ATHENS - Prime Minister Stephen Harper expressed confidence in Athens on Saturday that his Greek counterpart will overcome national disunity that has raised questions of a potentially catastrophic default on Greece's massive debt.
Harper acknowledged that European contagion could impact Canada's relatively robust economy that has withstood the 2008-09 global crisis better than most Western economies.
"We all know from the experiences of the last two or three years that we're in a global economy, and serious economic problems in any part of the world, whether it's through trade or through financial institutions, have the ability to impact all of us," Harper told reporters after a meeting with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.
But he said his discussions on Europe's debt crisis at the meeting of the G8 group of industrialized nations in France this past week, and his meeting in Athens on Saturday with Greece's two most powerful politicians, have been reassuring.
"We have every confidence that our great hosts here, and our European friends, will continue to deal with these matters so that the global economy can continue moving forward."
Harper said Canada's plan to slash spending will pale in comparison to the hardship Greeks are facing.
"We have nothing like the challenges faced here in Greece," he said with a nod to Treasury Board president Tony Clement, who accompanied Harper on the trip to Greece because he is of Greek-Cypriot descent.
Clement "has the comparatively easy task," Harper said.
Papandreou, standing at Harper's side, also expressed confidence that Greece's economy will get "out of the woods" despite his failure Friday to get Greece's right-of-centre opposition party to buy into the country's austerity plan.
Harper told Papandreou that Canada is "very much on his side."
"I know from experience that it is not unusual for opposition parties to refuse to co-operate with the government. But governments have a responsibility to act and I certainly admire the determination of Prime Minister Papadreou and the very difficult actions he's had to undertake in response to problems that his government did not create."
European and international lenders are demanding that Greece take further tough fiscal measures, on top of last year's spending cuts, to reduce the country's massive deficit.
Greece has also committed to sell at least $50 billion US in public assets, a deeply unpopular move with the country's powerful labour movement.
The proceeds would be used to pay down some of the national debt that is approaching 150 per cent of the country's annual economic output.
Many if not most private-sector analysts believe there will have to be some restructuring of Greece's debt. The International Monetary Fund and the European Union, meanwhile, have warned Greece that further payments in June on a joint $110-billion euro bailout plan are conditional on meeting conditions to cut the deficit and sell assets.
"I believe that by continuing this program we'll soon be out of the woods and on a more sustainable path in the next few years to a viable Greek economy," said Papandreou, who lived in Toronto during the late 1960s and early 1970s when his politically prominent family (both his father Andreas and grandfather George were prime ministers) was living in exile during military rule.
Papandreou, whose socialist party has a majority in the Greek parliament, has said he will follow through on the austerity and privatization measures even without opposition support.
But both he, and the European Union, have pressed all components of Greek society to accept the cold shower.
"I think coming to an understanding with all the political parties is very important," Papandreou said.
"This understanding shows that our country has a loud voice abroad and creates even greater credibility and reliability for our country."
Matthew Fisher of Postmedia News was at the Pentagon within an hour of it being struck on Sept. 11, 2001, by an airliner that had been hijacked by terrorists. When airports in North America reopened, he was on the first flight to Europe and then Pakistan. Since then, Fisher has been to Afghanistan 23 times. During those visits, he has followed every phase of Canada’s Afghan journey from the first combat in 2002 to bloody fighting in Kandahar in 2006 and the major battlefield advances that the coalition has made in that province over the past two years. Afghanistan is the 14th conflict that Fisher has covered overseas during 28 years reporting from 153 countries.
KABUL, Afghanistan — He has become known to many Canadians as an outspoken defender of veterans’ rights. But in 2002, Lt.-Col. Pat Stogran was doing very different work. He and 1,000 soldiers from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry landed at Kandahar Airfield to team up with 2,000 paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division in the manhunt for Osama bin Laden and his Arab, Afghan and Pakistani allies.
The airfield would later become the biggest base in Afghanistan, with 30,000 foreigners, traffic jams, a Tim Hortons, air-conditioning, movie and dance nights, state-of-the art trauma facilities and the world’s busiest single-runway airport.
In the early days, however, half the runway was still badly cratered by huge bombs that had been dropped a few months earlier by B-52 and B-1 bombers. The only fixed-wing military aircraft that could land were bus-like C-130 Hercules transports. Troops entered the country through a terminal that had been badly scarred by bullets during a wild firefight in November 2001, between Taliban and al-Qaida fighters and U.S. Marines attacking by helicopter from ships in the Indian Ocean.
There was no electricity, no water and no chow halls. Soldiers ate rations and slept in canvas tents that flooded when it rained and were yanked from their moorings by hurricane-force winds when Arctic and African weather fronts collided overhead.
Crazed packs of dogs roamed the base, often fighting each other to the death.
Back then the airfield, which now bristles with multiple layers of elaborate defences, had no fixed perimeter. Security, such as it was, was provided by roving patrols from Lord Strathcona’s Horse (the Royal Canadians).
Stogran led an inexperienced but eager gang of Patricias, including a team of snipers who would be honoured by the U.S. for recording the longest distance kills in the history of warfare.
Not long after they arrived from Alberta, Stogran’s infantrymen joined paratroopers from the 101st and other U.S. troops from the 10th Mountain Division for a dramatic, helicopter assault on a slippery, shale-encrusted mountain near the Pakistan border that became known as the Whale’s Back.
Most Canadians know little of this. What got far more attention at home were the tragic deaths of four Patricias in a “friendly fire” incident involving a U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet, whose pilot mistakenly fired missiles at the soldiers as they took part in a night live-fire exercise on the edge of Kandahar Airfield.
