Monday, August 31, 2009

Oil sands : "Chinese takeover is good news for Alberta"

says Alberta Energy spokesman Tim Markle.

PetroChina, the world's second largest oil company, is buying a 60% majority stake in Athabasca Oil Sands Corp (AOSC) to develop two tar sands projects. The $1.9 billion deal will provide Chinese capital for Athabasca which controls about 1.3 million acres of oil sands properties containing as many as five billion barrels of reserves in Alberta.

"Sveinung Svarte, chief executive of Athabasca, said the company would likely ship its initial output to U.S. refiners, but would consider other export routes if they open up."
In 2005 the state-owned PetroChina signed a memorandum with Enbridge to take up to half the space on its proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline from Alberta to the port of Kitimat in BC.
Enbridge is applying to build the pipeline this year, so presumably PetroChina will eventually be able to ship its newly acquired share of Alberta oilsands straight home to China.

Athabasca does not foresee any "issues" from Investment Canada.

Oilweek :
"Such a takeover would be subject to a new provision recently incorporated into the Investment Canada Act, under which the federal government could block a deal from a foreign firm if it was deemed to pose a threat to national security. But Ottawa will likely wave through the deal.
Geopolitics Central economist Vince Lauerman : "Given the environmental factor down in the states, it only makes sense to diversify our customers, especially to customers that are somewhat less concerned about the environment in general and greenhouse gas emissions in particular."
The Chinese takeover is good news for Alberta, said Alberta Energy spokesman Tim Markle."
Just in case this :
August 2009 : Washington approves oil sands pipeline
"The Obama administration yesterday approved [an Enbridge]pipeline to carry oil-sands fuel from Canada into the US, saying its action was designed to send "a positive economic signal in a difficult economic period"
reverts back to this :
June 2008 : Obama's fight against 'dirty oil' could hurt oil sands
"Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed he would break America's addiction to "dirty, dwindling, and dangerously expensive" oil if he is elected U.S. president -- and one of his first targets might well be Canada's oil sands."
Good to know the Cons' criticism of China's crappy environment record - their stated reason for blowing off the Kyoto Accord - doesn't stand in the way of selling China the product of our crappy environment record.
And how will the US react to this possible threat to 'North American energy security'?
Oh wait - we're already obligated under NAFTA to send 70% of our oil south regardless.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Drill, Iggy, Drill

The identity of the author of the anonymously hosted website Republicans For Ignatieff remains a mystery - Who is besmirching Iggy? Is it a dipper? Or is it a Con? But today via David Akin, we learn there is now a real live Republican activist for Iggy attached to those fingers in the picture at left :
"AUGUST 24, 2009 --This past weekend, Republicans for Ignatieff held its first Ignatieff Meet and Greet at the Missouri State Fair.
The event was a huge success. We distributed our new Republicans for Ignatieff signs and stickers to numerous GOP supporters. Future meet and greets are being planned in Alabama, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, and yes, Canada.
More and more Republicans agree: Michael Ignatieff is the right choice for America, the right choice for Canada and the right choice for Republicans."

"When Sarah Palin came out and said, drill, baby, drill, it hit a nerve with folks here. It really caught on. If we can get the Canadian version which is “Drill, Iggy, Drill”, or whatever you want to say, we need to utilize that source not only for our energy needs but for our national security needs. I think [Ignatieff] is well-suited to run the Canadian government."

Hoo boy.
Of course, this would not be the first time a so-called grassroots hoax got a promotion to reality.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Emperor Strikes Back

What is Emperor Steve fooling around with in his pocket this time?
Oooh - it's the nine new Senators he appointed yesterday.
That makes 27 Cons he's appointed in less than a year, bringing his posse in the Senate up to 46 out 0f 105 senators.
G&M : "At an event in Quebec City, the Prime Minister said he had to nominate unelected Conservative supporters to the Senate to ensure that his government, which won a minority last year, gets its legislation approved."
There's some Con Party presidents and backroom operatives and Steve's communications aide from the PMO among the unelected ... plus a hockey analyst who remarked yesterday that his appointment meant he was "going to have to start following [federal politics]" now.
Three Liberals and one independent are due to resign in coming months, presumbly meaning four more unelected Consenators to enable the party with 22+% of the vote to push their reformy crap through the Senate, but unfortunately we also learned yesterday from the Libs that "Canadians aren't clamouring for an election".
Today Steve appointed former NDP Manitoba premier and NASCO enthusiast Gary Doer to be our new US ambassador.
No, not NASCAR - NASCO : North American SuperCorridor Coalition - the apparently imaginary yet somehow ubiquitous NAFTA Superhighway supporters.
Doer gave the keynote address at NASCO last year and here he is plumping it in his 2007 Manitoba Throne Speech :

"Manitoba is also taking a major role in the development of a Mid-Continent Trade Corridor, connecting our northern Port of Churchill with trade markets throughout the central United States and Mexico. To advance the concept, an alliance has been built with business leaders and state and city governments spanning the entire length of the Corridor."
Canadian Corridor Ambassador to the US? He's been ready with that shovel for years.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Iggy and Steve : E - I - E - I - No

