Mayor mad with power?

I could not believe this (from NewsTalk 980 radio) when I heard about it!

Mayor’s Advisor Off The Campaign
September 29, 2006

Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco is facing some tough questions on the first full day of his campaign for re-election.
Reporters grilled the incumbent mayoral candidate Friday after witnessing his Senior Advisor participating in his campaign kickoff the previous day.

Friday morning, Fiacco didn’t seem to think it was a problem, saying they have been following the general practice laid out at city hall over the years. He says he still has to do his job as mayor during the campaign, and that every municipality in the country does the same.

But that’s not entirely true, according to City Clerk Randy Merkewich. He tells us the city’s general practice is that employees do not participate in an election campaign during work hours.

Then I read this:

Mayor defends use of car, assistant during campaign

Last Updated: Friday, September 29, 2006 | 6:51 PM CT

There are no laws against a mayor using city hall staff — such as a senior adviser —and a city-operated vehicle during an election campaign, Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco says.

“There’s nothing specific there that says you can or cannot do it,” said Fiacco, who’s seeking a third term in office in the Oct. 25 election.

“During an election, you’re the mayor, you still have a job to do and you’re out there trying to get re-elected. So, I’ve been doing this for quite some time and, frankly, this is what every municipality in the country does as well.”

In Winnipeg, officials said, staff in the mayor’s office go on unpaid leave during an election.

In Saskatoon, an official said, the mayor’s staff are forbidden from doing anything connected with an election campaign.

When I finally got my hands on this fax, sent out from the City of Regina Acquisitions Department — presumably to all City of Regina Flood Control suppliers, I flipped! It’s a request for votes. And donations!

Hardly suggestive, is it? Nuh-uh, Mayor Pat. Paid staff, a City-operated vehicle, and use of the City’s office equipment and suppliers’ list. This is an abuse of your Office, Mister Mayor!

I’m thinking you’ve been Mayor for too long and — just like the Liberals who had been too long in power federally — have come to believe that your privileges are entitlements.

I’m thinking Reginans deserve better.

I’m thinking it’s time for a change.

Thanks to The Jurist at the Saskatchewan Citizen’s Federation for the lead.

SK Uranium in Weapons

I’ve posted more than once on the topic of Saskatchewan’s uranium.  Here’s another.  Gordon Edwards, Ph.D., President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility has written this brief bit (emphasis mine):

The Role of Saskatchewan Uranium In Weapons

Here are some facts and thoughts on the role of depleted uranium in weapons, both those of the conventional type and those of the nuclear variety.

Natural uranium is 99.7 percent U-238 and 0.7 percent U-235. Uranium Enrichment is a process by which the percentage of U-235 is boosted beyond the 0.7 percent mark. This can only be done by discarding a large amount of U-238, which will still contain a small amount (0.2 percent to 0.4 percent) of U-235. This cast-off uranium is called depleted uranium (DU).

As you may know a tremendous amount of Canadian uranium, and in particular Saskatchewan uranium, has been enriched in the USA before being sent on to overseas customers. [It's not just the stuff we sold to the US, but the stuff we sold to other countries that was first enriched in the US before being sent (as enriched uranium for use as reactor fuel) to various other customers.]

But to produce just 1 kg of 5% enriched uranium requires an input of over 11.8 kg of natural uranium, and results in 10.8 kg of depleted uranium [having about 0.3 % U-235].

When the enriched uranium is shipped to the customer, the depleted uranium is left behind at the US enrichment plant. In other words, over 90% of all Canadian (or Saskatchewan) uranium that was ever sent to USA for enrichment (for peaceful purposes as nuclear reactor fuel) has remained in the USA as depleted uranium (DU). There is absolutely no distinction between the DU of Canadian origin (or Saskatchewan origin) and the DU of other origins (US, Australian, etc.) It all goes into the same very large stockpile of DU. And a portion of this large stockpile of DU has always been used freely and without any compunctions by the US military for military purposes.

It is a perfectly fair and factual statement to say that whatever the percentage might be of Canadian (Saskatchewan) uranium as a fraction of the total through-put at US uranium enrichment plants, that same percentage is found in the US DU stockpiles.
It is by no means an insignificant fraction. Thus there is some Canadian-origin (Saskatchewan) uranium in virtually every US DU weapon.

