Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Bee’s Needs

Miranda Holmes - the Common Sense Canadian
When the final tally is done on humanity’s many post-Industrial Revolution screw ups, it is likely that the top of the list will be: They let the bees die. Details here.

Many foods, including apples, depend on 
pollinators, like bees, to produce. PLT photo

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pesticides Linked to Honeybee Decline - Again

Mar 29th - the Guardian
The first study conducted in a natural environment has shown that systemic pesticides damage bees' ability to navigate. Details here.
  PinP photo

PinP: And the beat goes on! Meanwhile, the honeybee killers roam our streets, apparently not even on parole, but with complete pardons!
Please also read: "Are Canada's Pesticide Regulators on the Take? Authorities Refuse to Protect Precious Pollinators from Known Toxins. Is Something Crooked Going on Here?" 
Below is a summary of the scientific study, itself. It adds yet another layer of proof to the fear that these chemicals render the bees incapable of navigating & finding their way back to the hives. Hence, the piece in the "Colony Collapse Disorder" puzzle, involving disappearing bees, seems now to have been found! So what are we waiting for? Extinctions? 
Criminal charges must surely be in order now!  
"Nonlethal exposure of honey bees to thiamethoxam (neonicotinoid systemic pesticide) causes high mortality due to homing failure at levels that could put a colony at risk of collapse. Simulated exposure events on free-ranging foragers labeled with an RFID tag suggest that homing is impaired by thiamethoxam intoxication. These experiments offer new insights into the consequences of common neonicotinoid pesticides used worldwide." 
Please also read: Chemical Giants, "Regulators" & Politicians Fiddle While Honeybees Die!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Joe's Story - How Agribusiness and its Political Servants Robbed One Good Man of His Quality of Life

by Larry Powell

 His name is Joe Leschyshyn (above), a first-generation Canadian of Ukrainian descent. Some of his indigenous friends (who can't handle his hard-to-pronounce last name) know him endearingly as "Joe the Crow."

Joe is 72 now. While he'll likely never be rich or famous, his refusal to accept injustice lying down, has made him distinctly well-known in certain circles, at least.

So it would be a mistake to call him "ordinary."

For the pain and suffering he has come to endure at the hands of factory hog barns and uncaring governments, and the courage and tenacity he has shown in the face of it all, are anything but.

"I have been fighting these barns since 1996," Joe writes, "and blame the governments that allowed these to be built with no plan, impact or risk studies, open-house or self-policing policies."

Joe was born in Chatfield, in the Interlake region of central Manitoba and left home when he was only 15. He spent much of his younger life exploring Canada, from Vancouver to Toronto and several places in between.

"I became quite wayward," he writes, "learning about my country."

He guided hunters in northwestern Ontario, built sawmills and maintained an entire ferry fleet in northern Manitoba.

After his "wayward" years, in 1982, Joe decided to go back home. He settled down on a family farm, again, near Chatfield. He even built a new house there.

His marriage failed in 1989.

Then, in 1996, events began to unfold which would surely add to his emotional turmoil.

"Interlake Swine Breeders," built a factory hog barn less than a mile from his home. Soon, the slurry, or liquid waste from the pigs was being applied to nearby fields, running off into major waterfowl habitat and then into Lake Winnipeg.
A drainage ditch near a factory barn in the Interlake region. 
It drains into Lake Winnipeg. Photo by Peter Marykuca.

Joe describes it this way. "When the first spreading took place, it was by water cannons, bellowing crap into the air like there was no tomorrow. The low-lying area had an intense cover of this atomized mist. I was awakened by friends to get out of my home and spend  the night elsewhere. It was a choking ordeal. The winter of the following year also brought on a similar scene. I was awakened as I was choking, I could not get my air. I was hyperventilating like a pregnant mother giving birth. That was a scary experience. It occurred four different times. I was spitting gobs out the size of a split peanut and the same colour. Disgusting!"
He faced a litany of abuses by the barn, followed by nothing but excuses from politicians and government officials. For example, he says the "piggery" would over-apply on fields as close as a-quarter-mile from his home. And it didn't seem to matter that those fields had been officially declared as "GPHZs," Groundwater Pollution Hazard Zones. 

"They also used this cattle pasture (also declared a GPHZ) as a spread field…The cattle were bawling for food and would be huddled into the corners of the field where the poop was not spread!"

(1)"Steve Ashton (then the Minister of Water Stewardship in the NDP government of (2)Premier Gary Doer), wrote me and said there was no problem since that area yielded a great crop of hay! I coined Lake Winnipeg 'the Doer Sewer' after his government was allotting big sums of money to keep the hog business alive and killing the lake."

