Sunday 1 November 2009

mixed-up confusion ... XXIX

Up, Down.

aka DDST - Damned Daylight Saving Time!
aka some good lookin' hombres - ambiguous, but good lookin'

Daylight Saving TimeDaylight Saving Timethey say that Daylight Saving Time saves energy - it doesn't, they say it improves public safety - it doesn't, the only benefit is to retail commerce, particularly fast food apparently, a good reason to move to Saskatchewan (although it is not Standard Time there, rather a permanent DST, but at least it does not change), or Dawson Creek or Creston B.C (who knew about Creston?) - what it is, this Daylight Saving Time, is mousy magotty bureaucrats trying to mess with eternity (be damned to them!)

Once upon a time, not in my time nor in your time but in a time long before, ...
Northrop Frye muses about time, so does Charles Taylor, so do I, Matthew Arnold's 'Sea of Faith' could equally be a 'Sea of Time' do you think?
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

and from Allen Ginsberg's Howl:

who threw their watches off the roof to cast their ballot
          for Eternity outside of Time, & alarm clocks
          fell on their heads every day for the next decade,

but let's get to the 'hombres' ... first of all, Paul Pritchard, who says himself that he would rather have intervened, got that right, I sometimes wake in the night thinking of old sins, wishing I had acted differently, and I would not be surprised to know that Paul Pritchard & Sima Ashrafinia do the same, that said, he was there because of some family need, a sick father? I can't just remember, that and his perseverence in the face of the RCMP,
Paul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul PritchardPaul Pritchard
if you read Terry Milewski with attention you will see why CBC is so deeply lost, he says, "Can you blame us, in our business, if we sometimes look down on so-called 'citizen journalists'?" well, yes Terry, I for one do blame you, hahahahaha, and Milewski is one of the best they have left, Rick Salutin has got it half right, it is not 'weak attention spans' it is short attention spans and weak attention but ok, if k-k-Canada ever comes clean on its complacency, Peter Mansbridge's face will be the Big Brother we are taught to love on the Thought Police's telescreen

Alan McHughenAlan McHughenAlan McHughenAlan McHughena witty and arrogant and dangerous and vain fellow is this Alan McHughen (and here), on the one hand he sends packets of GM flax, Triffids, out to farmers with the careful instruction not to plant them (doh!) and has little to say about the resulting infection, on the other he seems to come down on the side of Ignacio Chapela (below) in the Mexican maize imbroglio, and on the other hand seems to be against GM labelling for reasons which may have to do with his funding, so, ambiguous ... and another bit of ambiguity, the Globe reports that, "The CFIA declined an interview request," on their website, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency CFIA has a 'contact us' button which I pressed to ask why? and I was emailed a list of telephone numbers ... which I have not called ... ambiguity on all sides ...

nothing ambiguous about The Bivings Group though, Bivings:GMOs = Hawthorn:Coal ... but then sucked-out old hippies depend on simple symmetries eh? A:B=C:D, sometimes lightly more subtle means & extremes A:B=B:C but fucked eh? totally ... the only young lawyer I know has some gumption I think, but he is so young, mention the RCMP and he blurts out that he would never defend those creeps ... except that the problem is bigger than the RCMP creeps, the RCMP don't have to be creeps (but I am slightly drunk and tired and I can't be bothered to take him up and I go home)

Corn, MaizeCorn, MaizeCorn, Maize

the details of the Mexican Maize Mess (Milo & Minderbinder Enterprises?) are all over the web, here's one article: The Case of Mexican Maize, Johannes Wirz, Dec. 8 2002, Chapella calls it 'introgression' which sounds about right I guess ...
Ignacio ChapelaIgnacio ChapelaIgnacio ChapelaIgnacio ChapelaIgnacio ChapelaIgnacio ChapelaIgnacio ChapelaIgnacio Chapela, David+QuistDavid+Quist
subsequent events have unambiguously (relatively) vindicated Ignacio Chapela & David Quist and their research

Irina Ermakovabut why does the story of Ermakova Irina Vladimirovna aka Irina Ermakova feel like cold fusion? why has no one simply reduplicated her experiments? instead there is a debate carried on by a host of pundits - you can start here if you like, but the thing is so full of mis-spellings that I can't credit it at all, there is also a controversy reported in Nature Biotechnology by Andrew Marshall: GM soybeans and health safety — a controversy reexamined, I can't make sense of it, why does someone not simply reduplicate the experiment? isn't that the 'Scientific Method'?

Perola NegraPerola NegraDiscoteca Helpthe phrase 'pérola negra'/black pearl conjures me, 'encantar'/to delight, charm, bewitch, 'feitiço & feitiçaria'/enchantment ... all very trite & obvious, the girl on the right calls herself Pérola Negra and advertises: "Localizada no Rio de Janeiro, Atendimento em Hotel, Motel e Residência, Atendo a Cavelheiros, Damas, Casais e faço festinha com minhas amigas," with a telephone number, Discoteca Help has finally closed its doors, bourgeois correctitude can appear to appear ... here's something, amnesty for illegal immigrants, last one was in 1998, not so long ago, I wish I had known, hahaha, it's always been like that with me, I have this tendency to obey and it has fucked me again and again ...

so I consult my oracle looking for a muse, and there too find ambiguity & ambivalence:
Pérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola NegraPérola Negra

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we do not know we don’t know.
     US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 2002.

confusion then? or just stupidity? ... dunno

Greenpeace Sagrada Familia BarcelonaGreenpeace Sagrada Familia Barcelonaand, oh yeah, the last round (or square as the case may be) of negotiations before Copenhagen is happening this week in Barcelona, looks like Jim Prentice is not a man of his word (as well as a wanker), here, & here, lame ... who cares? penultimate words for Al Gore in an interview with Spiegel: 1 - 'I Am Optimistic', 2 - 'It Is Realistic to Expect a Treaty'.

and for Lester Brown who is optimistic too: Three Models of Social Change ...

but I am not ...

Strike another match, go start anew, 'cause it's all over now, Baby Blue.

1-1. Paul Pritchard, Citizen Journalist, Terry Milewski, Oct. 29 2009.
1-2. Holding officials to account, Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 30 2009.
1-3. One man's bid to show the truth, Times Colonist, Oct. 29 2009.
1-4. Journalist prize for man's film of Dziekanski death, Jennifer Saltman & Susan Lazaruk, Oct. 29 2009.
1-5. CJFE Honours Paul Pritchard with the First CJFE Citizen Journalism Award, CJFE, Oct. 28 2009.
     1a. CJFE - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, "We boldly champion ..."

2. CBC's new news is scaaary, Rick Salutin, Oct. 29 2009.

3-1. Attack of the Triffids has flax farmers baffled, Martin Mittelstaedt, Oct. 27 2009.
3-2. Alan McHughen, SpinProfiles.
3-3. Alan McHughen, UCR University of California Riverside.
3-4. The Case of Mexican Maize, Johannes Wirz, Dec. 8 2002.

4-1. Final round for UN climate talks, Richard Black, nOV. 1 2009.
4-2. Environment Minister Breaks Promise to Release Climate Policies Before Copenhagen, Suzuki, Nov. 1 2009.
4-3. Pressure on U.S. president at climate talks, Canada says, Mike De Souza, Nov. 1 2009.
4-4. Interview with Al Gore 1 'I Am Optimistic', Spiegel, Nov. 2 2009.
4-5. Interview with Al Gore 2 'It Is Realistic to Expect a Treaty', Spiegel, Nov. 2 2009.

5-1. Discoteca carioca Help fecha suas portas, Manuel Pérez Bella, 30/10/09.
5-2. PF diz que 25,6 mil estrangeiros pediram anistia em 3 meses, Terra, 04 de novembro de 2009.

Paul Pritchard, Citizen Journalist, Terry Milewski, Oct. 29 2009.

If only us real journalists were that effective

Can you blame us, in our business, if we sometimes look down on so-called "citizen journalists?" After all, who are these interlopers? They're easy to dismiss as a bunch of unaccountable bloggers, bloviating about facts they never gather. Don't they just feed parasitically upon the hard work of us dull, wage-earning professionals?

