8.31.2012

Knowing When Enough is Enough


Drawing a line between wants and needs is one of the most wicked problems we face  Lao Tau wrote almost 2,800 years that. "Only those who know when enough is enough can ever have enough." So apparently this question long pre-dates our current philosophical angst in the affluent west about materialism and the use of retail therapy as the popular solution the that angst. Lao Tau, often called the earliest anarchist, offered his solutions in China during the 6th century BC. His thoughts and words about opposing authority and hierarchical organization have inspired many memorable minds to this very day.

One of the most famous anarchists inspired by the great Taoist philosopher Lao Tau was Peter Kropotkin who's political focus on local production led to his view that a country should strive for self-sufficiency – manufacture its own goods and grow its own food, lessening dependence on imports emphasises exactly the same points that The Mud Report has been making recently. In Kropotkin's 1902 book 'Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution' he uses his training as a scientist when he became one of the first to argue that it was an evolutionary emphasis on cooperation instead of competition that defined the long term survival of organisms His co-operation of the fittest concept has become the most widely accepted model of evolutionary biologists.

Attempting to measure enough is, for each of us, a Rorschach test wherein we can examine how and where we've chosen to draw our ephemeral line between wants and needs. Ephemeral because our individual choices are transitory, transient and subject to change. If our goal is happiness and our current choices aren't making us happy, it makes no sense to believe that 'more' will turn the tide. More consumption, more stuff, more-more-more is an endless ocean that can never be filled, there can never be enough 'more'. Living simply and wanting less is the key to knowing when enough is enough.

Living simply includes co-operation with the circle of life we are immersed within and doing our best to hand on to the next generation a world and a life worth living. Being part of the miracle in the garden has taught me that the single greatest service each of us can provide to our planet, our families and ourselves, is to grow our own organic food from non-hybrid seeds. To save our own seed in turn, and in so doing be part of the future solution to the present day destruction being sown by GMO's, agri-business and bio-technology corporations. Perhaps being a small part of this one great service can be enough.




8.30.2012

Local Exchange Trading Systems are Powering Self-Sustaining Collective Solutions


LETS, or Local Exchange Trading Systems, are local community trading groups where folks exchange their goods and services in a collective spirit of fair trade. A collective LETS group often has two interwoven means of trading goods and services. One is a local currency that is physically exchanged, just like any other currency, when and where that exchange takes place.The second is often an online system, some automatic like a spreadsheet others manual, that functions as a bookkeeper for the transactions by keeping records and putting the the exchangers accounts into debit or credit accordingly.

One of the huge advantages a LETS system has over a capitalist banking system is that an account which is in credit identifies a person who has given more 'favours' than he's received. An account which is in debit identifies a person who has received more 'favours' than he's given. As there is no interest paid to accounts in credit, and no interest charged to accounts in debit, neither situation is a problem, and both are necessary in order to make transactions happen. Every time interest is charged on borrowed currency in a capitalist transaction it is a drain on the real wealth of the community, interest is the biggest reason the rich, the 1%, get richer while the 99% get poorer.

Alternative economic solutions are on the rise everywhere, but nowhere faster than in sovereign debt riddled Europe, especially Spain and Greece. Many parts of Europe have a long history of collective economic organization and many also still have a far smaller scale family run agricultural system than we do here in North America. Both of these along with 'the mother of invention' have led their struggling poor and un-employed to adopt small-scale anarchistic solutions as the recession there darkens. Anarchism really means people working together outside of the structure of the state to meet people's needs, exactly what's happening there.

There are many LETS and community currency systems in North America. Fourth Corner Exchange in the Pacific Northwest is an Alternative Monetary System that supports a successful cooperative economy. Vancouver's currency, Seedstock, is a new system targeting local food production. Many smaller communities too, like up here in Powell River BC, are combining a local LETS system, ours is based on the Comox BC model from over on the island, with a local currency, the Powell River Dollar in our case, in an effort to bolster the PR Transition Town's growing success story.

Small communities, especially somewhat isolated ones, sometimes have a built in advantage in that they are often far more self- contained and self-sustaining to begin with. The success or failure of many of these collective endeavors seems to ride on their ability to build self-sustaining organic food production and exchange networks at their base. Real food is wealth, and real wealth - fresh local organic food - is only available to those who garden themselves or those who collectively organize themselves in a way that provides it for them. LETS do it, eh.

8.29.2012

The Solution to Raw Material Export and Unemployment is Self-Sufficient Local Economies


The last few Mud Reports have focused on some of the culprits responsible for BC's  forestry mis-management in an attempt to explain one aspect of why we here in BC, despite the province's abundance of natural resources, have a huge disparity between rich and poor as well unacceptably high unemployment, underemployment and working class malaise. Whether it be raw log exports from BC or raw bitumen exports from Alberta or minerals from the north or potash from the prairies or any other of the many types of raw materials Canada exports daily the reasons why it's done always can be boiled down to globalization and its evil off-spring free trade.

Sticking with raw log exports to exemplify how globalized predatory capitalism undermines our local economies requires a basic understanding of who benefits from exporting unprocessed logs, or any other raw material. Publicly owned corporations are either multi-national or owned by shareholders who are. As a result borders provide no barrier to the movement of investors' capital. Investors - shareholders - only want more profits, more dividends and higher stock market prices. The corporations only job is to keep the shareholders happy, so if exporting raw materials from a country with high processing costs, like Canada, due to high wages or strict environmental regulations or a high currency rate to a different country where it costs less to process them and therefore generates higher profits, then that's what they do 100% of the time unless government regulations restrict those exports.

Governments used to restrict those exports, used to require corporations to generate jobs in exchange for access to commonly owned natural resources, used to charge duties on goods that came from other countries where wages, environmental regulations or currency exchange rates made price's artificially low. But all that was before the neo-liberal globalization crazies and free traders cajoled and bribed governments - a task made easier because most governments were already owned by and operated for the benefit of the rich investor class already - into adopting the scheme we working class folks all labour under now.

Fortunately the globalization bandwagon has 'developed' itself into having a series of flat tires. The greedy banksters, not content with their already outrageous profits, invented derivatives and easily sold the worthless crap to other greedy investors worldwide. This one flat tire alone has caused global economic chaos, some of which has generated new experiments in alternative economies. For instance all across Europe as their recession darkens working class folks who've been impoverished are experimenting with local currencies, local labour trading and good old fashioned bartering as the solution.

Spain's experiments with local/social currency [see photo above of Jacinto Garcia buying baked goods with Turutas, the social currency used in the Catalonian fishing town of Vilanova i la Geltru, Spain] are an excellent example of what Jane Jacobs' groundbreaking book 'The Nature of Economies'  which promotes a grassroots, organic, neighbourhood-based process to rehabilitate local economies She equates local economics to what happens with biomass, the sum total of all flora and fauna in an area. In her book Jacobs explained metaphorically decades ago how the energy doesn't just escape the community as an export. It continues being used in the community, just as in a rainforest the waste from certain organisms and various plants and animals gets used by other ones in that place.

The solutions to predatory capitalism lie in our own backyard gardens and basement small businesses. Small anarchistic individual solutions, not large systemic changes, are the key to what appears to be an intractable worldwide problem. Anarchism really means people working together outside of the structure of the state to meet people's needs. Globalization is the dream of the predatory capitalists, only by dreaming a new collective dream can we the people escape their nightmare.

8.28.2012

Huge Minister of Forests Budget Cuts Produce an Intimidated Staff and Terrible Forest Practices



Since 2002, the BC Liberal government has slashed more than 1,100 forestry workers' jobs from the Forests and Range ministry. That, along with former premier Gordon Campbell’s idiotic move to collapse the forests ministry into that “super” ministry has resulted in a demoralized and intimidated staff. Also in 2002, the B.C. Liberals changed provincial forestry laws, lessening the obligation of harvesters to replant. Then they cut the budget for silviculture by almost 90 per cent. Ten years later, we have learned that there are more than one million hectares of  “not sufficiently restocked” land.

