Politics Blogs - Blog Top Sites Blog Flux Directory Green Assassin Brigade: August 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

HIV Victims Buried Alive

This is one of most perverse and disturbing stories I've seen in awhile.

With an estimated 2% of the population of Papua New Guinea being HIV positive and locals having little education or Government support to care for the victims, people have begun to bury the infected alive when they reach the point that their families can no longer care for them.

I really don't know what to say,
Yikes.. WTF! are two things that come to mind


I just realized that they quoted 30% increase in diagnosis each year, that would double the numbers in 3 years, triple in 5 years,
double Yikes!!!!

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Deep Economy - hope for our future

I do try my best to keep up on relevant reading to the extent my pocket book and Newmarket's library will let me, so I was glad to find Deep Economy by Bill McKibben on my recent visit.

Deep Economy is an intriguing book that looks at the standard model of endless economic growth and the problems associated with it in the context of climate change, resource depletion and the rampant "Hyper individualism" of the capitalist west. The average house has doubled in size in 30 years while families have shrunk. We work more, travel more, make more money and yet we are increasingly isolated, less happy and unfulfilled for our efforts.
The system he describes is not attainable, sustainable and not even desirable for the entire world and is destined to collapse and likely quite soon.

Scattered throughout the book are examples of how new and in some cases very old economic relationships in communities can establish prosperity with a smaller more sustainable carbon foot print and increased satisfaction. Mckibben's stories, derived from his travels show how communities when measured by GDP would actually show stagnation or decline and yet can improve the environment, increase health, education, and happiness through local initiatives. Other experiments such as local currencies, urban farming, transit that works, local power generation, cooperative stores, and co-housing to mention a few can offer opportunities, increase local wealth all without the corporate mega mall sucking a community dry

While McKibben does not end the book with a definitive fix for the problems he does show us enough to question the real validity of a economic system that believes progress and utility are only measured by GDP. McKibben also gives us hope that small answers can help solve big problems and that acting locally can make a difference and in the end may be our best hope of sustainability.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Is nothing sacred to China?

I realized I was fixating with 3-4 posts in as many weeks on Chinese business practices so I layed off for a while but in the last several weeks there have been so many new scandals that I can’t hold back any longer.

First there was the Mattel recall and then another Mattel recall,
Then some quarter of a million unsafe tires had to be called back
Today I find two more stories, unsafe baby bids which have excessive lead levels, gee no chance of a bib getting in contact with a babies mouth is there?

In the second story Chinese entrepreneurs think it’s OK to package cheap white wine from concentrate and labeling it as ice-wine. It’s neither VQA as required, it’s not even necessarily Canadian grape juice and it sure as hell is not made from frozen fruit as one manufacturer admits its concentrate and “pure water”. There isn’t any water added to make ice-wine. High end fake booze with names like Chivas Regal are commonly sold to a knowing and accepting public more concerned about prestige than quality, safety or legality

Is nothing sacred to China? I mean its one thing to fake a Prada purse but to mess with a peoples libations is more than criminal.

Where is our Government in all this, ignoring the issue and failing to support businesses trapped in prolonged legal battles with Chinese crooks.Recommend this Post

Friday, August 17, 2007

Trees vs Biofuels.........Trees Win says UK study

The BBC reports that a UK study proves food crop Biofuels are not the correct direction and are not an effective method of curbing CO2 emission.

The UK study shows that reforestation will suck up 9 time more Co2 than the avoided emissions by using biofuels rather than oil.

Biofuels will encourage deforestation and habitat destruction adding more problems to the mix while reforestation will sequester large amounts of existing carbon from the atmosphere.

The only aspect of the biofuels that was deemed possibly useful in mitigating CO2 emissions was waste or cellulose ethanol but refinery cost is several times higher than the simple corn/cane/palm oil. Hopefully this study will deter the food for fuel momentum, encourage reforestation and cellulose only biofuel technology.

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Even a Kettle can make a difference

I mentioned last week that I had just finished reading the Carbon Buster's Home Energy Handbook and that it was a good resource for cutting your carbon footprint. One section discussing cookware mentioned a gas kettle called the Simplex Copper Kettle that used coils in the base to trap and transfer heat more efficiently

Since I was in need of a kettle anyways (as mine was sputtering slightly from a growing leak around the spout weld) I figured lets see if I can find one. The book mentioned they were a high quality hand made English kettle so I expected that the $100 mentioned would be a minimum price. When I went looking I was surprised to find a vendor with the model shown in the picture here, the chrome version of the kettle that was discontinued. The discontinued price was only $40 U.S. with $8 dollars shipping from a homesteading, Amish kinda store in Ohio called Lehman's.