Robert Dziekanski holds a small table at the Vancouver Airport in this image from video shot by Paul Pritchard. Robert Dziekanski holds a small table at the Vancouver Airport in this image from video shot by Paul Pritchard. (Paul Pritchard)Then — oops! — along comes Paul Pritchard.

Pritchard is not a journalist and he doesn't even live here — and yet, he gave us one of the saddest, most instructive and most compelling Canadian stories of the decade: the death of a Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, at Vancouver Airport two years ago.

It was Pritchard, of course, who dozed off, missed his flight and was therefore hanging around the Vancouver airport with his camera when the exhausted Dziekanski, after ten hours in limbo wandering the customs hall, began to lose it. Intrigued, Pritchard hit the record button. Horrified, he kept rolling as four RCMP officers tasered Dziekanski, pinned him down, and tasered him some more. Dziekanski's last words, directed at the officers just before the first shot, were, "Have you gone mad?"

Pritchard was returning from a gig teaching English in China. Now, he's teaching in Colombia. So he gets around and he knows his rights. When a security guard told him to stop taping Dziekanski's last moments, Pritchard shrugged him off. And can there be any doubt that Dziekanski's death would have been forgotten if he hadn't?

"The Pritchard video," as it came to be known at the long provincial inquiry led by Thomas Braidwood, sprang from the author's desire to bear witness. But there was more to it than that. Paul Pritchard didn't just make a record — he made sure the rest of us saw it. In his first public comments on the case in two years, Pritchard returned from Colombia this week to tell his story at a Toronto fundraiser for the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

Even at a princely $250 a plate, the place was packed — and we learned how close the tape came to disappearing. Pritchard recalled how a charming Mountie called to say he'd be happy to return that memory card he'd borrowed from Pritchard's camera — but, oh, by the way, the Dziekanski part wasn't on it. It was "evidence." He'd get it back — in two years.

Paul Pritchard recorded the final moments of Robert Dziekanski's life with his digital camera. Paul Pritchard recorded the final moments of Robert Dziekanski's life with his digital camera. (CBC)Pritchard sued to get it back immediately — then gave it to the world. Soon, we all saw for ourselves that the RCMP's account of what happened was false. Dziekanski was "combative," we were told. He wouldn't go down when he was tasered. The officers had to wrestle him to the ground, yet still, he fought with them and he was only tasered twice.

All of this was contradicted by Pritchard's video. Dziekanski never fought the officers and none of them wrestled him to the ground. Actually, he went down screaming after the first shot and kept screaming as they pinned him to the floor and zapped him again, and again — five times in all.

And what about Paul Pritchard? Looking back, would he do it again?

"Yes," he answered, "I'd do it again, but I'd do it differently." Next time, he said, he'd intervene. Pritchard said he knows how to communicate, using body language, with people who don't speak English. So he'd try to help Dziekanski, and maybe prevent a fatal outcome, instead of just helping the next lost immigrant, and the next, who might encounter the police.

Next time, no doubt, the officers won't be so quick on the trigger. Even the chiefs of Taser International, always fiercely proud of their product, have now warned that, just to be on the safe side, officers should not aim for the chest and thereby risk causing a heart attack. Several expert witnesses at the inquiry said that's probably what killed Robert Dziekanski.

But even that concession would surely never have been made if Paul Pritchard hadn't nodded off when they called his flight. Or if he hadn't had the presence of mind to record what he saw and to keep on recording to the bitter end. Or if he hadn't fought to get that memory card back. Or if he hadn't immediately made it public.

Now, that's a real citizen journalist.

Holding officials to account, Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 30 2009.

If Paul Pritchard had not picked up his digital camera and pressed the record button two years ago while at the Vancouver airport, the world may never have known what really happened the night Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died.

Pritchard's decision to film the incident, and to go beyond that by insisting that the video be made public, was, in fact, instrumental in the establishment of a public inquiry, which changed the way police forces operate in Canada, especially when it comes to the use of Tasers.

After using a digital camera to record the encounter between RCMP and Dziekanski and the Polish immigrant's eventual death, Pritchard handed the video to RCMP to use in their investigation. But when public statements made by police conflicted with what Pritchard and others said they had seen, he threatened to sue the RCMP to get the video back.

The release of the 10-minute tape, which contradicted the police version of events, made headlines.

It is encouraging to see Pritchard recognized for the crucial role he played in understanding what happened the night of Oct. 14, 2007, at the Vancouver airport. This week, Pritchard was awarded the first Canadian Journalists for Free Expression Citizen Journalism Award.

Arnold Amber, president of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, said that without the tape there would not have been journalistic investigations into the case, nor the inquiry or the safer use of Tasers by police forces. "What he did probably will save many other lives down the road."

That should be some comfort to Pritchard who has told interviewers he still feels guilty that he didn't step in to help Dziekanski. The award underlines the importance of his actions and the way public journalists can work with professional journalists to hold officials to account for their actions.

One man's bid to show the truth, Times Colonist, Oct. 29 2009.

If not for Paul Pritchard, the world would likely never have known what really happened to Robert Dziekanski when he landed at Vancouver International Airport two years ago.

There would have been no Braidwood inquiry. No changes to the rules around police Taser use. No answers for the Polish immigrant's family.

It is a remarkable series of events set in motion by one man with a camera. That makes Pritchard, of Victoria, an entirely appropriate recipient of the first citizen journalism award given by the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression this week.

It's not just that Pritchard grabbed his digital camera and began recording. Or that he continued when four RCMP officers arrived, even after security staff, for no legitimate reason, told him to stop.

Pritchard also gave the recording to the RCMP that night to help them with their investigation. They promised to return it in 48 hours. And when they refused to return or release the recording, Pritchard hired a lawyer and successfully fought the secrecy. Three weeks after Dziekanski's death, people could watch the horrifying images and form their own judgments.

If not for that evidence, the four officers' statements -- that they tried to calm Dziekanski; that he came at them screaming, swinging an object; that the Taser

didn't knock him down so they had to wrestle him to the ground -- might have been believed. None was true.

It's appropriate that the first citizen journalism award has been bestowed by members of the mainstream media, the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

There are some who suggest that citizen journalism -- which occurs when ordinary citizens collect and disseminate information -- and traditional journalism are mutually exclusive. That is not true.

Traditional journalists are generally trained in ethical issues and screened before being hired. Decisions are made by several experienced people. Stories are edited, facts questioned. And there is accountability, through the newspaper's own checks and balances and institutions such as the B.C. Press Council.

Citizen journalists operate in a different world. Anyone can report anything, and can likely find a credulous audience, as the bizarre online misinformation floating from e-mail inbox to inbox around the world shows.

On the positive side, there are more citizens than there are journalists in even the largest news organization. Instead of 100 reporters trying to cover events in a community, there are thousands. Citizen journalists can focus on neighbourhood issues and bring expertise to specific topics. And increasingly, mainstream journalists look to citizen journalists for eyewitness reporting or specialized knowledge on topics in the news.

Most important, both are predicated on the assumption that there is an involved public, interested in information and capable of forming judgments on what is reported.

Pritchard was interviewed about the award by CBC Radio. He wonders whether, instead of grabbing his camera, he could have found a way into the secure area to talk to Dziekanski before the RCMP arrived.

"If I feel I did something wrong, or feel I didn't do enough, I think the effort I put in afterwards is enough for me to live with that," Pritchard said. It is a thoughtful response from an ethical man. And a fine recipient of a citizen journalism award, whose actions provided Canadians -- and the world -- with important truths.

Journalist prize for man's film of Dziekanski death, Jennifer Saltman & Susan Lazaruk, Oct. 29 2009.

Images sparked inquiry, police Taser-use laws

Paul Pritchard, the Victoria man who shot the video of four RCMP officers Tasering Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport two years ago, has won a citizen journalism award from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

"Without the tape, we wouldn't have had the journalistic investigation [or] the year-long inquiry into the incident, and we wouldn't have seen the safer use of the Taser by police departments across the country," said CJFE president Arnold Amber.

"What he did probably will save many other lives down the road."

