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Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome to Plenitude | Juliet Schor

"... the Business-as-Usual economy (to borrow a term from the climate discourse) has become profoundly dysfunctional. That conclusion is becoming widely accepted. But we’re having trouble moving beyond it. Plenitude is a vision for doing just that — getting us on a path that reverses the rampant destruction of the planet caused by BAU and restoring true well-being to people and communities."

Full article: Welcome to Plenitude | Juliet Schor.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Intriguing results in new cancer research from team led by "person to watch", Patrick Gunning (in The Toronto Star)

"What Gunning [Patrick Gunning, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus] and his team have designed is in fact a molecule, one that latches onto proteins called Stat3 and Stat5. When working normally, the proteins switch on for a couple of minutes and help keep cells growing and alive. When malfunctioning, they don’t switch off and cause ever-growing tumours. These proteins play a key role in 70 per cent of known cancers, Gunning says.

"The designed molecule binds “beautifully” to the cancerous proteins and switches them off. In mice, it eliminated tumours in less than two weeks. The work earned Gunning the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Investigator Lectureship Award this year."

Full article: People to Watch: Patrick Gunning - thestar.com

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dr. Elaine Chin: Annual physicals in Ontario need an update (in The Toronto Star)

"... our “free” physical isn’t significantly useful in predicting our big three killers: heart attack, stroke and cancer, nor does it let doctors catch diabetes early. True, if you want to pay out of your own pocket, you can get a PSA test for prostate cancer and a CA125 for ovarian cancer as well as nutrient markers to detect deficiencies (such as for Vitamin D). But these tests are far from perfect predictors of sickness or health.

"So why hasn’t our physical changed in a quarter century when medicine itself has been revolutionized? ...

"... there are now all kinds of tests to detect dire conditions that are much more effective than what we use now.

"... And think of how these new tests would keep patients out of the hospital by detecting a heart condition rather than dealing with a heart attack in the ER. ...

"... the question isn’t, “But won’t they [much more sophisticated tests] cost a lot of money?”

"It’s, “Won’t they save a lot more money and lives?”

"Because the answer is, of course, they’ll do both."

Full article: Annual physicals in Ontario need an update.

Dr. Elaine Chin is a Toronto physician and founder of the Executive Health Centre.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ron Charach: ‘Sane’ men set stage for shooting tragedy (in The Toronto Star)

"As a psychiatrist, I am very concerned about the aggravation of stigma against the mentally ill when such incidents happen. However, I am even more concerned about the actions of those whose sanity is not questioned by society, such as the five Republican U.S. Supreme Court judges who voted to declare any and all kinds of gun ownership a constitutional right, in a sloppily argued decision that took no consideration of the dire threats posed by the new rapid-fire weapons.

"Nobody questions the sanity of the main spokesman for the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, who is still obsessed with “gun grabbers” and has kept the NRA on a collision course with an increasingly wary American public.

"Nor have I heard anyone question the sanity of our own “Public Safety” Minister, Vic Toews, who because of Bill C-19 has exposed the entire public, but especially minority groups who tend to get targeted by terrorists and extremists, to unnecessary danger. This man has already burned hard-earned public records, records of gun owners who fully complied with gun-control laws, and then sneaked a variety of nasty military-style weapons into the innocent category of “unrestricted” weapons, weapons like the Ruger Mini-14 used by Marc Lepine or the CZ 858 that Richard Bain used in a bid to assassinate Quebec’s first elected woman premier. The Bushmaster AR-15 used to commit the Newtown atrocity is also this sort of semi-automatic rifle."

Full article: ‘Sane’ men set stage for shooting tragedy.

Psychiatrist Ron Charach is the author, most recently, of the collection of poems, "Forgetting the Holocaust".

Tim Harper: First Nations force their way onto Stephen Harper’s 2013 agenda (in The Toronto Star)

"... movement leaders count 14 pieces of legislation — dealing with everything from education to water quality to financial accountability — that they believe are the laws of an adversary.

"“The government of Canada has not upheld nor fulfilled its responsibilities to First Nations, as committed to by the Crown including at the Crown-First Nations gathering of January, 2012,” said Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, in an open letter to Harper and Gov.-Gen. David Johnston."

Full article: Tim Harper: First Nations force their way onto Stephen Harper’s 2013 agenda.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Carol Goar: Early learning is a better bargain than universities (in The Toronto Star)

"“The benefits of early childhood education far outweigh the costs,” [TD Bank's chief economist, Craig] Alexander says. He estimates that every dollar spent produces $1.50 to $3 in benefits.

"Daniel Treffler, Canada Research Chair in Competitiveness and Prosperity at the University of Toronto, calculates the payback at $10 to $16 per dollar spent. “Where in the market do you get an ROI (return on investment) like that?” he asks business audiences."

Full article: Early learning is a better bargain than universities: Goar.

Rick Salutin: Today’s young prefer the flexibility and even insecurity of the new economy (in The Toronto Star)

"... [the youth of today] don’t yearn to return to the old days of steady jobs that were often soul-killing but provided semi-permanent assurances of security, usually in factories, corporations or government. In other words to restore the basic trade-off of the postwar era. It doesn’t appeal to them. They prefer flexibility, relative freedom, even insecurity.

"That jibes with the view of Guy Standing in his book, 'The Precariat'. He says under globalization, the old work world is gone forever, jobs dispersed worldwide, and not to be mourned. The need isn’t to reinstate the past; it’s to provide some security and equity under the new dispensation. ...

"The solution seems clear: society must take responsibility for basic support and security of its workforce, in return for its flexibility and acceptance of “precarity.” In other words: expand the welfare state. That’s the obvious new trade-off. ...

"... it’s logical and reasonable in the circumstances. Maybe that’s why those with power are determined to avoid even discussing it — before its simple plausibility, or inevitability, gains a foothold."

Full article: Students look forward to a spin in Cash Cab: Salutin.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Catherine Porter: Gun control advocate fears new tragedy (in The Toronto Star)

"Every Dec. 6 since Lépine walked into the Polytechnique is a sorrowful day. But this year’s unstitching of its legacy makes it doubly tragic.

"“I just hope we don’t have to witness another tragedy for Canadians to know what is at stake,” [Wendy] Cukier says."

Full article: Gun control advocate fears new tragedy.

Wendy Cukier launched the Coalition for Gun Control in the weeks following the Montréal Massacre.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Haroon Siddiqui: Stephen Harper is not doing Israel any favours (in The Toronto Star)

"It is [Netanyahu's] self-defeating tactics, and the 45-year occupation of Palestinian lands and the perpetually expanding Israeli borders, that have left Israel so sadly isolated.

"By backing those policies, Harper has isolated Canada as well and undermined Canada’s once-honoured place in the world."

Full article: Stephen Harper is not doing Israel any favours.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Why Haiti sees hope in a toilet bowl (in The Toronto Star)

"... in a country where only 17 per cent of people have access to adequate sanitation facilities, [Sasha] Kramer plans on bringing toilets directly into Haitian homes. Partnering with two organizations — Konbit Sante, a public health organization in Haiti, and Re.source, a start-up based at Stanford University — SOIL is spearheading a three-month pilot project that will provide composting toilets to 150 households in Shada, a slum on the country’s north coast with a population of approximately 4,000."

Full article: Why Haiti sees hope in a toilet bowl.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Linda McQuaig: Fight against climate change blocked by Luddites at Big Oil (in The Toronto Star)

"... 19th-century textile workers fiercely resisted being replaced by spinning machines.

"While those workers angrily smashed the machines, the world moved on to a prosperous new era of large-scale factory production, enabling the public to enjoy brightly coloured cotton calicoes and a popular social event known as the calico ball.

"The workers, dubbed Luddites, paid a heavy price for their resistance. They were executed for destroying the machines, and have been ridiculed throughout history.

"By contrast, the Luddites running Big Oil are enjoying the biggest bonanza in history, even as they block the saving of the planet — a more grievous offence, by any reckoning, than denying the world the benefits of the spinning machine or even the calico ball."

Full article: Fight against climate change blocked by Luddites at Big Oil.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

David Suzuki: Will Canada’s war on science plunge us into a new Dark Age? (in The Toronto Star)

David Suzuki is an author, broadcaster, environmentalist and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

"A strong economy is important, but the biosphere is more important. Life isn’t just about making money — and the kind of short-sighted thinking behind the government’s war on science will inevitably impoverish our people, our economy and our country."

