Friday 28 August 2009

not a blog XI

Up, Down.

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
Gordon Edwards at Vanier College, at Wikipedia.

Bjarnie Hannibal PaulsonGordon EdwardsGordon EdwardsGordon EdwardsPeter OttensmeyerRobert Del TrediciGideon FormanGideon Forman

Gordon Edwards, Nuclear Power - Hope or Hoax?: YouTube Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Aubrey Beardsleymany years ago we staged a demonstration parade which stopped at the AECL offices on Slater Street in Ottawa and demanded an audience, things were more graceful in those days and one of us, myself, went up to talk, I had very little to say, blew the opportunity, and the only image that remains is a series of framed pictures in their reception area, the pictures were copies of that fellow ... faux-victoriana nudes they used to publish in Playboy now and then ... what was his name? I think it started with a 'B' ... maybe I will remember later ...

Bizarrosome more years after that we gave an Artificial Intelligence workshop to a dozen people from that same office, I was one of those consultants who think they can learn anything about a computer in a few minutes and again I blew it, embarrassed my colleague (who actually still could learn things overnight - I was at the beginning of a sort-of divorce which I have never recovered from ... excuses, excuses) and later on the client demanded his money back (he didn't get it, my colleague was at the top of his game), and the only person I remember from their group was a woman, 30 maybe, slim and dressed in leather clothes, some kind of engineer ... soi distant

point being that links between sex and the environment are deep and wide, trite huh?

remembered ... it was Aubrey Beardsley

Helmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut Newton
Helmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut NewtonHelmut Newton

Yakumama, Alianza Popular Revolucionaria AmericanaYakumama, Dignidad Alberto PizangoYakumama, Amazonas ResisteYakumama, Amazonas Ruge
Yakumama vs Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (Alan García's party), can't find where the association came from(?)

In the mythology of the indigenous people of South America, the yacu-mama is a sea monster, fifty paces long, believed to inhabit the mouth of the Amazon River and the nearby lagoons. According to the legend, the yacu-mama would suck up any living thing that passed within 100 paces of it. To protect themselves, the local Indians would blow on a conch horn before entering the water, believing that the yacu-mama would reveal itself if it was present. It is a giant snake.

Massacre in Peru: A trip into the Amazon brings answers and more questions, Ben Powless, June 20 2009.
A personal testimony on Bagua massacre in Peru: exclusive VIDEO interview with Ben Powless.

Peruanista (blog).

Entrevista a Daisy Zapata (YouTube), Daysi/Daisy Zapata, Peru.

Los artistas del Colectivo Andamio integrantes del CSLA, Centro de Medios Independientes Peru.


A legend that tells of two beings who travel the three worlds. They begin in the inner world, crossing into this one and continuing to the outer. One is Yakumama and the other is Sachamama. Both are represented by great serpents. Sachamama does not slither on the ground but walks vertically with such slowness that it hardly seems to move. Upon arrival in the outer world, Yakumama transforms into the lightning and Sachamama becomes the rainbow. The rainbow is a deity that fertilises the earth giving colour to all the plants and beings. It is the sign of fertility for all living beings and the earth itself. The three worlds thus find themselves united by these two mythic serpents, gods of water and fertility.

EducaSitios EcoAgua, Cuidar el agua , es cuidar nuestro futuro.
David Hewson, El Proyecto Pirámide, Adam Cave Exhibition, Guilford College ($@%$! pdf).

Pachamama - Mother Earth, Mother Universe
Yacumama/Yakumama - Mother of the Water, the Lower World
Sachamama - Mother of the Forest, the Middle World
Huayramama - Mother of the Air, the Upper World

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee? Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? None is so fierce that dare stir him up.   (or her as the case may be)

Job Chapter 41.

Poderás tirar com anzol o leviatã, ou apertar-lhe a língua com uma corda? Poderás meter-lhe uma corda de junco no nariz, ou com um gancho furar a sua queixada? Porventura te fará muitas súplicas, ou brandamente te falará? Fará ele aliança contigo, ou o tomarás tu por servo para sempre? Brincarás com ele, como se fora um pássaro, ou o prenderás para tuas meninas? Farão os sócios de pesca tráfico dele, ou o dividirão entre os negociantes? Poderás encher-lhe a pele de arpões, ou a cabeça de fisgas? Põe a tua mão sobre ele; lembra-te da peleja; nunca mais o farás! Eis que é vã a esperança de apanhá-lo; pois não será um homem derrubado só ao vê-lo? Ninguém há tão ousado, que se atreva a despertá-lo.

1. The search for a nuclear graveyard, Anna Mehler Paperny, Tuesday Aug 25 2009.
2. Making the world less safe, Globe Letters, Gordon Edwards, Friday Aug 28 2009.
3. Making the world less safe, Globe Letters, Gideon Forman, Friday Aug 28 2009.
4. Nuclear 'waste' is fuel, Globe Letters, Peter Ottensmeyer, Friday Aug 28 2009.
5. My letter to the Globe (not published), 28/8/9.

6. Is this the end of the age of our social cohesion?, Michael Valpy, Sat Aug 29 2009.
7. NYT: Marina Silva é 'criança da Amazônia' que abala o Brasil, 29 de agosto de 2009.
8. A Child of the Amazon Shakes Up a Nation’s Politics, Alexei Barrionuevo, August 28 2009.
9. ‘Stagnation’ Made Brazil’s Environment Chief Resign, Alexei Barrionuevo, May 16 2008.
10. 'Guardian': saída de Marina é maior problema do PT para 2010, Terra, 25 de agosto de 2009.
11. Brazil's former environment minister leaves ruling party over 'destruction of natural resources', Tom Phillips, Wednesday 19 August 2009.
12. Brazil after Lula, Conor Foley, Tuesday 25 August 2009.
13. PV festeja filiação de Marina Silva em São Paulo, Terra, 30 de agosto de 2009.

The search for a nuclear graveyard, Anna Mehler Paperny, Tuesday Aug 25 2009.