Most people do not realize that the SAME DU stockpile was also used for half a century — and more — to produce the plutonium that is used in almost all US nuclear weapons. When depleted uranium “target rods” are inserted into military production reactors (notably at Savannah River) some U-238 atoms in the DU are converted into Pu-239 (plutonium-239) atoms and are subsequently separated out for use as a nuclear explosive. Virtually all of the plutonium in all US nuclear warheads was produced directly from depleted uranium.

Most people also do not realize that the military has, from the very first H-bombs, used depleted uranium directly in the construction of the metallic components of the warheads themselves, AND that this depleted uranium is responsible for at least 50 % of the explosive power of each H-bomb, as well as almost all of the radioactive fallout from the H-bombs. This is because the plutonium trigger (which was also made from depleted uranium) heats the fusion materials (deuterium and tritium) to several million degrees celsius so that they can undergo nuclear fusion, which in turn produces a huge burst of enormously energetic fusion neutrons (4 or 5 times more energetic than the neutrons produced by nuclear fission).

But neutrons are highly penetrating and therefore do not create as powerful an explosion as they might unless they are intercepted by something which can absorb them and magnify t he energy by a factor of 2 or more in a non-penetrating form — and that’s what the depleted uranium in the H-bomb is there for. When these highly energetic fusion neutrons hit the DU (mainly U-238) atoms, those “non-fissile” atoms are in fact fissioned (something that almost never happens in nuclear fission reactors!) producing an enormously enhanced burst of energy (double or more than double) and a plethora of highly radioactive “fission products” which contribute most of the radioactive fallout of the H-bomb.

That’s why these bombs are called “fission-fusion-fission” bombs. The first fission is plutonium. Then there’s the fusion of the deuterium and tritium. Then the second fission, which is the depleted uranium.

If you remove the depleted uranium materials from the H-bomb, you get a “neutron bomb” — one that has much less blast, much less radioactive fallout, and an enormous spewing forth of highly penetrating neutrons which do not generally destroy buildings but which are absolutely deadly to living things.

And to think that a large percentage of that DU is good old Canadian (Saskatchewan) uranium! Yikes.

The Canadian connections with DU munitions are even closer than just providing the raw material, as the following little excerpt indicates….

From: Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC)

12/26/2005 Uranium Biological Effects Study – Port Hope

UMRC is pleased on its official participation in the Port Hope Biological Studies Project, Port Hope Ontario. Port Hope is the home of two nuclear industry facilities: Zircatec Precision Industries and Cameco Nuclear Fuels Division. Cameco acquired the Port Hope uranium refinery, conversion and metals processing facility from the original Canadian Crown Corporation, Eldarado Nuclear. Eldarado Nuclear participated in the Manhattan Project and now as Cameco, supplies UF6 to the US uranium enrichment program and UO2 to Zircatec and other fuel rod manufacturers.

Currently Zircatec and Cameco process commercial natural uranium, depleted uranium, and enriched uranium stocks. As Eldoradeo, the refinery supplied Canadian and US Defense Departments with uranium and depleted uranium metals and extruded rods for kinetic energy penetrator research. Retired employees confirm that DU-KEP extruded rods were manufactured in Port Hope in the 1960’s onwards. The Cameco facility hosts one of the largest uranium metal processing capacities in the industry.

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, UMRC’s Director of Research has been appointed to the Medical Advisory Committee, Port Hope Community Health Concerns Committee. Tedd Weyman, UMRC’s Deputy Director is leading the field investigations at Port Hope.

So, Premier Calvert and Minister Cline, how will you respond to this?


Nuclear Madness

Regular readers of Politics’n’Poetry will know that earlier this week I learned that Premier Calvert met with WalMart’s friend, Hutchison Whampoa on his trip to China last year. Today I became curious as to why The Alberta Energy Company Limited aka EnCana, the Alberta government, and Husky Oil (sorry, lost that one) had been doing visiting my website. Everything later crystalized in my Inbox. A message referenced a Financial Post story (which, unfortunately, is available only to subscribers):

N word no longer shunned in oilpatch
Jon Harding, Financial PostSeptember 23, 2006 – BANFF , ALTA. – Oilsands companies in Alberta are warming to the idea of nuclear power as a source for their massive energy needs, says the head of one of the world’s largest nuclear power facilities.

As well, Duncan Hawthorne, president of Bruce Power LP, which operates the Bruce nuclear facility west of Toronto, said looming political change at the top in Alberta could tip the scales towards the nuclear cause.

The head of the Canadian Nuclear Association revealed he met quietly this summer with a group of executives from Canada ‘s oilpatch.