Then we have British Columbia's Auditor General John Doyle's recently released report on the state of timber management by the Minister of Forests which says, "...by any measure is a scathing indictment of the ministry and proof that the continuous funding cuts made by 11 years of BC Liberal government have left a once proud Forest Service in disarray. Each budget year rolls out deeper and deeper cuts, laying off experienced professional staff and severely reducing the Ministry’s ability to fulfill its purpose."

Over 90% of British Columbia is Crown land, owned by all the people of British Columbia, and it is the responsibility of the Forest Service to act as stewards for this land and cutting of staff  is incredibly short-sighted. It's also effective if your goal is to generate reports from that now insecure staff that agree with your pre-conceived agenda.

Professional foresters are highly trained intelligent people who know full well that clear-cuts and mono-culture plantations aren't good forestry practices. Many have attended courses like those of of UBC Forestry Prof. Suzanne Simard, who at UBC lectures on and researches the role of mycorrhizae and mycorrhizal networks in the web of life that supports us all. All of them are trained in how the progression of species through time leads to a balanced mature forest and the dangers inherent in a mono-cultured plantation compared to the long term health and resilience of an interconnected real forest.

But folks are folks, including BC's forestry professionals. They have families to support, mortgages to pay and careers. In any organization, including the Ministry of Forests, a researcher knows exactly what results his or her supervisor wants - the results their superiors want to hear. And so on up the food chain it goes, until it reaches the top predator, in this case BC's Liberal government.

The results are clear from the Timber Supply Report, the Auditor General's Report of from the Association of BC Forest Professionals themselves - the BC Liberals have, in the last 11 years, run our once powerful forest industry into the ground. Why? Is it simply to cut costs so as to achieve an apparently balanced budget in the short term and pay for it by destroying the long term viability of our forests while at the same time cutting government revenues by lowering taxes on the corporations and their rich benefactors? Sure looks like it from here.

8.27.2012

NDP Votes With Liberals in Support of the Timber Supply Report to Log BC's Forest Reserves


The NDP has been the opposition party for most of its existence here in BC. During all of that time the parties they opposed, whatever their name was at the time, were an amalgamation of right-wing, development at all costs, capitalists which has always made the NDP's  arguments sound greener than they acted during the eras when they managed to win the election. They showed their stripes recently when they voted along with the BC Liberals in support of the Timber Supply Report which calls for the logging of 'reserves' to increase the timber supply.

These reserves that the Liberals and NDP were so quick to throw under the bus are the last remaining habitat for a number of species from cariboo and moose to soil bacteria, owls and hundreds of the other endangered species that still cling to life in BC's once abundant biosphere. These supposed reserves were made reserves to protect and preserve the native species that once populated BC so that one day, perhaps after the present rapacious dominant species drowns in its own excrement, might have a chance to repopulate the region and thereby allow it to recover its abundance.

Why would BC's NDP vote in favor of a report like that? Because they, like all political parties, are beholding to their financial supporters. During the hearings leading up to the report the Steelworkers Union [formally the IWA] was outspoken in their support of expanding logging into reserves. It's understandable, though IMO ignorantly short term thinking, that the forestry unions take that position, they are speaking only for their present members. The NDP, however, should be speaking for all British Columbians, present and future. They should be what the quarterly profit driven capitalists never are - long term thinkers.

None of these culprits, Liberals, NDP, unions or capitalists, paid more than lip service to what almost every person in the comment section of every article on the situation saw clearly as the best solution - STOP raw log exports immediately. The people of BC see what the culprits refuse to see, there's value added prosperity and jobs, if we utilize to the maximum, our own natural resources. The timber supply problem is caused by short term thinking, no matter how well managed our forest resource is from now on it'll take 50-100 years for that past mismanagement to be overcome. Increasing the supply slightly for a decade by logging the reserves in order to save a few jobs is just more short term thinking that the future generations [if there are any] will have to pay for.

Stopping raw log exports immediately will cost investors and speculators money [who could deserve it more] and it will increase the cost of BC's lumber. But why worry about the cost of BC lumber to other countries. We have it, they need it. Trust me, much like Newfoundland's Danny Williams did with the big oil vultures, they will be back at the table soon enough to buy. It should be a crime to sell out our natural resources to other countries in the service selfish personal gain for the few while eliminating jobs for the people who are supposed to own the resources, yet that's exactly what BC's Liberal and NDP parties both support.

The BC NDP's website attempts to turn the focus onto the BC Liberals for the shortcomings of the recent Timber Supply Report and away from their complicity in its conclusions. but... it's important to remember that the most significant environmental protests and one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history occurred in the summer of 1993 when the then NDP government of BC sent in the RCMP who arrested nearly 1,000 of the 11,000 people who came to Clayoquot Sound that summer to take part in the protests against the logging of the old-growth forests on Meares Island that was trumpeted by the NDP's IWA backers and legislated by the NDP government of the time, 'a time i remember oh so well'.

8.26.2012

Ends Justify Means on the Harper Regime's Slippery Torture Slope


Canada signed the UN Convention Against Torture which has an absolute prohibition against torture as does the UN Human Rights Commission. Torture is also prohibited under the Criminal Code of Canada. Nonetheless, Harper's Conservative government has been quietly, without any notice to the public, changing the rules with respect to information that may have been tainted by torture. The Canadian Press managed to obtain documents from Sept. 9 2011 through the Access to Information Act. The documents are directives that extend the order originally sent to CSIS to "make the protection of life and property its overriding priority" including the use of information based on torture to the RCMP and the Border Services Agency as well. In doing so, the Harper government continues to argue that the ends justify the means.

Up until now the documents in question have remained classified even though this is an important change in policy and one would think should have been discussed in parliament. In the past and present the UN has accused Canada of being 'complicit' in rights violations saying, "There is clearly complicity in the ministerial direction to CSIS, the RCMP, Border Security and other departments that allows intelligence information to be shared with other countries even when that might cause torture, and in authorizing the use of intelligence information that was likely obtained through torture in other countries."

Canada's international obligations with respect to torture are directed not only at those who apply electric shocks and beat prisoners with cables and clubs. Al countries, including Canada, are obliged to ensure that they do not in any way facilitate torture in other countries. They are required to make sure torturers face justice wherever they commit their crimes. And they must put in place laws, policies and oversight processes that will prevent torture and ill-treatment from occurring in the first place. The UN Committee Against Torture finds Canada comes up short across all of those obligations.

Human-rights, whether dealing with the right to food, protection against torture or any other right, are universal. No one is more or less entitled than anyone else to have their rights protected. Yet Canada's Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and our 'dear leader' Harpo believe, like the right-wing nutjobs in America and endless fascist regimes down through history, that they are allowed to stand above the national and international laws designed to protect the weakest among us from the abuses of exactly this type of megalomaniac. Harpo and his brethren, believing themselves to be exceptional because they are being guided by a 'higher' law, are instead taking Canada quickly down a slippery torture slope that ends who knows where.


8.25.2012

Raw Log Exports - Driven by Corruption and Greed - Are Destroying Jobs and the Commons in BC



BC's controversial new forest plan has been cobbled together by the Special Committee on Timber Supply's report that was itself a response to the tragic explosion and fire at the Babine Forest Proucts mill last winter in that the rebuilding of the mill is totally dependent on an available timber supply. The committee made up of BC Liberals and NDP politicians along with Forest Ministry foresters and assorted government bureaucrats concluded, among other things, that the only way that Babine could be assured of the necessary supply over the next decade was to log the 'reserves' of forest that would otherwise not have been logged.