Dziekanski, 40, a Polish immigrant who spoke no English, was Tasered five times by RCMP after throwing furniture around the airport on Oct. 14, 2007. He died shortly after.

Pritchard, 27, was en route from China to his Victoria home when he started filming Dziekanski after he saw him acting strangely, pacing back and forth and banging on a glass door at the airport's restricted arrivals area.

He caught on video the eventual Tasering and death of Dziekanski. He surrendered the footage to police, but later got it back and sold it for several thousand dollars to three local TV stations.

The images were seen across the world and sparked an inquiry into his death by retired judge Thomas Braidwood, who made recommendations on restrictions on the use of Tasers by police that have since been adopted by the B.C. government. His final report is due out in months.

Pritchard, an ESL teacher who works abroad, didn't respond to an email request for comment.

CJFE is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and abroad.

CJFE Honours Paul Pritchard with the First CJFE Citizen Journalism Award, CJFE, Oct. 28 2009.

Toronto - The man who shot the video that changed how tasers are used by police departments in Canada was presented the first CJFE Citizen Journalism Award by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression at an event last night.

Paul Pritchard is the 27-year old British Columbia native who shot the footage showing the October 14, 2007, airport encounter between the RCMP and Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski. Pritchard's footage from his digital camera shows four police officers using a taser on Dziekanski repeatedly, ending in Dziekanski's death.

"Without the tape we wouldn't have had the journalistic investigation, the year-long inquiry into the incident, and we wouldn't have seen the safer use of the taser by police departments across the country," said CJFE President Arnold Amber. "The remarkable partnership between investigative journalists and the citizen who recorded the last minutes of Dziekanski's life has led to all these revelations and impact." Amber added "What he did probably will save many other lives down the road."

CJFE's October 27 event titled "The Citizen As Journalist: Tasers, The RCMP and Public Perception" was part of CJFE's Free to Speak series. The panel discussion featured Terry Milewski who covered the Robert Dziekanski story for the CBC, Sandra Bartlett, a CBC reporter who has investigated the story behind tasers for several years and Paul Pritchard. The conversation was moderated by Anna Maria Tremonti, host of "The Current".

The CJFE Citizen Journalism Award was given to recognize the vital role that Pritchard played in getting the facts about the incident out to the public. CJFE noted that Pritchard not only continued to tape despite pressure from security personnel to stop, but crucially, after surrendering his footage to police on the night of the incident, hired a lawyer and battled successfully to get the tape returned three weeks later. The RCMP reneged on their initial promise to return the tape within 48 hours and had informed Pritchard that they wouldn't return it for two years.

CJFE salutes Paul Pritchard who has demonstrated values that we need in citizens and journalists - the courage to bear witness and do the right thing. In presenting the Citizen Journalism award, CJFE President Arnold Amber remarked "Canada needs more Paul Pritchards."

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and abroad.

CBC's new news is scaaary, Rick Salutin, Oct. 29 2009.

This is all about talking down to viewers with weak attention spans

I abandoned all hope for CBC's news makeover Tuesday morning when host Anne-Marie Mediwake was on the phone with the dad who'd just lost his 13-year-old son to H1N1. He was losing control and sobbing but she wouldn't leave him any dignity or privacy. “I'm going to give you a chance to tell us how you want him remembered,” she said, or something close. He dissolved further. Then a swift shift to cheery chat with a reporter about coffee.

Hm. Being shallow and exploitative isn't as easy as it looks at the U.S. cable networks on which CBC's new format is modelled. They'd have known to at least fake some sympathy, conceal the egomania (“I'm going to give you a chance”) and break for an ad or somehow transition to the vacuous coffee item. If it isn't your game, you really shouldn't play it.

Wednesday's flagship The National with Peter Mansbridge puffed three scare stories off the top. H1N1 (“People are getting scared …”). Another fright: Musician killed by coyotes. And, “hidden costs that may be lurking on your cellphone bill.” They were all scare, no context. When a doctor said flu cases were mainly mild, the reporter intoned, “Mild illness.” PAUSE. “Mostly.” That's alarmism, not journalism. The cell story showed a reporter striding into a building to meet a rep for the phone firms and it was Bernard Lord , former N.B. premier and Conservative heavy. The item didn't mention it. Perhaps some well-paid consultants from the U.S. coaching the CBC, told them, “Skip it. Nobody cares. Focus on the phones. People relate to those.”

This is all about talking down to dim, self-absorbed viewers, with weak attention spans who don't care about complex issues or, yuck, details. About “relating'” to them. “Connect,” as Mark Kelley's new nightly segment is called. But (with apologies to the late Johnny Cochrane) you can't connect without respect. What you get is a parody of connection.

The CBC execs are beside themselves with the thrill of it. Their endless in-house memos rely heavily on triple exclamation marks as punctuation: “The energy in the building is palpable … The torch has been passed … We have moved from a Buick to a Ferrari …!!!” (Oddly dated images, by the way, and insulting.)

It's as though it's all about them: their new sets and graphics, full-page ads, U.S. consultants. Watching CBC news now feels like living inside English-language boss Richard Stursberg's head, the man who endowed the CBC with a “factual entertainment” department. Yet, oddly it is still a public network, paid for by all of us. In ancient times, the founder of the National Film Board, John Grierson, used to remind employees daily that they were there to serve the people of Canada, not his own abundant ego. That simple thought out of Richard Stursberg's mouth is unimaginable. Instead, the people who pay are treated as bottom-feeders not worth a reference to a former premier or a translation from the Greek in yesterday's Olympic torch feed from Athens. (CTV had a translation.) Let them eat sets and graphics. Low-rent TVO's nightly hour, The Agenda , now outdoes anything on CBC.

I'm not pining here for the good old days of CBC news, even if the new news makes the old news look better than it was. CBC news was always a pain in the butt. It was pompous, clichéd and had a generous bias for those with power, in business or government. But it was a serious pain that took serious time for important topics, then distorted them. You could still find some of those stories this week –Terry Milewski on the Harper prison agenda, an interview with the man who filmed the Dziekanski tasering – but they were so brief . “You can find more on our website,” barks Peter. Now here's another scary one. What will they do when Halloween is past?

CBC's best days as a public broadcaster were always ahead of it. Today, more than ever.

Attack of the Triffids has flax farmers baffled, Martin Mittelstaedt, Oct. 27 2009.

Genetically modified flaxseeds have contaminated prairie fields, threatening a lucrative market overseas

In the waning days of fall, prairie flaxseed farmers should be hopping onto their tractors and harvesting their crops of the trendy health food, but instead they're in the midst of a major whodunit, with echoes of a long-forgotten movie thriller.

Somebody has contaminated Canada's flax crop with trace amounts of a genetically modified variety, whimsically called Triffid after a 1960s horror flick that starred a villainous breed of plants replete with legs, intelligence and a venom-filled stinger.

To keep the Triffids at bay, Europe, which is hypersensitive to all things genetically modified, has slammed the doors on further imports of flaxseed from Canada, threatening a lucrative $320-million annual market for farmers. Already prices for flax have plunged by $2 to $3 a bushel from around $11 before reports of the contamination.

Farmers are mystified about why the Triffids are showing up now. The seeds, developed at the University of Saskatchewan in the 1990s, were never sold commercially in Canada and were all supposed to have been destroyed in 2001. But seeds derived from the university's plant engineering program are being found all over Europe.

Since early September, confectionery companies there have been yanking pastries and other baked goods containing flax from their shelves, blaming imports from Canada for the contamination. The genetically modified seeds have been found in 34 countries, according to the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

The strange turn of events has prompted head scratching all around.

The developer of the seeds, Alan McHughen, now a biotechnologist at the University of California, Riverside, said he has no idea why flax plants he created years ago are now contaminating the Canadian crop. Dr. McHughen did prompt controversy by giving away packets of the seeds free of charge for what he calls “educational purposes.” A condition of accepting his Triffids was to agree not to grow them, but he concedes some farmers might have thrown the seeds into their hoppers and planted them anyway. “I can't rule out that possibility,” he said.

