March 3rd Commentary

Posted By: Dave Agar · 3/3/2014 7:13:00 AM


Without firing a single shot, the Russian military has seized control of Crimea, which is the sovereign territory of Ukraine.

Russian soldiers by the thousands poured in there on the weekend surrounding Ukrainian military bases on the Peninsula. The ranking officers have tried to convince the Ukrainian officers to surrender. Russian state media say thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have done so, pledging allegiance to Crimea not Ukraine.

It's clear the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovich has convinced Russian President Vladimir Putin that Ukraine has been taken over by ultra-right nationalists and he's not about to let roaming bands converge on Crimea where the Russian Black Sea fleet is stationed and where so many ethnic Russians call home.

From the West's viewpoint Putin is displaying old-style Soviet expansionism....that might is right. They're demanding he back down. On the upside there are diplomatic talks underway at the very highest levels.

I'll have some thoughts on this coming up in a moment.

White Noise

If you are the parent of an infant you might given second thought to using those infant sleep machines that emit either white noise or nature sounds.

These units are sometimes embedded in stuffed animals, many parenting websites and books recommend them.

Scientists at the U of T and Sick Kids have released a study this morning showing those machines can damage the hearing of your infant and possible impair the development of their speech and language skills.

The issue is the volume. Infants ears are structured different than adults. They have a greater ability to amplify sound which is why babies can get easily startled by a noise you wouldn't think was loud.

Doctor Blake Papsin at Sick Kids, co-authored the study and found that of the 14 different sleep sleep machines tested at 3 distances ...all of them, at full volume, exceeded the recommended noise limit for infants in the nurseries of hospitals.

3 of the machines produced output that exceeds the occupational limits for noise exposures in adults.

Doctor Papsin stresses that he's not talking about benign noise...these are capable of causing hearing loss in adults, let alone an infant.

So what are parents to do?

Doctor Papsin says ...if you have to use the sleep machines, make sure they are at very low volume and as far away from the baby as possible. If you can, just don't use the machine.

Some other notes this morning...

If you couldn't last till the end of the Academy Awards...best picture went to 12 Years a Slave.

Oscar Pistorius...the double-amputee athletes...he pleaded not guilty this morning to murdering his girlfriend just over a year ago in South Africa.

Newstalk 1010's The Province debuted yesterday afternoon at 1 o'clock...Premier Kathleen Wynne was the first host. NDP leader Andrea Horwath will host next Sunday. PC leader Tim Hudak the week after.


Now my thoughts on Ukraine.

Suddenly the world is a tinderbox and just one spark could touch off a conflagration across Europe and beyond.

Rational people would say: 'Ahhh don't worry about it. The Russians will stay in Crimea for a while but they'd never move off the peninsula to overrun Ukraine'.

If only we could believe it. But who would have believed that "smilin" Vlad Putin, Mr. Nice Guy in Sochi just the other day, the President of Russia who even wandered through the Canadian portion of the Athletes Village, would turn on a dime in just a few days and occupy sovereign territory in the guise of protecting Russian citizens.

Does Putin have expansionist aspirations? Yes he does. He's been trying to reconstitute the USSR in some form and Ukraine was once part of that Soviet Socialist Republic. I assume Putin can be brought to heel on this because more than anything he needs the West for economic reasons.

What frightens me is that we have seen instances in our history when something really stupid, something unintended leads to war. Either a hot war or cold war. One or the other would set the world on a course we have spent more than 25 years trying to steer away from.

In 1961, the Berlin Wall went up dividing Germany into East and West and it quickly became the focal point of the Cold War.

I am old enough to remember events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. I was 12 years old and in kids my age that was in our consciousness.

In 1968, the USSR and it's Warsaw Pact allies sent 5-hundred-thousand troops, tanks and warplanes into Czechoslovakia to stop the move toward liberalization and reinforce Communism.

The world was on tenterhooks for some 35 years in what seemed like a never ending stare-down between Democracy/Capitalism and Communism. It triggered a nuclear arms race, divided nations, separated families and as the super powers built up their deadly arsenals, they supplied and fought in proxy wars in places such as Vietnam and Afghanistan.

So if someone asks, what is this thing in Ukraine all about? It's about shattered lives, families broken, kids maimed or killed and an angst that may be felt round the world, depending on whether it spirals out of control.


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