As the Tyee article titled 'A Shocking Glimpse of BC's New Forest Plan' explains: "So-called 'reserves' are biologically rich remnant patches of old-growth trees, important forests for wildlife species, forests in visually stunning valleys or slopes near towns, economically more marginal tracts of trees and forests higher up on mountain slopes are now all about to be 'harvested'. All in the name of buying a few more years of logging, which will in turn place an even higher burden on future generations." The BC Liberal and NDP members of the timber supply committee were unanimous in their decision to resolve the Burns Lake issue by logging these 'reserves'.

The committee also unanimously agreed that exporting unprocessed logs from the Burns Lake and Prince George regions is a mistake that has done harm to all of the stakeholders, be they mill operators, forest workers or forest-dependent communities. In the 1990s, log exports were well below a million cubic metres per year. Today, that number is north of 5 million cubic metres. Raw log exports were minimal and usually restricted to ceremonial or carving type uses until the early 80s when the high interest rate driven recession of that era was used as a weapon of propaganda by the bankers and capitalists who then leveraged the public's fear by the mid 80's into allowing the “free enterprising” Socreds  to shred the TFL agreements. Specifically the paragraphs that required local manufacturing and the requirement by license holders to actually employ people.

Further changes in the tenure language which took place during the early 90’s when each of the licenses were reissued pertaining to jobs and local manufacturing have led to huge profits for shareholders and bankers, to huge bonuses for corporate executives and to the loss of thousands of jobs as a result of the corruption of government bureaucrats and politicians by the capitalist greed machine.

More tomorrow on how the interplay of government, corporate greed, professional foresters and unions led us and BC's once endless forests to today's sorry state. For today, let's end with 'The Charter of the Forest', the section of the Magna Carta that myth says was forced on the elites long ago by the original Robin Hood. The Charter of the Forest demanded protection of the commons from external power. The commons were then, as they are still here in BC, the source of sustenance for the general population: their fuel, their food, their construction materials, whatever was essential for life. The Charter of the Forest imposed limits to privatization but over time the rise of capitalism undermined how the commons were treated. In present day BC, and beyond, ignorance and fear have nearly eclipsed the concept of the commons as the shared heritage that was passed down to us by our ancestors and blinded us to our duty to pass it on to our descendants.

8.24.2012

BC's Timber Supply Report Shows How Short-Term Thinking Creates a Reverse Robin Hood Effect


This week's report to the BC Legislature by the Special Committee on Timber Supply ironically titled 'Growing Fibre, Growing Value' concludes what you'd expect a committee of 'professional foresters', politicians and assorted bureaucrats' report to conclude. In part it says that at least 12,000 more jobs will be lost in the central and northern BC forest districts in the coming decade due to the destruction wrought by the pine beetle infestation. What it fails to mention is legion, including the fact that 35,000 jobs have already been lost in those areas just since the Liberals took over the steering of BC's banana republic style government.

Among the legion of reasons are the professional foresters themselves including the whats and whys of the 'education' they received in advance of becoming.professionals. Of course, they are only a fraction of central BC's overall forestry fiasco, they're joined by the capitalists and bankers who finance them, the unions who's consistant refusal to vote in favour of job security over pay raises has inevitably led to the widespread use of the inappropriate technology that has replaced them in huge numbers and of course the governments of all stripes who over the decades have danced to whoever paid the piper that got them elected. These successive governments, be they Socred, NDP or Liberal, have undermined the principle whereby access to the forest resource is based on creating and sustaining jobs by shipping raw logs out of the province which increased short term profits for investors and bankers but killed the job base that once made the forestry industry the backbone of BC's economy.

Even an outline of the role each of these culprits play in BC's future forestry quagmire could take a book let alone a single Mud Report. Over the next few days this old geezer will try to tackle the culprits one by one. But for today me thinks a quick outline of why so many of our kids are lined up outside Sprawl-Mart and Mickey D's looking for a minimum wage job and living on their parents couch is best.

Once upon a time here in BC, 'a time i remember oh so well', a person could get out of school, high school-trade school-university-community college-you name it, and get a decent paying job somewhere in the 'resource' sector that undoubtedly required sweat and stick-to-it-ative-ness but resulted in a paycheck come Friday that would feed and cloth a small family moderately well and might even leave ya a few bucks for a few beers on the weekend. No fancy pickups, no big boats, but enough to hold your head high and enjoy a few of the fruits of your labour. Be it in fishing, farming, mining, manufacturing or lumber, if a person was willing to work Super Natural BC had a decent job for ya.

That was then, before the professional foresters and the bankers replaced the small scale gypo loggers and their chokermen's jobs with mammouth clearcuts traversed by feller-bunchers followed monoculture tree plantations. Now BC's central interior forests aren't really forests anymore they're lodgepole pine monocultures planted in the rows that the professionals thought most perfect for the machinery that was to replace the lowly logger but turned out to be the ideal banquet table for the climate change driven tiny pine beetle instead.

For today let's end with what Edward Abbey said decades go: "In clear cutting you clear away the natural forest, or what the industrial forester calls 'weed trees', and plant all one species of tree in neat straight functional rows like corn, sorghum, sugar beets or any other practical farm crop. Then you dump on chemical fertilizers to replace the washed away humas, inject the seedlings with growth forcing hormones, surround your plot with deer repellents and raise a uniform crop of trees all identical. When the trees reach a certain prespecified height [not maturity; that would take too long] you send in a fleet of tree harvesting machines and cut the fuckers down. All of them. Then burn the slash, and harrow, seed, and fertilize all over again. Round and round and round again, faster and faster and tighter and tighter until, like the fabled Malaysian Concentric Bird which flies in ever-smaller circles, you disappear up your own asshole". Or until some unforeseen natural nemesis like the pine beetle moves in.

8.23.2012

Learned a Lot in the Summer of '76 Thanks to Don, Bill and Big Red



In the summer of '76 our we ended up staying at Don's little mixed ranch for almost a month. Don had it figured out how he could work part time at the Cominco Smelter in Trail and be a single dad to his 3 kids by earning as much dough as possible off the land. He was a hard working SOB. He looked after a small orchard, boarded a few horses for folks from town, had a good sized market garden, and raised a couple of meat cows along with his buddy Bill every year. Bill bought the grain and the calves, Don raised 'em, fed 'em, tended the fences and collected the manure for his garden and orchard.

That summer Don had agreed to work a lotta extra at graveyard shifts at Cominco 'cause he needed the dough. My partner and Don's little sister, Janet, had moved in to help Don with the kids for the summer so when we showed up during July it was like old home week for the Taylor family and there was plenty of work to keep me busy [except of course i didn't know shit about being a rancher]. Fortunately horses and cows are patient as well as forgiving. Janet was a real horse person too and that helped. She and Don taught me how to do...everything. After a week or so Bill even brought over Big Red so he and i could learn to like each other enough to go for evening rides without anyone [me] dying.

They taught me how to saddle and unsaddle the boarded horses and Red, how to brush 'em all, what and when to feed 'em and how each of them liked to be handled. Turned out every horse is as different as every person. Turned out even Big Red didn't totally hate me after a while. They taught me how to tend the cows too and how to mend the fences and replace broken fence posts and how to collect and compost the horse and cow manure for next year's use. Turned out the cows each had a different personality too. One was real inquisative follwed me around a watched every damn thing i did. The other one was more aloof in the pasture but came right over for a big juicy snuggle each evening when i grabbed some grain to entice them into the barn [there was the odd cougar hangin around Fruitvale in those days].

Bill and Don worked a bit each evening tuning up the tractor and attachments 'cause it was getting near time to get in the first big cut of hay off the 40 acre field they leased together. Each night down at the barn i'd hang out drinkin beer and listening while they debated the best day with the most perfect run of weather to go for it. Tured out harvesting hay is a lot more of an art than a tenderfoot hippie like me coulda ever imagined. Finally it came. Don's 'ol International Harvester pulled the triple wide mower the first day, the next it was the big rake that piled it up into windrows, then the baling machine did it's job with me trailing along behind making little stacks outta every few of 'em for easier pickup the next day.