Carbon Busters claimed that this design is at least 25% more efficient vs. flat bottom kettles (on gas stoves) and on our trial run with equal quantity and temperature of water, the Simplex took just over 1/2 the time hence 1/2 the energy as the old flat bottom kettle.

This Kettle is only for gas ranges but for those trying to cut back it's a quality product at a discontinued price while they remain available. For a bonus it's not made in China.

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Meet the Candidate

It was my pleasure to attend the Newmarket-Aurora Green Party of Canada BBQ last night!

Over the course of the the evening people got to meet the Candidate Glenn Hubbers and we discussed energy policy, transit, SPP, MMP and solved most of Canada's troubles in the course of a couple of hours.

My Question is why Conservative who have had a year and a half and liberals who had a decade to deal with the issues still don't have it right?

The answers are out there, it only takes an open mind and a bit of your time to see them, contact the Green Party and see how we can save the Canada and the World

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Green, My ASS!!!!!!

The Era Banner is York regions (at least Newmarket Aurora’s) community newspaper which is usually only concerned about trivia of limited news worthiness and rarely deals with the whole issues. Over the years I’ve had a myriad complaints with the Era Banner especially their constant attitude that the suns shines out of Belinda’s ass and her passing gas is more important than local issues. During the last election, every single issue had a Belinda article while Conservative Lois Brown got 50% coverage, NDP, Ed Chudak got maybe 30% coverage and Green, Glenn Hubbers got no more than 15% coverage.

That rant dealt with, I was most upset when I dragged my ass home last night from the Newmarket Aurora Green BBQ to see “Aurora, Newmarket go GREEN Monday “ plastered on the local rag. The Point of the article was we were getting (as the last reluctant holdout in York) Green bins for curb side composting.

It’s not as if I see a problem with recycling or composting, but what I do have a problem with is a policy that claims that consuming just as much as we always have and sending it “AWAY” in a large green bin each week has solved a problem. The real problem is we consume too much, we waste too much and hiding the consequences by developing a plan that only deals with diversion of waste rather than teaching people to waste less really pisses me off. Most of the items minus meat, diapers and a couple of other things should be going into your personal composter, not shipped off to a plant to be dealt with industrially.

This program is an improvement, but by no means does this program take either the region or the citizens off the hook for the waste they create. Once again the Era Banner fails in its job of a media outlet with a responsibility of telling a complete and accurate story.

Being Green means creating less waste or dealing with your own problem not shipping it away by truck! As long as York region focuses more on roads than buses, more on building houses than assuring water to feed them and more on growth than sustainability we will never be GREEN.

Era Banner, BITE ME!!!!!!!

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Does Bush have one more war in him?

Reports have the U.S. Government taking moves to declare the Iranian Revolutionary guard a terrorist organization. This is considered significant mostly because this is the first time the designation will be applied to an agency of a foreign government.

Yes we know the Revolutionary Guard is likely funding and supplying Iraqi insurgents, but when you are trying to open a dialogue on the future of Iraq with Iran, talk of a terrorist label for the Guard does not seem to be helpful.

Is this just more saber rattling or is it a real move to set up new justifications for another war?Recommend this Post

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The fight against super bug infections

In the last decade scientific ingenuity has begun to fall behind the power of the simple bacteria. Once thought to be managed by man’s wonder drugs, deadly bacterial infections have made a stunning come back with a series of ever tougher strains that are making hospitals dangerous just to visit, not to mention being admitted too. MRSA( methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) are killer Staph infections that are becoming resistant or immune to an increasing large percentage of our antibiotic drugs, mostly due to our misuse of them. MRSAs have been reported country wide but the Montreal area hospitals have had a number of serious outbreaks and some deaths.

So what can we do?


Well one avenue of attack is that of bacteriophage (Phage) which are virus like organisms that attack specific bacteria. The first time I heard the word Phage it was a plague that infected the Vidians on Star Trek Voyager.

It turns out however that Phages do exist but don’t attack people like they do in Star Trek. They can however, if targeted correctly be highly effective in fighting off a variety of infections including Staph infections and Gangrene as mentioned in this BBC article Phages enter your system, attack the bacteria, reprogram them to reproduce more bacteria killing Phages rather ran self replicate and then they die off when all the bacteria are gone; No complications or side effects.

