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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

North Korean Tourism

Them 'dedly' Norks.


Some screwballs can visit North Korea - talk to the locals and even act silly  - without falling afoul the NKVD or the evil that is Kim.

Other tourists - generally 'returning' Korean ones - particularly the 'born again' variety,  have run afoul Korea's draconian espionage and sedition laws and have spent considerable amounts of time in what we style 'Korean gulags'.

And then, sometimes, bad things happen to people who really, on the surface, didn't do all that much wrong - like a young Chinese-American tourist shot when she entered a restricted border zone a few years ago   or a kid who just wanted a souvenir.

A visit gone bad: OTTO WARMBIER

Otto Warmbier a young American visited North Korea as a tourist in 2015.  Whatever he was like when arrived in North Korea,  was at some very noticeable odds with how he was when he came home.  He died within a month of his arrival back in the USA. His parents refused an autopsy and any medical studies that might have explained what happened to him are, so far, inconclusive.

 It seems evident that something did happen to him.

The first thing is that he was arrested after removing a 'propaganda poster' from his hotel to, I imagine, take back home with him.  By the time he appeared in a North Korean court he was exhibiting some noticeable psycho-physical affects.  At times he appeared alert and normal, at other times he appeared dazed and detached. At one point he seemed unable to walk on his own. He was visibly emotional admitting his 'crime' and asking for leniency.  The court gave him 20 years.

The North Koreans claimed that, at some point during his imprisonment, he contracted botulism and "after taking a sleeping pill" - no timeline defined here - he went into a coma.  He was 'comatose' when he arrived back in the USA but his family claim he was howling like an animal,  unresponsive to them and "disfigured".  Doctors treating him noted that there was significant loss of  brain tissue.

Warmbier's parents were on the news and talk show circuit almost immediately, claiming that the Koreans and brutally tortured their son,  after a 'sham' trial in which he was 'unfairly' convicted.    Donald Trump tweeted sentiments   corresponding to theirs.

American government agencies decried his arrest and trial and incarceration but there are no diplomatic ties to Korea, so Warmbier was essentially left on his own.  There were no US representatives available in North Korea to see to his welfare  - no 'good offices' of other nations on which the US could call to look after the interest of a US citizen.

The USA is looking after his interests now,  as Warmbier  seems to fall into the 'beautiful baby' classification that resulted in Syria being attacked.  Warmbier's treatment probably has as much to do with North Korean isolation as does their nuclear threat and rocket tests.   He isn't however an 'icon' - so far he isn't a Davy Crockett or a Nathan Hale.

What he is,  is a victim of 60 years of  US intransigence. If North Korea isn't being ignored, it's being classed as a threat. 60 years in which a couple of generations of American have stood guard on the ramparts of Democracy on the 38th  parallel - hostile to North Koreans and best allies to their southern cousins. That, as much as anything, has stopped Koreans from solving their purely political, but now 'time honored' differences.

Positively Electrifying

Nicola Tesla had a large role in turning Ontario Canada into the first publicly-electrified jurisdiction in the World.   After he left electricity in Ontario was a truly public  utility until a 'Pregeressive0 Conservative' government decided that selling it off to pay down public debt was a smarter idea. It was hived off to private enterprise who, we are told, are "investing in it" and, naturally , reaping the profits  from steadily increasing electricity rates. 

This past year the current government in Ontario 'swore' they would do something about skyrocketing electricity bills.  They did.  In return for the hydro industry placing a 7 year 'freeze' on  profit-driven increase, s the Government has 'foregone' their portion of the bill derived from a Sales Tax applied to them and agreed that the rates will increase again in 2024 to allow the industry to recoup its losses. 

Instead of a common-sensible reset of already overly high bills - those private owners have to pay down the money they borrowed to buy the business  - government has provided a band aid which will be ripped off later when they're long gone.  

I wrote a letter to gripe about this and received a nice letter back. 

Note the reference to delivery rates - that's one of the for factors that go into making your monthly bill - the charge for the electricity you use (another factor) related to the time you use it (another factor) which is function of the cost of producing electricity (another factor) with relevent fees and surcharges etc (other factors)  that go into the overall 'cost' of electricity divided among the three Electric Corporations and related Production Corporations.  Simple eh?

