Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mayans occupy Canadian-owned mine in campaign for farming land

By Andrew Buncombe

Hundreds of families of Mayan Indians have occupied part of a large nickel mine owned by a Canadian company in Guatemala and demanded they be given land for subsistence farms.

Concerned about the threat that the mine allegedly poses tothe environment and land rights, about 2,000 Q’eqchi Indians moved on to three separate areas of the mining complex and began setting up makeshift camps. Campaigners say the UN-sponsored Truth Commission – part of a 1996 peace agreement that ended Guatemala’s brutal civil war – demanded that indigenous communities with historical claims to land have theright to determine how it is used.

The Indians moved on to the currently inactive mine site near Lake Izabal in north-east Guatemala, owned by Vancouver-based Skye Resources, at the weekend. Father Dan Vogt, a Catholic priest and co-ordinator of a community development group, Adepi, said they had long been campaigning for the company to provide them with land to farm.

Speaking from El Estor, the nearest community, he told The Independent: “They got fed up and decided to take action. There were around 350 families – around 2,000 people. They are still there, building houses. The company has told me they are not willing to negotiate until they move.”

Skye bought the site from another Canadian mining company, Canadian International Nickel Co, which had operated the mine from the 1960s until 1981. Skye hopes to begin producing up to 11,000 tonnes of ferro-nickel by the end of 2008.

Campaigners say the plans fit a pattern across other countries in Latin America where foreign and multinational companies have secured rights to exploit mineral and other natural resources, with local communities receiving little in exchange. Elsewhere in Guatemala, and in neighbouring Honduras, protests have recently been made against the US-Canadian mining company Glamis, while in Chile protesters have sought to stop the building of a gold mine by another Canadian company, Barrick.

Grahame Russell, a spokesman for the Canadian-based group Rights Action, said: “Skye Resources is just one more example of what North American companies are doing through Latin America. The patterns are being repeated everywhere and the problems go from A-Z. It starts with a complete absence of consultation with local communities, which they have a legal right to. Before people know anything about it they are in the back door with a mining exploration licence.”

[Sound familiar? The same thing is done in rural Nova Scotia.]

A recent report by Oxfam about the El Estor Mayan community said: “Rigorous strip mining has already degraded the fragile ecosystem, eroding the thin topsoil in mountain passes inhabited by Mayan communities. The mountainsides have been deforested, causing landslides and a litany of environmental hazards. In addition to the environmental threat, there is along history of political violence between the mining companies and the indigenous communities who resist.”

Ian Austin, chief executive officer of Skye, said his company was keen to defuse the tension and avoid confrontation. “Our approach has been to try and talk with the community and the people in the area and to develop a win-win situation.” He added: “Groups are opposed to mining and that is a fact of life in our industry.”

This article originally appeared in the British newspaper, The Independent.

Friday, September 22, 2006

New satellite images taken from space show Ontario is allowing among the largest clearcuts in the world to take place in caribou habitat

Meanwhile, the provincial government continues to publicly declare Ontario a "world leader" in forestry practices. Satellite images obtained from the United States Geological Survey show five clearcuts all larger than 260 ha within the Trout Lake Forest of Northwest Ontario. The region - which is critical caribou habitat - was logged and roaded as late as May 23, 2006. Meanwhile, Ontario Natural Resources Minister David Ramsay has denied the occurrence of large-scale logging in the province. One month after the May 23, 2006, clearcut was made in Trout Lake, he told the Toronto Sun, "We're making sure that we're a world leader in forestry practices. We keep our cuts quite small nowadays."

"These images of recent clearcuts are proof the Ontario government hasbeen lying to the public by saying it keeps its clearcuts small," said Leah Henderson, Boreal Forest Campaigner at ForestEthics. "The truth is much of Ontario's Boreal forest is slated to be clearcut logged or mined in the nextfew years - and without the immediate protection of critical caribou range, the species is in for a fight for survival."