Then all the final day 'til sunset, with Don driving the truck that pulled the trailer after he got home from working his graveyard shift, Bill and i loaded then unloaded into the barns about 400 bales of the heavy first cut mixed hay that they would be feeding to their horses and the boarded horses next winter. i was 28 years old, a huge guy and in decent shape but by the end of that day i could hardly move, don't think i've ever been as exhausted as that day in my life.

Learned a lot that summer, ate a lot too. Learned it ain't easy being a rancher. Learned that i could be friends with a horse even one that wasn't really broken just somewhat bent. One my great victories in life was on our last evening ride when Big Red didn't try to wipe me off on the gate post as we left. Learned a lot from that summer including from Big Red who taught me how to stand proud and free no matter what was happening around me. Thanks to Big Red, i still do.

8.22.2012

Some Horses are Broken, Some are Just Barely Bent


Back in the early 70's, when a few bucks went a lot further than it does now, our little family took a couple of long camping trips through the US and Canada. On each of them we stayed at my partner's brother Don's little horse ranch near Fruitvale in the Kootneys for awhile. On the first night of our first stopover Don's neighbor Bill stopped over with a big box of beer and we all sat around the kitchen table getting toasted and swapping stories. Being a newcomer, a tenderfoot, an Irishman and a natural born big mouth i'm sure i probably annoyed them both big time. But true to their mild mannered rancher ways they treated me kindly and even invited me to go on a trail ride with 'em the next day.

Just after breakfast, my head pounding and the sun rising fast, Bill came trotting down Don's driveway leading Big Red. The guys explained that because i was 6' 5" and was well over 200 lbs. they'd decided that i should ride Bill's old quarter horse Big Red. Having ridden a horse once before in my life as a little kid, and being totally full of shit 24/7, i figured that was a great idea. Big Red was...big, and it took everything i had in me just to jump high enough to get one foot in the stirrup and a hand on the saddle horn.

One thing i gotta say about horses, they're a good judge of character. Red knew instantly i was a rookie and that he was in charge. Guess Don and Bill did too, 'bout the only one who didn't was me. Bill turned his horse back toward the gate to head up the drive and Don's horse slowly started to follow. Red took off like rocket, i pulled back on the reins with all my might but Red had already taken the bit in his teeth and headed straight for the nearest gatepost. Holy Shit, it's a long way down when ya get knocked off a horse that big. Guess Don and Bill figured if i landed on my head the whole exercise woulda been worth it right off.

But they'd have to wait, i survived, even got back on the SOB soon after the laughter ended. Turned out Red was a gelding but he was still sure he was always supposed to go first on any trail. Good thing Red knew where we were headin cause he was definitely drivin. Don and Bill tried to show me as we went along how to operate the steering wheel, how just laying the reins over on one side Red's neck would tell him which way to turn. They said that a quick pull back n the reins was how the brakes worked and that just making a sound kinda like a loud cricket was how the gas peddle worked. Of course, Red turned when and where he wanted, stopped and started when he wanted and barely paid attention to me other than trying to turn and take a bite outta my leg every now and then.

We went up into the mountains overlooking the Pend-d'Oreille River Valley, the view was exquisite, and other than falling off one more time when Red decided to hurdle over a fallen tree he could easily have just stepped over, i made the rest of the outbound part of the trip just fine. Then, after a couple of sandwiches and a couple of beers, we turned for home. Holy Shit, again. The laughter receded into the distance as Red charged for home. i hung on for dear life as Red cut the switchbacks down the mountain by simply sitting down on his hind legs and sliding from one to the next in a cloud of dust.

Red and his half dead passenger got back to Bill's barn about an hour before Bill and Don sauntered in. i was crumpled up next to the fence my only consolation being that i'd found Bill's beer fridge out on his porch and was well on my way to Irish Nirvana by the time

8.20.2012

Do Evangelical Christians [Other Than Todd Akin] Believe There is Any Kind of 'Legimate Rape'?


Yesterday Todd Akin, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri, said in an interview that women’s bodies can prevent pregnancies in the case of “a legitimate rape.” Besides this idiot being scientifically illiterate i can't stop wondering what in the hell he thinks is a 'legimate rape'? So last night and this morning i started digging and to my amazement Akin is far from the only idiot who thinks that these two words - legitimate and rape - can be used together in the same sentence: .

As Zerlinda Maxwell, writing at the New York Daily News points out, Mr. Akin and Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan were among the co-sponsors of a bill that initially included language changing the definition of “rape” to “forcible rape.” Linking Ryan to Akin and the idea that there is such a thing as “legitimate rape” based on pseudo-science and folklore is something that needs to be done before the upcoming election. Ryan was against abortion in all cases including rape until Team Romney’s statement earlier today that said, "..."a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape,”  adding later, “Congressman's Akin comments on rape are insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong. Like millions of other Americans, we found them to be offensive.” So at least Akin's deluded comments have forced Romney-Ryan to clarify their previously fuzzy position on the abortion issue.

Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams' article today defines 'rape' well saying in part, "So in case you’re wondering if 'legitimate, 'forcible' rape is something that straight white men who don’t want ladies to get abortions get to define, the answer is no, they don’t. We actually have a whole justice system that does that. Rape is not just a thug in a dark alleyway violating a virgin. It happens to men and women, young and old, husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends. It happens in prisons and schoolyards and the bedrooms of people who invited the rapist in. It’s an act of domination and violence, a crime that defies tidy, tiny definitions by politicians wholly lacking in empathy or understanding. And there isn’t a goddamn thing that’s legitimate about any of it."

But my question is, do Evangelical Christians [other than Todd Akin] believe there is any kind of 'legimate rape'? Apparently, sadly, frighteningly the answer is yes. Akin is proud of how his religion, and in particular, the Presbyterian Church in America, the deeply conservative Calvinist denomination founded in 1973, influences his political views. Akin has a Masters in Divinity from the denomination’s flagship Covenant Theological Seminary. This is not a situation where Akin sat in the pews of the church of a controversial pastor, or once attended a conference or seminar where controversial views were discussed. His denomination has opposed abortion in all cases, including rape. And Akin, who in a few months could be a United States Senator, wants his religion to dictate American laws.

Yesterday, i thought Akin's comments were pandering to ignorance, today...well today it's gratifying to see the outrage being voiced from everywhere [except the Evangelical Christian leadership and the Sunni Islam Wahhabists who also condone 'legimate rape']. Finally, The Mud Report predicts Akin will be forced, by public outrage and the Republican leadership, to get out of the race by tomorrow or the next day. Even the Republicans must realize that tying their ship's electoral fate to Akin is a titanic mistake.

8.19.2012

Hey Hey Bob Dylan - by Sam Dill



Hey, hey Bob Dylan where did you go?
I'm sure Woody Guthrie would sure like to know
Why you met with the man who can kill anyone
and how would you feel if he killed your own son?

Well there's one thing I know for sure and for true
If Woody was alive he'd be pissed off at you
For seeing the man with the executioners face
I'll bet he would say you are just a disgrace

Well I saw Bob Dylan at the whitehouse today
He looked like he didn't have too much to say
Hanging his head and looking confused
Old Woody would say that you're just being used

While soldiers and throwing their medals away
You got yours and you think it's ok
While Obama is killing whoever he choose
You know the winner now will be later to lose

Obama, Obama who did you kill?
Does it make you feel righteous does it give you a thrill?
Do you sit in the Whitehouse and make all your plans
To bring death and destruction to all them far off lands

So if you stand with him you're part of his crime
When people are dying we must draw the line
They kill women, children, young babies too
To take from the many to give to a few

Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan I'll still sing your song
But I might change a verse if I think you're all wrong
So why won't you stand up, be strong and be brave
So old Woody Guthrie won't roll in his grave
So old Woody Guthrie won't roll in his grave

Been friends with Sam for nearly half a century now, his intelligence, talent and dedication to the cause we and so many others believe in continues to inspire me much as it did back in early winter of '65 when we met. Today i'll sign off as Sam always does.

