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July 2, 2007 Weblog:

Media Democracy in Canada

The folks at Democratic Media are asking for help in pushing the CRTC to stop the rollback of media ownership regulations.

July 2, 2007 Weblog:

Effects of the Tar Sands: Interview with Celina Harpe

An interview with Celina Harpe, an elder in the Cree community of Fort Mackay, downstream from Suncor and Syncrude strip mines and tar sands extraction plants near Fort McMurray.

For those who prefer YouTube, there's a shorter version there.

June 29, 2007 Weblog:

What in Tarnation?

We lay in bed dozing off, talking about quality of life. About how apples and tomatoes, rumour has it, aren’t as robust, tasty or nutritious as they were in our parents’ generation, and that the quality of theirs didn’t measure up to those of previous generations either. Oranges and celery. Mangoes and Carrots. Fresh produce. The vitamins of life. I read an article about it that recited percentages, that recapped parentages.

» continue reading "What in Tarnation?"

June 27, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray: Flyover

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Photos from an overflight of the tar sands near Fort McMurray, Alberta.

» view more photos in"Fort McMurray: Flyover"

June 27, 2007 Weblog:

PHILIPPINES: Battle of the Ballot Box A report-back event in Montreal

*Presentations, * Film-Screening, * Debate, * Discussion, * Translation*

THURSDAY, June 28th, 7pm Location: St-Paul's Anglican Church, 3970 Côte-Ste-Catherine Métro Côte-Ste-Catherine Suggested Donation, 5-10$

» continue reading "PHILIPPINES: Battle of the Ballot Box A report-back event in Montreal"

June 26, 2007 Weblog:

Haiti: The Politics of Drugs

An anonymous source recently pointed out the markedly partisan bias of the U.S. government's crackdown on drug trafficking in Haiti. According to the source, the six biggest Haitian drug traffickers at the time of the coup d’etat of February 29, 2004 were Jean Nesly Lucien, Fourel Celestin, Oriel Jean, Guy Philippe, Dany Toussaint and Youri Latortue.

» continue reading "Haiti: The Politics of Drugs"

June 15, 2007 Weblog:

Notes from the Tar Pits: Flying Above an Open Pit Graveyard

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Notes from the Tar Pits:
Flying Above an Open Pit Graveyard
Macdonald Stainsby // June 15, 2007

The plane cleared the tarmac and into the air we went, with a warning that the flight was going to have to go a little bit to the east of the usual, as the forest fires were too heavy. But the plume of white obfuscation that rose more than all the others was Suncor’s, with 2nd through 6th place going to Syncrude, CNRL, Albian/Shell, Total and (off in the distance) Petro Canada. It was completely impossible to spot any difference between the forest fires and the plumes of death-toxins breaking up into the atmosphere.

The giant tailings lakes are a sight to behold. The one near Syncrude, as I discovered from our pilot, is among the largest human made dams in the entire world. Though, I’m getting “biggest” fatigue; Every time I learn a new angle on how this is operating, it’s about the “biggest”. As a gentleman who drove us out of Fort MacKay said the other day: “If it’s the biggest in the world, it’s here,” and he was making zero reference to anything in particular.

Along with the largest craters in the world, deep pits of black sided land, being munched away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and through every holiday are the highways being constructed. While people living downstream in Fort Chipewyan have unsafe running water in their homes and are a seasonal fly-in community, the roads to “projects” are as relentlessly constructed as the tar is pulled out of the earth. There are full private highways, and when it’s time to pull the tar from under the highway, they simply move it and build another one. Oil is still oil, after all (even when it is tar and synthetic/mock).

» continue reading "Notes from the Tar Pits: Flying Above an Open Pit Graveyard"

June 15, 2007 Weblog:

Haiti: Pig Eradication, Pro and Contra

For the good summary of the general case of the critics of the pig eradication program in Haiti, see the excerpt below from Free speech, neo-colonialism and micro-powered broadcasting in Haiti.

