Tagged: Canada

British Columbia’s policy of killing cubs not based on scientific reality

The fate of two orphaned bear cubs remains uncertain as a B.C. conservation official says they show signs of habituation to humans. A conservation officer was suspended after reportedly refusing to destroy the cubs last weekend.

B.C.’s most experienced rehabilitation specialist for black bears said Wednesday it is crazy for the Ministry of Environment to assert that two eight-week-old cubs on Vancouver Island needed to be killed because they’d become habituated to human food.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Angelika Langen, co-founder of Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers. “There is absolutely no scientific proof that cubs that follow their mothers for (human) food at this age have learned anything…

Langen said of the more than 300 black bears her facility has released in the past 25 years, not one has run into trouble by rummaging for human garbage. Bears receive ear tags and microchips to identify them after release…

There’s been an outpouring of support for conservation officer Bryce Casavant, who was suspended without pay after sparing the lives of two black bear cubs near Port Hardy on Sunday.

The B.C. government has since revised those conditions to a suspension with pay pending an investigation into the incident.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 55,000 people had signed an online petition asking for the officer’s reinstatement.

Ricky Gervais, the British actor, comedian and animal rights advocate with nine million Twitter followers, has urged the government to “reinstate this honourable man.”…

Conservation officers killed a total of 1,872 black bears during the past four years across the province — an average of almost 500 per year, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Environment. The ministry does not keep statistics on how many were cubs…A total of 137 cubs were taken to rehabilitation centres.

I tire of bureaucrats stuck into policies promoted centuries ago to keep cattle herds happy – municipalities continuing in happy ignorance. We move into nature’s habitat and expect guns to control conflicts.

Lloyd hat-trick inspires U.S. Women to World Cup victory


Click to enlargeReuters/Michael Chow

The United States won the Women’s World Cup for the third time, crushing Japan 5-2 on Sunday with striker Carli Lloyd scoring the tournament’s fastest ever hat-trick, including a spectacular goal from the half-way line.

The American captain struck three times inside 16 minutes as the U.S. stormed into an unexpected and unsurmountable 4-0 lead over their shell-shocked opponents.

Japan, winners four years ago, were utterly stunned as the U.S’s deadly finishing ensured they added to their 1991 and 1999 titles, and became the first nation to win the Cup three times…

No team had ever scored more than two goals in a Women’s World Cup final but the brilliant Lloyd went one better all by herself — and within just 16 minutes…

And got her the Golden Ball for the tournament.

Japan restored a little bit of pride in the 27th minute when Yuki Ogimi turned Julie Johnston in the area and fired past Hope Solo to make it 4-1.

The Japanese have been widely praised for their short-passing game but it was an old-fashioned route that brought them, temporarily, back into the game early in the second half.

Aya Miyami’s long free-kick into the box was aimed at Sawa and Johnston rose for the ball but could only deflect a header past a helpless Solo.

The glimmer of hope flickered for just two minutes, however, when a U.S. corner fell to Morgan Brian beyond the far post and she did well to find Tobin Heath, who confidently fired home to make it 5-2 and effectively end Japan’s hope of a comeback.

Bravo! The US Women’s team proved their worth, demonstrated that a nation that still hasn’t grown to full participation in the world’s most popular sport can grow through school programs and amateur leagues to play at the best professional level.

Winnipeg coppers’ sex discussion broadcast to neighborhood – from the sky

winnipeg copper chopper
Voices in the night – from your local copper chopper

Police in the Canadian city of Winnipeg apologized on Tuesday after a lewd conversation about sex was broadcast from the loudspeakers of a police helicopter to a neighborhood below.

Officers on a routine helicopter patrol on Monday night inadvertently activated the aircraft’s public address system while they were having a private conversation…

News of the R-rated conversation took off on Twitter as the city residents who could hear the conversation took to social media to urge the police to turn off their loudspeaker.

Pilots in the Winnipeg police helicopter having a conversation with their loudspeaker on. Pretty funny to hear,” tweeted one resident.

“Does the #Winnipeg chopper realize the entire West End can hear their convo about blow jobs right now?” tweeted another, who noted she was listening from her backyard.

The police service said the incident was being reviewed.

Reviewed? How many stars did it get?

Dust from abandoned mine smothers Canadian town

s3_reutersmedia_net

Heavy dust clouds blowing from Cliffs Natural Resources’ abandoned Wabush iron ore mine into a small township in the eastern Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador is putting a focus on the liability of miners that seek creditor protection and walk away from assets.