PEACE

8.18.2012

Oil Industry Experts Quickly Dismiss David Black's Idea of Building a Refinery in Kitimat as Naive


Across Canada today the media is all over yesterday's announcement by newspaper tycoon David Black that he wants to build a refinery in Kitimat, the western terminus of the proposed and widely opposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, to process the raw Tar Sands crap before it's shipped off through Douglas Channel to foreign markets. The Calgary Herald's article titled 'Caution and skepticism greet publisher's proposed Kitimat refinery', quotes many industry experts and insiders who are nearly unanimous in dismissing Black's plan as naive at best for many ecomonic and technical reasons.

In the Vancouver Sun's piece Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president says, "This doesn't change anything, we are still faced with the spectre of a very high-risk pipeline going through rugged terrain and being sponsored by a company that has an absolutely atrocious safety record." The Ottawa Citizen's article quotes Josh Paterson, staff lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law, who doubts the refinery proposal will succeed, as saying in part, "I don't see this going anywhere. There are no backers, no support, no financing in place. It seems like a pretty cockamamie idea to me. It's a rather desperate attempt to salvage a pipeline project that's clearly going down the tubes in public opinion."

Black himself acknowledges he has no support from oil producers, no financial backers, no partners and has not discussed the idea with potential Asian customers. His only real statements about what industry insiders saying jn terms of the economics not adding up is his proposal to reduce capital costs from Canada's high labour rates by building refinery modules offshore to be shipped to Kitimat. One thing Black's proposal does though is drive another nail in the coffin of the entire puppet show by acknowledging that shipping raw Tar Sands crap [bitumen] is a lot more dangerous than shipping refined products.

Here's a few of the ecomonic reasons why the oily-garchs prefer transporting raw crude, be it Tar Sands crap or not, to distant refineries located near the population and industrial hubs that will eventually comsume the refined products. First, is that 8 pipelines or tankers or whatever would be needed to ship the 8 different types of refined oil products that are in crude oil. You can't transport gasoline in the same pipeline as diesel or kerosine [jet fuel]. But you can if they are all still mixed in crude oil. Another big factor up here in Canuckistan is the combination of high labour rates, the more costly to comply with environmental regulations and the 'Dutch Disease' over-valued looney that makes it far cheaper to build and operate refineries in Asia, Texas or just about anywhere else. Then there's the fact that it takes at least 7 years to get approveral to build refinery in Canada which would put any possible refinery operation far behind the proposed Kitimat/Northern Gateway project.

So, it looks like this idea of Black's is just hot-air but i doubt it will be the last attempt by the oily-garchy to bribe British Columbians into selling the future of their natural heritage for a few shiny bobbles as BC Premier Christy Clarke would have us do.  Hoefully we here in BC won't agree with Christy and end up being, in Oscar Wilde's words, a people who know the "cost of everything and the value of nothing?"

8.17.2012

The Oil Industry in North America Already Moves Millions of Barrels of 'Heavy' Oil by Rail


Much is being written lately about 'Pipelines by Rail' especially in light of the ferocious headwinds that the proposed Enbridge Norther Gateway, Keystone XL and Kinder-Morgan expansion are running up against from a wide range of folks including environmental and indigenous groups. For instance, the Keystone XL pipeline is not only opposed by a the coalition in Nebraska that stopped its approval but now faces an organization called 'Don't Mess With Texas' that includes TEA Party members, Occupy members, ranchers, farmers, environmentalists, scientists, lawyers and celebrities - a formidable group.

Opposition to the pipeline projects in BC is well known, equally formidable and well documented. Many, including The Mud Report, have been saying for some time now that these pipeline proposals are all just straw-men setup to allow our oil industry owned politicians a target to knockdown in favor of the railway option that the 'smart' money has been betting on all along.

Industry experts know that moving standard crude, or the refined product, by rail is nearly twice as expensive as moving it by pipeline. They also know that moving thick heavy oil from Alberta's Tar Sands and North Dakota's Bakkan Shale Deposits by rail is economically competitive. A recent report from Standard & Poor’s found a barrel of diluted bitumen is transported at a cost of $7 by pipeline, compared to $6 to $8 by rail. Heavy oil requires an expensive thinner called diluent to move in pipe. By rail, it moves undiluted, which evens the playing field on transportation costs. And with rail, companies can rapidly switch markets, since rail networks reach most points of the U.S. – including areas, such as the Gulf Coast and California, that pipes from Canada and North Dakota barely touch.

In Canada during 2011 the combination of CP/CN shipped about 12,000,000 barrels of oil, mostly tar sands crap, to California, the Gulf Coast and Eastern Cdn refineries. That's about equal to that year's total of what the existing Kinder-Morgan pipeline transported to Burnaby...and this year the figure will grow big time. By this time next year CP estimates it will be moving 70,000 cars or more out of the North Dakota Bakken tight-oil field alone to refineries across the US.

Each specially built double-lined tank cars can carry 650 barrels of heavy oil that the railways say offers flexibility the pipelines can’t. Because they can scale up or down quickly and because their tracks are in place, they can provide transportation now, while pipeline permitting and construction takes years. That's why S&P's report also said rail has the potential to move crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast from Alberta in about one-fifth the time of pipelines. They also say the capital cost to expand rail infrastructure is about one-tenth that of the cost of adding incremental pipeline capacity.

CP and CN already have the two way high-speed rail infrastructure in place to move vast amounts of Tar Sands crap to BC's  deep-sea west coast ports in Prince Rupert and Vancouver with no new permitting necessary. The same is also true for moving Saskatchewan, Alberta and North Dakota heavy oils throughout the US. If 'we the people' don't wake up and realize that all commerce is demand side driven and change our consumptive lifestyles it's only matter of time before the 'heavy oil' industry will be fully exploiting the 'rythmn of the rails' to meet our insatiable demand.

8.16.2012

Enbridge's Misleading Ad Campaign Eliminates 1,000 sq. km. of Islands and Rock Outcroppings


Enbridge deleted 1,000 square km of BC's islands and rock outcropping in Douglas Channel in its recent ad campaign in an attempt to convince the public its pipeline and oil tanker plan is less treacherous than it really is. "The slick route animation and map in the route safety video that's part of Enbridge's most recent propaganda campaign both show the Douglas Channel without the maze of islands and rock outcroppings that oil tankers as long as the Eiffel Tower will have to weave through." - someofus.org

If you're interested in telling Enbridge to pull its misleading pipeline ads immediately please CLICK HERE to use the form on the someofus.org website and join thousands of others who have told Enbridge what they think of their crappy propaganda campaign in the last couple of days.

In addition to the misleading map their most recent misinformation campaign touts the effectiveness of the cleanup technology that would be available in case of a spill during the dangerous passage through the hairpin turns [some 90 degrees] that the 800 huge tankers a year would have to navigate while traversing Douglas Channel. Enbridge, and everybody else in the industry, knows full well that spill cleanup would use skimmers and booms that work only in low breezes and a light chop — not in the treacherous waters and under the extreme weather conditions prevalent on BCs north coast.

Enbridge knows that their tar sands pipeline and supertankers project fantasy both looks and is too dangerous. So what does Enbridge do? They hire the same PR firm that worked for Big Tobacco and Enron to roll out a multi-million dollar public image makeover.

Enbridge, like every corporation, has only one concern - the profits of its shareholders. If Enbridge's Board of Directors, or any other corporation's , ever did anything, including spend money on safety or insurance, beyond the minimum mandated by law they would be sued by their shareholders and thrown out then a new board would replace them immediately. Anyway, i could go on and on, but, as Walter Cronkite used to say, "The way it is."