The Patricias soldiered on. Aside from some brief nastiness in the Balkans, and long before that in Cyprus and the Congo, it was the first time in almost half a century that Canadians had been in a shooting war.
“Despite the fact that we may not have seen hard combat, our core warfare training was effective and, combined with the intense peacekeeping experience that we had had had in places such as the Medak Pocket (in a Serbian-held part of Croatia in 1993), meant that the boys were fine,” said Col. Peter Dawe who, nine years ago, was operations officer with a reconnaissance platoon up on the Whale and at bin Laden’s hideout at Tora Bora.
What the Patricias learned in the mountains in 2002, and in the fighting that all three Canadian infantry regiments have been involved in over the past five years in Kandahar, is expected to pay dividends in Dawe’s new Afghan assignment. That is to oversee Ottawa’s new, Kabul-centric training mission, which replaces current combat operations as they end over the next few weeks.
“The difference now is the level of experience our troops have,” Dawe said. “I’ve got junior officers with a combat tour or two under their belts and senior NCOs with six or seven tours, including three or four of which were hard combat. They are now so well-versed on the culture and the insurgents, it is incredible. It is not something we had back then.”
For Serge Labbe, a retired general who probably has spent more time in Afghanistan than any other Canadian, what Canada demonstrated on the Whale and then a year later in Kabul, where Canada led a multinational brigade, was typical of the leadership role that the country has had here since the 9/11 terrorist attacks rocked the U.S.
“Canada has been in the forefront from the beginning, and not just in security and defence in Afghanistan and the region, but also diplomatically,” said Labbe. He is now NATO’s senior adviser to several Afghan development ministries and a former head of Canada’s strategic advisory team in Kabul, which coached key Afghan officials at a time when civilian advisers were thin on the ground.
After Stogran’s troops returned home from the Whale and Kandahar, the next step in Canada’s Afghan odyssey was a somewhat quieter two-year mission for a couple of thousand Canadians charged with keeping the peace in Kabul, where then brigadier-generals Peter Devlin and Andrew Leslie held senior positions with the International Security and Assistance Force before Gen. Rick Hillier took over in 2004.
“You have to take your mind back to the way the world was in the aftermath of those horrible attacks on the twin towers in the U.S.,” said another retired general, Michel Gauthier, Canada’s senior military intelligence officer at that time. “Canada decided to make an important contribution at a time that it was important to do so.”
But Gauthier added one of the reasons Canada ended up playing a major role in Afghanistan for so long was because the Chretien government decided it wanted to have nothing to do with U.S. president George W. Bush’s war in Iraq.
“It was as much about not going to Iraq as it was about going to Afghanistan,” the former commander of Canadian Forces Expeditionary Command said. “You can take a glass half-empty or a glass half-full view of that. The half-full view was that the government wanted to be seen to be contributing to international security and stability, and the best way was to contribute more militarily in Afghanistan. That was extremely important to a U.S. government seized at the time by Iraq.”
The U.S. obsession with Iraq, and the military setbacks it suffered there after the initial conquest of that country in 2003, eventually led Canada back south to Kandahar in 2006 — for what was to become a much more deadly and controversial combat assignment than the one that Pat Stogran and his troops had embarked upon four years earlier.
Tomorrow: Kandahar’s blistering heat, intense fighting gives soldiers a baptism by fire.
As Vancouver tries to clean up from a massive riot after Wednesday night’s Game 7 at Rogers Arena, we have documented all the madness for your viewing pleasure. Here is our Vancouver riot cheat sheet.
The riot We have the all the photos you want to see from the devastation. Crazy people with mannequins! Young men looting Sears! (for Grandma, maybe?) Car fires! Broken glass! General stupidity! http://natpo.st/lLnQaN
The scene B.C. columnist Brian Hutchinson was in downtown Vancouver for all the madness and glass breaking. As someone who lives in Vancouver, he was not impressed. Way to go, guys. http://natpo.st/jdupkQ
The evidence If you haven’t noticed so far, these people aren’t exactly the brightest crayons in the box. Proof: Facebook users are posting photos to various groups to help identify looters and vandals. Because you probably shouldn’t have posed for the camera while breaking into London Drugs. Nice profile photo though! http://natpo.st/kHQe1p
The map In case you’re wondering where all the madness happened: we have created a handy map. Feel bad for those sad people who were stuck in Queen Elizabeth Theatre. http://natpo.st/jgbflc
The videos If you thought the photos were pretty amazing, wait until you see videos of the mayhem. It’s like G20 all over again! http://natpo.st/mCvKdC
The kiss Ah, nothing says young love like rolling around on the streets of Vancouver surrounded by riot police. Is this the greatest photo of our time? Here is a look at that particular photo and some other iconic riot makeouts. http://natpo.st/mfmdtr
The past As a teen, National Post sports columnist Bruce Arthur was at the 1994 playoff riot in Vancouver (not like that). http://natpo.st/mHXuUI
The fallout Full Comment’s Jesse Kline says Vancouver has fallen far, going from the glory of the Olympics to the shame of a Stanley Cup Riot in just one year. http://natpo.st/mTpAg2
Also on Full Comment, Kelly McParland looks at some of the lessons we can learn from the riots. http://natpo.st/k7WLJx
The game Word on the street there was a hockey game, or something, on Wednesday? Which is a weird coincidence! Canucks lost, in case you’re dying to know. http://natpo.st/jvktAS
The Headlines People were talking about the game across the globe. Hint: they weren’t saying nice things about Vancouver. http://natpo.st/lB49uj
Posted in: Canada, Posted Tags: Boston Bruins, Canucks, Downtown Vancouver, Facebook, riot, Robson Street, Rogers Arena, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver looting, Vancouver Police, Vancouver Riot, Vancouver riot photos, Vancouver riot video, Vancouver riots, West Georgia
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #108 on: 2011-07-07 22:37:41 »
OY ! ....I just don't know how the other 'kids' on CoV missed this scoop
Royal couple arrives at Stampede gala - wearing their cowboy hats Source: Globe and Mail Author: JOSH WINGROVE Date: 2011.07.07
Royal couple arrives at Stampede gala - wearing their cowboy hats
With each whistlestop meticulously arranged, each event carefully considered, the message sent in the royal tour's final stop looms large - Calgary is, ever more, a hub of Canadian influence.
