Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Citizen Journalist Charles Leblanc Arrested for Protesting on a Megaphone

 Freedom of Speech at Issue

Two videos from Leblanc's blog.

First a detailed and interesting report on the situation shown on CBC in New Brunswick. Second Leblanc's own video, showing his arrest.

It brings to mind an encounter I had in New York a few years ago with a group of artists, including Erika Rothenberg, who were setting up a reprise of the installation shown at right, the "Freedom of Expression National Monument".

They were setting up right in front of the court house in downtown Manahattan, as shown below on an image borrowed from Rothenberg's website.

 Certainly gives one pause to consider.

One of the CBC stories above gives quite a bit of background into Leblanc's history with the Fredericton Police and of him being "banned" from the NB Legislature.

At this point I am near speechless.

The fact is that we have much less "freedom of expression" than is commonly believed. Will have to digest this for a while... and one can only imagine how Charles Leblanc feels.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Happened to the REC Mega Solar-Grade Silicon Plant Announced for Quebec?

Obama credibility not the only casualty of solar power outage

Three years ago, "REC Silicon, a division of the Norwegian multinational group Renewable Energy Corporation, has announced its intention to invest more than $1.2 billion to build a manufacturing plant in B├ęcancour," Quebec, northeast of Montreal.

The Quebec government and REC made a lot of hay over this, emphasizing how the company had done an exhaustive analysis before deciding to set up shop here.

As this was supposed to be up and running in 2012, to all appearances things have been rather quiet on the REC front.

A quick search turns up a couple of articles in French, one from Radio Canada a year ago and another from this January in Le Courrier Sud, a newspaper in the B├ęcancour area, both of which indicating that the project is presumed shelved or ditched altogether.

Interesting that no cancellation announcement appears on the REC website, nor anywhere that I can find, at least in English.

Looks like this became another casualty of the problems that seem to have plagued the solar industry since the onset of the recession. Sept '08 certainly not the most opportune time to have made a major announcement in solar energy.

Interesting also to consider this situation in the context of the embarrassing time that Barack Obama has been having with the whole Solyndra solar debacle, bankruptcy, FBI investigation etc. One thing it seems to show is that market conditions could hardly have been worse for anyone trying to implement this type of project.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Terrance Corcoran a Leaf Fan? Losers Lead - Leaders Lose?

It would appear the answer is "yes", as this person is clearly impaired in his ability to tell a "leader" from a "loser".

Case in point: his piece in yesterday's National Post stating, "New global report shows Canada among leading nations in Internet, communications technology". Considering that Canada's ranking in this report came out at 13th, 14th, 57th, 12th, 111th, 24th, 13th and 17th, as seen on Michael Geist, Canada is anything but a leader!

The overall rating of 26th is pathetic - wouldn't even get us into the G20 in tech. Needless to say, Canada's relatively low connection rates in mobility are probably somewhat a reflection of our mobility providers' overpriced and predatory sales practices.

Perhaps Corcoran forgot what finishing 27th out of 92 countries looked like at the '76 Olympics in Montreal. In that event, placing 27th out of 92 countries, meant we harvested 11 out of a total of 613 medals given out. That's what finishing 27th out of 92 countries looks like on the world stage beyond a pundit's keyboard.

Given the economic situation in the world right now, and the fact that our government is promising to fill billions of dollars worth of new prisons with new inmates, and is bound and determined to cut arts, culture and social programs, and the cost of education is soaring, it is scary to contemplate that we just received something like 11 out of 613 medals in internet and technology.

Go Leafs Go!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"One Random Year" Artist's Video Shows Snippets of Life

Montreal visual artist Bettina Forget is working on an art project in which she videos a random minute each day for a year.

The videos will be edited into a 6-hour film, which will be shown at Visual Voice Gallery (in the Belgo) in Montreal in 2012.

The clip above is done with the 1-minute clips edited down to five seconds, for a one-month preview.

Interesting. My first response is to wonder how random it could possibly be. Thinking about that question makes it that much the more interesting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Farmers Vote Against Conservative Plan to Remove Canadian Wheat Board Exclusivity

62% of all western Canadian farmers who grow wheat have voted to retain the Canadian Wheat Board as a "single-desk" to buy farmers' wheat and market it to the world.

The Conservative government has declared its intention to allow other buyers to get into the action. This will dovetail nicely with the Conservatives' ongoing program of selling out all Canadian resources to corporate foreign control.

That would also open the door to the classic exploitation of small farmers that has existed since time immemorial, where farmers would basically be bidding against each other to sell their crops and buyers could shop around for the lowest prices.

Another obvious result would be the continuing erosion of the viability of the family farm, as larger farms would be in a position to bid prices lower and eventually continue to buy out smaller farmers who would have a tougher time to compete. The end result - a landscape of corporate-owned mega-farms.

Now that the farmers have voted decisively on the matter, the Conservative government is left to spin the result this way and that, quibbling about who was qualified to vote, etc., and stating that the vote is not binding. Meanwhile, the farmers say that the government does not have the right to shut down the CWB without first consulting them in a vote. So they will force the issue in court if the government follows through with its delared intention to end the CWB's exclusivity as of Aug., 2012.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Arctic Ice Extent Near a New Record Low

The most recent satellite data indicate that there is a strong possibility that the extent of ice in the Arctic could be at a new low before melting stops later this month.

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this year's ice pack is already quite a bit below the minimum levels reached in all other years except for the record low 2007. So, even if the ice-covered area began growing again as of today, 2011 would already have the second-lowest ice coverage in the Arctic ever measured. In addition to 2007, 2008 and 2010 are currently the 2nd and third lowest ice years.