40,000 metric tonnes of radioactive waste is stored at sites across Canada. Anna Mehler Paperny reports on the hunt for a permanent solution

Wanted: Friendly, open-minded community in need of jobs and a whack of infrastructure cash. Must be willing to play host to nuclear waste, perhaps until the end of time.More than six decades after joining the nuclear club, Canada is home to 22 nuclear reactors, 18 of them in operation, producing about 15 per cent of the country's electricity. Canada also has 40,000 metric tonnes of radioactive waste - and counting.

For years, the issue of how to best dispose of this waste has plagued policy-makers, scientists and citizens. Suggestions have included shooting it into outer space or exporting it to the South Pole.

Now, Canada is preparing to get rid of its nuclear detritus once and for all - by burying it.

That solution will cost $16-billion to $24-billion, and it could take until 2020 just to choose a location. But if all goes well, millions of bundles of spent nuclear fuel will be buried half a kilometre underground in a complex network of subterranean rooms forever. Or at least until future generations come up with something better to do with it.

One niggling question remains: Where?

The multidecade, multibillion-dollar endeavour is the brainchild of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization, established by the federal government in 2002 to come up with a solution to the problem that has plagued Canada's nuclear-safety regulators since the 1940s - what to do with the waste that builds up as a result of all nuclear activity, and which continues to emit potentially harmful radioactive energy for decades, centuries or even millennia.

It's early days yet: Consultations are just beginning on how to select a location.

In May and June, those consultations took the form of town-hall meetings in 14 cities in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick - chosen, said NWMO spokesman Michael Krizanc, because they're "regional centres" in Canada's nuclear provinces.

When the information session came to Sudbury in late May, it became clear just how radioactive this issue will be - and how likely to cause political fallout.

Just before the meeting, Sudbury's Liberal MPP, Rick Bartolucci, urged city council to reject the nuclear-waste repository.

"There is no dollar figure, no salary, and no number of jobs that would be worth risking the health of our children, our landscape and our future,'' Mr. Bartolucci said in a statement at the time.

"We are not the dumping ground for Canada's nuclear waste, nor do we ever want to be."

Taking note of Mr. Bartolucci's statement, the opposition New Democratic Party observed that his reluctance to see a nuclear-waste repository in his back yard made it difficult for Ontario's governing Liberals to justify their pursuit of nuclear power. Less than two months later, the Ontario government's reluctance to commit to new nuclear reactors rendered the question moot.

Mr. Bartolucci said he was simply voicing his constituents' concerns.

Mr. Krizanc said communities willing to have the waste will have to come forward on their own - no one will put pressure on towns to take the spent nuclear fuel.

"We're not going to actively invite communities to, you know, consider being a host," he said. "They would have to invite themselves into the process."

The NWMO's invitation for feedback notes that the nuclear-waste repository will bring "economic benefits, including direct employment for hundreds of people at the facility for many decades, plus many more indirect jobs" to residents of the community that takes the two million used uranium fuel bundles now in existence - a number that will grow significantly if Canada continues to conduct nuclear research and use nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

Right now, the spent fuel is in specially licensed above-ground concrete-and-steel silos on reactor sites.

The plan is to bury the waste deep enough below ground that it doesn't cause harm, but in such a way that it can be retrieved if a better way of storing it is discovered.

The site will require about six square kilometres of open land in an area away from groundwater, heritage sites, mineral deposits or national parks.

Once a selection process is established, planners estimate it will take up to 10 years to choose a site. Add the timeline for environmental assessments, licensing and construction, and it will be at least 2035 before the facility is functioning.

Mike Buckthought, a climate-change campaigner for the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group, said he's skeptical of plans to store tens of thousands of tonnes of nuclear waste underground.

"The nuclear industry has not demonstrated that it is capable of keeping highly radioactive waste isolated from the outside world for millennia," he said. "A nuclear waste repository could be damaged by earthquakes and other natural phenomena over such a long time period."

The inability to deal safely with the remains of nuclear power generation should be reason enough to phase it out, he said.

But Mr. Krizanc said that, ultimately, this is less about the merits of nuclear energy - which Canada has used, for better or worse, for the past several decades - and more about fairness. The massive silos now storing nuclear waste above ground will degrade and future generations would have to replace them.

"It's a fairness and an ethical question," he said.

"If you keep it where it is, above ground, in the types of facilities that it is now, you would be passing it on as a legacy to future generations. They would have to actively monitor it; they would have to repackage it every few hundred years."

Some places, however, see an opportunity in solving Canada's nuclear-waste problem. The Uranium Development Partnership, a think-tank established by the government of Saskatchewan to explore ways the province can extract more value from the uranium mined there, has suggested the nuclear-waste facility might be a perfect fit for the province. A report released in March noted that "the potential benefits to that community and to the province of hosting the facility would be significant."

UDP chairman Richard Florizone, vice-president of finance and resources at the University of Saskatchewan and holder of a PhD in nuclear physics from MIT, said it all adds up.

"Carbon emissions are driving increased interest in nuclear power," he said. "You have to do something with the spent fuel, and that fuel might have future value. ... So the nation has to put it somewhere."

Dr. Florizone said Saskatchewan's position atop the geologically stable Canadian Shield makes it ideal for the long-term storage of nuclear waste. Moreover, the project "would clearly have a very positive economic impact" on a province whose economy is susceptible to the vagaries of commodities markets.

Still, he adds, "social acceptance in these things is absolutely key. ... [But] my sense is there are some communities who are interested in this. They see spent fuel as maybe a future resource rather than as waste."



Blueprints for storing Canada's nuclear waste underground make provisions for a massive research facility that proponents hope will become a centre for nuclear innovation. The waste will be stored so that it is easily retrievable if those in charge ever decide to do something else with it.

Technology exists to reprocess spent uranium, but it requires the high-grade plutonium to be separated. This frightens both governments and non-proliferation agencies. Plutonium is a key component of nuclear weapons and a potential target for theft and sabotage.

Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Policy Education Centre, said the desire to put nuclear waste out of sight and out of mind doesn't justify the expense and risk of moving it from above-ground storage.

"You put it in a dry cast and you keep it on the site, voila!" he said. "If you're going to keep it [underground] for a very long time, you have to worry about the geology changing or water running through it.

