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.