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Showing posts from August, 2008

The creative arts community needs to wake up, now.

Harper’s new vision for the arts doesn’t include the new media either.

The Tories have just announced the cancellation of the Canada New Media Fund (CNMF).

The CMF is $14.5-million-a-year program designed to create and distribute Canadian interactive new media both domestically and internationally.

The objective of the fund that was administered by Telefilm Canada, was to further the development, production, marketing and distribution of high quality, original, interactive or on-line cultural content products.

Some examples of creative productions that were funded include:, a Gemini award winning online community-style website that drew “100’s of thousands” of members and has been called a precursor of social networking giant MySpace. by GlassBOX. Race to Mars also an award winning interactive website by GlassBOX and the discovery, the first TV show and website in American Sign Language for deaf children, which has also won numerous international awards.…

This is what happens when companies are left in charge of food safety

From the Toronto Sun today:

Workers at the Maple Leaf Foods plant linked to a fatal, nationwide listeria outbreak cut corners when they cleaned food processing machines, a longtime employee claims.

"They haven't cleaned some of the machines' (interiors) in four, five years," said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous.

Richard Arsenault, a CFIA manager, told the Sun earlier this week that Maple Leaf conducts visual and sample tests daily and a CFIA inspector would come in for an hour a day to check the company's cleaning records. Maple Leaf, not the CFIA, does the routine checks.

"[CFIA] conducts three or four random tests a year and does one test per product every month," Arsenault said.

Lunn and Clement know squat about isotope production

On Tuesday we learned that a nuclear reactor in the Netherlands that produces medical isotopes under contract for the AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) has been temporarily shut down.

Both Lunn and Clement who were on their way to Denver for meetings with oil executives who were in town for the Democratic convention issued quick reassurances that Canada's needs were secure.
Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn issued a statement early Tuesday saying the government is working with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and suppliers to try to ensure a consistent supply of medical isotopes for Canadians.

Health Minister Tony Clement has issued a similar statement saying the government is working to ensure that Canadians will have the isotopes they need.

The government also says AECL can increase production to help close the supply gap, should a global shortage of isotopes arise.However today we learn something about isotope manufacturing that apparently neither Lunn or Clement know.

There …

CFIA admits that the new plan doesn't necessarily work as designed

With up to 15 deaths so far that sounds like an understatement.
Under a deluge of disbelief from the inspectors' union, over remarks made by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, CFIA officials are now changing their story.

Ritz said there was 50-50 split between paperwork inspections and floor inspections.

However CFIA spokesperson has now clarified that the 50-50 split is the way the new system was designed "but not necessarily the way it actually works".

But Bob Kingston, head of the agriculture union at the agency, says inspectors are being deluged with paper audits and simply don't have enough hours in the day to do floor inspections.The new CFIA plan was being tested at the Maple Leaf plant and like BigCityLib here, I would like to know how many other plants are being tested.

Ritz should stop defending the plan, start talking to his inspectors and come up with a system that works. One where inspectors actually inspect.

From the Globe here.

The Tories defense of their new food inspection rules misses the point

Yesterday afternoon the Tories came out in defense of the changes they have made to Canada’s food inspection processes.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said inspectors were doing their job properly at the Maple Leaf Foods plant.Ritz is missing the point. No one has said that the inspectors were not doing their job as defined by the new rules. The press and the union are questioning the new rules that his department has put in place.

In the past inspectors, inspected the floor, and performed actual tests, such as swabbing for Lysteria, now they only perform one test a year.

The inspectors role has been reduced to reviewing the reports prepared by the factory.
Paul Mayers a spokesperson for the department, tried to defend his department’s new rules for inspection saying that reviewing the procedural reports produced by the company was “just as important as being on the floor of the plant”.Mayers is also missing the point made by the press and the union, if the paperwork says everything i…

Harper’s new meat inspection rules were already in place at the Maple Leaf plant.

Contrary to what we were told last week, "the Maple Leaf Toronto plant was one of the plants where the CFIA began testing the new inspection system a year ago". The inspector responsible for the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto also had to supervise up to half a dozen other facilities.
At the Maple Leaf plant behind the listeria outbreak, a single federal inspector was relegated to auditing company paperwork and had to deal with several other plants, a CFIA manager and an union official revealed, contradicting the impression that officials had left last week that full-time watchdogs were on-site.

