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December 1, 2010

Canada disgraced in Latin America by yet another mining company

Late Night Sunrise from Michael Watts on Vimeo.

Its name is Pacific Rim, it is an environmental abuser, and it is menacing the people of El Salvador. What must Canada's Salvadoran immigrants, many of whom are refugees here from their country's dirty civil war, be thinking of this? Probably the same thing I'm thinking: that Pacific Rim is a dirty bully, a corruptor and a national disgrace, in at least two nations. I'm happy to see how the Salvadorans are fighting back and refusing to be intimidated. We could learn a lot from them up here in the Great Oblivious North.

September 12, 2010

Best bad book review EVER.

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Something (and that something being Thwap) tells me that a certain putz from out west is about to be fast-tracked to the remainder bin. His latest parvum opus is obviously financed by tar-sands profiteers, since it paints their dirty oil as "ethical". Here's all you really need to know about it:

It is so surprisingly bad that one would think that Levant spent two-thirds of the time he was supposed to be writing the book reaching under his belly to jerk himself off to his fantasies about Stockwell Day.

And if that called up an awful picture in your mind, you're far from alone. I have it on good authority that Ezzy's schlong is only two centimetres in length when fully erect. I also know what LaughingStock looks like in his wetsuit; it's an uninspiring vision, to say the least.

EDIT: Great minds, etc.

August 31, 2010

A climate-change denier comes in from the cold

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Hello and welcome to reality, Bjørn Lomborg. What took you so long?

Bjørn Lomborg, the self-styled "sceptical environmentalist" once compared to Adolf Hitler by the UN's climate chief, is famous for attacking climate scientists, campaigners, the media and others for exaggerating the rate of global warming and its effects on humans, and the costly waste of policies to stop the problem.

But in a new book to be published next month, Lomborg will call for tens of billions of dollars a year to be invested in tackling climate change. "Investing $100bn annually would mean that we could essentially resolve the climate change problem by the end of this century," the book concludes.

Examining eight methods to reduce or stop global warming, Lomborg and his fellow economists recommend pouring money into researching and developing clean energy sources such as wind, wave, solar and nuclear power, and more work on climate engineering ideas such as "cloud whitening" to reflect the sun's heat back into the outer atmosphere.

In a Guardian interview, he said he would finance investment through a tax on carbon emissions that would also raise $50bn to mitigate the effect of climate change, for example by building better sea defences, and $100bn for global healthcare.

His declaration about the importance of action on climate change comes at a crucial point in the debate, with international efforts to agree a global deal on emissions stalled amid a resurgence in scepticism caused by rows over the reliability of the scientific evidence for global warming.

Not that I'm not glad to hear that he's had a change of heart, and not a minute too soon. The solutions he proposes (other than the iffy cloud-tinkering one) are also sound, if this brief summation is true. I only wonder if it's actually already too late.

Well, anyway, welcome to the fold, Bjørn. I'm sure your namesake animals are glad to hear it, too.

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July 29, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Dude, where are my criminal charges?

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Hidey-ho, folks, it's another G-20 roundup for ya. And here comes Ms. Manx with all the linkies you should clicky...

First up, the Toronto Star's Carol Goar draws up a score sheet for what's been done and what's still doing. Surprise: So far, not a single person arrested has actually had criminal charges laid that stuck. One month later, and it's Protesters 1, Cops 0. Goar's moment of untruth: "Peaceful advocacy groups tarnished their reputation by knowingly providing cover to protestors bent on violence." Carol, shame on you--the cops were not a peaceful advocacy group! I seem to recall at least one video where the peaceful advocacy groups were chastising the vandals. Is that what you call "knowingly providing cover"?

The Star and the Globe are both reporting that environmentalist Dave Vasey, one of the more prominent arrestees (he was singled out early on as a "leader"), has gone to court, only to find the charges against him not even on the docket. Maybe because the "five-metre rule" he was charged under was bogus? Or maybe just because the cops had nothing on him, and they knew it. Their purpose in making the arrest was not to lay charges, but strictly to intimidate Vasey and others (whom they presumed to be his "followers", no doubt), and thus curtail protest. As always, the operative question to be asked in cases like this is Cui bono?--for whose benefit?

That question is certainly topmost in my mind when it comes to this case, of a young Muslim woman being forcibly stripped of her headscarf and sweater. Violation of modesty is a specifically intimidating move when the victim is a Muslim. Was this violation of her person done to discourage her from protesting? It sure smells that way.

And you know things have come to a bad pass when a distinguished scientist and former holocaust survivor like Ursula Franklin looks at the G-20 fiasco and draws inescapable parallels to the fascist ordeal of her youth.

July 25, 2010

A cracking good debate on burqa bans (and an article on Ground Zero mosques)

Am I giving too much away when I say that the woman in the headscarf is full of win? Just one of many interesting ironies in this half-hour of must-see TV.

Another thing that occurred to me while watching this: Why do we have to go to an English-language program from a RUSSIAN channel to see such interesting, reasoned debate? Why is it that when we turn on a "news" show here, we don't get to see nearly so much discussion, much less so intelligent? Yes, I'm glaring at FUX Snooze here, but I'm also glaring at the Chicken Noodle Network, and the all-news channels of CBC and CTV. They COULD have something like this going on, but they don't. One wonders why.

One also wonders why one has to go to the written word to get something that the talk shows have missed about the the so-called "mosque at Ground Zero" (which is not, in fact, actually located at Ground Zero, or even within eyesight of it). But for once, the NYTimes comes through:

Just to show you how naïve I am: When I first heard about the plan to build a mosque and community center two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, I didn't envision any real opposition to it.

Sure, I can understand how some people traumatized by 9/11 -- firefighters who survived it, or people whose loved ones didn't -- might not like the idea. But I'd have thought that opinion leaders of all ideological stripes could reach consensus by applying a basic rule of thumb: Just ask, "What would Osama bin Laden want?" and then do the opposite.

Bin Laden would love to be able to say that in America you can build a church or synagogue anywhere you want, but not a mosque. That fits perfectly with his recruiting pitch -- that America has declared war on Islam. And bin Laden would thrill to the claim that a mosque near ground zero dishonors the victims of 9/11, because the unspoken premise is that the attacks really were, as he claims, a valid expression of Islam.

There then follows an astute attack on the Weekly Standard (or Weakly Substandard, as I prefer to call it--much more accurate) and two right-wing New York state candidates blatantly pandering to the scaredy-cat vote. It's a fine kick to the goolies. Go read the whole thing. And ask yourself, as I do: Have we heard from any actual 9-11 survivors or relatives of the fatal victims condemning this planned mosque? Because so far, all I've heard of this nature are the Paliness and her Palinettes, all parroting the stupid contention that this edifice will be a "stab to the heart". They do this, of course, from the safe distance of those who have never lived in New York, who were not there on that day, who are not struggling with lingering health problems as a result of inhaling the toxic dust and smoke of the World Trade Center, and who in any event don't consider New York to be part of "the real America" because it's not a vast stretch of sparsely inhabited land, like most of the so-called Red States. They forget that Muslims were among the victims that day, and no, not the ones hijacking the planes, either. (I have it on good authority that some of them, on their last days pre-martyrdom, spent time in sleazy bars, drinking and ogling the strippers. Not exactly the deeds of a devout, self-sacrificing Muslim.)

A great many groups lost someone to that terrorist act, and all of them have the right, in a real democracy, to places near the site where they can seek solace after their own fashion. To deny one group that right, just because 19 hijackers supposedly belonged to it, is not democracy, any more than is a veil ban. It is a cheap political stunt that actually sets back the efforts of those struggling to build bridges between ALL groups by way of unconditional equal rights, not forced conformity. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has the last word on the matter, and a good one it is:

"Government should never -- never -- be in the business of telling people how they should pray, or where they can pray," Bloomberg said last week. "We want to make sure that everybody from around the world feels comfortable coming here, living here and praying the way they want to pray."

Spoken like a true bridge builder, and one who is determined to let neither violent terrorists nor slimy scaremongers win.

July 19, 2010

Who is this "silent majority", and why do they want to shut us up?

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I have always found the phrase "silent majority" irksome. Not just because Tricky Dick used it (and was, of course, lying his ass off when he did so), but because makes no sense. How do you know people who share your smugly conservative views are, in fact, a majority, when they're silent?

You don't, and that's just what makes this phrase so stupid. It takes a lot for granted.

It takes for granted, as Tricky Dick did, that just because a majority of people aren't out there at any given time demonstrating against some huge injustice, that they must therefore be FOR it, rather than against it and unable to do anything about it (like take time off work or travel many miles to go to a demo, say). It takes for granted that people are constantly free to speak their minds publicly, and if they don't, it's because their mind is already made up in favor of the prevailing order, or the ruling class, or whatever trash the TV is trying to sell them.

Of course, that's ridiculous. Not everyone who opposes the G-20 fuckery is going to be able to turn out to demonstrate against it; I'd say that maybe just one opponent in ten made it to Toronto for the big demo, and that's an optimistic number. Fewer still made it to the subsequent protests against police brutality and the violation of civil rights, but that hardly means, as Dalton McGuinty claimed when he appropriated Tricky Dick's phraseology, that those who showed up to speak out were a vocal minority. They were just the few who could afford to spare the time and energy to be there.

More insulting is the notion that the so-called "silent majority" assumed to be in favor of the fuckery has more wisdom and sense on the issues. In fact, those in favor are the ignorant ones. And to anyone who had the nerve to snark on the protesters, claiming they didn't know what they were against, here you go. Chow down on this open letter from someone who WAS there, and who knew full well what it was about:

First, why did we even protest the G20?

The G20 is the meeting of 20 leaders from the 20 richest countries in the world. They meet to discuss and implement economic policies. There is no administrative body, and the G20 is accountable to no one. The one thing that came out of this G20 meeting in Toronto was an agreement on 'austerity measures'.

In a nutshell, austerity measures is another way of saying cuts to public spending in order to bail out banks and corporations, which are the reasons for economic crisis in the first place.

A lot of people have been talking about neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a cluster of policies or an ideology based on belief in the free market: that the market can best regulate itself, and should not be subject to interference. This includes taking for granted the assumption that capitalism is a good thing and that it's necessary. Capitalist enterprises such as corporations involve increasing profit by whatever means necessary: the responsibility of corporations is to their stockholders, not to those who are affected by corporate policies.

[...]

Neoliberal policies and practices have resulted in the economic crisis that we're currently in the midst of--where folks are laid off work, factories close, or companies move overseas where they can capitalize on more cheap labour to increase their profits.

Rather than questioning the roots and assumptions behind neoliberal policies, the G20 leaders have decided that the solution for neoliberalism, is, in effect, more neoliberalism. Rather than taxing banks or corporations, they are taking public money to bail out these institutions, which are by their nature unsustainable. Put simply, this is taking money from the poor, to bail out corporations and banks, which result in more money for those who own the companies or the people who own a lot of stocks.

This is a big part of why we protest the G20. Because we disagree with a small population imposing policies that make a few richer, while increasing the divide between the rich and the poor, and continuing to harm the majority of the world's population and the environment.

Those who protest are vocal, yes, but they are NOT a minority. Nor do they protest on behalf of a minority. They protest on behalf of the overwhelming, and TRULY silent, majority of the world that is NOT represented by the G-20 and its unethical, unaccountable so-called leaders.

The people Dalton McGuinty and Tricky Dick claimed for their own, as a "silent majority", are in fact the minority. They are every bit as vocal when they say that the "anarchist thugs" who were there "got what they deserved". I certainly don't see THEIR opinion being under-represented in the news, nor in online polls, nor in "official" polls by Angus Reid et al.

In fact, this manufactured opinion has been made to carry the day, because the discourse has been hijacked since before the G-20 summit began. The cops who arbitrarily decided to not let protesters within five metres of the fence were the terrorist musclemen, and the three levels of government who gave the keep-'em-out orders were the same who determined in advance what the tone of the discourse was to be: Everything going on inside the fence good, everyone protesting outside it bad. Everything inside the fence order and propriety, everyone protesting outside it anarchist thug.

