Pandas as thanks?

Interesting study here.

China’s practice of gifting and loaning giant pandas has been given new impetus as a result of damage to panda-conservation facilities caused by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and China’s rise as an economic power. We suggest that a new, third phase of panda diplomacy is under way that is distinct from the previous two. Phase 1 during the Mao era (in the 1960s and 1970s) took the form of China gifting pandas to build strategic friendships. Phase 2 followed Deng Xiaoping’s rise to power in 1978 when gifts became gift loans involving a capitalist lease model based on financial transactions. In the emerging phase 3, panda loans are associated with nations supplying China with valuable resources and technology and symbolize China’s willingness to build guanxi—namely, deep trade relationships characterized by trust, reciprocity, loyalty, and longevity.

Documents accessed via Freedom of Information requests show that PM Harper requested the pandas and that the Chinese government wanted a high level visit to the country to announce it.

“Although the approval has been granted, China has advised that a public announcement should wait for a suitable occasion (i.e. a senior level visit). As China has already granted approval for the loan, the risk of a change in this arrangement is low and the loan process is expected to proceed without incident.”

Just so happens that the uranium issue fit the bill.

According to Canada’s Postedia [sic] News, in 2012 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced China would be loaning Canada two pandas on the same trip that he signed an agreement expanding Canadian uranium exports to China.

The pandas do make Harper look good to the nondiscerning.  But the relationship with China is complex.

And dangerous.  More uranium will be mined and shipped.  And more people will be harmed.


More Nuke News

Not a lot of people liking President O’s greenwashing of nukes.  This most excellent article in the Guardian dispels the myth that nukes are green.

The argument that nuclear is “carbon-free” conveniently omits the entire process of mining uranium, which produces greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants. In Virginia, where a study has just been commissioned to determine its safety, uranium is mined in open pits. This destroys topsoil and increases runoff, which contaminates drinking water with cancer-causing toxins.

The uranium-enrichment process also emits greenhouse gases and is highly wasteful. Eighty percent of the ore that goes through the enrichment process ends up as waste. And this is to say nothing of the lye, sulfuric acid, and other caustic agents that must be used to turn the uranium into reactor-ready fuel.

While on the surface, the steam billowing from the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor is less harmful than the toxic smoke that spews from a coal plant, nuclear reactors still create byproducts that are dangerous to human health and welfare. There’s also the huge problem of radioactive nuclear waste, which can stay hot for hundreds of thousands of years. Storing the radioactive waste isn’t just a security threat; there’s potential for radioactive chemicals to leak, as they are in Vermont and at other aging reactors around the country.

It’s clear to me that the US Prezzie doesn’t read P’n’P.  Perhaps you could invite him to do so via this handy form?

The folks at nuclear news have that article available, as well as a fantastic sidebar, The Very Secret Costs of Nuclear Power.  From their site:

Well it is impossible for anyone to estimate the real costs of nuclear power, as only a narrow range of costs are discussed, even where the nuclear industry is supposedly privately owned.

1. The nuclear weapons industry is so connected with nuclear power, and the costs on the nuclear weapons industry are huge.

2. Where the nuclear industry is state owned – e.g. in France, Russia, China, South Korea, taxation, and the costs of electricity are manipulated, and figures given out for nuclear costs are not really reliable.

Secrecy about the nuclear industry is essential anyway, for security reasons. But it is also convenient, as no-one really knows how much it costs for state-owned nuclear facilities to manage nuclear waste. Well, there are ‘cheap’ options used, as we learn from time, with nuclear waste dumping occurring secretly, and without regard for the environment or the people, (usually poor communities, indigenous and rural people.) Eventually someone has to pay for the long-term costs.

Back at home, the nukers are bragging about their exploration in Quebec’s Otish Mountains.

Ditem Explorations /quotes/comstock/11v!dit (CA:DIT 0.08, 0.00, 0.00%) is pleased to report that the 2010 exploration program on the Company’s Otish Mountains uranium property in Quebec is underway. A fully operational camp has been established to accommodate geophysical and drilling crews. Drilling on the first hole began yesterday.

They don’t get that they’re involved in ecological racism. And that sux!  The Quebec no-nukers have been working tirelessly to put an end to nuking the environment.  Check it out.  And here’s a thorough piece from the Dominion about the nuke activity in northern Quebec.

One further focus for criticism is the province’s much-hyped development strategy, known as the “Plan Nord,” which involves targeting government money at selected infrastructure projects favouring principally the resource extraction sector in northern Quebec. According to research conducted by The Dominion, last year’s provincial budget earmarked $130 million for extending Highway 167 by 268km into the Otish Mountains, northeast of the James Bay Cree town of Mistissini. It is in an area without residential communities, but where Vancouver-based Strateco Resources has discovered some of Quebec’s most concentrated uranium deposits.

Finally, here’s another story about Canada’s outrageous and extravagant spending on AECL flowing from the Chalk River Fiasco.

As a result, Ottawa allocated $824-million in the current fiscal year to the problem-plagued nuclear flagship as the government prepares to restructure it and sell its commercial division, according to supplemental estimates released late yesterday.

