06/07/2020

We Have A Problem With Truth (Or Gullibility Or Hate)

Tags: News Hate and Manipulation


The problem is global. There are endless conspiracy theories circulating, much of it meant to create hate toward any particular ethnic group or race.

This has got to stop. Even in my tucked-away little neighborhood, hate and derision spread. Much of it is hidden, nestled into yet smaller communities, isolating back into the woods or up a mountain, sequestered among their own group. Nearly all of it is coming from people who moved here with the expectation that none of the people they hate will also move here. Their cruel talk is aimed at people with a darker complexion. Or people who move here from disadvantaged places. It is sickening that that kind of culture exists among us but we are live-and-let-live people so we do our best to not let it get to us.

Right now, Black Lives Matter is a global awakening of how we treat people of colour or "other" ethnicity. It began with the choking death of George Lloyd by a policemen who killed him by kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes 46 seconds. Mr. Lloyd was dead after 5 minutes. With a US federal government led by an amoral, cruel man who gets pleasure by hurting people, police feel encouraged to kill, inflict pain and injure ordinary citizens with impunity, as they have done for many years. White supremacy militias are running rampant. This has got to stop. No one of any race or gender or age is safe. There are videos popping up of white people, elderly and children suffering horrible attacks by policemen aimed at not only ethnic people but also those who simply do not agree.

Nearly all of those same people don't believe Covid 19 exists or that it isn't harmful. They go out in public, not covering their mouths and noses, shedding virus that they deny exits. They do it without any consideration for vulnerable souls who will then get ill, suffer permanent organ damage or die. Those same people who are spreading the disease then expect the very best of medical care available to them when they get ill with it. Hypocrites. Evil, self-serving, callous and heartless people who think only of themselves with no regard whatsoever for others. They are the reason there is so much Covid 19 circulating.

Why do they believe so much garbage? There is no shortage of lies, fake news and outright manipulation to be found on the internet. There is also an abundance of truth circulating, yet the garbage is what they CHOOSE to believe and spread further. What kind of people do this? It often resembles just plain stupidity or a disordered mind. What kind of character do they have - or lack?


When you can't face reality, you'll easily embrace conspiracy. - John Pavlovitz

Click on the link below to a video by John Pavlovitz.
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01/08/2017

"Making Sense of the News" Free Online News Literacy Course

QuickImage Tags: News Education Politics


The Center for News Literacy's new course, "Making Sense of the News" aims to teach people how to critically consume information and become more informed and engaged citizens.

I, for one, will be taking this course. Sorting out the real facts is challening. Anything that helps us determine what's fake from what's real is helpful.

It starts on Monday.

(Tomorrow? - Maggie)

Download File

08/08/2013

Mattress, New To You

Tags: Freebie News
Queen-size mattress, box spring and frame in good condition.  Most appropriate for guest bedroom. Free. You come & get it.

For more info call Ruth at (914) 945-0780.

02/22/2012

The Mystery of Marie Jocelyne, A Documentary project in Brooklyn, NY by Dan Nuxoll & Martha Shane

Tags: News Entertainment


The goal is to reach $22,880 to make this documentary. The fund has reached $21,497 with 37 hours to go.
Download File the-mystery-of-marie-jocelyne

09/21/2011

Atheism on the upswing in U.S.

Tags: News
Excerpts: it is increasingly clear that Western atheism has evolved into a forward-looking movement that has the wind at its back, is behind the success of the best run societies yet seen in human history, and is challenging religion as the better basis of morality. Even in the U.S., a religious anomaly in the Western world, atheists are making major gains while Christianity withers, already having lost the mainstream culture to secularism. The least religious regions of the nation are enjoying superior societal conditions.

The science-based evidence leaves no doubt that, although very human in its flaws, democratic atheism is proving superior to faith-based mythical doctrines in practical societal and moral terms.