According to a 2004 Yale University report entitled Global Environmental Forest Policies, in Russia, the only other country other than Canada with large areas of intact Boreal Forest, the official maximum size for industrial clearcuts is 50 hectares (ha). In Ontario, official clearcut size restriction is five times greater at 260 ha, while 20 per cent of the forest cover is allowed unlimited size clearcuts, some as large as 750 ha. British Columbia restricts its clearcuts to 50 hectares and Quebec law requires they be no larger than 100 ha.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

We know who they are, they're real people with addresses and phone numbers

Cabinet ministers, Five Star Generals together with North America's top corporate executives mingle in the plush surroundings of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. This secret venue on "Continental Prosperity in the New Security Environment" focused on "Deep Integration," which largely consists in flushing national sovereignty in favor of "Fortress North America". According to the draft program (see below), Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Banff, Alberta to deliver the keynote address on "military to military cooperation". Canada's Minister of Public Security Stockwell Day focused his address on issues of North American public security. Top brass from the US and Canada were in attendance. Canada's Minister of Defense Gordon O'Connor was present together with Chief of Defense Staff, General Rick Hellier. There was, however, no confirmation that Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended the meetings. On the US side, several of Rumsfeld's top policy advisers were present alongside a handful of researchers and consultants. The commander of US NorthCom Admiral Tim Keating was also in attendance with several of his senior staff members. Keating is also Commander of NORAD, which is slated to be merged with US NorthCom.

Deep Integration
"Deep Integration" was first enunciated by "The Independent Task Force for North America", led on the Canadian side by former Liberal deputy prime minister, John Manley together with Tom Aquino, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. The task force led by US, Canadian and Mexican officials was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). "D’Aquino and his partners in a corporate task force, former deputy prime minister John Manley and former finance minister Michael Wilson, tell us that by integrating ever more into the U.S. we will somehow guarantee our prosperity, creating fortress North America to compete with China, Europe, and other competitors." (Murray Dobbin, April 2005)

In 2005, Manley’s task force released its "Trinational Call for a North American Economic and Security Community by 2010". Both Aquino and Manley are participants in the Banff venue, which essentially constitutes a follow-up to the CFR sponsored initiative. Another central theme of the Banff conference is the integration of military command structures, which could eventually lead to the scrapping of NORAD and the integration of Canada into US Northern Command.(Chossudovsky, November 2004)

The Banff venue was co-chaired by George Shultz, a staunch Republican, former Secretary of State to President Ronald Reagan who later became president and director of Bechtel corporation.

George Shultz
Top execs from the military-industrial complex and the oil companies were present including Lockheed Martin, Chevron, Mexico's PEMEX and Suncor Energy. Top officials and policy analysts from the military's research labs and thinks tanks including Livermore were invited to integrate several of the specialized panels. The meetings focused on the interrelationship between North American defense systems, militarization, national security, borders, immigration, military production and the control over North America's energy reserves. The venue had more to do with profit driven militarization than "continental prosperity." No journalists, no press releases, no commentary which might inform public opinion, a total media blackout: The program of this venue, which was a carefully guarded State secret was first revealed by Canadian author and politician Mel Hurtig on an internet posting :

Thought you would like to see this. They're at it again. The sellouts, the usual suspects. September 12th to 14th, at the Banff Springs Hotel, a conference on North American Integration. Among the long list of those who will be there are Perrin Beatty, Peter Lougheed, Thomas d'Aquino, Stockwell Day, Wendy Dobson, Roger Gibbins, John Manley, Anne McLellan, Gordon O'Connor, James Schlesinger, Donald Rumsfeld, George Shultz and a long list of others. Among the topics: "A Vision for North America", "A North American Energy Strategy", "Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration", "Opportunities for Security Cooperation". Many prominent high level U.S. government people will be there.Lots of military. Lots of Deputy Ministers. Lock up your valuables. Hide your children.
Mel Hurtig

The list of participants and the draft program dated respectively August 31st and September 1st, were sent out on email lists. [we were not able to verify the accuracy of this draft program and whether all the confirmed participants attended the venue]

