Monday, December 31, 2007

"Time…left twelve fresh months in your care"

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, it's been almost ten years since my old Dad passed away. Dad was born back in 1924. When I was growin' up, he'd sometimes recite inspirational poems he'd memorized as young feller. Here's a couple of 'em that come to mind at New Years.

You are the man who used to boast
That you’d achieve the uttermost,
Some day.

You merely wished a show,
To demonstrate how much you know
And prove the distance you can go…

Another year we’ve just passed through.
What new ideas came to you?
How many big things did you do?

Time…left twelve fresh months in your care
How many of them did you share
With opportunity and dare?

Again, we do not find you on the list of Makers Good.
Explain the fact!
Ah No, ’twas not the chance you lacked!
As usual - you failed to act!
and this one:
Salutation to the Dawn

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn.

Dad had a way o' makin' the recitations dramatic and I reckon he tried his best to live by them poems he remembered all them years. I first remember hearin' them poems when I was only about 7 or 8. That was 50 years ago. I still like what they got to say.

Happy New Year,


Friday, December 21, 2007

Environment is My Voting Issue Facebook Group

Whooee! I just went from DeSmogBlog to Facebook and joined this new group -- Environment is My Voting Issue in Canada. After I joined up, I went to see who else had joined. There at the top of the page, were three amigos from the Pergressive Boogers -- Scotty Tribe, Saskboy and yers truly.

Scotty's a Grit and Sasky an' me are both Greenies. I'm hopin' Scotty'll throw in with our merry band of treehuggers. He keeps pushin' GPC policy and practices and now he's sayin' ol' Mother Earth is his voting issue. Might as well get outta the fryin' pan and into the fire, Scotty. :-)


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Isotope Crisis: Manufactured and Avoidable

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I just left a bigass comment over to The Progressive Right and I'm recyclin' that comment here. Jim was talkin' about Presto Manning and how he's pushin' fer some new Ministry of Science and Technology, or some such thing. Manning says the new bureaucracy could do things like develop replacement reactors for the aging Chalk River NRU.

So, Manning thinks we need a brand new bureaucracy to develop new research reactors? We're already building the Maple 1 and Maple 2. Those new research reactors were scheduled to replace the aging Chalk River plant in 2000. They are 8 years late and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget. More bureaucracy will fix that? I ain't bettin' on it.

The latest chapter to the AECL saga is that Mr. Burns was selected on purely partisan grounds after two headhunting studies recommended a qualified, experienced individual for the job. Just like Harper said, the problem is with political hacks being appointed to jobs for which they are unqualified.

Tony Clement is now saying there are management problems at AECL. He's making it sound like Burns had to go. Two days ago, the spin was that Burns' hasty departure had nothing to do with the manufactured isotope shortage. Yesterday, a different story. Tomorrow? Wait for the next spin cycle. The $31 million dollar polls aren't in yet.
“I think it's fair to say it confirmed our impression that there has to be new management, there has to be better management, at AECL,” Mr. Clement said.
Was that the same impression they had in 2006 (edited from "2005" by JB per correction from LKO - see comments) when they paid for a headhunter and then chose a party hack instead of the recommended hire?

The biggest part of this whole scandal is the fact that the shortage and ensuing crisis were avoidable
, even at almost the last minute.

MDS is the profitable private company that distributes AECL's isotopes. On Nov 30, MDS issued a press release advising investors that the company was facing a supply problem and shortages may develop. Such reporting is required for publicly traded companies when a known issue may affect stock price.

Alternate suppliers, particularly a Holland-based reactor, were already gearing up their production schedules to meet the demand when NRU could not. A similar outsourcing program was used in 1998 when a labour dispute shut down Chalk River.

Procedures for dealing with future shortages were implemented after the 1998 strike. Even during that strike, though, they managed to keep isotopes available.

This time, they let the crisis develop. Lives were put at risk. A full-blown crisis was manufactured and Harper, et al, saw no other option than to overrule CNSC and restart NRU. There were other options but they were apparently unknown to parliament.

If MDS had outsourced, no crisis would have developed. If MDS had outsourced, MDS's stock price would be negatively affected. Outsourcing from suppliers who are working overtime to meet demand is expensive. MDS's customers are mainly in North America. Flying isotopes from Holland or South Africa is expensive. Transportation costs would have would cut further into MDS's profits.

MDS played its cards skillfully. They created a shortage. They failed to notify all the affected parties. They failed to procure available alternative isotopes. They put thousands of lives at risk. They got Parliament to restore their source of profitable isotopes.

Harper's disdain for crown corporations is well known and his years at NCC document his anti-crowncorp ideology. Placing an unqualified party fundraiser in charge of a multi-billion dollar nuclear industry giant was tantamount to sabotage. Now, CPoC strategists like Norquay are popping up and saying we need to rid ourselves of this troublesome AECL.

Who benefits from a discredited safety board and a devalued AECL? G.E. for one. They are front runners in the bid to purchase AECL from the taxpayers of Canada.

20 years from now, will we be seeing some HoC ethics committee grilling Harper about his connection to an avoidable isotope shortage that threatened thousands of lives?

UPDATE: A commenter at the Globe & Mail found this file:

It outlines how a shortage is to be dealt with and names a Belgian supplier as the alternative source for isotopes.
'IRE and Nordion have signed a mutual Mo-99 backup agreement to avoid a complete shortage of Mo-99 in case of an unscheduled shutdown of the Canadian NRU reactor.'
Nordion is MDS Nordion,


Other bloggers are posting on this:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Conrad Black Gets 78 Months

Whooee! Sounds like they was extra lenient to the big crook. The prosecution wanted 240 months but he only got 78. After serving his time, he is to be deported. I hope they don't deport him to Canada. He renounced his citizenship and we got enough convicts and crooks without him. Deport him to Syria.