The National Post and Calgary Herald are among the sponsors of the annual forum.

The meeting in Calgary , a nuclear “myth-busting” session, was arranged by a law firm whose clients include some of the largest oilsands players.

Oilsands companies, particularly those recovering their crude using thermal technologies, generate huge amounts of steam, which they pump underground to soften the bitumen so it can flow. Companies that mine tar sands also use hot water and steam in early-stage upgrading processes.

So far, companies have used expensive natural gas to make the steam, but with natural gas prices rising from historical norms and predicted to swing wildly in the future, alternatives are being looked at, Mr. Hawthorne said.

Calgary-based Energy Alberta Corp., a private company backed by the chairman and founder of Precision Drilling Trust, Hank Swartout, recently emerged with a goal to market the Candu reactor to oilsands players.

Potential customers with big in-situ oilsands plans include EnCana Corp., Total SA and Husky Energy Inc.

It’s oh-so interesting to me that Hutchison Whampoa is a huge multi-national and just happens to be the parent company of Husky Energy Inc.

Another of today’s messages contained an interesting piece about NASA’s plans to transport plutonium to Mars. Maybe the NASA visitor was checking if I’d seen this, as reported in the September 28 online edition of Florida Today:

Nuclear fuel for Mars rover raises little concern

BY CHRIS KRIDLER
FLORIDA TODAY

COCOA – A power generator that uses plutonium dioxide would give

a 2009 Mars rover more freedom to explore questions about life

and water on the red planet, NASA officials said in a hearing

today.

In two sessions at the Florida Solar Energy Center on Wednesday,

they gave the public a chance to comment on a draft statement on

the potential dangers of a launch accident. The Mars Science

Laboratory would ride a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket from Cape

Canaveral.

Less than a half percent of launches would have the potential to release radiological material, they said.

“The risks from this mission would be low,” said Mark Dahl, NASA program executive for the mission.

They received only one comment during the afternoon session, from engineering consultant John Martin of Indialantic.

“This thing seems to be super safe as far as actually releasing any kind of radiation,” he said. “I hardly see any possibility.”

Seems to be super safe? That’s supposed to reassure us? Now I don’t know about you, but any risk is cause for more than a little concern. According to an email message from Russell Hoffman, an ardent no-nukes researcher and activist:

NASA’s RTG’s are incredibly dangerous...the plutonium they have already releasedhas killed, and continues to kill, human beings throughout the planet.

One estimate I heard is that as many as a million people could be condemned to die, or have died

already, from ONE previous NASA Pu failure (Gofman). Another estimate, by a pro-nuker, is

that males in the Northern Hemisphere piss out about a million atoms of Pu every day from that

one accident. NASA misunderstands totally, the dangers of the radioactive aerosol fumes their accidents create.

And sure, they now have containments for the Pu, they didn’t used to. But these containments are

paper-thin and not really all that good. There are numerous accident scenarios where they will

breach. Furthermore they reduce the efficiency of the devices, requiring carrying MORE Pu for

the same mission! So an accident with, say, a 10% release of 25 pounds (total) of Pu can be as

bad as a full release of a much smaller quantity of Pu, which was delivering the exact same

electrical output! (The release amount in the 1964 accident was 2.1 pounds.)

For more information, read Hoffman’s essay about low-level radiation and water.

So all is cleared up on the Politics’n’Poetry front.

Harper’s Gamble

I hope that I will one day have the discipline to pump out essays like my friend, John Conway, does.  Here’s another really good one folks.

 

 

The Afghan War: Harper’s Re-election Gamble

 

 

by J. F. Conway


 

Our esteemed prime minister continues to dig himself deeper into his political hole. Soon it will be impossible for him to claw his way out.

On the UN world stage Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided to present himself, and Canada, as warmongers, defending the dirty war in Afghanistan and vowing never to leave until the job is done. Finally, he is brazenly affirming that Canada is at war. But what is this war? It is a war of invasion, occupation and aggressive combat supporting one side against the other in a civil war. The current puppet regime, put in place by the US after questionable elections, wouldn’t last a fortnight if NATO troops pulled out. Indeed, military experts argue that in the absence of superior American air power, the current combat troops on the ground would be overrun by the Taliban-led insurgency coalition.