» continue reading "Haiti: Pig Eradication, Pro and Contra"

June 14, 2007 Weblog:

Forts McMurray and Mackay: Tar Sands Stink

The entire day was slow-going and lazy. We had wandered around the town commenting surreptitiously on ‘Fort McMurray-isms’—that is, various opinions we’ve come to form in the last couple of days. For example, just before skipping town, we’d parked ourselves outside of Zellers, under a sign that read ‘No loitering, No Littering, No Spitting,’ and cooked ourselves some noodles on Macdonald’s camp stove. Most of the stores in that particular strip mall complex were closed, and Dru wondered aloud at how many cars there still were in the parking lot, which was close to full.

» continue reading "Forts McMurray and Mackay: Tar Sands Stink"

June 14, 2007 Weblog:

Notes from the Tar Pits: From McMurray to MacKay

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Notes from the Tar Pits: From McMurray to MacKay
Macdonald Stainsby
June 14, 2007

» continue reading "Notes from the Tar Pits: From McMurray to MacKay"

June 14, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray: Tar Sands from Space

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Courtesy of Google, some satellite images of the strip mining of tar sands near Fort McMurray. The large gray areas are tailing ponds.

Explore for yourself, starting here.

» view more photos in"Fort McMurray: Tar Sands from Space"

June 14, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray: The Tar Sands

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Above:

1. Syncrude's bitumen processing plant is not accessible, though it is visible from the highway. Apparently, there are plans to move the highway so that the road past Syncrude will be a private road.

» continue reading "Fort McMurray: The Tar Sands"

» view more photos in"Fort McMurray: The Tar Sands"

June 14, 2007 Weblog:

Today: Facebook, Frieda Y Feliz Cumple Che

Ottawa Citizen: Canadians crazy for Facebook, politicians getting on board.

México DF: "¡Frida era de izquierda!"... "yo también." Major protest as Calderón attends opening of Frida Kahlo exhibit.

Feliz cumple años Ernesto Che Guevara, (June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967).

June 12, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray: On the Street

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Top: patrons at the "Oil Can". Above: not under the same roof; a clandestine camper between a fence and a highway, and a syncrude-sponsored tent where hot tubs are sold

Today, we received our first real Fort McMurray experience: after two nights, the roommates of the one person we know in town decided that they didn't want us sleeping on their floor anymore. We now face what anyone coming to town or working a job that pays less than $100k/year faces: housing. It's not so bad, as we had planned to camp anyway, but even finding a spot to pitch a tent will be challenging.

» continue reading "Fort McMurray: On the Street"

» view more photos in"Fort McMurray: On the Street"

June 12, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray, first time

I Hitched into Fort McMurray from Edmonton late last night with Dru and Macdonald. It was dark and wet all the way here and having never been so far North before, the trees to me seemed sickly and pallid, pointless as far as trees go. I felt like the straight, black road could cease at any moment and we’d simply fall off the end of the earth.

» continue reading "Fort McMurray, first time"

June 12, 2007 Weblog:

Haiti: Anse d'Hainault (Part 2)

Anse d’Hainault’s isolation, however, did not save it from an earlier agricultural catastrophe: the eradication of the kreyol pig. In the early 80s, while the dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier was still in power, there was a rumored outbreak of African swine fever among Haiti’s pigs. At the behest of the US government, ever mindful of the interests of its pork industry, the Haitian government wiped out nearly the entire pig population.

» continue reading "Haiti: Anse d'Hainault (Part 2)"

June 12, 2007 Weblog:

Haiti: Anse d'Hainault (Part 1)

In Haiti, the divide between the capital and the rest of the country, between center and periphery is so great that one author has spoken of the “two worlds” of Haiti. Yet life in the periphery is not totally unconnected to the tumultuous events of the center. Anse d’Hainault, a seaside fishing village that has the distinction of the town furthest from Port-au-Prince, gave us a first-hand view of this dynamic.

» continue reading "Haiti: Anse d'Hainault (Part 1)"

June 11, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray: Homeless, Working Poor, and Welfare Recipients

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We had a brief conversation with Flex Turner, a twenty-five year resident of Fort McMurray, Syncrude employee, and soup kitchen volunteer.