The future of American faith is grim as the nation undergoes the secularization process that has already pretty much wrecked the churches in the rest of the West. So what will happen to American society as it too becomes as non-theistic as, say, Canada? My next essay will show how the loss of religion is not the big social/moral deal many make it out to be. - By Greg Paul

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09/14/2011

Truth Behind 9-11 Being Hidden: Former FBI Agent. He Claims Cheney Is Not Being Honest With The Public. (As if we're shocked by that.)

Tags: News
A former FBI agent has told the BBC that he is being prevented from telling the truth about the events of 9/11 and what has happened since.
Download File video.aspx?cp-documentid=4bb1661c-e0f0-419f-8c5b-94b6b14f3c69

08/23/2011

Never Thought I'd See The Day! Both my kids are in earthquake territory today. Richter 5.9 in the D.C. metro area, 5.3 in SE Colorado.

Tags: WOW! Hold On To Your Boots News shaking things up
My favorite quake quote: Not affraid to die but I don't want to die being smashed like potatoes. ROFL!

From the NY Times:

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.8 struck near Washington, D.C., the U.S.Geological Survey said.

The epicenter was in Virginia.

The quake was felt in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New York City and on Martha's Vineyard where President Barack Obama is vacationing. Cell phone service has been disrupted in New York City where parts of Manhattan have been evacuated.

"Everybody was told to take the stairs," Wolf Blitzer said, speaking live at 2 p.m. E.T. from CNN's D.C. bureau.

The Pentagon has been evacuated, CNN's Barbara Starr reports. "When the building began shaking rather violently, hundreds of people began streaming out," she said, because many people thought that the building was under attack. Starr was standing in the Pentagon's press office when the roof started to shake.

Twitter traffic suggests the quake was felt all over the east coast.

In Philadelphia, HunterPence3 tweeted, "Wow Earthquake just shook the entire locker room!"

In Cleveland, "tribeinsider" wrote "I'm no expert but i think we just had an earthquake here."

And even in Toronto, tweets said that the shaking could be felt for minutes.

Download File watch?v=VbyX85Ri3PU

12/10/2010

See This Nice Write-Up About Christmas Tree In Cape Breton In The Washington Post.

Tags: Cape Breton Life In Cape Breton Local Business Local News News
Christmas Island, Lunenburg, Christmee tree farms, sleigh rides, more. Very nice! Click on the link and enjoy the read.
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10/14/2010

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Tags: Life News
It's all about awareness. '...The problem is that the majority of people involved in abusive relationships don’t identify themselves as either villains or victims ..." and “Even good guys or nice guys [can be abusers] ... abuse doesn’t have to be physical.” http://www.newsweek.com/2010/10/13/courtney-cox-and-david-arquette-vs-domestic-abuse.html
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09/09/2010

"Life, Money & Illusion; Living on Earth as if we want to stay" book tour

Tags: Around The Lake Important Enough That We Focus Our Attention On It Learning Local News New Ways Of Working In The New Millennium News Quality Of Life In Canada
Anne Rogal brought this to my attention and I find it intriguing. Please let Anne or me know if you would like to participate and we'll see what we can do to set this up. She will approach the folks in St. George's Channel to ask about using their hall. If they agree to let us hold it there, I expect they will want a donation, which I believe most of us would be willing to pay.

Mike Nickerson, author of Life, Money & Illusion; Living on Earth as if we want to stay, is doing a tour of Nova Scotia this Fall and has Tuesday, September 28th available to lead a discussion in our area.

He suggests a public meeting or a pot luck with friends focused on the topic afterward and says that, either way, interesting discussions result.

Regarding his fee for him to offer a discussion: The bigger the group, the more people reached, the smaller, the more involved people can be in the conversation. I don't charge but I am always very grateful for contributions toward the ongoing educational work (we can even get charitable receipts if that would help.)  I've received from $50 to $500 in the past, tho sometimes it is only sales of my book "Life Money and Illusion" that get me down the road.  http://www.sustainwellbeing.net/lmi.html 

Book discussion - Living on Earth as if we want to stay

A public discussion with Mike Nickerson, author of Life, Money & Illusion; Living on Earth as if we want to stay

If personal security is threatened by an economic crisis with undertones of the climate and energy issues, what does it all mean for the children and grandchildren?