He called them Triffids because he wanted a catchy, easy-to-spell name that farmers would remember. The name was “a bit of black humour that Dr. McHughen threw into the mix. … I'm sure he thought that he was being quite clever, but he's alone in that regard,” said Barry Hall, president of the Flax Council of Canada, the Winnipeg-based industry trade group.

Terry Boehm, a flax grower near Saskatoon and one of the approximately 15,000 prairie farmers who produce the crop, is worried about the fallout from the food scare. The cause of the contamination is “the $300-million question,” he said, adding: “I really can't hazard to say how it's there, but there's a huge amount of questions that need to be answered in regard to that.”

The genetic contamination also undermines the image of a product widely extolled for its health benefits as a rich source of artery-friendly omega-3 fatty acids and often grown organically to further its cachet. In organic farming, using genetically modified organisms is a big no-no.

Canadian authorities say the flax, which has genes added from a weed enabling it to withstand growing in herbicide-contaminated soil, is safe to eat. While it's illegal for plant breeders to sell the modified flax, farmers can grow it, provided they divulge that their crop has been genetically modified and accept a lower grade for it. “There are no safety concerns … because [Triffids] did pass stringent food and feed safety tests as part of the government of Canada's approval process,” said Remi Gosselin, spokesman for the Canadian Grain Commission.

After reports about genetic modification began circulating in Europe, the commission – the Winnipeg-based federal regulator of the grain-handling industry – tested three flax shipments and found contamination in each. The amounts were minute – about one genetically modified seed out of every 10,000 – but enough to prompt action in Europe.

The commission is trying to track shipments of flax across the prairies to see if it can identify the farmer or farmers who trifled with Triffids. Flax farmers and the council lobbied successfully to have Triffid removed from the market in 2001. Now there is anger on the prairies that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency unnecessarily put farm incomes at risk by approving the flax in the first place. Farmers had virtually no commercial need for its herbicide-tolerant trait, which is considered obsolete because of changes in herbicide formulations.

The CFIA declined an interview request.

Arnold Taylor, an organic flax grower in Kenaston, Sask., says he fears the contamination will be found to be widespread, harming his livelihood.

“Our organic market is probably sabotaged because of this,” Mr. Taylor said. “Most of the consumers don't want [genetically engineered food] and there is really no need for it. We can farm very well without them.”

Alan McHughen, SpinProfiles.

Alan McHughen is a molecular geneticist who spent twenty years at the University of Saskatchewan before joining the University of California, Riverside. He is said to have helped develop Canadian and US regulations governing GM plants.

McHughen developed and spread the GM flax called Triffid which in 2009 was revealed to have contaminated European flax supplies (see "GM-contaminated flax débacle", below).

He is the author of the book, Pandora's Picnic Basket; The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods, which claims to 'explode the myths and explore the genuine risks of genetic modification (GM) technology'. In the same year his booklet "Biotechnology and Food" was published by the American Council on Science and Health, which John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton described in their book, Toxic Sludge is Good for You, as an "industry front group that produces PR ammunition for the food processing and chemical industries".[1]

In Pandora's Picnic Basket McHughen argues that many of the concerns about genetic engineering are based in reality on "myths" and "misinformation". McHughen has even claimed, "Opponents to GM put forward untenable pseudo-scientific assertions, then run away, unwilling or unable to defend their positions."

Yet Pandora's Picnic Basket contains a number of "untenable pseudo-scientific assertions". For instance, on p. 233 we read:
According to Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute the highly respected US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta noted 2471 cases, including 250 deaths, of infection by the unpleasant E. coli strain O157:H7 in 1996 alone. These bacteria live in manure. Manure is used as a fertilizer in organic farming systems. Organic foods were implicated in about a third of the confirmed O157:H7 cases despite the fact that organic food constitutes only about 1% of food consumed in the US.
In fact, according to Robert Tauxe, M.D., chief of the food borne and diarrheal diseases branch of the CDC, there is no such data on organic food production in existence at their centers and he says Avery's claims are "absolutely not true". According to Tauxe, “The goal of the CDC is to ensure food is produced using safe and hygienic methods, and that consumers also practice safe and hygienic methods in food preparation, regardless of the source, be it organic, commercial, imported or otherwise.”[2]

Avery's claims have repeatedly been debunked, with even Gregory Conko of the Competitive Enterprise Institute commenting that, "looking at a few selectively reported cases from a single year doesn't seem to be convincing anybody who doesn't already have a predilection to believe you in the first place".

McHughen targets flax

That McHughen should have a predilection to believe Avery may not be surprising given that McHughen's own work has centered on seeking to genetically engineer flax in the face of strong opposition. The president of Flax Growers Western Canada, Chris Hale, accused McHughen of a 'clear misunderstanding' of flax markets when McHughen argued it was an ideal crop for engineering such industrial traits as the production of plastics or drugs as it wasn't part of the food chain.[3]

Hale pointed out that Europe, which was 'far and away' the biggest importer of Canadian flax, required an assurance from the Canadian Grain Commission that no GM flax was grown in Canada. Contrary to McHughen's claims, flax seed oil is an important health food product in Europe and is bought by health-conscious consumers as a good source of Omega 3 oils. Hale also pointed out that the residue of flax exported to Europe for industrial purposes is fed to livestock. The Canadian flax industry managed to get a chemical-resistant variety of flax, developed by McHughen, banned from commercial production.[4]

GM-contaminated flax débacle

Hale was proved correct – and McHughen was proved wrong – on September 10, 2009 the European Union (EU) Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) reported finding an unapproved genetically modified (GM) flax/linseed variety in cereal and bakery products in Germany. The Canadian flax seed market promptly collapsed. The brand name of this GM flax was Triffid, and it was developed and registered for use in Canada by Alan McHughen.

McHughen's seed

Alan McHughen, over the strong and vigorous objections of the flax growers in Canada, insisted on bioengineering and then registering the GM Triffid flax with public funds through the University of Saskatchewan Crop Development Center.[5] Triffid was approved by Canadian regulators in 1998 but the Flax Council of Canada convinced the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to remove variety registration for the GM flax in 2001, making it illegal to grow. Flax growers took this action to protect their export markets from the threat of GM contamination.[6] The University of Saskatchewan lost a substantial sum of money from this episode.[7][8][9]

In September 2009 Resource News International reported:
Cash bids for flaxseed in Western Canada have taken a dramatic turn for the worse. with some of the decline being linked to European concerns the crop contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

There were reports that Viterra has lowered its bids in Manitoba to as low as $6.78 a bushel, which would be down significantly from bids in the province ranging from around the $10/bu. level just a few days ago.

A number of elevator companies across the Canadian Prairies are believed to have halted their flax buying program all together.[10]
GM flax FP967 (CDC Triffid) has tolerance to soil residues of sulfonylurea-based herbicides. Canada supplies approximately 70% of the total flax/linseed utilized in the EU annually.[11]

An article by Allan Dawson in the Manitoba Co-operator ("CDC Triffid Flax Scare Threatens Access To No. 1 EU Market", September 17 2009), states that McHughen deliberately spread his GM Triffid flax seed by giving away packets to farmers to plant, at a time when the flax industry was trying to eradicate the GM threat from its crop:
Alan McHughen, who developed CDC Triffid, gave away small packets of the seed early in the decade — a move criticized by the flax industry at the time.[12]
In the same article, the Canadian National Farmers Union vice president Terry Boehm is quoted as saying the best news would be that the flax was contaminated by GM canola:
If it is CDC Triffid, access to Canada’s biggest flax customer is in peril.