Under the new rules, instead of heading to the plant floor to inspect with their own eyes, inspectors are sent to the office to confirm that the meat packer has performed the required tests and the results are satisfactory, said the union official.

"We don't swab for listeria any more. The industry does all that themselves," he said. "They just document all this stuff. …

Call me a cynic but these look like bright shiny objects to me

With as many as 12 deaths possibly linked to the current out break of listeria at MapleLeaf foods coinciding with the Tories plans to cut back on federal meat inspectors, it seems like we are now getting a lot of stories about how the government is concerned about our public safety.

Here's some samples from the last three days:

Federal government deems 4 chemicals danger to humans

Burning incense increases cancer risks: study

Decline in smoking rates flatlines; cancer group blames contraband cigarettes

Stockwell Day says street gang prevention having positive impact in Montreal

Too much folic acid may trigger cancer

Netherlands shuts down reactor that produces medical isotopes
Both Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn and Health Minister Tony Clement have issued similar statements saying the government is working to ensure that Canadians will have the isotopes they need.

And from the Health Canada site

Expert Alert - Risking your Health for Your Job?
For workers feeling refreshed from their …

A boat load heading to the Arctic

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper will head north for his fourth visit in three years.

This week more than 500 troops will be participating in Operation Nanook 08.
"The Canadian Forces, along with our other government departments, need to be ready to respond to... threats such as environmental accidents, oil spills (and) potentially communicable disease outbreaks on a cruise ship," said Brig-Gen. David Millar, commander of Joint Task Force North.The exercise is probably necessary once the oil companies find out who they have to pay the royalties to and start drilling.

However the real purpose of this week's PR operation which also includes CSIS, Canadian Border services and civilian agencies is to reinforce Canada’s forthcoming UN claim to suspected rich oil deposits along the Lomonsov Ridge.

The Prime Minister expected to return to Ottawa.

Reference CTV here and the National Post here.

Note to self when drowning in the Niagara River, if rescued report to US customs first

Two Toronto-area men are behind bars in Buffalo after being dramatically rescued from the Niagara River.

Both were riding Sea-Doos when they were knocked into the water after hitting strong currents.

One was rescued by a US tour boat, the other was washed ashore. They were taken into custody by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service and were charged with failure to report on landfall into the States.
They will attend a closed hearing before an immigration judge today. It's expected, they'll either be issued a removal order and deported back to Canada or the judge may dismiss the charges against them.

"If a removal order is issued, the two will need to go through an extensive application process in order to return to the U.S."So much for that the largest unprotected border claim at least on the south side.

Canada's department of foreign affairs has declined to comment.

Reference: from CNEWS here.

Dysfunctional meetings about dysfunctional governance

What Harper has labelled as a dysfunctionally operating parliament has been more disrupted by the extraneous law suits and committee hearings than actually what took place inside the chamber.
When Harper meets with the opposition leaders he should offer to clean up some of the lawsuits that are getting in the way of a functioning parliament since many of them are coming to head this fall. Elections Canada lawsuit The Tories have sued Elections Canada for withholding 2006 campaign reimbursements. Elections Canada alleges that the Tories illegally funnelled advertising expenses during the 2006 campaign, allowing the Tories to exceed their national campaign spending limit by $1.3 million. Ethics Committee hearing The parliamentary inquiry into the Conservative "in and out" election scheme looking into allegations the Conservative party illegally skirted its spending limit for the 2006 election. Harper’s defamation lawsuit Harper's $3.5-million defamation suit against the Liberal p…

Keith Moon would of been 62 today

Keith Moon was one of the first to play drums as a lead instrument in an era when drums were supposed only to keep the back beat. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest and most distinctive rock drummers.

