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Slashing of agency reveals Canadian reliance on outdated economic thinking (in The Toronto Star)

Full article: Slashing of agency reveals Canadian reliance on outdated economic thinking.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