While humans are a gifted creature, finding our way out of the present situation requires that we acknowledge how the world has changed.

For forty years, Mike Nickerson has been studying the problems and solutions of our times.  His study, from outside of institutional molds, reveals how societies change.  Nickerson will facilitate a discussion based on his book "Life, Money & Illusion; Living on Earth as if we want to stay."

In his book, Nickerson explores the implications of attempting perpetual growth on our finite planet. He also outlines ways in which we can adapt to what he calls the maturation of the human species." There is a time for growing and there is a time for mature responsibility." he says.  "The human family is at the threshold of a new era and we are feeling adolescent angst as we pine for the carefree growth of childhood."

In the same ways that life doesn't end with individual maturity, there are vast opportunities awaiting a post-growth society.  To come of age as a society, however, we have to deal with the "growth hormone" that makes the economy ill when it is not expanding.  The first step is to choose between the goal of long-term well-being and that of perpetual expansion.  It is a Question of Direction. http://www.sustainwellbeing.net/question.html

Whether at a library, meeting hall or after a pot luck at someone's home, following an  introduction to the challenge and goal ahead of us, interesting discussion inevitably follows.

We could recreate mutual provision (the economy) in a way that can provide for countless generations to come.

A variety of information on the tour is available at: http://www.sustainwellbeing.net/planning_an_event.html
Download File lmi.html

09/04/2010

Are You Ready For Earl?

Tags: Life In General Life: When Life Gives You Lemons Make Lemonade News
Earl has weakened to tropical storm strength but it will still pack significant power to do damage and mess with your plans for Saturday.

Earl is expected to arrive in the Maritimes in the Digby neck area between 5 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon, which likely means anywhere from mid morning to late afternoon here. "Hurricane watches remain in effect for Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby counties of Nova Scotia, as well as Halifax and Halifax County." and "... what is impressive about the storm is its size. The size plus the warm air and waters in the Maritimes mean that keeping concerns high about hurricane-force winds is 'the responsible approach' ."

It would be advantageous if the storm were to arrive during low tide. There will be very heavy rainfall and high winds with significant gusts so take everything inside that can be blown around - patio umbrellas, planters - and put your boat in the most protected place possible with extra lines or take it out if you can.

I am not worried. The trees are far enough away from my house that they won't fall on it and we have gravity-fed water so it will flow even if the power goes out. I have a gas range so I can always cook and make tea & coffee. I'll get a pea soup going in the crockpot at breakfast and have a hot meal later in the day as the driving rain pours down and the winds howl and swirl outdoors. Bags of ice are in the freezer, ready for use.

Come on over and join us for a hurricane Earl party. We're ready!

Postscript: 5:30 a.m. and the temperature has dropped to only 70F/21C. Too hot in the house to sleep. Amazing how much hot air the hurricane is pushing ahead of it. Once Earl passes through, it will be fall. Today and tomorrow's highs forecast to be in the mid 70'sF/23C, tomorrow's low only 48F/9C.

08/27/2010

Mars hoax scares up searches

Tags: Learning Life News Stargazing
There's an email making the rounds that claims that on the night of August 27 (that's tonight), the planet Mars will appear as large as the moon. Sounds sweet, but hold up. Before you invite your friends over for a rooftop viewing, we have some bad news: It's just a hoax.

Web searches on "mars moon," "two moons," and "huge mars" have all been off the charts over the past several days due to the email. And that's understandable, because the message is quite persuasive. Quotes include: "The Red Planet is about to be spectacular," "Earth is catching up with Mars [for] the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history," and, in all caps, "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN."There's an email making the rounds that claims that on the night of August 27 (that's tonight), the planet Mars will appear as large as the moon. Sounds sweet, but hold up. Before you invite your friends over for a rooftop viewing, we have some bad news: It's just a hoax.