8.15.2012

Ignorance and Fear Create Hatred in Canada, the US and Everywhere Equally


Again this morning The Mud Report's inbox was bristling with emails and comments concerning a few recent posts about controversial Canadian/US cross border issues. Today's were mostly about the 'Milk Piranhas' piece from yesterday. A couple were sane and rational but most were hate-filled and certainly unpublishable [in case you're a reader wondering why your comment didn't appear].

'The Nose Hill Gentleman' piece a few days ago [which also drew a few hate filled comments and emails] speaks to the fact that Canadians and Americans are different, and they are. But i should have added that there's lottsa  similarities too. One is hatred. Others include violent fantasies, prejudice, fear, ignorance and nationalist jingoism. Both these articles drew comments/emails from American and Canadians that were equally scary. 

But none of the pieces The Mud Report has ever published have generated anywhere near the number of hate filled [or the well spoken/intelligent] responses that the series on the Canada vs. US soccer match at the London Olympics did, or anywhere near the number of readers for that matter either. 

The comments and emails that come into a political commentary blog like this can be very interesting. There are good and bad people everywhere, including the blogosphere. In response to one email received today i'll answer that The Mud Report won't print comments that threaten or consul violence, that demean any body's private life especially including their sexual preferences or that are nothing but prejudicial hate filled rants. It'd be nice to be able to say there's as many interesting intelligent comments/emails as ugly hate filled ones...it'd be nice but...

Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal. - the Buddha

8.14.2012

Canadian Milk Piranhas Would be Far Better Off Shopping in Canada


There they are, day after day, hordes of milk piranhas lined up, often for hours, so they can clog up Costco and other American stores buying Bovine Growth Hormone enhanced milk. It's not just BGH milk the hockey addicted hordes are lining up for, there's gasoline, there's blue jeans, there's...well there's lottsa stuff that's cheaper in the USA. Cheap...usually defined only as low-cost also means shoddy and in the case of milk, shoddy it is.

But even the low-cost definition can be argued if the equation includes not just the retail price but all of the hidden costs not usually accounted for in that 'cheap' gallon of milk, or gas, or? First off just how much money in fuel costs are the Canucks wasting as they sit idling in their jalopies miles from the actual border crossing in the picture above. How much crap are they pumping into our shared Georgia Basin Airshed and who'll pay those eventual costs.

How much is the time they all spend sitting on their asses in the lineup worth considering that they could be using that time to rototill their front yards and put in a veggie garden that would save them huge amounts of dough as well as feed their families quality food. Or they could spend those hours playing ball with their kids or hiking or biking or about a million other things. When they get to be my age i guarantee none of them will look back and wistfully wish they could have saved another buck or two by spending a few more hours sitting in their baking hot cars with the kids.

Of course this tirade is in response to the recently published Facebook page "Bellingham Costco needs a special time just for Americans". It's an interesting site. In it Canucks get an earful from disgruntled Americans. In it they also hear from Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry, who says, "Canadians play a big role in the county's economy and retail stores need their business. All those Canadians . . . are paying taxes and helping our government provide services."

Good point Ken. In addition to the other hidden costs mentioned above Ken points out that every dollar spent in America isn't being spent in Canada, isn't supporting the neighbors in the community where those Canuck's bucks are being earned, isn't allowing those bucks to recirculate back into the spender's own pockets. What's the cost of and who's paying for that? American goods are 'cheap' because Americans, at least on average, pay far lower taxes and earn far lower wages so the cost of getting that gallon of milk on the shelf is lower. They also get far fewer services from the government. In exchange for their lower wages, taxes, gasoline and milk prices they get shitty schools, shiny guns and shorter lives. Everything considered, IMO, the Canadian milk piranhas would be far better off shopping in Canada.

8.13.2012

Olympic Hangerovers Can Last a Long Time, Just Ask the Greeks


Nobody spends their time daydreaming about the hangover they'll have on Sunday morning. For sure on Sunday, and maybe even Monday, they regret over-indulging on Saturday night, but...well life's short and it's a lot more fun planning for and remembering the lampshade part than the hangover. Works sorta the same way for the Olympics.

Today the UK is waking up with a hangover. It's over, and now the people of the UK are going to have to pay, pay, pay, for many years trying to cover the cost, just like Vancouver is still doing, .just like Beijing is, just like Montreal did for decades and especially just like Greece. Every Olympics everywhere is a financial disaster but Greece's was obscene. The UK debt will be a bargain compared to the $15 billion Greece spent on the 2004 Athens Olympics. The security cost alone of the Athens's Olympics was $140,000 per athlete. It's hard to understand why countries are "lining up" to host Olympic games when they come with such high price tags (eg $14B...), since that price tag always outweighs any benefit of hosting the games.

Hard to understand, but still this very day, despite the hangover in London, there are developers, architects, concrete companies, travel agencies, PR firms etc. in dozens of cities around the world lobbying their local Chamber of Commerce and Governments with visions of the future sugar plums they'll recieve if they can land the Olympics in their home city. The developers of course aren't interested in civic pride they're interested in money-honey, and no body's got deeper pockets than the government. Once the party bandwagon starts rolling, once the sugar plum fantasies get bought into, it's hard to stop. Businesses large and small jump on board believing, despite the fact that tourism doesn't ever increase overall because of an Olympics, despite the fact that a few perfectly positioned hotels and restaurants do clean up while the vast majority hire extra staff and buy extra supplies only to see huge losses.

Of course the losses suffered by these businesses, aren't counted by in the official debts. Neither are the huge security costs which are usually kept secret. Then there's the infrastructure costs incured in the buildup to the games that the creative accountants can hide like they did the Whistler highway upgrade and the rapid transit line to the airport during the Vancouver games.

The fact is No Olympics anywhere has ever provided a financial benefit. Despite the creative accounting reported by the Vancouver Games Committee that they came in on budget, for instance, the City of Vancouver ended up with a $1 billion athletes village hole in their budget that the residents paid for in higher property taxes and the  BC Liberals' Provincial government had an $8 billion debt.

Hangovers can last a long time, just ask the Greeks who's Olympic debt hangover was rolled by their politicians into an economic crisis that now has a third of the country unemployed and many others swimming like a rock. Rio's next in 2016 and if you think Greece's hangover is endless wait 'til you see what happens in the corruption ridden samba capital of the world.

8.12.2012

“This is by far the greatest honour I've ever had in my athletic career.” - Christine Sinclair


Christine Sinclair, Captain Canada, will be carrying the Canadian Flag at the closing ceremonies that start in a few minutes. Sinclair is a great a role model for all Canadians generally and young girls across the country specifically, in part, because of the years of hard work that's led to her outstanding athletic achievement.

Beyond and above the her effort and her success though stands her strength of character as the reason she so deserves what she herself described this morning as, “...by far the greatest honour I've ever had in my athletic career.” She had the character to speak the truth to power about the terrible officiating in their semifinal loss to the US. Then a few days later, after the Bronze Medal game, she refused to back down, to do the politically correct thing, instead she showed the character that makes her deserve to be a great role model by refusing to withdraw her emotional words of a few days earlier and stood tall with her teammates and coach.

After Christine was told she'd be the flag bearer she broke into tears, next she said, "I broke another rule and I called my mom. [but] My mom doesn’t know how to use Twitter, it’s okay.”

Character is the attribute that defines greatness. A million years ago when i was a young kid growing up and playing sports every coach and parent reminded us often of the Grantland Rice verse, ' It matters not that you won or lost - but how you played the Game." By sticking to her guns Christine Sinclair earned even more fans than she did by scoring her hat-trick against the US.

