Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all

Co2 Art would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reports: Mentally Disabled Men Sold for Slave Labour in Chinese Sweatshops

The Globalization Machine Cranks On

On the heels of the recent Shell refinery closure in Montreal and yesterday's news of 1000 jobs to be lost with Electrolux closing its plant in L'Assomption, this disgraceful news.  

Sun Media / Journal de Montreal Buries Electrolux Plant Closure News - 1000 Jobs Lost

Probably the most surprising thing about yesterday's announcement of 1000 jobs lost in the Electrolux plant closure in the Quebec town of L'Assomption, just NE of Montreal, was that it didn't make bigger headlines.

In fact, it was almost impossible to find out any reliable information about the closure at all if you get your news from Quebec's highest circulation newspaper, the Journal de Montreal, published by Quebecor's Sun Media . The print edition of yesterday's Journal had a medium sized headline on the front page, with an erroneous suggestion that the jobs were going to Mexico. Oh yeah, it also said see page 41. Guess what? The story was not on page 41.

The online edition of the Journal de Montreal "Canoe" or whatever they call it had not one word about the closure on the front page. In the business section ("Argent"), the story was one of four featured in a rotating cycle gadget at the top. So, Quebecor online readers in Quebec had basically a one in four chance of seeing the story if they looked at the "Argent" page. (how many Quebecois go to the Journal de Montreal for their business news? LOL). The story was given the same play in the Toronto Sun and the generic Canoe thingy. Unlike the front page of the print edition, the online story at least had the correct information that the jobs would be moving to Memphis, not Mexico, as detailed in the Montreal Gazette story linked above.

Why does Sun Media choose to cover up this story? Is the thinking that this closing will be seen as a Harper failure? Or is the idea more to save Electrolux (large corporation) from the wrath of little guy Quebecois  (labour) until the plant actually closes in two years time? Since the Journal de Montreal is written by replacement workers who file stories via the internet to avoid crossing picket lines, we know whose side this outfit is on when it comes to labour.

Or, quite possibly, the braintrust of Corporate Global Rule (of which Sun Media is obviously intent on becoming a PR arm of) is aware that the masses of lower class drones, who are fooled into voting Conservative and Republican, will only stay fooled up to a certain point. Obviously, the less the million+ readers of the Journal de Montreal find out about globalization costing 1000 of their neighbours' jobs, the better. Especially when the jobs are going to stiffs in Memphis who are already locked in at $13/hour, whereas the workers in L'Assomption are reportedly paid $18-20, according to a story in, produced by the locked out journalists of the Journal de Montreal.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Exposed: Reforestation in Haiti - Desolate and Desperate Land Exploited by Missionaries

We've seen the reports - Once one of the jewels of the Caribbean, Haiti has been continuously and systematically deforested. First by plantation owners and, in recent years, by the poverty driven local populations, who turned to tree-cutting to provide fuel for light and cooking and raw material to produce charcoal.

Although the most pressing needs in Haiti would seem to be alleviating the direct effects of the earthquake and flooding, the need to reforest the country is a close second. The problems associated with having 99% of the country deforested are huge and the longer the situation is allowed to continue, the more irreversible it will become.

Obviously, reforestation needs to happen fast. So, of course, various organizations have taken on the job of solving this problem.

This one, Trees for the Future, is planting trees at an average cost of 10 cents per tree, has supported nursery operations in the country that produce 100s of thousands of seedlings annually and, according to their website, were setting out to oversee planting of 500,000 plus seedlings beginning in May this year, although no word on how that worked out.

This organization, The Restoration Project, plants one tree for each $5 donation. This donation also includes a Creole Bible, a Bible study and supper, and $1 to build a fence to protect the "forest". Their "goal" is to plant "10,000 trees" in 2009-2010. Earth to "Restoration Project": the average tree planter in Canada plants between 1000 and 3000 seedlings per day. The group's website lists some of its "team members" but it does not reveal who the parent organization is. No wonder.

Dudes, if you are missionaries, don't call it reforestation.

Monday, December 13, 2010

NY Governer Orders 7-Month Ban on Horizontal Fracking

The Governor of New York State has issued an executive order prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing of horizontally drilled natural gas wells for seven months.

The ban affects activity mostly in the Marcellus Shale region of the state. The process is quite similar to that envisioned for the Utica Shale, in the St. Lawrence Valley, between Montreal and Quebec City.

The Environmental Protection Agency is attempting to determine whether the process has been responsible for contaminating drinking water, as opponents believe.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Japan Laws Target Homeless, Outlaw Collecting Cans, Bottles,

New by-laws appearing to target homeless street people in numerous wards of Tokyo and other Japanese cities have criminalized any removal of recyclables left at designated refuse locations.

On Oct. 1 a new regulation went into effect in the ward that makes it illegal for anyone except agents authorized to do so by the ward government to remove recyclables left at designated refuse locations. The ostensible reason for this law is to prevent removal companies that do not have contracts with Sumida Ward from taking recyclables such as cans, bottles and newspapers.

One man's trash is another man's treasure

These measures are just wrong on so many levels. First of all, the first objective of recycling should be to reuse, not to recyle. Reuse is far more efficient that recycling. So, if it is impossible to remove any item that is ever deposited at a refuse point, how can any item ever be reused? It is flat-out crazy prohibit that.

It is unclear based on the information available whether some or any of the aluminum cans the homeless in Japan collect have a deposit. Apparently not.

As it was before these laws came into effect, the homeless in Japan would have needed to work a full day bringing in piles of cans to collect maybe $25 worth of aluminum for scrap. Obviously it would be an exercise in futility for a homeless person to rely on cans found in random places. So, in effect, this law also puts an end to homeless people collecting litter, with obvious impacts on the environment and added costs to municipalities for cleaning.

What the Japanese need to do, if they wish to ensure that certain recycling companies do not infringe on other recycling companies contract territories, is construct a law accordingly. Organized collection by truck, from other companies' contracted recycling locations, is theft, pure and simple.

The work that homeless people do and the initiatives shown by those on the bottom rungs of society are practices to be nurtured, not nuked. If there is some way to turn it around to give these people an entree back into a life of self-respect and modest attainments, so much the better. Otherwise, just leave them alone.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wikileaks Exposes Thinking that Brought Down Soviet Union

Taking a step back, Wikileaks raises a very interesting similarity between today's western political/corporate hierarchy and the state of affairs in the Soviet Union in the '60s.

The Soviet powers that be in the '50s had excellent technical know-how and could have theoretically built up a highly computerized infrastructure in the '60s to the '80s, as was the case in the west.

However, one of the major stumbling blocks to computerization for the Soviets appeared when they saw how general accessibility of computers would bring down the walls of secrecy and duplicity that were embedded in all aspects of Soviet society.

It may not be established that specific decisions were made to severely limit the role of computers in society, but it is obvious that managers, directors and leaders in all sectors of Soviet society would have run into the same problems as they contemplated computerization. The conflict between "expediting" information and "controlling" information was just too strong to overcome.

This dichotomy is well illustrated in the following table, showing the "ideal" goals of the Soviet economy and how those goals actually broke down in reality:

Idealized Ministry Goals                  

1. maximize and optimize production 
2. optimal, minimal levels of inventory
3. release labour
4. realistically evaluate capacity
5. maximize plan flexiblity
6. evaluate performance realistically
7. use computer to audit, control, etc.
8. improve data processing

Actual Manager Goals

1. fulfill the plan so next years' targets can be met
2. acquire as many supplies as possible
3. hoard labour
4. understate capacity
5. minimize changes in plan targets
6. overstate performance if necessary
7. avoid dangerous revelations to superiors, find out as much as possible about subordinates
8. improve data processing
 Chart by William McHenry and Seymour Goodman, borrowed from Left Behind: Computing in the USSR.
The difficulties of accommodating computerization in this system where maintaining the status quo was to the advantage of all the power brokers is obvious.
Therein the major reason for the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. The leaders simply couldn't face up to all the lies that would be exposed - thereby authoring their own demise, as other nations began to implement computers and operate much more efficiently.