Thus was a billion dollar security boondoggle sold to a thumb-sucking public who would, of course, be the ones footing the bill. And thus was said public manipulated into thinking, against all evidence to the contrary, that the cops had done the right thing when they arrested more than a thousand people on no actual charges.

A billion dollars and a thousand arrests for nothing. Nothing, that is, but a vastly unpopular fuck-over of the vast majority of the world's people--with cutbacks and shitty macroeconomic policies already proven by all of Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia not to work. Seems pretty steep, but it's nothing compared to the price the world's exploited people--and yes, Canada has 'em too--are going to pay.

Must keep that majority silent, since they weren't in on the consultation, right? Must ridicule, suppress and just plain shut them up. At all costs.

I propose that the so-called "silent majority" referred to by the Dalton McGuintys and Tricky Dicks of the world be referred to, instead, as the Silencing Minority. Because that is, in fact, what it is.

"It is so much easier sometimes to sit down and be resigned than to rise up and be indignant." --Nellie McClung

June 28, 2010

Why all conservative voters should be ashamed

This, apparently, is what THEY voted for:

Pure, unadulterated human rights abusage. Riot thugs charged a peaceful protest this afternoon at the corner of Queen and Spadina in Toronto (note Steve's Music Store in the backdrop.) There is no excuse for what they did. All the protesters did was sing "O Canada", with emphasis on the words "We stand on guard for thee".

Apparently, they are the only ones who did.

The G-20, as Jesse Rosenfeld astutely points out in the UK Guardian, is an expansion of the failed G-8 in the aftermath of the global capitalist economic collapse. It was all about changing nothing, except maybe for the worse. It's all about capitalist globalization over and above all human rights, dignity and national sovereignty. (Harpo said so himself.)

Rosenfeld, incidentally, was singled out by riot thugs and beaten and held incommunicado for over 24 hours for that. He was one of many journalists to suffer a "detention" for covering the summit--and its many detractors. (There were more detractors than boosters for the G-20 bullshit. Doesn't that tell anyone anything?) Another Jesse, The Real News's Freeston, was beaten up, and two photographers for the arch-conservative National Post were jailed!

Gee, it's as if the "authorities" didn't want the media reporting an uncontrolled, unscripted version of the story, eh?

Well, of course they didn't. That would have been giving too much freedom of speech to the dissenters. And as my friend Sol points out, dissent is now illegal. You can't even march up to the "security fence" to state your viewpoint without being hassled for a fucking ID, for fuck's sake. And this draconian law was passed in secret!

Meanwhile, the going meme in the compliant whore media is that "peaceful protests turned violent". Bull-fucking-SHIT they did! If the media were fully honest, they would come right out and say "Peaceful protests were attacked by fully-armed riot police in an effort to quash all dissent", because that's just what happened! Again, my friend Sol is your go-to guy for what's wrong with this meme.

And of course, this meme is part of a larger strategy: Make all dissenters out to be criminals. Marginalize them all. And if they don't make violence themselves, throw in a few provocateurs and let THEM provide all the necessary pretexts.

There's just one problem with this: Nimble citizen journalists are now blogging. And they can spot the discrepancies with ease. Case in point: These two posts by Dammit Janet. Interesting how provocs wear the same shoes as the cops, no? And even more interesting how the cars deliberately left out to be torched were NOT working Toronto cop cars. (Wrong numbers. Also, one was missing its plates. Hmmm.)

The major media are doing a very half-assed job. Not surprising; their job is to prop up the existing order, not undermine it with too many pesky, incriminating facts. A pity it's all crumbling around them, and the questions are too many, too pointed and too hard to be "answered" with facile lies anymore. The fascism is naked now, and so's the emperor.

The only remaining question is, what are WE going to do about it?

PS: Here is one place to start.

June 9, 2010

All you really need to know about BP

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And for shits 'n' giggles, BP's public-relations guide (Reader's Digest Condensed Version here) makes nice light reading.

June 6, 2010

Music for a Sunday: More prescient than the Gorillaz knew

Don't let the dreamy hip-hop groove suck you under. Listen to Snoop Dogg's rap: doesn't it sound like he foresaw something? My best friend, who sent me the link to the YouTube, thinks so:

The song I linked is on an album that came out earlier this year (at least as far back as March) and has lyrics which struck me as being rather prescient for things that are happening right now. [...]

It's probably just coincidence but as I listened to the song for the first time all I could think of was:

- the BP disaster (plastic beach, kids feeling despair, pollution)

- the Gaza flotilla ("the revolution will be televised", click-clacking, mo' stacking, full packing, acting a fool when I teach)

I thought of that, too, of course, hearing this. More likely the song's about how modern life has become so fake and artificial that it leaves us all feeling alienated, but it still works, even on that level. Wasn't it that artificiality, that alienation, that led to the BP disaster? And isn't the need for connection ("Kids, gather around / Yeah, I need your focus / I know it seems like the world is so hopeless...") what's driving activists (most of them definitely not kids) to take matters into their own hands and force governments to do what they're dragging their heels on?

Listen again and again, and enjoy. But don't let the undertow pull you down.

PS: Word up--the Gorillaz are among the groups NOT playing in Israel as a result of the assault on the Freedom Flotilla. Rod Stewart and "Sir" Elton John, however, are still playing, the moneygrubbing cynics...

June 4, 2010

Here's a new word for you...

It's called bioremediation, and it's the solution that BP refuses to use to clean up its mess. Even though it's the greatest hope for a full environmental recovery that the Gulf of Mexico has....

Remember that word, kiddies. And be sure to google it and read up as much as you can. And don't forget to push the US government to USE it.

May 20, 2010

Aw. How sweet!

BP is being so lovely putting out all these PR ads for the Gulf Coast states, someone decided to bake them a cake in appreciation:

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BTW, this isn't the first time BP has gone on a PR offensive. You may remember this. Or maybe not. Sarah Palin, I'm sure, remembers nothing, nothing.

May 8, 2010

Oh, rats!

A rat gets stuck in a hole it gnawed in a compost bin. Fortunately, the Germans were there to lend a hand...

So much for the myth that rats can squeeze through any hole, no matter how small. Not when they're full of compost, they can't!

Hay, that could work!

Never underestimate the creative problem-solving skills of bubbas in overalls. These two good ol' boys have a literally homegrown solution that could help mop up the Gulf oil slick without chemicals or booms. You really have to see this to believe it.

And I do.

May 7, 2010

Short 'n' Stubby: Ms. Manx visits BP's Katrina

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Ms. Manx is very concerned about a certain blown-out oilwell in the Gulf of Mexico. To that end, she's been busily following the news by e-mail, tweeter and Facebook to bring you the latest:

A must-read blog. Chock-a-block with videos and photos of the spill. All the stuff BP no doubt doesn't want you to know.

A must-see photo (courtesy Greg Palast.) One of the earliest photos taken of the rig that started the disaster. It looks like something out of a Star Wars battle sequence!

Also from Greg Palast, some interesting links between this disaster and the Exxon Valdez one of 20 years ago.

Don't believe the hype about the Alaskan coastline being "pristine" now, either. It's still far, far from it after all this time. So much for the myth that the oil will disperse, eh?

Whom should you follow if you're on the tweeter? Well, Greg Palast is one; David Hulen is another. The latter is an Alaskan journo who covered the Valdez crisis.

April 17, 2010

Pardon me, I just HAD to share this.

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Crunchy nugget for thought: That erupting volcano in Iceland may represent a headache for travellers, a hardship for flight crews, and a profit loss for airlines. But it's also an unexpected, if temporary, boon as far as global warming goes.

If we want to become less dependent on fossil fuels, I'd say spending less time up in the air is a good place to start.

March 27, 2010

Happy Earth Hour!

Play this before or after you spend your hour with all unnecessary power-sucking devices turned off, with candles lit, just doing your chillin' thing. Your choice. But remember...

...ENJOY!!!

March 3, 2010

Energy wasters: Venezuela has them.

Chavecito has something very important to say, so listen up, kiddies. For those who can't understand Spanish, here's a partial translation (by me):

President Hugo Chávez, in a nationwide broadcast, discussed the first week of the electrical rationing plan for high-level residential, industrial and official consumers.

He announced that 63% of the highest consumers did not comply with the measure, which was established in a decree for the highest consumers. Chávez added that there would need to be a follow-up to determine that this group was in compliance.

He also emphasized that 37% of the highest industrial energy consumers lowered their consumption and saved 30.5%.

[...]

Among the most non-compliant users was CCCT, who increased their consumption nearly 28%. Other non-compliants were Industrias BioPapel, Terminal La Bandera, Plásticos Hércules, CC Galerías Prado del Este, Restaurant Hereford, Molinos Hidalgo, and Centro Plaza.

"We need to investigate those companies who increased their consumption nearly 100%. That's a grave matter, and could be related to sabotage."

Chávez also pointed out those official organisms who were not complying, among them the mayoralties of Sucre, Bandes, the municipal council of Baruta, the mayoralties of Zamora and Hatillo, and the Ministry of Basic Industries.

President Chávez also referred to the water levels at the Guri Dam, and emphasized that they are still dropping at the rate of 14 cm a day, and that there is only enough water in the reservoir to last another 3 to 4 months.

The national electrical system could suffer a collapse if the level of the Guri drops to 240 metres. As of today, it is at 14.45 metres above that level, according to the data presented by the president.

"You have to realize that the water levels at the Guri are still dropping. They dropped 14 cm yesterday, but we still have enough water for three or four months before a collapse, as long as the levels keep falling at the current rate, we have enough water for all of March, April, May, and the middle of June," said Chávez.

So. Now we can see a bit about what the real sources of Venezuela's electrical shortages are.

One, El Niño and low rainfall, 60% less than normal this year, means that the Guri Dam reservoir is very low. But since there's still enough for three months at this rate, and the summer rains are due to start in May, that problem could sort itself out in a matter of weeks. Only a climatologist could say for certain when the Southern Oscillation will normalize and normal rainfall levels will return. So that much is not in Chávez's hands or anyone else's, unless we all pitch in to stop global warming, and do it in a major way, yesterday. Global warming means more frequent and violent Niño phenomena, which wreak havoc on rain levels, among other things. But this is not Chávez's problem to solve. It is for all of us, collectively, as a planet, to deal with and stop denying that there is such a thing as man-made global warming.

What IS in human hands and readily controllable is reason number two. Energy consumption UP in a time of shortages? By certain private industries and opposition mayoral offices, no less? That reeks of sabotage, as the 'Cito says. They couldn't possibly NEED to use that much extra energy, and to do so at this time, when saving and conserving is of the essence, is unconscionable.

And indeed, there IS sabotage going on. Noticiero Digital, the infamous opposition web forum, is actively encouraging its denizens to "traffic" their electrical and water meters. Meaning, waste water and energy, and then turn the meters back to an artificially low level, so that they don't have to pay for the wastage.

One wonders why they're doing this, no doubt. One can only conclude that they are doing it to sabotage the government, since there are parliamentary elections scheduled for September. The opposition is hoping to make inroads in the congress (currently they are shut out), and this is their main strategy: Discrediting the PSUV, the overwhelming majority winner, by any means possible. Since electricity is short due to El Niño, no doubt they figure that way is the best. It speaks to their lack of real solutions, however, that they are reduced to sabotage--destructive measures, in other words--because they have nothing constructive to offer.

But then, what did we expect? These are the old Adecos and Copeyanos we're talking about. The Puntofijistas, fragmented and repackaged under "new" names, are in fact the same old incompetents that ran the country into the ground from 1958 to 1998. They mismanaged the electrical grid in the 1990s, when there were also shortages, but fewer consumers owing to the fact that the poorer neighborhoods were not on line. Chávez has changed all that, but he's had to do it with the same old crappy system, and the same old crappy bureaucrats, which he inherited from the ancien régime.

