Sunday, April 28, 2013

Eggs; to Whom do They Belong?
It depends.  If we are talking salmon eggs, one of the big signifiers is money.  Lots of money.  For AquaBounty, that is, a US firm that has cornered the market on Genetically Modified Salmon Eggs.  With a legal patent. Where are these eggs?  They are on Prince Edward Island.  And where are they going?  350,000 of them have just left for Panama where they will be raised to be monstrous Frankenfish.
In a notice from Linda Chu of the GS Watch Group in the Comox Valley (4/27) 2013) forwarding an article printed in the Guardian on (4/24/2013) we learn that these 350,000 eggs will be raised in an inland container on the western highlands in Chiriqui province in Panama.  So we have a US firm located in the US with a plant on Prince Edward Island that does the modification of the eggs to the patent’s requirements and then ships the genetically modified eggs to Panama to be raised.
When I contacted the Canadian government about these transactions, and the laws in place that prohibit anything entering Canada that wasn’t of natural substance, I was told that the GM fish eggs couldn’t be considered entering Canada as they were born here so to speak.  Actually, FrankenFish were born here with the help of two Canadian universities.
Let’s ponder this for a moment.  Canadian FrankenFish came into being along with a patent right here in Canada that was somehow transferred to a private US company, AquaBounty.   So Canada has laws prohibiting anything entering Canada that isn’t a natural life form but Canada can develop artificial life forms here, patent them, and send them out of the country.  So sending out fertilized GM eggs that will become Frankenfish is okay with this Harper government.
 What is there about right wing, capitalist, especially religious men that they want to control life, anyway?  Where does this seeming need to wipe out natural forms of life that can’t or won’t be controlled and create artificial ones to take their places?  Why do these men so need to constantly torment women with threats of recriminalizing abortion, thus taking away the right of women to manage their own eggs?  While at the same time these same men will turn the jewels of evolution itself, like our Atlantic salmon, into cesspools of scrambled genes?  What is it with these men who need to feel they can hold life in their hands by dictating the terms of how life will be lived by people and plants and animals?  And how who or what of these will live or die?
These men have quite a few choices for the dying part.  One can die from the war on terror, from the war on drugs, from tribal conflict or the war on women and the environment, guns, too fast cars, etc., the list is long.  And down the road, the list might include, death from eating bloated, gene scrambled, patented salmon that are suffering from gigantism when FrankenFish are the only fish left in the sea because they have eaten all the others. But there will still be a constant struggle with AquaBounty who will actually own them all.
As you know, I’m sure, all kinds of wars make a whole lot of money for a select group of people, banks, corporations, corrupt heads of government , arms dealers and manufactures (military weapons is just about the only big industry left in the US),pornographers, human traffickers,  etc.  We can eventually get rid of them all if we have enough time, even the wars themselves, but once foreign genes get scrambled into particular earth life forms they’re going to stay there.
It’s about eggs. Both human and animal eggs.  Whoever controls the eggs of a species controls that life form.  This is why US Congressman Bob Gibbs can stand up in the US Congress and co-sponser a bill that says at the very moment of fertilization, a human egg is to be treated as any other American Citizen.  The importance of this capture of a woman’s egg is not lost on warlords, governments and religious leaders.  It means that any  women  on US soil who has just had her egg fertilized has no choice about her egg, regardless of whether it was fertilized by rape, torture, incest or a loving union.  The salmon slated to have her eggs taken in an unnatural setting has no choice about what will happen to them, either.  Her offspring will not even be like her, she would flee in terror should one of them approach if this were possible.
This is why we celebrate eggs at Easter.   We know eggs are, as well as symbolize, the continuation of life.  I’ve rather given up on letter writing but if more people would write Stephen Harper and Robert Ghiz, the premier of Prince Edward Island and tell them to stop pretending that FrankenFish are okay.  They aren’t okay. Our wild salmon are perfect. They don’t need any genetic fiddling around that gets patented and sold as if men have crated this animal from scratch.  All they have done is deform perfect animals and make them unfit for eating and unsafe for transporting should they escape into the oceans.  But it isn’t as if there are no reasonable adults around.  There actually are.  There is much opposition to this in the States and elsewhere.  Let’s join that opposition.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

 Dark Skins and the Boston Bombers
Before the suspects in the Boston marathon Bombing on April 15 were caught (one killed, the other in hospital) CNN and other stations were reporting that the suspects were dark skinned.  Upon later review of their photos, one sees that the two brothers were in fact more light skinned than dark, and quite handsome by western standards. This is a conundrum for many Americans.  And Canadians, too, for that matter.  How could these two young men, not especially foreign looking (i.e. very dark skinned) pleasing in countenance, academically talented and into sports, and with all the qualifications needed to succeed in America, be terrorists?
These questions wouldn’t even have been asked had they been very dark skinned and not so American looking.  These two brothers just didn’t (don’t) look the part they are accused of playing in the Botsom bombings.  But why has this notion lingered on for so long, that somehow very dark skinned men are more suspect of heinous crimes than white skinned men?  When we know that the most heinous crimes of recorded history were perpetuated by fair skinned people on others they considered not worthy.  