"We're not having an election on EI," said Senator David Smith. ``I don't hear Canadians clamouring for an election on this issue."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff agreed to strike the panel [on Employment Insurance] last June as part of an eleventh-hour deal to avert a summer election.
Oh hell, let's just go with the Jurist's shorter :
"So it turns out that our last set of confidence threats involved an issue that we don't think matters enough to be worth an election. But that's just as well, since we've been doing a lousy job of laying the groundwork for one anyway."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Child detainee on his way home after 7 years in Gitmo

A child detained in Guantanamo Bay for seven years for allegedly throwing a hand grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan when he was 14 years old is on his way home after a Federal Court ruled the U.S. government was holding him illegally. His initial confession, obtained under duress, was thrown out by the judge.
"We are so pleased that this nightmare of abuse and injustice has finally come to an end," said his attorney. "While he can never get back the nearly seven years he was illegally detained and tortured, now he can finally return home to his family, friends and country, and begin to build a normal life."
The child detainee in question is Mohammed Jawad, now returned to his native Afghanistan thanks to a US Federal Court decision this month. [Yeah, mean trick, I know]
Gosh, another kid accused of throwing a grenade. Is US military generally in the habit of accusing the survivors of their raids of throwing grenades, or only when there are US casualties and the possibility of friendly fire?
Meanwhile back in Canada, our child soldier detained in Guantanamo for seven years for allegedly throwing a grenade at US soldiers in Afghanistan when he was 15 - that's Omar Khadr pictured above in the middle the year before his father dumped him in Afghanistan - has not been so lucky because Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the last leader on the planet Earth to support the detaining and abuse of children in Gitmo.
Yesterday Harper's federal government disgraced itself by announcing it will go to the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn that ruling.
They do not want to risk asking the US for Khadr's return, perhaps because the Obama Administration urged a federal judge to order the release of Mohammed Jawad, and even George W. Bush granted requests by other countries for the repatriation of their citizens from Gitmo.
Harper is going to the wall in hopes that a sufficient number of Canadians believe in tiered citizenship and a four-tiered passport system and will applaud his stand against so-called 'activist' judges. He's wrong about that.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Funding the Taliban to kill our troops in Afghanistan

WSJ : Afghanistan Contractors Outnumber Troops
Defense Department census :
"The number of military contractors in Afghanistan [update : including 5,165 armed private security guards] rose to almost 74,000 by June 30, far outnumbering the roughly 58,000 U.S. soldiers on the ground at that point. As the military force in Afghanistan grows further, to a planned 68,000 by the end of the year, the Defense Department expects the ranks of contractors to increase more.

A recent contract is worth up to $15 billion to two firms, DynCorp International Inc. and Fluor Corp., to build and support U.S. military bases throughout Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, government auditors have repeatedly uncovered military mismanagement of contractors. The Wartime Contracting Commission reported finding during an April trip that the military had accepted a new headquarters building in Kabul hobbled by shoddy construction. Officials in Iraq and Afghanistan were unable to give the commission complete lists of work being contracted out at the bases they visited."

Reuters blog : Who is funding the Afghan Taliban?

"The manager of an Afghan firm with lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. government builds in a minimum of 20 percent for the Taliban in his cost estimates. The manager, who will not speak openly, has told friends privately that he makes in the neighborhood of $1 million per month. Out of this, $200,000 is siphoned off for the insurgents.

“I was building a bridge,” he said, one evening over drinks. “The local Taliban commander called and said ‘don’t build a bridge there, we’ll have to blow it up.’ I asked him to let me finish the bridge, collect the money — then they could blow it up whenever they wanted. We agreed, and I completed my project.”

In Farah province, local officials report that the Taliban are taking up to 40 percent of the money coming in for the National Solidarity Program, one of the country’s most successful community reconstruction projects, which has dispensed hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the country over the past six years."

The policy of using contractors allows the government to dole out profitable patronage contracts to their cronies while conducting foreign policy without due oversight. Sure, the Taliban use their cut to kill our troops and some innocents get shot up in the lack of oversight, but you can't make a nest egg without cracking a few hamlets.

Gore Vidal : "In this fashion more than a third of the nation's federal income has been spent for more than a generation in order that the congressmen who give the generals the money they ask for are then re-elected with money given them by the corporations that were awarded federal money by generals who, when they retire, will go to work for those same corporations."
~Matters of Fact and Fiction 1972

Friday, August 21, 2009

The SPP is dead; long live the PPA

Last week, the official US home of the SPP, read:

"The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) is no longer an active initiative and as such this website will act as an archive for SPP documents. There will not be any updates to this site."
This week it seems they did think of an update after all. :

"Going forward, we want to build on the accomplishments achieved by the SPP and further improve our cooperation."

We are then redirected to the Joint Statement by the North American Leaders (August 10, 2009) [excerpt mine] :

"Our three governments recognize that we cannot limit our efforts to North America alone, and we have agreed to instruct our respective Ministers to strive for greater cooperation and coordination as we work to promote security and institutional development with our neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean ...