"This is an absolute nightmare for flax growers and why we worked so hard to have the GM flax removed," he said.[13]
Views on GM contamination of Mexican maize

Despite his cavalier attitude to genetically engineering flax, McHughen has recognised the problems associated with 'contamination' via pollen drift etc. Perhaps for that reason McHughen was one of the few genetic engineers ready to question the treatment of Dr Ignacio Chapela, the UC Berkeley scientist who published a paper on the contamination of native maize by GM varieties in Mexico. The journal Science and Policy Perspectives reported:

Another scientist who strongly sides with Chapela is Alan McHughen, a researcher at the Crop Development Center at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada. McHughen is one of those who believe the outburst toward Chapela was far out of proportion to the alleged offense and senses that the attacks on Quist and Chapela were coordinated and conspiratorial. "I think there are a group of people who for whatever reason don't want to hear anything at all about reasons to question the technology," says McHughen. "I read Chapela's paper over and over again and I just couldn't find anything that was inflammatory about it."[14]

Attacks on scientists who find problems with GM crops

McHughen, the inventor or "engineer" of Triffid GM flax, was one of a group of scientists who have been accused of setting up Russian scientist Irina Ermakova for an aggressive attack in the pages of Nature Biotechnology in 2007.[15][16] Ermakova's multi-generational feeding studies on GM soya found that it created ill effects and high mortality in experimental rats.[17]

McHughen was also among the scientists identified in a 2009 article in the jornal Nature as having played a lead role in a campaign to denigrate the research of the scientist Emma Rosi-Marshall. An editor for the Entomological Society of America complained in the same article about those "who denigrate research by other legitimate scientists in a knee-jerk, partisan, emotional way that is not helpful in advancing knowledge and is outside the ideals of scientific inquiry." [18]

The Case of Mexican Maize, Johannes Wirz, Dec. 8 2002.

In November, 2001, scientists David Quist and Ignacio Chapela published a much-cited article in the journal Nature (Quist and Chapela 2001). Investigating the sixty native varieties ("landraces") of cultivated maize in the remote mountains of the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico, they encountered contamination by pollen from genetically modified corn. The GM-corn, originating in the U.S., had in all likelihood been planted illegally in Mexico, which has had a moratorium on GM-corn since 1998. The ecological and agricultural consequences of such contamination are worrisome. But just as unsettling is the way in which this study and its findings have been handled in the scientific and popular press. It's evident that the commercial interests of multinational companies are influencing what is supposed to be a scientific discussion.

Until now an international consensus has held that the areas of origin of domesticated plants must be protected from exposure to GM-crops in order to preserve this rich genetic heritage for the future. The Oaxaca Valley in Mexico is the heartland of maize diversity, and one might have expected that those companies that sell GM-corn to growers would have been disconcerted by the publication of this article. But not at all. Arthur Einsele, public relations chief for the biotech company "Syngenta," stated that the mixing of foreign genes with the land varieties was not a concern. He even suggested that the mixing could contribute usefully to the diversification of domestic plants (quoted in Dreesmann 2001).

Then, in the spring of 2002, Nature published letters by well-known scientists who questioned the validity of Quist and Chapela's research. With criticism and pressure coming from many sides, Nature took an unprecedented step: for the first time in the 133-year history of this highly respected journal, the editor announced that it should not have published the article in the first place due to insufficient evidence. (See the letters and editorial note in the April 11, 2002 issue of Nature, pp. 600-1.) Like all other Nature articles, the original Quist and Chapela manuscript had gone through a rigorous peer review before publication.

Soon after Nature's announcement, it became clear that the harsh reactions of several of the scientists was not merely science-based. These scientists worked at the University of California at Berkeley, where Quist and Chapela also worked. Berkeley has a unique—and very controversial—$25-million "strategic alliance" with the biotech company Syngenta through which much research is funded. Quist and Chapela are among those Berkeley scientists who opposed this alliance, since they believed it compromised academic freedom. Johannes Fütterer, who authored one of the critical letters to the editor, was a strong proponent of the alliance. Although such critics tried to maintain the guise of scientific objectivity, it's hard not to see an ideological component in their campaign against Quist and Chapela.

This suspicion is solidified when one looks at the Internet attacks against Quist and Chapela. An article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, describes how a PR firm, The Bivings Group, made postings to a pro-biotech Internet list, AgBioWorld (Monbiot 2002). The postings, which were submitted under the names of private individuals, portrayed Chapela, among other things, as an activist who colludes with environmentalists. This smear campaign by The Bivings Group, which works for Monsanto (and other biotech companies), was only uncovered by ardent investigative reporting.

Bivings, it turned out, has a strategy it calls "viral marketing." The Guardian article quotes the Bivings website about this strategy:
There are some campaigns where it would be undesirable or even disastrous to let the audience know that your organization is directly involved ... it is possible to make postings to these outlets that present your position as an uninvolved third party ... Perhaps the greatest advantage of viral marketing is that your message is placed into a context where it is more likely to be considered seriously.
(Interestingly, a recent view of the webpage does not contain the first two sentences of the above quote; at the end of the text one finds the statement: "recently edited for clarification." Read: we removed the sentences that too openly state what we're really trying to do.)

One has to ask how much of the attempt to discredit Quist and Chapela's research was owing to biotech companies and their proponents, who saw the research as an attack against the commercial cultivation of GM-crops.

The Culture of Corn

Last fall I attended an international "Ifgene" workshop on genetic engineering in Edinburgh. In a discussion group Fernando Monasterio, the Mexican government's safety commissioner for biotechnology, commented on the maize affair and its far-reaching consequences (Heaf and Wirz 2002, pp. 102-4). The introduction of GM-corn genes into locally adapted landraces, he said, could threaten their viability and the diversity that has developed over centuries through traditional breeding. In order to remove the contamination from the Oaxaca Valley, farmers would not be able to plant maize for at least a year, which would be a devastating blow to the local economy. Such measures would only help in the long run if there were no GM-corn to cause new contamination. The United States would have to make seed segregation mandatory so that it could guarantee to Mexico that it was receiving only nonGM-corn. Currently the U.S. requires neither seed segregation nor labeling, and appears unlikely to change this policy.

To date, Mexico imports annually about six million tons of corn for food from the U.S. Monasterio suspects that about one-third of this amount is GM-corn. The imported corn sells for about $150 per ton, while domestic Mexican corn sells for $250 per ton. Why can corn from the U.S. be sold so cheaply? Part of the answer is huge government subsidies. So the local production of corn in Mexico is not only threatened by foreign genes, but also by the economic practices of a government that loudly preaches free trade while subsidizing its own industries to undermine local economies in foreign countries.

In traditional Mexican (Mayan) mythology, maize—along with peyote and the elk—is regarded as a "gift of the Gods." To this day the act of divine giving is celebrated in traditional harvest ceremonies. Monasterio voiced great concern about the future of this spiritual heritage. Would its foundations be compromised by the use of GM-corn and the loss of maize that is embedded in the local ecology and in the hearts of the people?

At the end of his presentation, Monasterio mentioned an investigation into Quist and Chapela's research that was conducted on behalf of the Mexican government. Scientists from an internationally acclaimed institute in Mexico (Center for Research and Advanced Studies—Department of Plant Genetic Engineering) randomly selected 2,000 maize plants from the Oaxaca Valley. In sixty-three percent of the cases, they detected genetic contamination. This is a clear confirmation of Quist and Chapela's research.

These scientists were naturally interested in publishing their results in Nature (FoodFirst 2002). The article went through peer review and the two anonymous reviewers came to opposite conclusions about its content. One argued that the results were already common knowledge (!) and therefore not worthy of publication. The second reviewer called the results so unexpected and unbelievable that their validity could be called into question. What might we expect the editors to do in this case? If the journal were truly interested in promoting open scientific discourse, we would expect them to publish the article, especially after having retracted Quist and Chapela's work. But this didn't happen; Nature rejected the article on "technical grounds."

This whole muddled affair confirms the worst fears about the commercialization of GM-crops. Arguments that are based on factual evidence and suggest the negative impact of GM-crops are suppressed in the scientific debate. Science that doesn't tow the line of the pro-biotech, "progress-via-technology" mindset is considered "bad science." Biotech companies unscrupulously find ways to influence scientific and public opinion. And the whole biotech ideology is strongly supported by the powerful United States government with its subsidies, its export policies, and its lack of regulations concerning GM-crops and GM-food.

(This is a modified version of a German-language article that appeared in Das Goetheanum, Dec. 8, 2002.)

Alan McHughen, UCR University of California Riverside.