Building new infrastructure takes time, and happily, he's doing it. He's well aware of what the problems are, and addressing them as best he can, although no doubt a certain troll here who's been criticizing and blaming him for those problems doesn't want to believe it. (Tough shit, Mikey.)

Another innovative solution is to get rid of the bureaucrats (who are often old Adecos and Copeyanos themselves, accustomed to an easy, lazy lifestyle as a result of decades of patronage) and let the workers run the show. This "autogestion" was proposed by the members of the Venezuelan electrical workers' union, FETRAELEC, and is well in line with the socialist principles of co-operative industry espoused by Chávez and the PSUV. Who knows better how to run a utility than its own workers? Certainly not a bunch of paper-pushers who know that their days in the sinecure are numbered, thanks to a socialist leader who has them on the radar. And indeed, there is evidence to indicate that this electrical bureaucracy was also involved in the sabotage of the grid in recent times...as well as incompetence, another reason to get rid of bad managers. (But not the president, who is actually taking measures to address that problem, as the video should make abundantly clear.)

Meanwhile, the electrical workers of FETRAELEC also endorse the president's electricity conservation plan, understanding the need to save in times of shortage. Like I said: Who knows better than the workers? They have seen from up close what the levels at the Guri Dam look like.

My little troll, however, has not.

February 19, 2010

Oh surprise, surprise...Haiti has OIL!

And lots of it. All unexploited as yet. Does this explain the militarized US "aid" response to the earthquake? You bet...

William Engdahl explains how Haiti's unique geological situation--the same that makes it so vulnerable to earthquakes--also makes it minerally rich. If Haiti had not been chronically starved of cash for the last 200 years or so, the country could easily have had the technology and the personnel to develop those resources on its own, instead of being ripe prey for imperial predators.

Venezuela, just a stone's throw from Haiti, is just now in the position to make itself independent that way, as it has begun graduating homegrown, university-trained engineers and geologists specializing in mineral resource development. That's Bhad Nhews where foreign capitalism is concerned. They have an active interest in keeping the locals underdeveloped, undereducated, and thus dependent. This is probably what Engdahl means by "strategic denial", along with the oil corporations' active interest in keeping the price of their product artificially elevated by creating artificial shortages whenever the price drops too low for their liking. There are literally miles of full tankers idling at anchor in the Persian Gulf, under orders from head office not to sail until the price starts jumping. There are others, anchored at their ports of destination but not unloading, for the same reason. This market manipulation has been going on for quite some time already. It looks superficially clever, but is really profoundly stupid--what could be a more seductive target for a terrorist firebug than a great big boatload of crude? But of course, that risk also plays into the artificial price elevation...as does the mind-boggling cost of storing all that unused oil. Someone is benefiting from this, but it's not the people of the oil-producing nations, much less the First World consumer.

And shhhh, don't even mention Cuba...or Haiti. Both, like Venezuela, are sitting on top of heaven only knows how much of the black stuff.

Haiti's unexploited mineral wealth could well be the biggest untold economic story of the century. It could also be the biggest untold tale of slavers' vengeance ever.

January 7, 2010

Barrick Gold disgraces Canada in Chile, too

Part II of a program I posted here yesterday.

This episode takes us to the Atacama Desert of Chile, the driest place on Earth, and the nearby Valle del Huasco, a small strip of green farmland in an arid region. We meet a local priest, who calls citizens to protest against Barrick via his radio show. He can see from the belfry of his church the damage the Pascua-Lama project has already done, and he can foresee what it's going to do in future. It doesn't take a geologist; just living there, watching the damage grow from day to day, is enough.

The Pascua-Lama project, on the Argentina-Chile border, is three times as big as the Veladero one in Argentina. It will affect three glaciers--Toro 1, Toro 2 and Esperanza. Barrick Gold proposes to move these glaciers to the Guanaco Glacier, but this is bullshit, as the second segment shows:

Since when can glaciers be moved by dump trucks? And does anyone take them seriously when water is so important to the extraction of gold? Those glaciers aren't going to be moved, they're going to be stripped.

A sensitive environment like the Andes cannot bear human meddling on such a scale. Five rivers originate from the glaciers in question, and people downstream depend on them for the crops that sustain their lives. Even in such an arid part of the Chilean Andes, there are people who farm for a living, and who don't want Barrick in their backyard--not only for the unsightliness of its open pits, but for the depletion of the glaciers that provide water for their crops, and for the poisoning of whatever water is left--again, with cyanide.

Barrick doesn't much care about this; they present themselves as "socially responsible", but their actions speak louder. They have no problem making a mockery of local indigenous people in the name of public relations. Even more disturbing, they don't have the environmental permits they are required to have by the government. I guess, if you can get the president of Argentina to veto a protective law passed unanimously by both houses of parliament, little things like permits, along with borders, don't matter anymore.

And neither do little things like local people.

January 6, 2010

Barrick Gold shames Canada in Argentina

I just happened across this video (in Spanish) today. It was so shocking that I had to view it twice to be sure I had heard everything correctly:

This is Part I of the report, called "Glaciers: The First Veto". It's from an Argentine news show called "Telenoche Investigates", which aired on December 17. In it, we see how vital the Andean glaciers are to Argentina, and how fragile they are in turn, thanks to global warming. These glaciers are not just a pretty white patch of ice on top of mountains; they're a source of water to lands that would otherwise be desert. Thanks to these glaciers, the western regions of Argentina can be irrigated and farmed. The wines of Mendoza, in particular, depend on the glaciers; without them, no grapes would grow. Local people depend heavily on these glaciers for their well-being. And because of the variability of snowfalls--heavy some years, light in others--Argentine climatologists, agronomists and geophysicists all monitor the glaciers very closely. Whatever happens to the glaciers affects everybody and everything for hundreds of miles downstream. For some, it is literally the difference between survival and death.

For this reason, the Argentine parliament unanimously voted to protect the glaciers in 2008. Both houses passed a radical bill that would declare the glaciers and nearby mountain areas off limits to mining. Yet the bill was vetoed at the highest level by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. What happened?

A powerful mining firm, based out of Toronto, is responsible for the veto. Barrick Gold, one of the largest gold miners in the world, pressured President Fernández to veto the anti-mining law. They saw two regions near the Chile-Argentina border, Veladero and Pascua-Lama, which were simply too full of gold and silver to resist. Never mind that local citizen power had previously forced Barrick to abandon a planned Argentine mine project in La Rioja province. Never mind that these regions are ecologically sensitive, being located near the Guanaco Glacier (and several other, smaller ones). Never mind that several regional governors protested the high risk of water pollution and glacier depletion. Barrick wanted to mine, and Barrick got its way. It overrode the Argentine senate and house of deputies, not to mention the will of an entire people, and essentially stuck the president in its vest pocket. And to make sure that no pesky ministers tripped them up, they sent out thugs to threaten a former minister of the environment. Romina Picolotti, who was expelled from the government, tells how she received death threats, and threats against her children. Whom does she blame for these mysterious menaces? Who else but Barrick. The threats followed hot on the heels of her denunciations of Barrick's polluting activities in the Argentine parliament!

But Picolotti has addressed another parliament as well, one with the power to leash Barrick if it wanted to. The Canadian government has been receiving wave after wave of complaints, and not just from Argentina. Canadians are well aware of what Barrick is doing, and are indignant that it is being allowed to continue using our money to fund these projects which not only endanger the very existence of sensitive Andean glaciers, but also to pollute important watersheds with cyanide solution (the waste products of gold extraction; you can read more about that process here.) Canadians know that this probably wouldn't have been allowed here (for obvious reasons), so why in Argentina? And why would one company's bottom line be more important than the well-being of the citizens not only of Argentina, but in the case of the Pascua-Lama project, neighboring Chile as well?

Barrick would no doubt argue that its projects generate jobs and income, and while that may be true for a few, the majority of those adversely affected by its operations see no benefit whatsoever from the gold mines. To be frank, Barrick just does does not have the power that the glaciers do to sustain people's lives. The majority get nothing from Barrick's presence in the region. They receive no jobs, no housing, no income and no social programs. Barrick doesn't feed, clothe or house them, nor does it provide them doctors, nor does it send their children (the same whom they threatened, in the case of former environment minister Picolotti) to school. They probably wouldn't receive any compensation if worse came to worst, either, and one of the dams holding the cyanide pools were to rupture, spilling its highly toxic contents into local rivers and groundwater aquifers. Most likely, the Barrick projects in Argentina would enjoy the same impunity as Union Carbide did in Bhopal, India during the 1980s.

After all, they know how to corrupt a government and bend it to their will.

The second installment of this program will appear here tomorrow.

December 23, 2009

Copenhagen flops, Evo is tops

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Hey Barack, how's it feel to get pwned by the Little Injun That Could?

Bolivian President Evo Morales announced today that a world conference of social movements is to take place in Bolivia, as a response to the failure of the 15th Summit on Climate Change, recently held in Copenhagen.

"The problems of climate change are directly linked to the irrational development of industry," said the president at the celebrations for the 49th anniversary of the foundation of the Culpina municipality, in the region of Chuquisaca.

Morales said that he has requested technical and scientific arguments to support a large-scale international mobilization to defend the environment, especially water.

The meeting will take place on April 22, which is the International Day of Mother Earth.

"It will be a great meeting where we'll be able to come up with solutions for the problem of climate change," the leader said.

He regretted that the summit held in Copenhagen had concluded without reaching any important agreement. However, he noted that the event was an opportunity to break the hegemony of industrialized countries attending the gathering.

"If we don't make important decisions now, our children and the generations to come will be faced with serious problems," warned the president.

He pointed out that the Bolivian world conference of social movements will be aimed at finding options for guaranteeing food for the peoples, in view of the famine that is affecting different parts of the world.

Notice that this is not a summit of heads-of-state, who, as we've seen all too clearly from Copenhagen, are prostrate to moneyed interests and are thus in no position to take leadership on this key issue. Instead, Evo is calling for social movements and scientists from around the world to come together and come up with actual working solutions, not just more non-binding wimpy "agreements" that don't even look good on paper.

And if you wonder why this was called by Evo and not, say, his bigger, louder pal Chavecito, consider one of the things he himself mentioned: water. It's been a hot-button issue in Bolivia for many years now, and no wonder: first the moneyed interests (the same that are sitting on Washington's neck right now) privatized Bolivia's water, right down to the rain; then, a coalition of social movements, including the coca farmers led by Evo back when he was just a shit-disturbing union leader, booted Bechtel out of Bolivia (and their pal Goni the Gringo, too); and now, with global warming destroying the glaciers the indigenous people rely on for water, once more they can't afford to take this life-sustaining resource for granted. (Remember, we're talking about a landlocked country, and half of it is in the relatively arid Andes.)

Evo, who comes from the Altiplano himself, knows as well as anyone how precious water is in Bolivia; they can't just pump it out of the sea, and they can't rely on reservoirs because it doesn't rain heavily enough to sustain them in all parts of the country. In the Altiplano, their lakes are fed by Andean glacial meltwater, and that source is rapidly draining away! So, now we understand Evo's urgency on this matter, don't we?

Looks like Evo is taking a leadership role yet again. Some people could learn a lot from this guy...and not just on how to dress, either.

December 20, 2009

Short 'n' Stubby: Copen-ragin'

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The climes, they are a-changin'...but denial ain't no river in Egypt, Cleo. A random sampling of stupidities about the just-ended summit in the city of the Little Mermaid (who will be underwater soon if we don't stop this insanity):

Sarah Palin: Twit or tweet? Both.

Meet Gregory D. Lee, another conservatard douchebag who would probably love to suck Sawah's perma-tanned toes. Assuming he ever gets his own foot out of his mouth first.

"Free market analysis" also haz Teh Stoopid. But what did you expect from the genii who got us into this whole mess in the first place?

The Amurrican Stinker wakes up and smells the sulfur, but doesn't realize that a lot of the fumes are coming from itself.