We commend the progress achieved on reducing unnecessary regulatory differences and have instructed our respective Ministers to continue this work by building on the previous efforts, developing focused priorities and a specific timeline. "

So in other words - expanding some version of the SPP of North America to include Central and South America as well.

Didn't this used to be called the FTAA, the spectacularly FAIL Free Trade Area of the Americas ?
You know : "We, the democratically elected Heads of State and Government of the Americas, have met in Quebec City at our Third Summit, to renew our commitment to hemispheric integration." Followed by 100,000+ protesters, rubber bullets, and so much tear gas that the we-the-democratically-elected could smell it inside their summit.

Enter FTAA Plan B - Bush's final gift to Obama in Sept 2008
The Pathways to Prosperity of the Americas was announced at the headquarters of the corporate lobby group Council of the Americas.
Heide Bronke, U.S. State Department, in the Miami Herald in 2008:
''Eleven leaders in the hemisphere met with our president and stood with him in a project aimed at expanding economic integration. This is not just free trade, it's a political vision for the hemisphere."
Current member states : US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay

The rightwing Heritage Foundation : Finding Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas

"The PPA is an attempt to re-energize U.S. government and regional efforts to enlarge a free trade area in the Western Hemisphere and create positive momentum for open-market policies that will carry over into the next Administration.

Styled in part after other current efforts to improve economic relations with key trade and investment partners--such as the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (U.S., Canada, and Mexico) - the PPA would provide a forum for not only finding avenues to improve the flow of commerce but also promoting greater coherence and consistency in the rules specified under the five separate free trade agreements (FTAs) that currently define trade between PPA members. With the basic trade agreements already in place, members of the PPA can focus on dismantling remaining barriers to trade and ensuring that business is able to take advantage of new opportunities brought by lower trade and investment barriers.

On a grander scale, success under the PPA could result in new momentum for concluding a broader Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA)."

So did the PPA manage to "carry over into the next Administration"?

Address of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial, May 31, 2009
US State Dept website :

"President Obama has emphasized that it's not important whether ideas come from one party or another, so long as they move us in the right direction. This meeting builds on the work of the previous U.S. administration, but the President and I are also committed to re-launching Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas and expanding its work to spread the benefits of economic recovery, growth, and open markets ..."
Elsewhere Senator Clinton has described the Pathways to Prosperity accord as "a multilateral initiative to promote shared security and prosperity throughout the Americas".

Alliance for Responsible Trade :

"The PPA bears many of the hallmarks of the SPP. According to the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade, the PPA is "based on two similar components to the SPP: on one hand an economic, mercantile and financial agenda covered by the term ‘prosperity', and on the other a ‘security' agenda of enhancing military and police powers to combat terrorism, narcotraffic, illegal migration, etc.." The PPA, like the SPP, is little more than an attempt to justify economic deregulation and to promote an escalation of militarism in the region."

Stuart Trew from the Council of Canadians writes The SPP is dead, so where's the champagne? :
"The NAFTA-plus agenda died in Guadalajara, Mexico last week. We killed it. And we should be singing it from the rooftops."

Ok, just one glass of champagne, Stuart, but then as you say : Back to work.
Because we don't care what it's called : SPP, North American Union, deep integration, the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, Pathways to Prosperity of the Americas. We don't care. Really. Call it whatever you like.

Oil bidness you can believe in

Then - June 2008 :
"Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed he would break America's addiction to "dirty, dwindling, and dangerously expensive" oil if he is elected U.S. president -- and one of his first targets might well be Canada's oil sands.
"The amount of energy that you have to use to get that oil out of the ground is such that it actually creates a much greater impact on climate change, as well as using much more energy than even traditional petroleum," he said."
The extraction of a barrel of crude from oil sands is estimated to generate as much as five times more greenhouse gas emissions as from a barrel of conventional crude.
Now : Aug 21, 2009 :
"The Obama administration yesterday approved a pipeline to carry oil-sands fuel from Canada into the US, saying its action was designed to send "a positive economic signal in a difficult economic period".

Many environmentalists had expressed hopes that Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, would reject a permit to build the Alberta Clipper, a 1,000-mile pipeline designed to carry up to 800,000 barrels a day of fuel from Canada's vast oil sands. But the State Department said greenhouse-gas emissions are best addressed through each country's domestic policies and a strong international agreement.
After undertaking what it said was considerable evaluation, the US said it would permit Enbridge Energy to build the pipeline to advance a number of US strategic interests."
Bonus oil bidness from Rabble :
"To reduce costs, Alberta will do less testing for acid rain in the northern oilsands region, Alberta Environment said Monday. The program has been in place since 1978, and the sampling and testing had previously been done once a week."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Afghanistan's election day

For the cheerful side of the Afghan election, here's the BBC :

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western allies have pronounced the country's election a success, after voting passed off largely peacefully

including a helpful vid on how the indelible ink used to mark the index finger of people who have already voted won't wash off for four to five days. The UN rep said so.

Or you could go to the Guardian : Presidential poll day sees low turnout amid bombings, fraud claims and 'indelible' finger markings that wash off

where a voter turns up half an hour after voting with his finger washed clean.