The royal couple arrived Thursday afternoon in the city for the final two days of their Canadian tour. And, over the complaints of British animal activists, they came during the Calgary Stampede, a cherished tradition that one poll Thursday showed was Canada's most popular major event, beating the Grey Cup and Toronto International Film Festival. As the Royals arrived, Calgary's streets were already flooded with boots, hats and denim. <snip>
As Ottawa prepares to place its largest shipbuilding order in decades – $35-billion worth of patrol ships, icebreakers and research ships – it’s worth checking in on the government’s last big navy purchase.
Remember the four second-hand subs the government bought from Britain for $800-million back in 1998?
More related to this story:
* Shipbuilding math makes Nova Scotians nervous * Clark to roll out jobs agenda in September * China’s new aircraft carrier begins sea trials, suggests greater naval ambitions
You would be forgiven for losing track. Amid endless refits and repairs, the subs have spent far more time in dry dock than patrolling Canada’s coasts in the 13 years the navy has owned them.
And shockingly, none of the four subs is operational. Only one is in water, HMCS Victoria, which is slated to make its first dive later this fall after a major overhaul.
Not one of the subs is weapons-ready. It will be at least another two years before the subs are equipped to fire torpedoes. And it will cost Ottawa an estimated $125-million to retrofit the ships to fire the same Mk 48 torpedoes used on its now-retired Oberon-class submarines.
The plan is to have two subs fully operational next year and all four in 2013, according to navy spokeswoman Lieutenant Heather McDonald.
“We're near the end of a long beginning,” Lt. McDonald said.
One of the subs, HMCS Windsor, is so badly rusted that it’s apparently limited in its ability to dive deeply beneath the seas. In July, Canadian navy officials offered a less-than-ringing endorsement of the ship’s sea-worthiness.
“The submarine is safe to perform all expected operations during her operations period until her next extended docking work period,” Blaine Duffley, director of maritime equipment project management for the subs, recently told the Canadian Press. The sub is now in dry dock on the East Coast.
The rest of the fleet is grounded. HMCS Chicoutimi caught fire in 2004 on its voyage from Britain and won’t be ready until 2013. HMCS Corner Brook is undergoing maintenance on the West Coast, and also won’t be operational until 2013.
Military experts don’t dispute the value of submarines to a nation such as Canada, with its vast coastline. The stealthy diesel-electric subs can covertly combat smuggling, illegal fishing, terrorism and polluters.
And the initial purchase price was much lower than buying new subs. Australia, for example, has paid nearly $1-billion apiece for its six new ones.
If Ottawa is to learn anything from the subs saga, it’s time to divulge the all-in cost of the four ships, which Britain mothballed as part of its conversion to a nuclear-powered fleet. The $800-million purchase price bought Canada four hulking steel shells. Ottawa has spent another $1.5-billion on maintenance and support.
But that’s only part of the cost of Canadianizing the subs.
Readying the ships for action is costing still more, according to publicly available information. Ottawa has sunk at least $370-million into upgrades and refits. It has also spent millions to transport the subs via the Panama Canal to the West Coast, where the refit work is being done. It will cost another $125-million to give them torpedoes. In Halifax, the navy has spent has spent $47-million to renovate its maintenance dockyard to accommodate the submarines.
Further repairs to deal with persistent rust problems could cost millions more.
A rough and unofficial tally of what’s been spent is now approaching $3-billion. Add in the mind-boggling delays, and the original fire-sale price seems considerably less attractive.
The Harper government and the navy have repeatedly defended the sub purchase, initiated by the previous Liberal government, as a good deal for taxpayers. Mr. Harper has also championed the cause of giving the Canadian Forces the tools they need to do their jobs.
But the government has never disclosed the full cost of readying the subs to patrol Canadian shores – a mission that remains unfulfilled. And all the while the aging subs’ useful lifespan is ebbing away.
It’s time for a full accounting of the depressing saga.
The next few years could prove difficult ones for Canada’s military. A recent report by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, chief of transformation, is recommending $1-billion in annual cuts in a reorganization that could see as many as 11,000 positions vanish, mostly at headquarters in Ottawa.
In an environment of restraint, the Harper government should do a better job of openly explaining, and justifying, its ongoing military purchases.
In the early days of 1994, a little-known Hong Kong entrepreneur named Allen Chan launched what seemed like a promising joint venture in the southeastern city of Zhanjiang in China’s Guangdong province.
The unimaginatively named Zhanjiang Leizhou Eucalyptus Resources Development Co. Ltd. was to produce micro-density fibre boards from timber harvested at a nearby plantation controlled by Mr. Chan’s fledgling company, Sino-Forest Corp. (TRE-T4.81----%) China’s economy was growing fast and its demand for wood was rising just as quickly. This new business was poised to fill that demand.
Partnering on the deal with Sino-Forest, which would soon obtain a stock market listing in Canada, was the Leizhou Forestry Bureau – an arm of the Chinese government.
For Mr. Chan and his co-founder at Sino-Forest, a former Forestry Bureau official in Guangdong named Kai Kit Poon, the Leizhou deal served as a key pillar in the initial stages of building their business. Between 1994 and 1997, Sino-Forest would report $60-million (U.S.) in sales from the venture.
