Saturday, October 14, 2006

Canada's New Bush-Style Politics

For decades, Canada has been known as America's pleasant neighbour to the North, with a political process more focused on practical solutions than ideological combat. But that may be changing as Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper adapts lessons from America's Republicans to the goal of building the same kind of right-wing powerhouse in Canada that George W. Bush relies on in the United States.

For the full story about this dubious U.S. export, go to

Science Matters: Ocean life makes waves

In this week's Science Matters column, David Suzuki writes about the interconnectedness of everything on our planet, and a tiny action in one part of the world can have larger effects across the other side. Thus, we are all like the butterflies, and need to be mindful of what happens when we 'flap our wings'...

Ocean life makes waves

Most people have heard of the “butterfly effect” – the idea that a small change, such as a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world, can set in motion a series of events that leads to a big event, such as a tornado, somewhere else. The term is largely used as a metaphor, but science now shows that there’s a literal aspect to the theory that has much broader implications.

To say that everything is connected to everything else has become a cliché, but it’s true – especially in nature. Scientist and author James Lovelock uses the term “Gaia” to describe the Earth as a living, self-regulating system. According to this hypothesis, all of the planet’s biological creatures are intimately connected with all of its physical systems, from the soils to the oceans to the atmosphere. Changes in any of these systems can affect everything else.

We can see how connected everything is when we release long-lasting substances into the atmosphere. Toxins, for example, can drift out of a smokestack in Hamilton, Ontario or Mumbai, India, circle the earth on the winds or ocean currents, and end up in seemingly pristine areas such as the Far North. In fact these toxins are now found concentrated in the fat of marine mammals and in human breast milk.

In an interconnected world, even a creature as small and seemingly inconsequential as the tiny, shrimp-like krill can have a big impact. These one-to-two centimeter-long creatures already play an important role in the ocean food chain and are a staple in the diet of some of the world’s largest whales. But krill are so small that few would have suspected they could play an important role in generating currents that help mix our ocean waters.

Yet, that’s exactly what a team of researchers from the University of Victoria found off the coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. The researchers looked at a deep ocean inlet where different layers of the water mix very little. They found that thousands of krill, on their nightly upward migration from the deep water to the surface to feed, increased the mixing of water by three to four orders of magnitude. In other words, these tiny creatures actually cause quite a stir.

And it isn’t just krill that cause this water stirring, or “turbulence.” All living organisms that exhibit similar behaviour can cause turbulence, helping to bring cold, nutrient-rich water up to the surface. This exchange of cold and warm water is vital to the productivity of the oceans. It also helps break down human wastes and it even plays an important role in the climate.

But turbulence has largely been thought to be driven almost exclusively by physical forces, like the winds and the tides, rather than by biological forces. The very idea that the behaviour of individual organisms can affect entire systems seems fantastic. Yet the researchers in Victoria conclude that sea creatures themselves may be a critical, but overlooked, source of turbulence in the oceans.

Other researchers go ever further. An article in the Journal of Marine Research calculates that, based on the math, swimming organisms may be one of the most important drivers of ocean turbulence. If this is the case, the authors conclude, then the overfishing that has caused fish stocks to plummet, and the near extinction of many whale species due to hunting may have disrupted ocean turbulence enough to have affected the planet’s climate.

Seemingly small actions can have big consequences. More and more, we are finding that our world is not nearly as vast and limitless as we once supposed. Not only is it interconnected, but it is this very interconnectedness that drives it. In this world, we are all butterflies and we need to be mindful of what can happen when we flap our wings.

Take the Nature Challenge and learn more at

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tomgram: De la Vega, Debunking the Armitage Story

In the first of her two-part series on the Libby case (Pardon Me?), former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega suggested that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and their supporters might already be preparing the groundwork for a Libby presidential pardon, perhaps even before the case begins in mid-January. After all, who wants all that ugly 2002-2003 linen aired, as it will be, under oath? Aren't things bad enough?

Well, not exactly. As the Republicans brace for House losses that, according to the Washington Post, could go as high as 30 seats (a veritable tsunami in our thoroughly gerrymandered age), as that Senate majority begins to look more wobbly, as the President fights for a little media air (with a tad of help from his old axis-of-evil pal, Kim Jong Il), as Iraq simply melts down in a bloodbath of civilians and we're told that the Army's Chief of Staff is planning to maintain present troop levels into the year 2010 (or even go higher), as the Bush Bump of September morphs into the Bush polling freefall of October and every trend turns against the Republicans, as Americans now claim to find Democrats more "trustworthy" on any issue you care to mention, including (for the first time in what seems forever) "moral values" and "the war on terror," as the corruption bullet the Republicans thought they ducked when next to no one seemed to pay attention to the various Abramoff lobbying scandals circles around and comes in for the kill in a ! number of races nationwide, thanks to Rep. Foley's instant sex! message s and the Congressional cover-up of his behavior, a Libby trial, not to speak of a Special Counsel who is still on the loose, must seem an ever less palatable proposition to look forward to.

Call it a Hobson's choice: Face the firestorm of a pardon scandal before January 15 or a riveted public focused on the political equivalent of an OJ trial later that month. In the meantime, the CIA leak case that left agent Valerie Plame twisting, twisting in the wind back in 2003, has itself gained so many twists and turns, not to speak of blind alleys and treacherous cul-de-sacs that many people have simply lost the ability to follow it -- which is why Elizabeth de la Vega offers a complex guided tour to some pretty venal territory that no one should skip. Before we're done, one way or the other, this case is guaranteed to take some more air out of the Bush political room. Tom

Who Said All Roads Lead to Karl?