Now, back to 2010 and a political / corporate hierarchy suddenly being confronted with flat out transparency where no such thing was expected. Bring back memories of Brezhnev and the great stagnation? And what will be the end result?

Of course there is the "lash out" response we are currently seeing, led by such simplistic organizations as Paypal and Amazon. In fact, we may be witnessing the beginning of a new era here of accountability and transparency.

Ultimately, increased transparency and accountability should result in a more level playing field for all individuals to work, play and compete in.

Perhaps accepting this new level of accountability will be key in moving society to another level?

The question is: who plays the role of the USSR in this modern day scenario?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sun Prints Gratuitous InflamaTORY Nonsense About CBC

Sun Media has become an organization obsessed with transitioning from a news / media mission to an opinion building / propaganda machine.

Gratuitous garbola about the CBC in today's Toronto Sun.

Faux News North hold the news.

Why single out CBC execs? There are WAY more freeloaders in the corporate world.

Friday, December 3, 2010

JSF F-35 Charade: U.S./Norway Tricked Sweden, SAAB

More fallout from the Wikileaks diplomatic cables.

This time it's the latest of a multitude of set-backs and embarrassments for the JSF F-35 fighter program.

"We must continue to act like an honourable and elegant competitor" -US Oslo Embassy

According to the cables, Norway and the U.S. were both involved in a charade of pretending that Norway had an interest in purchasing Swedish SAAB "Gripen" fighters, whereas in reality Norway had already agreed to purchase the F-35s in a backroom deal.

“We must continue to act like an honourable and elegant competitor,” read a cable from the US embassy in Oslo.

At the time of Norway's decision former SAAB executive Jan Nygren was angered:

"We are really surprised about how this was handled, what happened yesterday, and about the justification," Jan Nygren, who served as Saab’s deputy CEO until two years prior to the decision, told the TT news agency at the time.

Gripen is a better fit for the functional demands laid out in the documentation

"And besides, we are just a tad surprised to say the least that they so unabashedly chose to criticize the Gripen, despite the fact that all of us involved know that the Gripen is a better fit for the functional demands laid out in the documentation included in the proposal request."

Obviously , the Swedes and SAAB may be considered biased about the suitability of the Gripen fighter over the F-35. However, on the surface it would appear that the Gripen, if equipped with a US-made AESA radar system, is at least capable of being in the conversation.

Oh and, by the way, Sweden recently offered 24 new Gripen fighters to Romania for $1.3 billion, the same price as Romania had agreed to pay the U.S. for used F-16 fighters.

Turns out that for the cost of a Stephen Harper G20 shindig, Canada could equip itself with fighter jets that could certainly do the job, or a large part of it. Then the $16 Bil for Lockheed Martin could be called what it is - an imperial levy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Assange Says Professional Journalists Have Better Incentive than Bloggers

Bloggers' Goal to "Position Themselves Amongst Their Peers" - Not to Expose the Truth

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, says that he once thought bloggers and "people who write Wikipedia articles" would do the heavy lifting in the job of analyzing and diffusing Wikileaks material.

He says now, however, that they chose to partner with mainstream media outlets to analyze and release leaked files because, with some exceptions, bloggers' goal is "not to expose the truth."

"Rather, it is their goal to position themselves amongst their peers on whatever the issue of the day is. The most effective, the most economical way to do that, is simply to take the story that's going around, [which] has already created a marketable audience for itself, and say whether they're in favour of that interpretation or not."

Speaking in an interview with Time Magazine by Skype from an undisclosed location, Assange goes on to say that, while social networks do have a role in amplifying the stories, the career structure and funding of professional journalists gives them more incentive to be reliable partners.

Assange raises interesting issues. No doubt it is true that many bloggers write "their take" on whatever story is going around. However, it is also true that bloggers often connect dots that are ignored by the MSM.

In a sense, Assange himself is a blogger with a unique niche. Meanwhile, every single MSM outlet probably on the planet has felt obliged to have their own "fake" bloggers. Obviously there is more of a gradation from the blogger who "writes about their cat" to the senior reporters of the New York Times than Assange gives credit for. He does acknowledge that the blogosphere has become more of a "source" for Wikileaks.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Wikileaks Era: Will it Be "Involuntary Transparency" or Total Lockdown of Communications?

"Wikileaks just made the world a more repressive place", explained former diplomat and current aid worker, Scott Gilmore, in a Globe and Mail article yesterday.

Gilmore's view is that the Wikileaks revelations could endanger the lives of whistleblowers and other sources in places where human rights are not respected.

There is every possibility that the consequences could be even more dire. With telecommunications and internet service providers already chomping at the bit to restrict and control internet access, the whole Wikileaks / security angle could provide an entree for a treacherous role reversal for the internet, where it would become virtually inaccessible for the general public, except for approved uses.

Does this seem to far-fetched to believe?

How about the recent aggressive push to reduce anonymity on the net that seems to have materialized out of nowhere?

It has been shown in spades that the U.S. government, and the Harper government, for that matter, and others, will overreact in huge disproportion to perceived threats.

Now apparently, Julian Assange told Forbes in an interview yesterday that Wikileaks now has the confidential communications of a large U.S. bank in its sights for a reveal in early 2011. And we can presume there is more to come.

As a Heather Brooke commentary in the Guardian stated,

The powerful have long spied on citizens (surveillance) as a means of control, now citizens are turning their collected eyes back upon the powerful (sousveillance).

We are at a pivotal moment where the visionaries at the vanguard of a global digital age are clashing with those who are desperate to control what we know.

In the end, though, the powerful are still powerful. It is very difficult to trust them to be willing to ride this storm out without going into communications curfew mode. When we hear the rantings of such supposedly responsible people as Sarah Palin and Tom Flanagan on this subject, it gives us some idea of the extreme trespasses that Wikileaks is perceived as committing.

It is difficult to imagine a less extreme response.

Let's hope that Julian Assange, or somebody, has prepared an alternate internet to serve in the event the one we have gets corrupted.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

$111 B for Ireland Bank Bailout - $15 B for Haiti

The Irish bank bailout announced two days ago turned out to be much higher and more costly than expected.

It is staggering, to say the least, that the Irish government was forced to accept an average 5.8% interest rate on the loans from the EU and IMF. Ireland is a country of 6.2 million people.

By sake of comparison, Haiti, devastated by an earthquake almost 11 months ago and now ravaged by the aftereffects of floods and cholera, is a country of over 10 million people, more than a million of whom have been rendered homeless by disasters.

It isn't the type of thing that running totals are available for, but the most up to date figure seems to be that $15 B, much of it long term, has been pledged to the relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti.

Reportedly, $37,000 has been given to each displaced Haitian family, although it is not readily apparent exactly how many of these cheques have been paid out, or whether it is possible to do much with these cheques .

Any way you line it up, something is not right here: $111 B for Irish bankers, albeit at loanshark terms, vs $15 B of invisible aid for Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people are living under tarps or tents if they're lucky. While it is discouraging enough to see the Irish middle class being forced into a future of austerity, Irish style "austerity" would be considered a paradise for Haitians.

No doubt that more needs to be done to aid Haiti.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Rising Lake Temps Confirmed 12th Indicator of AGW Climate Change

Out of 104 large freshwater lakes tested in the study by NASA, the temperatures of 41 have increased significantly since 1985, 59 have increased but not significantly and only four had a temperature drop, none of them significant.

Among the two most startling increases were at Lake Tahoe CA and Lake Ladoga, Russia, which have increased 3 and 4 degrees F respectively. The study was published by the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Lake Ladoga, which backs onto the northeast edge of the Russian city of St. Petersburg, served as a lifeline for citizens of the city, then known as Leningrad, who survived the epic 900-day blockade imposed by the Nazis during World War II. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated across the frozen lake in winters and by boat during the summers. No word as to whether Ladoga remains drivable during the winter...