CE Plant Biotechnologist, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Botany & Plant Sciences

Alan McHughen is a public sector educator, scientist and consumer advocate. After earning his doctorate at Oxford University, Dr McHughen worked at Yale University and the University of Saskatchewan before joining the University of California, Riverside. A molecular geneticist with an interest in crop improvement and environmental sustainability, he helped develop US and Canadian regulations covering genetically engineered crops and foods. He served on recent US National Academy of Sciences panels investigating the environmental effects of transgenic plants, and a second investigating the health effects of genetically modified foods. He is now Past President and Treasurer of the International Society for Biosafety Research (ISBR). Having developed internationally approved commercial crop varieties using both conventional breeding and genetic engineering techniques, he has firsthand experience with the relevant issues from both sides of the regulatory process. As an educator and consumer advocate, he helps non-scientists understand the environmental and health impacts of both modern and traditional methods of food production. His award winning book, 'Pandora's Picnic Basket; The Potential and Hazards of Genetically Modified Foods' (Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-850674-0), uses understandable, consumer-friendly language to explode the myths and explore the genuine risks of genetic modification (GM) technology.

Former Institution:
Professor, Crop Development Centre, University of Saskatchewan

B.Sc(Hons) Biology/biochem 1976 Dalhousie University
D.Phil. Plant Science 1979 Oxford University

Book of the year award, 2001, Canadian Science Writer's Association
Distinguished lecturer, 2001, US Environmental Protection agency (EPA)

Research Area:
Cooperative Extension Specialist - Biotechnology for sustainable agriculture. Policy development and public education.

[snipped, I just wanted the bio, the Riverside blurb goes on with a list of publications]

Final round for UN climate talks, Richard Black, nOV. 1 2009.

The latest round of UN climate talks opens in Barcelona on Monday with major divisions remaining between countries. The week's session is the final chance for negotiators to hammer out a text before December's Copenhagen summit

In recent weeks, UN officials have declared there is no chance of agreeing all elements of a new legally-binding UN treaty before the end of the year. But they are still hoping to agree major elements of a treaty to supplant the Kyoto Protocol.

The main areas where big divisions remain include:
* the extent to which developed countries should cut their greenhouse gas emissions
* how much money rich nations should contribute to help poorer ones reduce their emissions and adapt to climate impacts
* how far developing countries will go in constraining the rise in their greenhouse gas emissions
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon dampened expectations further last week by appearing to suggest that nothing legally binding might be possible in Copenhagen.

"If we can agree on four political elements, then that could be a hallmark of success on climate change," he said.

But the Danish hosts and other governments, including the UK, remain determined to secure something with legally-binding elements.

For the UK, it must contain numbers on mitigation targets and adaptation funds; and ministers have said they will not sign something they consider to be too weak.

"I think we should not sign up to a deal that is inadequate," Climate Secretary Ed Miliband said last week.

Gaps to bridge

Pledges by developed countries to cut emissions by 2020 (from 1990 levels) fall far short of the 40% that developing countries are demanding.

The US may not be in a position to pledge anything at all, with domestic legislation yet to pass through the Senate.

The EU said last week it would contribute its "fair share" of the $100bn euros ($148bn; £90bn) per year that it calculates the developing world will need by 2020 in order to curb their emissions and protect their societies and economies from climate impacts.

But it stopped short of naming an exact figure for its contribution.

Studies by UN agencies suggest more than that is needed, and that funding on this scale should begin next year, rather than in 10 years' time.

A number of developing countries, notably Indonesia, have recently pledged to reduce the rate at which their emissions will rise; but the biggest of all - China - has yet to announce by how much.

Even the legal form of a new treaty remains to be decided, with a number of developing countries insisting that it must be an extension to the Kyoto Protocol, and industrialised governments equally insistant that it must be a completely new agreement - not least because the US Senate will not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Negotiators will begin work with a set of "non-papers" - elements of a possible treaty that do not carry the weight of a formal draft.

The chairman of the main set of talks, Michael Zammit Cutajar, has advised negotiators to concentrate on the "critical issues... that are central to the task", with details that could bog the discussions down left to one side.

Environment Minister Breaks Promise to Release Climate Policies Before Copenhagen, Suzuki, Nov. 1 2009.

By: David Suzuki Foundation

OTTAWA - Climate Action Network Canada is calling on the federal government to honour its promise to announce regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters in time for the international climate summit this December in Copenhagen.

Environment Minister Jim Prentice told Le Devoir on Monday that regulations would not be announced despite promising just that at least three times this year alone.

A selection of quotations from the Minister include:
October 27, 2009 (Le Devoir): "The Minister of the environment, Jim Prentice, confirmed last night to Le Devoir that the framework will not be completed as promised before the international climate change conference, which will be held from the 7-18th of December in Copenhagen."
The above information clearly contradicts the below statements:
September 7, 2009 (Hill Times) "[W]e will ensure that all of our domestic climate change policies are clearly enunciated to the Canadian public by the time we get to Copenhagen."

June 4, 2009 (Speech) "I want to be perfectly clear about the timing of all this, because our position is very straightforward. We will outline the full suite of policies that relate to all major sources of emissions this year, in 2009. I have said this, this will happen time and time again and it will happen by the time we reach the international table at Copenhagen."

April 29, 2009 (Point Carbon) By Copenhagen, Canada will have made "a clear enunciation of Canadian policies that will deal with all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions."
The "back-and-forth" by the Harper government on the issue of regulating large GHG emitters in Canada clearly has everyone confused including members of its own caucus. Steven Blaney, chair of the Quebec Conservative caucus and MP for Lévis-Bellchasse was quoted on September 22nd, "The reason we will meet our emission reduction target is because we have put into place a regulatory framework. The fruits of our labour since 2006 are visible because of the implementation of this framework for all large emitting sectors in Canada."

Yet no such framework exists. And without a clear and comprehensive suite of domestic policies on greenhouse gas emission reductions, Canada will arrive empty-handed at the UN climate negotiations in December.

"The current government is clearly refusing to take climate change seriously, and is choosing to invest their energy in manufacturing excuses instead of solutions," says Graham Saul of Climate Action Network Canada.

"In the midst of a crisis that is already affecting millions of people, this is unacceptable."

"The Canadian government is increasingly isolated in the global community by its inaction on global warming. With new and progressive administrations in countries such as Australia, Norway, and Japan, Canada is increasingly at odds with others because of its weak targets, lack of regulations, and obstructionist tactics," says Dale Marshall of the David Suzuki Foundation.

This Monday the final round of negotiations before Copenhagen will get underway in Barcelona. These five days of negotiations will be the last before countries gather to make final decisions in December.

Pressure on U.S. president at climate talks, Canada says, Mike De Souza, Nov. 1 2009.

OTTAWA — The Canadian government says the pressure will be on U.S. President Barack Obama's administration as the world meets for a crucial week of international climate negotiations in Spain on Monday.

Although Environment Minister Jim Prentice has been criticized for leaving Canada "empty-handed" at the negotiating table without its own national plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, he said that the discussions are actually being hampered by the U.S. opposition to the Kyoto Protocol which requires developed countries to assume legally binding commitments.

"In other words, the United States will not sign Kyoto, and will not sign something that looks like Kyoto," Prentice said in an interview with Canwest News Service. "There are countries who did sign Kyoto who insist that the new treaty has to look very much the same. That's the issue at the negotiating table at the present time that we've been unable to resolve."

Developing countries have also criticized Canada for not honouring its commitments under the Kyoto agreement and proposing to replace some of its key elements in a new treaty. But Prentice said that other countries, including the U.S. and China, must move forward in order to reach an international consensus at a global climate summit next month in Copenhagen.

"There are the associated difficulties that the United States is unable to secure legislative approval for their targets before Copenhagen and the Chinese in response are not prepared to put forward specific targets," said Prentice. "Those are the issues at the negotiating table."

The talks in Barcelona represent the final five days of formal negotiations before the summit in Copenhagen. Most observers and participants are still hopeful that the December conference will result in a political agreement with key elements that lay the groundwork for a treaty that would restructure the global economy toward sustainable development and stop human activity from causing dangerous changes to the atmosphere and climate.