There was just one problem: The Leizhou joint venture never produced a single panel, according to a key executive involved in the project.
More than 17 years later, things are quickly unravelling for Mr. Chan and Mr. Poon.
Sino-Forest is now enmeshed in a devastating scandal, and accused of participating in what could turn out to be one of the largest frauds in Canadian stock market history. Mr. Chan has lost his grip on the company; on Sunday he resigned his executive posts at Sino-Forest (while taking on a new title, “founding chairman emeritus”) after the Ontario Securities Commission alleged that he and other executives and directors appear to be engaged in activities that they know, or ought to know, “perpetuate a fraud.”
Part of what is so astonishing is that Sino-Forest and its business activities failed to arouse serious suspicions or concerns with most investors until June of this year when a short seller named Carson Block and his firm, Muddy Waters LLC, first levelled accusations of fraud against the company.
For more than a decade and a half, Mr. Chan, a martial arts enthusiast, aficionado of classical Chinese literature and former restaurant employee, along with Mr. Poon, an avid ballroom dancer, had presided over what was, by all appearances, an unparalleled Chinese business success story. By simply buying, managing and selling trees and forestry assets in mainland China, the firm’s profit increased from $3-million in 1994 to $395.4-million in 2010.
Mr. Chan and Mr. Poon’s business seemed perfectly positioned to cash in on the country’s roaring growth and burgeoning appetite for natural resources.
Instead of raising capital on the Hong Kong stock market or even Shanghai or Shenzhen, Mr. Chan and his business associates targeted Canadian investors, whom they said were better acquainted with the forestry sector. Sino-Forest listed on the Alberta exchange through a reverse takeover of a dormant shell company in 1994. In 1995, the company graduated to the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Sino-Forest has since raised more than $3-billion from debt and equity markets, mostly with the help of Canadian lawyers, accountants, analysts and investment bankers, and mostly in the past eight years. Investors bought into the company’s promise of a bright future – a promise that seemed to be backed by steadily rising profits. At its peak in March, the company boasted a market value of more than $6-billion (Canadian), making it by far the largest forestry firm on the TSX.
Sino-Forest says it used most of the funds to boost its forestry portfolio in mainland China, which it claims now exceeds 780,000 hectares. Despite healthy profit margins that often topped 50 per cent, Sino-Forest has been almost perpetually cash flow negative as it has spent more money buying trees and other forestry assets than it has generated through sales or by raising capital.
Now, Sino-Forest’s shareholders are stuck. Last week, the OSC halted trading in the stock, stating that the company appears to have engaged in “significant” deals with related parties, misrepresented its revenue, and exaggerated the size of its Chinese timber holdings “by providing information … which may have been false or misleading.”
Before the First World War 117,000 people left western Ukraine to find job in Canada
KYIV, September 7, 2011 (UBO) – A Canadian delegation, which has arrived for the Ukrainian-Canadian business forum in Ivano-Frankivsk region, will visit the village of Nebyliv, Rozhnyativ district, which 120 years ago Ukrainians moved from to Canada en masse launching the history of the Ukrainian diaspora in this country.
Before the First World War 117,000 people left western Ukraine to find job in Canada. According to Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada Ihor Ostash, 1,213 million Ukrainians now live in Canada. The Canadian Ukrainians are actively represented in political life - among them there are many members of parliament, senators, there is a powerful organization - Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the diplomat said.
According to him, now Canada is interested in agricultural and energy markets of Ukraine, and has an interesting experience in nuclear power. Ostash noted that Canada has such technology in nuclear power, which can be successfully applied in Ukraine.
"This technology provides for incineration of waste of nuclear power plants, which may also include the Chornobyl ones," Ostash emphasized. According to him, Ukrainian scientists actively cooperate with the Canadians in the field.
Every year that Lionel Lepine has been involved in protesting tar sands development, in particular in his First Nation of Athabasca Chipeywan, the movement has grown. For Lepine personally, it grew one step further when he was arrested in Ottawa at the steps of the Parliament.
“This goes to show, this government, when people watch out for their rights and what they believe in, and try to stand up to fight for it, automatically they’re either arrested or they’re muzzled somehow,” said Lepine. Lepine was one of 117 people arrested by RCMP when demonstrators crossed a barricade and sat at the steps of the Parliament building on Sept. 26. In total, 212 people crossed the fence-line in a six-hour period. Individuals were handcuffed, taken away one-by-one to a different part of the grounds and processed. They were fined $65 for trespassing and banned from the Parliament grounds for one year. Also arrested were former Mikisew Cree Chief George Poitras, ACFN member Gitz Deranger, and Fort McMurray First Nation Elder Roland Woodward.
Lepine said his arrest allowed him opportunity to speak to the media and shed more light on the cause that brought nearly 1,000 people to Parliament Hill. Speakers, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, joined forces to voice opposition to oil development in the country.
For Lepine, who is ACFN’s territorial environmental knowledge coordinator, tarsands development has had significant impact on his First Nation.
“Industry is doing a lot in Fort Chipewyan, and we’re trying to put a message out to the government that this disrespect they’re showing us, will happen no more and we’re not going to take it,” said Lepine.
“Our message was heard loud and clear… that the Harper government really needs to seriously take a look at … how a lot of First Nations communities in Alberta are being detrimentally impacted by tarsands development,” said Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Greenpeace spokesperson. The Ottawa rally was officially endorsed by Greenpeace, Council of Canadians and Indigenous Environmental Network.
There were two parts to the demonstration, said Laboucan-Massimo, the civil disobedience, which was expressed as a sit-in in front of the police line, and the rally on the rest of the Hill.