Other previous studies have predicted that the water level in the Great Lakes could drop as much as two feet by the end of the century if global warming continues.

Now with 12 undisputed indicators pointing squarely at AGW, denier audacity continues to baffle brains. Though the brains are responding, as climate scientists are preparing a more organized effort to counter misinformation, in consideration of impending smoke blowing of a Republican Congress in the U.S. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Buyers Line Up Overnight to Buy Paintings in St. Lambert

It may not be Christie's ($273 milllion) or Sotheby's ($222.5 million) but one still must agree it is at least a tiny bit impressive that people lined up overnight outside the Balcon d'Art Gallery in St. Lambert, in hopes of getting first crack at the new works of painter Richard Savoie.

According to an article in the Rive-Sud Express (citing gallery sources), some 75 people were lined up when the doors opened and a number of them had waited in line overnight.

Savoie had worked in pastels for about 20 years and become one of Canada's more well-known pastel artists. However, since he switched to oils, his work has drawn increased attention. The Nov. 7 exhibition of 35 paintings sold out in 15 minutes.

Savoie paints mostly realist landscapes with light "effects" and never misses a chance to include a tire track running through slush that would make Thomas Kincade proud. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's a Gas!! Let's Build an Import Export Terminal!!

In Case Anyone Believes the Petro-Biz is Short of Cash

Here's a cool bit of news.  Kinda restores your belief that anything is possible and good times are still rolling.

First, Turn back the clock to 2002. Things are looking pretty sketchy in the North American natural gas tank. Reserves are low. Exploration has pretty much hit a dead end. So the industry decides it's time for another liquid natural gas (LNG) import and regasification terminal. They pick a spot on the Texas coast, 70 miles south of Houston on Quintana Island and, shortly, there is an ownership group, Freeport LNG Development LP (50% owned by financier Michael Smith and 50% by ConocoPhilips) and a plan, with a tentative clientele (ConcocoPhilips and Dow Chemical) already waiting in the wings. Budgeted at $500,000 03/04 dollars, the terminal began operating in 2008.

In the meantime, what happens? Moore's Law kicks in. Computer hardware and software gets good enough to provide 3-dimensional geological modeling which enables precisely controlled directional horizontal drilling and hydro fracturing techniques to be used in natural gas exploration and extraction. Opens up whole new vistas for gas exploration.

Surprise, surprise! By 2010, the natural gas situation in North America is registering impending glut. What do you do if you just hit the "on" button on an importing terminal, when suddenly the place you are importing LNG to is already floating in the stuff? Easy. You switch plans and make it an export terminal. This is a little more difficult than switching the direction of flow in the pipes. Now you have to liquify gas and load it onto ships, instead of unloading LNG off ships and regasifying it. Totally different process.

Import Terminal + $2B = Export Terminal

Put together a slightly different group of players, throw another $2 billion of 2010 dollars at it and presto, you will have a new LNG export terminal ready to ship 1.4 Bcf/day to China by 2015.

Look at it another way. From 2003 to 2015, you've got a whole buncha engineers, equipment, businessmen, workers, techinicians, etc., etc., basically chasing their tails around.

And there's nothing to say that 2015 is going to turn out any more of a sure thing. Maybe China finds enough shale gas of its own. Maybe Russia finds new sources and gives the Chinese a deal they can't refuse. Maybe the whole fracking process runs into too much opposition due to effects on groundwater or other snag. Maybe some new alternative fuel comes along and obsoletes everything. Not necessarily all that far-fetched.

Yet they say this industry doesn't have the ability to invest in making the tar sands more environmentally sustainable.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Fast and Good Solution for the Haiti Situation

Question: How do we explain that all the corporate bailouts and the huge expansion of deficit spending throughout most of the world have not driven up inflation?

(I assume any answers will be guesses as this is economics)

Follow up question: When there are dire emergencies in certain parts of the world, why can't help be delivered faster, more decisively?

Case in point: Haiti. The situation needs to be resolved immediately. Spend the money required to do the job. Source out water purification systems. If necessary, send in the crews that have been putzing around laying pipe in Canadian municipalities over the past year or two.  Tag and track the expenditures. Spread the responsibility around to the rest of developed countries. i.e. Give the - the freaking G20 a reason for existence.

Monitor the economic effects and ask questions later.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Culture Clash or Brain Fart? Grey Cup Reporters Housed in Dry Hotel in Edmonton

Just heard Globe and Mail columnist Stephen Brunt talking about this on the radio. The hotel is also far out of the way. Brunt is wishing he stayed on in Montreal a couple of extra days after Sunday's eastern final.

Need we draw a line from this news to yesterday's item that the feds pulled out of supporting Edmonton's 2017 Expo bid?

Bombs Away! Koreas Exchange Artillery Fire - Does a Weak America Put the Planet in Peril?

With North and South Korea exchanging artillery fire and threatening recriminations, the U.S. bogged down and bankrupt, and the U.N. tragi-comically ineffective, are the world's hot spots at risk of blazing out of control?

Whatever you think of the U.S. and its policies, the absence of an omnipotent world power may set the stage for a cascading succession of turf wars or worse. Does a weak America leave humanity defenseless in a dangerous world?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Harper Axes Edmonton Expo Bid Support - Prospects Dim for Quebec Arena

With news today that the feds will not be supporting an Expo 2017 bid, the speculation is that the Harper government is setting the table for a fast on new big ticket menu items such as the much anticipated new NHL arena for Quebec City.

Other cities bidding are Liege, Belgium, and Astana, Kazakhstan. Alberta and Canada's reputations have suffered such a pummeling under the Harper regime that it is difficult to imagine how a Harper-led tar-sands funded bid would be able to build any popularity to come out on top in a competitive process.

The initial budget estimate for the event was $2.3 billion, of which the feds would have been responsible for about $700 million, although security costs would have boosted the federal responsibility to well over $1 billion.

Doesn't seem like all that much in comparison with what the feds dumped in three days of the G20.

Although not officially dead, it is presumed that the bid will die without federal support.

The event would have celebrated Canada's 150th birthday.

tweeted via @avnishnanda

Friday, November 19, 2010

Potash More Significant Than Computers - Manitoba Prof Makes the Case

What was the most significant technological advance of the 20th Century for humanity? A debate held recently by The Economist moved that "the development of computing was the single most important technological advance of the 20th Century."

University of Manitoba Distinguished Professor and noted author, Vaclav Smil, argued against the motion, saying that the development of artificial fertilizers easily trumps computers. Considering that there were only about 1 billion people on the planet in 1900, with hundreds of millions undernourished, and that now there are 6 billion people, it would seem that Smil had an excellent case. However the Economist readers did not agree, handing the debate to Smil's opponent by a pretty substantial 74 - 26 % margin.

The rest of the story...

Bill Gates is a big fan of Smil, even featuring him on his The Gates Notes bloggy type thing. Smyl is a prolific author of what Gates calls important books. Among them, two landmark energy analyses and the recent, Why America is Not a New Rome, which Gates also likes.

In case anyone is wondering, Smyl is squarely on board with the rest of legitimate science on the global warming question, urging that we fast track efforts to achieve maximum energy with the least possible environmental impact.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pittsburgh Bans Fracking; Sydney AU Has "Secret Plan" to Permit Fracking for Coal Seam Methane

Pittsburgh PA has announced a ban on drilling for natural gas within its city limits. This is reported to be in response in part to corporations taking out leases to drill under area parks and cemeteries.

Although this is not the same specific shale formation as the Utica Shale slated for exploration near Montreal, one must acknowledge the geographic proximity and the experience with fracking that Pennsylvania and New York State have.

An extensive description by Monique Beaudin of the Quebec shale gas situation appeared in the Montreal Gazette Nov. 15 and was republished at least in part in "Marcellus Protest".

