Monday 31 August 2009

not a blog XII

Up, Down.

Dakota HunterDakota HunterDakota Hunter, Tori YetmanTori YetmanTori YetmanDakota Hunter, Kelly Linklater, Zach Linklater
some wingnut social worker says "we'll try to get the kids some counselling," ... looks to me like these two kids, Dakota Hunter and Tori Yetman and their parents are the ones who should have been/should be giving the counselling, and not to supposedly shell-shocked highscool students either but to the whole damned nation ... the nation of k-k-Canada that is

watch and listen to Tori Yetman's video (2a. below) - this girl is 14 years old! she has poise and presence, she is articulate and clear - man! we sure do need some more of that good energy.

Justice Minister Rob NicholsonJustice Minister Rob NicholsonJustice Minister Rob NicholsonJustice Minister Rob NicholsonJustice Minister Rob NicholsonJustice Minister Rob NicholsonJustice Minister Rob NicholsonJustice Minister Rob NicholsonJustice Minister Rob Nicholson

Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again. (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Bertolt Brecht, 1941 (thanks to Dawg's Blawg)

1. Disowning Canadians abroad, Editorial, Aug 31 2009.
     1a. Robert Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
     1b. Robert Nicholson, MP Niagara Falls, Ontario.
     1c. Stockwell Day, Minister of International Trade.
     1d. Stockwell Day, MP Okanagan-Coquihalla.
     1e. Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety.
     1f. Peter Van Loan, MP York-Simcoe.
     1g. Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence.
     1h. Peter Gordon MacKay, MP Central Nova.
2. Town mourns 'humble' boy's beating death, Patrick White, Aug 31 2009.
     2a. Tori Yetman's Run 2009, YouTube.
     2b. Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (NCN).
     2c. News Video 1, MSN.
     2d. News Video 2, MSN.
     2e. News Video 2, YouTube.
     2f. News Video 3, CBC.
     2g. News Video 4 - Dakota's Story (unfortunately distorted), CBC.
3. Community mourns murder of Manitoba teen, CTV, Aug 30 2009.
4. Pair arrested after Nelson House teen beaten to death, CBC, August 30 2009.

5. Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass, Charles Duhigg, August 22 2009.
6. Syngenta Stands Behind The Safety Of Atrazine, PRLog (corporate press release), Aug 24 2009.
     6a. Syngenta, Syngenta (Wikipedia), Atrazine (Wikipedia).
     6b. Atrazine: legendary marketing of a legendary molecule.
     6c. Atrazine CAS 1912-24-9 Suppliers.
     6d. EC21 Atrazine - 56 Products from 26 Companies.
     6e. What you should know about Atrazine.

7. Beware the harmful consequences of following junk science, Gwyn Morgan, Aug 31 2009.
8. Breathing is better, Letters, Farrah Khan, Sep 01 2009.
9. Great Lakes Rescue, NYT Editorial, August 31 2009.
10. Minc ironiza manifestação do Greenpeace contra pré-sal, Tânia Monteiro, 01/09/2009.
11. Servidores da Funasa morrem intoxicados no interior, Diário do Pará, 04/09/2009.
     11a. Malathion, Carbophos, Maldison, Mercaptothion.

12. The bomber dividing Tomslake, Nathan Vanderklippe, Friday Aug 14 2009.
Tomslake, Mike Graham, Tim Shields     The bomber dividing Tomslake, Nathan Vanderklippe 1.
     The bomber dividing Tomslake, Nathan Vanderklippe 2.
     Worse to come, bomber warns, Ben Gelinas.
     Dawson Creek residents angry at RCMP, John Bermingham.
     Second Letter ($#@!! pdf).
     The Dawson Creek Bombings: Eight months and no leads.
     The Dawson Creek Bombings: Everyone’s a suspect.
     The Dawson Creek Bombings: Are the blasts succeeding?.

Disowning Canadians abroad, Editorial, Aug 31 2009.

The Canadian government's appeal of a court order on the issue of Omar Khadr's repatriation from the United States is weak legally and even weaker morally. There is no serious principle worth defending

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is taking the Canadian government out onto a weak limb, in its appeal of a court order on the issue of Omar Khadr's repatriation from the United States. It is weak legally and even weaker morally. There is no serious principle worth defending.

Here is the victory Ottawa seeks: that the Canadian government can be complicit in the abuse of a Canadian citizen's rights abroad – up to and including torture – without a court ordering that it do its best to bring that citizen home.

Whether the case is winnable is beside the point. Is it really a victory worth fighting for?

Mr. Nicholson might argue that he is upholding his duty as senior legal adviser to the Crown by defending the cabinet's right to undiminished authority in foreign-policy matters. But then, why did Ottawa not defend that right in June, when the Federal Court ordered Canada to repatriate Abousfian Abdelrazik of Montreal, a suspected terrorist who was passportless in Sudan? It accepted the decision, and brought him home.

Similarly, why did it not fight for the principle when the Federal Court ordered Ottawa in March to push U.S. authorities for clemency for the Canadian murderer Ronald Smith, on death row in Montana? It is hard to avoid the inference that the unpopularity of the Khadr family (dubbed “Canada's first family of terrorism”) helped Ottawa discover the will to fight.

Mr. Nicholson says the principle at issue is an alleged “duty to protect” Canadians abroad; he does not accept that such a duty exists. “Protection of whom?” asks his department's legal brief, filed in the Supreme Court. “From what?” The argument is disingenuous. The “duty to protect” arose only after Canadian officials interrogated a Canadian citizen knowing he had just been subjected to 21 days of sleep deprivation at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Federal Court of Appeal suggested those techniques amounted to torture. Mr. Khadr was a minor at the time, and he had no lawyer. Canada then turned over the fruits of this interrogation to his captors.

Think of the potential consequences. Mr. Khadr, now in his early 20s, faces life in jail if found guilty of his alleged crimes, including murder. In these circumstances, Canada exploited his torture. Canada acted as if there were no Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and no Geneva Conventions.

