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Friday, December 31, 2010

Catherine Porter: "Haitian universities are a lesson in hard knocks" (Toronto Star article)

Good article by Catherine Porter on the state of Haiti's educational system.

"The state university runs on $10 million a year — about $384 per student. By comparison, York University had a 2009/10 budget of $895 million for 47,000 full-time students — more than $19,000 per student."

Full article: Haitian universities are a lesson in hard knocks:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

David Goutor on the "great opportunity staring the NDP in the face" (in the Toronto Star)

David Goutor is a Canadian historian and assistant professor of labour studies at McMaster University.

"Countries that have embraced right-wing economic policies, led of course by the United States, are generally the ones in the biggest trouble. Ireland, to cite another case, used to be the darling of free-marketeers everywhere, including Tory Finance Minister Jim Flaherty; it now stands as an example of not only the catastrophic results of unrestrained financial recklessness, but also the failure of austerity measures to reassure financial markets.

"Countries that have followed the social democratic models favoured by the NDP have fared much better. Northern Europe and especially Germany have proven more stable — and crucially, their people have felt a lot less pain. What’s stopping the NDP from making a simple, compelling comparison: Germany or the U.S., which model seems to be working? ...

"The fact is, social democratic parties like the NDP still have a great opportunity staring them right in the face — all they need is faith in their principles and, above all, the political will to seize the moment."

Full article: The NDP: Keep the faith and turn left.

Linda McQuaig on "trickle-up" economics (in the Toronto Star)

Another great article by Linda McQuaig.

"Recent research — particularly the work of British epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett — shows that less equal societies almost always have more violence, more disease, more mental health problems, higher infant mortality rates, reduced life expectancies, as well as less social cohesion. ...

"Those wanting to give their children a chance to actually live the American Dream are better off moving to Sweden."

Full article: Canada discovers trickle-up economics

Friday, December 24, 2010

Solar-powered plane lands safely after 26-hour flight (BBC News)

BBC News - Solar-powered plane lands safely after 26-hour flight.

Catherine Porter: Tugged between two girls in two different worlds (article in the Toronto Star)

Another moving article by the Star's Catherine Porter, on the very different lives of two little girls, Lyla (Porter's daughter) and Lovely (the little Haitian girl who survived being trapped under rubble for 6 days).

"But does Lovely know about Lyla? I’ve shown her photos on my iPhone, only to get a blank stare. Perhaps it has registered that this strange white woman who shows up every other month has a little girl of her own. But how could she imagine our lives — a place with lots of food and buildings that don’t break, and schools that are free, and hospitals that don’t charge and dentists that give out stickers?

"I wouldn’t believe in such a world, if I was her. It would sound like a cruel joke."

Full article: Porter: Tugged between two girls in two different worlds.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Medical association president gives care to homeless (article in the Toronto Star)

Article about Dr. Jeff Turnbull, president of the Canadian Medical Association.

"A couple of days every week ... Turnbull checks up on patients in his volunteer role as medical director of Ottawa Inner City Health. The project, which he co-founded in March 2001, led to him receiving the Order of Canada in 2007....

"'Obviously, I feel strongly about equity in health care and this has given me the opportunity to talk about that,' Turnbull says of heading up the CMA.

"But he also argues that providing better health care to the homeless is also just cost-saving common sense.

"'I would see people coming back to my emergency department time and time again,' Turnbull says, ..."

Full article: Medical association president gives care to homeless.

Patrick Corrigan: Christmas gift of F35 fighters (cartoon)

Cartoon by the Toronto Star's Patrick Corrigan, Dec. 19,2010)

Carol Goar: Christmas destination: Haiti to fight cholera (in the Toronto Star)

"On Dec. 2, Médicins Sans Frontières put out the call for health-care professionals who could leave on short notice and stay for a minimum of a month. They would be sent to one of MSF’s 31 cholera treatment centres, some of which are in remote areas still devastated by last January’s earthquake. They’d be part of a team of 150 MSF recruits and 1,000 Haitians, meaning they might not be working in their own language or practising alongside anyone they knew.

"The bulletin didn’t mention they’d be living in tents, but most will. It didn’t say the workload would be onerous, but with 135,000 Haitians already infected, they’ll have to treat hundreds of cholera victims a day. It didn’t allude to the anger and violence festering in the wake of last month’s election, but they’ll be working in an atmosphere of tension and instability. ...

"It took less than two weeks to come up with enough volunteers. ...

"With a full complement of recruits, MSF can now start bringing home the 25 exhausted Canadians who’ve been in Haiti since October setting up cholera treatment centres and rehydrating victims of the disease."

Full article: Goar: Christmas destination: Haiti to fight cholera.

Pervez Hoodbhoy on the history of Pakistan and the role of the Left in it

Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. Some of his talks can be obtained from Alternative Radio, in particular a fascinating talk called "The War within Pakistan".

Article by Pervez Hoodbhoy, in NewPolitics, Summer 2010, on the history of Pakistan and the role of the Left in it.

Quote: "Instead of chasing demons, Pakistan’s leftists need to reaffirm their allegiance to what truly matters: the ideals of economic justice, secularism, universalistic ideas of human rights, good governance, women’s rights, and rationality in human affairs."

Required reading for anyone interested in Pakistan!

The real reason for the war in Afghanistan?

Article by Canadian energy economist John Foster in the Toronto Star, dated Dec. 23 2010.

"On Dec. 11, President Hamid Karzai signed formal agreements for a natural gas pipeline to be built through Afghanistan. Leaders of Turkmenistan, Pakistan and India signed, too. Three weeks earlier, at the NATO summit in Lisbon, Afghanistan became an “enduring partner” of NATO. Neither event captured much attention here, yet both have consequences for Canada’s role in Afghanistan."

Full article: Canada’s ‘enduring’ Afghan role.

Could the US and Canada please explain how they expect to guard a gas pipeline through territory controlled by hostile tribal warriors, who have successfully fought off all invaders since Alexander the Great - and maybe before?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WikiLeaks: Mauritius Contests Legality of Marine Reserve Near Diego Garcia

From Democracy Now! Headlines for Dec. 22, 2010:

"There has been political fallout from a WikiLeaks cable related to the U.S. military base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The nation of Mauritius announced plans on Tuesday to contest the legality of a new maritime reserve park around the disputed Chagos Islands after a leaked U.S. cable suggested the park was a ploy to stop uprooted islanders returning home. Britain leased the archipelago’s biggest island, Diego Garcia, to the United States in 1966, paving the way for the construction of a huge airbase which required the forced removal of some 2,000 Chagossians. Publicly, the British portrayed the establishment of the marine park as a move to save the environment. But a U.S. diplomatic cable dated May 2009, disclosed by WikiLeaks, revealed that a British Foreign Office official had privately told the Americans that the decision to set up a marine protected area would 'effectively end the islanders’ resettlement claims.'"

Democracy Now! | Headlines for December 22, 2010.

This hopefully will help to shed light on a major human rights violation on the part of the US and UK, described as fitting the criteria for a true "crime against humanity" in the 2005 paper "Deception and Dispossession: The British Government and the Chagossians" by Mary Nazzal for

Joseph Stiglitz: "Full speed into the sinkhole of austerity" (in the Toronto Star)

Article by Joseph Stiglitz in the Toronto Star.

"Both the United States and Europe, for instance, must retrofit their economies to address the challenges of global warming. There are feasible policies that would work within long-term budget constraints. The problem is politics: in the U.S., the Republican party would rather see President Barack Obama fail than the economy succeed. In Europe, 27 countries with different interests and perspectives are pulling in different directions, without enough solidarity to compensate. The bailout packages are, in this light, impressive achievements.

In both Europe and America, the free-market ideology that allowed asset bubbles to grow unfettered — markets always know best, so government must not intervene — now ties policy-makers' hands in designing effective responses to the crisis. One might have thought that the crisis itself would undermine confidence in that ideology. Instead, it has resurfaced to drag governments and economies down the sinkhole of austerity."

Full article:Full speed into the sinkhole of austerity.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Missing unicorn in Manhattan (LA Times)

Article in the LA Times, Nov. 19, 2010.

The history of unicorns and the case of one gone missing in New York City .

Grist: From Motown to Growtown: The greening of Detroit

Article by Tom Philpott, 24 Aug., 2010

From Motown to Growtown: The greening of Detroit.

Large areas constitute a "food desert", where residents find it more difficult to access healthy food than junk food (comparing distance to supermarkets vs. distance to convenience and liquor stores). However, there are so many empty lots that Detroit is a promising area for local, in-city farming. Also, there are many abandoned warehouses that can be repurposed for food processing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Carol Goar describes a win-win way for Harper to cut costs

Carol Goar of the Toronto Star:

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper has a small problem on his hands. The efficiency expert he appointed to scrutinize government spending in search of waste, duplication and red tape has come up with an awkward recommendation."

Sensible advice for waste-cutting Prime Minister.

Gwynne Dyer: Who told Barack Obama that the United States is fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan?

Typically clear-sighted analysis by Gwynne Dyer: Who told Barack Obama that the United States is fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan?

So maybe icecap melting is not technically irreversible...