Report dated August 31, 2006
Forum Co-Chairs:
Dr. Pedro Aspe
Hon. Peter Lougheed
Hon. George Shultz
Canadian Participants
Col. Peter Atkinson Special Advisor to Chief of Defence, Staff
Hon. Perrin Beatty Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Mr. Peter M. Boehm Assistant Deputy Minister, North America Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Mr. Thomas d’Aquino, Canadian Council of Chief Executives
Hon. Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, Government of Canada
Dr. Wendy Dobson The Institute for International Business
Mr. N. Murray Edwards Edco Financial Holdings Ltd.
Mr. Ward Elcock, Deputy Minister of National Defence
Mr. Bill Elliott Associate Deputy Minister, Public Safety
Dr. John English The Cdn Centre for International Governance Innovation
Mr. Brian Felesky Felesky Flynn LLP
Mr. Richard L. George, Suncor Energy Inc.
Dr. Roger Gibbins Canada West Foundation
Rear Adm Roger Girouard, Commander Joint Task Force Pacific, Cdn Forces
Major Gen Daniel Gosselin, Director General, International Security Policy
Mr. James K. Gray Canada West Foundation Mr. Fred Green Canadian Pacific Railway
Mr. V. Peter Harder Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Paul J. Hill Harvard Developments Inc.
General Rick Hillier Chief of the Defence Staff
Mr. Pierre Marc Johnston Heenan Blaikie
Mr. James Kinnear Pengrowth Corporation
Mr. Harold N. Kvisle TransCanada Corporation
Hon. John P. Manley, McCarthy, Tetrault LLP
Mr. Ron Mannix, Coril Holdings Ltd.
Mr. Ron Mathison, Matco Investments
Hon. Anne McLellan, Senior Counsel, Bennett Jones
Hon. Greg Melchin, Minister of Energy, Government of Alberta
Ms.Sharon Murphy, Chevron Canada
Ms. Sheila O’Brien, President, Corporate Director, Belvedere Investments
Hon. Gordon O’Connor, Minister of Defense, Government of Canada
Mr. Berel Rodal, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
Mr. Gordon Smith, Chairman, The International Development Research Centre American Participants
Ms. Deborah Bolton, Political Advisor to Commander, US Northcom
Mr. Ron T. Covais, President, The Americas, Lockheed Martin Corporation
Sec. Kenneth W. Dam, Max Pam Professor Emeritus of American & Foreign Law and Senior Lecturer, University of Chicago Law School
Mr. Dan Fisk Senior Director, Western Hemisphere, National Security Council
Sec. Ryan Henry Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Ms. Carla A. Hills, Chairman & CEO, Hills & Co.
Ms. Caryn Hollis DASD (Acting) Western Hemisphere Affairs
Mr. Bill Irwin Manager - International Government Affairs; Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Corporation
Mr. Robert G. James President, Enterprise Asset Management Inc.
Admiral Tim Keating Commander, US Northern Command
Mr. Floyd Kvamme Chair, President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology; Director, Centre for Global Security Res.
Dr. Ronald F. Lehman II, Director, Center for Global Security Research, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Mr. William W. McIlhenny Policy Planning Council for Western Hemisphere Affairs
Dr. Peter McPherson President, National Association of State Universities & Land-Grant Colleges
Ms. Doris Meissner Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute
Dr. George Miller Director, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Mr. George Nethercutt Chairman, US Section of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, US – Canada (Security)
Mary Anastasia O’Grady, Journalist for Wall Street Journal (Area Specialist)
Dr. Robert A. Pastor Director, Center for North American Studies, American University, Washington, DC
Dr. William Perry Co-Director, Preventive Defense Project
Lt. Gen. Gene Renuart, USAF Senior Military Assist. to Sec. Rumsfeld
Mr. Eric Ruff, Department of Defense Press Secretary
Sec. Donald R. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, US Department of Defense
Dr. James Schlesinger, Former Sec. Of Energy & Defense
Mr. William Schneider President, International Planning Services
Sec. Clay Sell Deputy Secretary of Energy, US Dept. of Energy
Dr. Thomas A. Shannon Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere A
Dr. David G. Victor Director, Program on Energy & Sustainable Development, Center for Environmental Science & Policy
Maj. Gen. Mark A Volcheff Director, Plans, Policy & Strategy, NORAD-NORTHCOM
Ms. Jane Wales President & CEO, World Affairs Council of Northern California
Mr. R. James Woolsey Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton
Mexican Participants:
Emb Andrés Rozental (Mexican Coordinator) – Mexican Council on Foreign Relations
Silvia Hernández Former Senator and Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on North America
Mario Molina 1995 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Fernando Chico Pardo CEO, Promecap
Juan Gallardo CEO, Grupo GEUSA
Gerónimo Gutiérrez Deputy Foreign Minister for North America
Luis de la Calle Consultant. Former Deputy Minister of Economy
Agustín Barrios Gómez Solutions Abroad
Vinicio Suro PEMEX
Eduardo Medina Mora Secretary of Public Security
Carlos Heredia State Government of Michoacán
Jaime Zabludowsky Consultant. Former trade negotiator
Manuel Arango CEO, Grupo Concord
Jorge Santibañez President, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte
Luis Rubio CIDAC
Mónica Serrano El Colegio de México, Señor Fellow Oxford University
Arturo Sarukhan Coordinator of Int’l Affairs, Campaign of Felipe Calderon
Juan Camilo Mouriño General Coordinator of President Elect’s transition team
Ernesto Cordero Coordinator for Public Policy Issues
General: Mr. Carlos de Icaza, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States
Mr. Gaëtan Lavertu Ambassador of Canada to Mexico