Mr. Nicholson is putting his department's lawyers in a dubious position. They will have to stand up before the Supreme Court of Canada and explain why this country's intelligence officials were willing to countenance sleep deprivation verging on torture, applied to a citizen and a minor. They will then be asked: Should the Canadian courts sit on their hands while the government abuses citizens' rights abroad? And the lawyers will reply that foreign policy is a cabinet prerogative. The Supreme Court may not be very happy with this answer.

The courts should be slow to tell the government what to do in foreign policy. But when a Canadian's rights are abused abroad, more than just foreign policy is at stake; it's also about the basic liberties of Canadians. Consider what happened to Suaad Hagi Mohamud, a citizen jailed in Kenya this summer for allegedly falsifying a Canadian passport. Canadian officials said they had “conclusive” information she had lied. The results (until she established her identity with a DNA test) were horrendous. She became stateless. She was marooned in a distant prison. When Canada acts arbitrarily or abusively toward its citizens, in Canada or abroad, the courts may be the last line of protection.

Canada exposed Mr. Khadr to a risk of lifelong harm by colluding in a major rights abuse. Now it complains of a duty to protect. How about the duty not to do egregious harm? How about the duty to uphold the rule of law?

As Attorney-General, Mr. Nicholson should have the “moral courage to advance unpopular causes,” as the late Ian Scott liked to say. He should not be fighting against the unpopular, for a principle not worth defending.

Town mourns 'humble' boy's beating death, Patrick White, Aug 31 2009.

Manitoba Cree teen inspired his friends

WINNIPEG — Dakota Hunter knew full well the perils of being a good kid in a tough town.

At 17, he was small for his age and had a reputation among his peers as a do-gooder. He raised money for cancer, participated eagerly in Cree ceremonies and belonged to the Lance Runners, a group promoting healing among native communities.

In the northern Manitoba town of Nelson House, 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg, those attributes drew violent taunts. He had enrolled in tae kwon do classes as a defence against his tormentors.

But he was no match for the ones he met early Saturday morning.

At around 4:30 a.m., local teens found the severely beaten young man along a stretch of road in the community of 4,000. Ten days from entering 10th grade, he was pronounced dead at Thompson General Hospital.

The RCMP have charged two 16-year-olds in the homicide.

"I can still see the blood outside my house," said Devon Spence, Mr. Hunter's friend, who heard the commotion that night. "I just thought there were some drunks outside."

Mr. Spence said he often went jogging with the teen and admired the positive things he did for the community despite the prevalence of corrupting influences such a drugs and gangs.

"He always tried to get me away from that bad stuff and told me to work out with him and things like that," Mr. Spence said. "Life won't be the same without him."

Around school, the Grade 9 student was considered "a very quiet, humble boy," said Natalie Tays, principal at Nisichawayasihk Neyo Ohtinwak Collegiate. "He was very shy, but he was always among friends."

Those friends included Tori Yetman, a local teen who holds annual treks to Winnipeg to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. Mr. Hunter accompanied Ms. Yetman on those 850-kilometre trips, helping raise $14,500 this year.

He was also an active member of the Lance Runners, a group that uses running as a way of promoting unity among aboriginal towns.

During the summers, he earned extra money doing yard work.

Mr. Hunter lived in Dog Point, a small cluster of about 30 homes several kilometres from the town centre, and his loss is being felt throughout the close-knit region.

"It's really shaken up the community," Ms. Tays said. "School is just around the corner and we'll try to get the kids some counselling."

Community mourns murder of Manitoba teen, CTV, Aug 30 2009.

It was only a few days ago that Dakota Hunter, a Manitoba teen, celebrated his 17th birthday with friends and family. But on Sunday, the youth's family was mourning the loss of one of their own after a savage beating claimed Hunter's life.

"I was horrified, I was mad I was really upset," said cousin Vince Beardy in an interview with CTV Winnipeg's Shaneen Robinson.

But as the details of the vicious incident spread through the small community of Nelson House, friends and family aren't the only ones who are shocked. Two 16-year-olds from the isolated community, which is located about 80 kilometres west of Thompson, Man., have been charged in the death.

According to police, Hunter was last seen alive on Friday evening with two other teens. But by 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, Hunter had been beaten and left for dead on the side of road.

"What I heard is that they burned his clothes then they tried to burn him," said Beardy. Though he was shy, Hunter was popular, said Beardy. "He was just an all around good kid," he said.

Each year, Hunter volunteered with friends to raise money for cancer research by taking part in a fun run, friends say.

Hunter was also a member of a youth group named the Lance Runners, who are a team of First Nations youths who travel to communities in the area to raise awareness about gangs, violence and drugs.

According to aunt Colleen Hunter, the death represents a larger struggle against violence in Aboriginal communities. While she isn't sure the death is related to gangs, she said the violence needs to stop.

"It's poverty, it's society ... it's peer pressure, it's easy money," she said.

Pair arrested after Nelson House teen beaten to death, CBC, August 30 2009.

Dakota Hunter was found badly beaten early Saturday on the side of a road in the northern Manitoba community of Nelson House First Nation. He died later at Thompson General Hospital, police said.

Police have arrested two teenagers after a teen was beaten to death on Saturday in the remote northern Manitoba community of Nelson House First Nation.

Two suspects from the community, both 16, are in police custody in connection with the death of Dakota Hunter, 17.

Hunter was found badly beaten about 4:30 a.m. CT on Saturday on the side of a community road about 80 kilometres west of Thompson, Man., and rushed to Thompson General Hospital, where he later died. A nurse who attended to Hunter said the boy was beaten "beyond all recognition."

An autopsy is scheduled Monday at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. Formal charges were expected to be laid against the two teens on Sunday.