"People have fantastic expectations - They say, 'We want to keep it there for 10,000 years.' What is 10,000 years? ... Who the hell knows?"

But Frank von Hippel, director of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security, wrote in an e-mail that the "minor" risks of long-term underground storage pale in comparison to reprocessing.

"The result of public resistance to underground radioactive waste disposal is what keeps reprocessing alive, even though it is uneconomic and makes the waste disposal problem much worse."

Anna Mehler Paperny



As Canada prepares to bury its nuclear waste deep underground, a similar project that has already cost the United States government billions of dollars and several decades of research is going nowhere fast.

In 1987, Congress chose Yucca Mountain, in what was deemed to be a suitably dry, remote region in the Nevada desert, to bury the country's nuclear waste. Since then, more than $10-billion has been spent researching how to do that so the waste stays away from humans indefinitely.

The project has since run into myriad roadblocks, both political and practical. The State of Nevada has long opposed it, going so far as to take legal action against the federal government. Research found water flowed more quickly through the mountain than thought, raising fears the waste could contaminate groundwater over time.

It didn't help that the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is a Democrat from Nevada who has opposed the plan for years; or that President Barack Obama slashed funding for it in his 2009 budget.

It isn't clear what will happen to the 77,000 tonnes of nuclear waste in the U.S. if the Nevada project doesn't go through. But the federal government has already paid more than $1-billion to utility companies who sued after it failed to make good on a promise to take the companies' nuclear waste starting in 1998.

Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Policy Education Centre, said the project offers a cautionary tale to any other jurisdiction trying to come up with creative ways of disposing of nuclear waste.

"What a disaster - billions of dollars pissed away on nothing."


Cities in consultation on nuclear storage: Bathurst, Edmundston, Fredericton, Whitby, London, Toronto, Brockton, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Quebec City, Trois Rivieres, Montreal, Saint John;

Used fuel storage: Quebec City, Saint John, Whitby, Toronto, Brockton, Ottawa;

Research reactors: Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Trois Rivieres;

Electricity-generating reactors: Ottawa, Quebec City, Saint John, Whitby, Toronto, Brockton.

Special handling: How the waste will be packaged

If they could be stacked like cordwood, all of Canada's used nuclear fuel bundles could fit into six hockey rinks, from the ice surface to the top of the boards.


Making the world less safe, Globe Letters, Gordon Edwards, Friday Aug 28 2009.

So the hunt is on, we're told, for a permanent nuclear waste solution (The Search For A Nuclear Grave-yard - Aug. 25). But the human race has never successfully disposed of anything. The only way to truly get rid of persistent toxic material is to destroy or neutralize it. We can't do either with radioactive waste.

Plans to "dispose" of used nuclear fuel are really motivated by two desires: to solve a nuclear public relations problem so the industry can continue to produce more of this toxic stuff; and to get the irradiated fuel into one centralized location for reprocessing - dissolving it in nitric acid and extracting the small percentage of plutonium that it contains, leaving millions of gallons of high-level liquid radioactive waste behind to deal with.

So geologic disposal is not a plan to make the world safer from nuclear waste. It's just a pretext to give the nuclear industry a chance to expand for centuries to come, making the world less safe by creating horrific security problems through the "plutonium economy" - and making the global radioactive waste problem more intractable.

Gordon Edwards, president, Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.

Making the world less safe, Globe Letters, Gideon Forman, Friday Aug 28 2009.

If we make a mistake with wind power - build too many turbines or place them in the wrong place, say - we can take down the installations and largely be done with it. But nuclear doesn't work that way. Because its waste is poisonous for hundreds of thousands of years, we are never done with it. The harm we're causing is forever.

Gideon Forman, executive director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Nuclear 'waste' is fuel, Globe Letters, Peter Ottensmeyer, Friday Aug 28 2009.

Letter writers Gordon Edwards and Gideon Forman (Making The World Less Safe - Aug. 27) have their heart in the right place with respect to nuclear "waste" but look at an incomplete picture. The current "waste" is 99 per cent fuel that has only been used up to the 1-per-cent level. It needs to be repacked, with no plutonium extraction, to "burn" in fast-neutron reactors.

U.S. fuel pins have burned to 25 per cent in the French Phénix fast reactor, and fuel redesign could raise this to 90 per cent in one pass. At those levels, the fission products that stop the reaction are removed in order to burn the rest - without plutonium extraction.

The fission products contain no long-lived actinides; these are burned as fuel - or, as Mr. Edwards wants, "destroyed" - in those reactors, extensively detoxifying the true waste that's left. That waste can then be disposed of permanently by the use of subduction, the slow natural submersion of the Earth's oceanic bottom plates underneath our continents, inaccessible and well away from our biospheres.

We can extract 100 times more energy from our spent reactor fuel, simultaneously burning the long-lived actinides, then disposing of the remainder. That is a humongous amount of energy from existing "waste." And it is carbon-free.

Peter Ottensmeyer, professor emeritus of medical biophysics, University of Toronto.

My letter to the Globe (not published).

ok Globe and Mail,

You've got a biologist/biochemist, a physicist, and a philosopher/bureaucrat with opinions on nuclear waste, and all of them are credible on the face of it, and they do not agree - it's time for a real debate of this issue on your pages don't you think?

What about Peter Ottensmeyer's statement, 'the fission products contain no long-lived actinides'? Is this true? It is incredible to me, but I am not a physicist - then again, neither is he. We have seen what happens when you try to sweep CO2 under the rug, (or into the skies as the case may be). What happens when you try to sweep nuclear waste under the continent? Can this even be accomplished? I'm not a geologist either.

The human race seems incapable of addressing an issue with a horizon of 50-100 years and it is very likely incapable of addressing an issue with a horizon of thousands of years. But ... you have to start somewhere.

Get on with it and do a proper job - please.

Is this the end of the age of our social cohesion?, Michael Valpy, Sat Aug 29 2009.