Diane Finley Says She's a Progressive Conservative

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, here in Nanticoke and Haldimand-Norfolk riding, we got us an absentee MP by the name of Diane Finley. Diane's Minister of Immigration and Citizenship. Up until a few minutes ago, I thought she was affiliated with the Conservative Party of Canada. After all, Diane's husband Doug Finley is a top advisor to Conservative Party of Canada leader Harper.

Here's a calendar Diane sent me. It came in today's mail. It's a cheap-o thing with two months on each page and not really much room fer writin' on. As you can see, Diane says she's a P.C. Now, I ain't up on every single abbreviation that them politicians use but I'm pretty sure P.C. means Progressive Conservative. By the way, the "Diane Finley, P.C., M.P." text is on every page and appears a total of 15 times in the calendar.

When Diane ran for office for the first time here in Haldimand-Norfolk, the PC party had already merged with the Canadian Alliance. Diane never ran as a PC and I ain't sure why she's callin' herself a PC now.

I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Provincial MPP Toby Barrett won a landslide victory in October and he ran on the PC ticket.

UPDATE: My face is red. Commenter Jim informs me that P.C. stands for Privy Council.

While perusing Diane's calendar, I noticed that she made sidenotes to remind us of various local events and also of holidays. She reminds us of St. Valentine's Day, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday and St. Patrick's Day along with things like Mother's Day and the Dunnville Mudcat Festival.

Now, Haldimand-Norfolk ain't exactly a hotbed of multiculturalism. Visible minorities are present but in small numbers. We ain't got many mosques or synagogues but we do have Jews and Muslims as well as Hindus and Buddhists in our communities.

Diane's calendar makes note of relatively unobserved Christian holidays like Ash Wednesday but doesn't bother to remind us of the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur, Chanukah, Eid or any non-Christian holiday.

How Progressive! How Conservative!


Landmines, Mother Earth and the Salvation Army

Whooee! Well friends and foes, I've made this analogy before so forgive me (or not) if you've already seen this argument. When I see the specious position put forth by Baird in Bali, I question Canada's role in any international agreement that fails to include every country in the world. BTW, are there any agreements that include every country in the world?

Canada joined 121 nations and signed the anti-landmine treaty in 1997. The United States did not sign. Canada ceased production of landmines and, in 1997, committed $500 million to landmine eradication.

Just last week, Bev Oda announced another $80 million of increased funding for Canada's landmine eradication efforts. The commitment to eliminating landmines appears to have been embraced by the Harper government. Why else would they voluntarily increase funding?
International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said Monday in Ottawa that the UN MineAction Centre for Afghanistan will receive the funds.

"Canada will continue its strong support of mine action activities in Afghanistan and the United Nations mine action service with a contribution of $80 million over the next four years," Oda told a press conference at the Canadian War Museum.

The Tories already budgeted $8.8 million for Afghan de-mining last February.
But...but... but...

Landmine production and deployment continues unregulated by non-signatories such as the US. Canada's arms, weapons and munitions manufacturers have been cut out of the lucrative international trade in anti-personnel mines. It's not fair.

Canada is not responsible for the deployment of any significant percentage of the world's landmines. Canada alone cannot hope to remove all the landmines. At best, we can hope to eradicate maybe 2%. But what's the point when the US continues to produce landmines and they are still being deployed in various hotspots all over the world?

Over 50 years ago, when I was about 5 or 6, my Mum gave me a dime to put into the Salvation Army's Christmas bucket. She told me the money would buy Christmas dinners for poor folks. Even then, I had an idea of what could be bought for ten cents. I asked Mum how a dime would help. She replied, "Every little bit helps."

What a simple concept. At age 6, I had no trouble grasping the idea. Why can't our so-called leaders understand such a simple concept? With regard to landmines, they appear willing to act -- even without the co-operation of the big landmine producers. Why are they so intransigent regarding the environment?

Times have changed since 1955 but I'm willing to bet that if a 6 year old puts a dime in the Sally Ann bucket, the bellringin' believers will be thankful for every penny. My ol' Mum is now 82. I took her out Christmas shopping last week and we saw a Salvation Army guy in the mall. I won't say how much I gave but I know my Mum approved and we both know my little bit will help.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Latimer Case: Not Black and White

Whooee! I feel sorry fer Latimer and I don't think he represents a threat to anyone, personally.

I do defer to spokespersons for the severely disabled, though. Who decides whether a non-communicative disabled person lives or dies?

If, somehow, the poor soul is able to make their wishes for assisted suicide known, they deserve the right to die in dignity and their assistant(s) do not deserve prosecution.

As a rural/small town dweller, I see the real lack of support for primary caregivers outside large urban centres. I can see how someone like Latimer could be at his wit's end. I see that in many desperate people but the answer cannot be to remove the problem by eliminating a life.

I'll qualify that. If the PWD (person with disability) can and does communicate a desire to end his or her miserable existence, that's assisted suicide. If that permission is not granted, there is no way to know that it is what the person wants. It is, after all, the disabled person's life to end -- not the caregiver's.

In all this time, Latimer must surely have searched his soul. He cannot claim to be so telepathic as to know what his child wished for. Even if he did know her wishes, she's a minor and it was his parental responsibility to keep her alive.

If we condone Latimer's mercy killing of a non-communicative child, we open up a door to the elimination of other non-communicative disabled persons. The disabled understand that they place a burden on society and they fear society will value other things like healthcare savings over their right to life. I think it's a valid fear in a world that places more value on it's economy than on it's ecology and environment. Society and the economy are self-serving and serving the disabled and their caregivers is costly.

The disabled have had to fight for every concession we've ever made. Now, they're fighting for their right not to be exterminated.


P.S. This post was originally written as a comment on Shagya Blog.