Roger L. Simon, the fool in the fedora, has a medieval mindset. This, of course, comes as a surprise to no one.

Surprisingly, a Filipino bizmedia page gives Copenhagen the best and fairest coverage I've seen so far, at least in English. It doesn't even call Chavecito a "dictator", like all the other bizrags like to do. Dare we hope?

Deseret News thinks natural gas is some kind of panacea for saving the US economy, smashing OPEC and bringing "democracy" to Venezuela. Hi, I'm the Queen of Sheba.

One good thing about all these morons with their heads in the sand: When the sea levels rise, they'll be the first to drown. With any luck, we can then get to work on cleaning up the shit-pile they left behind.

December 17, 2009

Helicopter Canada: a centennial documentary

A little treat from our commie-pinko National Film Board for all you documentary buffs out there:

"Helicopter Canada", by Eugene Boyko, 1966. Made just in time to celebrate Canada's 100th birthday the following year. Hands-down one of the most charming documentaries you'll ever see; shows my home and native land from coast to coast to coast. And barely dated, to boot.

November 21, 2009

Not-so Stupid Sex Tricks: A cool way to stop global warming

Can you guess what it might be? Here's a hint:

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And here's the scoop:

The planet's population is expected to surge to 9.2 billion from the current 6.7 billion by 2050, and many fear that such unprecedented growth will push Earth's temperatures, and thus the weight-bearing ecosystem, beyond the "breaking point."

The heaviest population growth is expected to occur in the developing world, where women do not have easy access to reproductive health services and are giving birth like jackrabbits.

India, for example, a major condom giveaway notwithstanding, is preparing for a 50 percent explosion in its numbers by 2050, topping off at 1.6 billion, thus surpassing its bursting-at-the-seams neighbor China as the most populated place.

"Women with access to reproductive health services," the UN agency said Wednesday at a conference in London, "have lower fertility rates that contribute to slower growth in greenhouse gas emissions."

Of course, as the picture strongly hints, the responsibility for lower fertility rates should not be that of women alone. Gentlemen, do your part. Don't be a fool--vulcanize your tool! (And don't forget to reduce consumption of emissions-producing fuels, either. Yes, whitey, I'm talkin' to YOU.)

November 17, 2009

Oh, NOW they come out and say it...

Before I barf, first, a little mood music from an appropriate group:

I want you to cryyyy...I want you to cryyyyyy...I want you to waa-waa-waa, waa-waa-waa, cryyyyyy...

Ahem. Now, the news...

The federal agency that assesses health hazards at sites designated for Superfund environmental cleanups said Friday that it had reversed its conclusion that contamination at a former United States Navy training ground in Puerto Rico posed no health risks to residents.

As a result, it said, it plans to recommend monitoring to determine whether residents of the island of Vieques, the site of decades of live fire and bombing exercises, have been exposed to harmful chemicals and at what levels.

"Much has been learned since we first went to Vieques a decade ago, and we have identified gaps in environmental data that could be important in determining health effects," Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, said in a statement posted on the agency's Web site late Friday afternoon. "The gaps we found indicate that we cannot state unequivocally that no health hazards exist in Vieques."

Ahem. In plain English, that means that yes, Vieques IS contaminated, as the locals have been saying all along. And it also means that no, Uncle Sam won't be doing shit about it yet again. "Monitoring" is not cleaning up, it's sitting on one's hands and waiting to see how many kids turn up with birth defects, how many people come down with rare cancers, immune disorders, etc.

And yes, I'm sure they will see something turn up:

In a finding in 2003, the agency had said that levels of heavy metals and explosive compounds found in Vieques's soil, groundwater, air and fish did not pose a health risk.

The action on Friday is a vindication of the 9,300 residents of the small island off the mainland of northeastern Puerto Rico, who are pursuing claims against the United States government for contamination and illnesses. Puerto Rico's health department has found disproportionately high rates of illnesses like cancer, hypertension and liver disease on the island. In their claims, residents assert that the illnesses are linked to pollutants released in Navy exercises that continued until 2003.

"...heavy metals and explosive compounds found in Vieques's soil, groundwater, air and fish did not pose a health risk."

In what strange parallel universe would that be the case? Oh, of course...that would be BushCo's! Science, as we know, isn't in the Bible, so for them, none of this is real.

And of course, the Puerto Rican health department's findings don't count. Why? Because it's full of Puerto Ricans, duh!

And you wanna know the punchline? Well,

The Environmental Protection Agency has said hazardous substances associated with ordnance may be present in Vieques. In 2005 the training ground was designated a Superfund site, giving the E.P.A. the authority to order a cleanup by the Navy.

The Navy has begun removing hazardous unexploded munitions from its old training ground, but its practice of detonating them in the open air has sowed more fear among residents.

So, the EPA orders them to clean it up, and the navy goes in and blows it up. Meaning, that shit gets scattered far and wide! Thanks, Navy! Git 'er done!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go do just what the song says, and waa-waa-waa.

October 9, 2009

A giant joke on the whole notion of world peace

"The Right to Live in Peace", by Víctor Jara. He wrote this song in honor of Vietnam when the war there was still raging. For speaking out for the Vietnamese, and for his own Chilean and Latin American brethren, Jara was "rewarded" by being one of the first to be rounded up and murdered by the Pinochet dictatorship in the infamous National Stadium in Santiago. The triggerman may well be brought to justice, but the real murderer--or, more accurately, murderers--got away with it.

Good morning! I guess you've all heard by now that His Barackness has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he'll be going to Oslo to claim on December 10. And I'll bet that you, like this lovely Venezuelan lady, are scratching your head over it and going "WTF???"

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The people's ombud of Venezuela, Gabriela Ramírez, said today that she considers it a joke on human rights to present the Nobel Peace Prize to the US president, Barack Obama, because he is the head of the most warlike government on the planet.

"We can only understand this if we accept the thesis that there are two Obamas--one the president of the United States, and the other, the idyllic one, who in his speeches promotes peace," Ramírez said.

For Ramírez, the award is incomprehensible, since it concerns the most polluting and militaristic country on the planet.

"The Nobel Peace prize is for those who work for the planet, not those who expand their war powers with seven military bases in Colombia, promote excessive consumption, and pollute the environment. How can they give a prize for all that?" she asked, on a VTV program.

According to Ramírez, the lack of concrete achievements during his reign is another reason to reject the decision announced from Norway.

Obama heads a fairly young government, whose results have yet to be seen in practice, she said.

Ramírez, a social worker by training, said that if the prize were given for speeches, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, would deserve one.

Evo proposed a climate tribunal and advocates for defense of the planet, Ramírez said.

Ramírez says that instead of accepting the prize, Obama should close the US military bases [in Latin America], order the 4th Fleet, which patrols Latin American waters, back to port, and seek pardon for genocides committed or permitted by his country in all the world.

Translation mine. Link to Evo's speech added.

I should also add that Evo kept Bolivia from crumbling in the hands of separatist terrorists planning his assassination, and a bloody civil war, from the city of Santa Cruz, with the help of wealthy local financiers. The bastards didn't get him, nor did they blow up his floating parliament on Lake Titicaca as they'd planned, but they did manage to kill his little elderly aunt, Rufina.

Meanwhile, to give you a feel for just how big and dirty a joke on world peace this cynical prize-giving really is, may I direct your attention to this fine piece, by NACLA's Roque Planas, in Venezuelanalysis?

The announcement in mid-July of the near completion of an agreement to allow the U.S. military to lease space at seven Colombian bases prompted nearly unanimous rejection from South American governments. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has called three summit meetings to discuss the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement, but Colombia's president, Álvaro Uribe, has refused to back down. In the meantime, other South American nations have begun to arm themselves, fueling fears of an arms race in a region that has not suffered a major inter-state conflict since the end of the Chaco War in 1935.

The source of greatest tension lies on the Venezuela-Colombian border. The Uribe administration argues that it needs increased U.S. military support to suppress drug traffickers and the leftist insurgency of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Although the Colombian government has yet to bring formal allegations, the Uribe administration has insinuated that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez supports the FARC and has diverted Swedish-made rocket launchers to the group-a claim that Chávez denies.

Chávez, on the other hand, maintains that the U.S. government was involved in a 2002 coup to overthrow him and claims that the increased U.S. military presence constitutes a national security threat to Venezuela. Chávez recently announced that the Venezuelan government had been awarded over $2 billion in financing from the Russian government to purchase tanks and an anti-aircraft missile system.

Venezuela is not the only country investing in its military. The Brazilian government is currently negotiating the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets in a deal with French company Dassault that could be worth up to $7 billion. Three other companies, including Boeing, made unsuccessful offers.

The Bolivian government has also negotiated a much smaller deal with Russia for $100 million to finance unspecified purchases of military equipment, as well as a $30 million presidential plane. The Bolivian government purchased the current presidential plane back in the 1970s.

As if determined to rekindle memories of the Cold War, the Russian military is even going to "help Havana modernize and train its military," according to a recent report from the Miami Herald.

Linkage as in original.

It bears saying that all this "alarming" arming comes not as part of some nefarious terror plot against the people of Latin America, nor is it a declaration of war against those in the United States. It comes as a direct response to the military forces the US has placed in Colombia--seven of them to make up for the closure of the US base at Manta, Ecuador. (President Rafael Correa, alias El Ecuadorable, refused to renew the concession, which ran out this year.)

It also comes in response to other alarming developments, such as this:

The United States will reactivate a radar base and finance the construction of a naval base in Costa Rica, as part of a plan rejected today [October 8,2009] in the region as a menace to sovereignty and security.

The subcommander of US-Southcom, Paul Trivelli, announced the decision to return to operation a modern radar base in the Costa Rican province of Guanacaste, with the supposed objective of combatting drug trafficking.

According to Trivelli, the base functioned there until 1995, when it was closed after several years of operation.

The powerful radar sat on top of Cerro Azul de Nandayure, a site difficult to access, protected 24 hours a day by the police.

In an interview with the newspaper La Nación, Trivelli also announced the investment of $15 million in a naval base already being constructed in the Caldera region, Puntarenas province. There, as well, a school for coast-guard officers is in operation.

Although the Southcom representative claims that these actions are part of the War on Drugs, the announcement caused concern over the renewed interest of Washington in placing more military bases in the region.

Translation mine.

This is a particular concern for Costa Rica, since that country abolished its own armed forces six decades ago, in stark contrast to others in the region, in order to prevent war and military dictatorship from ever taking hold in what was, for the longest time, Central America's most stable and peaceable democracy.

Now, it seems, Costa Rica is defenceless, and since it needs the money (why else has it become such a hotspot for sex tourism?), it's not in any position to "Just Say No" to the War on Latin America Drugs. Instead, it's playing host to something that can only be injurious to its security and sovereignty in the long run (as well as providing heaven only knows how many potential new gringo customers for the local underage prostitution rings.)

The war in Iraq is far from over, and the war in Afghanistan is being ramped up, not wound down. And for this, among many other things, a Nobel Peace Prize has been announced today.

No, I don't understand it either.

PS: El Duderino shares my sentiments, I see.

PPS: So does El Gaviero.

PPPS: Michael Moore has weighed in. Go read! An excellent, timely reminder of what has to be done to earn the prize for realz.

PPPPS: Avaaz has a petition going. Just sign here.

October 3, 2009

Information Is Beautiful: Wonktacular fun with factoids

I've been asked before how I manage to find all the awesome stuff that makes it to this blog. Well, some of it I ferret out myself. But for other bits, I have awesome friends forwarding me stuff. Like today, when my best friend sent me this link--Information Is Beautiful. Even if you're not a chart-wonk, you've got to be impressed with the handiwork of those who are. My fave chart? This one here:

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I'm embarrassed at the failing grade my home and native land gets on meeting Kyoto emissions goals (read the bottom row and weep, my fellow Canadians--we are the scum de la scum, after the US which never signed on to Kyoto. Thanks a pantload, Harpo!)