Discrepancies in recent poll results may be a symptom of increasing fragmentation in Canadian society, rather than of any fault in the methods of data collection. It is harder to find a representative sample when people actually have less and less in common

From Saturday' s Globe and Mail Last updated on 02:58AM EDT

For eight months, opinion surveys have told Canadians their enthusiasm for their two main national political parties has all the liveliness of a dead cod. Then a few days ago, without anything having happened, a poll placed Stephen Harper and his Conservatives 11 points in the lead.

The Conservatives themselves doubt its accuracy. The pollster, Darrell Bricker of Ipsos-Reid, defends the findings, saying they show the Liberals have no momentum and their Leader, Michael Ignatieff, is a “cipher” whom Canadians do not know.

That presupposes sufficient numbers of Canadians are accessing media where Mr. Harper and Mr. Ignatieff might be expected to appear. It pre-supposes that enough Canadians have sufficient knowledge of national affairs to pass meaningful judgment on what the two parties are doing.

It assumes that out of the fractures – the eroding social cohesion – of Canadian society, the poll bears a message that would actually serve to guide the two parties on how they should serve Canadians' democratic interests.

In True Patriot Love: Four Generations in Search of Canada – Mr. Ignatieff's new book that, like all his books, reads significantly better than his speeches – the Liberal Leader touches eloquently on the need for social cohesion.

“We need a public life in common,” he writes, “some set of reference points and allegiances to give us a way to relate to the strangers among whom we live. Without this feeling of belonging, even if only imagined, we would live in fear and dread of each other. When we can call the strangers citizens, we can feel at home with them and with ourselves.”

And reaching for a codicil from his intellectual hero, he adds: “Isaiah Berlin described this sense of belonging well. He said that to feel at home is to feel that people understand not only what you say, but also what you mean.”

A glorious objective.

Since his book was published in late spring, Mr. Ignatieff has been indicted by media commentators for offering a dearth of glue to bind his fellow citizens together. That should not tarnish the importance of his thesis.

Canadians have a conundrum of a country whose inhabitants, particularly anglophones, demonstrate a higher attachment to their nation than the inhabitants of any other advanced Western nation – says the Ottawa-based Ekos Research – but whose sense of common purpose and belonging together is disintegrating.

According to social scientists who study the issue, Canada is developing a social-cohesion deficit. Too little holds us together, and the potential threat to the democratic conduct of our affairs is cause for concern.

Canadians collectively have not thought seriously about nation-building since the Trudeau just-society era of the 1970s. The politics of consensus once so strongly imprinted on Canadian society have vanished.

At a time when historians are re-interesting themselves in the nation as a cultural notion, as a frame for identity – after a long hiatus when they sought to escape the dead-white-man narratives of political and economic nation-building – Canadian culture shows up with cleavages deep enough to be indecent.

The demographic bloat of baby boomers, more pronounced in Canada than anywhere except Australia, has dragged the country from Yuppiedom to Grumpydom – from young urban professionals to grown-up mature professionals – shifting the public-policy agenda along the way from social equality, human rights and statism to crime worries, security and fiscal retrenchment.

The Canadian median age in 1967 was 26, when Pierre Trudeau was getting ready to lead the country. It is now 43. Thus, not surprisingly, for the first time since Ekos began asking Canadians 15 years ago how they self-identify, a slightly larger number label themselves small-c conservative rather than small-l liberal, reinforcing policy indicators such as declining support for pacifism and a single-payer public health-care system.

The boomers eventually will totter off stage, but the people behind them are cleaved into two significant age-related groups, what Ekos president Frank Graves calls “open cosmopolitans” and “continental conservatives.”

The open cosmopolitans, with an over-representation of Generation X, are extremely receptive to diversity, immigration and the outside world and hold generally progressive views on issues such as foreign policy. The continental conservatives, with an overrepresentation from Generation Y (the under-30s), are comfortable with current government directions and see Canada being more closely drawn into a North American partnership.

There is no identifiable successor group on the radar screen to the vanishing supporters of Pearson-Trudeau progressive statism, in case anyone was hoping.


But there is a deep split between megalopolitan Canada and everywhere else. (Think of a Conservative government with no elected members in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal.)

There is a deep split between those with postsecondary education and those without. Canada has the world's highest proportion of people with postsecondary education.

And there is a marked split between genders. Among current voters, for example, women tend significantly to dislike both Stephen Harper and Mr. Ignatieff. Actually, for the past three years, Canadians as a whole have rarely got beyond mustering tepid interest in the two major parties, a favour the Conservatives and Liberals have returned by offering nothing approximating a national vision.

No mind-map, no soul-map, of Canada.

A nation is an imagined community, wrote the U.S. political scientist Benedict Anderson.

Thought is not private, contrary to what Rodin's statue of The Thinker implies. Thought is predominantly public and social, and therefore a nation is a community of people who understand that those with whom they shop, ride public transit and share the roads and the sidewalks also share values, community knowledge and mythologies.

It is what enables us to talk to one another with some confidence of being not only heard but, as Isaiah Berlin would have it, being understood. It is what enables Canadians to live together with sufficient levels of trust and security and to conduct their democracy more or less under the rubric of having a common purpose and serving the common good.

It is that facility which is in danger of unravelling – without, it should be noted, any rescue being offered by polling, the shotgun substitute for public consultation that politicians and governments have so heavily relied upon.

Polling methodology is breaking up on the rocks. People's increased unwillingness to respond to surveys is making it harder to assemble demographically representative samples and thus meaningful results.

Public cleavage is contributing to polls' debased value as an expression of public will: What public, or how many publics, are we talking about?

And the erosion of shared knowledge is undermining polls – not to mention social cohesion: that fundamental element of Benedict Anderson's imagined community, the information and knowledge that enable citizens to engage in debates and have opinions about what they should be doing together as a society, whether it is university education, health care or garbage pickup.

The central instruments of social cohesion have been the mass media, now being gnawed away at by specialty channels and the Internet, and by new generations who do not feel affiliated (the word communications theorists use) with TV networks or CBC radio or newspapers.

And what appears to be the greatest single impact of digital media is the disappearance of what political scientists call the public space – the very public space that, two centuries ago, newspapers created in Canada.

Prof. Gene Allen of Ryerson University's school of journalism cautions against assuming that mass media created some monolithic national consciousness in the past. “The fact you give someone a message,” he points out, “really doesn't tell you what they're going to do about it.”