 Prejudice against black skins in the US is widely known in spite of electing a half black president. The aboriginals on this continent were almost wiped out by whites. And aboriginals are still being wiped out by US backed dictatorships in other countries. And yet white Americans on the whole act as if black and brown skinned men are more prone to violence than whites and the Canadian government thinks it’s okay to lock up young people for stupid pot charges as most are dark skinned anyway.
This is not to say that the Boston Bombers are not heinous criminals if they are proven guilty of heinous crimes (which is a foregone conclusion). 
 My worry is that because they were (are) young and handsome, talented, and above all, not black or brown skinned there will be excuses of sorts found for them in some quarters, such as the brothers were victims rather than cold blooded killers, that somehow they were “turned” by evil Jihadists. And this may very well be true.  But for Pete’s sake, let’s consider what John Paul Sartre had to say in his theory of Existentialism and I paraphrase…
 That no matter how deeply conditioned people are, they always retain an element of free choice.  And because this is so, every person making a decision is choosing that decision for the entire human race.  These young men made their decision for the human race.  Let us make ours.  Free of prejudice.

Free Download of This Dangerous Place

Wow! Someone has created a torrent of my book, This Dangerous Place.

You will need a program like Vuze or UTorrent to get this FREE TORRENT DOWNLOAD. Find it here:

I am conflicted about Pirate Bay since I belong to the Writer's Union, however, I am a firm believer in freedom of information. Make up your own mind about Pirate Bay (or torrent hosting sites in general) - I deplore the use of pornographic images (like most women) but I value the vehicle by which people can share information world wide.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

No kidding.  There is a full Monty attack on the libraries and archives of Canada.  Stephen Harper not only wants to erase the written and film history of Canada stored in Federal libraries across the nation, but  the very memory of this history, especially the environmental , aboriginal, fisheries and oceans and the Canada Heritage Libraries along with Foreign Affairs.  All are being disappeared, either by a thousand cuts or outright closure ( Canadian Associations of University Teachers).

 And to make Harper’s new code of conduct on how to disappear Canadian history complete,  the librarians now associated with our disappearing  libraries  (this will presumably also affect local public librarians)… are being told how to conduct themselves when off duty as well as on duty.  If librarians consent to give a talk about our libraries in public schools or at conventions, Harper has warned them in no uncertain terms…”they will be engaging in risky behavior” (Postmedia News (3/16/13).
Librarians are being told by Mr. Harper that they must remember they have “a duty of loyalty” to “the duly elected government” ie, Harper. And the new code of conduct spells out the risks any librarian takes who should slip and say something derogatory about our disappeared and disappearing libraries and archives.  They  can be reported to the government (CICIS?).  Librarians are being encouraged to snitch on each other and are told who to call to do this.
Not only is Mr. Harper an unbeliever in science, he has a deep seated aversion to learning.  To remembering.  To the evolution of thought.  To the preservation of the rich history of Canada, of  the troubles and turmoils of Canada, but also of the triumphs over ignorance, racism , sexism and the separation of church and state. Imperfect, and some of it is horrible, but it’s been recorded and it’s all there.  Or was there.
We need this material in our libraries and archives.  We have paid for this material, we use it, we value it and we’re going to fight for it, Mr. Harper.  We want our books and archives back.  Never mind those crazy war planes and other war junk you want to buy to help bring on the Armageddon you envision.  Act like a leader of the people for once, instead of a craven hearted fascist who burns the histories of the people.  I think you know that when you disappear the people’s histories you disappear the people.  Not that we have been visible to you anyway because you can’t  see us from your anti-intellect, anti-environmentalism and anti-life padded tower.  But you might hear us.  You just might.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