Iron ore and coal miner Cliffs Natural Resources Inc announced in February 2014 it was shutting down its Wabush mine. This year it sought creditor protection for its Canadian assets.

The fate of the deserted mine is in limbo until it is either acquired by a rival or Cliffs is able to restructure and exit creditor protection.

Local residents say the abandoned site has many open pits, with drilling equipment, trucks and other equipment stranded on the site…

Vardy said the company used to spray water on its tailings to control dust, but now that the mine has been closed dust is casting a pall around the town and causing health concerns.

The provincial environment department says air quality monitoring stations show that pollution levels are still at low risk levels, which may mean the dust is more of a nuisance than a health risk. Vardy was skeptical.

“When I walk through the community and I can feel the dust on my teeth and I can feel it in my mouth and I can feel it in my nose,” said Vardy, adding the town is urging the provincial government to intervene and release funds from a security bond paid by the company of about C$50 million to cover mitigation costs.

Newfoundland Environment Minister Dan Crummell on Thursday said the government has told Cliffs it is responsible to remediate the land, despite being under bankruptcy protection. He told the provincial legislature that Cliffs recently issued a contract to revegetate the tailings area.

Both Cliffs and U.S. Steel have sought creditor protection for their Canadian arms in a bid to isolate losses and insulate their shareholders.

Critics say the creditor protection filings are thinly veiled attempts by the companies to wash their hands of closure costs and pension liabilities around their assets. U.S. Steel has significant environmental clean-up costs around its Hamilton operations.

Cliffs and U.S. Steel were not available for comment.

As is acceptable in proper society, nowadays, they will let their lobbyists, lawyers, bought-and-paid-for politicians speak for them. The federal government will sit on their hands except when politely applauding.

USDOE tells Freeport LNG not to sell to Chinese customers – Free Trade, eh?

The U.S. Energy Department cautioned Freeport LNG Development LP against signing up Chinese customers for the company’s planned liquefied natural gas export terminal in Texas, Chief Executive Officer Michael Smith said.

“Early on in our project, we were quite frankly warned by the Department of Energy that it would not be looked at as politically correct for us to have a large Chinese customer,” Smith said…at the FT Energy Strategies Summit in New York. “One of the largest Chinese customers wanted a full train,” or processing plant, he said.

In return for signing LNG purchase agreements, Chinese buyers demand equity stakes, which they say are required by their lenders, Smith said. Aside from Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass terminal, which has an investment from a Hong Kong-based company, no U.S. export projects have disclosed Chinese customers…That contrasts with Canada, where Chinese investors are key backers of export projects.

A glut of natural gas production from shale reservoirs has spurred dozens of projects to export LNG. The U.S. may become a net exporter of gas by 2017, government data show. In China, the third-largest market for LNG, demand for gas as a cleaner alternative to coal and oil for power generation is rising…

The Energy Department has given final authorization to six projects, including Freeport’s, to export LNG to countries lacking a free trade agreement with the U.S…The only countries that can’t receive exports are those prohibited by U.S. law or policy, Lindsey Geisler said by e-mail.

If the department did advise Freeport not to seek Chinese customers, “the comment made by DOE was, in my judgment, ill-advised and probably made in the expectation of not being cited publicly, but perhaps to gently dissuade Mr. Smith from entertaining a Chinese terminal user,” Zach Allen, president of Pan Eurasian Enterprises, a…tracker of LNG shipments said.

Canadian LNG projects have attracted Chinese investors, who have bought gas supplies in the field and taken stakes in potential pipelines and shipping terminals. Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s project along the Pacific Coast counts China’s state-owned PetroChina Co. as an investor. CNOOC Ltd., another Chinese state-owned company, has a less advanced Canadian LNG proposal with Inpex Corp. and JGC Corp., both of Japan.

If you’re concerned about how Free Trade operates under the United States government, you can look at this tale as a classic example of our government as liars. Time after time, we get statements from the White House and Congress about China and other Asian nations – but, mostly China – needing to step up and spend their money in the United States. From Huawei to CNOOC, our government then steps in and tries to shut down business.

There is little or no difference between Conservative liars on committees controlled by Congressional Republicans and Liberal liars on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Canada’s right-wing government is falling apart on its own

It’s a good thing for Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper that he’s been out of the country.