Ms. Maria Teresa Garcia Segovia de Madero, Ambassador of Mexico to Canada
Mr. Thomas Huffaker U.S. Consul General in Calgary (on DOD’s list)
Mr. John Dickson Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy in Ottawa (representing Ambassador of US to Canada)
Mr. Colin Robertson Minister & Head, Washington Advocacy Secretariat, (representing Ambassador of Canada to US)
Draft Detailed September 1, 2006 Agenda Internal Document
North American Forum
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Banff, Alberta September 12-14, 2006
Under the Joint Chairmanship of:
The Hon. George Shultz, Former U.S. Secretary of State,
The Hon. Pedro Aspe, Former Finance Minister of Mexico,
The Hon. Peter Lougheed, Former Premier of Alberta
Continental Prosperity in the New Security Environment
Session I: Opening comments by Messrs. Aspe, Lougheed and Schultz
Session II: A Vision for North America: Issues and Options
Session III: Toward a North American Energy Strategy
Session IV: Opportunities for Security Cooperation in North America (Parts I and II)
Session V: Demographic and Social Dimensions of North American Integration
Session VI: Border Infrastructure and Continental Prosperity
Session VII: Roundtable Conversation with the Co-Chairs
Draft September 1, 2006 Agenda
North American Forum
The Fairmont Banff Springs Banff, Alberta, Canada September 12-14, 2006
Under the Joint Chairmanship of:
The Hon. George Shultz, Former U.S. Secretary of State
The Hon. Pedro Aspe, Former Finance Minister of Mexico
The Hon. Peter Lougheed, Former Premier of Alberta
Continental Prosperity in the New Security Environment
Tuesday, September 12th
3:00 to Advance Registration 4:30 pm Location: Heritage Hall
5:00 pm Registration Location: Oval Room
5:45 pm Opening and Welcoming Reception Location: Conservatory in the Cascade Ballroom
6:45 pm Dinner & Keynote Address Location: Cascade Ballroom
8:00 pm Keynote Address – “Energy and Environment: a vision for North America” Dr. Mario Molina, 1995 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
Wednesday, September 13th
7:30 am Continental Breakfast & Registration Location: Alhambra Room
8:15 am Keynote Address - Hon. Greg Melchin, Minister of Energy, Government of Alberta Q & A 8:45 – 9:00 a.m.
Location: Alhambra Room 9:30 am PANEL:
Moderator: Dr. Thomas A. Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Panelists: Robert Pastor, Director, Center for North American Studies, American University Roger Gibbins, President & CEO, Canada West Foundation Andrés Rozental, Mexican Council on Foreign Relations
10:45 am Break
11:05 am REMARKS: Secretary Clay Sell, Deputy Secretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
11:25 am PANEL: Moderator: N. Murray Edwards, Vice Chairman, Canadian Natural Resources Limited Panelists: Richard George, President & CEO, Suncor Energy Inc. David Victor, Director, Program on Energy & Sustainable Development, Center for Environmental Science & Policy Vinicio Suro, Planning & Evaluation Subdirector, PEMEX
12:45 pm Break
1:00 pm Lunch Location: Cascade Ballroom
1:30 pm Keynote Address: Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, US Department of Defense
SESSION IV: OPPORTUNITIES FOR SECURITY COOPERATION IN NORTH AMERICA - Military-to-military cooperation Location: Alhambra Room
2:30 pm PANEL: Moderator: William J. Perry, former US Secretary of Defense Panelists: Admiral Tim Keating, Commander NORAD/USNORTHCOM Major General Daniel Gosselin, Director General, International Security Policy, Gerónimo Gutiérrez, Undersecretary for North America, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
4:00 pm Break
4:15 pm PANEL: Moderator: William Schneider, President, International Planning Services Panelists: Ward Elcock, Deputy Minister of National Defence Eduardo Medina-Mora, Secretary of Public Safety Ryan Henry, Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
5:45 pm Wrap-up of daytime sessions
6:30 pm Reception Location: Conservatory in the Cascade Ballroom
7:00 pm Dinner & Keynote Address Location: Cascade Ballroom
8:10 pm Keynote Address - The Hon. Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, Government of Canada
Thursday, September 14th
7:00 am Breakfast Location: Alhambra Room
7:15 am Keynote Address - Floyd Kvamme, Chairman, President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology Q & A – 7:40 to 8:00 a.m.
8:00 am PANEL: Moderator: Andrés Rozental, Mexican Council on Foreign Relations Panelists : Dr. Wendy Dobson, the Institute for International Business Carlos Heredia, Chief International Affairs Advisor to the Governor of the State of Michoacán in Mexico Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute
9:30 am Break
9:45 am PANEL: Moderator: Hon. John P. Manley, McCarthy Tetrault LLP Panelists: Thomas d’Aquino, Canadian Council of Chief Executives Carla Hills, Chairman & CEO, Hills & Co. Luis de la Calle, Consultor
11:00 am SESSION VII: ROUNDTABLE CONVERSATION WITH THE CO-CHAIRS Location: Alhambra Room Moderator: Jane Wales, President and CEO, World Affairs Council of Northern California Presenters: George Shultz, Co-Chair, North American Forum Peter Lougheed, Co-Chair, North American Forum Pedro Aspe, Co-Chair, North American Forum
12:00 pm Adjourn
12:30 pm Informal lunch Location: Alhambra Room
9:45 am PANEL: Moderator: Hon. John P. Manley, McCarthy Tetrault LLP Panelists: Thomas d’Aquino, Canadian Council of Chief Executives Carla Hills, Chairman & CEO, Hills & Co. Luis de la Calle, Consultor
Moderator: Jane Wales, President and CEO, World Affairs Council of Northern California Presenters: George Shultz, Co-Chair, North American Forum Peter Lougheed, Co-Chair, North American Forum Pedro Aspe, Co-Chair, North American Forum
12:00 pm Adjourn12:30 pm Informal lunch Location: Alhambra Room

