Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Global Leaders Call On Canada To Fight Climate Change In New Ad

Huffington Post Nov 30-'11
WASHINGTON -- African leaders including Archbishop Desmond Tutu have released an ad calling on Canada to step up the battle against global warming, rather than actively promote the use of its tar sands. Details here.

Also watch the video, below, with activist Zodwa Rannyadi of Soweto.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Still in Superbug Denial: FDA Rejects Petitions to Stop Feeding Antibiotics to Healthy Livestock.

OnEarth Nov 29-'11
No one can accuse the FDA of rushing to judgement. Details here.

PLT: You don't suppose this is because "Big Food Agri-Biz" is calling the shots here? Naaaah! And we wonder why there is an Occupy Movement!

Is Climate Change Boosting a Lethal Disease in Australia?

The Daily Climate - Nov 29 - '11
For 17 years, the Hendra virus smoldered in its host bat population, only rarely crossing to humans. Then it exploded, likely triggered by heavy rains and floods in Australia earlier this year. And that has public health doctors nervous about climate change. Details here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oil Sands, World’s Largest Energy Project, Faces Severe Water Shortages

By Andrew Nikiforuk - The Tyee
The oil sands, the world’s largest energy project, will face severe or even catastrophic water shortages due to declining glaciers and snowpack in the Rocky Mountains, warn Canadian water researchers. Details here.

Climate Conference 2011: Canada Says Kyoto Protocol 'Biggest Blunder,' May Withdraw

Tom Zeller Jr. - Huffington Post
Global climate talks got an inauspicious start in Durban, South Africa, on Monday with reports that Canada planned to withdraw fully from the Kyoto Protocol,  Details here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

CBC Tells the Whole Climate Change Story for a Change

If you like my blog, please consider a donation. Thanks! Larry

PLT: Bob MacDonald, host of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks science show, (l.) has seemed reluctant to spell out all the impications of our climate crisis, both on his own show and on his appearances on "The National." He (& other on-air personalities), repeatedly refer to "El Nino" or "La Nina" when trying to explain severe weather events when, in fact, those phenomena play a role in only a small percentage of our catastrophic storms. But on his show this weekend, Bob actually had guests who explained the story plainly and comprehensively. This is significant for, without such detail, many people will brush off the term "climate change," when used without context whatsoever (as it often is),  as something they can do nothing about. Please click here, scroll down, listen to the podcast and you'll understand what I mean.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Canada Should Fight a Pollution Battle Instead of a PR Battle

Huff Post Green - Hannah McKinnon
Climate Action Network Canada - 11/24/11

In the lead up to the next round of UN climate talks, instead of taking responsibility for their own pollution problem, the Canadian Government is focusing on a full scale public relations and diplomatic campaign to ensure no door is closed to Canada's highly polluting tar sands. Details here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Can the Oceans Continue to Feed Us?

By Renee Schoof | McClatchy Newspapers - Nov 10 '11
WASHINGTON — Far out on the Pacific Ocean, the world's industrial fishing fleets pursue one of the last huge wild hunts — for the tuna eaten by millions of people around the world. Details here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quiet Shift in Feds' Criteria for Approving Northern Gateway Pipeline

By Gerald Graham, 16 Nov 2011,
'Need for project' now trumps environment in fine print of pipeline documents. Details here.

PLT: And people wonder why there is an Occupy movement!

Time to Test Corporate Leaders to Weed out Psychopaths

By Mitchell Anderson, Today,
Shark-like, they rise fast but risk killing the world economy, concludes a business professor. Details here.

Broadcaster Bill Moyers "Nailed" the Motivation Behind the Occupy Movement - Even Before it Began! (Video)


Uganda's Protected Mabira Rainforest Threatened Again by Sugar Production

By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet - November 21, 2011


Public Happy Face on Ottawa's Cuts Smeared by Official's Private Memo

Mike De Souza - Vancouver Sun - Nov. 20-'11
OTTAWA — A senior Environment Canada bureaucrat who publicly defended the federal government’s plans to slash funding and eliminate “redundancy” within the country’s ozone monitoring programs, privately approved a briefing note that concluded there was no duplication in its network, Postmedia News has learned. Read more here.