But all the same, I love the "target" presentation. Very effective. Bull's-eye! And blogrolled. Thanks to P.!

August 30, 2009

Music for a Sunday: Remembering Katrina

Ray Nagin and Led Zeppelin--a duet made in hell on Earth.

"Wonder why I got my middle finger up down here?" I don't. After four years, it's still not fixed. And the racists are still gloating. So, when is Cthulhu coming for THEM?

May 1, 2009

Yep, just another innocent victim of foreign persecution...

NOT.

This is Mike Dwyer, back when he worked for the security company that guards Shell Oil's installations in Ireland:

He's suppressing an environmentalist protester. You can hear someone saying "Mick, Mick, let him get up". Which he rather reluctantly does.

Gee, I can't imagine how he found himself in Bolivia with a bunch of fascists who are trying to get control of Bolivia's vast gas and oil reserves, can you?

Simply disgraceful

According to YVKE Mundial, this t-shirt is now selling in the US:

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Sick, tasteless and disgusting. Bet it sells well at Stormfront, though!

April 22, 2009

Why the Big Three need to die, too

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With people like this in charge, would YOU trust a Detroit motor company for your livelihood or that of anyone you know?

Top recipients of federal bailout money spent more than $10 million on political lobbying in the first three months of this year, including aggressive efforts aimed at blocking executive pay limits and tougher financial regulations, according to newly filed disclosure records.

The biggest spenders among major firms in the group included General Motors, which spent nearly $1 million a month on lobbying, and Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase, which together spent more than $2.5 million in their efforts to sway lawmakers and Obama administration officials on a wide range of financial issues. In all, major bailout recipients have spent more than $22 million on lobbying in the six months since the government began doling out rescue funds, Senate disclosure records show.

On the one hand, they came in corporate jets to beg for bailouts; on the other, they "somehow" found the money to spend more than $22 million on lobbying. For what, I wonder--more public money with even fewer conditions attached? Probably-obably!

This part is lovely, too:

Administration officials said this week that top officials at Chrysler Financial turned away a $750 million government loan in favor of pricier private financing because executives didn't want to abide by new federal limits on pay.

..."pricier private financing because executives didn't want to abide by new federal limits on pay."

Gee, I guess they must not have NEEDED bailing out after all! If they can afford private financing but don't want to cap their own executive salaries, they must in fact have gobs of cash that they simply don't want to spend on workers, or for that matter, designing and building better cars like those energy-efficient Japanese automakers (whom the Big Three are always whining about) do. (Let's also not forget Chrysler's bullying up here, in which it threatened to shut down and move out if the unions weren't busted. Memo to the CAW: Don't give them any concessions at all. They can afford to give YOU concessions. Don't back down!)

So...why are they spending this lobbying cash that they supposedly don't have, but in fact do? Well...

The reports revived objections from advocacy groups and some lawmakers, who say firms should not be lobbying against stricter oversight at the same time they are receiving billions from the government through the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP.

OH! Now I get it. They have all that money so they can lobby against stricter oversight. Translation: Execs even richer and less accountable, while workers struggling to pay off their subprime mortgages and loans get kicked to the curb, and car buyers also get gouged. With less oversight, that shit becomes a whole lot more commonplace (see Enron.)

But maybe I'm being too harsh on the Big Three? I dunno...let's let them talk:

But several company representatives said yesterday that none of the money borrowed from the government has been used to fund lobbying activities -- though there is no mechanism to verify that. Financial firms have successfully quashed proposed legislation that would explicitly ban the use of TARP money for lobbying or campaign contributions.

No mechanism to verify that they didn't use the bailout cash to fund lobbying activities? Gee, why should we believe what they say about anything, then? Especially things like this?

GM spokesman Greg Martin said that maintaining a lobbying presence is vital to ensure that the automaker has a say when major policy decisions are made. "We are part of what is arguably one of the most regulated industries, and we provide a voice in very complicated policy debates," Martin said.

Translation: We lobby for less regulation, less oversight, and more money for us, us, US!!! As for you peons, you're screwed, and we're laughing all the way to the bank, behind your back. Meanwhile, to your face, we say all this lovely innocuous-sounding crap so you'll think we're the good guys, out for your best interests when in fact we couldn't have them less at heart. Aren't we clever?

Hey, I have a terrific idea for the carmakers, and all those other big financial firms that got bailout money but are still spending so much on lobbying for even less oversight and regulation than they already get: How about you people all just go and learn to become self-sufficient, as you're always telling the rest of us to do? No bailout money for you. You obviously don't need any. You'll have to learn to manage your own better, and if that means no golden parachutes, corporate jets or other diamond-studded perks, so be it. Cut your profit margins and cut your own executive salaries. You can well afford to. And above all, cut your lobbying to zero. Reinvest all that cash in plants, workers, "green" and fuel-efficient designs--you know, all that unimportant stuff you've been neglecting, but the Japanese haven't? The stuff that makes their cars so much better than yours?

If you do all that, you might be surprised at how suddenly competitive you become...and how much the morale and productivity of the workers suddenly improves. You might even actually find yourselves out of trouble for good, and never having to lobby any government, anywhere, again!

April 15, 2009

Monsanto to Michelle: Please panic, don't go organic

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Ain't no tyranny like that of a good example, I guess. Case in point: Michelle Obama and her organic White House veggie garden. Seems she's not only gotten some corporate panties in a twist, she's given them an Atomic Wedgie. The last thing the pesticide industry wants is for her to grow food for her children without dumping toxic shit all over it:

Did you hear the news? The White House is planning to have an "organic" garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama's and their guests. While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder. As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy.

You can read the whole letter at the La Vida Locavore link. It's heavy on generalizations and carefully crafted language, but light on honesty and openness. And no wonder. If they said what they really were and what they were really about, they'd never get a hearing.

"CropLife Ambassadors" is their cute euphemism for pesticide industry lobbyists and shills. "Crop protection products" is their cute euphemism for pesticides. Presumably things grow better when covered with toxic, carcinogenic crap.

Well, I know one thing that grows better that way: Big Chem's profit margin. But veggies? Pppppfffft. It's amazing how much you can do without that extra outlay (and without poisoning anyone or anything.) I grow my own veggies--and enough to give away to family and friends--without any pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. All I put on them is mine own humble compost (and the occasional tinfoil wrapper around my tomato stems, to baffle the cutworms). They grow like weeds. And the weeds? Well, some are edible, and those that aren't, are still compostable.

Not only that, but when you don't dump pesticides on your plants, you actually encourage insects to control the pests. Stands to reason: How's a praying mantis gonna eat your pests if it's getting poisoned? And what about the honeybees (and other pollinators, such as bumbles, flies, wasps, butterflies, etc.)?

And there is ample scientific evidence to support the idea that organic is the right way to go, be it for healthfulness, flavor and even--gasp--output. Yes, it's true--organic crops produce better, all around. Who'da thunk? Us organic gardeners, that's who. My full freezer and pantry don't lie. By the time I finish using up last year's frozen ORGANIC tomatoes, I'll have started harvesting this year's new crop!

I'm pretty sure Michelle O. will give this inane missive a quick, polite read-through (perhaps narrowing her pretty eyes with skepticism), and then toss it like the smart lady she is. And then she'll go back to her organic garden, confident in the knowledge that she's growing a better crop. In every sense.

PS: Things just got worse for Monsanto and Co. Germany just outlawed their Frankencorn.

February 25, 2009

Ashy thoughts for a Wednesday morn...

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I'm not Catholic, so this whole penitential post-carnival thing is kind of opaque to me. Rather than atone for sins (actual or imaginary), I prefer to do the right thing in the first place, if I can. Which means I tend to think before I act. I probably miss out on a lot of fun that way (which kind of also negates the need for Lenten deprivations, at least for me).

But on the other hand, there are some sobering realities to face when it comes to carnivals, and invariably they crop up after the festivities are over. Case in point: this thought-provoking piece from the ABI website, which I decided to translate in its entirety:

La Paz Street, in the northern zone of Oruro, is a hectic place. At three o'clock last Friday afternoon, young people, devotees, dancers and folklorists in general hurried to pick up their costumes and colorful masks, some of them made with natural feathers and the skins of armadillos, a species in danger of extinction.

If you look a little closer, in the market stalls you'll also see rattles, bird crests and bills, plumes, shells and other items made from severed parts of animals en route to extinction.

It's the dark side of Carnaval, the festive Oruro Carnival.

The artisans and embroiderers are aware that the trade in animal parts is prohibited, but in fact there is no law to stop or prevent the killing of wild animals and endangered species.

On one side of La Paz Street, a few metres away from the Flores Tailor Shop, lie the scattered remains of armadillos whose hides are sought after by the makers of dancers' costumes. Each skin costs between 100 and 150 bolivianos on the black market.

The "quirquinchos", as they are commonly known, are in danger of disappearing from the sandy area of Oruro.

The next day, during the Entrada de Peregrinación, and on Carnival Sunday, the Morenada Central and Morenada Comunidad "Cocani", the largest folkloric societies, carry ostentatious rattles made from armadillo hides. The masked dancers wear ostrich feathers which adorned the heads of beautiful women whose hats are also trimmed with peacock plumes.

Where do these animal parts come from? "From La Paz Street," is what you'll hear from a dealer.

Flamingo feathers are sold as some kind of legal product in central bazaars, two blocks away from the Plaza 10 de Febrero, on Adolfo Mier Street in the heart of Oruro. Each one costs between 50 and 70 bolivianos (around $5 US.) Embroiderers make crests, to be worn on the head, for $300 apiece.

It's a great deal.

The mask-makers, also known as "hojalateros", use stuffed condors--a species near extinction, and a national emblem--in the costumes they build for the "diablada" fraternities, such as Ferroviaria, Auténtica, Artística, Urus, and others. Each mask of this type costs at least $300.

But there are also manufacturers whose specialty is condor suits. Each one, made from the feathers of the actual bird, costs ome 250 bolivianos, a little under $30.

Carnival Saturday and Sunday is also observed by the Suris fraternities, who perform a dance from the Andean altiplano as thanks to Pachamama, the Earth Mother. They use the feathers of the suris, birds of the same family as the flamingo and the parihuana. Each suri feather on the dancers' hats is valued at between 20 and 30 bolivianos, around $5 US.

These are some of the extremes incurred by the Oruro Carnival, declared by UNESCO as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

According to Anakarlem Mercado, folklorist and member of the Society for the Protection of Animals and Environments, "a specific law is needed" to regulate the mechanisms for the protection of the lives of animals, whose bones are sold as expensive merchandise in Bolivian folkloric activities.

"The authorities must take into account that Bolivia is one of the countries most rich in biodiversity and for that, we need to have a specific law for the protection of animals, and so prevent the depletion of endangered species in folkloric events such as the Oruro Carnival," Mercado tells ABI.

Mercado reminds us that in Bolivia the Law of the Environment, promulgated on April 27, 1992, is still in force. It regulates hunting and prohibits the indiscriminate trafficking in endangered animal species. It reads, "Whoever introduces, captures, promotes and/or commercializes the products of hunting, possession, stockpiling, transportation of animal or vegetable species or their derivatives without authorization, or those which are declared out of season or reserved, placing the same at risk of extinction, shall suffer the penalty of up to two years' deprivation of liberty."

Just something to think about next time you watch those dancing queens go twirling by in their elaborate feathered costumes.

And here's something else, for those who are dragging themselves out of the sack kind of hung-over this morning:

At least 24 people are dead and dozens injured as a result of the festivities of the Bolivian Carnival, according to the provisional report distributed by the police on Tuesday.

The majority of the deaths occurred as a result of traffic accidents.

Also to blame was the excessive consumption of alcohol and street violence, according to the report.

The police report indicates that the deaths occurred in the departments of La Paz, El Alto, Santa Cruz, Oruro, Cochabamba and Chuquisaca.

Colonel Miguel Narváez, commander of operations, said that in La Paz alone there were five deaths and 74 injured persons reported.

