) passage from his book Seeing beyond Depression. In the English-language edition, published in 2001 (more specifically, on the first page of the chapter entitled "Struggling against the Powers of Death"), there appears the following:

        To the extent that you no longer identify yourself with your depression and that you distinguish between your deepest, real self and the feelings of sadness and guilt which well up, from you know not where, then you have the key to healing and resurrection.

        I put this same point in my own terms as follows, in my essay "Depression, the Body Politic, and Frankelian Freedom-to-Appraise" (at http://www.metascientia.com/PNNN____lit/BCNN____depression.html):

        /.../ given the usual physiological hardware, there is a residue of free will, capable of coexistence with even violent external or internal compulsion. Our situation may conceivably be so adverse as to make us unfree to modify the evolution of external events, and also, more subtly, unfree to modify the evolution of our feelings. Nevertheless, we are free to take up either an affirming or a negating attitude toward the totality of these facts, external and also, more subtly, internal. In selecting that attitude, we create one or another meaning, and so ultimately select either to die a special kind of death or to have life abundantly - as life may be had abundantly even behind guard towers and barbed wire.

        It is a point perhaps not sufficiently remarked in psychology and politics that the psychological phenomena of the individual's tiny internal Republic, the "small commonweal" of Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins, parallel the wide social phenomena of entire communities, even of entire nations.

        We have individuals who are quiet, morose, and businesslike - the engineers and accountants, in their dark clothes. Offsetting this, we have the individuals who wear lots of red and gold, and who make lots of noise, and who get some fun out of life while also getting into various interesting scuffles with the Law. So much is true at the level of the individual. Correspondingly, at the level of the community, we have morose, quiet Estonia, staring across the Narva River at a nation of balalaikas, and of voluptuous Natashas, and of mad dancing - staring for the most part with dismay, but on occasion mixing into its dismay an element also of silent envy. Surely many of us on the, so to speak, less noisy side of the Narva River find ourselves compelled from time to time to drop our mathematics, or our income tax papers, or whatever, and to listen on YouTube to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fgAMKdxGjQ  (Две Гитары, "Dvye Gitari/Two Guitars"; this is the 2010-11-29 upload of YouTube user "mhkogan2004", with 541,286 views as of UTC=20161122T022348Z). Or, what is equally deadly, we find ourselves compelled to drop work and listen on YouTube to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akkOjw9b7bQ (Дорогой длинною, immortalized in 1968 Anglosaxonia by Mary Hopkin as "Those Were the Days, My Friend"; this is the 2011-10-20 upload of YouTube user Золото Шансона, or "Zoloto Shansona", from a spirited Russian vocalist;   Zoloto's upload deserves a half-million views, being even better than the 1968 Mary Hopkin English-language rendition, but despite this has as of UTC=20161122T022822Z attained a viewcount of just 98,620).

        We have Germany and Italy, and in rather close correspondence we have the Germans and the Italians.

        Ah, Deutschland: "In Tcharrrrmany, ve clear ze Snow before it hits ze Graund, because it's more EFFICIENT." And there is that colour photo in my German grammar book, showing lots of people standing round in some city park or city square, looking cross and unhappy. They are concentrating hard, as when it proves necessary to compute the antiderivative of theta times cos theta. You would consider these unhappy citizens - these so-morose young men and women - Estonian. But no, they are German. The caption explains that they are listening to Mozart.

        As for Italy, I recall a friend in college who visited Venice and was struck by an Italian attempt at military precision. It was supposed to be a Changing of the Guard, or something similar, I think right in the Piazza San Marco. Someone dropped a sword onto the paving stones - clankety-clank - and all the guys in the resplendent uniforms thought (I guess rightly) that this was funny, and they laughed, and so a good time was had by military and civilians alike.

        The little internal Republic, or "small commonweal", is, as I suspect Renaissance social analysts used to write, a microcosm of the State.

        To depression in the microcosm corresponds the communal upheaval, as citizens in their millions loosen their grip on reality, seemingly possessed for a while of one single mad mind.