 If you read the  nice letter you realize there is no solution - just another layer of bullshit. 


Dear  (ME) 

Thank you for your email to our Customer Communication Centre.

We heard from our customers that their delivery rates were too high so we advocated on their behalf to the government to ensure fairness across all electricity customers and the Fair Hydro Plan is a result of that.  The actions we have taken to date demonstrate our new leaderships’ commitment to improving our customer service and our relationship with our customers. The new Hydro One is working harder than ever to put our customers first and we see advocating to government on their behalf as our responsibility. The recommendations we brought to the government reflect what we have heard from our customers across the province, many of whom were struggling to afford their monthly electricity bills.

The Fair Hydro Plan has created a more fair and affordable electricity system for customers living outside of urban centres. About 60% of our customers now benefit from a delivery line that is in line with the provincial average, which represents a savings of approximately $600 a year. The Fair Hydro Plan helps those who need it the most; fixed-income, rural and Northern customers who have been struggling to pay rising electricity bills.

You may not be aware that the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) sets the commodity price and that this is the rate that has been frozen.  The OEB announced lower electricity prices for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers effective May 1, 2017. The OEB estimates more than 90 per cent of electricity customers in Ontario will benefit from these lower prices. These prices will be in effect until April 30, 2018.

Customers who are not on the Regulated Price Plan (RPP) but are eligible under the Fair Hydro Act, 2017 will see their bills lowered through a reduction in their Global Adjustment charges. These customers include those who are eligible for the RPP but have chosen a contract with an energy retailer or spot market pricing instead. The Ontario Energy Board has set a Global Adjustment credit of $32.90 per MWh, which translates to about 3.3 cents per kWh. The Global Adjustment credit will be effect from July 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018.

The Government of Ontario has created a site to address any concerns, opinions or thoughts regarding the Fair Hydro Plan. Your feedback is important and I would recommend completing the form provided on the following link: www.ontario.ca/feedback/contact-us?id=26915&nid=85240

The affordability fund will help customers make their home more energy efficient if they, cannot afford to make energy efficiency improvements and or do not qualify for the Save on Energy Home Assistance Program. The fund will help electricity customers in need who cannot qualify for low-income conservation programs. It will provide support to customers for energy efficiency improvements to help reduce their future electricity bills. The government will pay for this fund through provincial revenues.

There is also the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), this program provides eligible low-income households with a reduction on their electricity bill. We encourage customers to check to see if they are eligible to receive a credit. First Nations and M├ętis customers are eligible for an enhanced credit. Eligibility requirements changed on May 1, 2017 and more customers will qualify for a credit. If any of the folks you help require assistance they can visit www.ontarioelectricitysupport.ca  or call 1-855-831-8151 for details.

Regarding your concerns of the involvement of the United Way, in-line with OEB's guidelines, we use a lead agency that can support province-wide delivery of the LEAP program. The United Way then works with local agencies to support customers at a more local level through in-take agencies. The Unite Way is also equipped to combine multiple assistance programs available in each community to maximize financial assistance for the customer. This is an area that would be outside a utility's experience.

Hydro One made the decision to partner with a single local agency, The United Way in order to streamline the customer’s experience. By partnering with the United Way, we were able to reduce wait times for this process as there is one point of contact for all applications, rather than applications coming in from dozens of agencies across the province. As a result, we are able to better assist our customers and manage our LEAP portfolio, while also providing an improved customer experience.

The United Way is a highly regarded agency within the Not For Profit sector and we felt that they would provide the most comfortable, timely and effortless experience for our customers.  

Thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns.


r
Senior Customer Consultant, Customer Service
Hydro One Networks Inc.
185 Clegg Road
Markham, ON, L6G 1B7
Tel:   905.946.6211
Tel:  800.419.5208 ext. 6211


From: keviquin@wightman.ca
Received: 8/5/2017 6:57:29 PM
To: customercommunications@hydroone.com
Subject: Thanks for nothing

Thanks for the recent email you sent about my new 'bill decrease'. I am
overjoyed. But there are a couple of points I would like to raise in
clarification of all that happiness.