Monday, September 18, 2006

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A2

Jim Prentice
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians
Parliament Hill
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Barbara McDougall
Federal Negotiator
Former Cabinet Minister c/o Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A2

Jane Stewart
Provincial Negotiator
Province of Ontario
Former Brantford MP
and former Federal Indian Affairs Minister
c/o Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1

Rod Bruinooge
House of Commons
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

To: Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians

Please address the threats of violence that Caledonia citizens and their supporters are posing against the peaceful land reclamation taken by the people of Six Nations. The Canadian government must uphold its responsibilities and return full title of Kanonhstaton (the Douglas Creek Estates) to the people of Six Nations. The Government of Canada must address land claims put forward by First Nations communities. In order to resolve the outstanding land claims concerning the Onkwehonweh land (Haldimand Tract), full negotiations with the Six Nations people, on a nation-to-nation basis, must proceed immediately. Hazel Hill, spokesperson for Six Nations, has stated:

"We didn't create the situation. We are only trying to rectify it, for our children and future generations. We have taken action and have reclaimed land that is rightfully ours. We are there in Peace, and have been since February 28th… Will Canada allow the hatred and violent displays of racism of its citizens to continue and possibly create another Ipperwash, or will it use the lessons of the past to ensure that the violence stops and admit to their citizens that it is through their own actions and abuse of assumed power that we are in this situation today?"

You must consider these words carefully and take action to ensure a just resolution to this issue in a swift and fair manner.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Biotech Firm, Govt. Hid Rice Contamination from Public

by Megan Tady

The recently revealed spread of genetically modified rice has critics alarmed on two levels: the problem itself and the fact that authorities suppressed the news.

Aug. 24 – Last week, the US Department of Agriculture announced that US commercial long-grain rice supplies are contaminated with "trace amounts" of genetically engineered rice unapproved for human consumption.

The genetically engineered (GE) rice is known as Liberty Link (LL) 601. Its genetic code has been modified to provide resistance to herbicides and is illegal for marketing to humans because it has not undergone environmental and health impact reviews by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). LL601 was field-tested from 1998 to 2001 under permits granted by the USDA, but Bayer Corp Science, the developer of the experimental rice, did not seek commercial approval for it.