Here he is with the Who, playing Who are you

Unfortunately he was also regarded as one of the classic self destructed victims of 70’s rock & roll. Here's a Moon the Loon story. Once, leaving town on the way to an airport, Moon insisted the band return to their hotel, saying , "I forgot something. We've got to go back!"
When the limo returned, Moon ran to his room, grabbed the TV while it was plugged in, threw it out the window and into the pool. He then jumped back into the limousine, sighing "I nearly forgot."Here's the band playing Baba O'Riley

However when you read about his early life even in this short bio, you realize that he was crazy before the sex, drugs and rock & roll.
At 17 a month before he joined the Who, Moon assaulted Doug…

US Academics fear speaking freely in Canada, at least the one with religious homophobic tendancies

From the National Post today.
A group of U. S. professors launched a campaign this week protesting plans by a prominent political science organization to hold its annual conference in Toronto next year, claiming that Canada's restrictions on certain forms of speech puts controversial academics at risk of being prosecuted.Bradley Watson, professor of American and Western political thought at Pennsylvania's St. Vincent College, seems to be leading the charge by presenting a petition to the American Political Science Association (APSA) to re-evaluate its selection of Toronto for its 2009 conference.
Mr. Watson said that professors signing the petition are concerned that recent human rights commission investigations into Maclean's and Western Standard magazines over articles concerning Islam, and the conviction of pastor Stephen Boisson, who was ordered by Alberta's human rights tribunal in May to cease publicizing criticisms of homosexuality, suggest that professors risk b…

John Lee Hooker would of been 91 today

Here he is at age 72 playing Boogie Chillen with the Stones and Clapton in 1989

And here he is much younger playing Boom Boom when he was a one man show

Both songs were named to the list of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. and Boogie Chillen was included as one of the Songs of the Century.

Even though he started playing the blues in his teens he didn't get a record deal until "Boogie Chillen" in 1948 when he turned 30.

John Lee Hooker passed away in 2001 and was survived by eight children, nineteen grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren. He was a prolific bluesman with over 100 albums.

Here's a great quote from Johnny Lee/

Women are like wet bars of soap. Hold on to em too hard and they pop outta your hands.

Tories reveal their ideological approach to... well everything

From the Globe this morning we learn that the $40 plus million that the Tories cut from arts funding over the last month will be used to finance their commitments to the Olympics. Apparently this was part of their 2008 budget that promised to “redirect all savings” from cuts to several Department of Canadian Heritage domains to invest in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic torch relays; the Road to Excellence program which supports Summer Olympic athletes and the Action Plan for Official Languages which promotes bilingualism.As it turns out the Strategic Review that has supposed to be going on where the Tories uncovered examples of rampant waste in arts funding (a band named Fuck and a left wing Globe journalist receiving traveling money) was really a red herring as the decision was made back in 2007 when they were preparing their budgets. The Tories will spend $24.5 million on the Olympic torch relay (which apparently isn’t a new event, but is actually people carrying a torch around the wo…

An environmental plan devised for or by the oil industry

The Prime Ministers Office or PMO is the head office of the government.

The corporate board room where the top executives (senior advisers) gather with the CEO (Harper) to devise their strategies and pass down the marching orders to their managers (ministers) and front line troops.

It’s Canada’s version of the White House.

If you want something done in this country, similarly to the corporate world, you send your top sales people or lobbyists to the head office for face to face meetings with the decision makers, Harper’s senior advisers.

With July being the first month in which all lobbyist meetings were required to be disclosed, it appears that of all the various lobbyist groups requesting face to face time with the PMO, fifty percent of those granted a meeting were from the oil and gas industry.
Harper's senior advisers filled their calendars in July with one-on-one meetings with some of the country's biggest oil companies, including Shell, Petro-Canada and Suncor.

Newly released …

Robert Plant turned 60 today

Black Dog from 1973

Andy Frost brought up an interesting point on Q tonight.

How would Robert Plant celebrate his 60th birthday?

I mean your 60th is big deal and it should be one hell of a party but as the ex-lead singer of Zeppelin it would be next to impossible to even come close to some of the nights you had on the tour bus (or private jet, depending which year we are talking about).

Well I hope he gives it a try anyway.

Oil Sands produces new breed of mutated fish

A five pound goldeye with two mouths, one beneath the other, was caught last week downstream from the oil sands in Lake Athabasca.

