Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘United States

Canadian Shooting Leaves Me Furious, Puzzled

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It’s been three days since a misguided, delusional man shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a reservist in the Canadian Army, in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa. This same man then hijacked a car, ran into the nearby Parliament building and attempted to kill some more innocent people before he finally, mercifully was shot dead.

And in all of that time, I’ve been wrestling with my feelings over this.

I have many Canadian friends, but even if I didn’t have a single one, I would still be furious. How dare someone attack an unarmed soldier like Cpl. Cirillo for doing his duty? How dare someone attack the seat of the Canadian government?

I’m not going to name the attacker because I feel he’s already had too much publicity. Instead, I’d like to say a few things about Cpl. Cirillo, these garnered from one of the very few United States publications to accurately report what was going on in Ottawa on Tuesday, the New York Times.

Cpl. Cirillo was a 25-year-old man who loved to work out, play with his two dogs, and was the proud father of a young son. He had an Instagram account, posting pictures of himself in ceremonial uniform (complete with kilt and Glengarry bonnet) along with pics of his dogs. He worked part-time as a bouncer at a nightclub, occasionally worked as a personal trainer at a gym, and apparently enjoyed his life and everything in it.

Cpl. Cirillo did not deserve to be shot dead while guarding the National War Memorial. In fact, he didn’t deserve to be shot dead at all. He was just a normal young man, doing his military duty, guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as so many have done before him.

Cpl. Cirillo’s normalcy is exactly why I’m so furious. He deserved more time on this Earth, and his life was brutally ripped away by a thug.

Fortunately for everyone’s peace of mind — in Canada and out — once the armed thug was inside the Parliament building, Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers  was able to shoot and kill the intruder. Vickers, 58, was later commended for his actions, but deflected it.

But it never should’ve happened. And it puzzles me that this attack actually did come off.

You see, unlike in the United States, where ceremonial guards carry weapons with live ammunition, Cpl. Cirillo carried an unloaded gun. Had it been loaded, it’s possible that the Corporal would still be alive today.

If this were the United States, hand-wringing would ensue. Congresscritters of all sorts would be condemning the gunman, condemning the state of affairs in the country, blaming the President and goodness alone what else, and basically dithering.

Because it happened in Canada, the U.S. politicos have mostly been silent. President Obama condemned the attack and sent his condolences, as you’d expect, and a very few other politicians mentioned it . . . but as our Congress is out on recess, not much else happened.

And because the state of the media in the United States is so distressingly bad, very little additional information has come out regarding why, exactly, this occurred, why anyone in the Canadian government thought it was OK for a soldier in the performance of his duty to carry an unloaded weapon, or even much about the bravery of Sergeant-At-Arms Vickers.

There are many good sources about all of this, of course, including the CBC, the UK media, and a very few newspapers and magazines in the US. But for whatever reason, that’s not what comes up first in web searches; instead, what comes up is information about the gunman, information about what the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, is doing about all of this, and whether or not the Parliament building will now have much greater security than it did before.

Decent coverage, but it’s not what interests me most.

Instead, I want to hear more about Cpl. Cirillo. More about the brave woman, Barbara Winters, who attempted to save Cpl. Cirillo’s life. And more about what average Canadians think of this terrible tragedy, for that matter.

Those are the real stories, and they have been profoundly overlooked in the United States, possibly because of the lamentable state of contemporary journalism.

And that’s so sad, it’s heartbreaking.

United States Wins Olympic Bronze Medal in Team Figure Skating

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Well, folks, it’s official — the United States won the bronze medal in the inaugural Olympic team figure skating event.

Now that it’s all over, it’s time to reflect on the skaters from the United States, and discuss their overall impact.

Ice dance — Meryl Davis and Charlie White skated two fine routines, winning their segment of the team event handily in both cases. Davis and White are the odds-on favorites to win the gold in the individual ice dance event later this week.

Pairs — Marissa Castelli and Simon Shapnir skated two good performances, coming in fifth in the first segment (with ten teams) and fourth in the second (with five teams). They did as well as could be expected, and nearly landed their signature throw quadruple Salchow.

Men’s — What more can be said about Jeremy Abbott? I’ve watched him skate for years, he’s a great guy and a fine artistic skater who actually has a fairly solid quad, and yet his nerves continue to get the best of him. His dismal performance in the men’s short program (he finished seventh out of ten) was one reason it was iffy until the final performance of Davis and White that the United States would medal at all.

Jason Brown was substituted for Abbott in the long program, and Brown delivered a solid, fun performance of his signature “Riverdance” program. Brown wasn’t quite as good here as he was at the U.S. Nationals a month ago, but he was still good enough to hold onto fourth place and keep the U.S. in medal contention.

Women’s — Ashley Wagner came in fourth during the short program, doing exactly what she needed to do to get the U.S. into the medal round. Gracie Gold was substituted for her and delivered an excellent long program, finishing second out of the remaining five skaters to help the U.S. save their medal chances.

Overall, I liked the team figure skating event. But if I were running the International Olympic Committee or had anything whatsoever to do with figure skating, I’d try to get the scores from the first round thrown out once everyone gets into the medal round.


Well, what I saw in this team event was two teams — Russia and Canada — racking up so many points in the preliminary round that it was nearly impossible to catch them. That’s not a good thing, not for the fans — who saw excellent skaters like Carolina Kostner of Italy and Mao Asada of Japan substituted for with lesser skaters (presumably to save Kostner and Asada’s legs a bit as both are favorites to medal in the ladies individual figure skating event), not for the teams themselves (Italy and Japan had no chance for any medal except the bronze, and decided early on not to make a serious run at it, while the United States’ only realistic shot was for the bronze rather than the silver, and the gold was completely out of reach; even Canada, which did exceptionally well, didn’t have hardly any chance to catch Russia in the standings for the gold medal), and certainly not for the Olympic spirit of tough but fair competition.

In future Olympics, it would behoove them to be a little more like hockey or soccer, where points are discarded once you get to the medal round, as that would allow all five teams a realistic chance at a team medal rather than only three of them.

At any rate, hats off to Teams USA, Canada, and Russia for their medal-winning efforts . . . it was fun to watch.

Written by Barb Caffrey

February 10, 2014 at 5:55 am