That’s a 50-per-cent increase from federal spending on AECL in the prior fiscal year. In today’s budget, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will likely provide hundreds of millions more to support AECL’s operating budget and design work on the advanced Candu reactor and refurbish Chalk River laboratories.

Our tax dollars are being sunk into what the PM himself called a “sinkhole” so that the feds can sell it for next to nothing?  WTF?  It seems that PMS definitely needs to hear from you on this ridiculous, costly venture!  Imagine, were that kind of money to be spent on real green technology…

U.S. firm sheds liability for Canadian nuclear peril

Gee, thanks, Steve.  Our country is so safe with you at the helm.  NOT!!!


From The G&M:


U.S. firm sheds liability for Canadian nuclear peril

Nuclear plant supplier GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy shielding finances from the risks of an accident at a Canadian nuclear station


Martin Mittelstaedt

From Saturday’s Globe and Mail Published on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009 12:37AM EST

One of the world’s largest nuclear plant suppliers has ordered its Canadian division to hermetically seal itself off from its U.S. parent, going so far as to forbid engineers at the U.S. wing from having anything to do with Canadian reactors.

The move by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is spurred by concerns about liability – if an accident at a Canadian plant spreads damage across the border, Americans might be able to sue the parent company. The result is a Canadian company cut off from the technical advances of its parent, a leading player in the industry.

The company also won’t allow any equipment built or designed by the U.S. parent to be used in Canadian reactors for the same reason.

The efforts of private sector companies in the nuclear industry to shield their finances from the risk of atomic accidents aren’t well known. GE Hitachi revealed its precautions earlier this month at a parliamentary committee reviewing a bill that proposes raising insurance coverage for victims of a nuclear power plant mishap to $650-million from $75-million.

GE Hitachi favoured the increase, saying the existing insurance level is so low it believes U.S. judges would scoff at it and allow U.S. courts to hear lawsuits seeking damages in connection with accidents that happened across the border.

That would put GE, with annual revenue of $180-billion (U.S.), at risk of becoming a juicy target for liability lawsuits if components from the U.S. parent company were found to be involved in causing the incident. “From a shareholder point of view, that’s a big concern,” Peter Mason, president of GE Hitachi’s Canadian arm, said in an interview.

GE Hitachi said is not acting to isolate its Canadian subsidiary beyond the legal protections usually provided by separate incorporations because nuclear accidents are likely. “The nuclear industry has got a great track record,” Mr. Mason said, adding that the company’s steps have been driven by legal advice and not by Canadian reactor safety concerns. “You sit down with any lawyer and they paint the worst-case scenario, which I think is what environmentalists do as well,” he said.

But Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a spokesman for Greenpeace, said the company’s internal assessment of its financial risks has to be linked to the odds of an accident. “If they’re that scared that they need to hermetically seal the branch plant here in Canada because they’re worried about an accident, it shows they believe it’s a realistic possibility,” he asserted.

In addition to isolating the Canadian branch to protect itself legally, GE Hitachi – along with Babcock & Wilcox Canada Ltd., another major nuclear supplier, and Bruce Power, the operator of two nuclear stations in Ontario – urged the federal government at the hearings to sign the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage. It is an international pact ratified by the U.S. that stipulates legal jurisdiction for a nuclear incident lies only in the courts of the country where the accident occurs.

If Canada were to ratify the convention, it would free companies from cross-border liability worries by preventing U.S. victims of Canadian nuclear fallout from suing over it in their own courts, and preclude Canadians from doing likewise in Canada over damages from a U.S. nuclear station mishap.

Fallout from any accident would be most likely to cross the international boundary along the shores of the Great Lakes, which have 10 U.S. and five Canadian nuclear generating stations.

Mr. Mason said worries over liability were among the reasons GE Hitachi was unwilling to submit a bid on building a new nuclear station under a recent request by the Ontario government. He said Canada isn’t the only country it avoids because of liability concerns. It won’t sell in China for the same reason.

Nukers lobbied to have Keen fired?

Remember the Chalk River Scandal?  Remember how we got a taste of just how much Harper hates “uppity women”?  Remember how he treated Linda Keen, how he and his cronies fired her for no real reason?

Well, thanks to intrepid reporter, Greg Weston, of Sun Media, P’n’P has learned that

industry insiders say lobbyists had long been trying to get rid of Keen for reasons that had nothing to do with medicine. Their clients were companies that stand to make huge money from the next generation of Canadian nuclear power reactors called the Advanced Candu, or ACR-1000. Rightly or wrongly, it seems, the iron-fisted Keen was getting in the way.

Keen would not agree to conduct a special review of AECL’s new toy design.  But, exit Keen and enter Binder and everything changed!

Almost immediately after Binder took over from Keen, the supposedly independent, quasi-judicial safety commission reversed itself and agreed to conduct a pre-project review of Atomic Energy’s new ACR-1000 reactor design.

Seven months later, the commission concluded its review, finding the new Candu complies with “regulatory requirements and meets the expectations for new nuclear power plants in Canada.”