How polluted is the Athabasca...
The Athabasca river has five pulp mills, along it as well as sewage treatment plants and then it runs up through the Athabasca Oil sands to to the lake.
The Chipewyan First Nation who live in the Fort Chipewyan area believe that the oil sands are polluting the river. 

"People are dying of rare cancers." said spokesperson Peter Cyprien. "We can't drink the water."For the past 40 years, oil sands companies have been allowed to manage their toxic tailings waste on their own accord, without any strict government regulation around benchmarks, timelines or performance standards.

Alberta’s inventory of fluid fine tailings that require long term containment is now 720 million cubic metres.
and what has Alberta done to control the tailing ponds.
In response to 300 ducks dying and the negative criticism from the US F…

Tories are shuffling the cards on the fly as they tour Southern Ontario

Harper blew into town last night to talk out of the other side of his mouth

An ominous black cloud hung over Mississauga, last night as the prime minister rolled into town for a quick 30 minute speech to the people that showed up at a Croatian center for a barbecue.

To a back drop of rolling thunder the prime ministers brief appearance consisted of quick one liners poking fun at his opponent Stephane Dion's failure to force an election.

Where last week Harper was blaming the Liberals for making parliament dysfunctional and hampering his minority government from accomplishing it's agenda, last night he boasted about the gains his minority government has made.

"We have established a strong record of achievement over the past 2 1/2 years," he said.
The brief visit to Mississauga was the first stop of Harpers two day southern Ontario tour which will include Hamilton, London and Kitchener, smaller urban centers where Harper might actually have chance of gaining a seat in the next election.

Last night all he gained was a couple of hot dogs and pr…

Tony Clement's decisions are based on political science, not the real kind

That is a parsed quote from an article written last June by the President of the CMA (Canadian Medical Association) Dr. Brian Day.

Dr. Day's article "Ottawa's bad prescription on addiction" was written in response to the governments announcement that it would appeal the B.C. Supreme Court's decision on Vancouver's safe injection site, despite the scientific evidence of the positive role harm-reduction programs can play in society.

Instead of closing down this site, the federal government should be working with public-health officials to see if such sites might work in other areas.Health Minister Tony Clement has stated that "science is one of the issues that must be taken into account when it comes to a public policy decision." In this matter, the science is clear: Harm reduction is a proven and effective tool.Marginalizing an already vulnerable population and leaving them at even greater risk of disease and death is bad medicine and, as the polls sho…

How Execulink Telecom could cost us universal healthcare

Today started like every other weekday morning.

I got up at 5:30 and went through the 30 or so news releases that I highlighted from the night before, plus checked for anything interesting that might have popped up during the night, to find a topic for my one post of the day,

Thought I found one here from CNEWS about the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) meeting entitled Doctors from across Canada confirm support for public health care.

My thought, reasoning and belief is that our Prime Minister is not in a big fan of universal healthcare. After all it is one of the main targets of the NCC (National Citizens Coalition), the free enterprise, corporate lobbying group, that he ran for so many years.

In fact their very first target (they call them citizen campaigns).

Basically one of those secret agenda things and I figured if he wanted to start making changes, opening the door for two tier, free enterprise medicine, the doctors would be the first to recognize this.

And the first clu…

An open reply to the Taliban

According the the Canadian press the Taliban has issued an open letter to the Canadian people.

In an open letter addressed to "the Canadian people," the Islamic fundamentalist group said Canada "sacrificed" its self-respect by following the "American" agenda.

The Taliban are urging Canadians to press the government to "put an end to the occupation of Afghanistan."

I may be an old, atheist, hippie that hates war and despises the politics and propaganda of right wing ideologues that promote war.

But take heed when it comes to fanatical religious extremists of any stripe that kill innocent people in the name of their fictional gods, I'm armed.

Go fuck yourselves.

Well at least he didn't sleep with the enemy

Afghanistan has finally replaced Asadullah Khalid the controversial Kandahar provincial Governor that had been accused by Canadian officials of torturing suspected Taliban prisoners captured by Canadian forces.

Tories withheld the information of torture from the Canadian public.