Hunter's aunt, Colleen Hunter, said the family is in shock and has no idea what prompted the violence against her nephew, who had been bullied in the past. "It's just out of the blue that this incident happened and then, like — our nephew — how did that happen?" she said. "We still have a lot of questions." She said her nephew was a quiet boy who was very involved in his community, which is home to the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation.

Hunter was profiled by CBC News four years ago when he started taking taekwondo lessons to deal with bullies. But after his story aired, his situation changed, the CBC's Mychaylo Prystupa reported. The bullying got worse and Hunter quit martial arts.

Gang violence is a problem in Nelson House, but people close to Hunter said he was not a gang member and found ways to serve his community, such as fundraising, Prystupa reported. Hunter was also a member of the Cree Lance Runners Society, a group whose goal is to build solidarity among members of the Cree nation and eliminate violence within its communities, she said.

The RCMP continue to investigate the beating on the reserve, about 850 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Debating How Much Weed Killer Is Safe in Your Water Glass, Charles Duhigg, August 22 2009.

For decades, farmers, lawn care workers and professional green thumbs have relied on the popular weed killer atrazine to protect their crops, golf courses and manicured lawns.

But atrazine often washes into water supplies and has become among the most common contaminants in American reservoirs and other sources of drinking water.

Now, new research suggests that atrazine may be dangerous at lower concentrations than previously thought. Recent studies suggest that, even at concentrations meeting current federal standards, the chemical may be associated with birth defects, low birth weights and menstrual problems.

Laboratory experiments suggest that when animals are exposed to brief doses of atrazine before birth, they may become more vulnerable to cancer later.

An investigation by The New York Times has found that in some towns, atrazine concentrations in drinking water have spiked, sometimes for longer than a month. But the reports produced by local water systems for residents often fail to reflect those higher concentrations.

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency say Americans are not exposed to unsafe levels of atrazine. They say that current regulations are adequate to protect human health, and that the doses of atrazine coming through people’s taps are safe — even when concentrations jump.

But some scientists and health advocates disagree. They argue that the recent studies offer enough concerns that the government should begin re-examining its regulations. They also say that local water systems — which have primary responsibility for the safety of drinking water — should be forced to monitor atrazine more frequently, in order to detect short-term increases and warn people when they occur.

The E.P.A. has not cautioned pregnant women about the potential risks of atrazine so that they can consider using inexpensive home filtration systems. And though the agency is aware of new research suggesting risks, it will not formally review those studies until next year at the earliest. Federal scientists who have worked on atrazine say the agency has largely shifted its focus to other compounds.

Interviews with local water officials indicate that many of them are unaware that atrazine concentrations have sometimes jumped sharply in their communities. But other officials are concerned. Forty-three water systems in six states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi and Ohio — recently sued atrazine’s manufacturers to force them to pay for removing the chemical from drinking water.

Representatives of the E.P.A. and Syngenta, the company that manufactures most of the atrazine sold, say that current federal standards are based on hundreds of studies showing Americans are safe. In a written statement, the E.P.A. said that it applied large safety buffers in regulating atrazine and continued to monitor emerging science.

“The exposure that the agency allows under its atrazine drinking water regulations is at least 300 to 1,000 times lower than the level where the agency saw health effects in the most sensitive animal species tested,” the statement said. New studies, while raising important issues, do not “suggest a revision to E.P.A.’s current regulatory approach, which has been built on the review and consideration of hundreds of studies, including animal toxicity and human epidemiological studies dealing with atrazine,” the agency said.

Syngenta said the lawsuits were baseless.

But the head of another government agency voiced apprehension. “I’m very concerned about the general population’s exposure to atrazine,” said Linda S. Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. “We don’t really know what these chemicals do to fetuses or prepubescent children.”

“At a minimum, pregnant women should have access to accurate information about what’s in their drinking water,” Dr. Birnbaum added.

Critiques of the E.P.A.

Atrazine is just one example of what critics say are regulatory weaknesses in the protections of America’s drinking water. Health and environmental advocates argue that the laws safeguarding drinking water and policing toxins are insufficient, and that the E.P.A. is often too slow in evaluating emerging risks, not cautious enough and too unwilling to warn the public when health concerns arise.

In January, a Government Accountability Office report said that the E.P.A.’s system for assessing toxic chemicals was broken, and that the agency often failed to gather adequate information on whether chemicals posed health risks.

Forty percent of the nation’s community water systems violated the Safe Drinking Water Act at least once last year, according to a Times analysis of E.P.A. data, and dozens of chemicals have been detected at unsafe levels in drinking water.

In interviews, some E.P.A. officials conceded that they were frustrated by the limitations they face in scrutinizing chemicals like atrazine. An estimated 33 million Americans have been exposed to atrazine through their taps, according to data from water systems nationwide.

“The public believes that the E.P.A. has carefully reviewed all the chemicals that are used and has the authority it needs to deal with risks, but that’s often not the case,” said Erik D. Olson, director of food and consumer product safety at the Pew Charitable Trusts, and a former lawyer at the E.P.A. and for the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works.

“The E.P.A. is working with weak laws, basic research at the agency is often seriously underfunded, and in some cases there’s institutional inertia against change,” he added. “That’s contributed to a sense that the agency is often slow to react to new science showing risks.”

Though the hazards posed by atrazine are far from clear, some scientists and health advocates argue that the chemical deserves special scrutiny because it is so widely used. The European Union, for instance, has banned atrazine as part of a precautionary policy that prohibits pesticides that easily contaminate groundwater. (European regulators did not evaluate the chemical’s health risks.)

Atrazine, which is sold under various brand names including AAtrex, is most commonly used on corn in farming states. But it can also be found on lawns, gardens, parks and golf courses. Sometimes, the only way to avoid atrazine during summer months, when concentrations tend to rise as cropland is sprayed, is by forgoing tap water and relying on bottled water or using a home filtration system.

E.P.A. officials note that anyone using atrazine must complete a short training course and is warned to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants, as well as chemical-resistant gloves and shoes, when spraying. The chemical cannot be applied near lakes, reservoirs or other bodies of water. And local water systems must produce an annual report detailing the highest concentrations of atrazine and other chemicals detected over the previous year.