8.11.2012

'Moneybags' Mitt Romney Chooses 'Lyan' Paul Ryan for VP, a Giant Step Toward Revolutionary Change


Romney's pick of Paul Ryan is a small step for reactionaries and a giant step for revolutionaries. Lyan Ryan, as he's known in his Wisconsin congressional riding, was just another little known right-wing crackpot until the TEA party was taken over by the super-rich propaganda machine and he unveiled his alternative budget which has been widely condemned by every 99%er and wildly embraced by every member of the 1%. The scope of its pandering to his corporate backers is matched only by its ability to drive middle class Americans into the poorhouse where they'll meet many of their recently foreclosed on neighbors.

As Josh Holland of AlterNet said a while back, "If you could create a political party that convinced a large number of people that by electing you they could eat all the ice-cream they want, and then sit on their butts watching TV all day and never put on an ounce, you’d have a pretty good chance at gaining power. That’s what the conservative movement has done in terms of taxes and spending."

Personally, i applaud Moneybags Mitt for his choice. No politician in America and no budget proposal could possibly do more to bankrupt those working Americans who are still holding onto the last shred of the 'Exceptional America' delusion as quickly and efficiently than Lyan Ryan.

The last time America was in the kinda economic ditch they are now, back in the dirty 30's, FDRs New Deal plan pulled them out of it. Roosevelt's plan was roundly condemned by the rich at first but FDR knew, and eventually convinced the industrialists on easy street, that unless the workers of the country were given an honorable way out they would unite and cast off the chains of corporate capitalism in a revolution that would overthrow the system that then, as now, enslaved them. Roosevelt wasn't a humanitarian, he was a pragmatist. The New Deal kept the hands of the working class away from the scrawny necks of the rich. Romney and Ryan, if ever elected, would do exactly the opposite and with any luck exactly the opposite results would transpire.

We, the 99% of America, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia [and anywhere else i forgot]. must find a road out of the fear that encircles and enslaves us. Roosevelt also once famously said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." In 'State of Siege' by Albert Camus the young hero Diego, overcomes his fear and defies of the authority that enslaves him and all of Andalusia by sacrificing his life. Diego's personal courage having been demonstrated to be the only means of combating the devastating effects of totalitarianism his fellow citizens then rally together to easily throw out 'The Plague' they once feared. Perhaps if enough of those folks, now marginally managing to keep their heads above water, go under a leader like Diego will arise to show us all the road out of the valley of fear. A Romney-Ryan 'Plague' sounds like a giant step toward finding that revolutionary road to me.

8.10.2012

The Nose Hill Gentleman Story A Symbol of the Canadian-US Divide


In case you've been in a women's soccer induced coma since Tuesday here's a little backgrounder on #NoseHillGentlemen. An American tourist named Walt Wawra, a police officer for 20 years in Kalamazoo, Mich. stirred a social media storm this week with his comments that he'd feel safer in the park, if Canadian laws allowed him to carry a handgun. It seems that during a trip through Nose Hill Park in Calgary with his wife, the couple were asked by two men if they had “Been to the Stampede yet?” Despite describing the men as bewildered, Wawra thanked “the Lord Jesus Christ they did not pull a weapon of some sort.”

The Edmonton Journal's says, "The fact that so many readers have written in, or posted comments online, wondering if it was for real, speaks volumes about the cultural differences between Canadians and Americans. It gives the lie to those who say that Canadians are no different than Americans."

The paranoid Kalamazoo cop has been ridiculed widely in the MSM these last few days over his imagined need to bear arms in the Calgary park usually noted for an abundance of dog walkers and mountain bikers but nowhere has the letter sparked a frenzy anywhere near as huge as on Twitter where the hashtag #NoseHillGentlemen is abuzz. Interestingly many of the early Canadian commenters on Twitter and beyond thought this story was a prank, Americans didn't.

32 Americans are shot to death every day by guns, most of them purchased legally. Americans, from a Canadian perspective, are gun crazy, paranoid and fearful. Canadians see their American cousins as being manipulated by a powerful corporate gun lobby who's money controls their corrupt government which in turn results in the non-regulations and ignorance state-side. 32 a day...hard to disagree.

But many Americans do disagree, many Americans truly believe they have the right to bear arms as much to protect themselves from the government as from strangers in the park. That portion of my fellow Americans should take a moment to realize their constitutional rights are being shredded everyday by the police state who listens to their phones, reads their emails and uses torture in their name etc. and that 'packing' provides zero protection from those who steal their cherished 'freedom' now-a-days.

Having been born in and lived in the US my first 21 years i was indoctrinated by the gun culture from day 1. Then 43 years ago i moved to Canada. The old saying that says 'you can take the boy outta America, but you can't take America outta the boy' is only part true cause this ol' boy has learned a new trick or two and now sees the gun culture through Canadian eyes.

8.09.2012

The Beautiful Game's Fans Cheer as the Canadian Women's Soccer Team Wins Bronze Medal


The Canadian women’s soccer team celebrates after game-winning goal against France.

The soccer gods smiled this morning on the Canadian women’s soccer team.  The winning goal came two minutes into extra time after a 90 minute contest that was dominated by the French team. In fact, France fired 25 shots towards the Canadian goal, compared to just four for the Canadian side. The winning goal was scored by midfielder Diana Matheson who pounced on a loose ball that bounced off a defender’s thigh to beat the French in a game they should have won convincingly.

The Bronze medal won by the Canadian women's soccer team is the country’s first team medal at the Summer Olympics since the 1936 Men’s Basketball victory. The women's team was obviously exhausted both physcially and emotionally from this week's roller coaster ride at the Olympics and they played like it. But they held on and with the help of an outstanding performance by goalie Erin McLeod managed to scratch out the win.

Christine Sinclair said after the match, "It's been a long battle on this national team and John (Herdman) came on board and completely changed it, I'm just so proud of this team. We battled through exhaustion today and came out on top."

Twitter was ablaze with mesages of congradulations after the historic win. A few minutes after Diane Matheson’s cool sidekick into the net, the cheers from Hayley Wickenheiser and many others were ricocheting across Canada. Hayley and thousands of other proud Canadians have joined together in a Twitter campaign that Canada Soccer is calling “the movement that has come from the fans”. #SinclairForFlagBearer. Now it's on to the Gold Medal game - Go Japan!

8.08.2012

Harper's Northern Gateway Comments About Science Yesterday Refer to the 'Dismal Science' of Economics


When Harper was cornered by reporters yesterday and forced to comment on Northern Gateway pipeline debate he said, "I've been very clear that decisions on these kinds of projects are made through an independent evaluation conducted by scientists into the economic costs and risks that are associated with the project, and that's how we conduct our business." What science is he talking about? The 'dismal science' of economics obviously.

In response Josh Paterson, staff counsel with West Coast Environ-mental Law, said, "Softening in the government's message this past week may be the result of the tough reality that people in B.C. don't want oil tankers and pipelines, but this government changed laws and changed the rules to make Enbridge easier to approve. Their actions speak much louder than a day or two of messaging." Their recent actions, including the gutting of environmental regulations in Bill C-38 and stripping the review panel of their powers, show very clearly that money talks in Harperville.

This past week real science has produced two more excellent reports on the statistical probability of an oil spill disaster if the Northern Gateway Project is allowed to proceed. The first, by Professor Sean Kheraj of Toronto's York University titled, 'Piping Crude? There Is No Leak Proof System', is a study of Alberta's atrocious record of pipeline leaks saying in part, "In 2010 alone there were 20 crude oil pipeline failures just in Alberta. That means a crude oil spill every 18 days." and concludes with a strong warning to British Columbia."The bottom line for British Columbians is that pipelines are risky -- you can't produce a safe system, you can only produce a less risky system. There is no leak proof system."