Full article: Will Canada’s war on science plunge us into a new Dark Age?.

Thomas Walkom: Jim Flaherty misguided on economy but at least he’s not nuts (in The Toronto Star)

"This new Jim Flaherty at least understands that, to use his word, the global economy is “uncertain.”

"And for that, I suppose, we should be thankful.

"What Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper fail to understand, though, is that this isn’t a temporary state of affairs. ...

"Harper’s Conservatives are continuing ... with their scaling back of old age security, their antipathy to regulation, their attacks on trade unions, their refusal to expand the Canada Pension Plan and their determination — still undiminished — to get government out of the economy in the long run.

"What they fail to understand is that capitalism on its own doesn’t work. Corporate CEOs may not want the state involved in the economy. They may hate unions. But they need both if they are to profit. That is one of the great contradictions of our era."

Full article: Walkom: Jim Flaherty misguided on economy but at least he’s not nuts.

Or as Michael Parenti says, "Capitalism doesn't work unless supported by socialism".

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rick Salutin: Barack Obama owes Occupy protesters a debt of gratitude (in The Toronto Star)

"... Mr. One Per Cent, Mitt Romney. He likes firing people. He thinks 47 per cent of Americans are irresponsible takers. He parks his money abroad and won’t release his tax returns. All he lacks is a top hat and he surely has one in one of his homes. But the attacks, in turn, wouldn’t have taken, had Occupy not already poured the mould for Romney with its “1 per cent” trope.

"In a deeper irony, most Occupiers deplore Obama. They occupied Wall Street to expose the true power behind Washington, including Obama. They “stormed” his campaign HQ in Chicago in May and occupied Charlotte during his September nominating convention there. Many refused to vote in the “sham” election or backed purer candidates. No matter, they still got Obama there."

Barack Obama owes Occupy protesters a debt of gratitude: Salutin.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Minxin Pei: Restive population spooks China’s Communist rulers (in The Toronto Star)

"...several emerging trends, unobserved or noted only in isolation, have greatly altered the balance of power between the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] and Chinese society, with the former losing credibility and control and the latter gaining strength and confidence."

Restive population spooks China’s Communist rulers.

Minxin Pei is professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and a non-resident senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

David Roberts: Hawks vs. scolds: How ‘reverse tribalism’ affects climate communication (in Grist)

"What the public wants and needs is a sense of what climate change means, how it fits into their worldview, what values and feelings to associate with it. ...

"That’s the key missing ingredient on climate change: not a technical understanding of stochastic modeling, forensic attribution, and degrees of probability, but a visceral, more-than-intellectual sense of what climate change means. Most people simply lack a social and ethical context for it, so they end up jamming it into other, more familiar contexts (“big government,” “environmental problem,” “liberal special interest group”).

"A storm like Sandy provides an opportunity for those who understand climate change to help construct that context."

Full article: Hawks vs. scolds: How ‘reverse tribalism’ affects climate communication.

Dan Buettner: The Island Where People Forget to Die (NYTimes.com)

"The big aha for me, having studied populations of the long-lived for nearly a decade, is how the factors that encourage longevity reinforce one another over the long term. ...

[In 1943, a Greek war veteran named Stamatis Moraitis went to the United States for treatment of a combat-mangled arm. In his 60s he was diagnosed with lung cancer, and returned to the island of Ikaria, where he was born, to be buried. Now he is 97 - he says older - and cancer-free.]

"I had one last question for him. How does he think he recovered from lung cancer?

"“It just went away,” he said. “I actually went back to America about 25 years after moving here to see if the doctors could explain it to me.”

"... I asked him, “What happened?”

"“My doctors were all dead.”"

Full article: The Island Where People Forget to Die.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Philip Bump: Candy Crowley’s weird dismissal of climate change (in Grist)

"I am suggesting that climate change is a more immediate threat and issue for younger people. ...

"...it’s impossible to not read into Crowley’s comment some dismissiveness."

Full article: Candy Crowley’s weird dismissal of climate change | Grist.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Catherine Morris : Undermining the rule of law: The case of Omar Khadr (in The Toronto Star)

Catherine Morris teaches international human rights at the University of Victoria. She teaches on peace and conflict at universities in Europe and Asia. She monitors human rights in several countries for Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada.

"Imprisoned for more than a decade, Khadr has never been tried by any properly constituted court that afforded the judicial guarantees recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. This is in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. In addition, his rights have been systematically and flagrantly violated under the protocol on children in armed conflict, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention against Torture."

Full article: Undermining the rule of law: The case of Omar Khadr.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Susan Delacourt: Political ads are not a conversation with the voters (in The Toronto Star)

"[Canadian Prime Minister] Harper’s government loves advertising so much, in fact, that it tries to turn all forms of communication into ads. Labels are slapped on legislation and members of Parliament are supplied daily with pitch lines for TV. ...

"Advertising campaigns give the impression that the government is in touch with the citizens, yet in reality, we should recognize it’s the mark of an administration that is on permanent “send” and rarely on “receive.”"

Full article: Political ads are not a conversation with the voters: Delacourt.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

C. Scott Findlay: Governing in the dark: Ottawa’s dangerous unscientific revolution (in The Toronto Star)

C. Scott Findlay is an associate professor in the biology department at the University of Ottawa and a visiting research scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

Article: Governing in the dark: Ottawa’s dangerous unscientific revolution.

Thomas Walkom: U.S. report on Chinese telecom snooping puts Harper in a pickle (in The Toronto Star)

"Harper, the Calgary economist, is desperate to stay on the right side of cash-rich China so that it will invest some of its billions in Canada’s resource sector.

"But Harper, America’s best friend, is equally desperate to stay on the right side of big brother in Washington.

"So when a U.S. House Intelligence Committee this week warned private firms, and by implication Canadian private firms, not to deal with two big Chinese telecom manufacturers, the prime minister was left in a bit of pickle."

Full article: Walkom: U.S. report on Chinese telecom snooping puts Harper in a pickle.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Heather Mallick: Conservative anti-abortion MP has new ultrasound plan (in The Toronto Star)

"I give up hope on these backwater MPs — almost always men — who come up with these fantasies about controlling women’s bodies and lives. Poke into their backgrounds and you find the most extraordinary things."

Full article: Conservative anti-abortion MP has new ultrasound plan.

If this story appeared as a piece of fiction, people would say it was too unbelievable! A Conservative singing group deciding women's rights - things are getting a bit scary!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Allan Gregg: In defence of reason (in The Toronto Star)

Allan Gregg is chair of Harris/Decima, is one of Canada’s best known social researchers and political commentators. In In defence of reason, he discusses the reasons why his talk, given at Carleton University last month, “1984 in 2012: The Assault on Reason” went viral, rather to his surprise!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tony Burman: What has prompted Canada’s move against Iran? (in The Toronto Star)

Tony Burman, former head of Al Jazeera English and CBC News, teaches journalism at Ryerson University.

He says: "... it is difficult to understand Canada’s timing [re Canada's move against Iran]. It will have precious little impact on Iran’s behavior and seems at variance with the current state-of-play on the nuclear issue. In fact, it actually comes at a time when the mood in Israel’s top leadership seems to have turned against the idea of an imminent strike against Iran. ...

"Canadians have every right to ask its government how it believes such a conflict will evolve. However, reflecting on its recent actions, we may have to wait until our government checks with its new foreign minister in Jerusalem before we get some answers."

Full article: Burman: What has prompted Canada’s move against Iran?.

It will also make it more difficult for Canada to negotiate with Iran about the Canadians currently on death row - have they been written off?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Great cartoon about the RNC: "Can Romney keep the lid on?" (in The Toronto Star)

Full cartoon: Can Romney keep the lid on?.

Marvelous commentary, in cartoon format, on the Republican National Convention - and cartoonist David Parkins even manages to make Ayn Rand look better than most of the other players!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Romney treats climate as a punchline (Grist)

"Romney’s comment wasn’t about an issue of substance. It was about stroking the elements of the population who would be least likely to help him accomplish his goals were he to be elected to office. It was about making an earnest claim from a political candidate into a cynical joke — about diminishing a critical problem in order to add another two points to the scoreboard.