Some high-ranking E.P.A. officials say there are concerns over atrazine, and that it, among other chemicals, is likely to be closely re-examined by the new E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson.

“Atrazine is obviously very controversial and in widespread use, and it’s one of a number of substances that we’ll be taking a hard look at,” said Stephen A. Owens, who was recently confirmed as the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substances.

He went on: “I can’t say whether the outcome will be any different, but Administrator Jackson has made clear that we need to take a close look at decisions made in the previous administration, and be certain about the science behind those judgments.”

The New Science

Some of the current regulations governing atrazine in drinking water were established in the 1990s. Critics say that science has changed since then — but that the regulations have not.

Recent studies suggest that when adults and fetuses are exposed to even small doses of atrazine, like those allowed under law, they may suffer serious health effects. In particular, some scientists worry that atrazine may be safe during many periods of life but dangerous during brief windows of development, like when a fetus is growing and pregnant women are told to drink lots of water.

“There are short, critical times — like when a fetus’s brain is developing — when chemicals can have disastrous impacts, even in very small concentrations,” said Deborah A. Cory-Slechta, a professor at the University of Rochester in New York who has studied atrazine’s effects on the brain and serves on the E.P.A.’s science advisory board. “The way the E.P.A. tests chemicals can vastly underestimate risks.”

“There’s still a huge amount we don’t know about atrazine,” she added.

In recent years, five epidemiological studies published in peer-reviewed journals have found evidence suggesting that small amounts of atrazine in drinking water, including levels considered safe by federal standards, may be associated with birth defects — including skull and facial malformations and misshapen limbs — as well as low birth weights in newborns and premature births. Defects and premature births are leading causes of infant deaths.

Some of those studies suggest that as atrazine concentrations rise, the incidence of birth defects grows. One study — by researchers at Purdue University, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives — suggests that concentrations as small as 0.1 parts per billion may be associated with low birth weights.

The E.P.A. generally does not require water systems to notify residents unless the yearly average of atrazine in drinking water exceeds 3 parts per billion, and under a determination made earlier this decade, the agency considers one-day exposures of up to 297 parts per billion safe.

Another study suggests that concentrations of atrazine in drinking water below the E.P.A. thresholds may disrupt menstrual cycles.

Many of those studies examined large populations that are already exposed to atrazine and sought to exclude the effects of other contaminants and environmental or health factors. However, such epidemiological studies cannot prove that atrazine causes specific diseases. Definitive scientific proof would probably require unethical experiments, like exposing pregnant women to the chemical in controlled settings. Some research found that other pesticides may have also contributed to health problems.

Agency and Industry Rebuttal

In written statements, the E.P.A. and Syngenta argued there were problems with all of the studies suggesting health risks from low doses of atrazine.

Agency officials pointed out that epidemiological findings cannot fully differentiate between multiple influences, and that they only highlight associations, and do not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship, and that the “E.P.A. has required and extensively reviewed laboratory studies on atrazine and developmental effects.”

“Data from these studies,” the E.P.A. said, “do not suggest that birth defects, small-for-gestational-age, or effects on limb development would occur as a result of exposure to levels of atrazine found in the environment.” Officials added that the agency evaluates all studies as they appear and takes appropriate actions.

Syngenta said in a written statement that “the evidence is overwhelming that atrazine does not cause adverse health effects at levels to which people are normally exposed,” and that “studies have shown that atrazine does not cause birth defects and does not cause reproductive effects.”

But six researchers asked by The Times to review the epidemiological studies said the results were troubling. “These suggest real reasons for concern,” said Melissa Perry, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. “The results need to be replicated, but they suggest there are real questions for policy makers about what constitutes safe levels of atrazine.”

Concerns have also been raised by researchers at the E.P.A. itself. Since 2003, for instance, research published by agency scientists in journals like Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology has shown that when rats are exposed to brief doses of atrazine as fetuses, some experience delayed puberty and their mammary glands change in ways that could make them more vulnerable to cancer later in life.

“The morphological changes we see look similar to those caused by other compounds that make tissue more susceptible to carcinogens,” said Suzanne Fenton, an E.P.A. scientist who has written about atrazine. “This theory hasn’t been tested for atrazine. There’s still a lot that we don’t know.”

E.P.A. and Syngenta representatives said that experiments showing changes in rats used higher doses than found in drinking water and that those studies did not provide the scientific confidence required for regulation. Outside scientists, in interviews, said other research suggested that similar effects could be observed at lower doses.

Dr. Fenton says she is no longer working on atrazine. Other E.P.A. employees also said they had been encouraged to redirect their energies to other chemicals, because of insufficient resources and competing priorities.

E.P.A. officials said that other researchers were currently working on atrazine and that the agency intended to convene a panel by 2011 to evaluate epidemiological and other studies.

Below the Radar

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act was created, in part, with cities like Piqua, Ohio, in mind. A town of 20,500, it has its own water system, and thanks to federal right-to-know laws created to warn residents about chemicals in their drinking water, Piqua’s officials must test for atrazine and other substances and inform people of the highest concentrations detected.

But when spikes in atrazine occur in Piqua and elsewhere, residents often do not learn of them, a review of E.P.A. and state data shows.

Since local water systems test for atrazine as infrequently as once a year, the E.P.A. has required that the companies manufacturing the chemical, primarily Syngenta, monitor the drinking water of a sample of towns — as many as 154 communities — as often as once a week. The companies submit that data to federal officials. The E.P.A. says those tests indicate that few towns have violated Safe Drinking Water limits for atrazine.

However, a Times review of Syngenta’s data shows that some communities had large spikes of atrazine in their drinking water, sometimes for months at a time. But residents were not warned.