        In their more benign forms, such upheavals manifest themselves in, for example, 1950s McCarthyism; or in Louisiana's Huey Long (born in 1893, assassinated in 1935); or in a dreary figure I have already mentioned, Québec's Maurice Duplessis.

        At their worst, on the other hand, such upheavals involve the torchlight processions, the armbands, the bonfires of books - with, as musical accompaniment, the Internationale and Horst Wessel.

        It would be a mistake at this early stage in the evolving American situation to draw facile, close parallels with Germany. Nevertheless, Bl. von Galen, who lived through a lot, has something to teach us. Here we encounter an individual formed, or deformed, in the unhappy cultural world of the pre-1914 German Empire (a culture of grit-your-teeth memory in Estonia, among other jurisdictions), and yet who nevertheless proved able to some extent to transcend his constricting heritage. (In gauging the exact extent, we may expect Fr Utrecht's just-published book to prove helpful.) Many in Bl. von Galen's generation and class made their various easy, quiet, soft accommodations with the Third Reich. He, on the other hand, proved to some striking extent able, even at the height of the communal madness, to stand back and stay Catholic. 

        [end of this essay] 

        Monday, 14 November 2016

        Toomas Karmo: Moral-Uplift Images of Autumn Colours

        One of the four current desktops on my trusty Debian GNU/Linux box. Anticlockwise, from top right: system clocks, synchronized with time server pool.ntp.org under Network Time Protocol, typically to a precision of plus-minus 50 milliseconds or better (in green, local civil time, which in the dark months is in my case Eastern Standard Time; in red, UTC); a maple blazing in the afternoon sun about three weeks ago, a few steps from my landlord's driveway; my landlord's chrysanthemums,  photographed  perhaps two weeks ago, and yet looking as colourful now as they did back then (surely few common perennials achieve a longer period of bloom); two  Debian GNU/Linux xterms ("glass teletypes"), displaying a pair of flat-ASCII files with information pertinent to forest conservation; and an xterm reminding me that I have so far viewed just the first four minutes, or so, of a promising YouTube documentary on UK environmental-conservation lawyer Polly Higgins. Barely visible under all these windows is some NASA-or-similar wallpaper, depicting planetary nebula M57 (still reachable in Ontario's evening skies, and impressive in even a small telescope).

        Toomas Karmo (Part A): USA Election, and the Hopeful Example of a Dissenting Wartime German Bishop

        Quality assessment: 

        On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3'5 is "mediocre pass", 4.5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: Kmo had time to do a reasonably complete and (within the framework of the version 1.0.1, 1.0.2, .. process) reasonably polished job. 




        Revision history:

        • 20161115T1435Z/version 1.2.0: Kmo improved his discussion of climate change, adding to the quotations from Mr Trump a pair of quotations from Mrs Clinton. Kmo reserved the right to make tiny, nonsubsantive, here-undocumented, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 1.2.1, 1.2.2, 1.2.3, ... . 
        • 20161115T1419Z/version 1.1.0: Kmo improved his quote from Dmitry Orlov. Kmo reserved the right to make tiny, nonsubstantive, here-undocumented, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 1.1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.2, ... . 
        • 20161115T0001Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo uploaded base version. He reserved the right to make tiny, nonsubstantive, here-undocumented, tweaks over the coming 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 1.0.1, 1.0.2, 1.0.3, ... .  


        [CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity to generate HTML that is formatted in different ways on different client-side browsers, perhaps with some browsers not correctly reading in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" which on many Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect "Cascading Style Sheets" problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - The inappropriate underlining in the "Quality assessment" paragraph seems to be the result of yet another bug, whether in my own client-side browser or in the blogger server-side software.- Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me at Toomas.Karmo@gmail.com.] 



        1. America's Twilight Deepens


        Today I write comparatively little on the surprising and disappointing USA election. 

        I do remind my readers that just before the election, I posted to this blog under the title "USA Election, and Government Generally /.../", and that by way of a possible resource for persons in public meetings, I included in the posting my "Peace Hymn of the Republic" ("We lived in ease and splendour" et cetera - one of my cousins, and her husband, are particularly fond of that phrase, citing it now and again, as when we meet for Chrismas dinner). 