But you have to read the small print! The cited article appeared under the byline Marlowe Hood, Agence France-Presse, Dec. 16, 2010. An acquaintance of mine seems to think (presumably based on the very misleading headline) that this means that climate change is no longer a concern. However, if you read the whole thing, you will find this paragraph (way down near the end of the article):

"But the study, based on computer models, indicates that if annual emissions of greenhouse gases are substantially reduced over the next two decades, an initial phase of rapid ice loss would be followed by a period of stability and, eventually, partial recovery." (my italics)

Since there seems to be an emerging consensus that there isn't a snowball's chance in h*** of substantially reducing GHGs ever (or at least while our species is still around in anything like our current numbers), let alone in the next few decades, the article is at best useless, and at worst positively misleading (especially if, like my acquaintance probably did, its readers saw the headline and stopped there).

"'But it's also an incentive for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions,' [University of Washington professor Cecilia Blitz, coauthor of the study] said in a statement." This at least is not actively misleading - even though it's basically whistling in the dark!

Full article (much copied over the last few days): "Arctic icecap safe from runaway melting: study".

I Hate Math! (Not After This, You Won't)

On the NPR blog called "Krulwich Wonders" (Dec. 16, 2010).

Vi Hart's joyful mathematical doodles - plus a reference to Paul Lockhart's essay called "A Mathematicians' Lament", describing the sad state of mathematics education in N. America (and probably the world).

I Hate Math! (Not After This, You Won't) : Krulwich Wonders… : NPR

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Insights Give Hope for New Attack on Alzheimer’s (NYTimes report)

Report in the New York Times (Dec. 13, 2010), sent to me by Richard LeWars - thanks Richard!

Insights Give Hope for New Attack on Alzheimer’s.

Mona Eltahawy: Mideast women log on, speak out (Special to the Toronto Star)

"Her [Salma, 17] message and others like it, each reporting incidents of groping, catcalling and other forms of street sexual harassment in Egypt, have been plotted as dots on a map of the country — part of the appropriately named HarassMap website. The site, which debuted this month, encourages women to send in their reports of harassment via email, text message, Twitter or Facebook.

"The goal: to chip away at complacency about sexual harassment in Egypt, one dot at a time."

Full article: HerSpace: Mideast women log on, speak out.

Haroon Siddiqui on why Obama went to India (in the Toronto Star)

"While the president was sending two public messages — one to Americans that he was increasing trade and jobs, and another to Indians that he wants India on the Security Council — he was lobbying Singh on the need to address India’s relations with Pakistan. Singh is already predisposed to doing so, if Pakistan would control cross-border terrorism.

"Obama’s mission was to break that logjam — in order to break the bigger one in Afghanistan to find an honourable way out."

Full article: Siddiqui: Obama plays Indian wild card on Afghanistan.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thomas Walkom on why he's rooting for Assange (in the Toronto Star)

"In such a world [the world of widespread surveillance, no-fly lists, etc.] it’s refreshing — if perhaps mean-spirited — to see governments suffer the embarrassment of having their tawdry little secrets revealed.

"So here’s to you, Julian Assange. You may be a rat in your sex life. Yet for those of us who don’t have to sleep with you, but do have to live in this Big Brother world, you’re doing something to even the score."

Walkom: Assange may be a cad but he's evening the score.

Moved to tears, former GG reveals her plans to save Haiti (interview in the Toronto Star)

Michaëlle Jean, born in Haiti and former Governor-General of Canada, now UNESCO’s special envoy to Haiti, being interviewed by the Toronto Star's Catherine Porter.

Talking about her adopted daughter, Marie-Eden, "She could have been illiterate. Dead.

"What about Lovely [the little girl found under the rubble after 6 days] and the many, many, many, many other Lovelys? Two little girls with the same potential and not the same opportunities. That is terrible. That, I cannot live with. ...

"The world owes this [financial help] to Haiti. Haiti has achieved something for humanity we can’t forget. It is the place in which slaves fought and triumphed over . . . slavery. When Haiti did that, they didn’t do it just for themselves. It was a legacy to humanity. But they paid a high price for that."

Catherine Porter: The price: first an embargo by its major trading partners worried the Haitian success would inspire their own slaves to revolt; then a crippling retribution fee for “lost property” to its former slave owner, France. That fee — set in 1825 at 90 million gold francs — took more than a century to be paid.

"We the world, we humanity, owe to this little country that really left us the legacy of fraternity, freedom, liberation, equality, human dignity," Jean says. "It means something. It’s about values."

Moved to tears, former GG reveals her plans to save Haiti.

It is often forgotten that in 1779 Haiti sent more than 500 volunteer soldiers to help America with its revolution. They now have a monument in Savannah, GA, but the world, especially the US, owes them much more than that.

James Travers analyzes the "Angry Birds" phenomenon (in the Toronto Star)

"What are Sarah Palin, Rob Ford, Don Cherry or Julian Assange if not angry birds? What are political leaders, investment bankers, coddled bureaucrats and other grasping elites if not egg-stealing pigs? What are parliaments, banks and multinational corporations if not soaring stone, glass and steel strongholds protecting the privileged? ...

"Like most overnight phenomena, this one has been a long time coming. Little by little, by stealth and increment, the command-and-control that we-the-people took centuries to strip from kings, queens and courtiers has been retaken by the new overlords. ...

"Now at the very pinnacle of political success, the Prime Minister, his ministers and acolytes make a point of looking down their noses at the privileged 'elites' they hope no one will notice that they have become."

Full article: Travers: False politicians are birds of a feather

Friday, December 17, 2010

Google Book Tool Tracks Cultural Change With Words

This appeared on the NPR web site (Dec. 16, 2010), and was sent to me by Richard LeWars - thanks Richard! Fascinating stuff - especially for an anthropologist/linguist like me!

Google Book Tool Tracks Cultural Change With Words : NPR.

Chantal Hébert: After five years, Harper’s legacy a blank slate (in the Toronto Star)

"If the Prime Minister were to quit tomorrow, the government bills passed on his watch might not take more than a page — and none would be deemed significant enough to grace his political gravestone. ...

"A legislative machine that is essentially reprocessing the same old material over a period of years is not a normal feature of minority rule. In the past, some of the most activist federal and provincial governments have been minority ones.

"But a paucity of significant legislation is not synonymous with the absence of an agenda. ...

"To maximize his control over the government, the minority Parliament and the civil service, the Prime Minister has recurrently ventured where none of his predecessors had dared to tread."

Full article: Hébert: After five years, Harper’s legacy a blank slate.

"30 years on the beat and I still like politicians" (Jim Coyle in the Toronto Star)

The Toronto Star's Jim Coyle is leaving Queen's Park (the home of the Government of Ontario) to join the Star's features team.

Jim provides a characteristically warm-hearted evaluation of politicians and his 30 years covering them, and a nice counterbalance to all the negative press they get normally!

Coyle: 30 years on the beat and I still like politicians.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Patrick Corrigan: The WikiLeaks Genie (cartoon)

Cartoon by the Toronto Star's Patrick Corrigan - Dec. 12, 2010.

TechNewsDaily: The Ubiquitous Computing Revolution is Here

Stuart Fox in TechNewsDaily (, 13 Dec., 2010.

Quote: "Your computer is disappearing. And when it goes, you won’t even notice it's gone."

The Ubiquitous Computing Revolution is Here | Personal Computing Revolution, Mobile Devices & Tablet Computers | Tech News Daily.

In fact I wrote about "ubicomp" in my 1994 book "Flow-Based Programming", citing an article in Communications of the ACM (Wellner et al., 1993). I guess it's finally arrived!

The Cookie That Doesn’t Crumble: A Browser Cookie That Won't Go Away? - PCWorld

Article by Alessondra Springmann, PCWorld, cited in Sunbelt Software Security News, Vol. 3, #93 - December 15, 2010 - Issue #93.

The Cookie That Doesn’t Crumble: A Browser Cookie That Won't Go Away? - PCWorld

By the way, Sunbelt offers a free resource called VIPRE Rescue that will scan and clean an infected computer that is so infected that programs cannot be easily run. VIPRE Rescue is updated regularly with the latest virus definitions, so always download the latest version from their site.

Haroon Siddiqui: A unique Ukrainian-Tatar partnership against Russia (in the Toronto Star)

Haroon Siddiqui talks about a little-known community in the Ukraine, and their soft-spoken hero, Mustafa Dzhemiliev.

A unique Ukrainian-Tatar partnership against Russia

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

U.S. recruited former Nazis, declassified papers show (reported in NY Times)

U.S. recruited former Nazis, declassified papers show

Governments seem to keep forgetting the proverb that says, "He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon". Apparently it goes back at least to 1390 (Chaucer, The Squire's Tale)!

How the Conservatives mislead Canadians about our parliamentary system (Toronto Star)

James Travers of the Toronto Star explains how Harper uses the politics of fear, and deliberately takes advantage of Canadians' ignorance about how our parliamentary system works.

Consensus? No thanks, we’re Conservatives

Monday, December 13, 2010

New theory for origins of Saturn’s rings: Icy remnants from a moon (reported in the Toronto Star)

New theory for origins of Saturn’s rings: Icy remnants from a moon

David Suzuki on Canada and UN climate talks (in the Toronto Star)

"In a recent article on CBC’s website, political commentator Scott Reid wrote that I don’t 'give a damn' about the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

"Reid, who was former prime minister Paul Martin’s communications director, is correct that I was 'fed up and had little time for Cancun, assuming the political will to respond to the pressing threat of climate change at this forum was all but nil.'