Sydney Australia's "Secret" Fracking Plans

Meanwhile, the city of Sydney, Australia, wants to wean itself off coal and has put in motion a "secret plan" to tap into coal seam methane gas deposits directly underlying the city. And drilling permits have already been issued, to the surprise of everyone, even a Green Party-led local municipal council. Wild.

Whether there is some difference in terminology down under isn't clear. The article in the Sydney Morning Herald where this news was reported includes the following paragraph mentioning fracking:

Coal-seam methane gas mining has been controversial in NSW and internationally for environmental damage caused by the so-called fracking technique used to extract the gas. In fracking, water injected with sand, salt and chemicals is used to fracture rock to force gas to the surface.

Media Fail: World Media Suckered By Big Oil Denier Lobby Over Copenhagen, Emails

An analysis of 400 articles written about the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change last December showed that less than 10% of the articles dealt primarily with the science behind climate change, according to an article in the Washington Post.

The study, prepared for Oxford University's Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, showed that much of the reporting was focused on the relative non-issue of the hacked emails of British scientists, who have since been cleared of wrong-doing. The report's author, James Painter, wrote, "We need more discussion between scientists, journalists and policymakers on how to keep highly significant, slow-burn issues like climate change interesting and engaging to different audiences around the world."

Instead, the media permitted themselves to be led down the garden path by the Big Oil funded denial lobby and allowed themselves to be convinced that the email issue was important.

Also implied by the study was the fact that a large portion of the public may not be engaged at all by more dry articles about climate science. The study draws a conclusion that conference organizers in these situations could benefit from paying more attention to delivering a message that is going to be compelling for media and their readers.

Responding to this study on his blog, Al Gore says media are failing in their responsibilities: "Our media has a responsibility to educate the public on issues affecting the planet. Covering the climate crisis only as a political issue shields from public view the vital scientific and moral elements of the debate."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All-Canadian EV in the Cards with Magna - Pininfarina Talks?

News today that Magna is in talks to buy Italian contract auto manufacturer and design house Pininfarina SpA.

One angle that wasn't mentioned in the Globe and Mail article, was that Pininfarina is the same company that has been working together with the Bolloré Group to produce the Bluecar. The Bluecar is an electric car that uses new battery technology produced at Bolloré's plant in Boucherville, near Montreal, as well as at another location in France.

Bollore's battery is called the Lithium Metal Polymer (LMP), which is notable for faster recharge times and larger storage capacity by weight than traditional batteries.

This would potentially add the dimension of a completely Canadian built EV to the Magna - Pininfarina talks..

Take a Hike - At Risk Students Learn and Grow with the Best Teacher - Nature

It's called "Take a Hike." It is a an alternative education program in which barriers to learning are minimized, personal issues are addressed, and students achieve a greater level of social and academic success. Following up on the theme of yesterday's post about Georges Laraque's community-focused activities, it is most appropriate to pick up on Take a Hike, another great cause.

Vancouver-based Take a Hike is one of Clara Hughes' favourite causes.

Take a Hike is program that has the power to give young people a belief in themselves and their abilities, as well as a lifelong respect and appreciation for nature and the outdoors.

The program combines the following four aspects: adventure-based learning, therapies, academics and community learning.

Take a Hike has been around for over ten years, its foundation has raised over $1 million for at-risk students in Vancouver and its board of directors includes a generous selection of community and corporate leaders.

This program has all the attributes of something that would be worth taking nation-wide.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Georges Laraque Fast Becoming the Heavyweight Champ of Great Causes

A year ago, Georges Laraque was still the heavyweight champ of the NHL. That was then... and now, Georges is spreading good karma and good deeds about as far and wide as you could imagine. Ever since Georges left the CH I've been following his activities with interest and no small measure of admiration.
In fact, I blogged about it when he took on the Green Party co-deputy leader posting, which was not that long ago. Then recently, I started following @bgl27 on Twitter, and it gives you another perspective on the type of commitment that he gives. It is non-stop, intense and interesting in the sense that Georges is pretty much learning on the job in his new roles. Not to mention that he needs to worry about making a profit on some of this stuff!

Just to name a few of his causes and endeavors, first and foremost there is the huge effort he has given to the Haitian relief operation.

Then there's his vegan restaurants, Crudessence, his campaigning against cruelty to animals, involvement in fitness, and support of many other charitable causes in Edmonton and Montreal. Then he jumps into politics with both feet as a co-deputy leader of the Green Party. And that's not to mention several business or investment projects, most of which are also consistent with big Georges' favourite causes.

Georges wouldn't be the first athlete to devote himself to making the world a better place. A few outstanding Canadian examples include Steve Nash, Bob Gainey and Clara Hughes. Most or virtually all professional athletes do have their charitable causes but few become known for their charitable work.

Someone like Georges Laraque, who has both the inclination and the larger-than-life persona to take on major game-changing charitable enterprises, could go a long, long way.

How far can he go with it? Only time will tell for sure of course, but a lot of it will depend on the support he can get from the grass roots. Desire, good will and charisma can take you a long way. At a certain point, you need to build across networks of people. I could think of a dozen things right off the top of my head that Georges could lead...

For example:

* a major push for proportional representation in Parliament
* complete reforestation for Haiti
* eco-friendly urban habitat constructions
* green and fitness-oriented transportation infrastructure
* found a northern university to study sustainable coexistence with the Arctic
* DIY geothermal heating systems
* etc. etc.

All to say, Georges has had a few months of real sound achievements and, with help, the sky is the limit for this guy.
How to Have the Courage to Follow Your Beliefs
One of the best things he shows us is how to have the courage to jump into things that he knows he supports. So people who like what Georges is doing can support him in whatever way they can. Whether it be visiting his restaurants, attending his Green party events or providing other types of support, the key is, if you believe in it, take the plunge!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Winter Biking - Could a Toronto Gardiner Tube Lead to Cycling Innovations?

The concept of a transparent tube for part of Toronto's Gardiner Expressway shown in today's Star is something very interesting. Without having any cost figures to look at, we presume that the concept is somewhat viable, or otherwise why would anyone spend the time to come up with it at all?

The article does say that construction costs would be paid for by a toll and that there would be substantial maintenance savings because snow and weather would no longer accumulate on the road surface.

So, we wonder, if this concept is viable, could tube-style bike / pedestrian paths be far behind?

Winter cycling in Canada has long been the exclusive domain of kamikaze couriers a few fearless students. The near impossibility of winter cycling in most parts of Canada has made the bike a difficult form of transportation for people to commit to. Severe weather (not only the winter variety) proves just too tough an adversary for most commuters to even consider biking as a go-to ride. For many cyclists, a tube could be a year-round lifestyle upgrade.

Would it be possible to surmount the roadblock to super-healthy and green transport with a strategically planned network of bike tubes? The problems, costs and objections would be many but, if a tube for the Gardiner Expressway is doable, that fact brings the possibility of winter biking in tubes that much closer.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

China Wants More Gas Hogs - India Says They're Criminal

China wants more gas hogs but India wants fewer of them. At least that's the message one could take from recent news items emanating from the two countries.

Volvo's Chinese owers, Geely, who purchased Volvo from Ford this August for $1.5 billion, have now let it be known that they want to see Volvo producing more larger, luxury cars for the Chinese market. Volvo has been working towards the contrary, smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. The Geely comments came from Chairman Li Shufu in the state-owned Security Times. Volvo now has a dealer network in China covering 81 cities and sales have been soaring.

This in stark contrast to the situation in India, where the Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, came out on the attack against German automakers Friday, saying that driving the big-engined BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes was "criminal."

“The luxurious growth of large-size vehicles like SUVs is really a growth of concern, use of vehicles like SUVs and BMW in countries like India is criminal,” he said at a UN function in New Delhi, according to news agency IANS.

The country should levy extra fees and mandatory fuel efficiency standards on these cars, the minister suggested.

