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Friday 10 September 2010
Acquisitions of vast tracts of fertile land in Africa by foreign governments and companies eager to secure affordable food resources in highly volatile commodity markets stirred public attention when the South Korean company Daewoo bought more than a million hectares of farmland in the east African island state Madagascar.
The World Bank report, titled "Rising Global Interest in Farmland. Can It Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits?" and released on Sep 8, cautions that "an astonishing lack of awareness of what is happening on the ground" exists -- even by the public sector institutions mandated to control this phenomenon.
It estimates that 2009 saw 45 million hectares of farmland deals going through and predicts that, "given commodity price volatility, growing human and environmental pressures, and worries about food security, this interest will increase, especially in the developing world".. — Read the full story at Inter Press Servi ce, 820 words.
Alberta is showing the way — brace for an ugly 'age of tough oil'
9 September 2010 — Huge unconventional fuel reserves -- extra heavy crude, oil sands and oil shale -- lie untapped across the globe. These resources emit much more carbon than regular oil, causing green groups to call them climate killers. So far, only a small fraction of the planet's unconventional oil has been tapped. Most countries lack the necessary capital, technology and expertise.
But Canada is helping to change that. The Alberta oil sands -- where sludgy bitumen is mined or steamed from the ground, then cooked or diluted with chemicals -- have become an unconventional oil extraction classroom.
Energy companies from around the world are learning valuable lessons in the northern muskeg. They're now eyeing reserves in Africa, Europe, Latin America, the U.S. and the Middle East. Some operations have begun producing. Others could start shortly.
"News is what (certain) people want to keep hidden. Everything else is just publicity."
-- PBS journalist Bill Moyers.
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Can power-hungry Harper stand to deliver promised changes?
10 September 2010 — Members of Parliament are our representatives in Ottawa. But they often appear as hyperactive eunuchs—constantly on the go but without any real influence on federal government decisions.
This shadowy existence has been an issue since the days of Pierre Trudeau but has steadily worsened since Jean Chretien became prime minister. Despite promises of reform, Paul Martin did little to correct the situation.
The Harper government’s early summer announcement that it would make the 40-page long-form census optional has caused a major rift between Ottawa and researchers, businesses and health officials who warn it will undermine the rich trove of data upon which they rely.
For many years Big Red was the best-looking rosebush there. His fuschia-coloured roses bloomed in June and again later during the summer. But last year, Big Red developed a disease, a fungus of some kind. I trimmed him back as much as I could but this year the fungus came back in full force. I have already started cutting back some of the diseased branches but now I really don’t know if Big Red will survive. Should I use a fungicide? The choice of intervention is always critical.
9 September 2010 — A black bear in Whistler, B.C., was so intent on getting at a few tomatoes growing in a window box that he climbed a three-storey condominium building to get them.
The bear made the climb Thursday morning as a stunned resident of the Whistler Creekside condominium complex on Gondola Way scrambled to get his video camera to record the feat.
The bear used his claws and teeth to get a grip on the vinyl siding, working his way up the corner of the building to a third-floor balcony where he plundered the small crop of tomatoes.
10 September 2010 — I was already 18 by the time I kissed a girl, passionately, for the first time. Most of pals had cleared that rite. of passage long before and moved on to "bigger things." They spoke quite openly about that event and all their many conquests since. I envied them.
I suffered from a personal dilemma. On the one hand I had very high standards. She would have to be beautiful and intelligent, good-humoured and lively. On the other hand, I could not fathom why such a woman would give me the time of day. Such women petrified me.
I was cut but shy, not a very masculine boy, no athlete or even outstanding in school. I suffered from low self-esteem. I was no alpha male, for sure.
The Walrus magazine's diminished aspirations speak to
the impoverished state of the Canadian intellectual realm
Although I thought the first issue was flawed, I was reasonably impressed by its debut and for a time was optimistic it would improve.
But during Ken Alexander's run as editor, the magazine remained flawed, a victim, I surmised then, of a small and insular and insecure Canadian intelligentsia and of what struck me as a basically content, bourgeois political mind at its helm, unsure where or how to sail the wannabe ship of Canada's public intellectuals. — Read the full story inside, 2,171 words.