(people were having trouble opening this article on Facebook by Neil Macdonald of CBC so am resending).
By Neil Macdonald
Buried deep in last month's federal budget is an ambiguously worded section that has roiled parts of the financial world but has so far been largely ignored by the mainstream media.
It boils down to this: Ottawa is contemplating the possibility of a Canadian bank failure — and the same sort of pitiless prescription that was just imposed in Cyprus.
Meaning no bailout by taxpayers, but rather a "bail-in" that would force the bank's creditors to absorb the staggering losses that such an event would inevitably entail.
If that sounds sobering, it should. While officials in Ottawa are playing down the possibility of a raid on the bank accounts of ordinary Canadians, they chose not to include that guarantee in the budget language.
Canadians tend to believe their banks are safer and more backstopped than elsewhere in the world. The federal government enthusiastically promotes the notion, and loves to take credit for it.
It may well be true, even if Canada's six-bank oligopoly isn't terribly competitive, at least in comparison to the far more diverse American banking universe.
But in the ever-more insecure world that has unfolded since the financial meltdown of 2008, it is also increasingly clear that nothing is safe anymore, not even blue-chip bank stocks and bonds or even, in the case of the Cyprus bail-in, private bank accounts.
And now, Canada is making a bail-in official government policy, too.
"The government proposes to implement a bail-in regime … designed to ensure that, in the unlikely event that a systemically important bank depletes its capital, the bank can be recapitalized and returned to viability," says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's March 21 budget, on page 144.
That would be done, the document says, through the rapid conversion of "certain bank liabilities."
Ottawa's budget document leaves the definition of "certain liabilities" to the reader's imagination.
Bank deposits?
There has been very little public debate about the plan to date, but Finance Department officials and the banks protest it should never be taken to mean small personal deposits would be seized.
Depositors wait to enter a branch of the Laiki Bank in Nicosia on March 28. Cyprus's banks had been closed for almost two weeks as the country's financial crisis mounted, and were only opened with tight controls on transactions to prevent a further run. (Bogdan Cristel / Reuters)
Deposits are insured by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation, up to $100,000, and the inviolability of that insurance is key to maintaining the crucial public trust.
"The risk of the Canadian government not honouring its insurance on deposits is as close to zero as you can get," says Craig Alexander, chief economist at TD Canada Trust.
As the Cyprus meltdown proceeded, it became clear that Europe's finance ministers and central banks, encouraged by the International Monetary Fund, were not only willing to freeze and seize uninsured deposits over 100,000 euros, they were also initially willing to cancel deposit insurance and go after small depositors, too.
In the end, the plan was rewritten, and insured deposits were protected. But the signal had been sent: The Europeans and the IMF had been prepared to do the unthinkable.
Holland's finance minister then declared that bail-ins would be the template for all future bank rescues in Europe, and that he could not rule out seizure of deposits elsewhere.
"It was a monumentally stupid thing to do," says TD Canada Trust's Alexander. "I do not believe we would ever see that in Canada.
"I think the international community will have learned from their mistake. And it was a huge mistake."
High-risk bonds
So what does Canada have in mind with its proposed bail-in scheme?
The aim is virtuous: Canada wants to erase the enormous moral hazard created by the concept of "too big to fail."
Americans still burn with anger at the decision to reward irresponsible, even fraudulent bankers with trillions in public bailout money, while the rest of the country sank into recession. Canadian tax money was also used to prop up banks and the automotive industry.
In ruling out future bailouts, Ottawa's logic is simple: Make it clear there is no tax-funded safety net, and you discourage reckless behaviour, protecting taxpayers in the process.
That leaves the question, though, of how to save a sinking bank, something that would devastate the economy. (Although one has to assume that by the time a Canadian bank started sinking, the economy would already be in a nightmare.)
As things currently stand, if a big-six bank began to fail its shares would tank, and investors would lose everything. A run would begin, and the bank would flounder, desperate for capital. Credit markets would also likely freeze.
Without government intervention, the bank would be placed in receivership, and its bondholders would carve up what would be left of the bank's assets.
What Ottawa intends to propose — the concept has been discussed for a few years now in the rarefied circles of monetary experts — is the creation of a new type of higher-risk bank bond known as "contingent capital."
The bondholder would enjoy a higher-than-normal return, maybe even a much higher-than-normal return.
But it would be understood that in the event of a threatened failure, the bond would be converted to shares, meaning potentially a total loss for the bondholder, and a source of capital for the bank.
Think of it as a kind of pre-approved loan for the bank itself.
Trust in government
In a speech, Mark Carney, Canada's departing central banker, has called publicly for just such a system.
At TD Canada Trust, Alexander says this kind of system would make the banks stronger.
But he also notes that many Canadians believe, mistakenly, that their RRSPs and other holdings are safe and insured, too, up to the $100,000 threshold.
They don't often realize that government bonds as well as stocks and mutual funds are among the investments that don't qualify for CDIC insurance.
As to whether small, insured deposits are safe in the event of a failure, that boils down to a question of trust in government.
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, was prepared to seize a portion of all deposits in Cyprus. So was the European Central Bank, and so were Europe's finance ministers.
Holland's finance minister, who led the euro-group effort, later "clarified," his statement about seizing deposits elsewhere, saying that Cyprus was clearly a "one-off" event.
But then so, supposedly, was the massive haircut imposed on the unfortunate holders of Greek sovereign bonds last year.
The fact is, if Ottawa is seriously contemplating the failure of a Canadian bank, ordinary Canadians might want to do the same, and govern themselves accordingly.
Neil Macdonald is the senior Washington correspondent for CBC News, which he joined in 1988 following 12 years in newspapers. Before taking up this post in 2003, Macdonald reported from the Middle East for five years. He speaks English and French fluently, and some Arabic.