"Advocating with government" seems to me to be asking for a stay of
execution. In return for being able to jack the rates into low earth orbit
in a number of years Hydro one and the electricity oligarchs of Ontario
have only committed to not increasing rates during that period, the rates
will, however, remain at the high rates that caused that "advocacy".

The brunt of the 'decrease' is being absorbed by 'the government' - viiz
hydro rate payers - in the reduction of applicable HST charges. Somebody
will want to increase income tax levels or other charges, to 'recoup' that
lost income.

I notice that the affordability fund is now a cornerstone of the Electricity
picture. In my estimation rather than having me pay a little more (hidden on
my bill) to make sure those who may not be able to afford their Hydro
costs have a little institutional charity available (I actually work to
assist some of those poor folk) - would it not be more sensible to have
affordable electricity rates to begin with?

A further 'bee in my bonnet' is engendered by the involvement of United Way
in vetting these folk. United way provides a valuable service, but they
also retain a 15 percent off-the-top fee to assist with the costs of the
office and paid staff they have. One might think that the best people to
'vet' (the main question seems to be so you need help paying your hydro
bill?) problem customers, might be a department at Hydro itself - you
are involved before, and after, no? At the very least you might be able to
assist, correct that ... WE might be able to assist 15 percent more of
those.

I would like to congratulate your PR department on their valiant effort to
con your customers into thinking you have our best interests at heart. If
that were the case you would have been negotiating a rate reduction with the
government instead of 'freezing rates' in return for an up-the -road-
bonanza.


Kevin Quinn Owen Sound


PS: CC to Premier Wynn - she seems much in the dark as anybody not paying
your rates would be. If you reply, I'll post your response on my blog. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Canada and Ukraine

UPDATE:  Another Ukrainian arms dump goes 'kablooie'!  A day after somebody tried to assassinate a 'dissident' leader in Donetsk.  Co-inky-dink?  Who knows?  Canada better 'pitter-patter' on their free 'bang-bang!





This past weekend after a meeting with Poroshenko the  ("peace") President of Ukraine, Canada's Justin Trudeau announced that his government was giving the green light for the export of restricted weapons to that benighted land.

This in counterpoint to the US announcement that it would not be arming the Ukraine.

A decent overview of the Canada-Ukraine  relationship  was written by  Jim Miles for Global Research

Global Research Site

Here's his article:

Poroshenko and Trudeau: Canada’s Ukrainian Attitude


"“We continue to stand with Ukraine against the illegal illegitimate incursion of Russia into Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and their attempts to destabilize Ukraine economically and many other ways,” Trudeau said. CBC, September 22, 2017.  