"We cannot ask people to buy or not to buy a particular car. But through an effective fiscal policy, we can certainly have an impact," he said

The obvious difference between these apparent positions is that the Chinese viewpoint comes from business, an automaker, who probably have a particular niche in mind for the Volvo brand, whereas the India viewpoint comes from the political side. Although, one presumes that the public assertions of Chinese business would be basically in line with government policy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Free" Trade with India, Europe, Must Acknowledge Community-Based Commerce, Culture

Now that Canada and India have formally entered into so-called "free" trade talks and the "free" trade negotiations are well underway with Europe, the time has come to bring these issues front and centre.

First of all, let's get over the idea that these talks have anything to do with "free".

We're talking about implementing the same restrictions and regulations that resulted in the Dutch being forbidden to sell wooden shoes under European trade laws.

Let's put the cards on the table. These CETA talks going on behind closed doors and the upcoming India talks need to be driven by informed, engaged Canadians, not by (pick your secretive poison - multinationals / Bilderberg / IMF / World Bank / corporate power brokers / political agendas).

NAFTA was one thing. Free trade with Mexico has certainly introduced an element of wage disparity into the mix with our trading partners. Same goes in Europe, where, they also have the eastern and Mediterranean countries where the wages have traditionally been lower.

With India, this is not an "element" of wage disparity, it is a tsunami.

I'd like to know how you can have free trade with a country that has 100s of millions of people earning less than 40 cents a day? (2004/05). It is never, ever, ever going to make sense.

I am completely in favour of fair dealing with India to the benefit of all. I am not in favour of our community newspapers and Canadian corporate newsletters (for example) getting written by writers in India who get paid $2 a day or 1 cent a word.

Ultimately, "free trade" with all sorts of countries is going to mean less freedom for Canadians. Like the Chinese company CSR Zhuzhou rolling in and trying to force the Montreal Metro to switch from rubber to steel wheels for its cars so that Zhuzhou could put in a bid on the new replacement cars contract. Just the fact that there would be any question at all about Bombardier getting the job reeks to high heaven. When you have one of the world's biggest and best rail transportation companies employing thousands of workers right in your own back yard, what insanity is going to prevail on you to change your entire plan and design to accommodate the "free" trade rights of ABC Chinese train company??? Yep, and watch this ridiculous situation fester in the courts for years to come.

Next, they'll be telling us that a local municipality can't hire a local guy to pick up the garbage. As it is currently evolving, the whole "free trade" trend (i.e. globalization), which is clearly being driven from the top down, is the direct antithesis of the grass-roots driven, eat-local, buy-local, sustainable community trend.

In order for our communities to be sustainable and viable, our communities' local nature, needs and culture must be recognized at the free trade negotiating tables.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Greenland Prepared to Demand $2 Bil Bond from Offshore Drilling Oil Cos

News today that Greenland is going to demand that any companies wanting to participate in offshore drilling in Greenland waters pay a $2 Bil bond upfront that would be used to pay initial costs of any clean-up in the event of an accident.

Although overall this has to be considered a landmark piece of great news, in the wake of the BP Gulf disaster, there are many aspects of the situation to consider here, 

Among a number of concerns and issues:

1. The evolving relationship between Greenland and Denmark
2. This type of requirement squeezes out smaller companies
3. Will be interesting to observe how other countries follow suit 
3. This type of requirement may just divert offshore drilling to places that have the lowest upfront bond
4. Should similar bonds be required from companies involved in "fracking" for natural gas (a major issue in B.C., Quebec and elsewhere), in case of contamination of water supplies or other unforeseen event?
5. What will be the other impacts on the marketplace of this type of additional cost?
    - makes sustainable energy more feasible
    - makes tar sands more feasible
    - increased profit from conventional oil
6. How does this play out in the Arctic context? Direct impact on Canada.
7. Relationship with current trends - such as impending glut of natural gas
8. Could industry-wide bonds be a more balanced and equitable solution that would safeguard the entire planet rather than just have jurisdiction by jurisdiction regulations?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Something to Remember

The liberal, tolerant and fair values cherished by Canadians were formed during a time when a huge proportion of Canadian families included veterans of one or the other World Wars.

The veterans of the 1st and 2nd World Wars built the free, tolerant and just country that they fought for.

Now, the Canada they fought for is slipping away to a bunch of couch potato small time NFL gamblers and Fox News watchers who are macho in their own minds.

Mind you, only 29% of it has slipped away so far... LOL


Welcome to the Dark Ages - Merck Turns Out the Lights on Montreal Lab

 Branch Office Country Gets the Short End of the Stick Again

Merck turned out the lights in its high tech Montreal lab yesterday for the last time.  A direct victim of corporate conglomeration and globalization, the lab had employed 180 scientists and staff. The lab closure, announced in July, seems to be yet another instance of Canada failing to be a force to be reckoned with in business internationally. It is also another case of a company headquartered outside of Canada handing us the short end of the stick when push comes to shove.

The Merck lab was one of the few significant research centres run by a pharmaceutical in Canada.

The jobs were axed as a part of a global re-shuffling of the decks, after the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough a year ago. In this multinational game, you have the option to discard when shuffling, and Merck has leaped at the chance to ditch its high-paid Canadian research component and its lab, as well as the entire former Canadian head office building, which will now be too large for the employees left over.

Interviewed in the La Presse story linked above, the President of Merck's Human Health division, Adam Schechter, said that the company will continue to support research in Quebec via partnerships with biotechs and/or university labs, or in other ways. And, according to the article, the company has committed to spend $100 million on research in Quebec over the next five years.

Need we revisit here again the prophetic (and brutally honest) words of former BHP CEO Don Argus, who called Canada a "branch office" country?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hey Maclean's! Anyone Putting 2 and 2 Together? - Quebec's McGill Tops Maclean's University Rankings

Maclean's Magazine has again named McGill Canada's top university in the prestigious medical/doctoral category.

BTW, McGill is located in the same province sullied as the most corrupt in Canada by Maclean's just a few weeks ago, with a blaring front page banner and extremely distasteful front page graphic.

Anyone putting two and two together here?

I think all universities, especially McGill, should refuse in future to cooperate with anything this farcical excuse for a "news" magazine does.

Taxpayers Paying Half the Tab for Natural Gas to Process Tar Sands

You couldn't even dream of a cozier deal - let alone ask for one.

Big oil is running roughshod over Canadian and Alberta taxpayers, as well as the environment, with sweetheart natural gas deals that amount to a massive disincentive to use more environmentally friendly energy, says an article in the Tyee. The oil sands burn through 20% of the natural gas used in Canada. Why? Because we practically give it away to them.

The oil companies get to deduct the cost of fuel from their provincial and federal taxes. Then they get to "double dip" and deduct the same fuel costs from the royalties paid to Alberta.

Easy to see why there is zero incentive for any of these companies to use sustainable energy sources for processing the bitumen. Another reason why it's called "dirty oil" despite the promotional campaigns to the contrary.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lead Story Under ARTS in Today's Globe and Mail

Highlighted ARTS story on the front online page of today's Globe and Mail.

A promo for a TV cop show.

Rookie Blue with Missy Peregrym.

Monday, November 8, 2010

U.S. Steel Locks Out Canadians from Canadian Jobs

U.S. Steel has locked 900 Canadians out of their jobs in their Canadian plant producing iron and steel from (presumably) Canadian ore in Hamilton.

What is wrong with this picture?

CERN Creates 10 Trillion Degrees - Heat is on to Find Secretive Inventor, Calvin Q. Calculus

A Co2 Art investigation has learned that Calvin Q. Calculus has been living under an assumed identity in Switzerland for the past several years and has indeed been a key player in the hole mini-big bang experiment at CERN.

Q. Calculus, the inventor of the original portable hole, may be using his position inside the shadowy world of CERN to attempt to gain mastery of the universe by becoming the sole proprietor of mini black hole technology.

The mini-Big Bang experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider was successful yesterday, November 7, in reproducing "Big Bang conditions". That is, temperatures of over ten trillion degrees, or, a million times that of the centre of the sun.