The most notorious case was the death of a retired police general, Antonio Pardo Montalvo, last Saturday in a traffic accident on the road between the cities of Oruro and Cochabamba.

Police reports also indicate that last Saturday, a cyclist was struck on the road to Copacabana, and on Sunday a married couple were killed on the road to Oruro. On Monday, an indigent was murdered in a party at a butcher shop.

"This year there were more accidents than last year. The number of deaths in the city of La Paz was smaller. Of 82 accidents reported, 15 were caused by drunkenness," Col. Narváez reported.

In the Hospital Clinic of La Paz there were 17 persons brought in during the early hours on Tuesday morning, the majority of them with stab wounds or cuts received in brawls, according to Dr. Jaime Mancilla.

"There were 15 patients with cuts in various places, and two suffering from alcohol poisoning," Dr. Mancilla said.

In Chuquisaca, the police reported five deaths between Saturday and Tuesday.

"We must lament the fact that amid the festivities of Carnaval, there were five deaths, among them a girl of 16 who died as a result of an induced abortion," said the commander of police in Chuquisaca, Juan Córdova.

To guarantee the security of the citizens during Carnaval, the police deployed 15,237 officers nationwide.

Translation mine as well.

The induced-abortion death of the teenager is not really carnival-related (it happens all year round, particularly in predominantly Catholic countries where abortion is illegal, birth control hard to come by, and medical resources poor. Countries like Bolivia, for example.) But the drunkenness, violence and the road fatalities are all preventable. As is unwanted pregnancy, come to that.

Prevention beats the shit out of penitence, as far as I'm concerned.

November 23, 2008

We now have "free" trade with Colombia. How the hell did THAT happen?

From Aporrea, here's one for the scratch-yer-head-till-it-hurts files:

Even though Colombia is not a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum, its president, Alvaro Uribe, travelled to Peru to meet with a group of leaders from various parts of the world and to take advantage of the opportunity to establish contacts with China, Japan, Canada and others, with the objective of increasing trade.

Uribe arrived in Lima on Friday afternoon and a few hours later signed a free-trade agreement with Canada, his country's ninth. This Saturday, he signed an agreement to promote and protect investments with China.

According to Uribe, the agreement with Canada will generate some 120,000 agricultural jobs and 97% of Colombian exports will have free access to that North American nation.

Translation mine.

Fuck, shit, shuck fit.

How the hell did this happen? El Narco wasn't even invited, yet he got in AND wangled a free-trade agreement with my home and native land--most of whose citizens don't want free trade, let alone with a narco-terror state like the current, unhappy Colombia. (We get a lot of imports from there already--most of them refugees! In fact, before Harpo, Colombia was our #1 source of refugee claimants.)

Now, don't get me wrong. We don't want "free" trade with anyone, but we would love fair trade. I'm sure Colombia, the part of it that has no truck with Uribe, has something to offer us besides cheap bananas, flowers grown with dangerous chemicals, and former narcoterrorist paramilitaries looking to avoid getting killed by their ex-bosses (who, go figure, are mighty close to El Narco).

But here's the rub: We want to see Colombia get its house in order before we do business with it, because we don't believe doing business with it is enough to put said house in order. Why is it so hard for certain people to comprehend this? Why do they keep pushing for an agreement which would only deepen a current disaster?

"No" is the same word in English and Spanish, and spelled slightly differently, but pronounced the same, in French. So why can't our respective so-called leaders seem to hear it when we're all screaming it at the top of our respective lungs?

November 18, 2008

One more for the "strictly imaginary" files

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"It's all in your head. You just have no idea how big your head is."

--Lon Milo DuQuette

I wonder how many Gulf War I vets have died for them to find this out:

A report released on Monday concluded that Gulf War syndrome is a legitimate illness suffered by more than 175,000 U.S. war veterans who were exposed to chemical toxins in the 1991 Gulf War.

The congressionally mandated report could help veterans who have battled the government for treatment of a wide range of unexplained neurological illnesses, from brain cancer to multiple sclerosis.

The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses concluded that Gulf War illness is a physical condition distinct from the mental "shell shock" suffered by veterans in other wars. Some earlier studies had concluded it was not a distinct illness.

"Scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War illness is a real condition with real causes and serious consequences for affected veterans," said the committee, which has been looking into the problem since 2002.

The committee, composed of independent scientists and veterans, said Congress should boost funding for research on Gulf War veterans' health to at least $60 million per year.

"This is a national obligation, made especially urgent by the many years that Gulf War veterans have waited for answers and assistance," the committee said.

Of course, if the general pattern of the Veterans' Administration holds true, this report, like the thousands of sick vets it documents, will be malignly ignored by the Congress at the behest of the Military-Industrial Complex. (Ike was right, it IS a military-industrial-congressional complex.)

Remember Agent Orange? That was at least 40 years ago. They're still dragging their heels on THAT one, too. That is, they're waiting for all those exposed to it to die before admitting that it was toxic and carcinogenic, so the manufacturers won't have to pay out damages to their victims or their families.

I hope President Obama will change this pattern, but I'm not exactly bubbling over with wild optimism. Who knows, maybe he'll pleasantly surprise me--but given how corporations have hijacked US politics, I don't hold out much hope. Remember, the Congress has to okay the payouts. And given how much corporate lobbyists, especially those linked to the MIC, are tied to the Congress--what do you suppose the odds are?

November 12, 2008

Dr. Strangewhoops, or How Greenland Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb

Where the hell is Major Kong? Looks like he now has a real-life counterpart or two. Brace yourselves, kiddies, it's a hot one.

What burns me is how close the Thule base is to our own Arctic. I guess this means that to the Nuclear-Industrial Complex, a bunch of Canadian Inuit are disposable, eh?

October 13, 2008

Economy, ecology...they're closer than you think

This piece on the Beeb gives me the heebie-jeebies. Not because it tells me anything new, but because finally, a mainstream media outlet is publishing what regular enviro-lefties like me have known for a long, long time:

The global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis, according to an EU-commissioned study.

It puts the annual cost of forest loss at between $2 trillion and $5 trillion.

The figure comes from adding the value of the various services that forests perform, such as providing clean water and absorbing carbon dioxide.

[...]

Speaking to BBC News on the fringes of the congress, study leader Pavan Sukhdev emphasised that the cost of natural decline dwarfs losses on the financial markets.

"It's not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year, year after year," he told BBC News.

"So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year."

[...]

Key to understanding his conclusions is that as forests decline, nature stops providing services which it used to provide essentially for free.

So the human economy either has to provide them instead, perhaps through building reservoirs, building facilities to sequester carbon dioxide, or farming foods that were once naturally available.

Or we have to do without them; either way, there is a financial cost.

So, in other words: The economy is more dependent on the ecology than most crapitalists believe. And if they go on wantonly destroying our ecology, everyone will have to pay a price...EVERYONE. Including the disaster capitalists who, in Naomi Klein's book, thought that they could own the world and simply jet away from all natural disasters to some well-appointed, "plutonomy"-friendly desert island.

Get scared, rich people, you're no more immune than the rest of us.

September 1, 2008

Taking the streets in Argentina

A toxic, energy- and water-gobbling mine in the Argentine province of Catamarca drew protesters to the streets of the provincial capital on August 28 in a good old-fashioned escrache:

July 18, 2008

Al Gore, I love you!

Watch this, and in half an hour, I guarantee you'll be in love too:

Al Gore makes the case for a no-carbon energy economy. And in so doing, he kills a lot of crapitalist birds with one stone. It's a brilliantly simple, totally viable solution. All that's lacking is the collective will to make it happen. And if his speech doesn't motivate you to do your part, you must be dead from the neck up.

May 30, 2008

Quotable: Amy Katz on the falsities of the "free" market

"The problem is not the issue of personal choice--it's the doctrine of personal choice. We are constantly being told that change begins with us, that only we can solve our own problems, that we are the authors of our destinies. I believe that these are, in fact, ideological statements, rooted in a free market aversion to collective action. To get ourselves through the next century, we will need to shake off the phantasm of an exclusively personal destiny and couple our individual choices with real, penalty-laden national and international environmental regulations. To get ourselves through the next century, we will need a collective privileging of human lives and futures over corporate profits.

"In other words, we need to make political change, something we can't do as individuals. And something we can't do without challenging, in a serious and uncomfortable way, the existing order. So yes, let's change our lifestyles and reduce our personal impacts on the environment. It will help to nudge us closer to the world we want. But, at some point (and I would argue that point would be now), to prevent a global environmental breakdown, we are going to have to embark on a course of action that questions some of the fundamental tenets of our economic system.

"The logic of the market is destroying the planet. We will not save the planet by turning the free market on itself and buying hybrid cars. We will save the planet by forcing our governments to mandate real environmental regulations. We will save the planet by refusing to allow the requirements of the market to dictate our health, our preferences, our sense of reality and the course of our lives."

--Amy Katz, editor of The Greenpeace Green Living Guide

Bzzzzzzzzzzzz--STING!!!

Remember all those stories about mysteriously dying honeybee populations? Looks like we've got the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder all figured out, kiddies. Or at least, one very unsurprising chief suspect:

Germany has banned a family of pesticides that are blamed for the deaths of millions of honeybees. The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) has suspended the registration for eight pesticide seed treatment products used in rapeseed oil and sweetcorn.

The move follows reports from German beekeepers in the Baden-Württemberg region that two thirds of their bees died earlier this month following the application of a pesticide called clothianidin.

"It's a real bee emergency," said Manfred Hederer, president of the German Professional Beekeepers' Association. "50-60% of the bees have died on average and some beekeepers have lost all their hives."

Tests on dead bees showed that 99% of those examined had a build-up of clothianidin. The chemical, produced by Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of the German chemical giant Bayer, is sold in Europe under the trade name Poncho. It was applied to the seeds of sweetcorn planted along the Rhine this spring. The seeds are treated in advance of being planted or are sprayed while in the field.

Continue reading "Bzzzzzzzzzzzz--STING!!!" »

May 26, 2008

Harper, Harris--what's the diff?

Not a dime's worth, apparently, beyond the fact that the one is federal and the other provincial. The one's from out west, the other's from up north. Our "new Conservative" PM is well known for his penchant for recycling right-wing failures from other hardline Conservative governments-that-failed. Apparently, in Harpoland, the fecal matter falls up--just as in BushCo's Amurrica. And my, how the sewage flows uphill here in Ontario lately--more specifically, all the way from Walkerton to Parliament Hill. Meet the New Tory, same as the Old Tory (not to be confused with the respected Red Tory, now alas a Dead Tory).

A certain failed premier of Ontario is obviously the template for the "new Conservative" Harpo. His latest environmentally dubious recycle? None other than a goober from the late and unlamented Mike Harris regime:

Continue reading "Harper, Harris--what's the diff?" »

April 7, 2008

Cuba: Canary in the global coalmine

Cuban permaculturist Roberto Perez tells how his country adapted to economic and ecologic necessity thanks to the big US embargo aimed at starving the revolution out:

To outsiders, the Cuban system is frequently presented in the media as a failure; its successes (not to mention its fifty-plus years of sheer survival, which is its biggest success!) don't rate a mention. Just look at all the recent hoopla over cellphones and DVD players; only capitalistic "successes" make the news, and the fact that they don't remedy more pressing human needs is conveniently swept under the rug. Too bad that capitalism itself is still busy denying the obvious: that its own "grow or die" model has been an unmitigated disaster, responsible for everything from a rise in poverty and diseases, to global warming itself. In light of that, the Cuban model doesn't look so dumb.

Continue reading "Cuba: Canary in the global coalmine" »

April 1, 2008

Halliburton is poisoning the troops

Sadly, this is NO April Fool's joke:

If you know a returned Iraq vet who has been in contact with any facilities "serviced" by Halliburton, KBR, etc.--please, urge them to see their doctor to be tested for waterborne pathogens. You could save a lot of lives.

March 18, 2008

ExxtortionMobil fails!