It’s  like, well, it’s like MAGIC! Or something, eh?

Thanks to BCer in Toronto for pointing me to the article!

Iraq war resister faces deportation from Canada

It saddens me how heartless our nation has become under the leadership of the Harper Conservatives. And it’s not that the Liberals were a whole lot better, but dammit, a few of them had hearts. And, I like to think a few still do have hearts and that all Opposition MPs in Ottawa will do their damnedest to ensure that Corey Glass is not deported to the fascist and war-mongering USA.

Thanks to World Report for bringing this to my attention.

Iraq war resister faces deportation from Canada


TORONTO, May 21 /CNW/ – US Iraq war resister Corey Glass was told today
that his application to stay in Canada has been rejected and he now faces

Glass, 25, came to Canada in August 2006 after serving in Iraq as a
Military Intelligence Sergeant.

“What I saw in Iraq convinced me that the war is illegal and immoral. I
could not in good conscience continue to take part in it,” said Glass. “I came
here because Canada did not join the Iraq War.

“Also, I knew Canada had welcomed many Americans during the Vietnam War,”
It is estimated that several hundred Iraq War resisters are currently in
Canada, many of them living underground.

“Corey Glass would be the first Iraq War resister to be deported from
Canada. He would face imprisonment and severe penalties in the US,” said Lee
Zaslofsky, coordinator of the War Resisters Support Campaign and a Vietnam War
resister. “This goes against Canada’s tradition of welcoming Americans who
disagree with policies like slavery and the Vietnam War.”

On December 6, 2007, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and
Immigration called on the Canadian Government to “immediately implement a
program to allow conscientious objectors and their immediate family members to
apply for permanent resident status and remain in Canada; and the government
should immediately cease any removal or deportation actions against such

“The Government should implement that recommendation immediately,” said
author Lawrence Hill. “Corey Glass had the courage to listen to his
conscience. He is working hard to build a new life in this country. He should
be allowed to stay.”

“We must not forget that the invasion of Iraq was a war justified only by
lies, greed and stupidity for which permission was not sought nor granted to
the Bush administration by the United Nations,” said Alexandre Trudeau, son of
Pierre Elliott Trudeau and director of the documentary film Embedded In

“This outlaw war has ravaged the Iraqi landscape, destroyed tens of
thousands of lives and sorely sapped the American treasury all while filling
the coffers of profiteers,” he said.

“Those Americans who served in Iraq, and have come to Canada to avoid
being pressed into further participation in the indignities of the American
occupation there, are brave men and women of principle who should be given a
chance to become landed in Canada. Like many Vietnam draft dodgers before
them, their heightened sense of morality and truth can only be a benefit to
our nation.”

A community forum on the plight of US war resisters in Canada will be
held tonight, May 21, at 7 p.m. at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Avenue (at St.
George) in Toronto.

The event will be moderated by CBC radio host Andy Barrie and will
feature US war resisters Joshua Key, Jeremy Hinzman, Corey Glass and others.

For further information: Lee Zaslofsky, (416) 598-1222; Michelle
Robidoux, (416) 856-5008

The Canadian Nixon

From The Guardian’s, Comment is free, The Canadian Nixon by Dimitry Anastakis and Jeet Heer:

The historian Garry Wills once observed that Richard Nixon wanted to be president not to govern the nation but to undermine the government. The Nixon presidency was one long counterinsurgency campaign against key American institutions like the courts, the FBI, the state department and the CIA. Harper has the same basic approach to politics: attack not just political foes but the very institutions that make governing possible. The state for Nixon and Harper exists not as an instrument of policy making but as an alien force to be subdued.

Canadians have never had a prime minister who has literally made his career attacking and undermining the legitimacy of Canadian institutions.

Until now.

Gosh, golly, jeewhizz, *I* haven’t heard Steve say, “I am not a crook.”  Have you?  8)

Well, Canada, what now?

So, the Liberals stood up Canadian women for a pink party at Stornoway.  The NDP has a turncoat who needs to be removed from the party.  And the anti-choice crowd is partying like they have not partied since before the Morgentaler decision of 1988.  Me, I don’t feel too festive.

I am angry.  I am angry with Parliament, for all the stupidity they’ve engaged in over the past 2+ years, but exceedingly so for this latest attack on women.  It could send a woman into a tailspin.  Fortunately, I’m stronger than that and have bounced back quickly and with more gusto than before.  I am angry with myself, too, for not taking seriously this attack by the anti-choicers, for not catching the pattern of Harper’s attacks.  Never underestimate Steve Harper is the lesson I have learned here.  He is as mean and scary as they come.

So, peeps, what’s next?  How do we take back what is being taken from us?  How do we take back our democracy?

Enemies of Women’s Rights

This is for Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, and Peter Stoffer, the three obvious enemies of women’s right to reproductive freedom, as indicated by their vote — or the lack thereof — on Bill C-484 in Parliament today.

Middle Finger for Dion

Who was it who said, Polite women seldom make history?

Updated to add Stoffer, an NDP MP, to the list.  Here’s hoping he’s disciplined…