Web searches on "mars moon," "two moons," and "huge mars" have all been off the charts over the past several days due to the email. And that's understandable, because the message is quite persuasive. Quotes include: "The Red Planet is about to be spectacular," "Earth is catching up with Mars [for] the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history," and, in all caps, "NO ONE ALIVE TODAY WILL EVER SEE THIS AGAIN."

So, what's going on here? Why would somebody bother to trick people into wasting their Friday night by staring at the sky? According to a popular article from LiveScience, the email has been going around since 2003, and originally, it wasn't a hoax. SPACE.com explains that the "August 27" referenced in the email actually refers to August 27, 2003. "Mars made a historically close pass by Earth that night (34.6 million miles, or 55.7 million km)." However, even in 2003, Mars didn't look anything like our moon.

Meteorologist Mark Johnson from WEMS wrote a humorous piece on how this hoax "spread, mutates, (and) refuses to die." He goes to explain, that the only way you're going to see Mars look as large as the Moon is if you board a spaceship. Every year, Johnson explains that this is a hoax to his viewers, but every year, he has to do it again. "Years of stories contradicting the hoax have failed to stamp it out," he laments.

Bottom line: The email is lying to you. Go ahead and delete it, because odds are you're gonna get it again next year.
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08/07/2010

BBQ and Open Mic in St. George's Channel Hall, followed by Irish Music and Microbrew Pub; Potluck in Marble Mountain Hall, Marble Mountain Family Fun Day Tomorrow at the Wharf

Tags: Food & Entertainment Food & Fun Life In Cape Breton Marble Mountain News North Mountain Quality Of Life In Canada
Potluck and pub and music - Oh My! There's no shortage of things to do on this wonderful weekend.

Noon - 6: Potluck and Open Mic at St. George's Channel Hall

7 - Midnight: Microbrew Pub and Irish Music at St. George's Channel Hall

5:00: Potluck in Marble Mountain Hall

Remember to visit Marble Mountain tomorrow between noon and 6 for Family Fun Day at the wharf and beach. There will be games with prizes for the kids, a magician, a juggler, live music for all, food and soft drinks at the wharf, a duck race for $ on the beach at 3 or 4 and a Poker Run at 1. This event is always a lot of fun for children of all ages. Please come!

07/17/2010

Mass In Historic St. Joseph's Church 1:00 Tomorrow. Only In The Summer!

Tags: Life on Marble Mountain Local News Marble Mountain News News In Marble Mountain News in Nova Scotia Quality Of Life In Canada
Come to mass with us, we'd love to have you! 1:00

Mass is held only in the summer because there is no electricity and no heat in the church. The bench seats are hard so bring a pillow.

01/14/2010

Tupperware Clearance Event - Min. 5% Of Sales Will Be Donated For Relief For The Recent Tragedy In Haiti

Tags: News
Saturday, January 16, 2010

11:00 am - 4:00 pm

Helen Windeler's Place

71 Charles MacLean Road

Port Hastings
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12/31/2009

New Year's Eve Day Happenings

Tags: News
Looking in the Around The Lake Calendar, St. George's Channel Hall is hosting a New Year's Eve Celebration from noon to 6:00 today and Marble Mountain will be holding Games Night this evening, as usual, but there may be additional goodies to celebrate the evening.
Download File Calendar

10/07/2009

Fire Benefit in River Bourgeois Saturday, October 10

Tags: News
There will be a benefit for a gentleman named Mr. Boucher in River Bourgeois. He lost everything in a house fire during the summer. He needs all kinds of household items.

The builders will start on his new home in the spring. Any household goods he gets prior to moving in to his home will be stored in his mother's garage.

If you have any household items to donate, I am sure it will be appreciated. I believe one of the realtors in the St. Peter's office, Peter, is taking any donations.

09/24/2009

Flu Shots and Sore Arms

Tags: News
If you will be getting a flu shot, massage the spot for a few minutes immediately afterward to help minimize the soreness at the shot site.  That helps disperse the flu vaccine so your arm shouldn't hurt as much.