Harper insists we are fighting the war on terror. But the Taliban, formerly the government after driving out the Soviet invaders, then toppled after 9/11 by US bombing and invasion, are not the terrorists who haunt us. They are one side in a civil war. Our war is therefore a war on the Afghans who support the Taliban. According to the Senlis Council of Europe and the US-based International Institute of Strategic Studies, both prominent establishment think tanks, the Afghan war can no longer be won. That in a nutshell is why other NATO members are reluctant to send troops. The military campaign has ravaged the homes, farms and infrastructure of the country so badly that the Afghan people face insecurity and lawlessness, abject poverty and mass starvation. And this massive destruction has been due to the bombing and artillery shelling of NATO forces. The 10 to 15,000 refugees in camps in the south are not receiving enough aid simply to survive. As a result the Taliban is returning to political prominence and has fashioned a growing insurgency coalition against the foreign occupiers. Over one-half of Afghanistan and one-third of Iraq are now effectively in the control of the respective insurgencies.

Harper dug himself in deeper by inviting Afghan President Hamid Karzai to visit Canada and to address a joint sitting of the House of Commons and the Senate. Karzai’s visit was planned to coincide with a 10,000 strong “Wear Red Friday” rally on Parliament Hill. The Wear Red on Fridays campaign was founded by family members of troops from the Petawawa military base. The movement has grown into a jingoistic pro-war “support our troops” movement mobilized with a great deal of help from Harper’s Tory party. In his address to the rally Harper promised to build up the Canadian military and to stay the course in Afghanistan through all necessary means, no matter how long it takes.

This double whammy of the theatre of pro-war propaganda – Karzai’s visit and the Wear Red rally – might contribute temporarily to growth in support for the war among Canadians. The last Strategic Council poll reported that 49 per cent of Canadians want to bring the troops home, while 43 per cent support staying the course. These figures reveal a polarized and confused public, since the polls have gone up and down with events and propaganda campaigns. But the pattern has remained clear, a plurality of Canadians, usually a majority, opposes the war and wants our troops brought home. Harper ignores this political truth at his peril, and the Afghan war could become a defining issue in the next election. Harper appears to welcome such a possibility (after all, 43 per cent is higher that his current support level of 35 per cent).

The polling numbers reflect the deep ambivalence in Canadians’ sentiments rooted in contradictory attitudes. All Canadians support our troops in the sense of admiring their courage and their devotion to their duty as defined by Parliament. All Canadians grieve with the families of the fallen. Harper’s cynical and manipulative ploy of trying to conflate those good sentiments into support for the war and its political objectives is hard to resist. Harper says in order to support our troops, and to honour their sacrifices, we must support this war and support continuing to send more troops to wage it. Canadians, however, are increasingly moving to the position that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home now, not to leave them there to fight, kill and die, nor to send yet more young men and women to do so.

What is truly astonishing about Canadian attitudes is that opposition to the war continues to be so strong. The Canadian media have betrayed the trust of the Canadian people by serving as a pro-war propaganda arm of the Harper government and cheer leading chorus for the war. Even the news broadcasts are little more than pro-war propaganda. There is a virtual absence of critical, investigative reporting on the war. But despite a pro-war media, a pro-war prime minister and government, and repeated pro-war messages from the military broadcast daily, the Canadian people have refused to be bamboozled and stampeded.

This failure of the media took a particularly disgusting turn with the visit of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The media bought into Harper’s stunt of treating Karzai like he was the greatest freedom fighting government leader since Winston Churchill – pomp, ceremony, honour guards, salutes by cannon, the whole red carpet treatment, including the rare honour of addressing a joint sitting of Parliament. One understands why the Harper government would want to do so as part of a political campaign to win the hearts and minds of Canadians to support the war. But where were the critical analyses in the media about Karzai? Canadians were being instructed to honour this man uncritically, and asked to spend yet more blood and treasure (37 dead and over $3 billion to date) in supporting him and his government.

Did Canadian people not have the right to know that Karzai has so little support outside the capital city that he is widely referred to as “the Mayor of Kabul?” Or that he vetoed US plans to destroy the poppy crop through aerial spraying (Afghanistan now supplies 92 per cent of the world’s heroin; during the Taliban regime the trade was virtually stopped)? Or that his brother is alleged to be involved in the drug trade? Or that he was picked to lead the country at a meeting of US officials and Afghan exiles prior to the overthrow of the Taliban at a meeting in Bonn? Or that his election was allegedly riddled with fraud, only one month’s campaigning was allowed, his opponents were blacked out by the media, and his main political adversary, the Taliban, could not run (and would not in an American organized election)? Or that he was a former consultant to oil companies in the region? Or that he has fired all the reformers from his cabinet? Or that he is alleged to have had links with the CIA and US military intelligence? Or that George Bush personally approved his candidacy? The fact is that Karzai heads up a puppet regime set up by the US and its NATO allies. Do Canadians not have a right to know the nature of the president and government they are sending their young men and women to die defending?