“I think it went great,” she said. “People I’ve spoken to, older than me, say they’ve never seen over 200 people willing to risk arrest through massive disobedience on Parliament Hill.”
About 1,000 people were on site at the height of the demonstration.
Laboucan-Massimo also participated in the two-week long protests that began in early September in Washington. Deranger and Poitras were also in Washington, as was Alberta Regional Chief George Stanley. The US protest focused on pressuring President Obama to not approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will run through both the US and Canada. The Ottawa demonstration, said Laboucan-Massimo, was on the larger picture of the impact of tar sands development and related infrastructure.
That Indigenous people from both sides of the border are joining forces to protest oil sands development speaks volumes, said Laboucan-Massimo, a member of the Lubicon Cree First Nation.
“It just shows the cause for concern, the severity of these projects and how widespread these issues are. The implications for these types of projects are dire and they need to actually be addressed,” she said.
With one of the main drug dealers in Fort McMurray, Jeffrey Caines, being sentenced to 14-years of jailtime, some experts say that he will be replaced quickly by larger organizations.
Caines admitted Friday to being the head of a major cocaine trafficking operation in Fort McMurray.
Len Isnor, detective sergeant with the biker enforcement unit of the Ontario Provincial Police and an expert on outlaw motorcycle gangs, told the Today, "The Hells Angels have interest in that area because of the drug market and if one person is out of the picture, they will replace them with someone else."
Even though the Hells Angels don't have a chapter in Fort McMurray, they do have a support club in the area. When asked if the Hells Angels have interest in Fort McMurray, Insor said, absolutely. "Lots of money, a very high-income community, a lot of disposable income that is used recreationally and people want drugs, so there is a huge market," said Isnor. "They're not there physically with a chapter, however, they have associates up there."
"There is a biker puppet club. They're not always called puppet clubs, but there is a support club or an associate club that works there for the Hells Angels."
The motorcycle club that Isnor is referring to is a group called the Ft. McMurray Syndicate, a smaller motorcycle club that has surfaced in Fort McMurray in the last year and allegedly has ties to the Edmonton chapter of the Hells Angels.
Isnor explained that Hells Angels are supplying cocaine and other drugs to the Fort McMurray area, but noted that there are a number of groups responsible for the drug trade in the city. And added that Hells Angels in the past have used support clubs to separate themselves from illegal activity saying the likeliness of a Hells Angels chapter forming in Fort McMurray is slim.
"Anything is possible, it's pretty hard to predict the landscape of what Hells Angels are going to do in the future, but Hells Angels, they don't want to divide the pie up too much," he said. "So right now, if the chapters in Edmonton are running Fort McMurray, they don't want to establish a chapter there and divide Fort McMurray up," he said. Isnor noted Hells Angels support clubs are popping up all over Alberta as the gang has developed a sophisticated criminal network distancing themselves from the actual crime.
"They're reaping all the profits, but they're getting other people to do the work, so these puppet clubs, they're doing a lot of the dirty work and it keeps the Hells Angels an arms-length away from the actual crime," said Isnor.
The Wood Buffalo Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team, the unit responsible for this kind of activity, is currently keeping an eye on the Syndicate motorcycle club, but noted that they have not seen any indicators that the club is involved with illegal activity.
"As this point in time, they're simply a motorcycle club," said Sgt. Irv Heide with Wood Buffalo ALERT.
"Anytime that you have a motorcycle club that is associated with a group like the Hells Angels ... we're going to be paying attention to them," he added.
Heide explained that so far, all interactions of the RCMP with the club have been minor, saying they encountered some of the members at a check-stop during a poker derby the club held on Oct. 1. He also noted that some members were approached over Section 69.1 of the Gaming and Liquor Act that restricts anyone involved in a gang, either through membership or otherwise from being in a licensed premises.
U.S. senators don't trust Canada to conduct independant testing
A lethal salmon virus that could pose a new threat to British Columbia’s prized Pacific salmon has now been detected in four wild species, prompting fears about its effect on the multi-billion-dollar fishery.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is now conducting its own tests, as a group of U.S. senators say Canadian officials can’t be trusted to identify the presence of the infectious salmon amenia (ISA) virus.
In a letter to Senate decision-makers Wednesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington and senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich of Alaska argued the United States should conduct independent tests for the contagious disease that has decimated Atlantic salmon farms in Chile and Norway.
“We should not rely on another government —— particularly one that may have a motive to misrepresent its findings —— to determine how we assess the risk ISA may pose to American fishery jobs,” the senators said.
Researchers at Simon Fraser University on Oct. 17 announced the virus was found in two of 48 sockeye smolts collected in B.C.’s Central Coast.
On Wednesday, biologist and salmon advocate Alexandra Morton learned an ISA lab at the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. found evidence of the virus in three of 10 dead fish — a Chinook, coho and chum — she pulled from the Harrison River on Oct. 12.
“The terrible thing about the work that myself and (SFU researcher Rick) Routledge have done is that it’s tiny,” Morton told The Province. “We looked at 60 fish, and we got it in two different generations, 600 kilometres apart, four different species. That’s a huge red flag.”
ISA’s effect on Pacific salmon — if any — is not known. This is the first time the disease has been found in wild Pacific salmon, raising fears among advocates that the already stressed wild stocks could be further jeopardized.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said Morton’s samples are now being tested in Canada’s official ISA lab in Moncton, N.B.
New Westminster—Coquitlam MP Fin Donnelly raised the issue in Ottawa Thursday, calling on the government to deveop an action plan to deal with the virus on Canada’s West Coast.
“Concern is mounting both in British Columbia and the United States that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is not taking this threat seriously,” he said.
Some have suggested the virus may have come from Atlantic salmon eggs imported to local fish farms from Chile or Norway.