Rather, he says, the significance of shared knowledge and its importance to social cohesion is more complex.

Shared knowledge means that equally important to what is said on the nightly newscasts, or what newspapers say, is that so many Canadians can assume that so many other Canadians are watching the same newscasts or reading the same newspapers.

As the U.S. media sociologist James Carey once said, reading a newspaper is like attending mass.


With network ratings and circulations falling farther and farther behind population growth, there remains, says Prof. Allen, “a strong desire among people to know what is socially known … [but] the cohesive core of common information is shrinking.”

The nature of the glue being provided by the new social networking instruments like Facebook and Twitter at this stage isn't known, he says. What may be immediately at peril is the mass-media serendipity of being intellectually challenged and engaged.

“The thing about newspapers is that you always find things you didn't know you were looking for. You come across views that you don't agree with or don't like,” says Christopher Waddell, director of Carleton University's school of journalism. “When you're searching for things on the Internet, I think it's much less likely that you're searching for things that challenge you. You're much more likely to be searching for positive reinforcement.”

The resulting risk, he says, is a polarization of attitudes. People will be less likely to expose themselves to opposing legitimate views.

“Society is always better when someone is trying to undermine your views. And particularly, social cohesion is better, because being challenged forces you to think through why you believe what you believe. It's the stimulus for debate and discussion and a recognition of multiple others.”

Pierre Trudeau once declared that if Canada broke apart, it would be a crime against humanity. What would he say if its citizens become strangers to themselves?

NYT: Marina Silva é 'criança da Amazônia' que abala o Brasil, 29 de agosto de 2009.

Com o título "Uma criança da Amazônia que abalou a política de um País", o jornal New York Times publicou neste sábado um perfil da senadora Marina Silva (AC). O texto contrasta a infância e adolescência da ex-ministra do Meio Ambiente "no coração da Amazônia" com o "ícone do movimento ambientalista" que ela representa hoje.

O artigo também destaca que Marina "abalou a política brasileira" ao anunciar sua saída do Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) e sua filiação ao Partido Verde (PV), no qual poderá ser candidata à Presidência em 2010, e que sua história, "de uma mulher humilde que superou a pobreza extrema e a doença para se tornar uma das maiores forças da política brasileira", poderia ser "uma inspiração para o povo brasileiro em sua busca por um presidente para substituir" Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

O jornal afirma que "se esta mulher vencer, a história será feita", lembrando que o Brasil nunca teve uma presidente mulher e, ainda, com "origens negras".

O artigo do jornalista Alexei Barrionuevo narra a história de Marina, nascida na cidade de Bagaço, no interior do Acre, suas atividades como seringueira ao lado do pai e dos irmãos, e a hepatite que a atingiu seriamente quando tinha 16 anos e que a levou a buscar cuidados médicos na capital do Estado, Rio Branco.

O texto afirma, no entanto, que o passado de Marina com sérios problemas de saúde - além da hepatite, malária e contaminação com metais pesados -, poderia ser usado contra ela pelos adversários políticos em uma provável candidatura presidencial. O artigo destaca ainda o fato de que Marina perdeu a mãe com 11 anos de idade e duas irmãs mais novas por problemas de saúde relacionados a doenças como sarampo e malária.

O artigo conta também a juventude de Marina em Rio Branco, onde cursou a faculdade de História e começou a militar no movimento ambientalista da Amazônia ao lado do sindicalista Chico Mendes, assassinado em 1988.

Para o NY Times, sob o comando de Marina enquanto ministra do Meio Ambiente de Lula desde 2003, o Brasil "engendrou um plano nacional de combate ao desmatamento e criou reservas indígenas do tamanho do Texas". O artigo também cita dados que mostram a queda dos índices de desmatamento entre 2004 e 2007. Marina deixou o cargo de ministra em maio de 2008.

A Child of the Amazon Shakes Up a Nation’s Politics, Alexei Barrionuevo, August 28 2009.

BRASÍLIA - FOR Marina Silva, life began in the heart of the Amazon. From the age of 11, she walked nine miles a day helping her father collect rubber from trees.

These days, as an icon in the environmental movement, she has dedicated her life to protecting that same rainforest.

Illiterate and seriously ill from hepatitis, Ms. Silva left her home when she was 16 and headed by bus to the city of Rio Branco seeking medical care and an education. There she learned how to read and write, graduated from college and became a teacher and a politician.

She worked closely with her friend Chico Mendes, the rubber tapper and environmental activist, before he was gunned down in 1988 by ranchers opposed to his activism. When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was elected Brazil’s president in 2002, he picked Ms. Silva to be his environmental minister, and on her watch Brazil devised a national plan to combat deforestation and created an indigenous reserve roughly the size of Texas.

Last week Ms. Silva shook up Brazilian politics by announcing that, after nearly three decades, she was leaving Mr. da Silva’s Workers’ Party to join the Green Party, where she is likely to be its candidate in next year’s presidential election.

Her story — that of a humble woman who overcame extreme poverty and illness to become a force in Brazilian politics — could prove an inspiration to Brazilians in their search for a president to replace the popular Mr. da Silva, himself a product of humble beginnings, political analysts said.

“Marina is a person that earned her own wings, and it is not surprising to discover that those who have wings can fly,” said Jorge Viana, the former governor of Acre, Ms. Silva’s home state.

Her candidacy would pit her against Dilma Rousseff, President da Silva’s chief of staff and his choice to succeed him. Political analysts say the two women have been at odds since 2003 over the country’s economic development policy, including energy projects that Ms. Silva has questioned for environmental reasons.

Ms. Silva has “shaken up the race, mixed up all the cards,” said David Fleischer, a political science professor at the University of Brasília.

If either woman wins, history will be made. Brazil has never had a woman as president. In addition, the country has never had a black president; Ms. Silva is black.

Ms. Silva resigned as environmental minister last year, after expressing concerns that the government might give in to pressure from business interests to ease off emergency measures she put in place to counteract a jump in Amazon deforestation. She returned to the national Senate, where she continued to press her environmental agenda.

