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U.N. Urban Summit Gives Rise to a Mixture of Optimism and Criticism E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Wednesday, 19 October 2016 08:16


Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (left) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon during a meeting with journalists at the inauguration of the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), on Monday, Oct. 17 in Quito. Credit: Presidency of Ecuador

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa (left) and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon during a meeting with journalists at the inauguration of the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), on Monday, Oct. 17 in Quito. Credit: Presidency of Ecuador

QUITO, Oct 18 2016 (IPS) - Experts and activists greeted with a mixture of hope and skepticism the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which opened Monday Oct. 17 in the capital of Ecuador, and which seeks to produce a new urban agenda for cities and their inhabitants.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 October 2016 08:21
Private Interests Valued over Human Lives in Flint, Michigan E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Tuesday, 18 October 2016 08:27

Private Interests Valued over Human Lives in Flint, Michigan


Flint water tower. Credit: George Thomas / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Flint water tower. Credit: George Thomas / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

NEW YORK, Oct 16 2016 (IPS) - When the water in Flint, Michigan was found to be corroding cars at a General Motors’ (GM) factory,

government officials agreed to change the factory’s water source, yet the same water source continued to poison the residents of Flint for another year.


From 17 to 20 October governments will meet in Quito, Ecuador, for HABITAT III, the UN’s most important conference about cities,

which only occurs once every 20 years. HABITAT III looks to inaugurate a new urban agenda and set down goals about how cities can and should be responsible for the wellbeing of their inhabitants.

Central Coast diesel spill response slow, ineffective, serious damage done: Heiltsuk E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Monday, 17 October 2016 19:05

Central Coast diesel spill response slow, ineffective, serious damage done: Heiltsuk

The Nathan E. Stewart fuel barge and part-sunken tug the morning of the incident (Jordan Wilson/Pacific Wild)

The Nathan E. Stewart fuel barge and part-sunken tug the morning of the incident (Jordan Wilson/Pacific Wild)

Judging by official statements in the aftermath of the ongoing Central Coast diesel fuel spill, the response to the disaster was relatively effective and damage minimized – a PR line largely soaked up by the mainstream media. To the people in whose territory the incident occurred, the Heiltsuk Nation, and local residents who will have to live with the consequences of the spill, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Recent press seems to suggest that containment efforts have been successful. Let me set the record straight: containment has not been successful, and clean-up efforts have barely begun,” says Heiltsuk On-Scene Commander William Housty. “The damage has been done, and the best we can work towards is mitigation.”

A Heiltsuk media statement this morning drives the point home in measurable terms:

Only 6,554 gallons of the 59,924 gallons of diesel onboard the tug were able to be pumped from the vessel before it sank in Heiltsuk Territory on the morning of October 13th. Since then, the sunken vessel has been leaking diesel into an area of enormous ecological, economic, and cultural significance to the Heiltsuk Nation.

Diesel fuel slick in Gale Pass (Megan Humchitt)

Diesel fuel slick in Gale Pass (Megan Humchitt)

The spill occurred just outside Gale Pass – an important shellfish harvesting site for the Heiltsuk peoples – along with herring spawn on kelp and other fisheries. PR people for the cleanup company, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC), and the company that owns the fuel barge whose tug ran aground and leaked all this fuel, Texas-based Kirby Corporation, have insisted that the contents of the tug, marine diesel, easily dissipate and evaporate, downplaying contamination concerns. If this were the case, then why was Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) compelled to shut down shellfish harvesting for 11 sub-areas around the spill on Friday via an “emergency chemical contaminant closure”?

These PR people have also been quick to counter early concerns about slow response time to the spill. But here are a few key points to consider:

  • Initial response came via local contractors for WCMRC, employees of the Shearwater Fishing Resort – and they were not well positioned to respond effectively, according to Kelly Brown, director of the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department. “The first responding vessels were not equipped to deal with a spill, and had to return to town to gather more gear,” noted Brown, one of the first responders on the scene. “The Heiltsuk are providing our own equipment because what responders have been able to provide so far is insufficient.”
  • The main flotilla of response vessels dispatched from Prince Rupert the morning of the spill (which occurred around 1 AM) didn’t reach the site until later that evening
  • The tug boat had long since sunk – two thirds of its body underwater, though initially still coupled to the barge – before booms were deployed around it. It doesn’t take a marine engineer to understand that fuel leaking below the surface, amid strong currents and tides, can easily evade booms up above.
  • Gale Pass, the entrance to key shellfish waters and beaches, was not adequately boomed until much later, due to strong outflowing currents. Heiltsuk responders who were on the scene expressed in frustration to me that if the booms were deployed earlier, at high tide, they may have remained in place, but with the delay in placing them, they were not able to be properly secured, thus allowing more fuel to make its way up the pass at a critical time.
  • No skimming or cleanup efforts began until the following day – initially it was only “contain and protect mode”.
  • There were many players involved – Shearwater contractors, Heitlsuk responders, Coast Guard, WCMRC; eventually other contractors brought in by Kirby, Resolve Marine Group and Meredith Management; plus the company’s own Incident Commander, Jim Guidry, along with Federal, Provincial and Heiltsuk incident commanders. Did this contribute to the confusion observed by eyewitnesses on the scene in the early hours of the response? This is something that should be studied for future incidents.
  • With all these different players coming and going, the Heiltsuk were left to carry much of the load themselves – which they did admirably, according to many of the players involved, much like their Gitga’at neighbours to the north were forced to do in the wake of the sinking of the Queen of the North a number of years ago.
  • We still don’t know the official cause of the incident. Was it mechanical or instrument failure? Did human error play a role? The tug and barge appear to have gone wildly off-course for a number of miles. Did the captain fall asleep at the wheel? Why did his co-pilot not take control? Or did he not even have a co-pilot? We need answers to these questions asap.

Long after the incident command is dismantled and the media loses interest in the story, the Heiltsuk and central coast residents will still be dealing with the consequences of this spill.

Heiltsuk responders (Megan Humchitt)

Heiltsuk responders (Megan Humchitt)

“The Heiltsuk are heartbroken and angry over this environmental disaster. We don’t know how many years or decades it will be before we are able to harvest in these waters again,” said Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett.

“Yet our community members are heroic. The overwhelming majority of vessels out on the water are Heiltsuk volunteer crews. Our community members are doing their best to assist with response efforts, but have not been receiving adequate direction or training from the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in charge of the clean up.”

Bear in mind that despite these serious impacts to shellfish grounds and other natural resources, matters could have been much, much worse, had the fuel barge the tug was towing been full instead of making its return trip from Alaska to a southern port for refuelling.

This is why the Heiltsuk are calling for this incident to spur a long-discussed north coast tanker banwhich the Trudeau government has yet to act upon. “We must take note, however, that tanker barges like this might not even be included in the ban. The ban needs to be complete, and spill response must be improved,” a recent statement noted.

In contemplating this ban, the Trudeau government would do well to ask itself: why does such a vessel need to take the inside passage? Why not direct it further west on the outer coast, avoiding the myriad navigational hazards, communities and sensitive ecological areas of the inner coast?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 16:28
The Rigged Trump Pivot E-mail
Posted by Dragonslayer   
Monday, 17 October 2016 18:04

Donald Trump is doing everything he is accusing others about.  That is a tactic of his to pivot away from him and change the subject when it is he who is the bad guy.  His most recent move is to claim the election is rigged to get the press to change the subject and pivot away from focusing on his sexual abuse and instead talk about a rigged election.

Last Updated on Monday, 17 October 2016 18:16
Voter Fraud Claim is False E-mail
Posted by Dragonslayer   
Monday, 17 October 2016 13:08

Hillary Clinton's opponent claims the election is rigged by the Press and establishment.  First of all that is not ballot box fraud as he has tried to make people believe.  His claim is that he is not getting good press.  Well the press is giving him almost all of the coverage and it is Hillary who should be complaining about not getting equal coverage by the press.   The fact that he is getting bad press is because he has nothing except bad things and lies to say.   His past is all his and now that it is bitting him where it hurts is his own fault.    He has only himself to blame for that foot in the mouth.  If he wants to stick the other one in his mouth ...well good luck with that.


I fail to see what he is complaining about.  He has said that any coverage is good news.  It's about making hiis name brand.  From his perspective the public will soon forget about what he has said or done.   They will see the name brand and it will make him a house hold name.   It is all about making him a person of influence.   Influence he can use to control others.   Think of the Coke brand and all the bad things associated with it.  All it takes is a little sexy advertising and the public forgets about all the bad stuff associated with the brand. 