"That’s a terrible precedent for a candidate who might someday need to defend his office. Even more, it’s a horrendous idea for a man who would need, if elected, to lead a nation that must prepare for the most disruptive transition in its history."

Full article: Romney treats climate as a punchline.

Obama to college students: ‘Denying climate change won’t make it stop’ (in Grist)

"...some might say it is cynical to talk at length about climate change only when you are speaking to college students — a group who cares a great deal about the issue but can’t do bloody much about it. Where is Dumbledore when you need him?"

Full article: Obama to college students: ‘Denying climate change won’t make it stop’ | Grist.

Still, maybe we could treat these speech(es) as a tiny step in the direction of sanity...

Thomas Walkom: Happy Labour Day. It’s all pretty grim (in The Toronto Star)

"As unions disappear, so do well-paying, secure jobs. When labour is strong, even non-union shops pay well — just to prevent themselves from being organized. When labour is weak, that pressure evaporates.

"As well-paid jobs disappear so does the middle class. A study released this week by the U.S. National Employment Law Project confirms what many suspected: the American jobs being regained since 2008 pay far less than those which were lost.

"Sadly, much of the middle-class doesn’t recognize the role that unions play in keeping everyone’s wages at livable levels. A survey done for Public Response (a spin-off from Ottawa’s Rideau Institute) suggests that about 42 per cent of Canadians think unions do little for society at large."

Full article: Walkom: Happy Labour Day. It’s all pretty grim.

Tony Burman: U.S. President Mitt Romney? A possible inauguration speech (in The Toronto Star)

"“I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love. . .

"“I love this country. . . You know, the trees are the right height. The streets are just right. I like the fact that most of the cars I see are Detroit-made. I drive a Mustang and a Chevy pickup truck. Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually. . ."

Full article: Burman: U.S. President Mitt Romney? A possible inauguration speech.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Linda McQuaig: Though business sits on $500 billion, workers’ salaries are under siege (in The Toronto Star)

Linda McQuaig discusses the attempts by the 1% to drive a wedge between the 99% and the unions. She tells the tale about "the capitalist and the worker who order a pizza together. When the pizza arrives, the capitalist reaches in and helps himself to eleven of the twelve slices, then whispers in the ear of the worker: “Watch out for that union guy over there. He’s got his eye on your slice.”"

Full article: Though business sits on $500 billion, workers’ salaries are under siege.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Andrew Nikiforuk denounces the Energy of Slaves (in The Toronto Star)

"These self-serving arguments from the world’s petroleum brokers are based on a singular falsehood: that more energy translates into better living. Decades of human slavery peddled the same lies...

"...Every dominant energy system, from human slavery to nuclear power, has regarded itself as the master resource and has defended its reign with combustible rhetoric and the call for more.

"Yet none of these arguments are rational, moral, or equitable."

Full article: Andrew Nikiforuk denounces the Energy of Slaves.

Incredible that at one time people actually made such claims to support slavery. Nikiforuk demolishes the claim that increased energy use brings more happiness.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Carol Goar: Jim Flaherty to business leaders: Loosen your fists (in The Toronto Star)

"To Jim Flaherty’s frustration, there is a massive wad of idle cash in the Canadian economy. The finance minister would like to get the money in circulation, creating jobs, improving productivity, boosting consumer confidence and helping the country to compete against the world’s emerging economic giants. ...

"They could afford to thumb their noses at the government as long as there were no consequences. Flaherty made it easy. Regardless of their behaviour, he gave them tax cuts, praised them for generating economic growth, followed their recommendations and watched passively as they squirreled away billions.

"If he wants a different outcome, he’ll have to take a different approach."

Full article: Jim Flaherty to business leaders: Loosen your fists.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Disaffected Lib: Will British Columbia be Harper's Waterloo?

"Harper isn't going to get supertankers sailing out of Kitimat without first imprisoning hundreds, perhaps thousands, of us and when he starts tossing otherwise law-abiding British Columbians into jail for standing up for their province, support will coalesce around them and turn our province into electoral scorched earth for the Tories for a generation, possibly more."

Full post: The Disaffected Lib: Will British Columbia be Harper's Waterloo?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Antonia Zerbisias: Is Toronto ready for climate change? (in The Toronto Star)

"Imagine people are trapped in their sweltering highrises, with no access to drinking water because most pumps don’t have pressure above the sixth floor. Imagine cars floating along the Bayview extension. Imagine downed century-old maples blocking fire trucks and ambulances."

Full article: Is Toronto ready for climate change?.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange granted asylum by Ecuador (in The Toronto Star)

"“I think the Foreign Office have slightly overreached themselves here,” Britain's former ambassador to Moscow, Tony Brenton, told the BBC.

"“If we live in a world where governments can arbitrarily revoke immunity and go into embassies then the life of our diplomats and their ability to conduct normal business in places like Moscow where I was and North Korea becomes close to impossible.”"

Full article: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange granted asylum by Ecuador.

"Slightly"! Typical British understatement! The threat from Britain was a very dangerous piece of overreaction - to keep the Yanks happy...?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Heather Mallick: Romney pick Paul Ryan is hard-right theorist Ayn Rand in a prettier suit (in The Toronto Star)

"Ryan is fighting the same battles [Ayn] Rand fought in her St. Petersburg adolescence. Why he sees the need in a country that so badly tends its own citizens eludes me.

"Rand attracts the young, who think they will never suffer or die."

Full article: Romney pick Paul Ryan is hard-right theorist Ayn Rand in a prettier suit.

Another witty and insightful article by The Star's Heather Mallick - this time about Ayn Rand, the inventor of "Objectivism", which Heather calls "selfishism". She thinks you will be hearing a lot about Ayn Rand in the next few months - and you need to know more about her.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Thomas Walkom: Why we could be at war with Iran by November (in The Toronto Star)

"Would a war on Iran help the incumbent? In a rational world, the answer is no. The U.S. has just extricated itself from Iraq and is desperate to get out of Afghanistan.

"But the world of politics is not always rational. A joint U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran would win Obama praise from those firmly committed to the Jewish state — and that could be enough to give his Democrats the edge in, for instance, the key battleground of Florida."

Full article: Walkom: Why we could be at war with Iran by November.

A scary, but believable, scenario from The Star's Thomas Walkom. This could be a lot worse than Iraq or Afghanistan. It's not clear whether Israel would survive it either.

Heather Mallick: It’s Kalamazoo vs. Calgary in clash of civilizations (in The Toronto Star)

"In the U.S., there’s almost no personal restriction on guns and ammo, and no restriction on a citizen’s own government targeting him from the sky with a Predator Drone. Killing is the option of first resort. Talking is the last. As for diplomacy, the first response is to arm the local “friendlies” and bomb the “unfriendlies,” then switch, then bomb everyone. The last would be to ask the UN for a sit-down.

"Think of what daily life must be like in the U.S.A. if you’re Wawra and always armed."

Full article: Mallick: It’s Kalamazoo vs. Calgary in clash of civilizations.

Heather Mallick weighs in on the Nosehill story - in her usual inimitable style...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Texas farmer sows seeds of doubt over Keystone pipeline (in The Toronto Star)

"“The line in the sand for my family is that we don’t believe a foreign company building a pipeline to put money in their pockets can take a Texan’s land,” Crawford said. “If you’re going to take it, you’re going to have to prove you can.”"

Full article: Texas farmer sows seeds of doubt over Keystone pipeline.

I believe I read that someone described this as a fascinating struggle shaping up between two fundamental US rights.

Apocalypse Now: Do We Have A Global Death Wish? (Alternet)

"Many Christian Zionists, for example, believe that a massive war in the Middle East is unavoidable, imminent, and part of the divine plan for humanity—and are supporting policies that raise the probability of just such a war."

Full article: Apocalypse Now: Do We Have A Global Death Wish?.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thomas Walkom: Harper’s pipeline ‘about-face’ is anything but (in The Toronto Star)

"This is not a government that welcomes science.

"It has terminated scientific programs aimed at monitoring climate change just because it doesn’t like their conclusions.

"It has muzzled its own scientists from discussing their findings publicly, particularly when these findings contradict government plans to eliminate environmental laws and regulations.

"It has hobbled economic and social research by killing Statistics Canada’s mandatory long-form census. ...

"... by changing the law so that cabinet — in the unlikely event of a decision against the pipeline — can override the energy board, Harper has done himself no favours.