PLT: It is truly a sad day when a Prime Minister can instil such fear in his public servants that they feel compelled to tell a different story in public than in private, just to keep their jobs! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Be - Without Water? A Video of the Struggles of Citizens of New Brunswick Against Fracking

EU Lawmakers Call For Action to Protect Bees

(Reuters) - Nov 15'11   European Union lawmakers on Tuesday called for stronger action to protect Europe's bees, saying that the rapid decline in the bee population could PLT bumblebee photo affect the growth of important food crops. Details here.

New Report is First To Quantify Health Impacts From 
World's Worst Toxic Pollution Problems

Blacksmith Institute - New York - Nov 9'11

Report Identifies Top Pollution Problems and Sources, and Reveals Surprising Finding About Corporations and Pollution. Details here.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

CBC Radio Explores the History of the Embattled Canadian Wheat Board (Podcast)

Wheat.  It is the most important cereal grain in the world and, along with fur trapping and the railroad, it made Canada.

We are one of the largest wheat exporters on the planet, about 19 thousand tons a year, more than any other crop. There are some 75,000 farmers across the Prairies who make their livelihood from it. And to sell their wheat, they have depended for generations on the Canadian Wheat Board.

The Wheat Board, as we know it today, was established in 1935 to control prices, so as to benefit farmers in the Great Depression.

Now, however, the Wheat Board could be gone by Christmas. The Conservative government has been promising to get rid of it for years, and with its majority in parliament, is making good on that promise.

It's hard to say what it will mean to farmers and the rest of us. If anybody has an idea, it is John Herd Thompson, who has documented the history of the Wheat Board. Winnipeg born-and-bred, he earned his PhD at Queen's University and has taught at McGill, Simon Fraser and the University of Alberta.  For more than two decades, he has been Professor of History at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.  He joins us from a studio there.

Click here, then scroll to the last half of Hour Three.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Of Banksters, Occupiers and Head-Knockers

What to do with the Occupy camps. How about - let them be! 
by Larry Powell
A peaceful camp
It's hardly surprising. 

The mood of Canada's elites is becoming increasingly ugly as the "Occupy" movement continues to "hang in there" for a lot longer than they likely expected. 

It is, after all, what elites do. They simply cannot tolerate those who challenge the very system that keeps them in power.

Cops are already being ordered to start knocking some heads in some Canadian cities, as well as south of the border.

Neither is it surprising that some news media are misrepresenting what the movement is all about. 

A recent editorial in the Dauphin Herald, for example, dismissed the protesters as "whiners," whose support is dwindling. (In fact, the movement has persisted and spread to many parts of the world.)

The editorial also proclaimed, "It was the squandering of tax dollars (by governments) which originally created the movement!"


The newspaper obviously got the Occupiers mixed up with their polar opposites, U.S. "Tea-Partiers," and Republicans, who are unbending in their support of tax cuts for the rich and cuts to health care and other government services which might help ordinary people!

While I have yet to hear a single Occupier defend government "squandering," it was actually the growing gap between the super rich and the rest of us, which motivated them. This is all made worse by the criminal actions of bankers and rich corporations (who still, to this day, run around Scott-free, while countless Occupiers have been jailed for exercising their democratic rights to freedom of speech and assembly!) Meanwhile, those "banksters" and other "upstanding paragons of corporate virtue," like British Petroleum, are given free-reign to exploit our resources and pollute our planet (all, tax-free, of course)!

Many Canadians seem to be under the impression that things are better here than in the 'States - that banks are better regulated, for example. That is true - partly.

But the belief that our big banks have been "soldiering on" without the help of our hard-earned dollars, is also a myth. According to one very capable, investigative columnist, the Harper Government quietly issued those banks a bailout amounting to $75 billion in 2008. Michel Chossudovsky heads the Montreal-based Centre for Research on Globalization. Chossudovsky claims that, taken on a per-capita basis, that is on par with the infamous bailouts the US government made of its own crooked and failed financial institutions a few years ago.  