Exxon holding up Venezuela

(Translation: "Gimme everything you got under your belt." The belt in question is the Orinoco Belt, a region rich with extra-heavy crude oil.)

Pardon me for the Schadenfreude, but this is just too sweet...

Continue reading "ExxtortionMobil fails!" »

February 10, 2008

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies

Hard home(boy) truth about FUX Snooze:

...and a shout-out to Barack Obama at the end. Let's hope that if nominated and elected, he'll be able to make REAL change to all this.

January 8, 2008

Third World invades First World! Film at 11...

Well, actually, no film. Why? Because this isn't sexy enough for TV, compared to Britney's latest camera-friendly freak-out:

The United States ranks last among 19 industrialized nations when it comes to deaths that could have been prevented.

The report by The Commonwealth Fund, published in the journal Health Affairs, said 101,000 deaths per year could have been prevented by access to timely and effective healthcare. The top performers were France, Japan and Australia.

Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at deaths "amenable to healthcare before age 75 between 1997-98 and 2002-03."

The researchers found that while other countries saw these types of deaths decline by an average of 16 percent, the United States experienced only a 4 percent decline. "It is notable that all countries have improved substantially except the U.S.," said Nolte, lead author of the study.

Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen said the finding that other countries are reducing preventable deaths more rapidly with less money "indicates that policy, goals and efforts to improve health systems make a difference."

Translation from Wonkish to plain English: Knock off with all the free-market shit, America, you are starting to eat your young! Get single-payer public healthcare already, and take some lessons from your neighbors to the north!

Of course, to say something like that would make one a socialist, and everyone knows socialism is evil. Milton Friedman said so. (So do some "Christian" wackos with obviously zero knowledge of the subject.)

Soon as I find out where they buried Friedman, I swear I will make a pilgrimage to piss on his grave. I think it's quite right to hold him responsible for the current mess, and I hate what he's done to my American friends.

What a pity we Canadians don't have another John Kenneth Galbraith on hand to lend our buddies to help them get themselves sorted out properly.

December 27, 2007

More proof that Dubya doesn't read

...and neither does he, nor any of his lackeys, have the slightest concept of a little thing known as reading comprehension.

Think Progress has ferreted out the real source of Dubya's antipathy to embryonic stem cell research--a total misinterpretation of an improbable scenario from Aldous Huxley (read aloud to him, of course, by one of his loyal flunkies, since Dubya can't be bothered to bestir himself):

Continue reading "More proof that Dubya doesn't read" »

December 13, 2007

Richard Pombo's ba-ack...

The Horse's Ass

...and for some strange reason, the above image was the first thing that came to my mind after reading this:

Continue reading "Richard Pombo's ba-ack..." »

November 26, 2007

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Oi, oi, oi.

In honor of their having elected a new PM who's really got his shit together, I feel a song coming on.

November 25, 2007

Loud and clear, but saying the wrong thing

Somebody please tell Harpo that the incumbent Australian PM got voted out because he refused to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. Harpo opened his piehole wide at the Commonwealth Summit in Kampala, Uganda...and the wrong sounds came out. And right on the heels of that came a major, MAJOR fuckery:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted any reference to binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions be deleted because the call for committing to such targets would not apply to all major polluters.

"What we were dealing with here was an initial proposal that would suggest binding and absolute targets on some countries and not others. And Canada has been insistent now at three consecutive international forums that we need one effective international protocol that ultimately involves action by all major emitters," he said.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who met earlier Saturday with Harper, was one of the strongest advocates of a binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.

But Canada refused to agree to the plan, and without consensus, the Commonwealth was blocked.

Continue reading "Loud and clear, but saying the wrong thing" »

November 19, 2007

The Warning

Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) has created a powerful video that rings all the right alarm bells. Crank your speakers.

October 22, 2007

Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq

John Pilger's documentary, broadcast on British channel ITV in 2000, explores just how old the "Saddam had WMDs" fallacy was, and how destructive. And also how hypocritical was all the tut-tutting on the part of the US and Great Britain. Both countries were responsible for the ascension of Saddam as well as for the WMD stockpiles he did possess--the same ones which were destroyed later on under the UN's eyes.

Judging by the sudden jumps in cancer rates and birth defects, related by the doctors you see here, it's a no-brainer that Iraq was nuked with the ultimate dirty bomb--the "depleted" uranium shell. Yet another layer of Anglo-American hypocrisy reveals itself. Just who were these people to try to starve out Iraq in the name of eliminating a dictator they created and armed? And what right had they to use WMD on Iraq--in the name of eliminating Saddam and his WMD, which they themselves supplied?

Bear in mind that this is the country PNAC urged Bill Clinton to bomb in 1998, feeling that what was going on, though devastating to ordinary Iraqis, was just not devastating enough. Clinton declined to bomb--but over half a million sanctions-related child deaths were, apparently, quite acceptable to Madeleine Albright's State Department. Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein and his cronies were demonstrably NOT affected in the slightest by the sanctions. Gee, maybe PNAC was right about bombing and full-scale war (i.e. more death, more destruction, and even less humanitarian aid getting through) being needed to dislodge him.

Oh wait, there was bombing, too. It was still not enough to appease PNAC. Maybe because the targets were a few shepherds, their children...and sheep.

And don't forget, this all happened BEFORE Gulf War II and the current occupation.

October 9, 2007

They could learn a thing or two from Venezuela

From Straight Goods, two interesting articles on Alberta and its oil.

Numero Uno notes that Ontario's oil addiction is fueling Alberta's polluting ways, and reviews a bomb-throwerish book whose basic thesis is that Albertans are stupid for polluting so much and not giving a shit. Of course, it's not as if our entire country isn't car-dependent to a fault, and it's not as if that isn't feeding into the nasty state of affairs in Alberta. And it's not as if there aren't conservative politicians all over it doing their damnedest to keep it that way--because, they say, jobs depend on it. (Someone kindly clue them in to the radical notion that protecting the ecology is also good for the economy--environmentally-friendlier technology CREATES jobs. Someone also inform them that green politics are taking hold in Alberta even as the pollution problem goes from bad to worse--precisely because there IS a pollution problem, and the ranchers aren't so happy with the oilpatch. Remember, farmers feed cities!)

Numero Dos is even more interesting. Finally, word is getting out that the way Alberta's oilpatch does business...is not sound business. Alberta's public sector is suffering because oil is treated as a private-sector purview, which it shouldn't be. And the fact that the oil industry is still crying poor, has Ricardo Acuña of the Parkland Institute calling foul:

Continue reading "They could learn a thing or two from Venezuela" »

October 8, 2007

Floaters in space

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield explains how space toilets work. Stick around till the end and you might learn something about, er, meteor showers.

August 13, 2007

Eat this and weep

Chow down!

Organic foods protect children from the toxins in pesticides, while foods grown using modern, intensive agricultural techniques contain fewer nutrients and minerals than they did 60 years ago, according to two new scientific studies.

A US research team from Emory University in Atlanta analysed urine samples from children ages three to 11 who ate only organic foods and found that they contained virtually no metabolites of two common pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos.

However, once the children returned to eating conventionally grown foods, concentrations of these pesticide metabolites quickly climbed as high as 263 parts per billion, says the study published February 21.

Continue reading "Eat this and weep" »

July 21, 2007

Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre

A half-hour video exploring the use of napalm (which nobody calls it anymore, but which in fact it is) at Fallujah.

May 13, 2007

Welcome to capitalism! Sorry you got beat up!

From the UK Guardian, a little news item from not-so-red-anymore China:

China unveiled plans yesterday to deploy police in hospital wards and outpatient clinics to protect medical staff from the public, amid growing instances of physical violence meted out by patients furious at charges and dubious treatment.

The government is concerned about increased attacks on doctors, nurses and administrative staff as the healthcare system becomes the focus of resentment about the gap between rich and poor.

According to the China Daily, 5,500 medical workers were injured last year in assaults and protests, causing more than 200m yuan (£13m) damage.

Continue reading "Welcome to capitalism! Sorry you got beat up!" »

May 6, 2007

The Future of Food

A scary but utterly important film on the dangers of genetically modified foods and what we can do to stop their deadly encroachment on our tables, our fields and our lives. More information can be found at the filmmaker's website.

April 10, 2007

A most disturbing video

From a link sent to me by my friend Corey.

Who made this video I don't know, but apparently they are Iraqi. The speaker is very eloquent, and a lot of the statements he makes ring true. He decries the false, meaningless "democracy" of the neo-cons, saying it would be better to live in an outright dictatorship. Food for thought? Yes, and some will say it's hard to digest. Others will probably dismiss it as al-Q propaganda, giving aid and comfort to The Enemy, etc. Make of it what you will, but watch it anyway. It gives no aid or comfort to anyone, only validation to what we in the peace movement have long believed: that Gulf War II is not and never has been about freedom, democracy, stopping terrorism or WMDs.

April 3, 2007

Brazilian women say "Nao" to Bush's ethanol scheme

Are you listening, Lula?

(Video originally seen on Aporrea, courtesy of TVColetiva Brazil. Portuguese only, but it's easy to tell what's going on.)

There were about 900 women at this demo, according to Aporrea. This was a serious one. But entirely peaceful, in spite of guards trying to confiscate their banners.

March 24, 2007

Pokin' the Bear

A little musical interlude featuring the inimitable pipes of the imbecilic Pigman, Rush Limbaugh.

BTW, Rush, I know some hungry polar bears who would LOVE you for lunch.

March 8, 2007

Poison DUst: another must-see

If you think what it does to US soldiers is appalling, wait till you see what "depleted" uranium is doing to the people of Iraq. And its half-life is 4.5 BILLION years. "Harmless"? Yeah--just like Agent Orange.

February 18, 2007

Terror-Free Oil Slicks come out and play!

Oh, boy. I just caught a flying one from a big, brave, wannabe terror-free oilman, and I'm sooooooo scared. Take a gander at what landed in my comments section today.

The only thing that overshadows author's stupidity is his poor research skills.

Article above: "embrace the economy car, the hybrid car, the fuel-cell car, and most importantly, the carpool."

TFO goals (http://www.terrorfreeoil.org/coalition.php):

- Educate consumers about alternative fuels (Ethanol, BioDiesel, etc.)

- Promote Hybrids & FFVs

- Promote public transportation

It might be worth researching the subject before providing your scholarly opinion. Will make you look less of a moron.

Bravo! You have finally come out from under your rock to insult me, reiterate your empty blurb, and give me an instant, depersonalized, internet sex change to boot. How courageous of you!

There's only one problem with your calling me a moron: it makes you look like an idiot.

Continue reading "Terror-Free Oil Slicks come out and play!" »

February 13, 2007

"Terror-free oil"--what it really means

Well, hey howdy. There's a new face on the gasoline scene:

Terror Free Oil--the $3 bill of the energy sector

Oh my, aren't they patriotic. Just look at that logo! Not a bit subtle. What could be more "American" than cashing in wherever you can, even on tragedy?

Unfortunately, this is just another way of profiting from the gullibility of the "patriotic" sheeple--the same ones who stick made-in-China yellow ribbon magnets on their SUVs and call that "supporting the troops". It's a slick scam, and here's why:

Continue reading ""Terror-free oil"--what it really means" »

February 3, 2007

There goes the neighborhood

And right along with it, all hope that Peruvian president Alan Garcia might have learned from mistakes of the past:

Environmental and human rights group in Peru have denounced the government's campaign to auction off large swathes of the Amazon to oil and gas companies.

They say the amount of Peruvian Amazon territory open to exploration has risen from 13% to 70% in two years.

They say this is putting at risk the biodiversity of the Amazon and the lives of indigenous people.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia has said the plans are part of his investment programme to tackle widespread poverty.

Continue reading "There goes the neighborhood" »

January 6, 2007

Quotable: John Stuart Mill on predator capitalism

"I confess that I am not charmed with the ideal of life held out by those who think that the normal state of human beings is that of struggling to get on; that the trampling, crushing, elbowing, and treading on each other's heels, which form the existing type of social life, are the most desirable lot of human beings."