        Five further points - not made with sufficient emphasis in what I have had time to read from the mainstream media and the blogosphere - need to be made today.  

        (1) Some depict Mr Trump's victory as a powerful political statement. These analysts read it as a signal from America's admittedly oppressed working class to America's admittedly well-heeled élites. In reality, however, Mrs Clinton has garnered more polling-booth votes, even while garnering fewer Electoral College votes, than has President-Elect Mr Trump. Final figures for the overall popular vote are not yet available. Doing what I easily can, I Google within a couple of minutes of UTC=20161114T194000Z. In this hasty work, I pick out what on a rapid inspection seems to be the most recent obvious news, at http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/11/popular_vote_totals_for_presid_1.html. My rapidly chosen site looks harmless enough: "Alabama Local News, Breaking News, Sports & Weather". Here we have an update from "11:37 AM". (The meaning of this cryptic timestamp - the USA spans fully six timezones - is probably "UTC=20161114T1637Z".) The "Alabama Local News, Breaking News" figures give Mrs Clinton 61,350,758 votes and Mr Trump 60,583,838 votes. A pocket calculator reveals this to be a difference of 766,920 votes, in Mrs Clinton's favour. 

        The only safe moral to draw from the ballot counts is that although Mr Trump is under the agreed-upon rules elected President, American opinion is divided. The unclarity recalls a witty remark from sometime engineer Dmitry Orlov's 2013 book Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Experience and American Prospects. Mr Orlov writes (admittedly, with regard to an earlier election, marked by the notorious "hanging chads", in which popular vote and Electoral College vote disagreed): The latest innovation is the photo finish election, where each party pre-purchases exactly 50 percent of the vote through largely symmetrical allocation of campaign resources and the result is pulled out of statistical noise, like a rabbit out of a hat. 

        (2) Some have in recent weeks written of Mr Trump as a healthcare reformer. And indeed this appraisal of Mr Trump's political programme is corroborated by https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/healthcare-reform (at any rate as downloaded to my browser within a minute or two of UTC=20161114T195400Z):

        Since March of 2010, the American people have had to suffer under the incredible economic burden of the Affordable Care Act - Obamacare. This legislation, passed by totally partisan votes in the House and Senate and signed into law by the most divisive and partisan President in American history, has tragically but predictably resulted in runaway costs, websites that don’t work, greater rationing of care, higher premiums, less competition and fewer choices. Obamacare has raised the economic uncertainty of every single person residing in this country. As it appears Obamacare is certain to collapse of its own weight, the damage done by the Democrats and President Obama, and abetted by the Supreme Court, will be difficult to repair unless the next President and a Republican congress lead the effort to bring much-needed free market reforms to the healthcare industry.

        But none of these positive reforms can be accomplished without Obamacare repeal. On day one of the Trump Administration, we will ask Congress to immediately deliver a full repeal of Obamacare. 

        And yet this radical political programme is not obviously consistent with Mr Trump's remarks to the Wall Street Journal last week. Although I am too poor, and too impatient with business journalism, to pay for access to the WSJ, I do read that earnest jack-of-all-trades which is the BBC. The BBC coverage of the WSJ, at http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37953528, looks full enough: 

        Mr Trump, who has pledged to repeal the 2010 law, said he will keep the ban on insurers denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

        He told the Wall Street Journal that he also favoured allowing young adults to be insured on their parents' policies.

        "I like those very much," Mr Trump said of the two pillars of the bill.

        It was his meeting with Mr Obama on Thursday that had made him reconsider his calls for an all-out replacement of the Affordable Care Act, he told the newspaper.

        (3) Several commenters on the one blog I read as a matter of unvarying weekly routine, Mr John Michael Greer's http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/, have intimated that the chances of war would be lower under Mr Trump than under Mrs Clinton. 