This is a time of shame for Canadian media institutions. They have failed to inform Canadians in a balanced way about this war. Not only have they betrayed the public trust, but they have lost the trust of the public.

Harper is clearly gambling that he can parlay his warmongering, pro-US stance into a victory in the next election. Many think he has made a big mistake.

Conway is a University of Regina political sociologist.

A New Poet Laureate in SK

Finally some poetry news.  Congratulations to Bob Currie, the new Poet Laureate for Saskatchewan!

28 September 2006

For Immediate Release

New Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Announced

 

Robert Currie of Moose Jaw is the new Poet Laureate of Saskatchewan.  Currie’s term will begin 01 January 2007 and will run until 31 December 2008 .

 

Currie has written four poetry chapbooks and five books of poetry.  His most recent work is the just-published book of poems Running In Darkness.  He has also written three works of prose (including the novel Teaching Mr. Cutler).  He has won numerous awards for his work, and in 1991 he was named as Poet Laureate of the City of Moose Jaw (jointly with Gary Hyland). He is currently working on a new poetry manuscript and a second novel.

 

Currie was chosen by a selection committee consisting of Elizabeth Brewster ( Saskatoon ); Michael Trussler ( Regina ); and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond ( Saskatoon ).  The selection committee’s members represent the literary, academic, and broader cultural communities. 

 

The selection committee is enthusiastic in their recommendation of Currie.  They note not only the beauty and skill of his poetry, but also his work in the literary community:  “Currie has been a steadfast promoter of poetry and the writing of literature in Saskatchewan .  Few writers dedicate their lives to the public promotion of literature as Currie has done; more specifically, throughout his career as a writer and teacher, he has effectively championed writers from Saskatchewan .”

 

Currie is the third person to hold the title of Poet Laureate; his two predecessors were Glen Sorestad (2000—2004) and Louise B. Halfe (2005—2006).

 

Begun in 2000, the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate Program was the first provincial program of its kind in Canada .  The Poet Laureate Program is funded by the Saskatchewan Arts Board and is under the patronage of the Lieutenant Governor, His Honour the Honourable Dr. Gordon L. Barnhart.  The Saskatchewan Writers Guild administers the program and the Saskatchewan Arts Board and the Saskatchewan Book Awards act in an advisory capacity.

 

-30-

 

For more information: 

 

Amy Nelson-Mile: 306-791-7743 or amynelson.mile@sasktel.net

 

See also http://www.skwriter.com and attached Bio and Backgrounder.


 

Bio of Robert Currie

 

Robert Currie, who was born in Lloydminster, lives in Moose Jaw, where for three decades he taught English and creative writing at Central Collegiate, winning the Joseph Duffy Memorial Award for excellence in the teaching of language arts.  He and his wife, Gwen, continue to live in the same house where they raised their children, Bronwen and Ryan, both of whom have moved on, raising children of their own.  Since taking an early retirement in 1996 Currie has been busy writing, editing, and volunteering.

 

Currie began publishing poetry and fiction in 1967, and since then his work has appeared in numerous literary magazines (Grain, Canadian Forum, Fiddlehead, CVII, NeWest Review, Queen’s Quarterly, Wascana Review, and Prairie Fire included) plus more than 40 anthologies.  He is the author of four poetry chapbooks, five books of poetry and three of prose, including the novel Teaching Mr. Cutler and the just published volume of poems Running in Darkness.

 

In 1969 he founded, a little magazine of contemporary writing, which he edited and published for seven years.  Although its pages were cranked out on an old gestetner, they contained many good writers before they were famous, Lorna Crozier, Lois Simmie, Glen Sorestad, and Carol Shields among them.  Currie was chairman of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild for 1973-1974, wrote a column for Freelance, taught creative writing four summers at the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts at Fort San, and, with Gary Hyland, Barbara Sapergia and Geoffrey Ursell, founded Coteau Books on 1975—and still volunteers on its board.  Beginning in 1997 he spent six years on the Guild’s Colony Committee.  He was also a founding board member of the Saskatchewan Festival of Words, serving on its board through ten festival with more to come.  In 2006 he was thrilled to be on the faculty of the Sage Hill Writing Experience at Lumsden.