IN an interview here, Ms. Silva, 51, said she grew frustrated with the internal struggle to persuade members of the Workers’ Party to pursue a more sustainable economic development strategy.

“With the opportunity to try to construct this new future for Brazil and for the planet, I prefer to put my hopes in this movement,” she said of her switch to the Green Party.

While many admire her, some political analysts say they believe that Ms. Silva’s past serious health problems could become a political liability in a presidential contest. Hepatitis, malaria and heavy metals contamination have caused her to be hospitalized for long stretches.

Concerns about Ms. Rousseff’s chemotherapy treatment for a melanoma have dogged her in recent months and led some supporters of Mr. da Silva to urge him to back a different candidate for his successor. Brazilians still remember the case of Tancredo Neves, a popular president-elect who became severely ill in 1985 and died before taking office.

Still, Ms. Silva has spent a lifetime proving doubters wrong.

BORN in Seringal Bagaço, a small community of rubber tappers in Acre, Ms. Silva was one of 11 children, three of whom died. The family’s nearest neighbor lived about an hour away on foot through the thick forest. Reaching Rio Branco, about 43 miles away, sometimes took a week during the rainy season, when the family car would get stuck in the muddy road, she said.

Disease was common in the Amazon, and it took its toll on her family. Her mother died when Ms. Silva was 11. Two younger sisters later died with measles and malaria.

At 11, she began working with her father as a rubber tapper. They would typically leave the house at 5 a.m. and return about 12 hours later. To increase the family’s productivity, her father would go to one area of the forest and she and her sisters to another.

To keep her from being robbed or tricked by rubber buyers, her father taught her simple mathematics at an early age, she said.

After Ms. Silva became ill with hepatitis, she resolved to head to Rio Branco to find treatment. She wanted to become a nun and study.

She enrolled in a course for illiterate adults, worked as a maid and soon finished primary school. During vacation breaks, she returned to her father’s home and helped him collect rubber.

She dropped her idea of becoming a nun and entered college, graduating at 26 with a history degree.

While at the university, she joined the Revolutionary Communist Party, a clandestine group working to oppose Brazil’s military dictatorship.

During that period, she met Mr. Mendes, a rubber tapper who organized workers to warn about the dangers of burning and clearing the forest and about the displacement of traditional Amazon communities.

Ms. Silva joined Mr. Mendes’s movement, which involved peaceful demonstrations, and it led her into politics. After being elected a town councilwoman in Rio Branco, she went on to become a state legislator and a federal senator.

With her staunch advocacy of the Amazon, Ms. Silva “was clearly the candidate of the Brazilian environmental movement,” said Steve Schwartzman, the director of tropical forest policy at Environmental Defense Fund in Washington and a longtime friend.

“Marina was part of the movement that made the Amazon and deforestation and the possibility of a different development model a national issue in Brazil in a way it had never been before,” he said.

Her advocacy won her acclaim from international environmental groups around the world, which say that clearing of the forest for Brazilian industries could be affecting global climate change. Although deforestation continues, the rate slowed significantly from 2004 to 2007.

But in May 2008 Ms. Silva resigned her position, blaming “stagnation” within the government on its environmental policy. She had become increasingly isolated in Mr. da Silva’s government over her criticism of some proposed hydroelectric dams and of genetically modified crops.

STILL, most of the policies she set in motion have continued, environmentalists said.

She credited Mr. da Silva, whom she considers a “living hero” along with Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama, for Brazil’s progress on protecting the environment. But she said the government must preserve the advances it had made.

“I was fortunate to achieve some things, but they were far short of what Brazil and the world needs us to do,” she said.

‘Stagnation’ Made Brazil’s Environment Chief Resign, Alexei Barrionuevo, May 16 2008.

RIO de JANEIRO — Marina Silva, the environmental minister who resigned this week, blamed “stagnation” in the government for her decision at a news conference on Thursday and acknowledged that governors in frontline Amazon states were pressing the president to rescind measures intended to check deforestation.

“There were questions from some governors about those measures, and they couldn’t be relaxed,” Ms. Silva said.

“It is crucial that we preserve the advances we have made, it is crucial that we don’t take a step backwards,” she said.

Her resignation on Tuesday shocked the international environmental community, which saw Ms. Silva, a former rubber tapper, as a bulwark against deforestation of the Amazon.

It also surprised the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who came into office in 2003 being hailed as his country’s first “green” president.

Ms. Silva has said she will return to the Brazilian senate, a decision likely to complicate matters for Mr. da Silva, who has struggled to react to the political fallout over a recent spike in Amazon deforestation, the first such increase in three years. In response, the government has restricted credit to those businesses involved in illegal deforestation and initiated a multiagency police operation to crack down on illegal logging.

Nongovernmental organizations were clearly alarmed over the resignation. Greenpeace Brazil called it a “disaster” that clearly demonstrated a “change of posture” in the government.

Despite the timing, Ms. Silva’s departure was not entirely unexpected, however. She had become increasingly isolated in the administration and had lost several political battles to Mr. da Silva. Most notably, she opposed approval of new hydroelectric dams in the Amazon and criticized the president’s biofuels program. She also lost a fight against the planting of genetically modified crops.

In leaving, she underscored the tension between environmental concerns and the powerful agribusiness sector that has been a primary engine of growth in Brazil’s commodity-led economy. On Thursday, Ms. Silva acknowledged to reporters that the governors of the states of Mato Grosso and Rondonia had resisted her agency’s directions. The last straw for her might have come last week when Mr. da Silva designated Roberto Mangabeira Unger, the minister for strategic affairs, to coordinate an Amazon sustainable development initiative instead of Ms. Silva, who had been reared in the tropical rainforest she sought to preserve. Ms. Silva said the president never consulted her about selecting Mr. Unger, a former Harvard law professor who first visited the Amazon last year on a “fact finding” mission.

Some environmentalists expressed concern that without Ms. Silva in the cabinet the da Silva government of would put the economy ahead of protecting the Amazon. “If Lula is buckling or considering buckling from pressure from agribusiness to back off of fighting deforestation it will have a high cost for Brazil’s international reputation,” said Stephan Schwartzman, co-director of the international program at Environmental Defense Fund in Washington.