This technology was heavily researched and widely used during the Soviet era when they did not have the access to as many antibiotics as the west did. Phages were actually used before antibiotics but the ease of taking a pill, the early difficulty in targeting the correct Phage to a specific infection and the problems drug companies would have trying to make a profit on a non patented medical treatment made Phages virtually unknown in the west.

I've heard it from a wheelchair bound friend that many people who have suffered bed sores that won't heal go to Russia for Phage treatments, and it works where other treatments do not. We need this medical technology but the difficulty of patenting a living organism makes investment by western drug companies doubtful. Universities and Governments should step up and start this research now while we still have some antibiotics that work.

Another weapon in the arsenal against infections is silver. Silver has been revered throughout the ages for it’s ability to heal wounds and clear up infections. A silver coin placed in unpasteurized milk was said to stay fresh longer, silver coins were placed on wounds to fend off infections, and even today silver sulfadiazine is the best treatment to keep burn wounds infection free. There is however considerable danger in the recent trend of impregnating clothes, plastics and surfaces with nano silver because it is toxic to aquatic life and will eventually wash into the water shed.

There have also been recent experiments showing that the addition of silver to existing antibiotics may enhance their effectiveness and make long discarded drugs usable again. While new resistances may arise this will give us new tools, for the present at least. Silver based drugs are even more dangerous to aquatic life since they will be flushed from our systems directly into a lake or ocean. Considering the levels of antibiotics found in some waste water I have no doubt toxic levels of silver would soon be found.

For those who want to go the sticky method, honey has also been shown to have antibiotic effects when applied directly to a wound. Some tests show it is as good or better than standard treatments vs MRSAs. Honey has always been know for these properties and has been used for wounds throughout history, once again like maggots and silver it was pushed aside for profit.

There is also the possibilities that completely new antibiotics will be created as well. Will these newer stronger drugs be beaten by bacteria? yes eventually. Will they have more reactions and side effects than milder drugs? quite possibly. Will they be tools of corporate greed or healing? you decide.

There is not going to be one magic bullet like we assumed in the early years of antibiotic. Tomorrow's answer will be a much more laborious matching of phages to bacteria, and a return to ancient knowledge pushed aside for profit making patent drugs. Hospitals will need more maintenance staff, increased cleaning with harsher agents and there will need to be greater restrictions on the endless parade of visitors through our hospitals. Piercing, tattooing, scaring, branding and cosmetic surgery will be things to avoid not collect and relish.Recommend this Post

Monday, August 13, 2007

Effective MPPs vs Defective logic and Cherniak

"Hold on, I'm not saying they will do no work. Quite the opposite, I'm saying they will have an unfair advantage in their ability to focus on province wide issues and talk to Queen's Park media because they won't be busy doing local constituency work."

Cherniak on why list MPPs are so evil. Apparently freeing up members so they can travel the entire Province get the big picture and become informed on what the populous wants is an insidious attempt at over throwing the Government's Nanny State prerogative of telling us what's important.

MMP equals effective list members, finally Jason says something that's correct.

If this crap is the best he can do, MMP can and will pass this fall.Recommend this Post

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bombs, Bridges, Bankruptcy and the Burning of Rome

The recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis was seen by many as a simple accident or a one off example of poor management but in reality it was a symptom of a profound event that most of the public are blind to, the fall of the American Empire. For many years the U.S. has been burning the candle at both ends, with its endless cycles of spending and debt without ever maintaining the necessities of modern life. The recent collapse is not a one off item or an accident it is a symbol of the systemic rot taking place in U.S. There are estimates claiming that in the U.S. an astounding 73,000 or 12% of all bridges are structurally deficient.
Further 80,000 are functionally obsolete meaning they are not designed for the amount of traffic they currently carry. For years, be it slack highway maintenance or failing to fully fund the corps of engineers, the U.S. government has not been doing its job in maintaining the essential infrastructure of the nation, Minneapolis and New Orleans were just two of the many disasters that the U.S. is destined to suffer for the lack of money and planning.

Added to this infrastructure mismanagement is U.S. spending on the Iraq war and the normally huge military spending, which continues despite the apparent victory in the cold war. To date, the Iraq war is estimated by the congressional budget office is about 450 Billion That of course is the accounted costs, hidden costs for procurements, mercenaries like Black Water and long term costs of supporting military widows and cripples will add significantly to this stated cost. For decades The U.S. has been spending on its military as if they were on a war time footing and yet they never caught on to the concept of guns or butter but rather thought guns and butter with plasma screens and SUVs thrown in was a long term sustainable proposition; Morons the lot of them.