Habitat III: time to implement habitat I E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Sunday, 16 October 2016 19:44



Declaration of Principles


Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, 1976


HABITAT: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements,

            Aware that the Conference was convened following recommendation of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly, particularly resolution 3128 (XXVIII) by which the nations of the world expressed their concern over the extremely serious condition of human settlements, particularly that which prevails in developing countries,

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 16:21
Resisting the Dakota Access Pipeline: “This Is Not The End” E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Saturday, 15 October 2016 22:56

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

A #NoDAPL demonstration in Oakland, CA. Credit: Peg Hunter / Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0

A #NoDAPL demonstration in Oakland, CA. Credit: Peg Hunter / Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0

NEW YORK, Oct 11 2016 (IPS) - Resistance towards the controversial Dakota Access pipeline continues after a federal court rejected requests to halt construction on Monday.


Since August, members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and thousands of allies from across the North American nation have gathered in North Dakota to protest the 1,172 mile long pipeline.

Cultivating a Different Future for Rural Women in Argentina E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Saturday, 15 October 2016 22:48


This article is published ahead of the International Day of Rural Women, celebrated October 15

Olga Campos (left), her grandson Jhonny and her sister-in-law Limbania Limache, on the three-hectare leased plot of land where they plant organic vegetables in El Pato, 44 km south of Buenos Aires.In cold, hot or wet weather they work every day in the vegetable garden. Credit: Guido Ignacio Fontán/IPS


EL PATO, Argentina, Oct 13 2016 (IPS) - Her seven children have grown up, but she now takes care of a young grandson while working in her organic vegetable garden in El Pato, south of the city of Buenos Aires. Olga Campos wants for them what she wasn’t able to achieve: an education to forge a different future.

I am 40 years old and I am just now going to school,.. something that I never thought I would do. As I was not able to go to school, to me as a mother the most important thing was that my kids got to go,” Campos told IPS in this town of 7,000 people in the municipality of Berazategui, (44 km from the capital of Argentina.)

Last Updated on Monday, 17 October 2016 14:00
Thousands march in Europe against EU-Canada trade deal E-mail
Posted by Joan Russow   
Saturday, 15 October 2016 22:45

Protesters display anti-CETA and TTIP placards during a protest by various NGOs in front of the chancellery in Berlin on October 12, 2016


Thousands of people demonstrated Saturday in France, Spain and Poland against a EU-Canada free trade deal and a far more ambitious agreement with the United States.

Activists charge that the Canada deal will set a dangerous precedent and open the way for a similar but far more sweeping pact with Washington, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

TTIP has already run into trouble, with the EU saying it will not be agreed before President Barack Obama leaves office in January, as was initially planned.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 13:58
Responsible For The US Economy E-mail
Posted by admin   
Saturday, 15 October 2016 20:25

There has been an avalanche of accusations from Trump accusing the White House for the terrible state of the US economy.  But wait a cotton pickin minute - >...Doesn't the Congress determine what laws get passed?  Yes the president has to sign into law but it is the Republican controlled Congress who has wrote the story.  Dispite all that, Oboma has been able to help lift the US economy through the worst recession since the great depression.   


The resession of 2008 was brought on by republican policies of small government and unregulated business.  So the banking system became an institution out of control.  Creating the sub prime mortgage was the straw the brought it all down and cost millions jobs leaving the future generations to pick up the bill.   Elect Trump and you will get a casino economy that will make him rich and the rest of you....well you can guess that fate.

Hillary Clinton's Private Servers The Best E-mail
Posted by Dragonslayer   
Saturday, 15 October 2016 19:57

For whaterver reason Hillary Clinton has accepted that not using the Government servers to handle her email was wrong.   But wait just a cotton pickin moment -> The government servers are like Swiss cheese.  Almost every hacker on the planet is trying to get inside info from the US government servers.   The inconvenient truth for all those who said she was wrong is that her private servers remain private to this day.  They never got hacked.  They are so secure that the government had to order her to release them.   The only way they ever became to the be hacked was by government order.  


Since the entire witch hunt was admittedly orchestrated by the Republican party one might justifyably conclude that the Republicans are the bad guys.  Unable to hack her email they had to get the Congress to get them released.


To my way of thinking Hillary's process was more secure than the government servers.   If you place a safe in the middle of the road, it will be gone in a minute.   Place a garbage bage full of money in the same place and people will drive around it all day long.   Hillary's emails were as secure as it gets.  If you can't find the server, how can you hack it?

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 October 2016 20:18
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