 

In 1980 Currie won third prize for poetry in the CBC National Literary Competition.  he has won first prize on four occasions in the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Literary Awards (thrice for poetry, once for children’s literature).  One of his radio plays won the 1977 Ohio State Award for Radio Drama.  In 1984 he was honoured by the Saskatchewan Writers Guild with a Founder’s Award, and in 2004 he received the Guild’s Volunteer Leadership Award.

 

His current writing projects include a poetry manuscript and a second novel.

 


Backgrounder—Poet Laureate Media Release

 

The Program

 

Communities, non-profit organizations, service organizations and educational institutions may submit applications to support the participation of the Saskatchewan Poet Laureate at a public reading or special event in Saskatchewan .

 

Preference will be given for events that meet the following criteria:

 

·          are linked to a significant community event (e.g. festival, anniversary, historical milestone)

·          involve a public presentation (e.g. lecture, awards presentation, luncheon address)

·          show a willingness to promote both the event and the presence and participation of the Poet Laureate

·          involve partnerships with other organisations (e.g. school, library, service club, arts organisation)

 

What Costs the Program Covers

 

The program will cover the cost of the Poet Laureate’s fee, travel, and meal expenses.  The host organization is responsible for covering the cost of accommodation, if required.

 

How to Apply

 

To request an application form, please see http://www.skwriter.com or contact the Saskatchewan Writers Guild at 306-791-7743 or by e-mail at amynelson.mile@sasktel.net .  Applications must be received at least five weeks prior to the event, and bookings depend on the availability of the Poet Laureate and available funding.

 

Objectives of the Poet Laureate Program

 

1.       To celebrate the spirit of the people and place of Saskatchewan

2.       To raise the profile of writers in Saskatchewan

3.       To elevate writing as a vocation

4.       To raise awareness of the power of poetry and the spoken word

5.       To create a recognized spokesperson for writing in general and poetry in particular who will be a respected participant of festive occasions and official functions in the province

6.       To be a focal point for the expression of Saskatchewan cultures (time, land, people) through the literary arts.

 

Acknowledgement

 

Successful recipients will acknowledge the Poet Laureate sponsors on all printed material.

 

 

More NAFTA Corridor & Deep Integration

Oh, the NAFTA Corridor and the deepening of North American integration certainly provide opportunities for learning. And it’s always exciting when there’s a local, provincial, or national connection. Here are three excerpts from articles that caught my attention.

1) In the Washington Times is a very interesting commentary by William Hawkins, a Republican and a senior fellow for national security studies at the U.S. Business and Industry Council. He tells exactly what the SuperCorridor will do.

NAFTA highway or new silk road?

By William Hawkins
September 24, 2006

On Sept. 7, the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), a government office established in March to increase cooperation between the United States, Canada and Mexico, released a progress report. Among its achievements was creation of an American Competitiveness Council to enhance North America’s posture in the struggle for hotly contested global markets.

Unfortunately, major events are already unfolding that will undermine this belated attempt to respond to ambitious rivals who have been piling up ever-higher trade surpluses at the expense of American-based enterprises.

[W]hat is really behind this transportation network heralds the collapse of NAFTA and its dream of a stronger continental economy. NAFTA was supposed to combine cheap Mexican labor with U.S. capital and technology to improve competition with Asian rivals. C. Fred Bergsten and Jeffrey Schott, of the Institute for International Economics, testified to Congress in 1997: “We wanted to shift imports from other countries to Mexico — since our imports from Mexico include more U.S. content and because Mexico spends much more of its export earnings on imports from the United States than do, say, the East Asian countries.”

Imports from Mexico grew rapidly in the 1990s on this model, but that is not what drives activity now. Today, the massive wave of imports from Asia is clogging West Coast ports and sending shippers and retailers searching for new routes to bring even more foreign products into the United States. Container ship traffic from China is growing by 15 percent a year. Between 2003 and 2005, annual imports from China rose by $92.2 billion, and from other parts of Asia by $41.0 billion.

The final terminus of the planned transport network is the Kansas City, Mo., SmartPort. Its Web site proclaims, “The idea of receiving containers nonstop from the Far East by way of Mexico may sound unlikely, but… that seemingly far-fetched notion will become a reality.”