But one veteran observer of international negotiations said that Canada is excluding itself from the process because it continues to make "excuses" for delaying action on climate change that targets Canadian industries.

"When it's not the (fault of the) Chinese or the Indians, it's the Americans. They (Conservatives) have come up with every possible excuse in the book," said Steven Guilbeault, the co-founder of Equiterre, a Quebec environmental organization. "Their only plan is that the talks fail because if any other scenario happens, then we're not prepared (and) we have nothing to say."

Guilbeault, who will attend the Barcelona talks as an observer, added that Obama's government is actively seeking common ground with China through a separate bilateral agreement to advance the negotiations.

"We're probably one of the least productive players around this table," said Guilbeault.

Developing countries have also sought financing from richer countries to help invest in measures to reduce emissions that trap heat in the atmosphere and also to adapt to ongoing changes in the climate that disrupt economies and lifestyles. One study produced last summer by an Alberta-based environmental research group estimated that Canada's share of an aid package in a global climate treaty could be as high as $5.7 billion per year.

But the Canadian government says it has not proposed any specific amount to transfer in a future climate pact because it is still focusing on establishing conditions for how developing countries will use the money received and measure or report on progress.

"There's a little bit of a chicken and egg situation in the discussions because scaled-up finance would be in support of specific actions that developing countries propose to take," said Michael Martin, Canada's chief climate negotiator, in a phone interview from Barcelona. "But there are no such actions on the table that have been proposed."

Discoteca carioca Help fecha suas portas, Manuel Pérez Bella, 30/10/09.

Rio de Janeiro - A discoteca Help, símbolo do turismo sexual no Rio de Janeiro, viveu sua última noite de frenesi na quinta-feira, antes de ser desapropriada.

Localizada em um ponto privilegiado da praia de Copacabana, a última festa na discoteca aconteceu na madrugada de quinta-feira, antes de o espaço dar lugar à futura sede do Museu da Imagem e do Som, que começará a ser construída no início de 2010.

Em sua última noite, os funcionários tentaram manter um aspecto de normalidade na boate, que abriu suas portas há 25 anos, em frente ao mais famoso calçadão da cidade.

O responsável pelo clube assegurou que esta era uma noite normal, "uma a mais", já que ninguém tinha confirmado se o fechamento iria acontecer, que foi decretado em janeiro pelo governador do estado do Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral, em troca de R$ 18 milhões em indenizações.

Dentro da Help, o cenário era o mesmo que em qualquer noite na discoteca: meninas jovens, bonitas e bem arrumadas conversando tranquilamente com turistas estrangeiros sessentões sob as luzes néon do enorme letreiro com o nome do local ou no restaurante vizinho, dos mesmos donos, que também será desapropriado.

A Help foi inaugurada em 1984 pelo empresário Chico Recarey, conhecido na época como "o rei da noite carioca" por ter construído um império de lazer com mais de 40 discotecas, bares e restaurantes na cidade.

Bolas de cristal, carpete no primeiro andar em volta da pista de dança circular, papéis brilhantes como lantejoulas nas paredes, uma densa fumaça branca e um público mais velho no segundo piso, reservado para quem procura um ambiente mais tranquilo, remetiam à decadência de uma discoteca outrora emblemática.

Na pista, o público era mais jovem: grupos de europeus ou americanos, em sua maioria de cerca de 30 anos, que se deixavam seduzir por uma música enjoativa, pelos segredos sugestivos contados ao ouvido em diferentes idiomas, pelos vestidos justos e pelos corpos morenos.

Paulo, um dos garçons, vestido com uma camisa branca impecável, confirmou à Agência Efe que a direção já tinha transmitido à equipe que este seria o último dia.

"O que vamos fazer? Eu agora vou tentar montar meu próprio negócio", lamentou o empregado, que trabalha na discoteca desde 1996, época em que a Help passou de lugar da moda para os jovens cariocas de classe alta a um reduto de prostituição.

Pouco após a meia-noite, uma tela gigante exibiu as imagens de uma reportagem sobre o fechamento da célebre discoteca.

Os turistas e as jovens pararam de dançar no meio da pista e os garçons deixaram por um instante de servir bebidas, todos com o olhar atento às imagens.

A reportagem terminou com um infográfico que mostrava a fachada de vidro da Help e os planos inclinados do futuro museu que substituirá a boate, que será construído pelo estúdio de arquitetura americano Diller Scofidio Renfro. Ao final, uma forte vaia das cerca de 200 moças presentes tomou conta do ambiente.

Leididiana, de 28 anos, explicou sua reação afirmando que a Help oferece "um ambiente ideal e seguro" para as prostitutas que trabalham lá e que agora terão que "sair para as ruas para ganhar o pão".

No entanto, a maioria foi reticente ao comentar sobre seu futuro, agora incerto, que provavelmente as obrigará a mudar-se para as dezenas de outros clubes menores e mais discretos de Copacabana.

Interview with Al Gore 1 'I Am Optimistic', Spiegel, Nov. 2 2009.

Interview conducted by Philip Bethge, Gregor Peter Schmitz and Gabor Steingart.

In a SPIEGEL interview, former US vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, 61, discusses Barack Obama's environmental policies, the endless push by lobbyists to derail reforms and his hopes for a global deal at the climate change summit in Copenhagen next month.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Vice President, you write in your new book, "Our Choice," (to be published in German translation on Nov. 23 as "Wir Haben Die Wahl") that we have at our fingertips all of the tools that we need to solve the climate crisis. The only missing ingredient would be collective will. What makes it so hard for governments to implement change even though most people know what needs to be done?

Gore: As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions. Neuroscientists point out that we are inherently better able to respond quickly to the kinds of threats that our evolutionary ancestors survived -- like other humans with weapons, snakes and spiders or fire. Also, there is a real-time lag between the causes of the climate crisis and its full manifestation. That makes it seem less urgent to many people.

SPIEGEL: But America always took pride in being faster and more flexible than other nations. Does that no longer apply?

Gore: America 's political system has evolved over the last 50 years in ways that have enhanced the power of business lobbies. The power of television and of money has grown exponentially. Eighty percent of the campaign contributions that candidates and officials running for re-election raise and spend go to TV ads, so they are required to raise enormous amounts of money, mainly from business lobbies. In a way, that has "re-feudalized" the political power and it gave much more power to established interests. When Obama was elected, I said: "What an exciting moment in our history." But his election did not cure all of the problems in the American system.

SPIEGEL: Seventeen years ago you, a young Senator from Tennessee, and Bill Clinton, a young governor from Arkansas, moved into the White House on the promise of change. Clinton played the saxophone and there was a feeling of spring in the air. Why has it been so much tougher for Barack Obama?

Gore: It was hard for us, too. Just remember the resistance to our health care reform bill. Obama's progress on health care has already surpassed what we were able to do on health care. He will get a climate change bill adopted. So I am optimistic. These are still the early days of the Obama presidency. He had a bad summer, but he is having a good fall.

SPIEGEL: Isn't it getting harder and harder to remain an optimist?

Gore: I think there is a realistic basis for optimism. The Internet empowers individuals to play a more active role in the political process, as Obama's campaign has manifested. They felt shut out of the conversation of democracy during the television age, but they are coming back. It is not an accident that virtually every progressive reform movement in the world is now based on the internet. There are more than 1 million, perhaps as many as 2 million grass-roots organizations that have been established worldwide on the issue of the climate crisis, most of them on the Internet.

SPIEGEL: Obama's political opponents also rely on the Internet, though. Could the reason for the resistance to his government be his skin color? Former US President Jimmy Carter said many Americans still have a problem with a black man in the White House.

Gore: There is no doubt that the issue of race is always present in American politics and in the politics of any multiracial society. There is also no doubt that for some people it is an element in the manifested hostility to Obama. But I don't think it is the major theme at all. Obama is right when he reminds people: By the way, I was black before the election.

SPIEGEL: Perhaps the aggressive reactions can be explained by the fact that he, you and large parts of the Democratic Party misinterpreted the will of voters. Perhaps the last election had less to do with a desire among voters to implement transformational change than just getting rid of Bush.