How CIA-Leak Pardons Could Clear the Decks for 2008
By Elizabeth de la Vega

Who said, "All roads lead to Karl?" And by Karl, of course, I mean President Bush's key political strategist and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove.

Actually, "all roads lead to Karl" is such a true and succinct statement of Rove's influence in the White House and Republican Party that it has often been repeated. But the originator of the comment is Reagan's former Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein. He was quoted using this phrase in a March 2005 New York Times article that described Rove's uniquely powerful role in the Bush administration. As it turns out, Duberstein could just as easily have made the same remark about himself.

Wait a minute. Isn't this supposed to be Part II of Pardon Me? Scooter Libby's Trial Strategy? As I explained last week, the trial of Cheney's former senior aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is set for January 17, 2007 and defense options for court dismissal of the perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice charges are dwindling. (The indictment arose, as most will recall, out of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of a CIA operative's identity -- that operative being Valerie Plame Wilson, former ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife.) Faced with the looming trial date, the wealthy, elite Republican friends of Libby and of the Bush administration appear to be paving the way for him to receive a Presidential pardon -- possibly even before trial -- by portraying the lead prosecutor as a renegade and the case as incons! equential.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Failed Empire?

[Note for readers: The first Tomdispatch book to be published this season has just arrived in the stores. (The second will be not an October, but a late November surprise.) Mission Unaccomplished, Tomdispatch Interviews with American Iconoclasts and Dissenters (Nation Books, $14.95) collects the interviews I've done at the site -- from Howard Zinn, Juan Cole, and Cindy Sheehan to Chalmers Johnson and Barbara Ehrenreich (along with an in-depth conversation between Nick Turse and me). I urge you to buy a copy. The book is a record of remarkable figures of our moment in thoughtful, spirited conversation about the disastrous imperial swamp we all find ourselves in. I never ask Tomdispatch readers to reach into their pockets to support the site, but this is a small and pleasurable way in which to imbibe the word, pass word of Tomdispatch on to others, and offer modest support to the site! (and me). The following essay is written in honor of the interviewees in the book, all of whom I find inspiring. Tom]

George Bush's War of the Words

By Tom Engelhardt

For Homer, those epithets attached to his heroes and gods were undoubtedly mnemonic devices -- the fleet-footed Achilles, Poseidon, the Earth-shaker, the wily Odysseus, the ox-eyed Hera. But isn't it strange how many similar, if somewhat less heroic, catch words and phrases have adhered to key officials of the Bush administration these last years. Here's my own partial list:

President George ("Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job") Bush, Vice President Dick ("last throes") Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald ("stuff happens") Rumsfeld, then-National Security Advisor, now-Secretary of State Condoleezza ("mushroom cloud") Rice, CIA Director George ("slam dunk") Tenet, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul ("[Iraq] floats on a sea of oil") Wolfowitz, Centcom Commander Gen. Tommy ("We don't do body counts") Franks, then-White House Counsel, now-Attorney General Alberto ("quaint"! ) Gonzales, withdrawn Supreme Court nominee and White House Counsel Harriet ("You are the best governor ever") Miers, and most recently Dennis ("The buck stops here") Hastert.

You know a person by the company he or she keeps -- so the saying goes. You could also say that you know an administration by the linguistic company it keeps; and though George Bush is usually presented as an inarticulate stumbler of a speech and news-conference giver, it's nothing short of remarkable how many new words and phrases (or redefined old ones) this President and his administration have managed to lodge in our lives and our heads.

Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been not so much the planet's lone "hyperpower" as its gunslinger in that great Western ("dead or alive") tradition that George and Dick learned about in the movies of their childhood. But fast as they've reached for their guns (and may do so again in relation to Iran after the mid-term elections), over the last years they've reached for one thing faster: their dictionaries.

And of all the words that came to their minds post-9/11, the first and fastest was an old one -- "war." Within hours of the 9/11 attacks, it was already on the scene and being redefined by administration officials and supporters. We would not, for instance, actually declare war. After all, who was war to be declared on? We were simply "at war" and that was that. Since then, according to George Bush and his associates, we have either been fighting "the Global War on Terror" (aka GWOT), "the long war," "the millennium war," "World War III," or "World War IV." We not only entered an immediate state of war, but one meant to last generations, and with it we got a commander-in-chief presidency secretly redefined in such a way as to place it outside any legal boundaries.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Six Nations Peace Gathering on Sunday, October 15th!




Arrive before noon!

Sunday October 15, 2006

Bring food to share.

This is the peaceful response of the people to the hate rally scheduled for the same day in Caledonia. Supporters are asked to attend.

Cash donations are much needed since the band council suspended financial support to the reclamation. Cheques can be made out to Janie Jamieson.

Please make every effort to attend to show your solidarity and support for the Six Nations land reclamation.

For info:

Dick Hill, 519-865-7722

Hazel Hill – .519-865-7723 or 519-445-4351

Janie Jamieson 905-517-7006

Jacqueline House (905) 765-9316

It is important that people make every effort to attend this gathering! With the appointment of Julian Fantino as OPP Commissioner, it is crucial that we demonstrate our unqualified support to the Six Nations Land Reclamation.

Bloggers of Ontario Unite!

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