Donbass
The Canadian government operates under as many double standards as that of the U.S. and its other NATO allies.  Russia did not invade Donbass, but more than likely supplied the rebel defenders with equipment, (much as the U.S. does globally). And what were they rebelling against, you dare not ask?
Well, they rebelled against the U.S. covert actions against the democratically elected government of Yanukovich, not wanting the newly installed neonazi Maidan strongmen (e.g. Arseniy Yatsenyuk) to control their region of the country. Further, the same bunch also used language that indicated they wished for ethnic cleansing and even genocide – Yulia Tymoshenko, the new revived darling of the western backed government, called for their complete destruction. The criminal Saakashvili (wanted for crimes in Georgia, his home state) is attempting to do something now that he has returned to Cherkasy in the geographical centre of Ukraine, another CIA sponsored overthrow of their first internationally illegal operation?
The Minsk agreement is an agreement signed between Donetsk-Luhansk on one side and Ukraine on the other, with France and Germany as co-signees – not the Russians. The agreement calls for unconditional ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners of war, and constitutional reform in Ukraine. All of these are dependent on the Ukraine government in Kiev to act upon (not Russia) and they have not acted on any of them.
Heavy weapons have not been withdrawn and continue to fire daily and nightly from the front line into the Donbass region, mostly at civilian targets. Some prisoners were exchanged, but many from the Minsk side were simply civilians rounded up to use as ‘trade’. There has been no constitutional reform from the Ukrainian Rada.
The current desire to place peacekeepers inside Donbass is a non-starter for Donbass residents who have suffered under continual artillery fire since the Minsk agreement was signed. If the peacekeepers were on the ceasefire line, that might be acceptable, but for Poroshenko that obviously recognizes that the real problem is internal rather than with Russia.
Canada’s integrity
So where else is Canada concerned about territorial integrity? Hmmm, perhaps Syria, with its support for U.S. actions against Assad – nominally against terrorism, but the intelligent broad reader would know that the real target is Assad astride a critical oil route (as well as having ongoing troubles with Israel, the country that illegally annexed the Golan Heights, an action that the Canadian government never criticizes.)
Or perhaps Libya? Canada was one of the lead brave bombers that destroyed that country, aggravating the ISIS terror nexus, aggravating the immigrant problem to the EU, once again supporting U.S. international criminal actions under the false accusation of genocide (there wasn’t any, Gaddafi was fighting against ISIS affiliates in his eastern provinces).
Or maybe Yugoslavia/Serbia, where once again the brave Canadian bombers destroyed civilian infrastructure and more in order to carve apart another country that did not fit the U.S. definition of what a country should be – that is, subservient to the U.S., as Canada is.
Crimea
Trudeau and cohorts would of course cry out that Crimea is an obvious illegal international intervention. But consider….Crimea had always wanted independence from Ukraine ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Twice they voted for it, twice they were denied it by Ukraine, and Russia at that time was to weak to do anything to assist them (remember originally Crimea had been ‘gifted’ to Ukraine by Khrushchev).
When the U.S./Yatsenyuk team overthrew the duly elected (if corrupt) government, the Russian forces already in Crimea blocked any attempts of the Ukraine towards violent actions such as happened at the Maidan, in Odessa, and in Donbass. Really they should be thanked for the prevention of another area with a large loss of life due to U.S. imperial desires (sort of like they should be thanked for destroying most of ISIS in Syria, you know, the Saudi backed group the U.S. covertly supports).
It also became known that U.S. warships were bound for the Crimean port of Sevastopol, an action prevented by the quick move of the Russian forces stationed there. What would have happened if the U.S. had arrived first, once again violating an international boundary – well of course, the sycophantic Canadian government would have lauded the action, while the Ukrainian forces rampaged against all things Russian in Crimea – which is most of it.
Following that a referendum was held to know if the people wished to join with Russia. The vast majority said yes, not at gunpoint as the western MSM wished to argue, and the Russian Duma accepted the request. Peaceful, no lives lost, and Crimea is better off than the rest of Ukraine and the Donbass.
Trudeau can lament that all he wants, there is no way Crimea will voluntarily return to Ukraine. But as long as the U.S. wants it, so long as the domestic Ukrainian lobby wants it, so the lament will continue.
Economic destabilizing
If the actions of the countries involved are looked at closely, the main economic destabilizing factor for Ukraine has been its own actions. It was Ukraine that blocked coal shipments from Donbsas. It was Ukraine that stopped the farmers and citizens of Kherson from trading with Crimea. It was Ukraine that knocked down power lines to Crimea, and cut of water to Crimea as well as parts of Donbass. It is Ukraine that continues to shell civilian structures in Donbass (water pumping stations, power stations, railways, schools, hospitals et al) causing serious economic damage to that region. Donbass has not responded in kind, and has withdrawn its heavy weapons from the contact line.
Ukraine itself has devolved into familiarity, with various oligarchs controlling the political, industrial, and financial actions both domestically and internationally that have ruined much of what little the Ukrainian people had. Factories are closing (lack of coal, lack of orders, for the latter a significant part being industries that used to sell equipment to Russia). The war effort of Kiev against Donbass is itself a costly affair, both in human lives and in economic losses to the economy.
Canada’s Ukrainian attitude
Canada’s Ukrainian attitude – that is its anti-Russian attitude – is a combination of both domestic politics as well as its subservient role to U.S. interests via NATO. The ultimate U.S. goal is to deconstruct if not destroy Russia, to make it part of the U.S. empire as it tries for global hegemony. Unfortunately for the world it is that very U.S. imperial desire that has wreaked havoc across many countries on all continents of the world.
Personally, I support the actions of Russia in Syria, an area where they are operating within international law, as opposed to the U.S., Canada and all the other uninvited nations fighting – theoretically – against terrorism. Given the global method that the U.S. uses to destabilize nations – through economics (sanctions, embargoes et al) combined with covert military means that frequently become overt military means – I support the growing positive relations between Russia and China and their efforts at building infrastructure and economic relationships across Eurasia (and Africa and Latin America), without using the military.
That of course is another reason for Ukraine being used as it is – to keep Eurasia from developing independence from the U.S. economic system and the reserve currency status of the US$. With Ukraine as another puppet U.S./EU/NATO government, it will be easier to try and block the Chinese BRI (Belt and Road Initiative). That then spreads globally to U.S. actions in Syria, Iran and anywhere else in the Greater Middle East where Canada plays its supporting role in all things imperial. After all it’s only natural – the U.S. and Canada are children of the once greatest colonial-settler imperial nation in the world, the U.K.
In short then, Canada’s Ukrainian attitude is supported by its internal Ukrainian cohort and more broadly by its warmongering imperial backing of U.S. adventurism to capture…well, the world.
Featured image is from Radio Canada International.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Barnum is gone, the Circus Continues.