Gore: Isn't that all related? The Bush-Cheney administration had betrayed some basic American values. So there was hunger for change. The difficulties the new government has encountered are in the Congress, and they are connected to the growing influence of business lobbies and people who are simply afraid of government.

SPIEGEL: Is that a new phenomenon?

Gore: People in Congress listen less to each other. The Senate chamber, for example, is now commonly empty when speeches are made. That was different in the past and I know why it has changed. The chamber is empty now because the senators have to be at cocktail parties and fundraisers to raise money. They feel as if they have to spend virtually all their time raising money.

Interview with Al Gore 2 'It Is Realistic to Expect a Treaty', Spiegel, Nov. 2 2009.

SPIEGEL: Isn't Obama's plate too full? He conducts war in Iraq and Afghanistan, he wants to close Guantanamo, he is trying to reform the health care system, he is promising progress on climate change and wants to strengthen, almost in passing, the rights of trade unions and homosexuals. Isn't that too much change for a rather conservative country like the United States?

Gore: I disagree with that criticism. After eight years of retrogression, Obama would have been more bitterly criticized if he had chosen only one priority and had not tried to address the many challenges that need to be undertaken. So I do think there is a grain of truth to it, but I also know that his mandate was and is strongest at the beginning of his term.

SPIEGEL: But Obama hasn't achieved much so far -- most of the reforms he announced still haven't been implemented. Many people already call him a sweet talker -- all talk, but little action.

Gore: One of the tools that a president has is to command the attention of the American people. It has to be used judiciously. There is such a thing as overexposure when a president depreciates the welcome. I think it is too early to make that judgment. There have been times when I thought that President Obama maybe got close to that line -- for instance, with regard to his television interviews. But it is the most powerful tool he has to make his direct presentation to the people.

SPIEGEL: The financial crisis hasn't made the president's job any easier. Are times of material want fundamentally bad for reform politicians?

Gore: The climate, financial and national security crises are all connected. They share the same cause: Our absurd dependency on foreign oil. As long as we need to spend billions of dollars each year to buy foreign oil from state-run oil companies in the Persian Gulf, our problems of a trade deficit, a budget deficit and a climate crisis will persist. Therefore, more and more Americans begin to realize that the right response to the climate challenge will also help with the economy and a more balanced budget.

SPIEGEL: German Chancellor Angela Merkel was less optimistic after the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. She did not believe there would be a majority for a US climate change law in Congress before the world climate summit in Copenhagen in December.

Gore: I am more optimistic. I do not think that we will have the final enactment of the Conference Committee Report in Congress before Copenhagen. But if President Obama is able to go to Copenhagen having passed legislation in the House and having passed it in the Senate, it will be inevitable that the legislation comes out even if the Conference Committee is still pending.

SPIEGEL: What are your expectations for Copenhagen ?

Gore: I think it is realistic to expect a treaty. It will not be as strong as I would like it to be. But it will put a price on carbon and change the forward planning of businesses and cities and states, provinces and nations. In 1986, when the first crisis of the global atmosphere emerged with the discovery of the ozone hole above Antarctica, one year later the nations of the world passed the Montreal Protocol. It was bitterly criticized by environmentalists as being too weak and insufficient. But then it was toughened and toughened, and it is working quite well, and we are on our way to solving that crisis. I am expecting a similar process for Copenhagen. We will produce a treaty that launches the beginning of a huge transformation process.

SPIEGEL: The US is expecting more commitment from China. Should Obama use his upcoming Asia trip to increase pressure on Beijing?

Gore: They have to accept binding provisions. Many developing nations are still thinking that the wealthier countries will take binding obligations, and the developing countries will have non-binding provisions. That is not a formula for success. In an IT-empowered outsourcing world it is very easy to replicate the technological basis for production in low-wage countries. Workers in Germany and the United States and other wealthy nations fear for their jobs. We can't tell them: "We are going to have these binding obligations, but the places that have already gotten some of your jobs are going to have no obligations at all." That wouldn't work.

SPIEGEL: Isn't that even more of an incentive for developing nations not to accept any binding emission caps?

Gore: They are starting to feel the consequences of such a policy. India now faces the prospect of black carbon emissions greatly accelerating the melting of ice that forms the source of the majority of the water in the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers. They must cut back on black carbon for their own survival.

SPIEGEL: Do you see indications of a shift in awareness in China, which is the second greatest polluter in the world after the US?

Gore: China has been changing fairly dramatically on this issue. While they are still opening a new coal-fired generating plant every eight or nine days, they will soon be the No. 1 power in wind and the No. 1 power in solar. In each of the last several years, they have planted two and a half times as many trees as the rest of the world put together. They are building an 800-kilovolt supergrid that, by 2020, will be the most advanced in the world. They have revised their new five-year plan, beginning a little over a year from now, to adapt the formula by which all bureaucrats and officials are evaluated for advancement or not. They have placed their success in reducing CO2 as one of the principal factors by which they pursue their career successfully or not. These are significant changes.

SPIEGEL: Will Obama travel to Copenhagen ?

Gore: He hasn't told me that he will, and no one representing him has told me that he will. But I see the calendar, I see unfolding of events and I feel certain he will go.

SPIEGEL: The White House is currently dampening expectations, because if the American president travels to Copenhagen for the summit, the rest of the world will expect a binding agreement form the United States on emissions caps.

Gore: Yes, of course. President Obama has already enacted a binding set of regulations that require a cut in emissions. But the big difference will be whether or not the Senate legislation on climate change passes or not. I believe that the draft bill introduced by Senator John Kerry and Senator Barbara Boxer really does open up very new prospects. They are likely to add a title to the draft that expands support for nuclear energy. I also think they will add some provisions accelerating the substitution of gas for coal. Gas has only half the CO2 emissions of coal and two-thirds of that from oil. I think that will also generate more support and split the energy lobbies somehow. Therefore, I think there is a very real prospect that the legislation will pass, and that as a result, Obama will have the ability to go to Copenhagen with a more substantive position.

SPIEGEL: How do you see your own role in this process?

Gore: Sometimes the language of Yiddish is the most expressive. I want to be a "nudge" in Copenhagen. Someone who is pushing for action.

SPIEGEL: The most effective way to "nudge" people into action is to be President of the United States of America. Will you ever run for this office again?

Gore: Well, I am trying to recover from politics. But of course there is always a danger of a relapse when you are in recovery.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Vice President, we thank you for this interview.

PF diz que 25,6 mil estrangeiros pediram anistia em 3 meses, Terra, 04 de novembro de 2009.

A Polícia Federal informou nesta quarta-feira que, nos últimos três meses, 25.691 estrangeiros entraram com pedido de regularização no País. Segundo a PF, até o dia 2 de outubro 13.342 estrangeiros já tiveram a situação regularizada.

Desde o dia 23 de julho, imigrantes com situação ilegal se cadastraram para se beneficiarem da lei que anistia estrangeiros, sancionada pelo presidente Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Os estrangeiros que precisam regularizar a permanência no Brasil podem solicitar o direito à residência provisória. Para isso, é preciso que tenham ingressado em território nacional até 1º de fevereiro deste ano. Os interessados deverão agendar o atendimento por meio do endereço eletrônico da Polícia Federal (

Dentre as nacionalidades que mais entraram com o pedido de regularização, destacam-se os bolivianos (8.236), seguidos por chineses (3.865), além de peruanos e paraguaios, com 3.398 e 2.832 respectivamente.

De acordo com o Ministério da Justiça, após a regularização, o estrangeiro passará a ter direito de livre circulação no território nacional, acesso a trabalho remunerado, à educação, à saúde pública e à Justiça. Na última regularização de estrangeiros feita pelo governo federal, em 1998, 39 mil cidadãos foram anistiados.

Segundo dados do Ministério da Justiça, atualmente vivem no Brasil 4.183 refugiados, de 76 diferentes nacionalidades. Desse número, as nacionalidades com maior representantes de refugiados são: Angola (40,4%); Colômbia (13,6%); República Democrática do Congo (8,9%); Libéria (6,2%) e Iraque (4,7%).


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