"But there’s nothing that concerns me more than the threat of climate change and the necessity of world leaders to deal with the crisis. I’ve just seen the futility of trying to get our current government to act in any meaningful way at the UN talks, and I agree with David Suzuki Foundation staff that our efforts are better placed elsewhere.


"What can you do about a government that fails to live up to its international obligations and that cares more about protecting and subsidizing the wealthiest industry in history than about protecting its own citizens from the impacts of pollution and climate change?

"International negotiations are crucial, and through our alliance with organizations such as the Climate Action Network, we will continue to support efforts to get a fair, ambitious and binding international agreement on climate change. We hope that the current talks will at least form the basis for movement at next year’s negotiations in South Africa.

"In Canada, though, we can accomplish more by working with municipal and provincial governments, and with thousands of concerned citizens, than trying to get the federal government to act on global warming. ...

"Of course, that’s not enough to confront a global problem like climate change, but if leadership is lacking at the top, we must build from the ground up.

"I do give a damn about the UN climate talks. I only wish our government did."

Full article: UN climate talks: Who gives a damn?

Craig and Marc Kielburger: Canada’s global reputation needs restoration (in the Toronto Star)

"In the end, there’s much blame to be shared for Canada’s wavering reputation. And therein lies the problem.

"After six years of minority government, the country that’s home to the father of modern-day peacekeeping hasn’t seen much of it in Parliament. ...

"The government and the opposition need to put Canada’s international reputation back on the agenda rather than burying it under bad decisions for some archaeologist to dig up."

Full article: Global Voices: Canada’s global reputation needs restoration

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Patrick Corrigan: Harper and Karzai (cartoon)

Cartoon by the Toronto Star's Patrick Corrigan - Dec. 3, 2010

Catherine Porter in Haiti: Death and decay in Haiti's hospitals

Powerful article by the Toronto Star's Catherine Porter in Fermathe, Haiti.

"'I remember one lady suffering from heart failure,' recounts Dr. Louine Martineau, a doctor with Partners in Health who interned at HUEH [Hopital de l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti]. 'The medication was only 25 gourdes (62 cents) for a bottle, but she couldn’t afford it and she died.'"

Death and decay in Haiti's hospitals

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thomas Walkom: "Why Ottawa’s new border scheme is such a loser" (in the Toronto Star)

"So the upshot of any perimeter deal will be to give the U.S two borders — an outer one around North America and an inner one at the 49th parallel.

"Security won’t be relaxed noticeably for trucks travelling between Canada and the U.S. because — until memories of 9/11 fade — the American public won’t allow it.

"In short, another lose-lose deal. We give up much; we gain nothing."

Full article: Walkom: Why Ottawa’s new border scheme is such a loser

Why are Canadian politicians and business types in such a hurry to give up what little autonomy we have left?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Canadians and Climate Change (cartoon)

Cartoon by the Toronto Star's Ed Moudakis (Dec. 6, 2010)

Liberals need a new leader, poll suggests (reported in the Toronto Star)

Toronto Star article: Liberals need a new leader, poll suggests

Isn't this what many of us have been saying since the time the Libs dragged him back from the US? And it has always bugged me that Jean Augustine, who became the first African Canadian woman elected to the Parliament of Canada and subsequently the first black woman in a Canadian federal Cabinet, and is now a Member of the Order of Canada, graciously stepped aside to make way for this intellectual weathervane.

Lest anyone forget, previously he had argued in favour of the Bush incursion into Iraq, and in favour of torture-lite, to the delight of the Bushies. The Libs who thought he would be a saviour must have been living in caves for the last few decades.

Please, Iggy, for the good of our country, step down sooner rather than later!

Jim Coyle: "Political contempt paves way for public disgust" (Toronto Star column)

Good summary of the mess that is Toronto these days...

"In releasing his report, 'Caught in the Act,' [Ombudsman André] Marin’s closing comment to reporters was so breathtakingly unsparing in its characterization of civil rights abuses enabled by the province it is hard to believe it referred to Toronto in the summer of 2010 rather than the 1968 crushing of the Prague Spring.

"'For the citizens of Toronto, the days up to and including the (June 26-27) weekend of the G20 will live in infamy as a time period where martial law set in the City of Toronto, leading to the most massive compromise of civil liberties in Canadian history.' ...

"Although it was also rather fortunate for the provincial government that the cartoonish Don Cherry [surely one of Canada's more bizarre public figures] managed to provide partial cover from the G20 debacle with his egregious introduction of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at the latter’s inauguration at city hall. ...

"In all, the presence of Cherry — raving on like some latter-day McCarthyite about 'left-wing kooks' — ensured the event had all the uplifting dignity of a Jerry Springer episode."

Full article: Coyle: Political contempt paves way for public disgust

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bill McKibben: Climate Talks So Weakened by U.S., Major Polluters that Walkout Could Be Good News for Planet (interview with Democracy Now!)

Bill McKibben being interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!:

"It’s as if they’re saying—I mean, literally as if they’re saying, 'We’re going to stick our fingers in our ears, and the problem will go away. We’ll never have another hearing on it, so therefore it won’t be happening.' I’m afraid that’s about as unlikely a proposition—I mean, more power to them if you could make global warming disappear by simply not talking about it. It would be a hell of a good strategy. But my guess is that physics and chemistry will be remarkably unimpressed by this position, you know?

"[asked what 350 (as in means] Three-fifty is the most important number in the world. Three years ago, our best scientists at NASA said any amount of carbon in the atmosphere greater than 350 parts per million is not compatible with the planet on which civilization developed or to which life on earth is adapted. OK? The trouble is, because we’ve burned so much coal and gas and oil already, the atmosphere here in Cancún and every place else in the world is 390 parts per million CO2. That’s why the Arctic is melting. It’s why Russia is on fire. It’s why Pakistan is drowning."

Rush transcript: Bill McKibben: Climate Talks So Weakened by U.S., Major Polluters that Walkout Could Be Good News for Planet.

Maude Barlow: With Only Market-Based Solutions on the Table "The Continued Destruction of the Earth...Can Go on Quite Happily" (interview with Democracy Now!)

Maude Barlow (author, activist, and the former senior adviser on water to the United Nations - also the national chairperson for the Council of Canadians), being interviewed by John Hamilton of Democracy Now!:

" my shame, my government has held the knife, that looks like it’s going to kill the Kyoto Protocol, and not only that, but deeply, deeply split the world community between countries of the Global South, who are the victims of climate change, and the countries of the North that are the perpetuators, perpetrators.

"...we have this appalling, destructive oil sands or tar sands in northern Alberta, and this is a huge and growing area of greenhouse gas emissions. Right now they’ve taken down a boreal forest the size of Greece. They are holding water, poisoned water, in tanks and in holding dams. Some of them are almost as big as the Three Gorges Dam in China. It is the most destructive project on earth and getting worse."

Rush transcript: Maude Barlow: With Only Market-Based Solutions on the Table "The Continued Destruction of the Earth...Can Go on Quite Happily".

Ombudsman charges G20 secret law was ‘illegal’ (reported in the Toronto Star)

"[Ombudsman André Marin stated,] 'The ministry simply handed over to the Toronto Police Service inordinate powers, without any efforts made to ensure those powers would not be misunderstood,'."

Full article: Ombudsman charges G20 secret law was ‘illegal’.

Toronto has been shamed before the world, but it is the federal government who made the original mistake in holding the G20 meeting in the heart of Canada's biggest city. Following from that we have seen a sort of chain reaction of foul-ups, big and small, including making use of a 1939 law (the Public Works Protection Act) in a totally inappropriate way.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"An American Goes to Europe and Discovers America"

Powerful article by the Disaffected Lib: The Disaffected Lib: An American Goes to Europe and Discovers America.

"The Melbourne supremacy and the livable city"

Christopher Hume in the Toronto Star:

"If Rob Adams is right, Rob Ford [newly elected mayor of Toronto on a platform of cost cutting and car-friendliness - go figure!] must be wrong.

"According to the former, streets are nothing less than the key to a livable city. According to the latter, they are nothing more than a way for cars to get from one place to another.

"The difference is that Adams knows what he’s talking about."

Full article: Hume: The Melbourne supremacy and the livable city.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Choking on the fetid air of Planet Anonymous"

Heather Mallick in the Toronto Star:

"This is why I love WikiLeaks. It’s the opposite of anonymity. Julian Assange names the guilty and defends the guiltless, free and clear in the big blue online air."

Mallick: Choking on the fetid air of Planet Anonymous.

This seems to be one of the fundamental dichotomies: closedness vs. openness, secrecy vs. forthrightness, the verkrampte (cramped) vs. the verligte of the S. African apartheid era. People who are insecure lean one way - people who are emotionally secure lean the other way...

YouTube - Sen. Bernie Sanders' Amazing Speech!

YouTube - Sen. Bernie Sanders' Amazing Speech!

Listen to the Senator strike a blow for common sense - something that seems all too rare these days!

"The 24/7 information beast favours bite-size news"

Chantal Hébert in the Toronto Star:

"As counterintuitive as it may seem, a 24/7 news environment offers less rather than more space and time for the extensive parliamentary reporting of the past.

"The demands of feeding a round-the-clock information beast usually favour bite-size news to the detriment of meaty debates that need more time-consuming media ministrations to be properly digested."