"He has made the lines of responsibility, which in classic Canadian fashion had been deliberately blurred, crystal clear."

Full article: Walkom: Harper’s pipeline ‘about-face’ is anything but.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Heather Mallick: U.S. drought will hit food prices like a derecho (in The Toronto Star)

"What’s the upside, people ask. There is no upside because we are global now. We import and export, we rely on each other, we hope to be able to flee the heat. We won’t suffer equally, but we will all suffer."

Full article: U.S. drought will hit food prices like a derecho.

"Batman joins the police to take on Occupy Wall Street" (The Toronto Star editorial)

"...whether the film’s authoritarian vision is political propaganda or artistic oversight, the troubling message communicated to millions of viewers is the same."

Editorial: Batman joins the police to take on Occupy Wall Street.

Friday, July 27, 2012

How Will the 99% Deal with the Psychopaths in the 1%? (Alternet)

"We find ourselves in a situation where economic philosophies that celebrate selfishness can be implemented through a web of legal and financial tools that elevate and reward those individuals with psychological tendencies toward self-interest — the same people who also have a predisposition to game social contexts to their advantage regardless of impacts on others."

Full article: How Will the 99% Deal with the Psychopaths in the 1%?.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thomas Walkom: Slaughtering pigs, a never-ending horror (in The Toronto Star)

Thomas Walkom: Slaughtering pigs, a never-ending horror.

You know the old English farmers' saying, "Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, but pigs is equal".

I am not sure I will look at a ham sandwich quite the same way after this..

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Judge orders two Government officials to be quizzed over Wikileaks documents about expelled Indian Ocean islanders (in Mail Online)

Full article: Judge orders two Government officials to be quizzed over Wikileaks documents about expelled Indian Ocean islanders.

Long overdue - this was horrendous behaviour by a national government - and they were almost completely successful in hiding this from the rest of the world.

The Disaffected Lib: Bitumen's Oh So Dirty Little Secrets

The Disaffected Lib: Bitumen's Oh So Dirty Little Secrets.

This is scary stuff! This is like the old puzzle: how do you put a price on a human life? Maybe we should start to ask: how do you put a price on a ruined ecology?

Opinion: Leave park in province’s hands (in The Toronto Star)

Editorial: Leave park in province’s hands.

Couldn't agree more! Given the federal government's abysmal record on the environment, why would we sell this provincial jewel to them - let alone give it away?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rick Salutin on referendums in the Swiss political system (in The Toronto Star)

Rick Salutin's 4th article in his series on democracy: Referendums at heart of Swiss political system.

Umm, shouldn't it be "referenda"?

Harvard professor Michael Sandel examines ‘moral limits of markets’ in new book (in The Toronto Star)

"Couples can hire an Indian surrogate mother for $6,250. Or they can invest that money in the American insurance industry, where betting on the death of strangers is a $30-billion business. Investors receive higher returns the sooner the stranger dies — a morbid spin on the adage that time is money.

"Hunters can head to South Africa to kill an endangered black rhino provided they’re willing to pay $150,000 for the privilege. Or they can stay in Canada to kill a walrus for less than $10,000. Add a caribou, musk ox and polar bear and you’ll hit what hunting groups call the “Arctic grand slam.”

"If it’s citizenship you’re after, $500,000 buys the right to immigrate to the United States. Many countries have similar policies, including Canada, though the price is higher here.

"Even in prison, money matters. In some cities, prisoners can upgrade their cells with a nightly fee.

"These are the sort of unsettling examples in Michael Sandel’s new book, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets."

Full article: Harvard professor Michael Sandel examines ‘moral limits of markets’ in new book.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sara Robinson: The New Totalitarianism: How American Corporations Have Made America Like the Soviet Union (AlterNet)

"One of the most striking things about our victorious corporations now is the degree to which they've taken on some of the most noxious and Kafkaesque attributes of the Soviet system -- too often leaving their employees, customers, and other stakeholders just as powerless over their own fates as the unhappy citizens of those old centrally planned economies of the USSR were back in the day."

Full article: The New Totalitarianism: How American Corporations Have Made America Like the Soviet Union.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Audrey Macklin: The government has not kept its word in the Omar Khadr case (in The Toronto Star)

"Don’t let the government make a fool of you. Canada is now directly and solely responsible for every day that Omar spends in Guantánamo Bay, and can bring this ordeal to an end anytime.

"That time is now."

Full article: The government has not kept its word in the Omar Khadr case.

Carol Goar: Scarborough shooting a missed opportunity to rethink tough on-crime approach (in The Toronto Star)

"Policy-makers have to listen to community groups, grassroots activists, church leaders and social agencies that know these kids and have programs that work. Treating them like pesky supplicants, who fail to understand the need to balance the budget, will produce a much bigger deficit — one that goes far beyond dollars — down the road."

Full article: Scarborough shooting a missed opportunity to rethink tough on-crime approach.

The Star's Joe Fiorito talking to James Sheptycki: "He said, “We’re not talking to these young men, the ones who have the world view that makes it ‘sensible’ to shoot other people. How can we change the mindset if we don’t talk to them? Let’s try to understand the subculture.”"

Fiorito: What we should ask about the Scarborough shooting

And The Star arguing for a ban on handguns:

"Collectors and pistol enthusiasts complain such a ban, delivered under a mandatory federal buyback program, would end their freedom to pursue a handgun hobby. They’re right. But balanced against that is the freedom of innocent people to enjoy life without being cut down in a hail of pistol bullets.

"That’s what killed Shyanne Charles, a generous and happy 14-year-old with a love of sports and music who happened to attend the Scarborough block party Monday night. No one’s pistol collection is worth that. If even one promising life like Shyanne’s, brimming with hope and potential, can be spared by outlawing privately owned handguns, a ban should be put into effect as quickly as possible."

Toronto shooting spree shows need for a handgun ban

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Global suicide 2020: We can’t feed 10 billion - Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch

Global suicide 2020: We can’t feed 10 billion - Paul B. Farrell - MarketWatch

Rick Salutin on Proportional Representation and political parties (in The Toronto Star)

Part 2 of Rick Salutin's 6-part series on democracy: Democracy Disconnect, Part 2:Correcting Canada’s democratic deficit.

Christopher Hume: Stephen Harper is blind to science (in The Toronto Star)

"Ottawa has seen countless demonstrations over the decades, none more poignant or disturbing than what unfolded Tuesday when hundreds of scientists took to the street to protest what they call “the Death of Evidence.” ...

"Harper and his robo-ministers — especially Peter Kent in environment and Joe Oliver in natural resources — have been blunt: They will brook no opposition in their zeal to exploit the oilsands, build pipelines and empower the new robber barons.

"To see where this leads, look no further than Canada’s cities, where change appears first...."

Full article: Christopher Hume: Stephen Harper is blind to science.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rick Salutin on Democracy: Thinking outside the box (inThe Toronto Star)

First part of a 6-part meditation on democracy: Democracy: Thinking outside the box.

"What if it [democracy] isn’t a specific thing, with a definition you can look up. Maybe instead it’s a general capacity or potential, built into us — like our capacities for language, musicality, love and so forth — which finds various ways to express itself, none “right” or inevitable? So that the idea would be to open the box occasionally — or the concept — and let it breathe."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nicholas Pell: What the French Revolution Tells Us About Today's Activist Movements (in AlterNet.org)

"The lessons of the French Revolution -- that history is a process, that it’s possible to completely remake the world, that ordinary people can do this and that some people simply have a vested interest in the existing order -- are relevant today, perhaps more so than they were in 1789."

Full article: What the French Revolution Tells Us About Today's Activist Movements.

A meditation on what Bastille Day has to tell us about the success or failure of revolutions.

Mitch Potter: Canada is less energy-efficient than China, new study shows (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Canada is less energy-efficient than China, new study shows.

The Harperites should be ashamed: Canada ranks even lower than the US, and both of them lower than China. The Chinese figures are strange though - and may be explained by this article by Minxin Pei.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Authors say locavores do more harm than good (in Grist.org)

Full article: Authors say locavores do more harm than good.

Claire Thompson of Grist.org interviews Pierre Desrochers on the book he coauthored called "The Locavore's Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-Mile Diet."