"At these temperatures even protons and neutrons, which make up the nuclei of atoms, melt resulting in a hot dense soup of quarks and gluons known as a quark-gluon plasma."

Quarks and gluons are sub-atomic particles - some of the building blocks of matter. In the state known as quark-gluon plasma, they are freed of their attraction to one another. This plasma is believed to have existed just after the Big Bang.

Many have expressed strong reservations about these experiments, whose outcome seems to be less than reliably predictable. In fact, some people suggested that the experiment could go out of control and create mini black holes.

Co2 Art's investigation suggests that Calvin Q. Calculus may have positioned himself to actually divert the black holes at the point of their formation and remove them from the super-collider using his own portable holes.

As we speak, scientists in Switzerland are analyzing the qualities of the quark-gluon plasma, meaning that it will soon be known whether the mini black holes existed. If they did, where are they now? It may very well be that only Calvin C. Calculus knows the answer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

$2.4 Bil for Latest Round of U.S. High Speed Rail - $2.4 Bil more than has ever been spent in Canada

About the only thing less impressive or convincing than the U.S. high-speed rail program program is Canada's.

Nevertheless, high speed rail in the U.S. does have a heartbeat, if barely detectable, and a new round of federal cash has been announced for numerous projects, as timid and modest as they may be.

Projects receiving funding in this round include Tampa-Orlando, Detroit-Chicago, Iowa, and California. This is in addition to $8+ billion awarded in January for projects including Seattle area, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.

These so-called high-speed trains will "attain" a high speed of either 169 or 220 mph at some point on their routes, which is far less ambitious than high-speed rail projects in Europe and Asia, which routinely maintain speeds of 200 mph or higher. To shed further light on North American rail competitiveness, consider that China is investing $50 Bil on its high-speed rail system this year alone and will pump $300 Bil into it before it is complete.

Ontario Teachers and Borealis Buy Only British High-Speed Link

In Canada, meanwhile, the official abbreviation for High Speed Rail continues to be L-O-L! Even if we do boast one of the world's leading industrial rail corporations in Bombardier and even if two Ontario pension funds did just buy High Speed One, the high-speed rail link between London and the Chunnel.

Looking at the U.S. high speed rail map, it looks like a sure bet that there will be high-speed service at several points into the U.S. before there is any high-speed between Canadian cities.

But don't expect me to take Stephen Harper's visionless government to task for the sorry state of Canada's passenger rail system, just because they would rather put money into prisons to accommodate perpetrators of unreported crimes. No, I'll leave that to the pros over at the High Speed Rail Canada blog.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Have We Attained the End of Ideas? - World Logo Shortage Reaches a Crisis Point.

It has been predicted for ages. Even back in the '90s, when half of the new logos designed had some sort of a CD motif, logo doomsayers were saying the days of spontaneous, free flowing ideas were already at an end.

Imagination had reached a point of ebb. But, even in the face of such vivid proof of the dearth of ideas on the corporate globe, the dearth deniers held on to a strand of hope. Somehow our intrepid graphic designers got through that imaginative recession, tapping into fertile new fields of creativity. Rather than wilt on the vine, the logo designing industry has thrived. Logos were everywhere. The internet became a banquet, a feast of new logos. Then logo derivatives, like icons and avatars took their places alongside the earlier "pictograms". We might even say that the Onesies Decade, as yet unnamed, was the Logo Decade. Perhaps, somewhere back there in '06 or '08, we may have even attained that mythical summit of "Peak Idea".

But now, it seems, the end of ideas is nearer than ever. Witness the two logos shown here. It says something, not sure what, that they both originate in British Columbia. Both the Down Syndrome Research Foundation and the Kelowna Museums organization are proud of their logos and rightfully so. And yes, they are both kinda cool, especially the visible single crease, characteristic of the down syndrome palm.

Seriously though, if there is a message here, it may have something to do with the limitations of the corporate model to reflect the uniqueness of humanity. Or, put another way, as hard as a logo strives to exert a corporation's or organization's uniqueness, all it really does is show how most organizations are quite a bit the same.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Historic Kelowna Fruit Packing House Re-Opens Tonight as Museum & Cultural Center

It would be difficult to pack more local lore and historical significance into a building than you have in Kelowna's old apple barn, the freshly restored Laurel Packinghouse.
Tonight is the Grand Reopening of the Laurel, an historic and integral part of the Kelowna and Okanagan communities going back to 1918.

The new facility houses two museums, the B.C. Orchard Industry Museum and the B.C. Wine Museum, and also houses several other facilities, including an agrotourism center.

The Laurel also has multifunction space for group rentals. It is located in Kelowna's downtown arts district.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vikings on the Prowl: Strong Support for Unified Nordic State

A poll taken across the five European "Nordic" countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, has shown that close to half of respondents would like to see the countries join to form one common union, with one head of state.

Such a country would have a population of about 25 million and would be the world's 10th largest economy.

Intriguing. Such a union would presumably take a bite out of the EU, as it doesn't seem likely the countries could belong to two such unions. It would also create a very substantial player in the "scramble" for Arctic resources and influence.

Potash: BHP says Canada is a "Branch Office" Country

A few miles down the road from Montreal, in the idyllic ski resort town of Bromont, there is a factory built to employ 800 people, substantially with $120 million (in 1988 dollars) of federal and provincial subsidies, that stands as a monument to the worthlessness of multinational corporate promises and commitments.

The factory was built by Hyundai to build cars for the Canadian market and, after generous subsidies pocketed, promptly shut down by the Korean automaker when sales didn't live up to their expectations.

The fact is, that between the time the Hyundai plant was conceived and the time it was closed, the cars had acquired a well-deserved reputation for poor quality and being poorly designed for the Canadian climate. Now, 15 years after the plant closing, Hyundai is selling 95,000 cars in Canada. Obviously, Hyundai's commitment to sell cars in Canada could never be questioned - however, its commitment to corporate citizenship in Canada obviously varies according to which way the wind is blowing.

The minute the ride got a bit rough, Hyundai bailed faster than a bandit, even though they were entirely responsible for their design problems.

Now on the subject of potash, we are talking about a strategic resource of critical importance for the future of feeding the planet. Not much trumps food. And, when it comes to growing food, here is the list of what trumps fertilizer:

Water. (Canada does ok on this count)
Land. (the land grab is on, but Canada has quite a bit)
Seed. (already largely under the control of a small few corporations)

So Industry Minister Stephen Harper - er - Tony Clement did the right thing yesterday and rejected the BHP bid for Potash. Unfortunately, he also did the gutless thing and left the door open for BHP to "present something" that would change his mind in the next 30 days.

I guess they don't get it. No "promise" BHP or any other multinational corporation could make can be trusted, nor will it make Canada anything but a branch office of Potash.

Even the Chairman of BHP agrees:

When reviewing BHP's application, Ottawa might also want to consider comments made in 2008 by BHP's chairman at the time, Don Argus. Calling on his fellow Australians to continue investing in domestic mining assets, he cautioned that Australia's resource sector was at risk of becoming globally irrelevant - just like the mining sector of another former British colony.
"If we fail to remain competitive," the BHP chairman warned, "Australia will incur a substantial opportunity cost and in the worst-case scenario, our resources will fall into overseas hands and we will also become a branch office - just like Canada."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

German Green Party "Blindsided" By "Unconventional" Gas Exploration in Densely Populated Areas

Germany's most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia, has issued exploration permits to ExxonMobil and nine other companies, including at least one Canadian firm, to drill for unconventional gas across vast parts of the country.

According to reports, drilling in certain areas in 2008 by the Aachen technical university was not successful.

The German Green Party said they were "blindsided" by the news, which was reported today in the German online paper Der Westen. (in German). 

Citing an answer from state Economy Minister Harry Voigtsberger to a Green party state parliamentary inquiry into the matter, the paper said that the drilling would span across land equalling almost half of the state’s size.