Full article: Hébert: The 24/7 information beast favours bite-size news

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Does anyone still believe in the rule of law? How can these people talk so casually about assassination?

The Georgia Straight, Vancouver, Canada: Police complaint filed after Tom Flanagan calls for assassination of Wikileaks' Julian Assange .

Oakland Ross in the Toronto Star: Senior fellow at the august Brookings Institution, [Michael] O’Hanlon has just been asked what he would do if he were to find himself seated across a table from one Julian Assange... His rejoinder — 'BLAM!'.

While these comments may be passed off as rough and ready, frontier-style, humour, I believe people in our two countries are still considered innocent until proven guilty. My feeling is that, if Wikileaks makes one politician think twice before telling a bare-faced lie, they should put up a statue to Julian Assange, not talk glibly about blowing him away.

Michael Geist on Canada's advantages for hosting the cloud (Toronto Star)

"Canadian leadership in this area [privacy and security] is evident in several respects. Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart and Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian have been ahead of the curve on the issue with reports on the privacy implications of cloud computing. ...

"Canada’s cloud computing advantage may extend beyond its privacy laws. There are also important environmental advantages that come with basing cloud computing server farms in the Canadian north. These include easy access to clean energy sources such as wind and geo-thermal energy and, given the colder climate, decreased energy requirements to cool the computer server farms.

"Once high-speed, optical networks that run north-south between the Canadian arctic and the major Canadian urban centres are added to the mix, there is the potential to run large networks that use minimal energy and have the power to instantly transfer huge amounts of data.

Full article: Geist: Location matters up in the cloud

"Transition Towns" (retrieved from Wikipedia)

"The Transition Network website contains a listing of the initiatives that have registered there.

"While the focus and aims remain the same, the methods used to achieve these vary. For example, Totnes [Devon, England] has introduced its own local currency, the Totnes pound, which is redeemable in local shops and businesses, helping to reduce 'food miles' while also supporting local firms. This idea is also planned to be introduced in three Welsh transition towns and in Maleny, Australia, the Baroon Dollar as a part of a regional transition towns project.

"Central to the transition town movement is the idea that a life without oil could in fact be far more enjoyable and fulfilling than the present: 'by shifting our mind-set we can actually recognise the coming post-cheap oil era as an opportunity rather than a threat, and design the future low carbon age to be thriving, resilient and abundant — somewhere much better to live than our current alienated consumer culture based on greed, war and the myth of perpetual growth.'

"An essential aspect of transition in many places, is that the outer work of transition needs to be matched by inner transition. That is in order to move down the energy descent pathways effectively we need to rebuild our relations with our selves, with each other and with the 'natural' worlds. That requires focusing on the heart and soul of transition."

Full article: Transition Towns - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (retrieved Dec. 5, 2010)

‘Secret Santas’ hand out money to those in need in U.S. (reported in the Toronto Star)

And now for some positive news for a change - from Charlotte, N.C.: ‘Secret Santas’ hand out money to those in need in U.S.

Hope this idea catches on!

Blondie (Cartoon) - The future of Christmas

Blondie (Cartoon) - The future of Christmas

Anyone who has a computer-savvy 8-year-old child or grandchild will relate to this! I can foresee a day soon when there will be no presents around the tree at all - just a voucher for x dollars' worth of online services! And maybe the tree will be virtual too!

Haroon Siddiqui: "Harper has ruined healthy partnership"

Haroon Siddiqui in the Toronto Star:

"[Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae] and [NDP’s Paul] Dewar also noted that [Foreign Minister Lawrence] Cannon has refused to meet Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ghafli, the UAE’s ambassador in Ottawa, for two years.

"Such disdain suggests that the Harperites 'do have a problem dealing with Arabs, even with an Arab country that’s been open to the world,' Dewar told me.

"This thing is 'a complete cock-up. . . . It can be taught in diplomatic and business schools how not to do things.'"

Full article: Siddiqui: Harper has ruined healthy partnership

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Why Haiti doesn't work" (Kenneth Kidd in the Toronto Star)

Kenneth Kidd in the Toronto Star:

"Welcome to Haiti, where even the most basic forms of state governance can sometimes subside into Pythonesque parody, where aid shipments can be held up for weeks at Customs and elections dance through chaos."

Full article: Why Haiti doesn't work. (Part of the Toronto Star series, Lovely's Haiti)

Russian accused of running vast spamming network pleads not guilty

Reported by Dinesh Ramde in the Toronto Star...

Russian accused of running vast spamming network pleads not guilty.

If this guy turns out to really be a top spammer, maybe we'll get some insight into the motivation of people who do this kind of thing... What's the Russian for "spam"?

The Grist: "Cancun: politics vs. science"

The Climate Desk in The Grist: Cancun: politics vs. science

You have to read the impassioned letter from Steven Earl Salmony, dated 2 Dec., 2010!

Quotes: "In the course of a single lifetime, human beings will have done so much irreparable damage to something millions of years in the making, something we believe we are preserving."

"For me, it is impossible to believe that a species so wondrous as Homo sapiens will not find a way to continue rather than to induce its own extinction as we appear to be doing now. Somehow the miracle of life as we know it, with all its beauty and biodiversity, has to be preserved. At least we have to try, whatever the odds."

Richard Gwyn: WikiLeaks offer glimpse of new G2 (Toronto Star article)

" least one very important new item in the 250,000 private comments, mostly by American diplomats, that WikiLeaks has made public. This was the report by the U.S. ambassador to South Korea that a senior Chinese official confided to her that China regards North Korea as a hopeless case and is prepared to see it absorbed into South Korea to avoid a potential nuclear war.

"Assuming the report was correct, even if only as a feeler Beijing can dismiss whenever it wants, this represents an intriguing example of a phenomenon known as the 'G2' — the group of two, just the United States and China. ...

"The WikiLeaks affair complicates matters a bit. All that really matters is the two sides of the G2 are, apparently, able in the back rooms to discuss political realities....

"And the G2 does have one great advantage. It’s a lot better than an American-run unipolar world."

Full article: Gwyn: WikiLeaks offer glimpse of new G2.

Thomas Walkom: The curious economics of Harper’s stimulus spending (the Toronto Star)

[Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page] surveyed those who received $4 billion in federal money from the largest of Ottawa’s four infrastructure programs and asked whether that money created jobs.

"About 42 per cent of respondents said it had no effect on employment. More surprisingly, 21 per cent said the stimulus spending had destroyed jobs...

"...if one-fifth of those at the sharp end found that the government money they spent reduced employment in their communities, alarm bells should ring.

"Perhaps it was the wrong kind of spending. Perhaps it wasn’t enough. Whatever the problem, something is clearly not right."

Full article: Walkom: The curious economics of Harper’s stimulus spending.

Global warming's silver lining? Northern countries will thrive and grow, researcher predicts (Science Daily)

Full article: Global warming's silver lining? Northern countries will thrive and grow, researcher predicts

Nice to see a positive view for a change! Laurence C. Smith, a UCLA professor of geography and of earth and space sciences, says the Canadian population will increase significantly, but doesn't say that a lot of that will be American refugees, due mostly to water shortages. Canada had better figure out how it is going to manage the influx!

"Mission impossible: Standing up to Afghanistan" (the Toronto Star)

"Canada’s mission to stand up the wobbly Afghan nation could turn out to be mission impossible, bleak diplomatic assessments suggest.

"Leaked memos from U.S. diplomats paint a grim picture of a frustrated international community, backroom divisions over how the country is being run and Afghan officials getting rich from corruption."

Full article by Bruce Campion-Smith and Allan Woods for the Star: Mission impossible: Standing up to Afghanistan

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reuters: Arsenic-munching germ redefines 'life as we know it'

Reuters report: Arsenic-munching germ redefines 'life as we know it' .

I really don't understand why scientists keep getting "amazed" by what life can do! cf. Prof. Gordon Pask's early work on the inevitability of life in the universe.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dr. Vandana Shiva's "Navdanya"

Dr. Vandana Shiva's Navdanya.

"Navdanya is a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 16 states in India.

"Navdanya has helped set up 54 community seed banks across the country, trained over 500,000 farmers in seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture over the past two decades, and helped setup the largest direct marketing, fair trade organic network in the country.

"Navdanya has also set up a learning center, Bija Vidyapeeth (School of the Seed) on its biodiversity conservation and organic farm in Doon Valley, Uttranchal, north India.

"Navdanya is actively involved in the rejuvenation of indigenous knowledge and culture. It has created awareness on the hazards of genetic engineering, defended people's knowledge from biopiracy and food rights in the face of globalisation and climate change.

"Navdanya is a women centred movement for the protection of biological and cultural diversity."

Gwynne Dyer in the Georgia Straight: "The WikiLeaks controversy is the inevitable product of the digital age"

Secrecy in our modern digital age...!

"All you needed to access the Siprnet was a “Secret” security clearance. When the number of people with a “Secret” clearance or above was last counted by the General Accounting Office in 1993, there were more than three million of them. There are probably twice as many today. And all it takes is one of them to send the data to WikiLeaks, and the whole system is compromised."

Full article: Gwynne Dyer: The WikiLeaks controversy is the inevitable product of the digital age.

Haroon Siddiqui: What the WikiLeaks documents fail to tell (Toronto Star article)

"... the U.S. keeps trying to do what it has been for 30 years — cobbling together an anti-Iranian regional security pact. But 'it will continue to fail,' as Lamis Andoni, a commentator on the Al Jazeera-English website, writes.