Strangely, I don't see a reference to what happens if our energy supplies reduce drastically. And people in New Zealand, which the authors refer to in glowing terms, are starting to realize that feeding people could well become a problem there.

Further, rather more sensible in my view, commentary on their book in The Toronto Star. Cardboard tomatoes, anyone?

Sara Robinson: Memo to the Right Wing: Put Up or Shut Up (in OurFuture.org)

Sara Robinson: Memo to the Right Wing: Put Up or Shut Up.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Psychopathy and the CEO: Top executives have four times the incidence of psychopathy as the rest of us (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Psychopathy and the CEO: Top executives have four times the incidence of psychopathy as the rest of us.

Given that the world's most powerful nation is now arguably a corporatocracy, and that, "[if] we look at the corporation as a legal person, it exhibits all the characteristics of a psychopath using a personality diagnostic checklist by the World Health Organization", this article should really make us sit up and pay attention to where our so-called "democracies" are headed.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Heather Mallick: Global warming caused the heat wave that’s burning cities and destroying perfectly good hair (in The Toronto Star)

Heather Mallick bridges brilliantly from the global to the personal...

"Global warming requires communal work, not individuals crossing their fingers and hoping it never happens. This was impossible internationally, partly because of hidebound no-global-warming leaders like Stephen Harper, a resentful China and a skeptical U.S. But locally, there’s no other way."

Full article: Global warming caused the heat wave that’s burning cities and destroying perfectly good hair.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rick Salutin: Canada’s crooked path from Confederation to today (in The Toronto Star)

"Who will speak for Canada when its federal government doesn’t? Maybe provincial and local governments who are closer to the realities people have to live with arising from these trade deals. We may be in a situation where a looser, more combative Confederation is good for everyone — just as a stronger federal government may have made sense at certain times in the past."

Full article: Canada’s crooked path from Confederation to today.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Geoff Dembicki: The taboo tax the energy industry (not-so) secretly wants (in The Toronto Star)

"What would it take, I wondered, to create an oilsands sector that both the “for” and “against” sides could live with?

"Was it even possible?

"After months of interviewing dozens of insiders on both sides of the debate, I reached a surprising conclusion. ... They actually agree on quite a bit.

"In particular, they agree on the one issue you might expect would most divide them: the economic price on CO2 that the Harper cabinet has denounced as a killing machine for Canadian jobs.

...

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has merely dismissed the idea as “crazy economics” and a “crazy environmental policy.”

"Yet the most recent academic inquiry confirms my own findings. A study released earlier this week by researchers at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University after they surveyed business, community, civil society and academic leaders on that province’s unique-in-Canada economy-wide carbon tax, found that “a strong majority (64 per cent)” felt the policy has had positive consequences to date."

Full article: The taboo tax the energy industry (not-so) secretly wants.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gwynne Dyer: Rio 20 culprits set stage for climate ecocide (in Straight.com)

"We now have a 20-year history of defeats on this agenda, and there is a lot of defeatism around. Politicians are always reluctant to be linked to lost causes, and the struggles against poverty and environmental destruction now seem to fall into that category. Thus we sleepwalk towards terrible disasters—but that doesn’t absolve our leaders of responsibility. We didn’t hire them to follow; we hired them to lead.
...

"One day, after many great tragedies have occurred, there will be a law against ecocide. But almost all the real culprits will be gone by then. "

Full article: Gwynne Dyer: Rio 20 culprits set stage for climate ecocide.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Omar Khadr’s lawyers, Senator Romeo Dallaire head to Ottawa to demand Gitmo prisoner’s release (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Omar Khadr’s lawyers, Senator Romeo Dallaire head to Ottawa to demand Gitmo prisoner’s release.

One wonders if anyone remembers or cares that this is a Canadian citizen, child soldier, who was almost killed, abused, and then used as an exhibit to try to legitimize the US military tribunals. He was pressured into confessing to a killing that he may or may not have done, and is now the last Western national remaining in Guantanamo. He remains shackled to the floor in a solitary cell. For some strange reason Canada refuses to repatriate him, even though a deal was struck allowing him to return 8 months ago.

Ocean systems in peril (Al Jazeera English)

"[In] the Caribbean, a place where just a few decades ago coral was abundant, 80 per cent of the reefs have died.

"Oceanographer Carol Turley from the Plymouth Marine Lab in the UK has projected that by 2040, most of the Arctic Ocean will be too acidic for shell- forming species, including most plankton, and significant areas of the Southern Ocean (Antarctic Ocean) will also be affected.

"The effect causes the polar-regions' cold waters to allow more CO2 to be absorbed at an accelerated rate, which turns the oceans more acidic sooner.

"According to Turley, the oceans have not seen a rapid change like this in 60 million years."

Full article: Ocean systems in peril.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bob Hepburn: Lessons for Justin Trudeau from John Turner on being Liberal ‘saviour’ (in The Toronto Star)

"Ultimately, Justin Trudeau may emerge as the new leader when voting is conducted next April. If that happens, it had better be because he has developed solid, imaginative ideas, backed by a strong organizational team.

"That’s because if Trudeau triumphs in what amounts to the equivalent of a coronation, then the Liberals may well be repeating their mistakes of the past — mistakes that John Turner, the golden boy of 1984, knows only too well."

Full article: Lessons for Justin Trudeau from John Turner on being Liberal ‘saviour’.

Thomas Walkom: What’s behind Canada joining Trans-Pacific trade deal (in The Toronto Star)

"Citing documents obtained through freedom of information requests, the National Post has reported that Canadian officials literally begged the U.S. to let them into the Trans-Pacific talks.

"The begging worked. This week, Pacific Partnership members agreed to let Canada and Mexico join — on the understanding that they would have to abide by whatever the original nine had already decided (all of which is secret).

"What did Canada give up to get inside this particular door? Harper won’t say. But there is a strange air of panic around the decision."

Full article: Canada News: Walkom: What’s behind Canada joining Trans-Pacific trade deal.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tim Harper: Federal budget 2012: More subterfuge hidden inside The Trojan Horse bill (in The Toronto Star)

"“If the House cannot hold the government of the day to account, then why have the House at all?’’ [NDP House leader Nathan] Cullen asked.

"“If Members of Parliament cannot do their jobs and cannot go back to their constituents with a clear conscience and understanding of the legislation that has been brought before us and its implications, then why are Members of Parliament in the service of Canadians at all? They are not.’’"

Full article: Canada News: Tim Harper: Federal budget 2012: More subterfuge hidden inside The Trojan Horse bill.

Another article on the "ominous" omnibus bill, by R. Michael Warren, former corporate director, Ontario deputy minister, TTC chief general manager and Canada Post CEO: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1210359--ominous-omnibus-budget-bill-will-impact-millions .

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thomas Walkom: Is Stephen Harper’s global military policy delusional or just plain mad? (in The Toronto Star)

"Steven Staples, a military analyst and head of Ottawa’s Rideau Institute, calls the entire idea [of setting up a network of military bases around the world] a waste of money.

"“The notion that we’re going to have permanent bases around the world is over the top. I don’t understand the rationale for parking a bunch of equipment in Singapore in case we might need it some time. That’s why we bought C-17s in the first place — so we could move troops and material quickly.”

"My analysis is darker. I fear the government is deliberate in its madness. I think it is setting up foreign military bases because it fully expects to have Canadian troops fight alongside the U.S. or NATO in more Afghanistan-style wars."

Full article: Thomas Walkom: Is Stephen Harper’s global military policy delusional or just plain mad?

What, if anything, were we trying to do in Afghanistan? Did we know - or care?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rick Salutin: Canadians owe a debt to Quebec’s student strikers (in The Toronto Star)

"Do you ever tire of hearing about everything that’s now impossible and how we need to get real? It’s only in the last few decades that governments became bodies exclusively devoted to eliminating whatever was once built by and for everyone — like public education. Those days lie within historical memory — at a time when our society was less wealthy and its people less educated. They’re also sometimes just a plane ride away, like Finland, where schooling is free right through university — and it’s a lot like Canada, except without our natural resources! It isn’t undoable, it’s merely become unthinkable, except for those neat students in the streets of Quebec.

"They are our Indignados and we owe them."

Full article: Canadians owe a debt to Quebec’s student strikers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tim Harper: Uniting progressives at the grassroots level — is Simcoe North alone? (in The Toronto Star)

"Last Saturday, a protest against the omnibus bill was held in Orillia and it was jointly organized by all three opposition parties in the riding.