(Here, our own, "vigilant" corporate media seemed to have missed that story.)

Keep in mind these same banks, all five, invest billions in the Alberta tar sands, helping to destroy our natural world and climate, at the same time.

What is puzzling is how indignant some people are that homeless people are actually moving into the camps. Imagine that! A basic tenet of the "Occupy" movement is that we need a more even distribution of wealth. Why, then would they turn away those who are suffering the most from this imbalance?

I recently had the privilege of visiting the "Occupy Winnipeg"
site, twice in October. Yes, there were homeless there, sitting around the bonfire, drinking the industrial-strength coffee,  and sampling the occasional, meagre bit of food. (Which renders as doubly ludicrous, suggestions that they are there "just to have fun.") To me, their presence just proved that the movement is inclusive and hardly prepared to turn away our poorest, who perhaps themselves best exemplify the inequity with which our wealth is distributed.

It should also be noted that, on the first day of "Occupy Winnipeg" there were also working people, environmentalists, representatives of First Nations, the embattled Wheat Board, and so on. 

One union representative there told me he believed Harper was out to crush the labour movement. He cited recent examples of how the government moved to bring ruthless ends to strikes in both the public and private sectors this year. Its back-to-work decrees, in both cases, came down with unprecedented haste. For postal workers, they imposed a lesser settlement than even the employer would have granted! For Air Canada flight attendants, the government locked in entry-level wages which are below the poverty line, while doing nothing to prevent obscene bonuses for corporate executives. 

Was that labour rep wrong? I don't think so.

One of the speakers told the gathering on opening day, Harper had broken an election promise and abruptly ended funding to the Canadian Environmental Network. That has thrown the future of this group into disarray and uncertainty. The Network has been co-ordinating the activities of various Eco-groups across the country and helping governments implement enlightened legislation to safeguard our air, water and soil, for decades. 

Does this strengthen the argument that, under Stephen Harper, Canada's policies are becoming the most hostile toward the environment of any nation in the world? 

Sounds like!
To suggest that this movement has been controlled by whiners and reduced to squatter camps is to do a great disservice to thousands of sincere, caring people, determined to build a better world.

(All photos by PinP.)


Rick Mercer on the Death of the Wheat Board (Video)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Annother Tory Outrage

PLT: At least one Tory MP is actually threatening legal action against a retired Alberta farmer, Norm Dyck, who had the audacity to write a letter-to-the-editor, criticizing the government for its attempts to kill the What Board. 
1) First, Mr. Dyck's brief note, 
2) his explanation of what happened,
3) his actual letter
4) and a PLT comment!

1) Friends of the CWB:   I have already spoken to my friend and former farmer neighbor Art Macklin so he knows of my 'offensive' letter and approves of this circulation action.  Please forward to any individuals who are concerned re the threat to Democracy by actions of the Harper Government.  Thanks 


2) Yesterday my Federal MP Chris Warkentin Peace River,  while meeting with him in his office in Grande Prairie accompanied by two members of Kairos, while I was speaking on the subject of the CWB was less than receptive to any input on this topic.  Input specifically as to the requirements of section 47.1 of the Act which I calls for a grain producer plebiscite for the proposed changes of removing single desk selling as per Bill C-18.  Mr. Warkentin has a totally different understanding of this legislation as do Ag Minister Gerry Ritz and the Prime Minister.  

Instead of hearing any further points, Mr. Warkentin visibly agitated, advised me in the company of the other two in the Kairos delegation  that he has considered defamation charges or something of that nature if he did not get an apology via the newspaper for my letter.  (see attachment above.) 

My 'offending' letter has been published in the local Herald Tribune here in Grande Prairie and also in the Peace River Record Gazette.  The Western Producer called me for confirmation last week so I anticipate it will also appear there shortly.  I also sent it off to the Lethbridge Herald and the Red Deer Advocate.