Nation's Finances

National Debt Clock

Another interesting fact (as show just above this paragraph taking up far too much space) is the growing U.S. debt which as you read this sentence will climb by 100,000 dollars. The total debt at the time of my writing is $8.931 Trillion U.S. dollars, the total unfunded liabilities which include expected payouts of Medicare, government pensions etc is estimated by the GAO to be in the neighborhood of $53 trillion, a staggering figure. For years the U.S. governments have been raiding various trust funds like those for pensions and health coverage, spending the money, not replacing it, and giving the funds IOUs in place of the interest baring vehicles that would make these funds at least partially self funding over time.
The U.S. has a hard choice ahead, renege on promised benefits, or devalue the dollar to the point that they will honour their commitments in word if not in value.

The U.S. has been selling U.S. debt to mostly foreign investors at a rate of over a billion dollars a day for many years. A new twist on this need for daily influxes of cash has been the U.S.’s recent trend of issuing and borrowing money through the Federal Reserve since fewer and fewer foreign suckers in the open market are taking part in treasuries auctions; this is simply printing money and devaluing all existing dollars. This monetization of debt is a sure fire sign of the coming collapse of the U.S. dollar and the ability of the U.S. to maintain it’s pretension of empire for much longer. Recent reports from China hint that they may be willing to use the threat or action of dumpting of U.S. debt on the market as an economic weapon against the U.S. Even such threats could panic bond holders and crash the U.S. dollar in a flash of computer controlled trading.

The U.S. is heading for a long fall, which will likely include bankruptcy, a dollar crisis and certainly a diminishment of the roll of America in world affairs. Not unlike Rome did, the U.S. is fighting wars it cannot win with money it does not have and with citizens who no longer have the zeal, belief in righteousness or simple bloodlust required to be big dog on the street. Rome collapsed by inches as measured by loss of influence, debasement of its money , military setbacks, social decadence, sound like anyone you know?

The U.S. needs to decide that taking care of home trumps outside concerns. I for one don’t expect that they will make this decision until it’s far too late and the Visigoths and Vandals will already be at the gates!

What does this mean to us?

We have an unstable neighbor who will strike out if it needs something it can’t get otherwise

We have a nearly broke trading partner who will drag us down with them unless we diversify our customers.

We have a lot of our money tied up in U.S. dollar valued equities which may vaporize overnight.

We have a neighbor which could fragment or fall into anarchy

Monies we would have liked to have seen diverted to the environment in the U.S. will be used to cling to their delusions of empire.

SPP is surely our destruction.Recommend this Post

Friday, August 3, 2007

Holiday Reading, Carbon Busting

I’ve never been one for achieving anything of note on my holidays despite my good intentions and the rather extensive list of things I should do. This year my ambition level is no better than usual but I did mange to read The Carbon Buster’s Home Energy Handbook and found it to be an excellent resource for understanding which purchasing decisions and lifestyle changes can have the most impact for both ones pocket book and the environment.

For each topic it shows (based on an assumed norm) how much carbon and how many dollars you can save depending on the choices you make. It talks about such things as efficiency ratings and various technologies for vehicles, fridges, freezers, stoves, the comparative frugality of different lighting styles, heating and cooling tips and a score of other carbon cutting differences you can make. The Home Energy Handbook also gives you payback times for money invested in various carbon saving techniques and products, as well as a lifetime savings based on the estimated lifespan of various products. For example a move to a front load washing machine from a top loader would have the following savings

5- year savings $334, 3,300 lbs CO2 , 540 kWh of power, 13000 cu.ft of natural gas and 37,000 gallons of water
Life time savings- based on washing machine lasting 11 years. (My last one survived well past 20 years) $734 and 7,200 lbs of CO2

Payback 9.2 years

The savings numbers double if your hot water is electrically heated.

As a resource to help you judge which changes to make based on total impact and cost effectiveness, this book is a definate buy at under $11. For those who are unconvinced on the climate argument the book proves the dollar argument, producing less carbon pays off financially. It does not matter if you do the right thing for the wrong reason, everyone benefits and with energy costs on a long spiral up and shortages possible this will only become more relevant in the future.Recommend this Post