"There were calls at the rally to field one “progressive” candidate in 2015. It’s a view held by many in Simcoe North.
...

"Roger Pretty, a former NDP campaign manager and candidate, said he has not seen such common ground among opposition parties in more than four decades of political work.

"“It’s energizing to sit down with our friends on the progressive side,” he said. “I would suggest there is a lot more in common between the Greens, the Liberals and New Democrats in this riding than there are among the former Reformers and Progressive Conservatives who joined as the Conservative party.”"

Full article: Canada News: Tim Harper: Uniting progressives at the grassroots level — is Simcoe North alone?.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Using hydrogen to connect gas and electricity system (in The Toronto Star)

"Daryl Wilson, chief executive of Hydrogenics, told reporters at the World Hydrogen Energy Conference that there’s a potential for up to 1,000 megawatts of hydrogen-fuelled generation capacity in Ontario.

"Hydrogen can be used to store surplus power, he said. Ontario sometimes has too much power, for example, when high winds produce a flood of energy during periods of low demand.

"That depresses prices, and Ontario ratepayers occasionally have to pay neighbouring states and provinces to absorb the excess power.

"Ideally, surplus power would be stored for later use. But right now, there are few ways to do so, since electricity can’t be bottled like oil or gas.

"Using surplus power to produce hydrogen, by breaking water molecules into separate streams of oxygen and hydrogen atoms, is one way to store the energy.

"That’s where pipeline companies come in. Hydrogen produced using surplus power can be pumped into the natural gas system to supplement the gas supply."

Full article: Using hydrogen to connect gas and electricity system.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

“We’ve seen that girls’ education can bring in a lot to the community” (in The Toronto Star)

"...her outspoken mother, known simply as Mama Teriano, also played a key role. Though she never went past Grade 3, she had a fierce belief in education for her daughter."

Full article: Toronto News: How cows figured in a Kenyan woman’s Toronto education.

Finally, a good news story! Story about how Teriano Lesancha, a young Masai woman, fought for an education, and how this has turned her life around - and that of her family and village. She dreams of being the first female Masai member of Kenyan Parliament, of helping build a hospital in her village and even creating the first Masai university.

Thomas Walkom: GM Oshawa job cuts show real economy hurting under Stephen Harper (in The Toronto Star)

"Insofar as Shell and other oil companies employ workers, the government is also protecting Canadian jobs. But jobs are a side effect. If the petroleum industry could figure out a way to mine the tar sands entirely with robot labour — and with all inputs provided by cheap offshore manufacturers — this government would be fine with that as well. ...

"To this government, the only thing that matters is something called the economy. Those real people who make up this economy are irrelevant. If they are out of work, the fault is theirs. They should accept lower wages.

"They certainly can’t expect to have both an unspoiled environment and jobs. Chinese workers don’t enjoy luxuries such as health and safety standards. Why should Canadians? The “economy” doesn’t permit such things."

Full article: Canada News: Walkom: GM Oshawa job cuts show real economy hurting under Stephen Harper.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: The Woman Who Changed Her Brain by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young (in The Toronto Star)

"Dr. Norman Doidge is a Toronto psychiatrist who has written about both Arrowsmith-Young and neuroplasticity, first in a magazine article and then in The Brain That Changes Itself (Penguin Books, 2007). He also wrote the foreword to "The Woman Who Changed Her Brain." He's clearly bothered that so few people know about Arrowsmith's methods, given the need.

"Unfortunately, access is the issue — not just lack of knowledge. The majority of Canadian families can't afford tuition at the private schools where the Arrowsmith program is primarily offered. Until this knowledge and these programs make it into mainstream public schools, children and youth with learning disabilities will continue to be disadvantaged."

Full review: The Woman Who Changed Her Brain by Barbara Arrowsmith-Young.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Slashing of agency reveals Canadian reliance on outdated economic thinking (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Slashing of agency reveals Canadian reliance on outdated economic thinking.

Alysia Garmulewicz is a Canadian Rhodes Scholar studying for a doctorate at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.

Thomas Walkom: EI changes driven by contempt and ideology (in The Toronto Star)

"The bone-headed ideology stems from the Conservative government’s primitive, Economics 101 view of the world.

"The contempt is that of comfortable, well-heeled politicians who, deep down, assume that those unfortunate enough to have lost their jobs lack moral fibre. ...

"Are cash-strapped farmers forced to bring in desperately poor workers from South America to harvest crops? Then the answer is not to reform the food system so that farmers — and farm labourers — can make a living wage. It is to make more Canadians so desperate that they will take be forced to take these Grapes of Wrath jobs. ...

"If you haven’t made it, you must be a slug. ...

"Former Conservative foreign affairs minister Lawrence Cannon, for instance, has no need of EI. He received a $78,866 taxpayer-paid severance package as a reward for being defeated in the last election.

"This month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave him a cushy job as Canada’s ambassador to France.

"Nor will Finley [Human Resources Minister Diane Finley] need EI. If she loses her MP job in the next election, she’ll be eligible for a lifetime, publicly funded pension entitlement of $1.8 million, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. That’s on top of the roughly $2.5 in lifetime salary and pension her husband, Harper crony and Conservative Senator Doug Finley, is taking from the public purse.

"They’re doing fine. So why can’t you? You loser."

Full article: EI changes driven by contempt and ideology.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Carol Goar: Canada’s best undervalued asset: its social entrepreneurs (in The Toronto Star)

"Toronto is home to some of the most remarkable social entrepreneurs in the world: environmentalist Geoff Cape, who turned an abandoned brickyard in the Don Valley into a self-financing nature retreat with gardens, wilderness, an urban farm, organic food market and outdoor classrooms; Craig Keilburger, a 12-year-old student who founded Free the Children to end child labour and built a youth advocacy in 45 countries; Michael Labbé, a non-profit developer who proved he could build homes that low-income families in Toronto could afford; and George Roter, a 23-year-old engineering graduate who envisioned sending out young engineers to show rural Africans how to bring water to their villages, increase their crop yields, sell some of their produce and make a living. But most have made it on their own or with seed money from a far-sighted philanthropist. Governments, businesses and banks weren’t willing to take a risk."

Full article: Canada’s best undervalued asset: its social entrepreneurs.

Bob Hepburn: Conrad Black and his fight to regain his Canadian citizenship (in The Toronto Star)

"Last fall in his weekly National Post column, Conrad Black described the controversy over his decision in 2001 to renounce his Canadian citizenship as “minor and now very stale.”

"How wrong he is!

"Fresh out of a Florida prison, Black will soon learn just how mistaken he is about how average Canadians feel about his decade-old move to toss aside his citizenship in his lust to become a member of the British House of Lords."

Full article: Conrad Black and his fight to regain his Canadian citizenship.

When even the Toronto Sun comes out against him, one would hope that our government will pay some attention to the will of the people, unusual as that is these days.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thomas Walkom: After Afghanistan failure, NATO should scale back or call it quits (in The Toronto Star)

"The sad story of the Afghan war is well-known. It was ill-conceived and ultimately counterproductive. It has lasted longer than World War II, yet achieved virtually nothing.

"As the New York Times reported this week, U.S. officials no longer talk of leaving a coherent, strong, democratic state behind when they and other NATO members pull out the bulk of their troops in 2014.

"Instead they talk of leaving behind something “good enough for Afghanistan.” By that they mean a nation still divided, still embroiled in civil war — one where the Taliban still controls large swaths of territory.

...

"Perhaps NATO should return to what it was originally supposed to be: a strictly defensive military alliance.

"Or, if there’s no need for that, perhaps it should gracefully exit the world stage. Sixty-three years is a respectable run."

Full article: Canada News: Walkom: After Afghanistan failure, NATO should scale back or call it quits.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Carol Goar: Constructive capitalism: business that makes people’s live better (in The Toronto Star)

"“None of this is easy,” [Umair] Haque acknowledges. “It won’t magically create a paradise overnight or possibly ever. Only one thing is certain: the future belongs to those countries that make an institutional leap forward.”

Canada isn’t likely to be one of them. With a prime minister bent on selling off its natural resources as rapidly as possible, the country is heading backward to the 19th century, not rising to the challenges of a new millennium."

Full article: Constructive capitalism: business that makes people’s live better.