The Chinese firm Hutchison Whampoa has partnered with Wal-Mart in a $300 million expansion of Lazaro Cardenas to handle perhaps 2 million containers annually by the end of the decade. The American Chamber of Commerce in Guangdong, China, has held seminars promoting this Mexican port. Punta Colonet, about 150 miles south of Tijuana, is also eyed for expansion to offload millions of additional containers filled with Asian imports. Kansas City Southern railway has bought the Mexican rail links and the State of Texas is negotiating with a Spanish firm to build a corridor of toll roads from the border heading north.

While American-based manufacturers will continue to suffer under the barrage of Chinese goods, Mexican industry will be smashed flat by what should be called a new Silk Road rather than a NAFTA highway. The economic development goals of NAFTA are being abandoned.

More than 600 of the maquiladoras assembly plants along the U.S.-Mexican border have relocated to China, leaving their Mexican workers behind. There is little chance for Mexican wages to rise if at $1.50 an hour they can be undercut by Chinese labor at 50 cents an hour. NAFTA was to be a way to lift Mexicans out of poverty and stem illegal immigration to America. A similar argument was made last year about the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). As South Carolina Republican Rep. Bob Inglis said during that floor debate, “I stand here convinced that it is the best strategy available to combine with our neighbors to the south to compete with the Chinese.”

The new transport plans make a mockery of these arguments, as they are aimed purely at helping China improve its competitive advantage over all North and Central American rivals. What is being built is truly a “Highway of Death” for both NAFTA and CAFTA. The resulting regional turmoil will be felt in the United States.

I know Premier Calvert and Minister Eric Cline had an ‘economic mission’ to China last fall. And I know they talked with Chinese officials about Saskatchewan’s uranium industry, too. But I didn’t discover, until just now, that they met with Hutchison Whampoa, Wal-Mart’s partners. I mean, do they believe we really need more plastic?

2) CNW Group has a story about the Native American Energy Group ‘s belief that the NAFTA SuperCorridor will benefit their company, and by extent, I suppose, their people.

Attention Business Editors, Energy Editors:

NAFTA ”Super- Highway”Catalyst to NAEG Growth — Company Receives Proposal to Manage New Oil Refinery

FOREST HILLS, N.Y., September 27 /CNW/ – Native American Energy Group,
Inc. (the “Company” or “NAEG”) (OTC Pink Sheets: NVMG) is a publicly traded,
independent energy company that, in Aug 2006, announced its initial oil and
natural gas production on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northeast
Montana. The Company announced today that prevailing international, state and
local trends favor a more robust energy and economic environment in Montana,
especially in the Northeast quadrant, and this, it says is helping to maximize
economic development opportunities for NAEG already. Specifically, the
proposed NAFTA “Superhighway” or “International Mid-Continent Trade and
Transportation Corridor” as it has been called by the media that is to run
through N.E. Montana and that is designed to connect Mexico, Canada, and the
U.S. into one transportation system is being seen as a definite catalyst to the Company’s growth.

Seems to me that it’s more of a divide and rule kind of ploy.

3) There are days I cringe at what WorldNetDaily posts, but this caught my eye. The indoctrination of the ‘new leaders of tomorrow’ continues:

The New World Disorder
N. American students trained for ‘merger’
10 universities participate in ‘model Parliament’ in Mexico to simulate ‘integration’ of 3 nations
Posted: September 25, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com


WASHINGTON – In another example of the way the three nations of North America are being drawn into a federation, or “merger,” students from 10 universities in the U.S., Mexico and Canada are participating annually in a simulated “model Parliament.”

Under the sponsorship of the Canadian based North American Forum on Integration, students met in the Mexican Senate for five days in May in an event dubbed “Triumvirate,” with organizers declaring “A North American Parliament is born.”

A similar event took place in the Canadian Senate in 2005.

The intentions of organizers are clear.

“The creation of a North American parliament, such as the one being simulated by these young people, should be considered,” explained Raymond Chretien, the president of the Triumvirate and the former Canadian ambassador to both Mexico and the U.S.

Just what we need, eh? More leaders to sell us out

Fed Cuts: Impact on Arts Sector

More from my inbox, this one from the Saskatchewan Arts Alliance (not available online):

For immediate release

September 26, 2006

FUNDING CUTS SEVERE BLOW TO ARTS SECTOR

The federal Government’s recent announcement of funding cuts to the arts sector is a severe blow to the arts community. “The cuts are unwarranted,” explains SAA President Skip Kutz. “They came without advance warning at a time when Canada has a $13.2 billion surplus.”