As the years went by,  Joe would become an increasingly sharp pain in the sides of politicians at every level and political stripe. He wrote reams of letters and e-mails, begging them to do something. He also went to bat for fellow citizens who found themselves in the same predicament,  fighting existing and proposed barns against hopeless odds.

"Our pleas to the Local Council ran off like water off a ducks back! Months of meetings brought no resolve. News of new barns were in the making and we had to go and try to help others stop this onslaught. Meetings and more meetings. Our concerns were totally ignored by all other RM Councils. Certainly this was all a planned agenda."

So it's hardly surprising that Joe's memories of these events are far from fond ones.

"The gullible Reeves, provincial and federal governments all were and still are purveyors of environmental terrorism!"

He can still recall in some detail, the circumstances leading up to the hardships which he and many others in the province would come to suffer .

"The ordeal faced by thousands upon thousands of Manitobans started when then (Conservative) (3)Premier Gary Filmon came back from a Trade Mission to Asia. Factory hog barns were to be the salvation of all Manitobans. This was endorsed by the entire caucus and headed by the late Harry Enns." (Enns was Filmon's Minister of Agriculture at the time.)

"Neighbours were in total disbelief and we started to head up to local council and RM chambers. When we the people seemed to have the upper hand, we were visited by an 'agricultural guru' by the name of (4)Andrew Dickson who said that orders were in hand that these barns go as intended and that Interlakers like ourselves had no say! A bit of Fascism in a free and democratic society!"

Joe says the piggery would not buy his land. He was forced to abandon his family farm and watch the house he had built himself, hoping to retire there, "fall into ruin."

While in Opposition, NDP MLAs expressed concern over the environmental damage the big barns might cause. Once in power, however, they embraced the factory style of production.

"I recollect, in 1999, when the NDP got elected, (5Rosanne Wowchuk (Minister of Agriculture) went over the speed limit to carry the manifesto of Harry Enns; contrary to previous statements by Mr. Doer and her. Doer's government was allotting big sums of money to keep the hog business alive and killing the lake."

In 2006, the current NDP government eventually placed a moratorium on new hog barns in certain areas of the province, including the Interlake.

But, as Joe laments, the moratorium has done nothing to protect people from the established barns, including the one which so diminished his own life, many years ago.

And it has cost him more than just blood, sweat and tears.

"I have spent a lot of money on this issue, hiring lawyers, consultants, renting halls for meetings, telephone, gas and the list goes on. I am thankful to the support I get; they keep me going!"

Joe still lives in the Interlake region, but now in the small community of Eriksdale, with only one hog barn in the vicinity. His reputation as a fierce opponent of the barns seems to have preceded him and lent strength to others of like mind. He says the former Reeve of Eriksdale, for example, was happy to see him in his area because "There'll be no more hog barns built here now!"

These days, he keeps busy with many things.

"I'm trying to build additions to my cabin so I can have some sort of a home. That is very hard for an old man with health conditions."

He remains close to his daughter, Maria, who lives in the same region.

His hobbies include, collecting antique guns and building miniature stagecoaches.

But he still finds the time to take jabs at those behind his long ordeal, whenever he can. "Most of my time is spent writing to friends that share the same views and blasting the people that allowed this to happen…."

Joe observes, "There is so much to be reviewed and it is hard to follow the exactness of time periods. Obviously, we are looking at a long time ago, but the memories are bitter."
Where are they now? A glimpse at the main players in Joe's story.

    (1) Steve Ashton is now Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation in the NDP government of Greg Selinger.
    (2)  Gary Doer is now Canada's Ambassador to the U.S.
    (3)  Gary Filmon is now retired from politics and works as a private consultant in Winnipeg.
    (4)  Andrew Dickson is General Manager of the Manitoba Pork Council and lives in Winnipeg.
    (5)  After serving as Minister of Agriculture, Deputy Premier and Finance Minister, Rosanne Wowchuk has also left active politics and lives in Swan River, Manitoba.

Author's Note: Rest assured,  for them, there is nary a hog barn in sight! l.p.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Spring That Can’t Wait

Mar 23'12 - Planetsave
As the corruption in our system continues unabated and the interminable Republican primary season continues its buffoonery of ‘solutions’ for our failing state, there is some highly unusual behavior taking place independent of either. Details here.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Rural Manitoba Municipality Makes Quiet Plans for a Sewage Lagoon - Does the Reeve Have a Conflict?