Umair Haque is an alumnus of McGill University who now runs a global research institute in London.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Richard Gwyn: Economic crisis puts democracy to the test (in The Toronto Star)

"Democracy is our great political achievement. We’re going to have to fight as hard to preserve it as for our economic prosperity."

Full article: Economic crisis puts democracy to the test.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jeff Rubin's new book on how high priced oil is changing our lives (in The Toronto Star)

"The former chief economist at CIBC World Markets is once again rattling the cages with his take on the impact of high-cost oil.

"“We’re going to see people get off the road. We’re going to see people all of a sudden drive different types of vehicles. We’re going to see people relocate and we’re going to see tremendous public pressure for spending on public transit,” Rubin predicted during an hour-long interview in the publisher’s offices in downtown Toronto."

Full article: How high priced oil is changing our lives.

Some predictions from the former chief economist at CIBC World Markets. Read it as science fiction, or as serious speculation - either way, it could spark some interesting discussions.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Trevor Greene: From one battlefield to another (in The Toronto Star)

"The Canada I went overseas to fight for was a tolerant and open society, always striving to do the right thing, and to bring to the world a sense that tomorrow can be better than today.

"Today, though, the government in Ottawa seems to want to throw all that out the window. Stephen Harper’s vision of Canada seems to begin, and end, in the tarsands, and everything else be damned. Tolerance is redefined as applying only to anyone who agrees with that vision. Everyone else is “radical,” an “extremist,” or even included in his government’s new program battling terrorism."

Full article: Trevor Greene: From one battlefield to another.

Trevor Greene is a genuine Canadian hero - he was part of the 1st Battalion PPCLI battle group in the tiny village of Shinkay, when during a meeting with local elders to discuss their needs for water, housing and education, he was almost killed by an axe-blow to the head. Although given little hope of surviving, he is now running a foundation with his wife to educate Afghan girls as teachers, and the couple is expecting a son in June.

Winslow Wheeler: F-35: The jet that ate the Pentagon (in The Toronto Star)

"The F-35 is an expensive mediocrity that is beyond fixing. There’s only one option: Junk it."

Full article: F-35: The jet that ate the Pentagon.

Winslow Wheeler is director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information. Previously, he worked for 31 years on national security issues for Republican and Democratic senators and for the Government Accountability Office.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tobacco company knew smoking was deadly in the ’80s, memo shows (in The Toronto Star)

"An internal memo showing that Imperial Tobacco has known cigarettes to be deadly and addictive since the 1980s has been entered into evidence in Quebec’s $27 billion class-action lawsuit against Big Tobacco, despite repeated objections from the company’s lawyers.

"In the memo, Bob Bexon, Imperial Tobacco’s former director of Marketing Research and Development, admits that the only thing keeping tobacco companies in business is the addictiveness of cigarettes.

"“The only remaining ‘benefit’ of cigarette smoking is the psychological assist it provides in terms of stress reduction,” Bexon writes in the confidential memo. “If our product was not addictive we would not sell a single cigarette next week in spite of these positive psychological attributes.”"

Full article: Canada News: Tobacco company knew smoking was deadly in the ’80s, memo shows.

This is quite wonderful! 30+ years of stone-walling up in smoke!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Big Agriculture's Big Secrets: 9 Things You Need to Know About the Food You Eat (in AlterNet)

Big Agriculture's Big Secrets: 9 Things You Need to Know About the Food You Eat.

Don't read this if you are at all squeamish...

Thomas Walkom: Northern Gateway pipeline faces ‘unbreakable’ wall (in The Toronto Star)

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have the legislative muscle to ram his controversial oilsands pipeline through Parliament.

"But Jackie Thomas [head of the Saik’uz first nation near Prince George, B.C.] and a host of equally stubborn British Columbia Indian chiefs are here to tell him that the proposed Northern Gateway conduit is far from a done deal."

Full article: Canada News: Walkom: Northern Gateway pipeline faces ‘unbreakable’ wall.

And here's another interesting article: RCMP spied on B.C. natives protesting pipeline plan, documents show.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

North Dufferin Agricultural and Community Taskforce

Web site: NDACT - Home.

"3191574 Nova Scotia Company, operating as The Highland Companies, has filed an application for a 2,316 acre 200 foot below the water table open pit limestone quarry to be situated on lands they own in Melancthon Township [Ontario]."

How Can I Help?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Canada's National Submission to Rio+20

Canada's National Submission.

Just wondering if someone can explain to me what this really means, given our government's abysmal record on climate change?

Sample paragraph:
"Canada believes that countries need to focus and strengthen efforts on the management of their natural resources in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. These efforts should include policies that improve natural resource management, environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Particular attention should be given to assisting countries that face significant capacity challenges. Canada has taken a leadership role in corporate social responsibility (CSR) by launching in 2009 its CSR Strategy for the Canadian extractive sector operating abroad. The Strategy includes support for host country resource governance capacity-building initiatives such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative; endorsement and promotion of widely-recognized international CSR performance guidelines such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights; and the creation of the Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor."

Rising Ontario electricity prices have little to do with the cost of renewable energy (in The Toronto Star)

"... there’s been no shortage of mudslinging over rising electricity prices. But there’s more to it than critics of renewable energy would you have you believe: new data helps to clarify how prices are linked more to nuclear power than clean energy programs.

"To start with, electricity prices are going to go up no matter what source of energy we choose to use. Half of the provincial electricity system’s generating capacity — including almost every nuclear reactor — needs to be replaced or rebuilt within the next 10 years and you simply cannot build power plants in 2012 at 1980s prices.

"While it’s the only province so far to be phasing out coal, price increases are by no means exclusive to Ontario. In coal-powered Alberta, energy prices are forecast to rise by 50 per cent between 2010 and 2016. Between 2002 and 2010, rates in Nova Scotia rose by 37 per cent. In Saskatchewan they rose by 36 per cent. And B.C. Hydro forecasts a rate increase of 32 per cent between 2011 and 2014.

"What seems to be unique to Ontario is the fear that renewable energy is the sole cause of the increase."

Full article: Rising electricity prices have little to do with renewable energy.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

British Columbia aboriginal communities using technology to bring endangered languages back from the brink (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Canada News: British Columbia aboriginal communities using technology to bring endangered languages back from the brink.

See also Kutenai language.

Thomas Walkom: Stephen Harper’s stealthy war against wages and the environment (in The Toronto Star)

"... The Harper revolution has never been about abortion or gay rights. This prime minister has little interest in social conservatism.

"Rather, the revolution is economic. It is aimed at eliminating regulations — particularly environmental regulations — that interfere in profit-making. It is aimed at reducing wages (which is why the Conservatives take swipes at unions whenever possible). It is aimed at scaling back any social programs — from Old Age Security to Employment Insurance — that help keep wages up.

"The revolutionaries dream of a day when the elderly, energized by the reductions in their pensions, will be vying for jobs at Walmart.

"But it is a stealthy revolution. The country must remain complacent. Otherwise, we might object."

Full article: Canada News: Walkom: Stephen Harper’s stealthy war against wages and the environment.

This is an important article - Canada had better wake up!

See also The Star's Tim Harper (no kin) on Stephen Harper's masterly use of the "omnibus bill".

Friday, May 4, 2012

Paul Gilding's powerful speech at TED 2012

My talk at TED 2012 now available. - Paul Gilding - Independent writer & advisor on sustainability.

Paul Gilding has been an activist and social entrepreneur for 35 years, and his personal mission and purpose is to lead, inspire and motivate action globally on the transition of society and the economy to sustainability.

AlterNet: Heartland Institute Compares Climate Science Believers and Reporters to Mass 'Murderers And Madmen'

Full article: Heartland Institute Compares Climate Science Believers and Reporters to Mass 'Murderers And Madmen'.

Truly, if someone wrote this story as fiction, we would say it was a bit hard to swallow... The Heartland ad campaign carries disinformation to heights not seen since a certain European leader extolled the virtues of "the Big Lie". As AlterNet says, "These ads are so extremist that failing to denounce them is an implicit endorsement of the worst kind of hate speech."

Thomas Walkom: Welcome back Conrad Black. Surely we don’t deserve you (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Canada News: Walkom: Welcome back Conrad Black. Surely we don’t deserve you.