Government suggestions that programs such as the Museums Assistance Program (MAP) are wasteful and ineffective is perplexing, and incorrect. In Saskatchewan, MAP has supported programs of many of our exemplary museums such as the Western Development Museum, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Moose Jaw Art Gallery and Museum, and Wanuskewin Heritage Park to list a few. The loss of this program is especially disconcerting given the Conservative Party’s promise during the last election to bring in new investment to the museums community.


The arts and culture sector is at the heart of our communities, bringing a richness and diversity to all our lives. The sector offers significant opportunities for social and economic development – a priority shared by all Canadians. Investment in the sector is money well spent.

-30-

 

Saskatchewan Arts Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of arts organizations provides a collective voice for the arts in Saskatchewan. SAA promotes the lively existence and continued growth of the arts and cultural industries in Saskatchewan. Established in 1984, the SAA advocates on issues such as public funding of the arts, freedom of expression, and artists’ working conditions.

For additional information:

Marnie Gladwell, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Arts Alliance
#205A 2314-11th Ave., Regina, SK. S4P 0K1
t. 306 780-9820 f. 306 780-9821
director@artsalliance.sk.ca
www.artsalliance.sk.ca

Federal Cuts: Impact on Women

My inbox is filled with statements from women’s groups regarding the impact of the Harper’s decisions around the Status of Women Canada cuts. Here are a couple of them.

First, from the Newfoundland – Labrador Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women (not available online):

Federal Conservatives Betray Commitments to Women’s Equality:Provincial Advisory Council Responds to Cuts to Status of Women Canada

September 26, 2006

The Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women is alarmed by the federal government’s decision to cut 1 billion dollars in spending. “The federal government signaled its intention to make these cuts last spring, and our worst fears are being realized,” says Leslie MacLeod, President. “They are eliminating 1% of their overall spending by
eliminating or reducing critical social programs.”

The Advisory Council denounces the decision to cut the federal Department of Status of Women Canada by $5 million over two years. These cuts will be taken from its modest budget of $13 million per year. It is one of the smallest federal departments but has a huge role in advancing women’s equality. This department provides critical analysis of the effect of policies and programs on women.

Prior to the 2006 federal election, Stephen Harper stated to Canadian women that: “If elected, I will take concrete and immediate measures, as recommended by the United Nations, to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women in Canada.” However, yesterday’s cuts are proof that the Prime Minister has no intention of upholding his commitments to Canadian women.

According to Ms. MacLeod: “The reduction in funding to Status of Women Canada and the elimination of the Court Challenges Program of Canada, along with other social spending cuts, fly in the face of recommendations made by equality-seeking groups and the United Nations. This is certainly not what Canadian women or the United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women had in mind.”

And from the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, FAFIA:

Cuts to Status of Women and Court Challenges Program

Undermine Government’s Commitment to Women’s Equality

September 25, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa: FAFIA, a pan-Canadian alliance of women’s and human rights organizations, is denouncing the $5 million cut to the federal department of Status of Women over two years. These cuts will be taken from its modest annual budget of $13 million. The grants and contributions arm ($11 million) of the department was not affected.

“These cuts will critically affect the federal government’s own capacity to live up to its equality commitments to women,” said Shelagh Day, Co-Chair of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action (FAFIA).

FAFIA is also dismayed by the elimination of the Court Challenges Program. “This Program has provided Canadian women with their only access to the use of their constitutional equality rights,” said Shelagh Day. “Equality rights have no meaning in Canada if women, and other Canadians who face discrimination, cannot use them.”

“Constitutional cases are too expensive for women to mount on their own. Without this test case fund, women simply do not have access to the courts when their rights are violated.”

During the last federal election campaign, Stephen Harper promised to “take concrete and immediate measures…to ensure that Canada fully upholds its commitments to women.” These cuts are not consistent with Mr. Harper’s election promise,” said Day

Status of Women Canada is responsible for equipping the federal government to conduct gender based analysis of all policies and programs. It also provides internal expertise on specific policy initiatives. The department’s budget is one of the smallest of any department at the federal level.

An Expert Panel on accountability mechanisms for gender equality, that made its report just before the last federal election, concluded that Status of Women Canada needed to be significantly strengthened in order to better perform its function as a watchdog for women’s equality. The cut to SWC ignores those crucial recommendations.

Whomever suggested that the Harper was Bush Lite was wrong. This is Bush Heavy.