The Green Party "parliamentary energy expert" said that the claims were staked quietly and secretly.

The articles cited mention "coal bed methane" or gas "stored in rock strata", without specifically mentioning that the companies will be exploring for "shale gas" or using hydrofracturing techniques, which are suspected as being responsible for contamination of water supplies in places where these techniques have been put in practice.

Recent improvements in exploration technologies have made it easier to discover shale gas deposits.

Germany is seeking to reduce its dependence on Russia as a source of natural gas.

No word on the cost of the exploration licenses.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lighting a Biogas Fire Under Canadian Municipalities

About 12 years ago, we were at the stage of saying, "Holy Crap! Lookit all the free biogas they're making in China!

Now, 12 years later, we're at the stage of studying the implementation of this in Canada. A few biogas and composting plants are slated for the Montreal area: one each in Laval and Longueuil, and a few in Montreal.

One of the affected Longueuil "Agglomeration" cities, Brossard, is not on board with the $930,000 study, because they have not had a chance to review the preliminary report. Which is just weird.

The illustration above represents something like what the Longueuil facility will look like.

These plants are going to process table scraps and other organic material to produce methane gas which will be used in turn to generate electricity for sale to Hydro Quebec. Reports state that each of the Longueuil and Montreal (Ville d'Anjou) plants, estimated to cost about $30 million each, will process about 100,000 tons per year of scraps and organic material and produce 3.8 MW of power capacity, enough to supply the electrical needs of 2000 families.

Public information on these projects is scant. The numbers vary from report to report.

Considering that the principles of biogas digestion are basic enough that small scale units can be largely self-installed on any Chinese peasant's family farm, one wonders why so much studying is needed.

One also wonders why such comparatively small projects are being conceived. And, what about sewage? How much power could be generated with all the sewage that is produced in a large metropolitan area?

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Everyday" Electric Car Distance Record Set in Germany - 600 km with the Heat On!

German scientists are claiming a new EV world record for "everyday" cars after a 600 km trip last week from Munich to Berlin was completed without recharging by an electric powered Audi. The project was run by two partner companies, lekker Energie and DBM Energy.  

The battery uses DBM Energy’s KOLIBRI AlphaPolymer Technology said to be 97 percent efficient and chargeable from virtually any socket — plug it into a high voltage DC source and it can be fully charged in just six minutes according to the car’s driver and battery inventor, Mirko Hannemann.

A Japanese car had set a previous EV distance record of 555 km just under a year ago. 

via The Local - Germany's news in English

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Montreal's Green Lifestyles - Transit System Named Best in North America

On the heels of having the city's transit system named the best in North America by the American Public Transportation Association, Montreal has launched a new green living handbook. (link to online English version)

Montreal won the transit award for a number of reasons, chief among them the highest efficiency/lowest cost per passenger mile of all the transit systems on the continent.

The green living handbook is called "Consume Differently" and builds around a theme of "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Valorise". There's also a guide to "Eco-Centres", reuse centres and other facilities around the city's communities. Also a blurb on the championship transit system itself, where the conversion of the entire fleet of buses to biodiesel is described:

Since June 2008, STM buses have operated
with biodiesel, a fuel made from non-fossil
materials, which generates considerable en-
ergy savings without harming the environ-
ment. Did you know that not all types of
biodiesel fuel are beneficial to the environ-
ment? The STM was very careful in selecting
a biofuel, known as B5. Now used by all the
fleet’s buses, it is manufactured from recy-
cled cooking oil (80%) and animal fats
(20%) rather than oils derived from com-
mercial grain crops like corn.

Did you know that the STM burns nearly 50
million litres of fuel annually to operate their
buses? The use of B5 biodiesel has cut CO2
emissions by about 4,000 tons, or the equiv-
alent of 800 fewer vehicles on the roads.

 Montreal's "Bixi" bike borrowing / exchange program has also been very successful and is worth checking out. The Bixi system has already spread to several other cities, including London, Boston, Ottawa, Toronto, Washington D.C. and others.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Foolproof Titles to Have a Viral Hit on Youtube, Twitter or a Blog

Titles of videos that would go viral on Youtube via the petro / corporate promotional machine:

* How raising the minimum wage hurts the poor

* Why education is usually unnecessary, even harmful

* The Truth: Oil Burning Cools the Planet

* Free Trade Means Farmers Can't Plant Seeds They Grow Themselves

* Many Chemicals Are Beneficial in Organic Farming

* The Cost of Having a Baby Should be 50% of a Minimum Annual Salary

* No Doubt About It - Christianity is the Only True Religion

* Bicycles Are a Communist Plot

* More Smoke in the Atmosphere has a "Carbon Filter" Cleaning Effect

* Once the Coral Dies Off it will Come Back Stronger

* Super Patriots Love Working for Low Pay

* Science is Only One Man's Opinion

....and so forth...

Have a try! Take a Chance!

The beauty of it is, the content doesn't matter! Nothing in the article or video has to make sense. We have seen ample proof that anyone could write anything under any of the above titles and you would have millions of instant subscribers.

Ever Vigilant Moose Jaw Saved from Invasion of Evil Halloween Spirits

A Halloween fundraiser involving an unholy seance was canceled in Moose Jaw following intervention of local pastors.

“We don’t think a séance is what the people of Moose Jaw want to be associated with,” said a pastor.

Moose Jaw MLA Deb Higgins says she didn't hear a single complaint about the Halloween event, but area Sask Party MLA Warren Michelson insists the calls wouldn't stop coming into his office.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Painful Failure of Swedish Red - Green Alliance : Is There a Message for Canadians?

Some remarkable political parallels have developed between Sweden and Canada.

Now that Prime Minister Harper has taken to routinely, and falsely, labeling the opposition in the House of Commons "your (Ignatieff's) coalition", it may be worthwhile to look at the results of what Sweden called its Red - Green Alliance.

In Sweden's recent election, the formal centre-left alliance lost a tad more ground to the centre-right alliance, which remains at the helm of a minority government. The big news was the emergence of the "Sweden Democrats", the far-right, anti-immigration party to win 20 seats in the 350-odd-seat Riksdag.

One difference with the situation in Canada is that the far-right in Sweden remain relative pariahs, outside of the governing alliance, instead of being entrenched at the core of the ruling party, as the hardline Reform-Cons are in Canada's minority government. No one's fooling themselves though.. Not likely that the Sweden Democrats will be voting with the left to topple the government anytime soon.

Where the situation is remarkably similar to Canada is that, even though Sweden has proportional representation, where parties with a minimum of 4% of the popular vote are able to win seats in Parliament, much of the political landscape breaks out similar to ours.

Sweden's old, established flagship party is the Social Democrats. Similar to Canada's Liberals, the SDs have won the majority of elections since the late 1800s and have been largely responsible for shaping the country that Sweden is today. In losing power in 2006, the Social Democrats polled their lowest total ever at 36%, still leading the polls but fighting off challenges from all sorts of smaller parties with names like "Moderate", "Liberal", "Christian Democrat" and "Centre", as well as the Greens and the "Left" Party.

With the Greens apparently on a roll, the politico powers that be looked at the 2006 results and decided that together, the Left, the Greens and the SDs should have a great chance of surpassing the others.

Turn the clock ahead to the September 2010 general election. Surprise! Even with the radical, isolated far-right unexpectedly siphoning off almost 6% of the vote from the Centre-Right Alliance, the Red-Green Alliance still failed to live up to its potential. And the SD dropped even further, to a historic low 30%. Pundits are full of explanations as to why these events have all unfolded in this way.

There are many differences, of course, between this situation and the Canadian experience. One of the most prominent differences is that the Social Democrats in Sweden, roughly the equivalents of our Liberals (at least for the sake of this discussion), have become strongly rural-based. Our Liberals, obviously, are urban based.

Anyway, now the experiment has been called off and the Red-Green Alliance has dissolved in Sweden.