The record Ms. Silva helped set for Brazil gave Brazil international credibility and allowed Mr. da Silva to become a new player in global climate change talks. “All of the hard-nosed deforestation control initiatives have come out of the environment ministry and have prospered under her leadership,” Mr. Schwartzman said.

They included designating more than 49 million acres of Amazon land for environmental protection over the past five years. And partly through a moratorium on soybean plantings in the Amazon, deforestation levels dropped for two straight years, only to spike late last year after global prices for grains also shot up.

The advances and advocate strategies gave Brazil the credibility to propose that other countries and businesses donate money for deforestation. Norway said it would donate close to $2.8 billion over five years as payment to developing countries that preserve their forests.

While Mr. da Silva publicly supported Ms. Silva’s efforts, she had become a thorn in his side. He grew frustrated with Ibama, the federal environmental protection agency Ms. Silva led, because its technicians refused to issue environmental licenses for large development projects, including badly needed hydroelectric projects, said David Fleischer, a political analyst in Brasilia.

In the middle of last year Mr. da Silva split Ibama into two agencies, separating the environmental protection functions from the issuance of such licenses. Ibama workers went on strike, forcing him to call in specialists from the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank to further study the projects on the Madeira River in Rondonia State, Mr. Fleischer said.

At that point many analysts said Ms. Silva should resign, but she stayed. She said Thursday that the president never was prepared “to give the license, to change the law.”

Now the delicate task of charting the Amazon’s future will fall to her successor Carlos Minc, the state secretary for the environment in Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Minc, 57, is an economist and geography professor who was a founder of Brazil’s Green Party and received a United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honor award in 1990 for being a standout defender of the environment. Mr. Unger, who will also play a role, in an interview vowed to stay away from “extremist” positions. “An environmental policy bereft of an economic strategy is self-defeating,” he said. “We need to establish an intimate link between preservation and growth.”

'Guardian': saída de Marina é maior problema do PT para 2010, Terra, 25 de agosto de 2009.

Um artigo publicado nesta terça-feira pelo site do jornal inglês The Guardian destacou a saída da senadora Marina Silva (AC) do PT como "o maior problema a abalar" a sucessão presidencial no Brasil e a popularidade do presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Na opinião do colunista Conor Foley, Marina era a segunda maior personalidade internacional do PT depois de Lula e sua candidatura à Presidência em 2010 pelo PV pode não sair vitoriosa, "mas fatalmente irá enfraquecer" a candidatura da ministra da Casa Civil, Dilma Roussef.

O colunista também afirma que a candidatura de Dilma, a qual o PT espera que "se contagie com a crescente popularidade internacional de Lula", ainda está atrás dos dois potenciais candidatos do PSDB: o governador de Sâo Paulo, José Serra, e o governador de Minas Gerais, Aécio Neves.

O artigo do jornal inglês, intitulado "Brasil depois de Lula", enumera os "impactos" sofridos pelo PT nas últimas semanas. Entre eles, as acusações de corrupção no Senado contra o presidente José Sarney (PMDB-AP), definido pelo colunista como "o resumo do que muitos brasileiros consideram o pior da política do seu País". O artigo também comenta o fato do PT ter exigido dos seus senadores que apoiassem Sarney, o que provocou a saída de diversos políticos do partido, entre eles Marina Silva.

Na opinião do colunista, Marina representa "uma ligação mais profunda e emocional com as raízes do PT" do que os dissidentes do partido da época do escândalo do mensalão, como a deputada federal Luciana Genro (Psol-RS) e a ex-senadora Heloisa Helena (AL). Neste sentido, destaca dados da biografia de Marina, como o analfabetismo até o início da adolescência, o fato que ela se filiou ao partido junto com o sindicalista Chico Mendes, assassinado no Acre em 1988, e que foi a senadora mulher mais jovem já eleita no Brasil.

Por fim, o colunista conclui afirmando que o PT "sempre foi mais fraco do que o seu carismático líder", mas que a perda de Marina Silva "torna ainda mais difícil para o partido definir o que ele ainda representa".

Brazil's former environment minister leaves ruling party over 'destruction of natural resources', Tom Phillips, Wednesday 19 August 2009.

Marina Silva is expected to make a 2010 presidential bid and put the environment back on the agenda

Rio de Janeiro - Brazil's former environment minister, the rainforest defender Marina Silva, has resigned from the ruling Workers' party, paving the way for a 2010 presidential bid, which supporters hope will put the environment back on the political agenda of South America's largest country.

For weeks speculation has been growing that Silva, who resigned from government last May after a dispute over the development of the Amazon region, would defect to the Green party in order to dispute the presidential elections next October.

Speaking at a press conference in Brasilia earlier today, Silva, who has been a Workers' party member for over 30 years, said politicians had failed to give sufficient attention to the environmental cause.

In her resignation letter to the president of the Workers' party, Silva said her decision was an attempt to break with the idea of "development based on material growth at any cost, with huge gains for a few and perverse results for the majority" including "the destruction of natural resources".

She added that "political conditions" had meant that "environmental concerns had not been able to take route at the heart of the government."

Silva, 51, stopped short of formally announcing a presidential bid but few doubt that she will now front the Green Party's 2010 election campaign.

The Brazilian media has been overtaken with Marina mania since earlier this month when rumours about a possible bid for the presidency began spreading. This week one major news magazine stamped Silva's photograph onto its front-page alongside the headline: "President Marina?"

Writing in the O Globo newspaper yesterday, the influential columnist Zuenir Ventura said Silva could bring a touch of Barack Obama to the Brazilian elections.

"Marina excites young people, those who are disenchanted with the current situation [and] with the Workers' Party … in such a way that she could create a spontaneous and contagious movement within society … as innovative as that which occurred in the US with Obama," he wrote.

Born in an impoverished community of rubber tappers in the remote Amazon state of Acre, Silva was orphaned at 16 and was illiterate until her early teens.

In 1994, aged 35, she was elected as Brazil's youngest ever female senator and subsequently became renowned for her staunch defence of the Amazon rainforest and its inhabitants, winning a succession of international awards for her work. The president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has not so far commented on her resignation.