Salmon farmers have been quick to shoot down those claims, as has the federal government. “In recent years we tested over 5,000 wild and farmed B.C. salmon without a single case of confirmed ISA in B.C.,” Randy Kamp, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, said Thursday.
Chile, a major producer of farmed Atlantic Salmon, has seen its wild fish stocks decimated by ISA over the last four years, with $2-billion in estimated losses.
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #115 on: 2011-11-26 22:35:22 »
This narrative could easily be about Canada's natural resources. Shipping crude from the tar sands to New Orleans for refining. Why would we not refine the oil and then use it for Canada's needs and Manufacturing. Same for our mineral wealth. ??
Generations of African leaders have failed to transform the economies inherited from their colonial masters, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said today (25/11/2011).
“All our economies to this day remain dominated by the unprocessed natural resource sector, with little or no industrialisation,” Vavi told African Union leaders at the International Trade Union Confederation congress in Boksburg.
“Some countries rely 90 percent on mineral exports,” he said. Vavi was concerned that colonialists were continuing to plunder Africa’s mineral resources, decades after their political defeat.
He said the scramble for Africa’s resources by imperialist forces and their interference in the continent had to be confronted.
Africa had an abundance of natural resources, but remained the poorest continent in the world, Vavi said.
Income levels remained “terribly low”, while income inequalities had remained ”stubbornly high”.
He blamed the mass poverty and food insecurity on a failed post-colonial political economy on the continent.
This was exacerbated by “a venal, corrupt and visionless leadership which cares little for people”.
Vavi called for the renewal of the African trade union movement towards African emancipation, saying it was time for all workers to re-mobilise and fight for a new freedom not gained.
The scale of the “sham of independence” of the continent needed to be exposed, he said.
“For too long we have allowed the dependency syndrome whilst claiming to be liberated.
“Either we export our minerals to our colonial masters, or they control our finances, or both.”
The continent had not industrialised or diversified its economies, and did not add value to its natural resources, said Vavi. “We do not own our mines and we do not own our economies,” he said - Sapa
Shortly before a Toronto jury left the courtroom to start deliberations at Prinze Wilson’s cocaine-trafficking trial last spring, Madam Justice Faye McWatt of the Ontario Superior Court stressed the need to respect his presumption of innocence.
“It is only defeated if, and when, Crown counsel has satisfied you beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Guilty – I’m sorry, that Mr. Wilson – is guilty of the crime charged,” Judge McWatt said.
No one but the jury knows whether the judge’s faux pas played a role in the subsequent finding of guilt, because jurors cannot discuss deliberations. But the incident has certainly spawned one of the oddest appeals in recent years.
Later this year, the Ontario Court of Appeal will consider whether Mr. Wilson’s jury was consciously or subconsciously influenced by the judicial gaffe.
To Crystal Tomusiak, Mr. Wilson’s lawyer, the question is a no-brainer. “The trial judge erred in failing to order a mistrial or provide a curative instruction after mistakenly referring to the appellant as, ‘Mr. Guilty,’” she said in a written submission to the court. “The conviction was unreasonable and against the weight of the evidence.”
Ms. Tomusiak said that Mr. Wilson, a 26-year-old industrial firefighter who has no criminal record, has suffered enough. After being convicted and sentenced to almost two years of house arrest, she said, her client was fired from his job at Ontario Power Generation.
The Crown has yet to reveal its legal position. However, in the absence of obvious abuses of the court process, prosecutors typically argue to retain a jury verdict rather than mount a costly retrial.
But Roderick Lindsay, a Queen’s University psychologist who specializes in courtroom testimony, said the remark clearly damaged Mr. Wilson’s right to a fair trial.
“Once you put some information into someone’s mind, you can’t undo it,” Prof. Lindsay said in an interview. “There is nothing the judge who made that slip could have said to convince them that she didn’t think this guy was guilty.”
Prof. Lindsay said studies have repeatedly shown that people have little control over where their thoughts take them, nor do they tend to appreciate or clearly remember the factors that led to certain decisions. He said the Mr. Guilty case is reminiscent of an old joke involving a person who is asked not to think about pink elephants. The first thing they do is picture a pink elephant.
“You can’t stop your mind from dealing with something that is introduced to it,” Prof. Lindsay said. “People are terrible at ignoring that kind of thing. They just can’t do it. They also cannot ‘unremember’ something.”
In a similar case last year, a Toronto jury at a murder trial for Erika Mendieta complained that a prosecutor who was previously connected to the case had distracted them by sitting in the gallery, gesticulating and expressing visible disgust at Ms. Mendieta’s testimony.
The judge ruled that the trial had been irretrievably damaged, discharged the jurors and continued hearing the case alone.
Mr. Wilson grew up in Toronto’s impoverished Regent Park area, commencing an on-again, off-again cocaine habit when he was 12. He was arrested on Nov. 30, 2009, when police rushed into an alley stairwell in the belief that a drug deal was taking place. A friend of Mr. Wilson’s ran up the stairs, but Mr. Wilson remained standing not far from a bag full of individually wrapped balls of crack cocaine.
Police alleged that Mr. Wilson wept, apologized and confessed that he had been selling small amounts of the drug to support his wife and infant daughter.
In testimony at his trial, Mr. Wilson conceded the admission but claimed that he had concocted his confession to stop the police from beating him. He said that the man who fled dealt drugs for a living and had tossed the bag of cocaine in Mr. Wilson’s direction when the police burst in.
Prof. Lindsay expressed sympathy for Judge McWatt and speculated that she may have been unaware whether or not she thought Mr. Wilson was guilty. But regardless of that, he said, any reasonable person would conclude that the judge believed he was.