The contamination was only disclosed after Bayer notified the USDA itself. Currently, the government relies on self-reporting from food companies to determine genetically engineered (GE) contamination, rather than a federal testing system. The USDA dismissed concerns that companies may not always "self-report" or even be aware of their mistakes, which would lead to further undetected contamination of unapproved GE food.

It appears a separate company first detected the contamination in January of this year and that Bayer may have known about the contamination since May. But the government was not notified until July 31. It took another 18 days for the USDA to tell the public.

At a press conference, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns would not divulge how the contamination had happened, or how far it had spread. It was unclear whether he even knew. Jim Rogers, a USDA spokesperson, told The NewStandard the contaminated rice was detected in barrels sent to Missouri and Arizona.

"But the rice could have come from anywhere [in the US]," Rogers said.

Riceland, a farmer-owned cooperative that markets rice produced by Southern farmers, issued a press release on August 18, saying it first discovered the contamination in January. Riceland conducted its own tests from several grain-storage locations and found: "A significant number tested positive for the Bayer trait. The positive results were geographically dispersed and random throughout the rice-growing area."

Riceland notified Bayer of the contamination in May, but did not notify the public or the government.

Johanns indicated that an economic motive was behind the government’s delay of nearly three weeks before informing the public about the contamination, as the government anticipated foreign rice importers might reject the product. The Secretary said the USDA spent the time preparing tests for rice importers to check the product for contamination. The US constitutes about 12 percent of the world’s rice trade.

There are currently no plans to destroy or recall the rice, and Rogers is unsure if Bayer will be fined. While the government "validates" its tests for the rice, Johanns directed people to Bayer’s website, saying the company "has made arrangements with private laboratories to run tests" on the rice.

Although the field tests for LL601 ended in 2001, the contamination appeared in a 2005 harvest, leaving some food-safety advocates to worry that the contamination has been present for several years and suggesting that genetically modified strains can persist in the environment well after they have been discontinued in experiments.

Two other varieties of rice with the same gene and from the same company have already been approved for human consumption, though never marketed. There is currently no known, intentional commercial US production of genetically engineered rice.

Johanns said that based on "available scientific data" provided by Bayer, the USDA and the FDA have concluded "that there are no human-health, food-safety or environmental concerns associated with this GE rice.

When pressed about the health implications of the contaminated rice, Rogers noted that foods from pesticide- and herbicide-resistant crops are already on the market. In fact, according to the USDA, 70 percent of processed foods on grocery store shelves contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Rogers dismissed concern that, because the government relies on companies’ self-reporting, there could be widespread contamination of unapproved GE ingredients in the US food supply. He said the government did not have plans to begin testing food itself.

But this is not the first time unapproved genetic material has escaped detection in the food supply. In 2004, the company Syngenta admitted that for four years, it had sold unapproved GE maize in the US.

In response to the Bayer revelation, Greenpeace has called for a worldwide ban on imports of US rice. Already, Japan has suspended US rice imports.

The Center for Food Safety, a public-interest organization, is also calling for a moratorium on all new permits for open-air field testing of GE crops. The Center is concerned that open-air testing allows GE crops to cross pollinate with neighboring non-GE crops.

"We see this as an opportunity to get out the message that this is a radically new technology," said Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center. "These foods have not been tested, and we don’t know if they’re safe."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Manitoba's Conservation and Recovery Strategy for Boreal Woodland Caribou

was released on June 8, 2006. The document is accessible online. There’s not much to it. I recommend filing it in the Young Adult Fiction section of your library. Detailed comments and suggestions for consideration in future rewrites may be submitted to:

Dr. Vince Crichton
Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection Branch
Box 24 - 200 Saulteaux Crescent
Winnipeg MB R3J 3W3

Unfortunately, Vince Crichton has been known to say: "More moose, more deer in the area, we don't want to see that because it's going to mean more wolves in there,"

Crichton also said: "What we're looking at is larger clear-cuts that will not make the habitat come back into habitat types that are going to be attractive to moose and deer." The larger cuts would not affect the caribou population, he says, because it would involve mature habitat that the caribou are not using anymore. Crichton says it's not unusual [ = usual] for Manitoba Conservation to work closely with major logging companies.

So, the situation in Manitoba seems quite bleak, doesn't it? Manitoba Hydro, Tembec, and the like are making the decisions of our government. In fact, the people and land of Manitoba are being governed by industrialists who have no interest in conservation or the continued practice of either traditional or environmentally-friendly or rural livelihoods. They will destroy the Boreal Forest (and the communities who depend on the forest) if they are allowed to, and they are being allowed to. The question I am left asking of myself is, "What can I do about it!?"