Brazil after Lula, Conor Foley, Tuesday 25 August 2009.

The popular president's party, rocked by the departure of Marina Silva, will struggle to to maintain its position when he steps down

Last week's resignation from the Brazilian Workers party (PT) by Marina Silva, the country's former environment minister, is only the most high profile of the blows that President Lula's administration has just suffered.

Silva resigned from the government itself last May after a series of disagreements with other ministers, including Lula's chief of staff and chosen successor, Dilma Rousseff. Quitting the party she has belonged to for more than 30 years clears the way for her candidacy in next year's presidential elections for the Greens. She is extremely unlikely to win this but she could fatally weaken Rousseff's own presidential bid.

Rousseff has been gaining in the polls in recent months but still lags behind two potential candidates from PT's main rival the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB): José Serra, the current governor of São Paulo, and Aécio Neves, the governor of Minas Gerais.

Lula is constitutionally required to step down after two terms in office, and PT is hoping that enough of his phenomenal personal popularity will rub off on Rousseff – who cuts a rather dour figure despite her history as a former guerrilla and political prisoner. He has called her the "mother" of his economic development programme and accompanies her constantly at meetings across the country. The Brazilian economy bounced out of recession fast and Lula's international stature is growing, so the strategy might work, but it has hit a number of bumps in the road in recent weeks.

The biggest of these comes in the shape of the current president of the senate and former president of Brazil, José Sarney, who has been the target of repeated allegations of corruption, cronyism and family nepotism. Sarney, who the Economist recently described as a dinosaur, sums up what many Brazilians think is worst about their country's politicians. But his centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement party (PMDB) is a key component of the political alliance PT needs for its presidential campaign.

Lula has exhorted his party to put the equivalent of a clothes peg on its nose and support Sarney. He is also pressing PT to make local pacts with PMDB, which often requires them to stand down their own candidates in places where they have a shot at winning seats. Much of the support that PT historically enjoyed was because of its reputation as a "clean hands" party, so the strategy is causing widespread internal unease.

Last week matters came to a head in a Senate vote when PT's parliamentary leader threatened to quit if his party's representatives on a committee were forced to back Sarney, then didn't when they did. Silva was one of a number of people who resigned from the party in the aftermath of this debacle and many regard it as the worst split that PT has suffered since the mensalão corruption crisis of its first term.

Lula survived that incident and came back to win a second term, convincingly seeing off both the PSDB challenger and two former PT dissidents – from the party's middle-class intellectual wing – who ran against him. However, Silva represents a deeper and more emotional link with PT's roots. Born in an impoverished community of rubber tappers in the remote Amazon state, she was orphaned at 16 and was illiterate until her early teens. She joined PT along with Chico Mendes, the murdered trade unionist and environmental activist who is still venerated as a virtual saint within the party. She became Brazil's youngest ever female senator and won a string of international awards for her defence of the environment and its people. An evangelical Protestant who holds fundamentalist views on a number of social issues, she will nevertheless be a difficult candidate for PT to attack during the election and will pick up a large protest vote from many of its natural supporters.

In the meantime, Rousseff's candidacy has been damaged by an as yet unproved allegation that she ordered a public employee to help cover up corruption allegations in the Sarney case. Her recent battle with cancer has won her public sympathy, but also raised concerns about whether she is strong enough for an arduous campaign – and the job itself. This week rumours began circulating that PT was considering a possible alternative candidate, Antonio Palocci, a former finance minister, who was forced to resign around the time of the mensalao scandal. Palocci is hoping to soon be officially cleared of any wrongdoing. He also has a base of support in São Paulo, Brazil's largest state and the heartland of PSDB's Jose Serra. However, the fact that no one has yet been convicted in relation to this scandal – the biggest in Brazilian political history – makes its legacy potent and swapping candidates this late into the race could prove problematic.

PT's basic difficulty is that the party has always been weaker than its charismatic leader. Lula's decision not to push for a constitutional amendment to allow him to run for another term, as has happened elsewhere in Latin America recently, has undoubtedly strengthened Brazil's still fledgling democracy. But the loss of Silva, who was its best known figure internationally after Lula himself, makes it even harder for the party to define what it still stands for.

PV festeja filiação de Marina Silva em São Paulo, Terra, 30 de agosto de 2009.

Senadora foi ovacionada no evento por representantes do PV e pelo público

A ex-ministra do Meio Ambiente, a senadora Marina Silva (AC), assinou neste domingo o seu termo de filiação ao PV em uma luxuosa cerimônia no bairro de Pinheiros, zona oeste de SP. Centenas de militantes compareceram ao local, lotando o espaço Rosa Rosarum. A ficha de filiação de Marina ao PV foi abonada pela filha de Chico Mendes, Elenira Mendes, pelo presidente do partido, José Luis Penna, pelo secretário do Verde e do Meio Ambiente da cidade de São Paulo, Eduardo Jorge, e pelo deputado federal Fernando Gabeira (RJ).

Entre as lideranças do partido estavam presentes ao evento também o ministro da Cultura Juca Ferreira, o líder do PV na Câmara, deputado José Sarney Filho (MA), e uma deputada do Parlamento Europeu, a francesa Catherine Greeze.

Antes da filiação oficial de Marina, diversos líderes do PV de quase todos os Estados do País realizaram pronunciamentos para o público presente.

O deputado federal Fernando Gabeira criticou o Governo referindo-se aos recentes escândalos de corrupção. "Temos no Brasil um governo moralmente frouxo, um congresso apodrecido e um supremo tribunal em processo de decomposição", afirmou.

As lideranças e os militantes presentes foram recepcionados com uma convenção em clima de festa, com faixas saudando a chegada de Marina e com um farto coquetel.

A senadora é apontada como um dos principais nomes na disputa pela Presidência da República em 2010. Há duas semanas ela anunciou sua saída do Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), no qual esteve vinculada por 30 anos, alegando não encontrar "condições políticas" para avanços na questão ambiental. Sua filiação ao PV é considerada o primeiro passo para uma eventual candidatura presidencial, que ainda não foi oficializada.


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