        To this I reply that while Mrs Clinton's State Department record admittedly inspires fear, to cite only Mrs Clinton in this peace-studies context is to cite selectively - in other words, to put a thumb onto the scales. We must indeed discuss Mrs Clinton's record at State. But we must also put onto our judicial scales Mr Trump's remarks concerning Article Five from the NATO treaty. 

        Here is the relevant part of Article Five:

        The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

        And here is Mr Trump, in a 2016 July interview with David E. Sanger and Maggie Haberman, of the New York Times, as transcribed at  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/22/us/politics/donald-trump-foreign-policy-interview.html?_r=0:

        SANGER: I was just in the Baltic States. They are very concerned obviously about this new Russian activism, they are seeing submarines off their coasts, they are seeing airplanes they haven’t seen since the Cold War coming, bombers doing test runs. If Russia came over the border into Estonia or Latvia, Lithuania, places that Americans don’t think about all that often, would you come to their immediate military aid?

        TRUMP: I don’t want to tell you what I’d do because I don’t want Putin to know what I’d do. I have a serious chance of becoming president and I’m not like Obama, that every time they send some troops into Iraq or anyplace else, he has a news conference to announce it.

        SANGER: They are NATO members, and we are treaty-obligated --

        TRUMP: We have many NATO members that aren’t paying their bills.

        SANGER: That’s true, but we are treaty-obligated under NATO, forget the bills part.

        TRUMP: You can’t forget the bills. They have an obligation to make payments. Many NATO nations are not making payments, are not making what they’re supposed to make. That’s a big thing. You can’t say forget that.

        SANGER: My point here is, Can the members of NATO, including the new members in the Baltics, count on the United States to come to their military aid if they were attacked by Russia? And count on us fulfilling our obligations --

        TRUMP: Have they fulfilled their obligations to us? If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.

        HABERMAN: And if not?

        TRUMP: Well, I’m not saying if not. I’m saying, right now there are many countries that have not fulfilled their obligations to us.

        It is true that in this New York Times interview Mr Trump is affirming, perhaps unwittingly, that he would support Estonia in a crisis. Estonia - Mr Trump may or may not have been aware of this fact in giving his interview - meets its NATO commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence. 

        Latvia and Lithuania have been falling short. A 2015 report at http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/international/europe/2015/07/29/latvia-lithuania-raise-defense-spending/30843863/ announces future commitments of 2.0 percent and 1.5 percent, from these two NATO members respectively. 

        It is additionally true that Mr Trump is not here so reckless as to deny, outright, support to NATO states who may in future happen to fall short of that 2-percent threshold. 

        But what matters is the general tenor of the unhappy interview. If Mrs Clinton is more likely than Mr Trump to raise tensions in the Middle East (by confronting Russia), Mr Trump is more likely than Mrs Clinton to raise tensions in the Baltics (by encouraging Russia in diplomatic adventurism). 

        Before leaving the squalid topic of war, I must additionally quote Mr Trump's darkly comic remarks on nuclear weapons, both in the Middle East and in Europe, in a 2016 March "Town Hall" discussion between Mr Trump and MSNBC's Chris Matthews (at http://info.msnbc.com/_news/2016/03/30/35330907-full-transcript-msnbc-town-hall-with-donald-trump-moderated-by-chris-matthews?lite):

        TRUMP:  Don't take what?

        MATTHEWS:  Nuclear weapons off the table. I have been trying to think of how we could conceivably use a nuclear weapon in the Middle East or in Europe in fighting ISIS.  Where can you - and why put it on the table or leave it on the table if you can't imagine where to use it?

        TRUMP:  Well, I didn't say, "Don't take it."  I said I would be very, very slow and hesitant to pull that trigger.

        MATTHEWS:  Well, why would you - why wouldn't you just say, "I don't want to talk about it.  I don't want to talk about nuclear weapons.  Presidents don't talk about use of nuclear weapons"?

        TRUMP:  The question was asked - we were talking about NATO - which, by the way, I say is obsolete and we pay a dispropor...

        MATTHEWS:  But you got hooked into something you shouldn't've talked about.