“The judge tainted the jury,” Prof. Lindsay said. “It’s hard to say that they could have made a decision ignoring this.”
Smart meter opponents stacked placards outside the UBCM convention in Vancouver. CBC
Stop this energy smart meter 'fiasco', UK.gov urged
So-called 'smart meters' are under renewed attack – this time from MPs and Which? magazine, which has recommended a halt to the programme.
Later in the week the Public Accounts Committee is expected to be critical of the ambitious scheme, which comes at a high (£11bn+) cost to consumers, and which critics say is based on shaky maths.
Labour leader Ed Miliband ordered the programme as one of his final gifts to the nation as Energy Secretary. It involves replacing all 53 million gas and electricity meters at UK homes and businesses. The new wireless devices, which call home, are touted as an environmental benefit.
But their sole advantage is strategic: they provide power companies with a remote 'kill switch' to the home. The Climate Change Committee report of a year ago noted that: "Meters will allow supply to be controlled remotely." And don't imagine this is some unfounded scaremongering: it's official.
The bureaucratic euphemism for this shortfall is 'energy unserved', and beginning in five years, the blackouts will begin. Three thousand megawatt hours of energy unserved, which is the shortfall predicted for 2017, means a city the size of Manchester will face a 15-minute blackout every winter night for a month.
When to expect cuts: estimating the UK's "energy unserved" (Source: DECC)
Which? has found that people don't trust the power meters, fearing a lock to a single supplier. It wants the programme halted until the costs can be better estimated. Last year the National Audit office cast doubt about its cost and effectiveness. It also cast doubt on the 'green' case for smart meters.
According to proponents, the new meters give the householder more information, and therefore reduce overall power demand. Forty per cent of the final guesstimated saving is said to come from this kind of behaviour – the rest comes from laying off human meter readers. It's essential to switch demand from peak to off-peak times. But not everybody can afford to monitor the usage on this kind of obsessive level, for example. They don't have the time or ideological commitment to count every milliwatt.
In addition, most domestic power goes on heating and cooking, and is therefore essential. The NAO found that conservation, the biggest selling point of the new meters, is unproven. The NAO identified "uncertainty, based on the evidence available so far, about the extent to which smart meters will result in changed energy use by consumers over a sustained period." The pilot didn't demonstrate value for money, the NAO noted at the time. Even DECC's own figures estimate a saving of just £23 a year by 2020, which doesn't take into account rises in energy bills.
So here we are, and it looks very much like the ID Card scheme all over again: a vast top-down technocratic exercise based on dubious cost estimates. Alas, when the Coalition took power, it vowed to accelerate the programme, rather than scrap it. But it's fortunate so far, in that the only significant public opposition to smart meters worldwide has come from the tinfoil hat brigade, fretting about 'electrosmog'. Isn't freezing the poor to death a rather stronger argument against them?
YouHaveDownloaded is a great resource that reveals what people behind an IP-address have downloaded on BitTorrent.
The founders of the site developed the service so people can show what others have been downloading.
Over the past weeks we’ve used the service to expose the most fierce defenders of copyright, and today the focus is on Canada, where the government is preparing to ram through a revamped copyright bill.
The Conservative majority government has reintroduced the Canadian Copyright Modernization Act Bill C-11, which according to experts will have disastrous consequences for consumers.
But while politicians are taking a stand against piracy, staffers at their very own parliament are downloading torrents left and right.
Several IP-addresses assigned to the Canadian House of Commons have been caught pirating copyrighted material.
A copy of the game Need for Speed for example, the film Loosies, very expensive software from Adobe and a leaked version of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.
The Canadian parliament is in good company though. Previously we were able to show that unauthorized downloads occur even in the most unexpected of places, from the palace of the French President, via the Church of God, to the RIAA and the US House of Representatives. Ironically, the RIAA blames another company for pirating though their IP-addresses.
Re:Canada Shoots itself in the Head : A Nation Going Down in Flames
« Reply #119 on: 2012-01-28 17:31:41 »
Seems you can't trust anyone these days; not even the media.
Spy story stumps diplomatic community
Source: Kazan Author: Kristen Shane, Carl Meyer Date: 2012.01.26
‘Usually…you don’t have farewell parties if you’ve been expelled:’ Former protocol chief
Current and former members of the Ottawa diplomatic community were left with more questions than answers after news emerged last week alleging Russian diplomats were expelled in connection with the case of a Canadian naval officer accused of passing secrets to a “foreign entity.”
On Jan. 16, Canadian naval intelligence officer Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle was charged under the Security of Information Act with communicating information that, in the words of the Act, may “increase the capacity of a foreign entity or a terrorist group to harm Canadian interests.”
Three days later, media reports began surfacing of a Canadian intelligence leak to Moscow, and named possible Russian embassy staff members involved. But within hours of these stories, other Canadian news outlets began reporting that friends and colleagues of two of the named diplomats had held goodbye parties for them—and they departed weeks before Mr. Delisle was charged.
South African acting high commissioner Anesh Maistry held one of those parties, for attaché Konstantin Kolpakov, on Dec. 20 at his home. Embassy staff attended along with about 15 other journalists, diplomats, and others.
“Personally, I just think that at the present moment this is just media speculation,” said Mr. Maistry, on Jan. 22, upon reading the news.
“Nothing tangible has come out, considering that the Canadian government hasn’t put anything down officially; they haven’t announced anything.”
Norwegian Ambassador Else Berit Eikeland was similarly struck by the commentary bouncing around in media reports.
“There seems to be a lot of speculation in the media now about these people,” she said, “I really want to have it confirmed or get some more information.”
Former Canadian ambassador to Russia Christopher Westdal said the diplomatic community was likely buzzing about “the rush to judgment.”