What can I do when no legal avenue is effective? What can I do when the world, the environment around me, upon which we subsist, is being cut to ribbons, mined, poisoned, and erased?

Saturday, September 09, 2006


September 8, 2006

Ministers’ report shows alarming trend in North American politics, says Council of Canadians

Ottawa – A report released yesterday by the trade and foreign affairs ministries of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, shows the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) gives big businesses broad ranging powers that undermine the public interest, according to the Council of Canadians. A follow-up to the meeting of the leaders of the three countries that took place in Cancun in March 2006, the report applauds the SPP’s “formal role for the private sector” in setting the agenda for North American economic integration.

“While the SPP has formalized the power of large corporations by creating theNorth American Competitiveness Council, the Canadian public and civil society have been left out of these negotiations,” says Jean-Yves LeFort, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Even our members of parliament have been excluded. If Maxime Bernier and Peter MacKay were truly interested increating an agreement that would benefit all Canadians, they would have included us in the process.”

Largely ignored by the media, the North American Competitiveness Council will allow corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Wal-Mart and Suncor to shape a broad range of policies including border security, immigration and a new continental approach to foreign affairs.

The Council of Canadians demands that Canada cease all further participation in the North American Competitiveness Council and the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and that Stephen Harper consult with Canadians in a meaningful way on Canada-U.S. relations.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

the land

Click here.

Firms admit paying bribes in World Bank program

Reuters August 31st, 2006

A "healthy" number of companies have admitted paying bribes under a new World Bank disclosure program, which encourages firms that have worked on bank-funded projects to report corruption or fraud. From cash handouts to forking out for luxury travel, sports utility vehicles and schooling for children of government officials, companies are revealing that bribes are part of doing business in some developing countries. Pascal Dubois, acting manager for the Voluntary Disclosure Program, said the initiative was part of the bank's efforts to root out corruption in development projects. "Companies are telling us that in certain jurisdictions they were paying bribes in order to get a contract; they were paying bribes to get a contract amended; and they were paying bribes in order to get paid," Dubois said in a recent interview. "You clearly see that bribe-paying and corruption turns up at every stage of a particular project," she added. In exchange for being part of the program and admitting to corruption or fraud over the past five years, companies can keep doing business with the bank and have their identities kept secret while also avoiding being put on a blacklist. They also have to agree to hire a compliance monitor, such as a lawyer or auditor. If a company that is not part of the program is caught, the World Bank bars the company from its projects and publishes its name on its Web site. Dubois said the program strengthened the World Bank's ability to tackle corruption."Knowledge is power and unless you know exactly what is going on, you can't really fight it, because you're shooting in the dark," Dubois said. "We already know so much more and what it does it's evidence instead of hearsay," she said. Armed with information from companies and its own investigations, the World Bank shares its findings with the government of the country, including the names of the bribe takers. "We ask the country to take meaningful action in order to make sure that this corruption, which we are sure did happen because it is based on disclosures, stops," Dubois said. "Obviously if that country does not take meaningful action then the bank has certain remedies at its disposal," she added, pointing out that suspending projects was an option. Some critics say the program will scare off potential business for the bank, but Dubois said a crackdown on corruption meant a better working environment for firms. Frank Vogl, a founder and board member of Transparency International, said the program demonstrated the bank is serious about transparent and clean procurement in projects. "The real issue is whether it goes far enough in the world where enforcement of anti-corruption laws against bribe payers fall far short of the rhetoric of the world's leaders," he said. He said less than a handful of the 36 countries that have ratified the OECD's anti-corruption convention, which makes it a criminal offense for companies to pay a bribe to foreign officials, have undertaken any investigations or prosecutions. Vogl said Transparency International will publish in October a bribe-payers index, ranking the home countries of multi-national companies perceived to be the biggest bribe payers in global trade and investment. Beatrice Edwards, international program director for the Government Accountability Project (GAP), which promotes government and corporate accountability, said the project was useful but "rests on questionable legal principles". "It fails to take into account that there have been decades of very large-scale corruption involving hundreds of millions and billions of dollars in bank funds," she said. "The fact that loans or projects that these companies engaged in corruption with are still being repaid by countries with interest, so there is a legal principle that if they are ongoing consequences there is no statute of limitations," she added.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa K1A 0A2