-- John Stuart Mill

November 13, 2006

Did Israel "mini-nuke" Lebanon?

According to Italy's RAI News, it smells suspiciously like it...

The special report was triggered by the radioactivity measurements reported on a crater probably created by an Israeli Bunker Buster bomb in the village of Khiam, in southern Lebanon. The measurements were carried out by two Lebanese professors of physics - Mohammad Ali Kubaissi and Ibrahim Rachidi. The data - 700 nanosieverts per hour — showed remarkably higher radiocativity than the average in the area (Beirut = 35 nSv/hr ).

On September 17th, Ali Kubaissi took British researcher Dai Williams, from the environmentalist organization Green Audit, to the same site, to take samples that were then submitted to Chris Busby, technical advisor of the Supervisory Committee on Depleted Uranium, which reports to the British Ministry of Defense. The samples were tested by Harwell's nuclear laboratory, one of the most authoritative research centers in the world. On October 17th, Harwell disclosed the testing results - two samples in 10 did contain radioactivity.

Continue reading "Did Israel "mini-nuke" Lebanon?" »

October 5, 2006

A man, a plan, a canal--NICARAGUA?

Hey wait...that's not a palindrome. Damn. Uh, I believe this would fall under the general heading of WTF???

Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, plans to construct a $20bn rival to the Panama canal to enable the largest tankers and container ships in the world to pass between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Continue reading "A man, a plan, a canal--NICARAGUA?" »

September 11, 2006

The obligatory fifth-anniversary 9-11 post, with a difference

9-11 Exploitation

Blah, blah blah...

That, Gentle Reader, is the sound of the mainstream media in the US, talking a lot and not actually saying anything. For the last five years, it's been doing nothing but that on one particular day when it owes the public so much more than just some obligatory annual orgy of grief and remembrance with an unholy admixture of misplaced patriotism.

Continue reading "The obligatory fifth-anniversary 9-11 post, with a difference" »

August 29, 2006

One year after Katrina...

...and what have we learned?

Well, for starters, that the BushCo Imperial Preznitcy is rather reminiscent of the royal family of France--heedless of everything, right up to its date with La Guillotine:

They Were Eating Cake

Continue reading "One year after Katrina..." »

July 29, 2006

So much for Agent Orange being "harmless"!

Scientists have long been saying otherwise, and here's one more study to prove it...

New Zealand troops who served in the Vietnam War suffered significant genetic damage from exposure to Agent Orange, a study suggests.

The chemical was used by the US military in Vietnam in the 1960s.

It has been blamed for a variety of medical conditions suffered by soldiers and up to four million Vietnamese.

The study by New Zealand's scientists could have a big effect on campaigners' efforts to sue major chemical firms and the US government, correspondents say.

Continue reading "So much for Agent Orange being "harmless"!" »

July 12, 2006

REALLY pissing Jesus off

Can you believe this?

Friends and family lauded as a devout Christian and family leader the man who built Enron into an international energy powerhouse before its collapse in the biggest corporate scandal of its time.

Lay's stepson David Herrold told the nearly full First United Methodist Church that Lay was wrongly convicted, and he was angry about the portrayals of his stepfather in the media.

"He did have a strong faith in God and I know he's in heaven, and I'm glad he's not in a position anymore to be whipped by his enemy," Herrold said.

Continue reading "REALLY pissing Jesus off" »

July 8, 2006

D'oh!

Homer Simpson on Climate Change

The sad part is, all of Dubya's appointments have basically amounted to something just like this.

July 5, 2006

So much for the "miracle" of DDT!

There are some 'tards in this world who want to bring back DDT--to control malarial mosquitoes.

I have just one question for them: Were you breast-fed?

Children exposed to the pesticide DDT while in the womb experience development problems, researchers say.

The pesticide was banned in the US and UK in the 1970s, but it is still used in some countries to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

It was already known DDT was linked to premature births and low birthweight.

Continue reading "So much for the "miracle" of DDT!" »

June 17, 2006

More proof that Frankenfoods suck shit

Yes, those pesky scientists have found some more eye-bugging evidence that Monsanto is lying through its teeth to us.

And some of them are from Venezuela!

Two research teams in England and Venezuela have discovered something alarming about the new genetically modified crops filled with insecticide. The insects not only eat them, they seem to thrive on them.

Continue reading "More proof that Frankenfoods suck shit" »

May 15, 2006

Rona Ambrose: Canada's (inter)national embarrassment

If anyone makes me, as a Canadian, hang my head in shame, it's this woman:

Canada has no chance of meeting its targets under the Kyoto accord and must set more realistic goals for cutting greenhouse gases, the federal environment minister says.

"My departmental officials and the department officials from natural resources have indicated that it is impossible, impossible for Canada to reach its Kyoto targets," Rona Ambrose said Friday.

Continue reading "Rona Ambrose: Canada's (inter)national embarrassment" »

May 13, 2006

Buh-bye, Big 'n' Ugly...

And good riddance to bad rubbish. From the CBC:

General Motors will drop the gas-guzzling Hummer H1 at the end of the 2006 model year, the automaker said Friday.

The final H1 is expected to be built in June. About 12,000 H1s have been produced since 1992. The vehicle is based on the U.S. military's Humvee.

Continue reading "Buh-bye, Big 'n' Ugly..." »

April 22, 2006

Happy Earth Day, dear Repugs!

You say there's no such thing as global warming? Ha! Triumph the Insult Dog poops on you!

And, on a more serious note, so does Seed Magazine.

April 14, 2006

Too true to be truly funny

Tom Toles 'toon, too true

This would be a good time to start rethinking all that, yes?

March 22, 2006

Another 9-11 first responder has died

And if you guess correctly what she died of, you win a hunk of asbestos-ridden rubble from Ground Zero:

A 41-year-old paramedic who worked at a morgue for months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center was buried Monday after dying of an asbestos-related cancer.

Continue reading "Another 9-11 first responder has died" »

March 7, 2006

Mexico: sneak preview for America's future

Hey, Americans...wanna know where your country's headed under BushCo, NAFTA, the NRA, the whole shebang? Clicky-clicky...but you'll no likey:

In an overwhelmingly Catholic country, abortion is illegal in Mexico unless the woman concerned was raped.

However, according to the report, many women are still denied safe abortions even if their pregnancy was a result of this crime.

Pregnant rape victims are intimidated, insulted and threatened.

Continue reading "Mexico: sneak preview for America's future" »

February 27, 2006

The swiftboating of CITGO

Oil Wars and Juan Gonzalez have both got the goods on Joe Barton, the Texas Repug oil profiteer-cum-congresscritter squatting in the House of Representatives, who's coming down hard on CITGO for reasons that can only be described as blatantly political. Wikipedia, likewise, has some interesting poopy on him (pay special attention to his bat-squeeze views on global warming, which it's clear he doesn't understand--but hey, there must be "debate", lest people be distracted by the terrible, irrefutable facts that cause them to spend less money on the oil peddled by Joe's Texas pals. Just like there needs to be "debate" on the mere "theory" of evolution.)

Continue reading "The swiftboating of CITGO" »

February 16, 2006

So much for Monsanto's claims

...of saving the world with its Frankenfoods. From the Beeb:

Sustainable farming methods can help the poorest farmers in developing nations out of poverty, new research suggests.

Scientists found that techniques such as crop rotation and organic farming increased crop yields by an average of 79%, without risking future harvests.

Continue reading "So much for Monsanto's claims" »

February 9, 2006

A cowflop by any other name

...still smells like bullshit. But hey, don't let that stop you from calling it "journalism". From the NY Times:

Journalists like to think of themselves as presenting as accurate a picture as they can of the real world.

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists takes a broader view. It is presenting its annual journalism award this year to Michael Crichton, the science fiction writer whose latest book, "State of Fear," dismisses global warming as a largely imaginary threat embraced by malignant scientists for their own ends.

"It is fiction," conceded Larry Nation, communications director for the association. "But it has the absolute ring of truth."

Continue reading "A cowflop by any other name" »

February 4, 2006

Uh-oh, Canada...

...My home and native land;

True patriot love

May not protect thy sand!

We need a much bigger army

From sea to sea to sea,

Since Dubya, ever so smarmy,

Has vile designs on thee!

God keep our land

Out of BushCo's hands!

O Canada, who'll stand on guard for thee?

O Canada, who'll stand on guard for thee?

January 8, 2006

Space tourists = space TERRORISTS?

I'm trying very hard not to laugh over this...honest I am. But get a load of the latest bizarre directive from the FAA:

Space tourists must be screened to ensure they are not terrorists, according to proposed regulations from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The draft report's suggestions aim to prevent a terrorist from destroying a spacecraft or using it as a weapon.

However, the report has no strict proposals on the health of any would-be space tourists.

Continue reading "Space tourists = space TERRORISTS?" »

January 4, 2006

Can't you read the signs?

Honestly, sometimes I'm amazed at what you can do when you put your mind to it...and bend the resources of the state to the task. Here's a nice long piece from Vheadline.com detailing the many successes of Hugo Chavez. It seems that free education and massive state-run literacy programs are not only a hit with the people (that stands to reason; hungry minds are eager for anything that will feed them!); they're also a further proof that socialism works and redounds to the overall good of society.

Most striking of all is how quickly Chavez has managed to virtually wipe out illiteracy in Venezuela. Here's how he did it:

Continue reading "Can't you read the signs?" »

January 3, 2006

This war ain't gonna pay for itself, nosirree...

Forget everything you heard out of Washington in '03.

No, on second thought--remember it. And throw it back in the faces of all the wingnuts who repeated this bullcrap to you. The war in Iraq is going to be a money pit. And trust the media of Old Europe--in this case, Germany--to get the story right where the US media is falling on its ass:

Continue reading "This war ain't gonna pay for itself, nosirree..." »

December 29, 2005

Global warming, nonexistent?

It's time to junk the junk science of the Right, and face facts: GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL.

And not only that: IT KILLS. From the December 18 issue of the UK Sunday Times:

Scientists have for the first time found evidence that polar bears are drowning because climate change is melting the Arctic ice shelf.

The researchers were startled to find bears having to swim up to 60 miles across open sea to find food. They are being forced into the long voyages because the ice floes from which they feed are melting, becoming smaller and drifting farther apart.

Continue reading "Global warming, nonexistent?" »

December 26, 2005

The Strange Case of Mrs. Anthrax and Dr. Germ

Er...does it sound like I'm channeling Robert Louis Stevenson tonight? So sorry. I'm afraid this tale is much too bizarre to be fiction.

In a way, though, this IS a Jekyll-and-Hyde story, involving scientific research, mysterious powders, monsters and strange transformations, as well as no small amount of violence and human two-facedness. But I do think it only fair to warn you that this is a tale of which the last chapter has not yet been written, nor are the heroes and villains of it quite who you would expect, for no one in it is quite as they seem. So, with that said, get comfortable in your chair (or wherever you happen to find yourself), pour yourself a generous tankard of your libation of choice, and read on...

Continue reading "The Strange Case of Mrs. Anthrax and Dr. Germ" »

December 21, 2005

Let's beat on Canada...AGAIN!

Don't these right-wing assholes have anything better to do with their time?

Fox News host Neil Cavuto highlighted Martin's remark at a news conference that the United States is a ''reticent nation'' lacking a ''global conscience'' on climate change.

''So have the Canadians gotten a little too big for their britches?'' Cavuto asked.

''Could our neighbours to the north soon be our enemies?''

Continue reading "Let's beat on Canada...AGAIN!" »

December 18, 2005

You can shun the climate talks, but...

...it doesn't mean that climate woes will just magically bypass you. No matter how much you try to delude yourself that they will.

Yes, USA, I'm talking to you. You've been comporting yourself with your usual shameful "la la la la, I'm not listening" flair. What have you got to say for yourself about THIS?

Continue reading "You can shun the climate talks, but..." »