Can Canada's centre-left profit from the Swedish experience? Will they?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Campbell to Scrap B.C. School Boards Tonight?

A Vancouver school trustee has told the Vancouver Observer that there is speculation B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell may announce the scrapping of local elected school boards at his public address tonight. If this is true, today will be as dark a day as democracy has seen in British Columbia.

Mike Lombardi, a trustee from the Vancouver board of education, said he has heard from a number of sources that the new model will closely mirror the health care structure that Campbell initiated in 2001.

After appointing George Abbott as the new Minister of Education Monday, the move is expected to be another one of Campbell’s bold moves towards centralization and privatization, according to Lombardi.

Who knows? maybe this is the type of nonsense they preach at Bilderberg?

Granted, this idea has been floated elsewhere than in B.C. For one, the former leader of Quebec's Action Democratique party, Mario Dumont, had thrown this concept out there. Not that many people took it seriously.

What is awful sketchy is that a premier hovering at somewhere around 8% in the polls would bring in such an extreme, anti-democratic measure.

Canada Has a Glut? of Clean Energy - Yet Madness Rules Utilities

Fascinating to read on The Sir Robert Bond Papers a breakdown of Danny Williams' breakdown of the status of the Lower Churchill hydro development.  Even more interesting, a (year-old!) report about five years of secret negotiations between Hydro Quebec and Newfoundland over HQ taking on an equity role in the Lower Churchill with NL setting aside redress over the original Churchill Falls deal.

Awash in Green - ergy?

These reports are just more confirmation that the energy situation in Canada is baffling, convoluted, incomprehensible and just completely fried..

1. Apparently Canada has a massive excess of clean green energy. So much so that a lot of it isn't even developed. Even though it is safe, clean and relatively easy on the environment in many or most cases.

Committing to Overpriced Energy

2. Yet for some as yet unexplained reason, Ontario and B.C. are entering into electricity contracts like there's no tomorrow, committing to paying out huge sums that vastly exceed going market prices for utility power, and Alberta, of course, continues to go hogwild, producing the dirtiest energy in the world .

If you don't believe #1 - then why is it that scads of undeveloped hydro potential remains untouched in remote parts of Labrador and Quebec? One reason is supposedly because Hydro Quebec and Newfoundland are both worried about throwing a dam power sale and having no one show up. And, both parties seem to be jealous about protecting whatever angle they have (or would have or hope to have or dream to have) at selling electricity in the U.S. market.

Water Taps Behaving Like Flamethrowers

Meanwhile, back in the Q, exploration companies are falling over each other to stake out claims in the Utica shale "gaz" biz. This is the whole hydrofracturing blitz that's going to occur below all the sweet farmland in the lower St. Lawrence. This, despite the fact that miffed residents of upstate New York and Pennsylvania are having loads o' fun posting videos of their water taps behaving like flamethrowers... and searching on Google for places to get their water tested.

You fracking betcha.

Luv Those "Free Mining" Principles

Well, you can't really blame the Quebec prospectors for luvin' it. Given that oil and gas in Quebec still falls under the venerable "Mining Act", which, under "free mining" principles, allows exploration on a "first-come-first-served basis", with license holders obliged to pay annual "rent" of $2.50/hectare. Based on that the rental cost of the rights to explore 1 million hectares would be about $2.5 million, seemingly a far cry from what is being spent by industry in western Canada.

In fact, B.C. has raked in over $3 billion since 2008 from auctioning off exploration rights for its own shale gas motherlode. Maybe that's why B.C. figured they could afford to pay $825 million for a 1/3 share of the Waneta Dam. Which is an astronomical amount to pay, especially when you consider that the original deal for Hydro Quebec to buy N.B. Power - lock, stock and 15 hydro, coal and diesel generating stations, was $4.75 billion.

Now What is NB Power Gonna Do?

Which brings us to the whole Hydro Quebec N.B. Power non-buyout fiasco. Rejected by New Brunswickers for all the wrong reasons. Officially, ultimately declined by Quebec for the bogus reason that it would be "too risky".

Geo-Thermal Ignored

Why, amidst all these other conundrums, does geo-thermal energy get so little serious play?

Why does none of this make any sense?

Coveting Enron

Besides the fact that corporate vultures are circling everywhere around this ecosystem, eyes glazing over with greed at the thought of somehow, some way, setting up another Enron.

Do we chalk it all up to petty regional jealousies?

Is there any light at the end of the tunnel for a sane energy plan in Canada?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BP and Major Euro Polluters Funding U.S. Senate Climate Deniers and Tea Partiers

A report released yesterday by the Climate Action Network Europe has revealed that heavy-polluting European corporations are big financial supporters of U.S. Senate climate change deniers and climate legislation opponents.

The report, drawing on analysis of publicly available information fingers such large European emitters as BAYER, BASF, Solvay, Lafarge, BP, GDF-SUEZ, Arcelor-Mittal and EON, for their active support of denier campaigns. In 2009, these seven corporations' GHG emissions were roughly equivalent to that of the entire country of Belgium. 

In the European context, it should be noted that these same companies argue that Europe should not do more to fight global warming until the U.S. starts to act.

The Climate Action Network Europe is a coalition of 130 European environmental and development NGOs working to fight dangerous climate change.

Monday, October 25, 2010

U.K. Gov't Contemplates Selling Off Public Forests

One would think that the meager scatterings of forest that persist in Britain would be cherished and treasured as much as anything on that small island.

Apparently not. Seems the coalition government is putting together a "strategy" for unloading 150,000 hectares of public forest and other lands to developers, which would net the government a laughably unimpressive £250m at current prices.

According to one set of figures, the U.K. is home to 2.8 million hectares of forest, about 12% of the country's total area. Painstaking efforts over the past few decades have resulted in gains of forested land in Britain by 5,000 - 20,000 hectares per year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

CETA free trade with Europe "Colonizes Canada" for Corporations - National Farmers Union

The dawning of such a day was foretold by Lewis Caroll... when a farmer can no longer save and plant, give away, trade or sell, a seed he has grown himself, and this is called...

FREE TRADE!! in... the Canada-European Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which is currently being negotiated, and being given carte blanche by the MSM to fly under the radar.

The NFU has pretty much dedicated its website to opposing this deal.

National Post Goes Bananarama

When traveling, I have often marveled at the sad situation prevailing in some countries, where basic freedom of speech is negated as journalists are forced to serve as pawns or conduits for purveyors of hate, lies and partisan political manipulation.

One look at the front page of today's National Post tells me that Canada has now joined the group of countries who tolerate and facilitate trash journalism to flow with impunity.

Next thing you know our leader will be some guy riding around in a jeep with gold chains and ammo belts hanging around his neck.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caution: Potash Debate Contains Corrosive Lyes

So, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Walls has done the right thing and determined that the sale of Potash would not be of net benefit to the province and therefore his government is asking the federal government to disallow the sale to BHP of Australia.

Unfortunately and predictably, the federal government has not done the right thing. Prime Minister Stephen Harper saying he doesn't think Potash needs to be "protected" from foreign takeover. He termed the situation as, “a proposal for an American-controlled company to be taken over by an Australian-controlled company.”

Harper's statement is, of course, completely false - Potash is 49% Canadian-owned and 38% U.S. owned.

Aside from the sheer stupidity of selling out control over a strategic resource that is located in Canada, that we need in Canada, and that we already control in Canada, there are other problems with this deal that might be overlooked.

One of the more corrosive ones could be the specter of the federal government going directly against the expressed wishes of a province, over an issue that is so tightly woven into the provincial fabric. Potash is produced and consumed in Saskatchewan - not in Ottawa. Aside from the obvious negative consequences for the Conservatives in Saskatchewan, this issue could also be brought up as an example and used by anti-federalists in other provinces, particularly in Quebec.

After all, if the Conservative Premier of Saskatchewan, a province loaded with Conservative MPs, cannot trust the Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, then probably no one can. Oh yeah, we already knew that.