A week ago a BBC reporter bought several ballots cheaply at a local market and reported that most Afghan women would not be voting as the country was short over a thousand female scrutineers to search those women who had not already been forbidden to vote by their families and husbands. Rural elders were also advised that things would go badly for them if people in their villages did not vote as instructed and ballot boxes were delivered to polling stations pre-stuffed.

Two days ago Democracy Now carried the news that a warlord reputedly responsible for the "death by container" of 2000 supposed Taliban who foolishly surrendered to Afghan and ISAF forces in 2001 had returned to Afghanistan to enlist support for Karzai :
Eight Years After Orchestrating Massacre at Dasht-e-Leili, Afghan Warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum Returns to Afghanistan to Campaign for Karzai

Reuters :

"My coming back will help peace and stability," he [Dostrum] said. "I want to sit with my American friends and make a plan so that within two or three years, we will secure all of Afghanistan."
Asked what type of job he would like if Karzai was to be re-elected, he said he was not interested in working as a cabinet minister, but would be interested in a security-related role.
He said he had repeatedly turned down offers to be one of Karzai's two vice presidents.
"I have a lot of experience dealing with terrorism and if Karzai wants it, or our international friends who are battling terrorism want, I am prepared to work. Other than this, I'm not interested in becoming this or that minister," he said.

Asked about the massacre at Dasht-e-Leili, the investigation of which has been repeatedly derailed by the Bush government while witnesses to the massacre continue to be killed off, Dostrum said :

"The United States of America, international friends, they should put together a group, a strong commission, to ask the truth," he said. "It wasn't just General Dostum."

Malalai Joya, today : Don't be fooled by this facade of democracy

"We Afghans know that this election will change nothing and it is only part of a show of democracy put on by and for the West, to legitimize its future puppet in Afghanistan. It seems we are doomed to see the continuation of this failed, mafia-like corrupt government for another term.

Democracy will never come to Afghanistan through the barrel of a gun, or from the cluster bombs dropped by foreign forces. The struggle will be long and difficult, but the values of real democracy, human rights and women's rights will only be won by the Afghan people themselves.

So do not be fooled by this façade of democracy. Your governments in the West that claim to be bringing democracy to Afghanistan ignore public opinion in their own countries, where growing numbers are against the war. President Obama in particular needs to understand that the change Afghans believe in does not include more troops and a ramped up war. "
Joya notes Karzai has implemented the infamous law allowing Shia women to be starved for disobedience to their husbands and quotes Human Rights Watch : "Karzai has made an unthinkable deal to sell Afghan women out in return for the support of fundamentalists in the August 20 election."

It's almost enough to make you long for 2006 and the days of Josee Verner's platitudes about little girls and their little schoolhouses and Steve's warmongering about his place on the world stage :

"I can tell you it's certainly engaged our military," the Prime Minister told CBC. "It's, I think, made them a better military notwithstanding — and maybe in some way because of — the casualties."

Harper added that Canada's current role in Afghanistan is "certainly raising Canada's leadership role, once again, in the United Nations and in the world community."


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

From the people of Canada to the people of Norway

"Dear Norway: Help Save Canada's Wild Salmon" - an excellent new short doc from Damien Gillis being shown at the Aqua Nor trade show right now in Norway. Go.

When even John Fredricksen, owner and largest shareholder of Marine Harvest, one of the big three Norwegian companies which control over 92% of BC open-net salmon farms, says :
"I'm concerned about wild salmon. Move salmon farms out of the path of wild salmon"
then you have to wonder what the hell Canada Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea is doing over there promoting "Canada's sustainable aquaculture" at the trade show.

Featured prominently near the top of the homepage of the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Aquaculture website is an entire page devoted to : Facts About Sea Lice in B.C.

To correct misinformation about sea lice on the West Coast, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) offers the following facts:

Sea lice are naturally occurring, minute parasites that have existed for millions of years.

  • No direct cause and effect relationship has been established between sea lice from salmon farms and the abundance of wild populations of pink and chum salmon in the Broughton Archipelago.
  • DFO scientists have determined that virtually no mortality due to sea lice occurs in juvenile pink salmon of 0.7 grams or more in weight. The percentage of juvenile pink salmon in the Broughton Archipelago that weighed less than 0.7 grams and had sea lice infections that were equal to or above the lethal threshold has been very low in the area over the past several years. Only 4.5 per cent of juvenile pink salmon were in this category in 2005, and that percentage had declined to zero by 2008.

Zero. Ok, so there's zero problem here, according to the people we employ to protect our salmon - and by extension the grizzly, the bald eagle, the killer whale, First Nations livelihood and culture, and all the crustaceans - crab, shrimp, lobster - affected by fish farm dumping of crustacean-killing pesticide-laced food into open fish tanks to kill the sea lice.

Elsewhere in the world - Norway for instance, and Scotland, Ireland, and Chile - people have already figured this out. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has not.

We are now appealing directly to the king and people of Norway and the shareholders of the fishfarms for help.