In case you missed it ... and always worth repeating
Let's say that news throughout human time has been free. Take that time when Ugh Wayne went over to the cave of Mugh Payne with news that the chief of his group had broken a leg while chasing his laughing wife around the fire. That news was given freely and received as such with much knowing smiles and smirks to say nothing of grunts of approval or disapproval. — 688 words.
Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute
1 September 2010 — In a slow summer for serious political matters, the government announcement that Canada will buy 65 F35 fighter jets for a cost (including maintenance) of $16 billion has upset the Opposition and critics of the government’s defence policy. For its part, the Harper government did little to help itself by having the Defence minister talk about how pilots like fast aircraft and having them would help recruiting. Nor did the Prime Minister’s press secretary assist much by announcing that the Russians were invading across the Pole and that only Canada’s present-day fighter jets had turned their bombers away. It really is the summer silly season.
But there are serious issues here.
One of the basic duties of a nation is the protection of its sovereignty, its territory, and its people. The Russians of today aren’t the Soviets of 1960 or 1970, to be sure, and the old bombers the Russian Air Force regularly puts over the North are likely on training flights and merely checking to see if Canada’s Air Force is still there. That’s today. But tomorrow? Ten years hence? We cannot see into the future very clearly, and simply because there is no credible threat to our airspace today does not mean that the future is permanently secure. Which commentators in 1990 or 2000 could have predicted that the Canadian Forces would be fighting a war in Afghanistan in 2010? — Read the full story inside, 849 words.
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Pulling on non-official figures of crime statistics in Caracas and declarations exclusively from anti-Chavez analysts, Romero engaged in the worst kind of yellow-journalism, distracting from the hundreds of thousands of Iraquis killed in the US-led war in the days before President Obama’s announcement of an “end to combat”, to turn the focus to another one of Washington’s targets, Venezuela — much closer to home.
That crime exists in Caracas is undeniable. But to somehow imply, as opposition media in Venezuela do daily, that crime and violence are the “fault” of the Chavez administration is not only absurd, but also dangerously sinister. — Read the full story at Venezuelanalysis.com, 1,161 words.
8 September 2010 — In a scene from my first book, "Hugo Chávez: Oil, Politics and the Challenge to the U.S." (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006), I discuss how Brazil became an ally of Venezuela during a key moment of heightened political tensions. It was December 2002 and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was facing down an economically damaging lockout of the oil sector launched by the right-wing political opposition. The lockout capped a tumultuous political year for Chávez: just eight months earlier, he had scarcely managed to face down a coup d'etat launched by pro-US elements within the country's military and business elite.
The decades long attempt by the U.S. to isolate Cuba has prompted scorn by other nations. Some 173 countries at the UN have voted against the blockade.
Canada ignored U.S. policy from the start. Most, if not all, European nations have developed friendly relations as have countries in Asia, including Japan. Here following is a report on the recent signing of the document maintaining sanctions and on the right, reports on Cuba's current busy diplomatic activity.
The third International Seminar on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology will develop from September 6 through 10 at the Havana Convention Center. More than 70 first-level specialists from Russia, China, Japan, Holland, France, Italy, the US, Spain, Iran, South Africa, among others, will participate in this event.
The First Vice-president of the Councils of State and Minister, Jose Ramon Machado, welcomed the Japanese Parliamentary Delegation that is visiting Cuba, headed by Mr. Hidehisa Otsuji, Vice-president of the Senate. The delegation includes other four senators, and representatives of the political forces making up this legislative body.
Salvadorian Vice-president Salvador Sánchez committed himself to work for the release of the Cuban Five —the antiterrorist fighters unfairly imprisoned in US jails— during his key address at the closing ceremony of the 3rd National Congress of Solidarity with Cuba.
Dominican journalist Felix Jacinto Bretón opened his photo exhibition titled From the Dominican Republic to Cuba in Bayamo, Granma, a province in eastern Cuba.
Cuban President Raúl Castro met on Monday afternoon with the President of the National Assembly of Vietnam, Nguyen Phu Trong, who is on an official visit to the Caribbean island.
For example, if you suspect that America's economy, politics, government, media, judiciary and practically every other system has been wired to favor corporate interests over every other interest in our country, you're deducing, not hallucinating. From the infamous Wall Street bailout to the Supreme Court's shameful decree that corporations have more political rights than humans, we see again and again that corporate might overwhelms what's right.