Last weekend, in an apparent attempt to distance himself from whatever was about to emerge at the trial of disgraced Senator Mike Duffy, the Conservative leader took off for Iraq and Kuwait.

He ostensibly made the surprise trip to bolster the troops there who are training Kurdish fighters. However, to more cynical political observers, the visit was a blatant attempt to win back military support after last year’s brutal budget cuts to veterans services and benefits. But really? It was all about the photo ops, the stage-managed appearances before the red maple leaf blazing behind fighter jets carefully arranged nose-to-nose just so…

Then there was the case of Omar Khadr, the Canadian-born man captured at age 15 in Afghanistan and imprisoned for nearly half his life at Guantanamo Bay. In 2012, he was finally repatriated to Canada after pleading guilty in 2010 before a US military tribunal to five war crimes. Sentenced to eight years to be served in Canada, he won bail late last month in an Alberta court…

The Harper government, which trots out Khadr as the very scary model of a terrorist, going so far as to bar media access to him, did everything it could to fight his release – as expected. It announced an appeal of the bail decision and then, when it seemed that the proceedings couldn’t be stopped, tried for a stay.

But, on Thursday, Khadr won his freedom on strict conditions and emerged before a horde of reporters. Social media exploded with Canadians’ overwhelmingly favourable reactions to his charisma and humble demeanour, with many remarking on how Khadr’s appearance put the lie to the Harper government myth of the cut-throat, murderous terrorist, the political football they kick around as they play to their base in their terrorists-under-every-bed tactics…

The week grew worse still…Damaging evidence was being produced in the Ottawa courtroom where Senator Mike Duffy, a former Canadian TV star, is facing 31 charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud related to his living and travel expenses.

Conservative MPs were called to testify that taxpayers were subsidising party fundraising efforts by flying Duffy around the country. Even more detrimental to the PMO were revelations of emails exchanged between Harper’s most trusted senate appointees and his top staffers documenting attempts to alter an audit report and conceal its findings.

Probably the week’s most stinging blow came from Harper’s home province of Alberta where, on Tuesday, in a stunning election upset, the provincial NDP won a majority, toppling a 44-year reign by the Conservatives…

Resource sector shares immediately dropped. Newly elected premier Rachel Notley had promised to terminate government support for the Northern Gateway pipeline to the British Columbia coast, and the Keystone XL pipeline to the Texas Gulf coast, two projects that have been the centrepiece of the Harper government’s economic strategy. She also discussed raising the royalties that resource companies pay to the public treasury, royalties that are reportedly the lowest in the world.

When the prime minister returns from his travels, he may find that the political chickens have come home to roost.

Best quote? Opposition leader Tom Mulcair of the New Democratic Party charged, “This is pure Richard Nixon”.

Canada prepares to replace democracy with NSA-approved world view

Widespread protest and souring public opinion has failed to prevent Canada’s ruling Conservative Party from pushing forward with sweeping anti-terror legislation which a battery of legal scholars, civil liberties groups, opposition politicians and pundits of every persuasion say will replace the country’s healthy democracy with a creeping police state.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is looking forward to an easy victory…when the House of Commons votes in its final debate on the bill, known as C-51. But lingering public anger over the legislation suggests that his success in dividing his parliamentary opposition may well work against him when Canadians go to the polls for a national election this fall.

No legislation in memory has united such a diverse array of prominent opponents as the proposed legislation, which the Globe and Mail newspaper denounced as a a plan to create a “secret police force”.

The campaign to stop Bill C-51 grew to include virtually every civil-rights group, law professor, retired judge, author, editorialist and public intellectual in Canada…

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Justice Minister Peter MacKay have described the bill as a “reasonable and proportionate” response to the threat of “jihadi terrorism.” – blah, blah, blah.

Hundreds of thousands of ordinary Canadians signed petitions urging the bill be scrapped and took to the streets in a national day of protest last month.

Critics of the legislation say the imminent law gives Canadian spies sweeping new powers to investigate and disrupt broadly defined threats to public safety, with language that makes no distinction between terrorist plots and legitimate political protests and demonstrations. At the same time, it neglects to provide any increased oversight of the country’s vastly empowered chief spy agency, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service.

Harper like so many other supposedly independent – but always obedient – leaders of the world’s industrial nations can be counted on to toe the party line established by the White House. Whether that rarely honorable structure houses a Republican or Democrat.