For instance, in April 2005, the drinking water in Piqua contained atrazine concentrations of 59.57 parts per billion. The residents of Piqua were also exposed to elevated concentrations of atrazine in 2004 and 2007. Data shows similar patterns in dozens of other cities, like Versailles, Ind., and Evansville, Ill.

But the people of Piqua never learned about those spikes from local water officials or the E.P.A. City officials test for atrazine only once a month in the spring, and the annual report sent to residents in 2005 said the highest level of atrazine detected was only 11.6 parts per billion — 80 percent lower than the peak measured by Syngenta. Residents were also not told when peaks had occurred or how long they lasted or whether there were multiple spikes.

Syngenta said the company regularly provided city officials with testing results. Piqua officials were largely unaware of or did not use those notifications.

“I didn’t know that we got any information about atrazine besides our own testing,” said Frederick E. Enderle, Piqua’s city manager since 2005. “I’m not even sure what we would do with it.”

Some residents are angry.

“This makes my blood boil,” said Jeff Lange, a Piqua resident and environmental activist. “I have friends and family drinking this water. How are pregnant women or sick people supposed to know when to avoid it?”

Drinking water experts say atrazine spikes most likely occur in many other towns that are not monitored by Syngenta. In those areas, there is essentially no way for residents or officials to monitor how high levels go.

E.P.A. officials said that under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the data collected by third parties, like Syngenta, did not fall under right-to-know provisions and that Piqua was required only to notify residents based on the city’s testing.

But residents, including Mr. Lange, said Syngenta’s findings should have at least prompted the city to test more frequently, or led the E.P.A. to tell the city to change its testing schedule.

E.P.A. officials also said they do not believe that atrazine spikes like those in Piqua are dangerous. “A one-time reading of 59 parts per billion in finished water does not pose a risk to human health,” the agency wrote.

However, studies like the one at Purdue suggest there are health risks at much smaller concentrations, and other studies suggest those risks rise as exposures grow.

Critics contend that atrazine is just one of the many chemicals the E.P.A. has not regulated with sufficient caution.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, is expected to release a report on Monday saying that weak E.P.A. regulation of atrazine poses risks to humans and the environment. Other organizations have made similar charges about a variety of chemicals, including fuel additives, dry cleaning and manufacturing solvents, and industrial waste dumped into water supplies.

“There’s pretty broad consensus that the laws regarding toxic substances need to be modernized and overhauled, and that the E.P.A. needs more resources,” said Mr. Olson of Pew, who added that the agency’s new leadership had begun addressing many issues.

“But in the meantime, people are getting exposed to dangerous chemicals,” Mr. Olson said. “And the E.P.A. isn’t responding swiftly enough.”

Syngenta Stands Behind The Safety Of Atrazine, PRLog (corporate press release), Aug 24 2009.

Crop protection products play a crucial role in bringing abundant and affordable food to our dinner tables

Forty percent of the world’s food supply would not exist without products like atrazine.
• Atrazine is one of the best studied herbicides available today.
• Atrazine helps farmers grow crops sustainably.

Crop protection products play a crucial role in bringing abundant and affordable food to our dinner tables. Forty percent of the world’s food supply would not exist without products like atrazine, a herbicide that helps farmers fight weeds in their corn, sorghum and sugar cane crops.

After 50 years of use, growers have come to rely on atrazine. It is a mainstay of American agriculture. And it is one of the best studied herbicides available today. Safety reviews around the world by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), World Health Organization, Canada, Australia and the UK have all come to the same science-based conclusion—atrazine, as labeled, can and has been used safely.

Atrazine is a critical tool for use in conservation tillage and no-till systems—farming methods that eliminate plowing and/or reduce tillage. Conservation tillage makes cropland much less vulnerable to soil erosion, which is reduced by as much as 90 percent when compared to intensive tillage. When soil erosion is prevented, so is the runoff into our waterways of sediment—identified by EPA as the top pollutant in US streams and rivers.

Farmers would not use a product that puts their own families and communities at risk, and after half a century, who would know better? Today, in part because of atrazine, farmers are able to grow more corn than ever, using environmentally sustainable methods. That means more food to feed a growing population.

Syngenta is a responsible company which takes the stewardship of all our products seriously—and atrazine is no exception. We’ve gone above and beyond the extensive studies required to register this product to ensure its safe and effective use. And as with all crop protection products, wide margins of safety exist with atrazine.

It’s easy to believe fear-provoking claims about our nation’s water when all the data and facts aren’t presented. Let’s be clear – water systems in the U.S. are safe where atrazine is concerned. Over the last three years, no water systems in the U.S. had atrazine levels in their drinking water that exceeded legal limits.

Syngenta is doing its part to ensure agriculture’s sustainable use of our water supplies. Agriculture cannot exist without water, and Syngenta is at the forefront of research in drought-tolerant crops and inputs. Examples include drought-resistant maize and sunflower and a variety of sugar beet that can grow in tropical climates. We educate farmers and landowners across the globe on the use of best management practices to improve land management and protect water quality. To learn more about what Syngenta is doing in the critical area of water protection, please visit: ...

With 7,000 employees and their families living in communities across the United States, all of us at Syngenta are interested in seeing that atrazine is properly regulated in the water we drink. We are convinced that it is. We stand firmly behind the safety of atrazine.

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Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

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Beware the harmful consequences of following junk science, Gwyn Morgan, Aug 31 2009.

'My global "junk science" award goes to the myriad environmental groups and associated acolytes united in opposition to genetically modified foods'

The man who removes the moss from our lawn after the West Coast's winter rainy season was depressed and bewildered. After spending decades building his clientele and practising his trade in the most careful and responsible manner, he is being legislated out of business. The Canadian Cancer Society is calling for a B.C.-wide ban on the sale of weed killers and insecticides for "non-agricultural" use. Several B.C. municipalities already prohibit the use of such products, even to the point where the bits of vinegar our lawn guy puts on our patches of paving-stone moss are considered a public danger.