        TRUMP:  I don't think I - well, someday, maybe.

        MATTHEWS:  When?  Maybe?

        TRUMP:  Of course.  If somebody...

        MATTHEWS:  Where would we drop - where would we drop a nuclear weapon in the Middle East?

        TRUMP:  Let me explain.  Let me explain. Somebody hits us within ISIS, you wouldn't fight back with a nuke?

        MATTHEWS:  No.  To drop a nuclear weapon on a community of people that are...

        TRUMP:  No, no, but you can't say - first of all, you don't want to say, "Take everything off the table..."

        MATTHEWS:  No, just nuclear.

        TRUMP:  ... because you'd be a bad negotiator if you do that.

        MATTHEWS:  Just nuclear.

        TRUMP:  Look, nuclear should be off the table.  But would there be a time when it could be used, possibly, possibly?

        MATTHEWS:  OK.  The trouble is, when you said that, the whole world heard it.  David Cameron in Britain heard it.  The Japanese, where we bombed them in '45, heard it.  They're hearing a guy running for president of the United States talking of maybe using nuclear weapons.  Nobody wants to hear that about an American president.

        TRUMP:  Then why are we making them?  Why do we make them?  We had (inaudible).

        MATTHEWS:  Because of the old mutual assured destruction, which Reagan hated and tried to get rid of.

        TRUMP:  (inaudible) I was against Iraq.  I'd be the last one to use the nuclear weapon.

        MATTHEWS:  So can you take it off the table now?

        TRUMP:  Because that's sort of like the end of the ball game.

        MATTHEWS:  Can you tell the Middle East we're not using a nuclear weapon on anybody?

        TRUMP:  I would never say that.  I would never take any of my cards off the table.

        MATTHEWS:  How about Europe?  We won't use it in Europe?

        TRUMP:  I - I'm not going to take it off the table.

        MATTHEWS:  You might use it in Europe?

        (LAUGHTER)

        TRUMP:  No, I don't think so.  But I'm not taking...

        MATTHEWS:  Well, just say it.  "I will never use a nuclear weapon in Europe."

        TRUMP:  I am not - I am not taking cards off the table.

        MATTHEWS:  OK.

        TRUMP:  I'm not going to use nuclear, but I'm not taking any cards off the table.

        MATTHEWS:  OK. The trouble is, the sane people hear you and the insane people are not affected by your threats.  That's the trouble.  The real fanatics say, "Good.  Keep it up."

        TRUMP:  I think - I think they're more affected than you might think.

        MATTHEWS:  OK.  Your call.

        The audience, I would suggest, did well to lighten things up, through its laughter. 

        (4) Bogeyman-under-your-bed though war is, many of us (I for one) would regard climate change as  a thoroughly pressing problem. 

        In both cases, it must be conceded, we deal with probabilities. For let us briefly return to the topic of war. China has no recent record of invading the West. Although Russia's record is less happy, in its case we can draw some comfort from present-day population figures and present-day economics. I do my numbers work hastily, taking whatever I can quickly dig out of the Web, and for that reason mixing 2015 and 2016 and 2013 data. For a mere back-of-the-envelope calculation, such looseness with numbers is good enough: 

        • EU (pre-Brexit) 2015 population: 743.1 million
        • EU (pre-Brexit) 2016 GDP: 16.5 trillion EUR
        • Russia 213 population: 143.5 million
        • Russia 2013 GDP: 2.097 trillion USD, or at today's exchange rate (to just three significant figures) 1.95 trillion EUR
        To one significant figure, as is appropriate in back-of-the-envelope work, the pre-Brexit EU (or the post-Brexit EU-with-UK) has 5 times Russia's population, and has 8 times its economic weight. 

        Although these figures do have to be adjusted a little to account both for Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea (Crimea had a 2013 population of 1.967 million) and for possible refugee movements in the Donbass Ukranean-Russian conflict zone, the necessary adjustments cannot be large enough to alter these back-of-the-envelope conclusions. 