Protest : Thursday Aug 20 at noon, Pender and Burrard, in front of the Fisheries & Oceans Canada office in Vancouver


Monday, August 17, 2009

Swooshy new Olympic hockey jerseys

The new Olympic hockey jerseys for the 2010 Five Ring Circus, featuring a nearly invisible "aboriginal design in the centre of the Maple Leaf ".
The International Olympic Committee objected to the old jersey design because it carried the Hockey Canada logo and the "IOC has banned national sports federations from carrying their logos on athlete uniforms".
Quite right too. The Olympics is all about amateur sport, not a venue for promoting professional sports branding.
I must say the Nike swoosh shows up very nicely though.
Related Olympic designs : The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Toke

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Passport woes

Welcome home, Suaad Hagi Mohamud. Welcome home.
I am sorry to hear you are seriously ill since your eight day incarceration in a Kenyan prison.
Haroon Siddiqui at The Star has a good article up :
And Boris at The Beav has a theory as to why this might be happening : Passport photos?
If Boris is right, and never underestimate the likelihood of a really mundane ass-covering move from the HarperCons, then ironically they will probably use their own mean-spirited incompetence as a further reason to push for their already planned biometric passports.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Three Amigos Summit : Protecting corporations from the people

In his Counterpunch article Three Amigos Summit : Sleepwalking Through the Minefield, author John Ross relates a story not covered up here : Mexican government use of ex-RCMP to pin the murder of a US journalist by Mexican authorities on a Oaxaca social activist.

After American journalist Brad Will was gunned down while filming a violent clash between government and anti-government forces in 2006 in Oaxaca, the US Congress stipulated that 15% of $1.4-billion Plan Mexico Merida Initiative war on drugs money flowing from the US to Mexico would be subject to Mexico stemming human rights abuses that have left thousands dead. Only 15%.
This is the presumed reason why, despite front-page photographs of five plainly identified Oaxaca politicians and police officers firing on Will and the protesters, federal prosecutors have instead framed one of the protesters, Juan Manuel Martinez, who has since been languishing in jail awaiting trial.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, Physicians for Human Rights, Committee to Protect Journalists, and the family of Brad Will have all called for his release and the arrest of the government gunmen.

"On July 26, the following headline appeared in Mexico's daily Milenio newspaper:
"Canada: Will assassinated at point-blank range."
Soon, similar headlines followed. The stories focused on a recent report by three Canadian investigators that sustains conclusions made by the Mexican authorities in the case of Bradley Roland Will. The government-commissioned report has sparked controversy for echoing the findings of Mexican authorities, whose investigation has been heavily questioned by local and international human rights groups and the Will family for being politicized and riddled with irregularities."

In fact it was not an independent investigation from "Canada" at all, but rather three ex-RCMP hired by the Mexican government, apparently to bolster its claim to that endangered 15% in aid prior to the Leaders Summit. A thorough debunking of the so-called RCMP report which praised the Mexican state's version of events while slagging the slain Brad Will, and the report itself, here and here.

Ironically, ten days later at the Leaders Summit in Mexico, as noted by John Ross :

"in the spirit of the Security & Prosperity Partnership, Stephen Harper offered a $15 million Royal Canadian Mounted Police program to train Mexican police chiefs."
The people of Oaxaca are protesting the exploitation and environmental destruction of the over 80 mining concessions granted to transnational companies, most of them Canadian. :
"Mexican Secretary of the Economy figures reveal that more than 70% of all mining exploration, development and production projects in Mexico are owned by Canadian corporations. Canadian mining companies have benefited from legal reforms that the Mexican government adopted in order to accommodate NAFTA and draw foreign investment."

Good to know the SPP is still protecting its corporate citizens from the people.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Taser Int. asks BC Supreme Court to quash Braidwood

The vigilantly litigious Taser International is filing an application today with the B.C. Supreme Court to quash all 19 of Justice Braidwood's recommendations, along with the section that deals with medical concerns :
Braidwood concluded that “conducted-energy weapons do have the capacity to cause serious injury or death” and that the risk increases with multiple use and when aimed at the person’s chest.
... a conclusion also reached by Taser International : Instructor and User Warnings, Risks (via Stanford) :
"When practicable, avoid prolonged or continuous exposure(s) to the TASER device electrical discharge. The stress and exertion of extensive repeated, prolonged, or continuous application(s) of the TASER device may contribute to cumulative exhaustion, stress, and associated medical risk(s). Severe exhaustion and/or over-exertion from physical struggle, drug intoxication, use of restraint devices, etc. may result in serious injury or death."

Nonetheless, Taser contends the Braidwood Inquiry ignored "an enormous body of medical and scientific literature, all of which we provided to the commission, to support the safety of the conducted energy weapon".

Presumably not included in Taser Int's "enormous body of literature" was this Canadian Medical Association Journal article, in which Dr. Matthew B. Stanbrook notes the company's tendency to use researchers who "occasionally neglect to mention their participation on TASER International’s medical advisory board or board of directors", and their success in "suing a researcher for publishing scientific results critical of tasers in a peer-reviewed journal and a medical examiner for the “error” of listing taser exposure on a death certificate as the cause of death".

Taser lawyer : "Taser is of the view that the conclusions and recommendations in this report would put law enforcement and Canadian citizens at risk."