Turner said that since the kitchen where he volunteers started 13 years ago, he has "seen the numbers explode" every year. In addition to the city's homeless population, which he estimates at around 500, the church-based kitchen serves the working poor--mainly those "at McDonald's," cleaning jobs and the hotel industry--and welfare recipients. Once people pay their rent, he said, "there's not a lot left over for food."

» continue reading "Fort McMurray: Homeless, Working Poor, and Welfare Recipients"

» view more photos in"Fort McMurray: Homeless, Working Poor, and Welfare Recipients"

June 11, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray: Campers and Trucks

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From top:

Campers in the Abasands Heights neighbourhood. A small bungalow here can sell for $400,000, it's said, and thousands of workers are living in trucks, vans, tents and corporate-run camps.

Quad tracks on a local trail.

Trucks bring in new equipment daily.

» continue reading "Fort McMurray: Campers and Trucks"

» view more photos in"Fort McMurray: Campers and Trucks"

June 11, 2007 Weblog:

Fort McMurray: We have the Energy

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When you're traveling to Fort McMurray, Alberta--five hours north of Edmonton--people assume you're going there to work. The average income here is around $90,000/year. Presented with "we're going just to find out what's going on," people are baffled. The northern city is known for being an expensive, rough place with nothing to do, too much traffic and a lack of services.

So why are people coming up here by the thousands?

» continue reading "Fort McMurray: We have the Energy"

June 11, 2007 Weblog:

Today: CCPA on military contracts.

New CCPA study shows that Nearly half of military contracts had no competition - Use of such sole-source deals on the rise.

June 10, 2007 Weblog:

The Price of Aid

I wrote an opinion piece for the most recent issue of This Magazine about the historical background of Canada's foreign aid, and what that means for current efforts to "reform" and increase foreign aid. It's available online, though for some reason it's missing include apostrophes and quotation marks.

June 9, 2007 Weblog:

Alberta: A quick visit to a feedlot

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On our way to the tar sands in Northern Alberta, one of our rides gave us an impromptu tour of a feedlot, where the storied Alberta Beef is raised.

» continue reading "Alberta: A quick visit to a feedlot"

» view more photos in"Alberta: A quick visit to a feedlot"

June 8, 2007 Weblog:

Verner's Plan for CIDA: Apply Afghanistan strategy to Haiti & others

International Co-operation Minister Josée Verner Outlines her Foreign Aid Agenda in today's Embassy Magazine:

The government plans to increase CIDA's field presence and create comprehensive websites to update Canadians about progress, something the minister says has already been done in Afghanistan, and which [Verner] would like to see in all of Canada's development partners, though she's not sure when or how.

» continue reading "Verner's Plan for CIDA: Apply Afghanistan strategy to Haiti & others"

June 8, 2007 Weblog:

Lula da Silva on Biofuels... Sure is easier than land reform!

Brazilian president Lula da Silva has written a piece called 'Challenges for the G8 summit' for La Jornada de Mexico.

He states:

"The promotion of the use of ethanol and biodiesel helps to democratize access to energy, and diminishes world dependance on finite hydrocarbon reserves...

[Biofuels] constitute economic, social and technological alternatives that are within the reach of countries that are economically poor, but rich in soils and arable lands...

» continue reading "Lula da Silva on Biofuels... Sure is easier than land reform!"

June 6, 2007 Weblog:

Today: Euskal Herria, Goldcorp Payday, Ethanol & more

Ceasefire between ETA & Spanish government ended by ETA.

Not only are cops posing as journalists in Canada, but they want full access to documents held by journalists.

» continue reading "Today: Euskal Herria, Goldcorp Payday, Ethanol & more"

June 5, 2007 Weblog:

Today : SPP/Biometrics & Afghanistan piece

SPP: Broaden debate on North American integration says Robert Pastor, who is speaking in Ottawa today.

According to the Citizen, Pastor says that passports for Canadians in the US is a miguided idea. In fact, "A national biometric ID card would be a far better solution, [Pastor] said. Such a card 'will actually make life easier without necessarily threatening anybody.'"

NEUMANN: Canada in Afghanistan

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