Here in Victoria, many of the city's signature cherry trees will go through a slow and ugly death from blight because of the banning of a product that could safely protect them. It also means ferns, dogwood and other native species will be defenceless as they are overrun by introduced foreign invaders. The cancer society bases its campaign on the claim that weed killers such as Roundup and insecticides such as Raid may be linked to certain types of cancer. Yet the medical evidence is scant. One study found that men working in pesticide manufacturing plants had a slightly elevated frequency of prostate cancer, but several other studies found no relationship between pesticides and cancer. Some studies have suggested that farmers who use large amounts of weed killer may have an increased risk of lymphoma, but a large U.S. study found the difference to be a statistically insignificant.

Those who defend such knee-jerk public policy actions often cite the "precautionary principle." But if believing in junk science means people are to be driven out of business and public landscapes are to be left unprotected from blights and invasive species, and if home gardeners are forbidden from using the latest and best products, what is "precautionary" about that?

Unfortunately, junk science is a widespread disease. Environmental activists are generally against so-called chemical fertilizers. But what makes manure and compost more virtuous than nitrogen and potassium fertilizers?

Let's start with nitrogen. The scientific fact is that the soil doesn't know the difference between nitrogen sources, as long as it gets enough. Potassium fertilizers are made from a naturally occurring mineral called potash and, here again, the soil doesn't care where it comes from. While organic products are generally very safe, there is no doubt that the raw animal waste sometimes used as fertilizer carries a higher consumer and groundwater pathogen risk. On the other hand, the composting often used in organic gardening has a positive impact on soil stability and water retention.

If soil science doesn't make organic food a superior choice, what about the claims of nutritional superiority? A recent large-scale U.S. study found no discernible difference. Organic foods cost more because they are more labour-intensive, and yields per arable hectare are lower than conventional farming.

The plain fact is that organic food consumption is a feel-good indulgence for those willing and able to pay a premium, but organic farming methods could never begin to feed every Canadian, let alone the world's population.

My global "junk science" award goes to the myriad environmental groups and associated acolytes united in opposition to genetically modified foods (GM foods), or as they have labelled them, "frankenfoods." Policy makers in Europe have reacted by banning domestic production or importation of GM foods. This despite the fact that there are no credible studies showing negative impacts from consuming GM foods, and there isn't even a plausible scientific theory as to why there would be.

Most of the grains, fruits and vegetables that make up modern diets are vastly different than their ancient ancestors. Humans have continuously cross-bred food plants in search of higher yields, improved taste, better nutrition and disease resistance. An important Canadian example is canola; traditional "genetic modification" methods transformed the bitter rapeseed into a healthy and tasty oilseed.

Astounding progress in identifying the genetic building blocks of organisms has accelerated the long and arduous genetic modification process, offering huge potential leaps forward in the increasingly urgent search for higher yielding and more nutritious crops to feed a hungry world. Erosion caused by denuding natural vegetation, groundwater depletion and biological runoff make agricultural production the most damaging human endeavour to our planet's soil, water and aquatic life. GM foods research shows promise of making a big difference.

Seed crops that lower fertilizer requirements and need less water are already a reality. Agra-giant Monsanto has developed an herbicide-resistant seed grain that eliminates the need for fallow tillage to control weeds, thereby reducing water needs, air emissions and soil erosion. This is only one of the GM foods advances made by this innovative and research-intensive company, yet the frankenfood crowd's propaganda has portrayed Monsanto as an environment-destroying corporate pariah.

And so we come full circle in the great farm and garden junk science game, from British Columbia's well-meaning but scientifically illiterate municipal councillors, to the Canadian Cancer Society's campaign against weed and bug killers, to the organic industry's self-serving claim of environmental and nutritional superiority, to the GM foods-opposing frankenfood crowd. It's hard to find evidence that supports any of these claims, but it isn't hard to see the harmful consequences these misguided policies can, and do, have.

Gwyn Morgan is the retired founding CEO of EnCana Corp.

Breathing is better, Letters, Farrah Khan, Sep 01 2009.

Toronto — When it comes to protecting my health, I'm inclined to put my trust in the Canadian Cancer Society and not the chemical industry (Beware The Harmful Consequences Of Following Junk Science - Report on Business, Aug 31). While pesticide manufacturers are motivated by making a buck, health and environment groups have our best interests in mind.

Simply put, pesticides are designed to kill. Should we allow the companies that produce these poisons to write our laws or should we leave it up to the real experts - doctors, nurses and other health professionals - to look out for our us? I urge B.C. to ban lawn and garden pesticides. With such legislation in place, we will all breathe easier.

Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment,

Great Lakes Rescue, NYT Editorial, August 31 2009.

Barack Obama, of Illinois, is the first president since Michigan’s Gerald Ford to come from a heartland state that depends heavily on the Great Lakes for its economic well-being. Hopes have thus been raised that the Great Lakes will at last get the help they need.

The Clean Water Act of 1972 did much to stop direct discharges from industries and municipal sewage systems. But the lakes still suffer — from lingering industrial pollution, toxics like mercury, deteriorating wetlands and, more recently, invasive species that have devastated the fishing industry and fouled shorelines.

In response, the Environmental Protection Agency will soon roll out recovery programs known collectively as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. In June, the House gave the program the entire $475 million the White House wanted. The Senate should do likewise.

This is a small down payment on a project that could ultimately cost $20 billion. But it is an important start that will be administered by one agency, the E.P.A., in an effort to avoid the scattershot funding that undermined earlier restoration efforts.

Many of the tasks that lie ahead are easily identified, and some are “shovel-ready,” awaiting only an infusion of federal energy and money. But nobody has found the answer to what has become the lakes’ biggest and most complex enemy — the invasive species.

The worst is the quagga mussel, a fingernail-sized shellfish that made its way to the lakes on an ocean freighter. First documented in Lake Erie in 1989, these tiny creatures now carpet the lake floor and filter out the tiny organisms at the bottom of the food chain with such efficiency that there is little left for bigger fish. Species vital to local economies — like salmon and whitefish — are disappearing. Recreational fishing in Lake Huron has nearly collapsed. Lake Michigan could be next.