The second titled, 'Best-laid plans for oil spill response can't eliminate human error', shows how many major oil disasters are caused by human error, for instance the Exxon-Valdez captain was drunk, the BC Ferry that sunk on the same route the tankers would take hit a rock while the couple on the bridge was either having a fight or 'making up' after one, the Kalamazoo spill was made worse by under-trained computer jockies, etc. It concludes by saying that spills are inevitable and their clean-up costs depend on the type of weather conditions, ease of access, and type of crude [all of which are the worst possible in this case] Then points out that Canada's liability rules means a spiller may not have to spend more than $1.3 billion cleaning up a marine disaster. The rest of the costs could fall to the province and Ottawa. That means you.

Harper's disingenuous answers are designed to help him not lose the next election while still keeping his tar sands benefactors rolling in dirty money. What BC has to lose doesn't enter into the dismal science's models because it's priceless and can never be replaced.

'Shallow Waters' by 10 year old Ta'Kaiya Blaney from the Sliammon First Nation near Powell River



8.07.2012

UPDATE: FIFA Threatens to Discipline Canadian Players and Coach for 'Speaking the Truth to Power'


FIFA one of the most corrupt, scandalous, bribery ridden organizations in the world is now, instead of doing a thorough review of the referee's inconsistent calls, using intimidation in an attempt to silence the Canadian Women's Olympic Soccer Team players and coaches by threatening to discipline them for their comments after being robbed in yesterday's semifinal game by an inept FIFA referee. As FIFA knows only to well the way to get rid of a bad smell is to open a window, or in this case tell the truth.

If you're interested in taking a minute to tell FIFA what you think of their threats against Canada's players and coach just click here and speak your truth to their self-righteous aristocrates.

IMO, if FIFA suspends Coach Herdman, Christine Sinclair or any of the Canadian players from the Bronze medal match, the entire team should boycott the game. Further, whether FIFA's scandal-ridden brain trust decides to discipline any of the Canadians or not, the Canadian Olympic Team should vote unanimously to have Sinclair carry the flag in the closing ceremonies. She proved herself the greatest female soccer player in the world yesterday, so i think she's earned the right.

FIFA is attempting to intimidate Herdman and Sinclair because they believe they can. FIFA thinks they have the power to damage or destroy Herdman and Sinclair's professional future. FIFA officials are arrogantly acting much as Abby Wambaugh did when she intimidated the inexperienced referee with into making those mistaken calls. But this time it's FIFA that's mistaken, Herdman, Sinclair and the rest of the Canadians will stand up to them because they have what FIFA doesn't, class.

Christine Sinclair's Historic Hat-Trick Will Live On as One of Canada's Proudest Olympic Moments


How sad that such a spectacular performance on such a huge stage is being overshadowed by the terrible calls made by an inexperienced and intimidated referee. Christiana Pedersen of Norway may have set the respectability of the sport back 20 years, it was a sad day for the sport of women soccer. But it was also a sad and infuriating day for Canada's team and millions of its fans.

In a post-game interview Sinclair said, "We feel like we didn't lose, we feel like it was taken from us. It's a shame in a game like that that was so important, the ref decided the result before it started." To another question she added, "In an important match it's a disappointment that the referee had such an impact on it. We feel cheated." Judging from the many comments and emails to The Mud Report in these last hours most of Canada agrees with Christine.

Not just Canadians, many Americans have agreed that the referee blew it including Kate Markgraf, a 3 time US Olympian who played in 3 FIFA Women's World Cup final tournaments, who said today she has seen this call made exactly ONCE in her entire career, back in 2002, in an EPL match. Soccer has had more than its share of scandals lately in Europe especially in Norway where the money generated by gambling has had a huge corrupting influence. Many writers and commenters also see the corrupting influence of Olympic sponsorship money as the causative agent here too. They're saying that the agenda from the IOC is clear. USA v Japan final, at all costs and the ref knew this. The US TV audience is where the money is, the big TV dollars from Mc Donald's and Coke Cola. They say it was never about what is right or fair or the advance of The Beautiful Game. It was about profit.

Many also have read Abby Wambach's post-game comments about how she followed the referee up-field 10-12 times counting off the seconds that the Canadian goal-keeper was taking to kick away the ball. The Americans who read this see it as Wambach using her brains and experience. The Canadians see it as an obvious example of how the Americans intimidated the inexperienced Pedersen into making those back-to-back terrible calls. Maybe it's naive, but it sure seems more plausible that an inexperienced amateur referee, under such huge pressure, could be intimidated by the powerful American team than that the IOC, no matter how much Coke and Mickey D's wanted it, would try to.

Some of the comments and emails The Mud Report has received about yesterday's game have been frightening. It's been educational to learn just how demented some people are on both sides of the Canada-US border. It's sad and it pisses me off too that all the years of hard work put in by the member's of the Canadian Women's Olympic Soccer Team have been diminished to such a degree by the actions of one inept referee but it would be far sadder if anyone ever acted out their paranoid violent fantasies because of the results of a game. Come on people, it's not war-starvation-genocide-ecocide or any other-cide, it's a game.

8.06.2012

UPDATE: Canada Robbed by Norwegian Referee Christiana Pedersen in Olympic Semifinal

Grant Wahl, Soccer Editor at Sports Illustrated said a few minutes ago, "I saw something for the first time tonight. Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen made a game-changing call that incensed the Canadians when they were up 3-2 late in the second half. I have never seen a team in an elite-level game given an indirect free kick in the box for the opposing goalie being deemed to have held onto the ball longer than the six-second time limit. But that's exactly the call Pedersen made against Canadian keeper Erin McLeod. If the referee had warned McLeod before, it might be a bit more understandable." 

Watched every minute of today's Olympic semifinal between Canada and the US. It was, as every article i've read says, one of the greatest sporting events in Olympic history, certainly Canadian sports history and maybe all of sports history. What a shame to have the win stolen from the Canadian team by terrible officiating by Norwegian refree Christiana Pedersen who chose to ignore a clear hand ball inside the box on American midfielder Megan Rapinoe and then, in the 81st minute, made the unheard of delay-of-game free kick against McLeod and gave the resulting indirect free kick just inside the Canadian area.

Then, after that unbelievable call , the resulting free kick hit Marie-Eve Nault on the chest and arms and referee Christiana Pedersen of Norway ruled it a hand-ball. Experts worldwide, even in the USA, are saying It was a shocking call, given the strength of the drive and the fact that Nault made absolutely no move with her hands beyond pulling them into her chest.

The US played a great game, they controlled the ball and the game throughout. In that sense the US deserved the win. But they didn't control Christine Sinclair who scored a hat-trick and they wouldn't have won without the help of Norwegian referee Christiana Pedersen who should never be allowed to referee another big match again. I know this sounds like sour grapes and i'm almost always rooting for the non-winning team [or individual] because i love an underdog but i'm not a whiner and today the Canadians were robbed.

Millions of Canadians Will be Cheering for Canada's Team Today at the Olympics



The Canadian women's soccer team led by strikers Christine Sinclair and Melissa Tancredi are big underdogs in the Olympic semifinals when they take on their powerful US neighbors at Old Trafford in a few minutes in Manchester, England. Millions of Canadians will be watching and cheering from coast to coast to coast, me too.

For the first time in their history, Canada’s women will be competing in the Olympic semifinals. Folks everywhere can interact with soccer fans from across the nation by joining in on the live chat at CBC.ca  2:30 pm ET. Personally, i have a hard time chewing gum and walking at the same time so my few functioning brain cells will be totally fixated on the game.

Adding fuel to an already heated rivalry are the biting words of John Herdman. Call it a legitimate complaint. Or call it a big underdog trying to gain some sort of mental edge on the eve of a big game at the Olympics. Either way, the coach of the Canadian women's soccer team took a swipe at the Americans on Sunday, accusing the U.S. team of "highly illegal" tactics claiming some of the physical jostling done by the Americans during corner kicks and free kicks violates the rules.

Time to warm up the tube, grab a cold drink and turn off the cell phone.

GO CANADA GO