So I would very much appreciate it if you folks would distribute widely this letter and this note of threat to me by my MP Chris Warkentin, Peace River.

I do not know how to attach this to the number of e-mail recipients that have been sent my way of late on this Crucial Bill C-18 now before the Senate.  This unprecedented affront to Democratic process could indeed become law if we remain quiet. Perhaps some of you and your contacts will feel moved to write to one or more members of the Canadian Senate since Mr. Harper and his majority have rammed this through the House limiting debate last week.  

If something should ever come of this I would go to jail before paying a fine or issuing an apology to Mr. Warkentin for expressing my Democratic right to Speak out via the press on the facts pertinent to Bill C-18 in a manner that at least 3 Newspaper Editors have not found libelous .

regards to you all;

Norm Dyck  retired farmer, 72 years of age


                    3) Harper's About Face on CWB and Democracy  

We all recall when House of Commons page, Bridgette Marcelle shocked the staid House during the spring Throne Speech by holding up her sign saying "STOP HARPER" .  At that time, a majority of grain farmers and supporters of the Canadian Wheat Board already knew in their gut what was on the horizon.   An attack on the CWB to remove single desk selling is now well underway in Ottawa by the Harper Government. 

Single desk selling is central to the CWB's marketing strength that benefits all producers equitably regardless of size.  The Board pays out to producers, confirmed by an Annual Outside Audit each crop year, all returns on grain sales less about 9 cents for operational costs.   Can we expect such financial transparency from the grain cartels if Mr. Harper's Conservatives are successful in their efforts to hamstring the Board? 

The Harper Government has introduced a very divisive and devious Bill, notably Bill C-18 presently before the House.  This Bill if passed will by-pass current legislation put into law on Oct 7, 1997 by the then Liberal Government.  The pertinent section is 47.1 of the CWB Act.   

This section is unequivocal in its intent that no Minister responsible to the CWB shall bring in or exclude any grains for marketing outside the jurisdiction of the CWB without first having consulted with the Board and furthermore; any such proposed change can only be legitimatized and implemented by a clear transparent producer vote.  Knowing this is the current law, Mr. Harper supported by Peace River MP Chris Warkentin and other members of their government are knowingly and willfully engaged a a series of procedural House shenanigans to do an end run around the democratic process by ramming through Bill C-18 and subverting the law.  This action is reminiscent of authoritarian regimes, denying farmers the legitimate right to vote on a critical change to their Board at a time of financial instability in already jittery markets that grain sales are affected by. 

Harper's Federal Agricultural Minister Gerry Ritz, who is responsible to the Board, has shown absolutely no evidence despite repeated requests from opposition members of the House, to validate how the Board could function commercially for the benefit of farmers with the loss of its single desk selling mandate.  The proposed changes in Bill C-18 with allowing farmers the option of bypassing the Board on export grain sales will essentially hollow out the Boards marketing strength and ultimately the international grain cartels will be the winners .    

During the election the governments standard response was on CWB policy was 'that farmers must decide the future of the CWB'.  That is all rhetoric and election promise now that Harper has his dubious majority.  With a mere 40% of those who voted supporting him, his government promise on CWB policy has deceptively altered.  Where Harper previously championed governing by the rule of law  we are now witnessing him and his Government flaunting the law!

Prairie and Peace River grain farmers from the 1930's fought for and won the marketing powers that have been granted to the CWB so it can equitably serve them.   The majority of them know what is at stake. The grain cartels will fair just nicely without aiding and abetting by the current Government!  The House page Bridgette Marcelle was right.

Norm Dyck
9257 - 96 Ave.
Grande Prairie, Alta
4) PLT: Go ahead, Warkinton, you anti-free-speech zifhhbab8883x - sue me, too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

US Energy Dept. Panel Warns of Environmental Toll of Current Gas Drilling Practices

Pro Publica Nov 10 - A federal energy panel issued a blunt warning to shale gas drillers and their regulators today, saying they need to step up efforts to protect public health and the environment or risk a backlash that stifles further development. Details here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Maine Farmer Heads Group
 Challenging Genetics Giant

The Portland Press Herald - November 9

A fight to maintain consumer choice and farm independence has landed Maine farmer Jim Gerritsen on Utne Reader's list of "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World," published in the November/December edition of the magazine on newsstands now. Details here.