"It fails for the same reason that the Arab leaders dare not say in public what they say in private about Iran. The monarchs and dictators know that their people do not consider Iran a threat."

Full article: Siddiqui: What the WikiLeaks documents fail to tell.

Avon plans to avoid oilsands-derived fuel (reported in the Toronto Star)

"Three more companies, including American cosmetics giant Avon, have announced they will avoid using fuel derived from the oilsands to distribute their products."

Full article: Avon plans to avoid oilsands-derived fuel

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Movie: "The Other City" (HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C.)

"The very city that is home to the capitol of the most powerful country in the world has an HIV/AIDS rate that is not only the nation’s highest, but rivals some African countries."

Movie: The Other City

Sheila Johnson was being interviewed on CNN this morning - and the situation in Washington, D.C., is absolutely shocking. There may be understandable historical reasons for this, but it is inexcusable in a First World country - actually, it's inexcusable anywhere..

Heather Mallick: "WikiLeaks sends U.S. to its room with no dinner" (Toronto Star article)

Entertaining (and insightful) article by the Star's Heather Mallick.

Quote: "You cannot understand others until you understand yourself. The process of the U.S. coming to understand why they irritate the hell out of their supposed allies is part of growing up, something Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out 165 years ago. But we mustn’t rush things. ...

"Many simple minds are blaming WikiLeaks for the destruction of the world, when what it has mostly revealed is the timidity of modern journalism."

Full article: Mallick: WikiLeaks sends U.S. to its room with no dinner

One of the interesting things (for Canadians) that has come out is the contempt that Jim Judd, former head of CSIS, has for his fellow Canadians. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Disaffected Lib: Rolling the Dice - Geo-Engineering the Planet

Full post by Disaffected Lib: The Disaffected Lib: Rolling the Dice - Geo-Engineering the Planet

Good points by the Disaffected Lib - however, we will have to discuss this, as more and more people are saying that it's too late for anything but geo-engineering. The UN has declared a go-slow on this, but the risk is that, if they go too slow, some nation or other organization will decide to take unilateral action.

James Travers: "Principled Afghanistan policy costs Liberals dearly" (Toronto Star article)

I totally agree that Rae and Ignatieff's move was lousy politics... but "principled"? More like "stupid". The Afghans want an end to occupying armies, collateral damage, and puppet leaders propped up by the West. Who was it who called Afghanistan "the graveyard of empires"?

As Travers says, the Libs made a generous present to the other two parties.

Full article: Principled Afghanistan policy costs Liberals dearly

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Toronto Star's Catherine Porter in Haiti: Cholera’s knockout punch to Haiti

"Most [Haitians]... are water-dispossessed. Their huts have no taps. They beg or buy their water from private tankers or kiosks that aren’t regulated by the government, or they take their chances and drink from pipes emerging from the ancient underground water system. ...

"The tragedy of death from cholera is that it is so easy to treat. No chemotherapy or blood transfusions, just some sugar and salt and clean water. Even severe cases require only IV fluid with potassium mixed in and one round of antibiotics.

"'We have 50,000 cases a year in Bangladesh and nobody dies,' says Dr. David Sack, an international health professor at Johns Hopkins University who ran the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Research in Dhaka until 2007. 'Seventy-five per cent of the people arrive at the doors with no pulse or blood pressure. We have them going home within one to two days.'"

Full article: Cholera’s knockout punch to Haiti

Why isn't the world doing more to help???

Haroon Siddiqui: "Harper guts yet another independent agency" (Toronto Star article)

Another totally bizarre action on the part of the Harper minority government...

As Siddiqui explains, "The Harperites’ decision cannot be explained away by fiscal prudence. The sum involved is small, especially for a bunch that spent $1 billion on the G8/20 summit, and is to spend $9 billion on prisons for inmates that don’t exist, and $785 million on guns for customs/immigration officials at border crossings and airports when the passengers arriving at the latter have already been through security checks prior to boarding their flights.

"Nor can the decision be explained by ideology, as in the case of the turmoil caused by this government’s appointees at Rights and Democracy, that other Canadian organization that promotes democracy and human rights abroad. That agency has been turned upside down because it gave $30,000 to one Israeli and two Palestinian NGOs probing possible human rights violations by Israel in its Occupied Territories. The witch-hunt there has already cost taxpayers $1.2 million for a 'forensic audit,' consultants’ fees and other activities initiated by pro-Israeli Conservative appointees.

"The only plausible explanation for turning off the financial pipeline to the Forum is just plain pettiness, speculates one of my sources.

"'It’s hard to see why they wouldn’t extend the funding to the Forum, beyond that it was established by the Liberals. Maybe they are just being vindictive. We know that they are nothing if not vindictive.'"

Full article: Siddiqui: Harper guts yet another independent agency

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Disaffected Lib: Brilliant. Gerald Caplan Explores How Canada Has Jumped Aboard America's Permanent War

This post by the Disaffected Lib speaks for itself: Brilliant. Gerald Caplan Explores How Canada Has Jumped Aboard America's Permanent War

Thomas Walkom: "Why the Irish debt crisis matters to us" (Toronto Star article)

"As in the ‘30s, its cutbacks — by squeezing even more spending power from the economy — will only make matters worse.

"And, as in the ‘30s, governments in Ireland and elsewhere will eventually find that their voters can put up with only so much.

"The Great Depression boosted the fortunes of European fascism. We don’t know yet where the politics of this slump will take us."

Full article: Walkom: Why the Irish debt crisis matters to us

Friday, November 26, 2010

U.S. flight safety bill threatens Canadians’ civil rights, MPs told (reported in the Toronto Star)

"'Fundamental justice is not an enemy of security. In fact there is no security without fundamental justice,' Micheal Vonn, policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association told the Commons transport committee Thursday."

Full article: U.S. flight safety bill threatens Canadians’ civil rights, MPs told

Buckdog: Father Of Confederation - LOUIS RIEL - Was Killed By The Government Of Canada 125 Years Ago Today

Buckdog reminds us about Louis Riel, one of the founding fathers of Confederation: Father Of Confederation - LOUIS RIEL - Was Killed By The Government Of Canada 125 Years Ago Today.

There is continuing talk of an official pardon - here is a recent article by his great grand-niece, a lawyer, arguing that a pardon is meaningless, and we should let him rest in peace... What do you think?

Thomas Walkom: "North Korea's unending war rages on" (Toronto Star article)

Thomas Walkom on making sense of what is currently going on in North and South Korea: Walkom: North Korea's unending war rages on.

Sarah Palin: perhaps this would be a good article for you to read (see Buckdog: "Sarah Palin: Korea ... North or South ... Who Cares?" )

Toronto firm revives Saudi oasis (reported in the Toronto Star)

"A Toronto architectural firm has completed an unprecedented urban renewal project in the Middle East, with far-reaching implications for the world’s cities."

Full article: Toronto firm revives Saudi oasis

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star: Are we training soldiers for the Taliban?

"According to NATO documents, the alliance figures it has to train 23 recruits for every ten soldiers that stay with the Afghan National Army.

"Some are killed. But an alarming number quit or desert. About 20 per cent of the army bail out every year. Among members of the Afghan National Civil Order Police, which is supposed to perform the crucial task of patrolling the countryside, the annual attrition rate is about one in four...

[Lt.-Gen. William Caldwell, the American in charge of NATO training efforts,] called desertion and other forms of attrition the “greatest threat” to NATO’s aim of creating a professional Afghan army capable of taking over the war against the Taliban."

Full article: Walkom: Are we training soldiers for the Taliban?:

The Disaffected Lib: India Sounds Climate Change Alarm

Good, even if selfish, reasons why we should care if climate change affects the Indian subcontinent: The Disaffected Lib: India Sounds Climate Change Alarm

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rick Mercer on the absurd case of Colonel Pat Stogran

In case you haven't heard of him, he was the Canadian veterans' ombudsman who was fired for speaking up for veterans - and that's not the whole story...

Full rant: Rick Mercer on Colonel Pat Stogran

Ricks' Rants are always worth reading or listening to - it was hard to choose just one!

CIGNA Whistleblower Wendell Potter being interviewed, with Michael Moore, by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

"In the interview, Potter apologizes for his role in the industry’s attack on Moore and the film.

"Moore accepted his apology, but acknowledged to Potter that, 'I think we both know this is much larger then what was done to me or in the movie.' Moore said that the industry was willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to 'stop a movie' because they were afraid it 'could trigger a populist uprising against,' what he called, a 'sick system that will allow companies to profit off of us when we fall ill.'

Rush transcript of interview: The Fear of Sicko: CIGNA Whistleblower Wendell Potter Apologizes to Michael Moore for PR Smear Campaign; Moore Says Industry Was Afraid Film Would Cause A 'Tipping Point' for Healthcare Reform

Susan Delacourt: "Is Canadian democracy in real danger?" (Toronto Star article)

Bad news for people who still look up to Canada for the way we run things - we are becoming less and less a model for the other nations of the world. Maybe one day we will be again...?