Today sad tales of current and impending storm damage has been knocked off the media awareness table by breaking news that Facebook admits lying!!!

Lying about what you might ask?  Well lying to reporters who accused it some months ago of positing advertisements that may have been damaging to the Clinton election campaign.  To-day Facebook admits, that after checking yep they did post some ads and that, guess what' it's "likely" Facebook was paid for the service by ... don't hold your breath ... Russians!  And not just ordinary Russians, the Russians who masterminded the leak that sunk the big lady.

So while Trump was hoping that the circus ringmastered by the former head of the FBI was just going to subside to nothingness - a troupe of clowns bust into ring number three,. Egged on by the mental midgets, the 'performers' in the other two rings are gussying-up for a reprise of 'Putin dunnit' and we elected a phony Prestidink.   The 'troubles' continue to return like a gal with a grabbed  pussy.

If he wasn't in a position to nuke the Norks as a distraction from it all,  it might almost be funny.  Trump might just be thinking that a limited nukuler strike might be acceptable to the Chinese and Russians who border the area. Especially of it was a sneak attack and they didn't have much time to get offended by it. A 'fait accompli' worked for Putin in Crimea,  why wouldn't a couple of megatonnes on Pyongyang  get met with the same international indifference? Hell they could even sanction the USA for a year or two and USAID would help the new regime rebuild. Sometimes you just MUST do things that people aren't cheering about.


Assad among the Syrians he tyrannizes.
America plays while America burns

And 'Juggalos', where would America be without its "Society of Klowns"? Not in as 'free and liberated' a place as the US government and security agencies would like. They're a traitorous 'gang'.



Wednesday, September 06, 2017

ISIS on the SKIDS?

Since Bob Dylan wrote the song,  Americans have been entranced by 'ISIS' - the all-wummin chief goddess of ancient Egypt and the head-lopping semi-political threat to world peace that loons so large in its 'world interests' these days.  It seems that that creation of the 'Arab Spring' (TM) - Arabs willing to 'rise up' and do to each other and their countries what only a handful would do when encouraged by the invading forces of Iraq and Afghanistan, are the single 'positivity' to emerge from America's centennial Asia pivot. They're 'bad guys' doing to 'worse guys' what America needs to be done.

But those who have done so much are now in trouble.



And now they need some help - not the Arab ones, they can go twist - but the real ISIS - the ones who will generate the next decade's worth of security funding - the thousands and thousands of 'foreign fighters' who flocked into ISIS training camps, learned jihad and small unit tactics and are now poised to do to Europe and all points west what they've done to Syrian and Iraq.   But they need to escape Assad's trap in Syria.

Enter the greatest farce for good on earth and its third 'prong' of the modern military assault, the vertical insertion - in this case vertical evacuation. Which is reportedly what US choppers are being used to do -  extract ISIS fighters from south central Syria and replace them with Syrian 'Freedom Fighting' forces. A win-win situation -  ISISs live to fight another day and the anti-Assad coalition picks up some new territory to be used to balkanize Syria.

A new fly in the ointment appeared this week when US forces operating in central Raqqa province in Syria were reportedly attacked by CIA-armed Syrian Free Army forces, operating with the Turks. These forces were greeted coldly when they first appeared in Syria,  and more lately have been demonstrated to be importing increased supplies of heavy vehicles - supposedly to turn over to Kurdish forces.  Reports that the FSA forces working with the Turks are virtually useless for operations but provide a 'cover' for Turkish forces being in Syria ( to support anti-Assad forces and to do something to prevent a Syrian Kurdistan along the southern border). The US is currently operating with the Kurds in Raqqa - something the Turks would rather not see.