Uh huh...
So we have the four RCMP who tasered Robert Dziekanski appealing a previous court decision that allowed Braidwood to make misconduct findings against them in the taser part of the inquiry, and now Taser Int.'s suit as well.
When part two of Braidwood's inquiry resumes in Sept. 2009, after having been derailed in June by a last minute surfacing of an incriminating RCMP email, will the argument be that certain issues can no longer be reviewed by the inquiry because they are now before the courts?

Afghanistan : Making a killing

LA Times : Four men with the U.S. firm once known as Blackwater are said to be under investigation in the deaths of two Afghans. A U.S. report found serious fault with private security firms in Afghanistan.

Kabul : Residents say the U.S. contractors opened fire without provocation after one of their vehicles tipped over in a traffic accident. The driver of a Toyota said the Americans ordered him to stop, then told him to move on. When the driver began pulling away the Americans started shooting. A passenger in the car was killed and a man walking about 200 yards away was shot in the head. No weapons were found in the Toyota, or on the bystander. A lawyer representing the four contractors said the company [Xe] falsely accused the men of drinking alcohol that night.
The U.S. spent between $6 billion and $10 billion on security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 through 2007 alone, according to Congress. In all, there are more than 71,000 security contractors or guards, armed and unarmed, in Afghanistan.

Since February, oversight of security contractors in Afghanistan has been entrusted not to Congress or the Pentagon, but to a British-owned private contractor, Aegis.
The company was hired by the American government after the U.S. military said it lacked the manpower and expertise to monitor security contractors.

The US military says it lacks the manpower and expertise to monitor its mercenaries ...
h/t Pogge via B'n R.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Disappearing Fraser River sockeye salmon vs fish farms

Of the eight to ten million wild sockeye salmon predicted by Oceans and Fisheries Canada to return to the Fraser River this year, only about 7% are returning, leading to the closure of all sockeye fishing on the river for the third year in a row.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada scientists are expressing surprise. Alexandra Morton isn't surprised - she's been warning for 20 years that salmon fry passing through lice-infested open net fish farms become infested and up to 80% fail to return. She notes that both the provincial and federal governments have failed to apply existing Fisheries Act regulations to industrial salmon feedlots in B.C. :

The solution is so simple: Apply the laws of Canada contained in the Fisheries Act. If the Norwegians can’t comply they should leave. Give Canadian fish farmers who want to revamp their industry in closed tanks a break in getting set up. Market wild and farmed fish to raise the value of both. And restore wild salmon in a way that has never been tried by adhering to their biology—the natural laws that have caused them to thrive in the first place.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada rejects sea lice infestation as the cause of the collapse, preferring the climate change theory for which they cannot be held responsible. Meanwhile Fisheries Minister Gail Shea is heading a Fisheries and Oceans Canada delegation to an aquaculture conference, Aqua Nor 2009, in Norway later this month. Norwegian-owned companies control more than 90% of British Columbia's salmon farming production.

How can FOC adequately regulate and promote fish farming at the same time?

Morton also advises that new fish farm licences are being quietly granted and existing ones expanded. Map of factory fish farms operating in BC in 2008 here. As she said back in 2007 :

"Some see wild salmon as just too costly to protect - they require a long corridor of protection from the tops of the rivers all the way out to the ocean and this would "force the politicians to say no to all the hands that feed them."
As a result, "big industry [including logging and offshore drilling] fit well with salmon farms."

I guess once the wild salmon are gone, there will be no good reason to halt Campbell's off-shore drilling and private run-of-river projects.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The three amigos set their synchrophasors on stun

The White House : North American Leaders Summit : Energy Deliverables
The short version :
Now that the North American Energy Working Group has established that Canada and Mexico are little more than US resource banks, we're going to need us a new map : the North American Carbon Atlas .

The 21st Century Smart Grid for North America : Now with "information-age technologies, such as microprocessors, communications, advanced computing, and information technologies."
Sure, the "flaring and venting of natural gas associated with oil production wastes a valuable energy resource and contributes to global warming" but what are the other countries in the world doing about it?
Industrialized countries in Europe are on track to reduce their overall emissions 20% below 1990 levels by 2012, but we are counting on one day inventing a magical device called carbon capture to reduce our emissions. Failing that, we look forward to safe secure sustainable reliable year round crops of pineapples from Alaska.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

North American Leaders Summit 2009

The leaders of Canada, Mexico, and the US, annoyingly known as 'the three amigos', kicked off their annual two day bunfest in Mexico today. Anyone thinking of actually throwing any buns should be advised that protesters from the last summit there five years ago are still in prison without trial.