Full article: Is Canadian democracy in real danger?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Great piece by Rachel Maddow on Internet disinformation

Many thanks to the Disaffected Lib for pointing out this great Youtube piece by Rachel Maddow. Here is the link, plus the Disaffected Lib's comments: The Disaffected Lib: In This Sort of World, Sarah Palin Could Be President

Don't dismiss the right-wing conspiracy stuff Rachel Maddow describes in this clip as not worth discussing - more and more people in the Western world are getting their (dis)information from the Internet - and they only read what they want to read... As she says, their view of the world is no longer debunkable.

Eugene Robinson in Truthdig: "Look Who’s the Decider Now" - advice to Obama

"... a think tank headed by John Podesta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton—seeks to remind Obama that shepherding legislation through Congress is only one of the ways a president can get things done."

Some advice to Obama on how he can continue to set the agenda, even when his party is losing its majority in the House and will have weaker control of the Senate: Eugene Robinson: Look Who’s the Decider Now.

Christopher Hume:" A Brave New World" (article in Toronto Star series)

Christopher Hume offers a tongue-in-cheek view of what Canada will be like in 2050: A Brave New World.

This is in anticipation of the upcoming conference on "Canada in 2050" to be held shortly in Toronto. Other related articles are:

- Can the environment save the economy?

- Industrial revolution will be close to home

- Crystal ball will be fueled by clean energy

Well, it's nice to know they think we have 40 more years...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Catherine Porter: Linda Chamberlain’s job was making her broke (Toronto Star article)

"... for every dollar Linda earned over $440 a month, one set of government workers increased her rent, while another set took half of her paycheque. The right hand does not talk to the left. ...

"Chamberlain is still very busy. She volunteers with the Dream Team, advocating for affordable housing for psychiatric survivors. She runs a soup kitchen in the basement of her building and fosters the cats of people with mental illness while they go into hospital. Three scratch against the posts in her apartment right now.

"This Sunday afternoon, she will run for the board of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association and by evening, she’ll cook dinner for seven of her neighbours in their building’s basement kitchen. They, like her, have diabetes. Come January, she plans to organize aqua-fit classes for them at the nearby recreation centre.

"Chamberlain might be jobless, but she does a lot of work. Why can’t she get paid for it?"

Full article: Porter: Linda Chamberlain’s job was making her broke

Jennifer Wells: Peligre dam project brought floods and darkness (Toronto Star article)

Jennifer Wells on assignment in Haiti: Peligre dam project brought floods and darkness.

The Star's series on Haiti: Lovely's Haiti. (Lovely Avelus was the little girl found under the rubble after 6 days without food or water).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Breakthrough in cancer vaccine research (reported in University of Cambridge Online News)

Douglas Fearon, Sheila Joan Smith Professor of Immunology of the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge: "Finding the specific cells within the complex mixture of the cancer stroma that prevents immune killing is an important step. Further studying how these cells exert their effects may contribute to improved immunological therapies by allowing us to remove a barrier that the cancer has constructed."

Full article: Breakthrough in cancer vaccine research

James Travers: "MacKay's U.A.E. prank puts PM in a funny spot" (Toronto Star article)

Any dissension in the Conservative ranks is fine by me. Remember MacKay is the guy who broke a written promise to David Orchard not to try to merge the Canadian Alliance and the PCs... so we should not expect too much in the way of consistency from this man.

Full article: MacKay's U.A.E. prank puts PM in a funny spot

Heather Mallick: "Airport security pat-downs are grotesque" (Toronto Star article)

Wasn't it Benjamin Franklin who said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."? How come the Americans aren't listening any more to the words of one of their most famous statesmen?

Full article: Mallick: Airport security pat-downs are grotesque

Thomas Walkom: "Sure the GM bailout worked. For GM" (Toronto Star)

"State capitalism works. ... What’s not yet clear is exactly for whom it works.
"Now we have the same company [GM] (freed of its creditors) making the same kinds of autos, paying its workers less and planning, over time, to refocus its production on China — all aided and abetted by governments here.

"It has all been a great success. I’m so glad we could help."

Full article: Thomas Walkom: Sure the GM bailout worked. For GM

Tyler Hamilton: ‘Biomimicry’ involves copying nature’s playbook (Toronto Star)

Janine Benyus, president of a non-profit group called the Biomimicry Institute, which she founded in 2005, says, "Biomimicry ... is about replicating nature’s blueprint, not necessarily enslaving nature to do the work for us.".

Full article: Tyler Hamilton: ‘Biomimicry’ involves copying nature’s playbook

Friday, November 19, 2010

Richard Gwyn: "End of American dream a nightmare for Obama" (Toronto Star article)

"America tried to do everything — to police the world, to run the world’s financial system, to maintain its people’s standard of living far beyond its economic and financial ability to pay for their bills.

"And now it’s broke and exhausted. In Afghanistan, its military options have narrowed down to finding an exit strategy that avoids humiliation."

Full article: Richard Gwyn: End of American dream a nightmare for Obama

Toronto Star: Toronto shut out of G8, G20 spending spree

"'This legacy fund . . . has nothing to do with a legacy for the G8. It seems like a legacy to the minister. You did everything but build a statue to Tony Clement in the riding.'"

Full article: Toronto shut out of G8, G20 spending spree

Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo: "Breaking free of tattered Indian Act" (Toronto Star)

Shawn A-In-Chut Atleo is the current national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Quotes: "The Indian Act was created in 1876 to control our lives, our lands and our governments. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. ... Empowerment has to start on the ground but requires all of us to support it and clear the path forward.

"Our destination is a stronger Canada, one where First Nations are once again in control of their own lives."

Full article: Breaking free of tattered Indian Act

Thursday, November 18, 2010

HARMONY: Antidote for Climate Dissonance? (

Article about the new film version of Prince Charles' book HARMONY: A New Way of Looking at Our World , which premiered at the Kennedy Center on Monday (with a personal appearance by Hillary Clinton) and hits the national airwaves Friday night on NBC.

"Climate bill, Commons crushed in one blow" (reported in the Toronto Star)

Clare Demerse of the Pembina Institute: "C-311 was defeated without any debate, without the chance to call a single witness to explain what it offered, and at a moment when key supporters of the bill happened to be away from the Senate."

Full article in the Toronto Star: Climate bill, Commons crushed in one blow

As the Disaffected Lib says, "This is Canada, not Zimbabwe . . . or maybe it is." New anti-cholesterol drug appears safe, effective

"After six months in the study:

• LDL scores fell from 81 to 45 in those on anacetrapib, and from 82 to 77 in those given dummy pills.

• HDL rose from 41 to a whopping 101 in the drug group, and from 40 to 46 in those on dummy pills.

"Such large changes have never been seen before, doctors say, and these improvements persisted for at least another year that the study went on."

Full article: New anti-cholesterol drug appears safe, effective -

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Charles Pascal in the Toronto Star: Harper tough on crime but soft on facts

"... on the face of it, it appears to be a good idea to scrap the two-for-one credit, the kind of superficial bumper-sticker policy that was opposition-proof. Then, after the bill’s passage, Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page did an analysis of costs, concluding that the bill to taxpayers will amount to a minimum of $5 billion over five years for this single piece of legislation — about what would be required for a national early-learning and care program that would, among so many other things, reduce the illiteracy that is so highly correlated with crime."

Full article: Harper tough on crime but soft on facts

Documentary praises Canadian sustainable logging efforts (reported in the Toronto Star)

"'The Canadian story was inspirational because it starts with pretty much open warfare involving people who didn’t even want to be in the same room together and ends with unprecedented collaboration between environmentalists, industry, native groups and governments,' said filmmaker Julie Bergman Sender."

Full article: Documentary praises Canadian sustainable logging efforts

This does sound like a promising start - and it's neat that king-in-waiting Prince Charles is keeping busy trying to save the planet, besides making very good beer (Duchy Originals)!

Chantal Hébert, Thomas Walkom: Two views on the new 2014 pull-out date (Toronto Star)

Chantal Hébert on how Rae and Iggy outmanoeuvred themselves: Hébert: Ignatieff, Rae help Harper with the Conservative base

Thomas Walkom on how we got the 2014 date from Hamid Karzai, via the US: Exit date jibes with Obama's. Coincidence?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo, Feridun Hamdullahpur in the Toronto Star: "Ontario wins by attracting the best international students"

Full article: Ontario wins by attracting the best international students

Tom Philpott on Why Monsanto is paying farmers to spray its rivals’ herbicides

"In a better world, farmers would be looking to non-chemical methods for controlling weeds: crop rotations, mulching, cover crops, etc. Instead, they're being paid by Monsanto to ramp up application of poisons. Perhaps the USDA's main research arm, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will rise to the occasion by funding research in non-chemical weed-control methods? Not likely, since the Obama administration tapped a staunch Monsanto man to lead that crucial agency.

"But instead of true innovation, we have the spectacle of Monsanto paying farmers to dump vast chemical cocktails onto land that not only feeds us, but also drains into our streams and rivers."

Full article: Why Monsanto is paying farmers to spray its rivals’ herbicides

Scott Tribe: Conservatives and the Environment don’t mix

Scott Tribe in Scott's DiaTribes: Conservatives and the Environment don’t mix

And I liked the quote from Chip Giller, founder of, quoted by JimBobby in the Comments section:

"So-called global warming is just a secret ploy by wacko tree-huggers to make America energy-independent, clean our air and water, improve fuel-efficiency of our vehicles, kickstart 21st century industries, and make our cities safer and more livable. Don’t let them get away with it!"