Global warming deniers can huff and puff and blow a lot of smoke, but it is pretty tough to explain how the ice in the Arctic, that has endured for millions of years, continues to vanish right in front of our eyes, year after year. Especially difficult when you consider that changes in the ice extent should occur gradually and randomly. Without global warming it is impossible to explain how four of the past five years are also the four lowest years of Arctic ice in recorded history.

The minimum ice mark will only be confirmed after a clear pattern of ice expansion returns, however the minimum could be reached any time between today and the next 1-3 weeks.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Glass of Water is Source of Creativity

1995: Ballard Power says their new battery will power a car and the only exhaust will be a glass of water. "All you need is hydrogen."

2008: MIT's Dr. Daniel Nocera discovers a way to produce hydrogen from a glass of water using photosynthesis. "A glass of water can power a house for a day."

2010: A glass of water is still a mystery to physicists.

2011: Co2 Art hypothesis: Unlimited creativity can be derived from a glass of water * therefore * creativity can power the world..

Saturday, September 3, 2011


As Canadian journalism transforms from the rudderless, so-called objective ideals of people whose typewriters could almost be heard from the barrooms they so often frequented, into today's slick new, well-oiled communications arm of the global petroleum industry, we thought there should be a way of saluting the pioneers of the new paradigm.  

You don't have to look far to find merit worthy candidates. You basically just have to open your eyes in the presence of almost any corporately owned newspaper.

So TODAY'S SUNSHINE SHILLS are proud to offer you a couple of gems: The Vancouver Sun, with:
Green economies don't create wealth, but dissipate it, which should send a shudder down the spine of every person in Vancouver

Neither of these articles are clearly labeled as opinion pieces on the online versions.

Neither of these articles provide a rudimentary news story anywhere within all the chicken feathers you have to shovel through to get at any actual information.

Both of these stories read like haphazard collections of cut-and-pastes lifted from right wing comments found on the internet and canned talking points.

This is truly outstanding work. That peregrine falcon stuff was classic!

Congratulations one and all!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Expo No Go: Why Acknowledge a Mumbo Jumbo of Countries Which Don't Appreciate Our Conservative Values and Tim Horton's Culture?

Can you spot the trend?

"Canada refuses to back Edmonton's bid for the 2017 World Exposition"

"Canada pulls out of 2012 World Exposition in Yeosu, Korea"

With the soaring triumph of Expo '67 in Montreal now a distant memory, and the transformation of Vancouver into a world-class city with Expo '86 also a fond, fading memory, has Canada now reached the point of being an internationally inept cultural basket case?

Does anyone seriously believe that we are able to spend $30-60 million on a Libya mission but Heritage Minister James Moore is unable to scrape together $10 million for a Canadian pavilion at Expo 2012 in Korea? At least 100 other countries will be participating in this global event and Liberal Small Business and Tourism critic Joyce Murray is urging Harper to reverse this decision.

Harper spends a billion in the blink of an eye for his G8 meeting or for increasing imprisonment of Canadians - yet they refused to spend considerably less for Edmonton to shine on the world stage in 2017?

It is very unlikely that budget constraints alone are the real reasons for these incomprehensible moves. What could possibly explain such a trend of decisions that are so blatantly anti-business and reflect so poorly on our country from a cultural or economic point of view?

One possibility is simply a lack of know-how and confidence. Perhaps the government just does not know how to participate in an international exposition, let alone host one, and wants to save itself the embarrassment. Perhaps Harper is just weary, or wary, of seeing his policies ridiculed on the international stage.

Or, perhaps the core issue here is something darker, something a little more evil. Something along the lines of "why should we acknowledge a mumbo jumble world of countries we can't even pronounce, which clearly do not appreciate our Conservative Canadian values and Tim Horton's culture?" Let's just continue to soak our supporters' minds in culture they can relate to and forget about all these foreigners.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bigotry within Our Borders

Canada's chronic illness, the reciprocal bigotry infecting two of its three founding nations, is threatening to lurch into pandemic status under the Harper Conservative majority.

Until anglophone and francophone Canadians get over their apparently uncontrollable tendency to attack one of the main important strengths that their country has going for it, the future will continue to be uncertain, if there is a future at all.

We now have a  conservative territorial government appealing a Supreme Court of Canada decision requiring the Yukon to build a french-language high school. Bad enough that it would take a court edict to force you to build a school where none exists. The fact that you would go to such lengths to avoid having the phenomenal asset of a regional high school in a second language is simply incomprehensible.

One needn't look far to find other examples of governments promoting ignorance in this country. Quebec, of course, has it down to a science, legislating poor second language skills on 80% of its children!

It must be said, however, that there is no greater force in the service of bigotry and ignorance in Canada that I am aware of, than the Sun media group. Never mind that this is where propaganda is presented as journalism. Never mind that  thousands of pages are painstakingly dumbed down to ensure that no reader might accidentally acquire any useful morsel of information. No, Sun Media's master genius lies in its ability to bolster circulation and spread conservative/Conservative propaganda so efficiently, by inflaming anti-Quebec and anti-ROC sentiments simultaneously on both sides of the Quebec border - like a double-headed serpent!

Then we have our Conservative federal government which, as speculated by Dr. Dawg and others, may now be at the point of writing off Quebec altogether and instead seeking to build support in ROC by fanning the ever-smoldering anti-Quebec flames.

Memo to the Yukon: A brand new high school is a good thing.

Memo to Canadians: A second language is a good thing.

If we can't embrace our obvious assets and remove bigotry from within our borders, it is hard to imagine Canada as the country I have always pictured it as.