The summit is promising to be less chummy all round this time.
Canada has angered Mexico by abruptly slapping Canadian visa requirements on Mexican visitors in order to stem the growing tide of Mexicans claiming refugee status in Canada. As of today Harper has stated he is not open to revoking it.
Harper in turn is pissed at Obama's protectionist 'Buy American' measures which funnel US stimulus money to US companies and away from Canadian ones. He and Stockwell Day have been pressing premiers and municipal leaders to open up their government procurement markets to US companies in hopes this gesture would win Canada an exemption from the Buy US measures although there is no guarantee the US will reciprocate.
Meanwhile Congress is threatening to cut off further Merida Initiative anti-drug trafficking money to Mexico until President Calderon rescinds the legal impunity he has so far granted to the Mexican police and military to rape, rob, and murder in the course of their war on drugs. Since he took office in 2006, 10,000 have died in drug wars. Two days ago Obama said he would not consider reopening NAFTA till conditions in Mexico were more stable.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership, once called NAFTA on steroids, is now looking more like NAFTA on continual life support, and all the above issues are parts of that sickness. When NAFTA allowed cheap corn to flood Mexican markets, farmers lost their land and whole families moved to the labour camps set up along the US border to provide cheap manufacturing labour to US corporations. Drug lords delivered services to the people not provided by the government but as the newly militarized war on drugs became a war on civilians, conditions in the labour camps increased the influx of illegal aliens to the US. Presumably Harper's new visa requirements for Mexicans entering Canada will also result in increased illegal immigration with its resulting exploited labour pool.

Meanwhile US companies like Smithfield Farms relocated their hog and chicken factory farming operations into Mexico where environmental and safety regulations were less stringent, resulting in the deplorable livestock conditions and subsequent contamination of groundwater that is a possible cause of the swine flu pandemic, more appropriately called the NAFTA flu.

In Canada, the secretive undemocratic corporate-led leaders’ SPP meetings have resulted in a cross-border harmonization of regulations that have weakened civil liberties and labour and environmental safeguards in exchange for ... increasingly militarized border regions.

Something to remember when the smiling glad-handing photo ops in front of flags appear in the media over the next couple of days. The SPP may currently be on life support but we'll still recognize that sucker when the bandages come off.
The trilateral Task Force on Renegotiating NAFTA has a better idea.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Iggy and Steve - Standing up for Canadians

On her way back to Canada over two months ago, 31 year old Toronto single mother Suaad Hagi Mohamud got stopped at the Nairobi airport because they said her four year old Canadian passport picture didn't look enough like her : her lips were thinner. Charged with identity fraud, she went to jail for eight days and has been stranded in a motel awaiting trial ever since.

The High Commission of Canada in Nairobi sent a letter to Kenyan officials on May 28 that stated, "Please be advised that we have carried out conclusive investigations, including an interview, and have confirmed that the person brought to the Canadian High Commission on suspicion of being an impostor is not the rightful holder of the aforementioned Canadian passport."

After she showed a dozen Canadian ID cards, spent weeks persuading Canadian consular officials to take her fingerprints and won a federal court action to have them take her DNA, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said she wasn't doing enough. "The individual has to be straightforward, has to let us know whether or not she is a Canadian citizen," Cannon told media after the federal court decision.

Nice one, Larry. She has to take the Canadian government to court to be permitted to prove her identity but you say she's not doing enough?

I've got a test you can try, Mr. Cannon. It just requires a webcam.
"Hey, 12 year old kid in Toronto, is this your mom?"
"Hey, ATS, is this the woman who currently works at your company as a supervisor ?"
Travelling abroad while brown - no longer recommended for Canadians.
And my apologies if I'm wrong, but I don't believe we've heard word one from human rights expert Michael Ignatieff about this.
Will Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian consular services in Kenya, and Foreign Affairs Consular Services and Emergency Management Branch be held to account?
On two occasions, federal officials in Canada appeared to suggest Mohamud had switched identities with a sister. She has four half-sisters by the same father.
Yeah, the closest one to her age being 15 years older and living in Europe.
As with Arar and Abdelrazik, "rumours" are floated by "officials" in Canada to discredit the person abandoned by their government. It's appalling the government has to be taken to court to do its duty by Canadians. Utterly appalling.
Aug 15 Update : Iggy speaks!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Ass-raping for freedom and prosperity

When Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan complained about young boys being kidnapped and sodomized by Afghan soldiers and interpreters inside Canadian Forward Operating Base Wilson in Kandahar, they were informed by their superiors to look the other way because it was a "cultural difference". One reported incident of "cultural difference" left a young boy with "his bowel and lower intestines falling out of his body", but according to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Servies report this May, it was apparently none of our business.

When Obama rushed through confirmation of Rumsfeld's black ops general to head up the new surge in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal's involvement in the prisoner abuse scandal at Camp Nama, the detention centre he commanded in Baghdad, was questioned but it was apparently none of our business :

"Once, somebody brought it up with the colonel. 'Will [the Red Cross] ever be allowed in here?' And he said absolutely not. He had this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there's no way that the Red Cross could get in: they won't have access and they never will. This facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating, even Army investigators."

It was eventually broken open from the inside by brave men like Captain Ian Fishback , Marc Garlasco, formerly of the Defense Intelligence Agency and now with Human Rights Watch, and Maj. General Antonio M. Taguba :

"Yasser tearfully described that when he reached the top of the steps 'the party began. … They started to put the [muzzle] of the rifle [and] the wood from the broom into [my anus]. They entered my privates from behind.' ... Yasser estimated that he was penetrated five or six times during this initial sodomy incident and saw blood 'all over my feet' through a small hole in the hood covering his eyes." – by Physicians for Human Rights' "Broken Laws, Broken Lives," a report containing firsthand accounts of men who endured torture by U.S. personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.