The hope is that a truce of sorts can someday be reached between native species and the exotics. But that will not happen unless new invasions stop — which will require sterilizing the ballast of overseas freighters or, possibly, closing the lakes to foreign shipping.

That would be a radical step, but not irrational. It seems increasingly clear that the economic damage from exotic species outweighs the benefits of allowing polluting ocean ships into the Great Lakes.

Minc ironiza manifestação do Greenpeace contra pré-sal, Tânia Monteiro, 01/09/2009.

O ministro do Meio Ambiente, Carlos Minc, ironizou a manifestação da ONG Greenpeace, durante a apresentação do marco regulatório para exploração do pré-sal. Membros da ONG permaneceram durante todo o discurso do presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva com uma faixa advertindo para os problemas de poluição que o pré-sal pode provocar. No início do discurso do presidente da Câmara, deputado Michel Temer (PMDB-SP), dois integrantes subiram ao palco e conseguiram esticar uma faixa de cerca de 2,5 metros que dizia: "Pré-sal e poluição. Não dá para falar de um sem falar do outro".

"No meu tempo era mais bonitinho, mais impactante (as manifestações). Hoje, foi tudo muito comportadinho", declarou o ministro, ressalvando, no entanto, que é importante que se esteja atento às questões que afetam o meio ambiente, porque "o petróleo tem grande impacto ambiental". O ministro comemorou ainda a decisão do presidente Lula de incluir no fundo social a aplicação de recursos provenientes do pré-sal também na área ambiental. "Eu pedi e o presidente endossou. Foi uma grande vitória", disse.

Servidores da Funasa morrem intoxicados no interior, Diário do Pará, 04/09/2009.

O trabalho de combate à malária, realizado ao longo de muitos anos por funcionários da Fundação Nacional de Saúde (Funasa), em diversos municípios do interior da Amazônia, ainda hoje traz consequências graves a esses trabalhadores.

Na semana passada, dois funcionários do órgão federal morreram em decorrência de intoxicação por causa dos anos que trabalharam com os compostos DDT e malathion, que atualmente tem sua venda, estocagem e distribuição proibida por lei federal.

A primeira vítima foi Damião Cosme da Silva, que morreu no dia 24 de agosto em uma área de garimpo, a 7 quilômetros de Itaituba, sudoeste paraense.

Além dele, José de Jesus da Silva morreu dia 27, em Altamira, no sudoeste do Estado. Os corpos já foram sepultados nos respectivos municípios.

De acordo com Francisca Campos, coordenadora geral do Sindicato dos Trabalhadores do Serviço Público Federal no Pará (Sintfep-PA), essa não é a primeira morte registrada em decorrência do trabalho que esses servidores realizaram ao longo dos anos.

O DDT e o malathion eram usados em bombas de borrifação para matar insetos, principalmente os transmissores da malária e febre amarela.

O sindicato diz que a Funasa não estaria cumprindo com a obrigação de dar assistência aos servidores que hoje sofrem as consequências da longa exposição a esses produtos químicos.

"Há uma decisão judicial que obriga a Funasa a cuidar desses companheiros, mas ela vem sendo negligente. Na época em que começaram a usar esses produtos, não deram orientação nenhuma de que eram venenos perigosos", afirma Francisca Campos.

A reportagem tentou entrar em contato com a Funasa no final da noite de ontem, mas ninguém foi localizado para falar sobre o assunto.

The bomber dividing Tomslake, Nathan Vanderklippe, Friday Aug 14 2009.

Feelings toward the EnCana blasts are split in Tomslake, B.C. Some residents welcome the industry's influx of wealth, while others quietly support the person responsible for six explosions since October.

TOMSLAKE, B.C. - Bill Mazanek will not soon forget the time, two years ago, when his peaceful ranch in northeastern British Columbia turned into a little slice of Texas.

He could walk to his front yard and see six drilling rigs and a dozen natural-gas flares, their flames licking high into the sky. When the wind wasn't blowing, the air bore a metallic tang.

“Have you ever been to a welding shop when everybody's quit welding? There's still that little taste in the air,” he said. “That's what it would be like first thing in the morning.”

Mr. Mazanek's home was in the throes of a huge transformation. Tomslake, his community of 375 households, was no longer the backwoods cattle-and-canola country it had long been.

It began in 2003, when EnCana Corp., a Calgary-based oil and gas company, announced a record-breaking $500-million purchase of 200,000 hectares – about one-third the size of PEI. The rest of the industry flocked to the area, and drilled hundreds of wells, many near Tomslake. In the past six years, EnCana alone has drilled 185.

Mr. Mazanek loves it. As the local fire chief, he is the closest Tomslake has to a mayor, and he has made his own 461 acres of land a welcome mat for industry. Thirteen wells have been drilled on his ranch; nine more are in the works.

The smell worried him, though, so he had an air-quality monitor installed at the fire hall, to test for anything that could be dangerous.

“It's never tripped,” he said. “So far, everything's hunky-dory.”

But as anyone here will tell you, it's no longer the air they're worried about. It's everything else – including their lives.

Not everyone likes the oil and gas industry, which has brought clouds of dust, a barrage of noise, and the threat of deadly sour-gas leaks to a once-tranquil part of the country. Some murmured their displeasure, some fought the gas companies in court.

Almost no one noticed.

Then, last October, local news outlets received an anonymous letter that demanded the “terrorists” of industry pack up and leave. Two days later, a blast damaged a sour-gas pipeline in the area. In the following 10 months, five more blasts followed. RCMP labelled the bomber a “terrorist” who was attacking critical energy infrastructure and endangering lives.

The country took notice. And Mr. Mazanek grew angry.