Documents surfaced that the Tory government was aware of the allegations of torture (since they actually were the ones that reported them) for close to a year, yet failed to advise parliament when discussing the extension of the Afghan mission and even withheld them from a Canadian Federal Court judge, hearing a case brought by a Canadian rights groups.

Earlier plans to remove Khalid were delayed.

The Karzai government had to delay plans to remove the governor when Harper’s foreign minister Maxime Bernier decided to hold a press conference in Kandahar telling the world that Khalid needed to be replaced to curb corruption in the region.

Yesterday Karzai finally replaced Asadullah Khalid with Rahmatullah Raufi a fo…

Woodstock started 39 years ago today

Here's three of my favorites

Joe Cocker "With a little Help From My Friends"

Arlo Guthrie, Coming into Los Angeles

If you ever get a chance to buy or rent the "Alice's Restaurant" DVD do it (it should be cheap by now) The movie is really dated, but they have a track where Arlo, (now 61) explains the filming of the movie scene by scene, what was going on at the time, basically telling stories, some about the movie, some not.

Crosby Stills & Nash, Suite Judy Blue Eyes

I was listening to Kim Mitchell (of Max Webster) on the way home from work tonight, he's the afternoon guy on Q. Anyway he was talking about the WoodStock sound quality of the performances on the Woodstock DVD. The guitars weren't staying in tune, the performers had to keep resetting the sound levels in mid performance etc.

Kim's theory was that the sound engineers, roadies, set up crews, who were working all day, were just too high, to keep it together. Makes sense

Anyway I had to work…

Look out Harper, you just picked a fight with the wrong people

Having been caught in lies and fabrications last week about their planned elimination of the $9-million Trade Routes run by Heritage Canada and the $4.7-million PromArt program run by Foreign Affairs, the Tories silently announced the axing of five more cultural programs via web site postings yesterday.

The Tories posted notices on the web pages of programs including the Stabilization Projects and Capacity Building, two of the four initiatives under the Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability Program.

So far this week the announced cuts are:
$300 thousand in annual contributions to two A-V Presentation Trust programs
$1.5 million to the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund
$2.5 million to the National Training Program in the Film and Video Sectorand if the Post is correct
$4.7 million New Media Research Networks FundAs background
Stabilization Projects, to be shut down in April, were established in seven cities from Victoria to Charlottetown to provide financial and administrative supp…

Tories start east coast swing of their cross country Screwed Tour.

Baird took some time off from the main purpose of his eastern trip to announce funding to protect wetlands on the south shore and pet Salty the Owl.

Unfortunately like most birds in captivity, Salty has little control over who is allowed to pet him.

Then it was back to business for the environment minister as he explained the weaknesses of the oppositions plans.
“The people of Nova Scotia get screwed,”  Mr. Baird told the Chronicle Herald editorial board Wednesday.Of course this is a major improvement over Harper"s campaign rhetoric from previous elections which was "screw Nova Scotia, who needs them".

Harper is scheduled to make a speech in Fredericton today laying out what the Conservatives have to offer as opposed to the Liberals.

It is expected that the people of New Brunswick might get screwed too.

Reference: The Chronicle here.

A new class of cherry picked, well seasoned immigrants is created

Back in June the Star reported that all applications for immigration filed after February 26th were being placed on hold until the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration provided new instructions.
"It is expected that Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will, within the next several months, be providing instructions to visa offices as to which applications are to be accepted for processing and which are to be returned unprocessed"Prior to the new Immigration Law the backlog, stood at 925,000 and on average grows by 14,000 new applications a month.
The immigration reforms gave Immigration Minister Diane Finley the power to reject applications even if applicants met all the criteria, and to provide instructions to officials to "cherry-pick" immigrants based on labour market needs.Well Diane came out with the first set of new rules yesterday by introducing the new Canadian Experience Class of immigration, which the Tories are selling as a reward for im…

Another example of Gary Lunn's micro management style

Hey I understand the appeal of the powerful oil lobby and the influence that they have over the well oiled Tory policy decisions.
But the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA)?