He said in instances like this, diplomats would be writing reports home about the story, about how it affected fellow envoys, and about the procedure of arresting Sub-Lt. Delisle under the Act.
The government has not confirmed media speculation that Mr. Delisle was spying for Russia, and none of the charges against him have been proven in court.
Foreign Minister John Baird told the Globe in the Jan. 20 report that “the matter is before the courts and on a national security file; I am just not inclined to comment at this time.”
When reached later that day by Embassy, Mr. Baird’s spokesperson, Joseph Lavoie, stuck by the same line, and so did Public Safety Minister Vic Toews when questioned by media during a news conference.
The Russian embassy would also not comment on the story on Jan. 20. But Russia’s foreign ministry posted on Twitter that “Canadian media reports of Russian diplomats being expelled from Canada are surprising, as they left in 2011 on completing their secondment.”
Not much is known about two administrative and technical staff that were named in reports, Mikhail Nikiforov and Tatiana Steklova. They were not well-known within the diplomatic community that regularly attends receptions and events.
Mr. Kolpakov and another one of the named Russian envoys, assistant defence attaché Lt.-Col. Dmitry Fedorchatenko, however, were more known as they attended such events. Embassy profiled Mr. Kolpakov for a story published in August. A tall, soft-spoken man from Kazan, he joined the Russian foreign service in 2004 and had served in Canada since November 2006.
As an attaché, he worked a variety of jobs while in Canada including organizing the Russian delegation’s logistics for the 2010 G8 and G20 summits in Canada and, more recently, working as an assistant to the ambassador.
Mr. Maistry knew him professionally through diplomatic functions and said Mr. Kolpakov told him in September of his coming departure. Friends of Mr. Kolpakov said he had told them he would leave Canada at Christmas.
“I don’t know if there’s much credible [information] in the newspaper articles surrounding the fact that he was removed off the diplomatic list, because he was removed off the diplomatic list in January—the man had left already just before Christmas. So it’s really for me quite immaterial and not really plausible,” he said.
German defence attaché Lt.-Col. Kay Kuhlen told Postmedia News that Department of National Defence officials informed him in early November that Lt.-Col. Fedorchatenko would be leaving that month. Another goodbye party was hosted for him “after nearly three years in Ottawa,” at the Venezuelan embassy on Nov. 10. It added he left Canada “a few days later.”
Robert Collette, a former chief of protocol for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, said the link between Russian envoys and Sub-Lt. Delisle was a believable story, “but it could also be a story that doesn’t have credibility.”
“You could also take it apart, given that they all left, and given that at least two of them had farewell parties. Usually…you don’t have farewell parties if you’ve been expelled…it’s not a moment that you want to savour.”
Mr. Collette, who spent 35 years with the department, said when he was there staff tried to update the diplomatic list as quickly as possible after a change. It wasn’t done every day, but maybe once a month, he said.
He said that when someone is made persona non grata and expelled—the toughest action Canada can take against a diplomat—they typically leave within 24 to 48 hours, or perhaps a week.
It’s possible that a diplomat causing the ire of a host country may not be declared persona non grata but that an agreement is reached between the two parties, he said. That could give diplomats more time to leave.
He also said it is unusual but the government could declare a diplomat persona non grata after they have left to ensure they never come back, as a kind of “life sentence.”
But he noted that the public could only speculate on the facts of the case until further information is released by governments or through the court system.
Long history of spycraft
After Soviet embassy clerk Igor Gouzenko’s 1945 defection revealed the presence of Soviet spying in Canada, Russia and Canada took turns expelling a number of each other’s diplomats throughout the 1970s and ’80s.
In those Cold War days, Mr. Collette said, countries conducted tit-for-tat expulsions in which the people expelled were not always sanctioned for their own actions, but in general retaliation.
Now, he said, “We would not normally engage in a tit-for-tat.”
The last Russian diplomats to be expelled from Canada were in November 2002, when two left for “activities in Canada inconsistent with their diplomatic status.” In response, Russia expelled two Canadian diplomats the next month.
Russia also expelled two Canadian diplomats working at a NATO information office in Moscow in May 2009, but assured then-foreign minister Lawrence Cannon that it was meant to be a protest against NATO, not Canada.
Russia-Canada relations under the Harper Conservatives have sometimes been tense. Canada supported Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty during the Georgia-Russia war in August 2008, and Defence Minister Peter MacKay in February 2009 linked a Russian bomber flight to US President Barack Obama’s visit to Ottawa. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was concerned about the “increasingly aggressive Russian actions around the globe.”
But in recent months, the relationship seemed to have warmed somewhat with signs that Mr. Harper’s statements towards Russia were shifting.
As for the current spy story, “we’ve had spies in the 1940s and we continue to have them. It’s a different kind of spying, but it still takes place,” said Mr. Collette.
CTV Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife, who was one of the earliest to report the expulsions, noted to Embassy in an interview that the government has not denied the facts of his story.
“[There are] a lot of things we still don’t know,” he said. He was reluctant to talk about how he does his stories.
“Stories that are about espionage or about intelligence are kind of like onions—they get peeled back layer after layer,” said Christopher Waddell, director of the Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication.
Making the decision when to report is a function of whom a reporter’s sources are, whether they are in a position to know what they say, their motives behind sharing the information, and what the implications of reporting something wrong would be.
He noted that there is still no confirmed version of how many diplomats were expelled from Canada, if any. He said it seems reasonable to assume that the most likely source of the stories was someone speaking off the record inside the government.
“In a world where no one wants to confirm anything, it’s possible to write stories that speculate about lots of things,” he said.
Mr. Westdal said if it turns out that the Russians were not involved, “someone will owe the Russians an apology, but I think it will be principally journalists.”