Dear Editor,
I recently learned I may be getting a new "neighbour" -  a sewage lagoon. 

The municipal plow prepares a way to the site for the drill truck. (l.)             

The grader and truck on the site.(below)


The drilling begins. PinP photos
The Rural Municipality of Shell River sent in a drill truck a week or two ago to sink holes less than a mile upwind of my retirement home in the country, north and west of Roblin. The test results will determine whether the site is suitable for such a project. Apparently, it could cost millions of dollars, especially if a liner has to be installed to prevent leakage.*

Turns out, the "quarter" is owned by the Reeve, Albert Nabe.

It's also within a couple of miles of some six farm homes nearby, mostly downwind as well. I was disappointed that no one from the RM council had given me a "heads-up" about this. I heard about it, instead, from a private individual at a social event.

Is this legal, you might ask? Well, I'm told, as long as Reeve Nabe declares that he has a "conflict" and does not vote on the matter, it is.

Is it right that an elected official can benefit financially by virtue of his position?

To me, that's another matter.

But you be the judge.

While I'm writing this, I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to Keith Radford. Keith asked me to help him fight a similar project near his farm home at San Clara a few years ago. I did not. His appeals to government fell on deaf ears. The project went ahead.

Now, myself and my neighbours face a similar situation.

No less than two R.M. councillors have told me, the lagoon is required by the province, before plans for a new cottage subdivision on Lake of the Prairies, can be approved.

I wasn't even aware there were such plans. Apparently, the province isn't either!

I think an explanation is in order.

Larry Powell

*If it goes ahead, an underground pipeline would carry the treated sewage, called "effluent," from the lagoon, into nearby Big Boggy Creek and then into Lake-of-the-Prairies, a popular fishing, boating and cottage resort.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ethical Oil: The Puppet Rap (Video)

Please also read: " Exposed,"here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Climate Change Could Spawn Mass Migrations, Study Says

Huffington Post - Mar 13 - 2012
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Asian Development Bank is warning countries to prepare for influxes of people fleeing natural disasters as climate change exacerbates rising sea levels, soil degradation and seasonal flooding. Full story here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Excellent Turn-Out For Roblin Farmers’ Market Public Meeting

Eleven people interested in vending during the 2012 season attended a planning meeting on March 12. Roblin Farmers’ Market invited customers and potential vendors to voice their interest, concerns, and dreams to long-time members Irene Mitchell and Tamela Friesen. Eleven people attended, including folks desiring to sell vegetables, breads, baked goods, crafts, pastured beef, pastured chickens for meat and eggs, greenhouse tomatoes and peppers, and massage therapy. “We were ecstatic to see such a boost to the number of potential vendors. We’ve been hoping to expand our collective offering and involvement for several years.” Friesen noted.
The Market hoped to find out what customers were looking for in a local market, as well as to encourage more diversity of product and vendors for the 2012 season. “While there are additional rules surrounding selling meat or egg products, there are provisions to make that possible. Vendors will explore options to make this niche product available to customers.” Mitchell said. “We’re also looking at a way to get fair-trade coffees, teas, and chocolates back into the mix.”
The group decided to continue at the Main Street location on Tuesdays. They may decide to open one hour earlier this year, as many customers expressed desire for longer hours. “We hope to make each week an event that locals and tourists look forward to.” Friesen explained. 

Tamela Friesen (937-2113-days)                                
or Irene Mitchell (937-4762)
Roblin Farmers’ Market

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Farmer says Sow-Stall Phaseout not as Costly as Claimed

Dear Editor,                    

The sad reality for hundreds of thousands of sows is that the cost of getting rid of gestation crates (sow stalls) is being used as an excuse to prolong the cruel practice.
Market conditions for raising pigs in a factory setting are changing as Laura Rance pointed out in her February 23, 2012 editorial “The economics of animal welfare.”  People are increasingly less prepared to tolerate the inhumane way pregnant gilts and sows are confined in 2 foot by 7 foot crates on concrete slatted floors most of their lives.
The Manitoba Pork Council says producers are willing to adjust to changing market conditions.  But not until 2025, claiming that it will cost $1 million per existing operation to convert from sow stalls to group housing. 
Manitoba Agriculture and Food web-posted 2010 cost of production figures for a 500 sow farrow to finish operation show that a new gestation building costs $23.10 per square foot. Total building cost is $311,500.  Equipment costs are $18.90 per square foot or a total of $255,000.  Salvage value on equipment is 10% on a useful life of 10 years.  Buildings salvage for 12% over a 20 year facility life. Thus, a new equipped facility costs less than half of the MPC estimate.
Many of the existing barns were built in the late 1990’s and during the rapid expansion years from 2000-2004.  They are due for equipment renewal, are at the end of their useful life or are past middle-age.  The same is true for environmentally problematic liquid manure storages.
Group housing requires less equipment and is less costly than a stall system. Even better is a hoop barn system.  Industry has always known straw-based hoop barn housing is dramatically cheaper and sows are “moderately more productive” in this system.
Industry has no excuse not to get rid of sow stalls now, re-think how to raise hogs and move to a straw-based group housing system that treats sows humanely and is less problematic to Lake Winnipeg and the environment. 
Ruth Pryzner
RR 1
Alexander, Manitoba