               Watch Joe Biden at 10:12 - "It's was all our pals" ... and America didn't know???

At the same time US spokespeople are blaming Assad for them having to take out the ISIS fighters being renditioned out of the Lebanon front.  These aren't good enough bad guys or, more likely America's best bad guys like those mentioned above - so they qualify for some airborne termination.  The claim is that a number of them have been eliminated when they get out of the blast radius that might hurt the beautiful babies in the buses with them.





Get 'im while he's squattin'.



                                                  Rockin' & Rollin' - Real Mercs

The Thinking Man's War

As America comes up to the 50th anniversary of it signal 'failure to win ' a war, the Vietnam experience is being re-eviscerated, This time it's being compared to modern war and how we don't seem to be winning the War on Terror either.

Ken Burn's has, supposedly, done to Vietnam what he did for the US Civil War - humanized it, uplifted it artistically, morally, and historically as a 'high point', and not a low point in American history.  Study groups and academics are churning out new looks at the men and the moments when either America 'shone through' or 'went to a darker side'.  Most of the emphasis is, of course, on shining through.  There is this piece from 'War on the Rocks' written by doctoral student Jon Askonas

The Heroic Leader and the Better War From Vietnam to Afghanistan

America is 'gridding its lions'  to do "what must be done" to "de-nuclearize" North Korea.  That's increasingly looking like the kind of thing that had to be done to Afghanistan , Iraq , etc - only possibly even worse, as it could be the 'Norks' might 'nuke' one of our 'regional' allies - or shell the heck out of Seoul. A nuclear first strike is probably a 'coffee and biscotti' topic down in the War room - particularly getting the nuclear neighbors 'on-side' for letting the good guys do that.

What level of 'getting for letting' would be indicated in order to ensure against General Dreedle just 'going nuts' and getting 'the inevitable' done at the same time?  Trump would have to send Melania as a 'human shield' to Moscow and Ivana to Beijin or Shanghai with a couple of her kids. While Trump might want them to take a couple of the Obama administration,  or a few DARC's - Putin wouldn't trust Trump as far as a B-2 Ghost could 'toss' the new GenX tactical-nukes. The Chinese are just 'saying' not much and 'doing' even less.

But so what?  North Korea has been threatening world peace since it caused that post-war police action at the behest of Uncle Joe.  Since then, all it has done is require the presence of a couple of US army divisions and an east Asian air force,  standing-by to guard the SORKs and their Parallel. Sure there were a couple of post-war 'close calls' but America has been a buttress against talking peace with commies and much interested in changing the Nork regime.

What is happening now in Korea is just a logical extension of what has been SOP there for 70 years,   'modified' by America's recent humanitarian rambustuousness. After Bushco the Second decided that Clinton made 'too sweet a deal' to get the NORKs  to discard their nuclear industry, the Kims watched him 'go to work' in western Asia and thought, 'Should he ever get out of that quagmire,  the east might really be red - with blood. Best have something in the arms locker to make the shaolin warrior-monks tug a little longer on the prepuce of fortitude.'

It took the Koreans an administration and a half to become really terrifying and they're (or we're) turning the 'skeer' into a  'national emergency'.  Americans are being treated to how Israelis feel living under a Gazan rocket barrage - or the thought of one.  We're giving the Israelis  the tools they'll need to do their 'jobs', so why should we leave ourselves out of 'the danger' or 'the solution'?

We can take some comfort that, for all the hoo-hah and rattling sabres,  if push comes to shove,  it won't be on the UN's dime or with the UN's blessing - America is going to have to 'go commando' on the NORKs on its own - and take the risks of a nuclear conflagration. For,  without some 'jaw-jaw', the NORKs are going to 'eat grass',  as Putin said, rather than disarm themselves in front of American threats and aggression.  There is nothing in it for them to quit  and Trump Inc is too dumb to realize that.


Nuclear tests 1945 to 1997: We had this stuff stopped and we started 'missing it'?