Linda McQuaig in the Toronto Star: Where are the champions of equality?

"Imagine if there was some inspired political leadership that didn’t just fold its tent when confronted by the army of privilege, but instead waged a fierce campaign championing the popular yearning for greater equality."

Full article: McQuaig: Where are the champions of equality?

It appears that this accumulation of wealth at the top is an almost automatic effect of capitalism - there has got to be a better system!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Interview with Author and Activist Derrick Jensen on Democracy Now!

Derrick Jensen being interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

Quote: "... any way of life that’s based on the hyper-exploitation of renewable resources won’t last."

Rush transcript of interview: Author and Activist Derrick Jensen: "The Dominant Culture is Killing the Planet...It's Very Important for Us to Start to Build a Culture of Resistance"

Democracy Now!: Haiti Cholera Outbreak Reaches Port-au-Prince, Congress Continues to Block Release of Aid Funds

Democracy Now! meets with Jonathan Katz, Haiti correspondent for the Associated Press, and Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat in Port-au-Prince.

Full article: Haiti Cholera Outbreak Reaches Port-au-Prince, Congress Continues to Block Release of Aid Funds

News item in Democracy Now! for Nov. 15, 2010:
"The United Nations has appealed for some $160 million in new aid amidst warnings some 270,000 Haitians could fall ill in the coming years."

In case you haven't figured it out, that's over 1/4 million people who could possibly be affected, in a population of around 10 million...

The Ghost of Travis Bickle. Posted to, November 4, 2009, by the late George Condon

Here's another post by my late friend George J. Condon, from a year ago - but it's just as true now as it was then.

"American writer Stephen Crane was born after the Civil War ended, so he never saw combat in that conflict. Still, his 1895 novel about the American Civil War (titled The Red Badge Of Courage) was one of the first books to portray war with grim realism rather than glamorizing it. The main character in Crane's novel was a naive young man who thought the war was going to be glorious, but who was forever scarred by the horrors he experienced during it.

"Since Crane's time, the spectre of the tormented war veteran has haunted American literature and movies. In films like The Best Years Of Our Lives, The Deer Hunter, Coming Home and Taxi Driver, we see him returning maimed in body or in spirit. He comes home tortured by memories of the unspeakable things that he has seen or has done. Locked into his own world of pain and guilt, this survivor from Hell steps back into a civilian society that is now as alien to him as life on another planet.

"Of course, compassion for war victims can be a very one sided affair. We will probably never see any American films that show the suffering of German or Japanese civilians during the Allied bombings of World War 2. No Hollywood movies will be made about the agony of millions of Vietnamese and Cambodians during the Vietnam War nor will there be any requiem for the hundreds of thousands of dead civilians in the current Iraqi conflict. After we demonize another people as 'the enemy', then we don't care about how much they bleed.

"The mentally or physically disfigured war veteran continues to stalk the American imagination because the United States has been almost perpetually at war since the nation was founded. For people who claim to love peace, Americans seem to get into an amazing number of firefights.

"One of the darkest movies ever made about war veterans is Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver. Travis Bickle comes home from Vietnam physically whole but psychologically crippled. He is restless, haunted by nightmares and incapable of establishing the most basic relationships with other human beings. Bickle begins driving a taxi at night to escape his personal demons, but nothing can stop his slow slide into violent madness. The happy ending tacked onto this grim film is so out of step with the rest of the movie that it is like putting a Bugs Bunny cartoon at the end of Schindler's List.

"Now that the United States has waded into yet another quagmire in Afghanistan, Taxi Driver looks less like a dated film from the 1970s and more like a prophesy of things to come. As the Iraq and Afghan veterans come home, there will be thousands of Travis Bickles in America and in Canada. The only thing different this time is that some of these tormented veterans will be women.

"The Public doesn't like to think about the cost of a war while it's still raging, so films about Iraq or Afghanistan have tanked at the box office lately. There has been no military draft, so these wars have been fought by the children of the poor and they are not top of mind issues for most North Americans. The definitive movie about Iraq or Afghanistan may not be made for another ten years, after passions have cooled and people have the perspective of history.

"The one thing certain is that our society will continue to generate corporate profits by cranking out weapons and then we will need to find enemies everywhere to use them on. Meanwhile, the ghost of Travis Bickle wanders the landscape, brooding and alone.

"What do you think?"

George J. Condon - November 4, 2009

The link is (or was) The Ghost of Travis Bickle

Smug Canadians? Posted to, Jan. 7, 2010, by the late George Condon

I thought I had better reprint this post by my late friend George J. Condon to his blog on, as I don't know how long his blog will survive him. George passed away June 16, 2010. George, we miss you!

Here is his post - he certainly doesn't pull any punches!

"During the dark years of the Bush Administration in the United States, Canadians basked in a warm glow of self-righteousness. Maybe we weren't perfect, but we were certainly better than those crazy rednecks south of the border. Now that Barack Obama has become the American President, Canucks find that the ground has shifted uncomfortably beneath their noble feet.

"The Obama Administration has been a major disappointment to progressive people everywhere. For example, the vow to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay has morphed into a plan simply to move it onto American soil. When in opposition, the Democrats denounced the civil rights abuses of the Patriot Act. Now that they're in Government, the Dems have suddenly discovered that these same measures have merit. Despite such lapses, the wind is blowing from a slightly more progressive direction in America. We Canadians are left with our halos slightly askew.

"But, surely we must still be morally superior to the Americans in many ways. For example, we don't condone torture. Actually, we do. Canadian troops in Afghanistan turned prisoners over to local authorities, knowing they'd be tortured. When warned about this, the Canadian Government seems to have turned a blind eye to the abuses and it has been denying everything for three years.

"All right, but Canadians don't go around starting illegal wars the way Americans have done. Maybe not, but our forces are in Afghanistan without United Nations approval. Canadian troops are there to please the Americans and to show that we can be as macho as the Yanks. Claims that we are fighting to protect the Afghan people against the Taliban are so much horse droppings. If we care about the defenceless, then why don't we have troops in Darfur? Where were our soldiers during the genocide in Rwanda? It's great that our presence in Afghanistan allows girls to go to school, but that's just a side effect.

"Well, at least we don't pollute as much as those darned Americans do. Actually, we pollute more per individual. Ditto for energy consumption. The Americans try hard to be the world's energy pigs, but we have them beaten by a slim margin. We use the excuse that it's cold up here in the Great White North, but other cold countries (such as Finland and Norway) live comfortably on about 50% less energy use per person compared to Canadians.

"Okay, but don't we care passionately about the environment despite all that? We have a strange way of showing it. The Canadian Government did its best to wreck the recent talks on Climate Change in Copenhagen. The largest emitter of carbon dioxide on Earth is the Alberta Tar Sands Project, right here in Canada. Asbestos is banned in North America because it causes cancer and lung disease, but Canadian companies sell tons of the stuff to India where the people are less aware of the risks. In Latin America, Canadian mining companies have a dismal record for dumping toxic waste.

"Does all of this mean that Canadians are monsters? Of course not. Historically, Canadians have made great contributions to science and to medicine out of proportion to our population. Canadian troops fought heroically in two world wars and in Korea, while being seen as models of discipline and professionalism. Canadians give generously of their time and money to help the less fortunate around the world. We used to be the world's peace keepers. We were so nice that some people in other countries sneered at us for being naive boy scouts who failed to understand the harsh realities of international politics. Unfortunately, that was then and this is now.

"What happened to us was the same thing that happened to Americans. While we snoozed in our self-satisfaction, some very reactionary people seized the levers of power. They've changed the Canadian image from peace keeping and social justice to military butt kicking and corporate profits. Now, we have a Prime Minister who just shuts down Parliament whenever it suits him. None of that silly democratic stuff about answering questions and putting things to a vote.

"Down south, Americans are trying to get their country back. Time will tell whether they succeed. Up here in Canada, we're still asleep. Until we wake up and make some changes, we'd better face the fact that the Ugly American now speaks with a Canadian accent and rides a snowmobile.

"Am I being too harsh? I'd like to know what you think. Please don't tell me to go somewhere else if I don't like it here in Canada. If I didn't love my country, I would never have bothered to write this."

George Condon, Jan. 7, 2010

The link is (or was) Smug Canadians?

A Timely Remembrance Day Reminder

Thanks to the Disaffected Lib for reminding us on Remembrance Day of this famous article describing chillingly what we fought against, and that the fight is never really over:

The Disaffected Lib: The 14 Steps to Fascism, or, America This Way

Buckdog: Oklahoma Proposition To Ban Sharia Law May Have Inadvertantly Banned 10 Commandments As Well

Thank, Buckdog, for pointing out this piece of weirdness, described in the Dallas Voice of Nov. 5, 2010:

Buckdog: Oklahoma Proposition To Ban Sharia Law May Have Inadvertently Banned 10 Commandments As Well

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Interview with Economist Ha-Joon Chang on Democracy Now!

Ha-Joon Chang, who teaches economics at the University of Cambridge, being interviewed by Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now!

Rush transcript of interview: Economist Ha-Joon Chang on the G20 Summit, Currency Wars and Why the Free Market is a "Myth"

Mona Eltahawy in the Toronto Star: Saudi Arabia's spot on the board of UN Women a sad joke

Mona Eltahawy: "Saudi Arabia essentially bought its way onto the board of UN Women, which is dedicated to gender equality around the world. ... If UN Women is to have any bite, it should focus on justice for Saudi women and not on their country's 'generous contributions.'"