        It is not clear what the EU, or EU-plus-Brexited-UK, could have to fear from China in military, as distinct from economic, terms. 

        Further, it should be possible for today's EU (or for the post-Brexit EU, acting in concert with the militarily capable UK) to secure itself against any conventional-weapons land-and-sea-and-air military threats. In particular, it should be eminently possible for that grouping of nations to secure itself against any such conventional-weapons military ambitions which might now tempt, or might in future come to tempt, that rather low-population, and rather low-GDP, nation which is Russia - and this even should the USA, addressing its own financial straits as any de-industrializing nation must, choose to withdraw its protective umbrella from Europe.  

        So much, then, for war among the major world powers, as a matter of probabilities.

        Climate change, on the other hand, while in its evolution a matter of probabilities, is its early stages with us today. It is here today in the year-upon-year global mean temperature records (according to which 2015 was a record-breaker - and in which 2016 may, says the World Meteorological Association, prove still warmer). It is here today in the retreat of glaciers and the diminution of polar icecaps.

        Since the Mauna Loa NOAA Observatory muti-decade curve for atmospheric CO2 concentrations not only rises, but is concave upward (making its rise grow steeper as time passes), the probability is that today's adverse climate trends will continue. 

        What, in the face of this particular "real and present danger", are Mr Trump's policy ideas? 

        Last week, I quoted Mr Trump's 2012-11-06 tweet, in which he called climate change "a concept /.../ created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive". I do today find that he has more recently dismissed his tweet as a mere "joke". 

        But where is his articulated position? 

        We look in vain today at https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions for climate change as a topic heading. 

        The BBC did have this to report, on 2016-05-16 at http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-36401174:

        Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he would "cancel" the Paris climate deal in his first major speech on energy policy. 

        More than 195 countries pledged to reduce carbon emissions in a landmark agreement last year.

        The billionaire businessman has said before there is no evidence that humans are responsible for climate change. 

        He called for more drilling, fewer regulations and the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. 

        "Any regulation that's outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped and scrapped completely," Mr Trump said.

        "We're going to do all this while taking proper regard for rational environmental concerns."

        Much the same set of policy proposals (with silence, however, regarding acceptance or rejection of the Paris agreement) emerges from the "Energy" heading at https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/energy/ - at any rate in the version I get when downloading to my browser within a minute or two of UTC=20161114T215300Z.

        These inadequacies and silences from Mr Trump contrast with the clearer language of Mrs Clinton, at  https://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/climate/, where where climate change is called "a defining challenge of our time", and where it is asserted that Mrs Clinton's policies "will deliver on the pledge President Obama made at the Paris climate conference." 

        (5) Mr Trump's proposals for mass deportations or detainments of illegal immigrants, his proposal for special "values"-based screenings of immigrants, and his musings on the need for special surveillance of Muslims have no place in a properly Catholic conception of civil tolerance. (These astonishingly novel things lack parallels in the more traditional, admittedly unacceptable, rhetoric regarding "bigotry", "rednecks", a "basket of deplorables", and the like, which I believe has been emanating from unacceptably rude sectors in Mrs Clinton's campaign: the egregious phrase "basket of deplorables" indeed comes from Mrs Clinton herself.) To those who, like me, are Catholic, and yet unlike me find Mr Trump sitting somewhere within the bounds of acceptability, I say (on the strength of some reading in the comments on Mr John Michael Greer's blog this week): how does your position differ from the position of Argentinean Catholics who in recent decades backed their local intolerant populists - their Perons, their Galtieri, their Kirchners? 

        I cite Argentina as a specially lurid example from this hemisphere, and yet am in my sketchy way aware of others. Even Canada, I gather, witnessed odd things in the hyper-Catholic Québec of Maurice Duplessis (1890-1959). How far in this unhappy direction, I ask, can the socially conscientious Catholic go? 

        [I hope to continue and  conclude this essay next week, with initial upload at some point in the four-hour UTC interval 20161122T0001Z/20161122T0401Z. I am intending to make the rest of the essay into a new section, tentatively headed "Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen as a Beacon in the Night".]