07/25/2009

Uh-Oh, H1N1 Is Here

Tags: News
A 52 year old woman from L'Ardoise died yesterday of the H1N1 flu. She worked at the senior facility in St. Peter's. It was said on the news that she had underlying health issues. What does that mean? She had a job and obviously was able to work.

I suspect that Kit and & I have the H1N1. It started with a ferocious headache Wednesday and by yesterday I was feeling weak. Kit woke up with the headache in the wee hours yesterday. At first I thought it was merely a rain headache but when I felt worse the next day Kit said I had the H1N1. I thought he was joking and I laughed but he said "No, I'm serious." That's when I got serious about it, too. Either that or I could have picked up one of those bugs that cruise ships are famous for spreading.

We spent a few hours Tuesday with a couple of friends who had arrived that morning on a cruise ship out of N.Y. I'll have to call Elodie and see what she knows, if anyone on the ship reported illness. How fast does H1N1 incubate? Only a day is a very short incubation and I could very well have picked it up earlier here on Cape Breton.

If this is the H1N1, it is rather mild as flus go. I've been a lot sicker in the past with the flu, sick enough that I couldn't get up unaided. I don't know how this virus escalates to the point of killing people but my own experience is that this is a particularly mild flu bug but I still don't feel all that great. I'd rather spend the day lying down.

07/02/2009

World Nude Gardening Day In Marble Mountain Rescheduled To August 2

Tags: News
http://www.wngd.org/ Hopefully the summer weather will have moved in by then. You are welcome to use my garden, I won't be here due to a family reunion that weekend.

05/18/2009

More News On Contaminated Dog Food Products

Tags: News
This news is distressing. I feed my dogs dried chicken breast strips.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2009/04/nutro_foia.html

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/pets/nutro.html

    Chicken Jerky

FDA Continues To Receive Complaints about Chicken Jerky Products for Dogs and Cautions Consumers  (December 19, 2008) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to caution consumers of a potential association between the development of illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky products also described as chicken tenders, strips or treats.  FDA continues to receive complaints of dogs experiencing illness that their owners or veterinarians associate with consumption of chicken jerky products. The chicken jerky products are imported to the U.S. from China.  FDA issued a cautionary warning to consumers in September 2007. Australian news organizations report the University of Sydney is also investigating an association between illness in dogs and the consumption of chicken jerky in Australia. At least one firm in Australia has recalled their chicken jerky product and the recall notification stated the chicken jerky product was manufactured in China.

FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs which may occur within hours to days of feeding the product: decreased appetite, although some may continue to consume the treats to the exclusion of other foods; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; and increased water consumption and/or increased urination.  If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product.  Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours.  Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine).  Urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died. The FDA continues to actively investigate the problem.  Many of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky.  Veterinarians and consumers alike should report cases of animal illness associated with pet foods to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html in their state.  

02/24/2009

Update on Australia's "Best Job in the World," - Cape Bretoner In The Running!

Tags: News
Sent to me by Frances this morning:

Good morning, Everyone!

I am sending the link to a site for everyone to watch and rate. There is a Cape Breton girl applying for the contest everyone has been talking about, the one where they are looking for a caretaker for an island in Australia and paying a fortune to do so. Hope you will all support this Caper in her bid to win the Best Job Ever!

Thanks,

Frances

Billing it the "Best Job in the World," the tourism department in Australia's Queensland state on Tuesday said it was seeking one lucky person to spend half a year relaxing on Hamilton Island, part of the country's Whitsunday Islands, while promoting the island on a blog.

Click here and vote for Erin.  www.ErinsReefJob.com At the end of the video, just click on the fifth star.

01/29/2009

Betty Mueller In Cape May Hospital

Tags: News
Betty Mueller is in the hospital in Cape May, NJ, after collapsing yesterday. She has 2 heart valve aneurysms and she will be seen by specialists later today who will determine her treatment. More details to follow. Betty is in good spirits and asks that we pray for her doctor, who will be making her medical decisions. As always, she is in good humor. She probably has a phone in her room.