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2011

                                           A Year in Review  - Environment CA
 A soggy field in western MB - spring, 2011. PLT photo.
 From the death and destruction following the Japanese earthquake/tsunami to extreme weather in the United States that killed more than 1,000 people through the course of the year, Mother Nature seemed to be on the warpath. Full story here.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Death Threats, Intimidation and Abuse: Climate Scientist Michael E. Mann Counts the Cost of Honesty - Mar - '12
Michael Mann's now-famous "hockey stick graph" which incurred the wrath of numerous climate cranks. (source - IPCC).
Research by Michael Mann confirmed the reality of global warming. Little did he know that it would also expose him to a vicious hate campaign. Full story here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

BP Reaches $7.8 Bn Settlement Over US Oil Spill

Alternet - Mar 3 - '12
 CHICAGO — Oil giant BP has reached a $7.8 billion (5.9 billion euro) deal to settle thousands of claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but some of the victims said Saturday that the money won't bring the disaster to a close. Full story here.

TAKE ACTION to Stop Asia Pulp and Paper's Logging in Indonesia's Tiger Rainforests (Video)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Top 1% in the US Enjoyed 93% of Economic Recovery in 2010: Report

March 6, 2012 by Common Dreams
In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 and the recession that followed, huge numbers of US workers lost their jobs, homes were lost to foreclosure, and most found themselves in the most precarious economic shape of their lives. Full story here.

Occupy Winnipeg. PLT photo

Midwest Tornadoes: Record Week Of Twisters Hit America's Heartland

By Sharon Begley - Huffington Post - Mar 6 - 2012 
Courtesy of Huffington Post
NEW YORK, March 5 (Reuters) - When at least 80 tornadoes rampaged across the United States, from the Midwest to the Gulf of Mexico, last Friday, it was more than is typically observed during the entire…Full story here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

'Unprecedented Rapidity of CO2' Causing Worst Ocean Acidification in 300 Million Years

Mar 5'12 by Common Dreams
"We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change;” ocean acidification called "evil twin" of climate change. Full story here

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Study Predicts a Bleak Future for Many Birds

By JIM ROBBINS - New York Times - Feb 24'12
Cape May Warbler - PIP photo
A just-published analysis of some 200 separate studies of the impact of climate change on birds is grim. Full story here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Humanity’s Growing Impact on the World’s Freshwater

Sandra Postel of National Geographic's Freshwater Initiative
As the human population has climbed past seven billion, and the consumption per person of everything from burgers to blue jeans has risen inexorably, the finiteness of Earth’s freshwater is becoming ever more apparent. Full story here.

Secret Memo Warns Oilsands Damage May be Irreversible

Calgary Herald-Feb'12
Collateral damage from Canada's booming oilsands sector may be irreversible, posing a "significant environmental and financial risk to the province of Alberta," says a secret memorandum prepared for the federal government's top  
Courtesy of Beautiful Destruction.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Leading Journal Demands Harper set Canada’s Scientists Free

HELEN BRANSWELL-TORONTO— The Canadian Press/Globe and Mail-Mar 1'12
One of the world's leading scientific journals has criticized the federal government for policies that limit its scientists from speaking publicly about their research. Full story here.

Iowa's Undercover Livestock Filming Bill Approved

HuffingtonPost Mar 1 - 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Animal welfare groups reacted with outrage Wednesday after the Iowa Legislature made the state the first to approve a bill making it a crime to surreptitiously get into a farming operation to record video of animal abuse. Full story here.

Arctic Ocean drilling: Shell Launches Preemptive Legal Strike

Los Angeles Times - Feb 29'12 

Royal Dutch Shell launched an extraordinary preemptive legal strike Wednesday against opponents of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean...Details here. 
 (photo: NASA/Kathryn Hansen)

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...