Thursday, June 24, 2010

Daily Digest June 23, 2010



Knowledge will empower Africa

The runaway general

Late fees for legal aid

Signs of change in Parliament

G20 protests have a point

Global recovery depends on developing nations

Goar: A province where everyone can live in dignity

Walkom: G20 may have a future, but scrap the G8

Fallout from Meech failure continues 20 years later

Fadden's remarks: Reckless, foolish, contradictory

The G8 can't wait till October to talk global health

Barack Obama says "Rock me, Petraeus"

Our Afghan mission isn't finished

Truth in sentencing must come with truth in spending

Prisoners in their own city

Score one for religious freedom

Let the hatemonger into Canada

Belgium's lesson for Quebec


Aboriginal group plans Toronto highway blockade

U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal fired over interview

New U.S. commander in Afghanistan is a consummate politician

Pentagon fuelling Afghan protection racket: report

U.S. mission commander in Afghanistan shuns spotlight

General broke his own rules

Natynczyk pleased with new U.S. military leadership in Afghanistan

U.S. legislators join oilsands pipeline fight

U.S. Congress subverts Prentice's energy message

G20 to look at global poverty, leaked communiqué shows

Security tab four times higher per officer than in 2002

Climate, financial crisis to be on G20 agenda: leak

Polio outbreak could spread: Canadian Medical Association

Landlord fears God, scraps gay couple's lease

CSIS head backtracks on allegations of foreign influence over Canadian officials

Senators want answers about complaints against CBC

La Presse interview with PM Harper

Harper deals with new Arctic rival: China

Feds imposing standards on coal-fired plants

AECL could soon be on the auction block

G8 costs on par with past summits, but Page isn't sure about G20

Spy chief says he hasn't named names

Tories spend $8M fighting Agent Orange victims

Sentencing Law Could Cost Billions

Canada commits $400M to climate change fund

Europe's Little Ice Age may be on its way back
A series of harsh winters would severely test belief in global warming

Prentice's coal plan another reason to think cap and trade is dead

Majority wants Ottawa to consider funding abortions in developing nations: poll

Canadian nightmare: Fox News North

The G20 that ate Toronto
The G20 that ate Toronto

Questions over claim politicians are under foreign influence

Nuclear plant balks at regulator request to test all employees for radiation

TOM FLANAGAN One election, three scenarios

All talk, no summit action on the end to fossil-fuel subsidies

Ignatieff 's not-so-slick oil proposal

Strange way for CSIS head to come in from the cold

Too early to tell' if $1B is too much for G8/G20: report

Banking, smoke and mirrors


G8-G20  · Des coûts «pas déraisonnables»

Énergie · Harper prépare un règlement sur le charbon

Entrevue · La Chine a des ambitions dans l'Arctique

Entrevue · Harper est inquiet de l'économie canadienne

Justice · Peines de détention: les coûts de la nouvelle loi

Accord du lac Meech
20 ans après l'échec

Rouge pour religion - Un Québec postcatholique

Obama limoge le général McChrystal

Éthique et culture religieuse - Dieu à l'école

Propos controversés: le général McChrystal remplacé par le général Petraeus

Allégations d'espionnage du SCRS: Harper pris de court

 Changements climatiques: Ottawa investira 400 millions$


From: Rebecca Gingrich

Subject:  the 'war' is lost--this is just a diversion

Agree or Disagree?


From: "Don Keir"
Subject: Trade goods

To the Natroses:

I guess I didn't express myself very clearly. I wasn't pointing to "free trade" as being useless to the traders I was trying to point out that any country that sold trade goods to the USA was giving them away for a piece of paper the value of which could never be redeemed.

 Don Keir

From: "Peter Robertson"
Subject: fake lake


                I just sent this letter to The Globe and Mail.  I think  you might enjoy it.

Peter Robertson.
The Editor,
The Globe and Mail,
June 23, 2010

        I live in Northumberland County, about 90 miles east of Toronto.  I have a fake lake in my backyard.
        Our frog pond, which is slightly smaller, though deeper, than the artificial lake at the Toronto Convention Centre, cost $100.00 to dig.  The liner, pump and other accoutrements cost about $250.00, and the plants another $50.00.  Factoring in something for labour, the whole thing cost less than $1000.00.  I feel confident that the Auditor-General would approve these amounts as being reasonable.
         Northumberland County is an economically depressed area.  New enterprises are important to us.  The Toronto fake lake has given me an idea for just such an undertaking.
        In the near future, I will acquire five Muskoka chairs.  I will paint them dark blue, red, yellow, green, and light blue (with a fleur-de-lys).  They will be arranged in a semi-circle around my fake lake, in close proximity to a beer fridge.  In the unlikely event that anyone wants to hold a summit, my facility will be available.  And security?  No problem.  My neighbour's beagles are gentle, intelligent, and ready to bark for Canada when called upon.   They work for food, and do not require much equipment.  I am confident that we can organize a low-cost, almost invisible meeting on short notice within commuting distance of Toronto in an atmosphere which will give the participants an authentic Canadian experience.  And all this at little cost to the taxpayer!

 Peter A. Robertson,
Warkworth, Ontario

From: "Suan H.Booiman"
Subject: in French

It is interesting to learn who your friends are ?
Quebec and Alberta opposing CPP change..............
Ted Morton"
A new Quebec-Alberta alliance is emerging to challenge some of Ottawa's key projects, breaking the relative calm Prime Minister Stephen Harper has enjoyed of late in federal-provincial relations.
Speaking at times in French, Mr. Morton picked up on Mr. Bachand's comment
that the federal Finance Department has been trying to take over securities
regulation for the past 20 years.