Full article: Saudi Arabia's spot on the board of UN Women a sad joke

Mother Goose and Grimm (Cartoon): "We had to tent Earth... it's infested with humans"

From Mother Goose and Grimm Comics by Mike Peters

"We had to tent Earth... it's infested with humans"

At least, it should take care of global warming!

Helen Henderson in the Toronto Star: Inclusive design program sees a future where everyone is equal

Interesting article about new inclusive design initiative at OCAD University (the former Ontario College of Art and Design):

Henderson: Inclusive design program sees a future where everyone is equal

Saturday, November 13, 2010

"... Some issues are too important for gameplaying"

Powerful article by Canadian ex-Senator Eugene Forsey on the politics behind Canada staying in Afghanistan: Bob Rae/Riggy, Price Leader for the Oligopoly. By the way, the LPC he refers to is the Liberal Party of Canada (rather badly broken at present, IMO).

And for another (not necessarily incompatible) view on the political manoeuverings, Jim Travers in the Toronto Star: Travers: Politics permeates Afghan mission reversal. It has to be admitted that Harper can outsmart Iggy and Rae with one hand tied behind his back...

YouTube - David Harvey Crisis of Capitalism

This is worth watching - even if you disagree with it!

YouTube - David Harvey Crisis of Capitalism

Thanks to the Disaffected Lib for this link. It also contains a link to the wonderful discussion of subprime mortgages by the British comedians, the Long Johns.

Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star: The G20 failure at Seoul and what it means for you (smaller countries)

Thomas Walkom: "In effect, both the U.S. and China have refused to bear the cost of righting the imbalances bedevilling the world economy. That means other nations — including this one — will have to do so."

Full article: Walkom: The G20 failure at Seoul and what it means for you

Catherine Porter in the Toronto Star: Tales of horror from a police state — ours

If you believe(d) Canada stands for peace, order and good government, read this and weep!

Full article: Porter: Tales of horror from a police state — ours

By the way, Paul (or Catherine), the word is "tenets", not "tenants".

Thursday, November 11, 2010

James Travers in the Toronto Star: Remember today a beloved country

Jim Travers' poignant lament for Canada. As he describes so well, Canada is no longer the country that I chose to come to, 42 years ago. "Instead of taking its assumed place in the vanguard of countries finding solutions, Canada is now dismissed as a backslider and obstacle to progress."

I believe that a lot of the blame for this change should be laid at the doorsteps of Harper, and Harper-lite, Ignatieff.

Full article: Travers: Remember today a beloved country -

Haroon Siddiqui in the Toronto Star: Canadian-Arab relations sink to an all-time low

Amr Moussa (secretary-general of the Arab League, which represents 22 nations with 280 million people), quoted by Haroon Siddiqui: "You cannot just take a biased position and then ask the Arabs and Muslims to forget it and ignore it and support you."

Haroon Siddiqui: "After Canada refused more landing rights for Emirates and Etihad airlines, the UAE [United Arab Emirates] cancelled Canada’s free use of an airbase and a port for transiting our troops and equipment to and from Afghanistan.


"The UAE is Canada’s largest Arab trading partner — at $1.5 billion a year, most of it in our favour. About 125 Canadian companies are active in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and 27,000 Canadians work and live there.

"The UAE is one of the oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council states that are projected to spend $10 trillion in the next 10 years on infrastructure — projects that Canada is very suited to have a crack at, and invest $3.5 trillion abroad in the years ahead, with Canada as an attractive destination.

"Harper’s mishandling [of relations with the UAE] can only be explained by his anti-consumer, anti-free trade protectionism of Air Canada, or ideological anti-Arabism, or just plain incompetence."

Full article: Siddiqui: Canadian-Arab relations sink to an all-time low

Catherine Porter in the Toronto Star: Guns to trowels

This is a beautiful article for Remembrance Day, by the Star's Catherine Porter, describing one man's idea about turning guns into useful tools: "They shall beat their swords into plowshares..." (Isaiah 2:4)

Full article: Porter: Guns to trowels

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jim Travers in the Toronto Star: "Truth first casualty of Afghan training plan"

Jim Travers: "From beginning to the beginning of end-game, the Afghanistan mission has been warped by misunderstanding and wrapped in misinformation. This Prime Minister owes it to this country to end both before asking Canadians to risk another drop of blood."

Full article: Travers: Truth first casualty of Afghan training plan

Anti-Semitism on the rise here and abroad, PM says (reported in the Toronto Star)

The only way I can explain this is that, yet again, Harper's ideology trumps common sense. How many times do we have to say that reasoned criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism? Contrary to Israel's propaganda, it is the most heavily armed country in the area, and has to learn moderation if there is ever going to be peace in that region. If France and Germany can learn to work together, why can't Israel work out some kind of accommodation with its neighbours?

Full article: Anti-Semitism on the rise here and abroad, PM says

Tanzanian rats trained to sniff out landmines (Jenni Dunning in the Toronto Star)

"According to AFP, it takes two human 'deminers' a full day to clear a 200-square-metre minefield. With the help of a couple of pouch rats, they can finish the job in 90 minutes. So far, says APOPO founder Bart Weetjens, the rats 'have helped re-open almost two million square metres of land' in Mozambique."

Full article: Tanzanian rats trained to sniff out landmines

Climate change prosperity or disparity? (Stephen Bede Scharper in the Toronto Star)

Important message about the impact of climate change.

Climate change prosperity or disparity?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Artist under house arrest, but party goes on in China (Bill Schiller in the Toronto Star)

China "lurches" again - it wasn't so long ago that Ai Wei Wei was being lauded as a foremost Chinese artist, in spite of his comments about the government (CBC interview, just before the Olympics). The pun is interesting too!

Full article: Artist under house arrest, but party goes on in China

Scientists convert skin into blood cells, potential new transfusion source (reported in the Toronto Star)

This is really exciting news - on several fronts... And a great example of Canadian medical research expertise.

Full article: Scientists convert skin into blood cells, potential new transfusion source

Sunday, November 7, 2010

California vote illuminates Ontario’s energy future (reported in the Toronto Star)

Finally, a rare optimistic view!

"In California, they were joined by blue-collar workers, investors, environmentalists and clergy, creating a force the best campaign polluters could buy could not defeat."

Full article: California vote illuminates Ontario’s energy future

Friday, November 5, 2010

Richard Gwyn in the Toronto Star: U.S. best and worst on display

Richard Gwyn: "Add together the negatives and the positives and the impression is left of a nation that has regressed to political adolescence..."

Full article: Gwyn: U.S. best and worst on display -

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Harry Potter invisibility cloak a step closer?

Interesting, but let's hope they don't figure out to use it for large objects... The world is confusing enough!

Full article: Harry Potter invisibility cloak a step closer?

CBC News - Health - Parkinson's tied to brain's energy crisis

CBC News - Health - Parkinson's tied to brain's energy crisis

In Yemen Bomb Plot, 2 Darkly Historical Inside Jokes (reported in the New York Times)

"Those who forget history..."

To me, one of the messages they are sending is that they know the history of the West better than we do. It took several days before our newspapers twigged to the addressees' names, and I can just imagine our security organizations running around trying to figure out who the heck Diego Deza and Reynald Krak were...

Full article: In Yemen Bomb Plot, 2 Darkly Historical Inside Jokes -

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ralph Nader on corporatization

Ralph Nader being interviewed on Democracy Now!:
"The corporations now dominate every department and agency in the federal government, from the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, Department of Agriculture, Interior and other departments. By that I mean, the outside influence on these departments is overwhelmingly corporate, even the Labor Department. Number two, they have something like 9,000 political action committees—auto dealers, insurance companies, banks, drug companies—funneling money into members of Congress and the White House. Number three, they’ve put their executives in high government positions. Now, nobody comes close to that kind of triple control of our government. And when Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent a message to Congress in 1938 to set up the national—temporary national commission on corporate concentration—and they did pass that—he said in his message, when government is controlled by private economic power, that’s fascism. That was in 1938. And now, more than ever, we have a corporate government in Washington, DC, corporate-occupied territory, that is destructive of any semblance of democratic process. Voice for the people, voice for labor, a voice for small taxpayers, consumers, they’re shut out. They’re excluded."

Full interview: Ralph Nader: Dems Face Losses to "Most Craven Republican Party in History":

The Disaffected Lib: What Teddy Roosevelt Would Say to American Voters Today

Why have people like Teddy Roosevelt disappeared from US public discourse?

Full article: The Disaffected Lib: What Teddy Roosevelt Would Say to American Voters Today

Baby signs of the times

Thanks to the Toronto Star for reprinting this article from It supports research indicating that language skills can develop even before the mechanism for producing speech has developed.

Full article: Baby signs of the times

Harper has burned bridges abroad, Ignatieff says (reported in the Toronto Star)

A new, more combative Ignatieff - finally?

Full article: Harper has burned bridges abroad, Ignatieff says

Heather Mallick in the Toronto Star: War crimes trials — from tragedy to farce

Heather Mallick describes the ironies of history. And Albert Speer only got 20 years. Also, I'm curious whether the jury was told that there was considerable doubt about whether Omar Khadr even threw the grenade in question...

Full article: Mallick: War crimes trials — from tragedy to farce