“I believe in vigilante justice. There's a whole bunch of us that do. Our necks are kind of red down here,” he said. “I wish I knew where the bomber was from, believe me. He would be in one of my muskeg holes.”

But in Tomslake, not everyone agrees.

On a warm summer evening, a steady stream of cars trickled onto the gravel parking lot at the old Tomslake Community Cultural Association hall.

Inside, 30 people gathered. Farmers wearing mesh ball caps and plaid shirts sat next to women in Gap sweatshirts. They are Rural Crime Watch volunteers. Many have dedicated unpaid hours to patrol local roads to find the bomber.

They listened as RCMP Staff Sergeant Stephen Grant outlined his plans to catch whoever is responsible, which includes a new temporary detachment in Tomslake. This crowd has a personal stake in putting the bomber behind bars, and many were happy to hear it. Their meeting fell on the same day police revealed the contents of a second anonymous letter from the person they believe to be the bomber, who warned that if EnCana did not begin to pull back from the area in three months, “things will get a lot worse.”

Then a woman raised her hand to speak. She feels differently. She has watched natural-gas wells form an unwanted perimeter around her land, company helicopters spook her cattle, and equipment shatter the silence on a road to her home that, in the past, rarely saw more than a vehicle a week.

She wants the industry gone.

“The bomber is at least giving us a bit of a voice,” she said.

Staff Sgt. Grant, commander of the detachment at Dawson Creek, 30 kilometres to the northeast, has heard this before. While the explosions could easily kill someone, there are plenty who feel more sympathy for the bomber than the infrastructure he or she has damaged.

“This person would like to think they're Robin Hood,” he said. “But they're endangering the people that live here.”

The regular morning crowd at the Dawson Creek Tim Hortons rises early, and sips coffee late. Pulp workers, businessmen and pipeliners, they have a lot to say about the energy industry, especially the evils of what John Miller calls “the flipping oil field mentality.”

Mr. Miller, a welder and long-time resident, outlined the many ways the industry has shown disregard for long-established community protocols. The oil and gas companies take too long to pay their bills. Their semis dangerously speed down local highways. Their pickup trucks block driveways. They fly up high-powered lawyers to fight ranchers looking for small increases in land access fees. “Their attitude, it stinks,” Mr. Miller said.

Sitting next to him, Fred Lumnitzer, a construction worker, pointed to EnCana as the worst offender. “They remind me of a sandbox where all the kids are playing and a bully comes along and says, ‘I'm going to play with that truck,'” Mr. Lumnitzer said.

Both he and Mr. Miller know the industry has brought new wealth. Houses have tripled in value in the past decade. The roads are full of shiny pickups. The recession has skipped over this place.

EnCana has worked diligently to win local hearts. It began a Courtesy Matters campaign, aimed at making the company more responsive to complaints about traffic, noise and garbage. Its most visible presence in the community is its large logo on the Dawson Creek EnCana Events Centre, an arena and swimming-pool complex it sponsored.

“With the vast majority of our relations with surface land owners and stakeholders, we work through the challenges and their concerns,” said company spokesman Alan Boras. “And a measure of that is in the probably 200 leases that we have in place up there: Only two have gone to mediation or third-party arbitration.”

The company also offered a $1-million reward for information leading to the bomber's capture.

Still, mistrust of EnCana runs deep. Mr. Lumnitzer and many others see the bomber as a vandal attacking the companies that have damaged the area. They refuse to call the bomber a terrorist – they say they don't feel terrorized, and don't believe he is out to hurt anyone.

But if the bombs don't much frighten the Tim Hortons crowd, they've cast a tremor through many in the community who live near the energy infrastructure – and especially among those work in it.

“If the idiot keeps going, somebody's going to get hurt or killed,” said one EnCana employee, worried he would lose his job if he were identified. A well-placed hit on one of the many natural-gas compressor stations in the area would “be like a little atomic bomb,” the employee said.

Doug Harper got a preview of what that might look like when, early on July 4, his usually calm neighbour banged on his door, looking terrified. Not far from Mr. Harper's house, a huge explosion had ripped through the night followed by the sound of natural gas roaring into the air. “I went out practically undressed,” he said. “I told my wife, ‘Jesus Christ! Get a move on! Let's go or we'll die!'”

The explosion, set on a pipeline, was the bomber's sixth. It was set just 500 metres from where crews were working to fix the fifth explosion.

Mr. Harper, whose ancestors were among the first to settle the area, acknowledges that industry has damaged the landscape. Some of his favourite grouse-hunting trails have vanished beneath oil and gas roads, and his 194 hectares are no longer as peaceful as they once were.

But he has little but praise for EnCana. One snow-heavy winter, the company dispatched a bulldozer to help clear his driveway, unprompted, and at no charge. In summer, when the dust starts to build on nearby gravel roads, he places a call and the company sends someone to water the road.

“They do really make an effort,” he said. “Although there's a lot of people that have resentment towards them, I think they really try to be a good corporate citizen.”

The disturbance is the price to pay for a society that depends on hydrocarbons, he said. And while he doesn't have a well on his land, he wishes he did.

Tomslake is filled, said Mr. Mazanek, with a silent majority that has tallied the gains and losses of natural-gas production, and come out in favour of industry. He is one of them.

Where others protest, Mr. Mazanek profits. He has signed contracts with companies such as EnCana to bulldoze land for roads and wells. He grinds straw, erects fences, digs water dugouts – and pulls in good margins on it all.

Agriculture, once the lifeblood of this area, is dying. Mr. Mazanek has sold all but 16 of a cattle herd that once numbered 165. “It's just not worth it,” he said.

Now he makes $4,000 a year to lease out land for a single 1,600-square-metre oil lease.

“My great- great- great-grandkids could farm that sucker, and they aren't going to make that much,” he said.

Industry, he concluded, arrived just in time.

“Not all of us are against the oil companies,” he said. “To the ranchers and farmers that have oil and gas on their land, it's a lifeline.”



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