September 6, 2006

Dear Prime Minister Stephen Harper,

I do not agree with Canada's military role in Afghanistan. I am contacting you to ask you to protect the lives of men and women in the Canadian military. Canadian troops are fighting a civil war in Afghanistan. Their participation in the country’s upheaval was not the decision of people in Canada. The United States has dictated the Canadian military’s role of in Afghanistan. I believe that the Afghani war is the business of people in the country, and not foreign forces. I do not believe that the ends justify the means. I believe that the ends are the means. The people of Afghanistan must negotiate routes to peaceful and democratic futures without violence. We can expect the fruition of the imposition of force will be chaos (for a long time to come). I urge you to end Canada's combat mission, and work with our allies and the Afghan government to establish a comprehensive peace process for the country.


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Brian Sky


As the warm summer days dwindle, so does the patience of many residents in Caledonia, where a six-month-long native standoff threatens to erupt into violence once again. Many townsfolk who lived through a summer of flare-ups will send their children to an elementary school that borders a development site sitting on land the occupiers claim was taken from them unlawfully by the Crown. The local school board has postponed plans to build a wooden wall between a schoolyard and the occupied land. The site is at the centre of a battle over land rights that started when some members of the Six Nations reserve set up barricades blocking the road into the development on Feb. 28. A court order evicting them has not been enforced. In June, the province bought out the developer for $12.3-million. This week, Henco Industries Ltd. said it received an additional $3.5-million in compensation. The province is holding the land in trust. Frustrated with the slow pace of negotiations, many residents have threatened to take up arms. Amid calls for calm from the federal and provincial governments, the OPP announced yesterday that it will be ramping up an already heavy presence on the streets of Caledonia to keep the peace throughout the long weekend. However, the spokesman for a local residents' group that calls itself Caledonia Resistance said many residents are hunting enthusiasts who have considered turning their guns on the occupiers during tense situations. "There's times the trigger locks have been off," Steve Tong said. "There's times when I had my gun out of the cabinet and the gun sitting there ready." Mr. Tong hinted there may be a rally in the offing, but refused to say more. "We're making plans and things are going to happen soon," he said. "Something is going to be done." Mr. Tong, who owns a house with a yard that borders on the occupied land, said he will not send his two children, aged 5 and 13, to Notre Dame Catholic School when classes resume on Tuesday - not until the school board builds a fence that shields the schoolyard from the occupied site. The work was delayed because of land issues with the natives occupying the Douglas Creek Estates site. The fence was to be erected one metre inside the occupied land, said Theresa Harris, director of education for the Brant Haldimand Norfolk School Board. But that plan was scratched to avoid confrontations. Instead, construction workers are to build the fence on the footprint of an existing chain link fence, Ms. Harris said. In the meantime, as many as 20 parents have applied to transfer their children to another school, said Rebecca Taylor, a spokeswoman for the school board. Evidence of the mounting tensions has also showed up on the doorstep of Haldimand County Mayor Marie Trainer. She said two women, who live in the county but not in Caledonia, walked into her office this week and said "they are ready to arm themselves and clean it up since nobody else will." "It's getting dangerous," Ms. Trainer said. In a letter sent to the Six Nations Confederacy Council, federal and provincial ministers asked the occupiers to keep a low profile. "We expect a smaller presence on the site and the eventual withdrawal of that presence . . .," read the letter signed by Minister of Indian Affairs Jim Prentice and by Ontario Minister of Natural Resources David Ramsay. But their expectations are not likely to materialize soon. If anything, more supporters will converge on the occupation site this weekend to buttress the occupiers' ranks should a confrontation erupt, said Brian Sky, the head of security for the site [Mr. Sky is among the dreadful few whose fates are wove with shining threads of power and strength]. Mr. Sky was recovering yesterday from smoke inhalation, which he suffered on Wednesday evening when he used a hose to extinguish a fire that damaged one of the half-built houses on the occupied land. The Six Nations Fire Department is investigating the cause of the fire. The occupiers said they intended to finish the 11 homes and to hunker down in them for the winter. Mr. Sky vowed they will remain on the site at any cost - even if Caledonia residents turn their guns on them. "It's a real threat and we're concerned," he said. "Even if they do it, that doesn't mean we're going to leave. It just takes it to another level."

Friday, September 01, 2006


To add your name to the NDP's call for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, click here.