When the topic is homeland security – as defined by Wall Street savants and corporate lobbyists – there is only one source for standards or the lack thereof. That is Uncle Sugar. And if you want to keep your place in the gallery of loyalist ideologues, you had better fall in line.

Shelter from the cold; well, sort of — Canadian ice-fishing huts

Photographer Richard Johnson has spent the past eight winters traveling through nine of Canada’s ten provinces taking photos of ice fishermen’s huts. The deserted shacks against the desolate background of Canada’s most remote territories creates a strikingly beautiful scene. “It is architecture at its most primitive level,” he says. “It’s shelter. It’s portable. It’s made by the owners of the hut. It’s not pretentious. It is a solution. Every single person needs heat.”

When asked why he enjoys photographing such simple structures he says, “For me, these are really portraits of the individual. But the individual is not present.”

Enjoy larger – and more – photos. From across the width of Canada.

Canadian airport provides really low cost aid to returning travelers

A Nova Scotia airport is offering travelers parked in the long-term lot shovels to dig their cars out of the 35 inches of snow that fell on the area this week.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport spokeswoman Ashley Gallant said the airport is providing shovels for travelers returning from vacation to find their vehicles have been buried in snow.

Gallant said the snow has led to a lack of parking spaces, as many of the vacant spots have yet to be plowed.

Not how I would handle it; but, better than nothing. And it ain’t my airport, anyway.

Dangerous trains, aging rails, what could possibly go wrong?

A CSX freight train ran off the rails last month in rural Mount Carbon, W.Va. One after another, exploding rail cars sent hellish fireballs hundreds of feet into the clear winter sky. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency, and the fires burned for several days…

These explosions have generally been attributed to the design of the rail cars — they’re notoriously puncture-prone — and the volatility of the oil; it tends to blow up. Less attention has been paid to questions surrounding the safety and regulation of the nation’s aging network of 140,000 miles of freight rails, which carry their explosive cargo through urban corridors, sensitive ecological zones and populous suburbs.

Case in point: The wooden trestles that flank the Mobile and Ohio railroad bridge, built in 1898, as it traverses Alabama’s Black Warrior River between the cities of Northport and Tuscaloosa. Oil trains rumble roughly 40 feet aloft, while joggers and baby strollers pass underneath. One of the trestles runs past the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Yet when I visited last May, many of the trestles’ supports were rotted and some of its cross braces were dangling or missing.

The public has only one hope of finding out if such centenarian bridges are still sturdy enough to carry these oil trains. Ask the railroads. That’s because the federal government doesn’t routinely inspect rail bridges. In fact, the government lacks any engineering standards whatsoever for rail bridges. Nor does it have an inventory of them.

The only significant government intrusion into the railroads’ self-regulation of the nation’s 70,000 to 100,000 railroad bridges is a requirement that the companies inspect them each year. But the Federal Railroad Administration, which employed only 76 track inspectors as of last year, does not routinely review the inspection reports and allows each railroad to decide for itself whether or not to make repairs…

Five oil trains have exploded in the United States in the last 16 months. Miraculously, there have been no deaths. Canada, however, hasn’t been so lucky. In July 2013, an oil train carrying North Dakota oil burst into flames in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic, about 10 miles from the Maine border, killing 47 people…

But more than a year and a half after Lac-Mégantic, new regulations have yet to be finalized as the railroad and oil industries argue about various proposed provisions…And without regulations, reporting or penalties, the public has only the railroads’ word they are complying with the 50 m.p.h. speed limit…

Before leaving office last year, Deborah A. P. Hersman, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, questioned whether industry representatives and regulators had a tombstone mentality when it came to oil trains. If nobody dies, she suggested, there’s no pressure to act. So far, the tombstones have all been in Canada.

Does any of this sound like a successful industry in a modern, progressive nation?

Like all of the 19th Century economy remaining in North America, we witness only the greed of those who inherited, stole or otherwise acquired control of the assets of out-of-date industries – and the technology that came with it. If unionized, they bring in every flavor of corrupt politician to take away rights and safe practices. Any portion of their fiefdom out of sight of urban watchdogs is fair game for ignoring safety. And state governments – who could count on corporations and Congress to actually work together at building out and growing, say, in 1955 – haven’t admitted to themselves that maintaining this old infrastructure is necessary; so, let’s just ignore it. Maybe it will go away?

That will happen the same way highway bridges and overpasses will heal themselves with magic concrete and gasoline will stay under $3 a gallon right on into the 22nd Century.