Has Business as Usual for the Tar Sands Come to an End?

Environmental Defence
Dear Larry,
The first cut is the deepest. Business as usual for the tar sands industry has come to an end.
Today, we can all celebrate a huge victory. President Obama has agreed to delay the construction of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in order to further review its potential impacts, including climate change.

This shows the importance of standing up for the clean energy future we want. Just 3 days ago, 12,000 Americans showed up at the White House to urge President Obama to stick by his pledge to reduce dependence on oil.
Canada needs to pay attention to this message. There is no such thing as “business as usual” for the tar sands industry any longer. The longer Canada delays getting serious about reining in tar sands pollution and transitioning to a clean energy economy, the more of this type of controversy we should expect.  
The delay announced today has the potential to not only protect a water source that provides 3 million people with safe drinking water from the damage of an oil spilll, but it also gives more time to consider the impacts of the proposed pipeline on efforts to fight global warming. Our collective efforts are having an impact.
The near-doubling of tar sands exports to the U.S. that would be needed to fill the pipeline would take North America in the wrong direction, increasing our dependence on oil at a time when scientists around the world are calling for us to dramatically transition away from fossil fuels to avoid catastrophic climate change.
This would not have happened without your hard work, and the thousands of other people like you who have voiced opposition to continued tar sands expansion.
Please consider sending a message to the White House to thank president Obama for listening to these concerns.

U.S. Seeks new Keystone Pipeline Route

(Reuters) - The United States said on Thursday it will study a new route for the Keystone XL Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, delaying any final approval beyond the U.S. 2012 election and sparing U.S. President Barack Obama a politically risky decision during an election year. Details here.
Please also read: U.S. Delays Decision on Pipeline Until After Election - (The New York Times)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Keystone XL Pipeline Decision to Be Investigated

New York Times - Oc 8'11
WASHINGTON — The State Department’s inspector general will conduct a special investigation of the handling of the pending decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in response to reports of improper….Details here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thousands of Protesters Encircle White House, Close in on Tar Sands Industry

Alternet - Nov 7
“We don’t know how many people it takes to encircle the White House, but we’re about to find out,” Bill McKibben told a crowd of over 12,000 gathered in Lafayette Square on Sunday      
Photo: KAREN BLEIER/AFP              afternoon. Details here.

Are Global Honey Bee Declines Caused by Diesel Pollution?

ScienceDaily                                                                                     Scientists are investigating a possible link between tiny particles of pollution found in diesel fumes and the global collapse of honey bee colonies. Details here. 
PLT photo 
Please also read: Cure for Honeybee Colony Collapse?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Huge Chunk of Antarctic Ice Sheet Set to Break Free

Christian Science Monitor - Nov 5
A 300-square-mile portion of the Pine Island Glacier is expected to break off in the next few months, creating a massive Antarctic iceberg. The glacier is contributing to sea-level rise. Details here. 
A close-up view of the crack spreading across the ice shelf of Pine Island 
Glacier captured by the Digital Mapping System (DMS) aboard NASA's DC-8 

Jump In Greenhouse Gases Is Biggest Ever Seen - U.S. Department Of Energy

Huff  Post Green - SETH BORENSTEIN 
WASHINGTON — The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming. Details here.
  (Above) Big trucks, motors running, wait 
for their Big Macs at a Macdonald's 
"drive-thru" in Winnipeg. (PLT photo.)

Massive B.C. coal mines are about to get a new owner. Why some are worried about Glencore’s record

THE NARWHAL Coal mine at Tumbler Ridge, B.C.  Jeffrey Wynne ,      If the sale goes through, the company will inherit a contamination proble...