In Sodomized to Protect Our Freedoms, Allan Uthman at Alternet questions the motive behind our new obsession with waterboarding :
Would we really need debate on the torture question if we discussed the numerous acts of sodomy instead of the nuances of waterboarding?

Just once, I'd like to hear one of these American Enterprise Institute psychos, the ones that always trot out to defend the neocons' freakish obsessions, have to defend shoving a flashlight up a guy's ass. I want to hear Frank Gaffney or Jonah Goldberg tell me why I shouldn't be fucking mortified that raping prisoners was considered within tolerable interrogation practices by my country. I want Glenn Beck to justify butt-raping a suspect.

What's so sick about it is that the sexual nature of the torture seems so unnecessary. I mean, even if we were going to torture them, we could have stuck to waterboarding, pulling some fingernails or just beating the shit out of them.
But menstrual blood smeared on their faces? Rape? What kind of people do that?

The upshot is this: America is the country that rapes its prisoners. We're sex criminals. That's our thing now. And Obama's refusal to "look back," i.e. prosecute these incredibly serious crimes, ensures that it's our permanent legacy. No national reputation can survive this simply by shrugging it off.

And when we talk about torture, we stick to waterboarding, because nobody, not even the "liberals," are willing to face what we've done.


"NATO approved a reorganization of its command structure in Afghanistan on Tuesday to better coordinate the war. The Obama administration wanted the change to improve command efficiency over the NATO forces there, known as the International Security Assistance Force.
NATO agreed to establish a new Intermediate Joint Headquarters in Kabul under an American Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, to manage the day-to-day war. General Rodriguez will continue to report to the top American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal."

Ass-raping and the torture of children for freedom and prosperity. Is it our business yet?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Cop sentenced to sleeping in his own bed for 3 weeks for beating up newsie

In January three drunk off-duty Metro Vancouver cops were arrested for assault on a newspaper delivery man.

Griffin Gillan of the West Vancouver Police assaulted Firoz Khan four times and held him down with a foot on his head while he called for back-up from his drinking buddies - all because Khan failed to give him street directions in what he considered to be a timely manner.
After commandeering a car to join in the assault, Jeffrey Klassen of the New Westminster police, a use-of-force instructor for police training at the Justice Institute of BC, punched Khan in the back of the head three or four times and yelled: "Stay down or I will kill you."
When Khan called for help and asked bystanders to call police, Klassen allegedly said: "We are the police" and one of three explained: "We don't like brown people."
A fourth police officer called in by the appalled bystanders first handcuffed Khan before it was pointed out to him that Khan was in fact the victim.

That night Global TV news floated the story that perhaps the officers' actions could be explained by their having been slipped some kind of drug. Vancouver Chief Const. Jim Chu pleaded that "the public should have confidence in the police investigation" and B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal asked the public to "keep an open mind." till the case was heard in court.

Ok, now we've heard it.
Gillan, who has been on suspension without pay, was ordered by the court to attend counselling for anger management and substance abuse - and sentenced to being home every night between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m for three weeks.

Yes, you read that right - he's been sentenced to sleeping in his own bed for three weeks.
We won't hear how many nights Klassen has to sleep in his own bed till next year.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Newspeak comes to Foreign Affairs

With subtle strokes of the pen, it appears the Conservative government has been systematically changing the language employed by the foreign service and, as a result, bringing subtle but sweeping changes to traditional Canadian foreign policy.

In an email communication obtained by Embassy, staff at the Department of Foreign Affairs express concern about frequent changes being made to commonly used terms, particularly where such changes are not consistent with accepted Canadian policy.

Rewriting Canadian foreign policy without going through parliament.

"International humanitarian law" has been replaced by "international law"
IHL is about Geneva Conventions : war, casualties, the limiting thereof.
Take out "humanitarian" and we're talking the laws of the sea, trade law, border stuff.
No humans rights or massacred civilians here. Take that, International Criminal Court! You too, UN.
Doubtless our partners in the Canada-Israel Homeland Security pact will be gratified to learn of our new position on human rights in occupied territoriesopen air prisons.

In fact, a source close to Foreign Affairs told Embassy that the Prime Minister's Office had once tried to change Canada's official position on the ICC to essentially state that Canada does not support the ICC, it tolerates it.
"Gender equality" is now "equality of men and women"
What are we talking here - height? Number of arms and legs?
Back in the 90s we figured out that sex is biological; gender is both political and socially constructed and gender-based violence is not just about your junk.
"References to gender-based violence are removed," the Foreign Affairs email states, muttering darkly about the influence of certain conservative women's groups. Hi, Gwen!
Canada, previously a pioneer in the fight to bring gender equality into the human rights agenda, is apparently back to cocks and cunts.

"Child soldiers" is now "children in armed conflict."
We're obviously talking toddlers in swaddlin' clothes here and we are most definitely not talking child soldier Omar Khadr. Again, Canada pioneered protection for child soldiers in international humanitarian law at the UN, but that was before we became the last government on planet Earth to offer our passive support to what goes on in Gitmo.
h/t Waterbaby

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