The Star's Thomas Walkom compares the treatment of Lord Black of Crossharbour, who renounced his Canadian citizenship to become a British lord, and was given a Temporary Residence Permit before he was even out of prison, with that of Gary Freeman, who is not allowed back into Canada to see his wife and family, supposedly because he "served 30 days in jail in the U.S. four years ago for wounding a Chicago police officer under disputed circumstances in the ’60s."

FYI, Crossharbour is a Docklands Light Railway station, west of Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs in east London. It is between Mudchute and South Quay stations - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossharbour_DLR_station.

AlterNet's Sara Robinson: Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner?

Full article: Fascist America: Have We Finally Turned The Corner?.

AlterNet's Sara Robinson sees reasons for optimism.

"The author offers one of her periodic assessments of America's potential to go fascist. And the news is better than it's been in years." (AlterNet)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Carol Goar: Toronto incubates new brand of business-charity hybrids (in The Toronto Star)

"Social enterprises are business-charity hybrids. They aim to do well in the marketplace in order to do good in the community.

"The concept is not new. Long before anyone was theorizing about it, Maritimers were doing it. Dairy farmers built co-op creameries to cut their costs and stabilize their communities. Fruit growers organized co-operatives to break the grip of exploitative middlemen. Townsfolk pooled their earnings to set up co-op stores. These grassroots initiatives were one of the best anti-poverty programs ever conceived.

"In the 1920s, a group of visionary priests at St. Francis Xavier University added adult education to the mix, travelling from village to village teaching people crop management and literacy. Over the next 30 years, the Antigonish movement spread from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, then moved westward, incorporating the ideas of Quebec’s caisses populaires. In the ’60s, it petered out.

"Today’s social enterprise movement is a digital, secular, urban renaissance of that tradition.

...

"Now, unlike then, there is no crusader like Father Moses Coady of the Antigonish movement to spread the message and cut through “the pessimism that has so benumbed everyone that nothing has been attempted to break the spell.”

"His modern-day heirs might have the right formula. But they need an articulate leader who can explain social entrepreneurship to Canadians and give them a stake in its success."

Full article: Toronto incubates new brand of business-charity hybrids.

Thomas Walkom: Toronto’s elephants part of larger battle over animals (in The Toronto Star)

"History suggests that when the debate over animals is addressed head on, those who believe such creatures exist solely for the pleasure and profit of humans generally win."

Full article: Canada News: Walkom: Toronto’s elephants part of larger battle over animals.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A May Day Like No Other — YES! Magazine

"What to expect from Occupy’s next big action."

A May Day Like No Other — YES! Magazine.

BBC News - Climate 'tech fixes' urged for Arctic methane

"Scientists told UK MPs this week that the possibility of a major methane release triggered by melting Arctic ice constitutes a 'planetary emergency'."

Full article: BBC News - Climate 'tech fixes' urged for Arctic methane.

Arctic Methane Emergency Group

Arctic Methane Emergency Group.

Important information and ideas on this group.

Andrew Mitrovica: CSIS freed from final shreds of oversight (in The Toronto Star)

"So there you have it: no Inspector General [axed supposedly to save $1,000,000], and no new SIRC [Security Intelligence Review Committee] chair. This is what constitutes accountability over Canada’s spy service today. This, from a government that made a seemingly solemn pledge to make accountability a guiding governing principle. What a dangerous farce."

Full article: CSIS freed from final shreds of oversight.

Senator Colin Kenny: Federal government’s message management flies F-35 into the ground (in The Toronto Star)

"If the product is state-of-the art and the prices do not skyrocket beyond what is reasonable, this will be money well spent. If neither of these conditions applies, it won’t be, and we shouldn’t spend it.

"You would think a clever government could put that message across. Instead, after trying to be sly about cost estimates that were foolish in the first place, and after making it sound like the purchase was a done deal, this government hasn’t even managed to put out a list of Canadian aeronautical firms benefitting from the development of the F-35 — detailing what kinds of jobs have been created and what sophisticated skills have been developed in Canada.

"You want stupid. This government will give you stupid. In spades."

Full article: Federal government’s message management flies F-35 into the ground.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Glenn Wheeler: May Day gives Canadian unions a chance to reflect on the future of labour (in The Toronto Star)

"We need to convince workers that we have a valuable service that we can provide for a very modest charge – in many cases, less than your monthly cable TV bill. They don’t need a union because their employer is part of a capitalist conspiracy but because management advances the company’s interests and workers need someone to protect theirs."

Full article: May Day gives Canadian unions a chance to reflect on the future of labour.

Glenn Wheeler is legal counsel for a labour union and an executive member of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sierra Club Scrapbook: Combating Climate Change and Global Poverty in One Fell Swoop

Full article: Combating Climate Change and Global Poverty in One Fell Swoop.

Thanks to TckTckTck for this link.

Eduardo Paes: The 4 commandments of cities | Video on TED.com

Eduardo Paes: The 4 commandments of cities | Video on TED.com.

Fantastic presentation! Maybe the mayor of Toronto should watch this!

Arctic News: Comprehensive Plan of Action

Arctic News: Comprehensive Plan of Action

David Climenhaga: Why Alberta's Wildrose Party is not long for this world

Full article: Why Alberta's Wildrose Party is not long for this world.

Post appearing in Rabble.ca and David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta diary.

Animal, vegetable - or monster? 9ft-high fossil dubbed 'Godzillus' baffles experts (Daily Mail)

Full article: Animal, vegetable - or monster? 9ft-high fossil dubbed 'Godzillus' baffles experts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Carol Goar: Greed loses its glamour, even on Wall Street (in The Toronto Star)

"... restive stirring is in the air. Once-passive investors are beginning to challenge the notion that corporate CEOs deserve 300 times as much pay as the average worker. Once-tractable voters are beginning to question the notion that raising taxes is unthinkable.

"The pendulum, stuck at the far right for a decade, is beginning to shift."

Full article: Greed loses its glamour, even on Wall Street.

David Olive: Ignatieff, "forgotten but not gone" (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Ignatieff never has and never will understand Canada.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stephen Bede Scharper: A tree, a hill and a prayer (in The Toronto Star)

"Deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, [Julia Butterfly] Hill claims that one of the greatest crises we now face, both in our human and ecological relations, is the “disease of disconnect,” a “separation syndrome” whereby we don’t see our fundamental biological and spiritual connection with the trees, the waters, the air and the other elements of life. We somehow persist in thinking that we can continue with business as usual, destroying our ecosystems, polluting our waters, eliminating species, changing the climate, and it won’t adversely affect our health or the well-being of our families."

Full article: A tree, a hill and a prayer.

Heather Mallick: Shame on Collingwood-area residents building tiny houses to block wind farm (in The Toronto Star)

"... How we fool ourselves, as if our resolute wrecking of our children’s future is some kind of guarantee that we will live forever in endless moneyed comfort.

"It won’t work out that way. We live inside a planetary dome. It will grow hotter and hotter in those turbine-hostile dollhouses. If only their owners were forced to actually live in them, a Big Brother test case of how well — or how badly — we’ll endure a pressure-cooked future."

Full article: Shame on Collingwood-area residents building tiny houses to block wind farm.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Haroon Siddiqui: Is the Charter changing Canada for the worse? (in The Toronto Star)

“Canadians see medicare as a social good. Americans see it as a commodity. That’s the sharp, sharp contrast between our societies.” - Roy Romanow, the former NDP premier of Saskatchewan, and one of the architects of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Full article: Canada News: Siddiqui: Is the Charter changing Canada for the worse?.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Poll challenges view that Canadians oppose higher taxes (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Canada News: Poll challenges view that Canadians oppose higher taxes.

Could it be that the famed antipathy to taxes of N. Americans is in fact something that has been consciously manipulated by the neocons and big business that supports them...?

Also an article by Ed Broadbent on this in same paper.

Monday, March 19, 2012

David Goutor: NDP needs to get Europe right (in The Toronto Star)

"The experience in much of Europe shows that social democratic policies can actually work."

Full article: NDP needs to get Europe right.

David Goutor is an assistant professor in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hugh Graham: West stumbling in Afghanistan’s Heart of Darkness (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: West stumbling in Afghanistan’s Heart of Darkness.

This is worth reading. There is an old joke about the little old lady asking a soldier: "I understand why you have to toughen them up for war, but how are you going to soften them up afterwards?"