The Government of Canada has announced
that all individual donations made to
Pakistan relief efforts will be matched.
Double your impact - any amount you
can give will help save kid’s lives.
Don’t think we haven’t been here before. In the late 1990s, the American mass media could seldom be bothered to report on the growing threat of al-Qaeda. In 2002, it slavishly parroted White House propaganda about Iraq, helping prepare the way for a senseless war. No one yet knows just what kind of long-term instability the Pakistani floods are likely to create, but count on one thing: the implications for the United States are likely to be significant and by the time anyone here pays much attention, it will already be too late.
6 September 2010 — The unpredictable nature of quantum physics has been mimicked by Queen's University computer scientists to invent a new version of chess
In the quantum chess computer game created by undergraduate computer science student Alice Wismath, a piece that should be a knight could simultaneously also be a queen, a pawn or something else. The player doesn't know what the second state might be or which of the two states the piece will choose when it is moved.
"It was very weird," said Ernesto Posse, a Queen's postdoctoral researcher who took part in a recent "quantum chess" tournament at the university in Kingston, Ont. "You only know what a piece really is once you touch the piece. Basically, planning ahead is impossible."
2 Sepmber 2010 — Officials in the Peruvian city of Iquitos said the river level had fallen to 14.4ft, a point not seen in more than four decades, and was predicted to drop further.
Low levels have brought economic havoc in areas of Peru that depend on the Amazon for shipping, by denying boats a navigable river as well as usable ports and harbors.
At least six boats are stranded because of the lack of river flow over the past three weeks and several shipping companies have been forced to suspend service, leading to economic hardship in areas of Peru that depend on the Amazon for shipping. The drop has been caused by a lack of rain and high temperatures.
The Amazon is the second-longest river in the world, after the Nile, but discharges far more water at its mouth than any other.
9 September 2010 — Hyundai Motor unveiled its first electric car Thursday — the BlueOn — as it moves to catch up with Japanese rivals that have jumped ahead in the field.
Hyundai showed off the car on the grounds of Seoul's hillside Blue House, the office and residence of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who took it for a spin while Cabinet ministers, officials and electric-vehicle industry representatives looked on.
10 September 2010 — Ashmount Primary in north London is using call centre-style staff more than 4,000 miles away to lead mathematics lessons for 11-year-olds.
The service – which costs £12 an hour for each pupil – is being used as a cheaper alternative to employing one-to-one tutors for children falling behind in the subject.
A private tutor in the capital normally costs around £40 an hour, it was claimed.
10 September 2010, WASHINGTON/GAINESVILLE, Florida — The estranged daughter of a Florida pastor who has threatened to burn copies of the Koran believes he has gone mad and needs help, she said in a German media interview conducted on Friday.
Emma Jones, the estranged daughter of Pastor Jones, told Spiegel Online she had e-mailed her father urging him to drop the plan to burn the Koran.
"As a daughter, I see the good-natured core inside him. But I think he needs help," said Jones, who lives in Germany.
"I think he has gone mad." — Read the full story at RawStory.com, 1,030 words.
9 September 2010 — So the friggin 'SECRETARY OF DEFENSE took time off running all our wars to call some nutjob preacher in Florida.
And we have to witness the sissy sight of Gen. Petraeus begging from Afghanistan for this nutjob preacher not to burn a Koran.
In case you missed it ...
The Old Man's Last Sauna
A collection of short stories by Carl Dow
An eclectic collection of short stories that will stir your sense of humour, warm your heart, outrage your sense of justice, and chill your extra sensory faculties in the spirit of Stephen King. The final short story, the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Sauna is a ground-breaking love story.
The series begins with Deo Volente (God Willing). Followed by The Quintessence of Mr. Flynn, Sharing Lies, Flying High, The Richest Bitch in the Country or Ginny I Hardly Knows Ya, One Lift Too Many, The Model A Ford, the out-of-body chiller, Room For One Only and O Ernie! ... What Have They Done To You! The series closes with the collection's namesake, The Old Man's Last Sauna, a groundbreaking love story. All stories may also be found in the True North Perspective Archives.