Apparently the NRC web site decided to tone down it’s automotive anti-idling statement after the CRFA met with the Minister in charge of Natural Resources Canada, Gary Lunn.

Unfortunately the “Idle Free Zone” website is supposed to be dedicated to helping communities and environmental groups reduce vehicle idling while consumers are waiting in line at the drive thru, for their morning double double.
According to the CBC here, the changes that were made consisted of:Advising drivers to shut off their engines after 60 seconds of idling, while the previous version advocated turning engines off after 10 seconds.The page no longer refers to 5,000 premature deaths annually in Canada linked to air pollution, as the previous version did, and no longer includes posters bearing images such as a girl choking…

I woke up in a new Canada today.

On Friday our Government cut funding to two relatively low cost arts programs

The first being the PromArt run by Foreign Affairs
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) was cutting all ties to culture by axing its PromArt program, a $4.7-million annual fund that sent artists into the world to speak for Canada.And then later they announced the end of the Trade Routes program run by Heritage Canada
Administered by the Department of Heritage, Trade Routes, valued at about $9-million annually, helps cultural groups such as Hot Docs and CIRPA, the Canadian Independent Record Production Association export and sell products abroad.Their official reason
Although Kory Teneycke, the Prime Minister's press secretary, declined yesterday to address the decision to close Trade Routes.In the case of PromArt, we think the [funding] choices made were inappropriate ... inappropriate because they were ideological in some cases, with highly ideological individuals exposing their ag…

Sadr City, Baghdad's newest gated community

According to Reuters here, the third wall surrounding Sadr City went up over the weekend.

Sadr City is roughly a 70 block, suburb in the North Eastern section of Baghdad housing 2 million, predominantly Shiite, Iraqis.

Up until May the city was controlled by the Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, but after some firece fighting the Mehdi moved on.
"There is no Mehdi Army here. There is only the Iraqi Army," said Lieutenant Colonel Yahya Rasoul Abdullah, who heads an Iraqi army unit in southern Sadr City."There is only one language -- the language of the law."Earlier this week a spokesperson for Moqtada al-Sadr, said he would dissolve the Mehdi Army if the US agrees to a timetable to withdraw from Iraq. However the Bush administration still refuses to set a firm timetable.

Meanwhile the US will using the Gaza like strategy will wall off one of the poorest neighborhoods in Baghdad installing check points to control movement to and from th…

Apparently the lack of fabric justifies fabrication of Gitmo charges

There is a reason that the US wants to repatriate the prisoners they are holding in Guantanamo and a reason why all the western countries involved repatriated their citizens.

These are low level participants in the Taliban who happened to get caught.

The US rounded up prisoners and threw them into various prisons, where they could be tortured to provide information.

Then in order to justify the flouting of the international rules of war, in regards to the handling of prisoners, the US set up their own War Grimes tribunal and charged the prisoners with acts of terrorism.
They rejected trying the Guantanamo prisoners before normal military or civilian courts, instead designing a special tribunal that keeps classified evidence secret to protect intelligence sources and techniques, and can choose to allow statements obtained using sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme temperatures or other harsh methods.However most of the 265 prisoners at Guantanamo are low-level players without a proven re…

TRUTH is forty years old to day

Released August 8, 1968

Shape Of Things originally by the Yard Birds

Morning Dew written by Canadian folk singer Bonnie Dobson

Exxon delays Kearl tar sands project

The last we heard from Exxon on the Kearls project was back here, when Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO was updating his shareholders at their annual meeting.
"My understanding is that the project … has been given a very high priority by the government of Canada and is moving along at a fairly rapid pace."Well apparently Rex is now having some second thoughts.
Imperial Oil Ltd. (Canadian arm of Exxon) said Thursday that the start-up of its $8-billion Kearl oil sands project will likely be delayed by a year, to 2012, as it looks for ways to cut the project's costs.Kearls the planned open-pit, tar sands, mining operation, with trailing ponds expected to be the size of 20,000 football fields overcame a court challenge by the Sierra Club and received a key permit to proceed in June.

Although the price of a barrel of oil has dropped recently, and is expected to drop further next year (as low as $84 by some estimates) it would really not affect the Exxon decision to delay the pro…