From: Rebecca Gingrich
Subject: Being paid NOT to produce electricity?  Is this why our electricity bill went up in Ontario--to pay for McGuinty not producing power?

Firms paid to shut down wind farms when the wind is blowing
Britain's biggest wind farm companies are to be paid not to produce electricity when the wind is blowing.

Subject:  the spin of terroris--the gift that allows governments to keep us under their boot

Napolitano: Internet Monitoring Needed to Fight Homegrown Terrorism

Subject: Strong still promoting GW!!!

Maurice Strong: Ignore Glenn Beck – I don't want to rule the world
What I do want, says the man self-labelled 'the planet's leading environmentalist', is for nations to co-operate fully on issues they cannot deal with alone
• Read the full transcript of the interview here

Subject:  the 'war' is lost--this is just a diversion
From Great Man to Great Screwup: Behind the McChrystal Uproar
Norman Solomon, Truthout: "When the wheels are coming off, it doesn't do much good to change the driver. Whatever the name of the commanding general in Afghanistan, the US war effort will continue its carnage and futility."

Subject: wonder if there was a tsunami in the fake lake during our earthquake today--or is public opinion the real tsunami????

We've seen Lake Fake!
Piggies Cove cost what?

From: John Anderson
Subject: Gulf Oil Disaster and its Impact on Canada

Hello Joe:

This post follows the one I sent you last week on this subject.

1. You will recall that one of the things of which I accused the media was not reporting directly on the cleanup efforts.  Therefore I was very glad to see the following article in last Saturday's Globe and Mail.  (If this article was in your scan, then I apologize for missing it.)

This, to my mind, reflects what I like to think is the true "Can do; let's get on with it" American tradition.  "There is a mess out there in the Gulf; we have what is needed to deal with the mess, so let's DO it."

It is also clear from the article that, notwithstanding the howls of the politicians and the media to the contrary, money does not appear to be an immediate issue.

Good for them!

2. The $20 billion dollar cleanup fund.  If I were BP, I would be overjoyed at the initiative that the politicians have finally taken to set up what amounts to an independent (i.e. not (overtly) political and not the responsibility of BP) authority to adjudicate and settle damage claims.

This authority is going to have to set up an extensive bureaucracy to handle the thousands of claims.  If the politicians had continued to insist that BP settle the claims directly, then BP would have had to do exactly the same thing.

As it is, I expect that BP is perfectly happy to fund the claims process, but they are relieved of the responsibility for staffing it, and they are also relieved of any possibility of accusations of trying to interfere with the process.

3. Deep water drilling practises.  Last week, all of the big oil companies were called to testify before Congress and, to my horror, they all swore that -- except for BP -- their safety practises were such that it would be IMPOSSIBLE for one of their wells to blowout as BP's well had done.  Therefore, according to them, there was nothing wrong with current drilling regulations, and therefore there was no need for a continued moratorium on drilling.

Well!!  I guess it is stating the obvious to say that I don't accept such assurances for a moment.  If BP is indeed the "black sheep" in the oil community, then I trust that the Presidential Commission will determine whether BP's drilling practises were indeed so much at variance with industry standard practise as to substantially increase the risk of a blowout.  I would also trust the Presidential Commission to determine whether BP made inappropriate operational decisions on this particular well that lead directly to the blowout.

But, to my mind, it is still far too early to consider lifting the moratorium on drilling.  The industry has yet to have its "day of reckoning".

4. Impact on Canada.  I was also shocked by Chevron's testimony before the (Canadian) Senate committee last week to the effect that a similar accident could NEVER occur on their operations off Newfoundland's east coast.  The gist of their testimony, as reported by the media,  was that they have the "bureaucracy" and "officials" and "policies" in place to "prevent" any such accident from happening.

Well, Joe, I am sure that you have many readers who would agree with me that "bureaucracy" and "officials" and "policies" can't do anything by themselves.  Chevron's CEO has to take direct responsibility, because he is the only one who can determine the trade-off between safety, schedule and cost.  And, if Chevron's CEO made such a commitment, then, as far as I know, the media (conveniently?) omitted to mention it in their reporting.

5. My final comment relates to the engineering practises that are intended to prevent such accidents.  I would be delighted to hear from any of your readers that have direct knowledge of such matters.  In the absence thereof, my understanding is that the first, and maybe the ONLY, line of defence against a blowout is the so-called "blowout preventer" that sits on the sea bed over the wellhead.

My understanding is that, in the event of a "failure", the blowout preventer is supposed to cut the drill pipe and irreversibly seal off the well.  My further understanding is that the current disaster in the gulf was ultimately caused by the blowout preventer failing to do its job.

So, what bothers me is that I have never heard of anyone doing an all-up full-pressure test of a blowout preventer.  My engineering instincts are totally revolted by the suggestion that such a critical piece of infrastructure would not be subjected to what we referred to as "design verification" testing.  (You can't test the actual in-place hardware, because the blowout preventer is -- I understand -- a "one shot" device that cannot be recycled.)

(It seems that, according to the reports on Chevron's testimony before the Senate last week, Newfoundland required Chevron to do "thousands" of "simulations" of their blowout prevention technology.  OK, well and good.  But to my engineering mind the ultimate proof of the technology lies in one or more all-up full-pressure tests.  And, yes, such testing would be VERY expensive, but recent events would suggest that the consequences of a failure make it easy to justify the cost.)

So, to go back to Chevron's testimony before the Senate, I would have felt considerably more comforted if the questions and the testimony -- as reported by the media -- had addressed Chevron's operational and engineering practises, including discussion of the extent to which they had been tested and proven.  "Bureaucracy" and "officials" and "policies" can't do anything by themselves.

Best Regards, John A.