01/25/2009

Pets Unlimited in Sydney, NS, Has Questionable Practices

Tags: News
The Pets Unlimited pet store has live animals for sale as well as pet supplies. Selling tropical fish, rodents and lizards is one thing, keeping puppies isolated in glass cages away from each other and all human contact is another.

When I was in the store on Friday I saw beautiful, lovely puppies, probably full breed with papers, isolated, alone, within view of the public, sitting there doing nothing. I thought this treatment of canines had become illegal. Legal or not, it is certainly unconscionable. You can bet that these puppies raised in isolation will have trouble relating to the people who pay big bucks to purchase them. The company probably defends this treatment by saying it keeps them from getting diseases but maladjusted dogs that never recover from this kind of deprivation live a life that is essentially marred by a type of inflicted mental illness. Pets Unlimited does this for the almighty dollar.

Dogs kept in isolation never learn to attach to their human pack. Raising puppies in this manner results in dogs with lifelong behavioral problems. These puppies have most likely been gotten from puppy mills, too. I wanted to say something to staff in the store but then I realized that they are only hourly employees and have no power over how the animals are treated.

How big is this chain? What do we need to do to put a stop to this practice? Is this legal?

I just looked at their website. Nowhere does it state that puppies are kept this way. Apparently they realize that this is an unacceptable practice. Look for yourself. www.petsunlimited.ca

01/14/2009

Let Me Know

Tags: News
Let me know what you want to see here. If you have news to share, just pass it on to me and I will post it here. As you can see, it's a slow news day.

The only news I am able to scrounge up presently is about the cold wave that is afflicting us. Wearing thermal snow pants helps as does a good hat & scarf and double think mittens, bonus points for style if the parts match.

The hens are laying, frozen combs and all. Having frostbitten combs does not faze the hens, they're tough birdies. I just took one frozen & cracked egg and one unscathed from the hen house a few minutes ago. I should have looked earlier, before the one egg froze. We put a big waterer of very warm water in their coop to help keep them warm and give them a good drink so they can make eggs. Is there such a thing as egg-laying tea? I could drop a teabag of that in there.

For the most part, the animals are unfazed by the extreme cold. My two Border Collies enjoy the cold. So do Clancy & Gus McCann, Star MacFadyen and Ceilidh & Misha Dauphinee-MacDonald. Short-haired Mocha Campbell and Buddy Zimmerman, however, do not like to go out in the cold. Should I see about putting coats on them, too? And Muttluks for their paws?

01/08/2009

Yoga Classes by Marion

Tags: News
When: Wednesday, January 14th 2009 Six Weeks

Time: 5:45pm-7:00pm

Where: West Bay Community Hall

Price: 36,-$

Instructor: Marion Sauer

Phone: 345-2248

12/27/2008

No Wonder The Global Economy Is In Such A Dreadful State (It's Been "Stein Baggered", Sort Of, With Squishy Accounting)

Tags: News
Accounting Standards Wilt Under Pressure

By Glenn Kessler Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, December 27, 2008; A01

World leaders have vowed to help prevent future financial meltdowns by creating international accounting standards so all companies would play by the same rules, but the effort has instead been mired in loopholes and political pressures.

In October, largely hidden from public view, the International Accounting Standards Board changed the rules so European banks could make their balance sheets look better. The action let the banks rewrite history, picking and choosing among their problem investments to essentially claim that some had been on a different set of books before the financial crisis started.

The results were dramatic. Deutsche Bank shifted $32 billion of troubled assets, turning a $970 million quarterly pretax loss into $120 million profit. And the securities markets were fooled, bidding Deutsche Bank's shares up nearly 19 percent on Oct. 30, the day it made the startling announcement that it had turned an unexpected profit. The change has had dramatic consequences within the cloistered world of accounting, shattering the credibility of the IASB -- the very body whose rules have been adopted by 113 countries and is supposed to become the global standard-setter, including for the United States, within a few years.

Sir David Tweedie, chairman of the IASB, acknowledged that the body needs more protection from political manipulation before it can claim that it has become the global gold standard.

Tweedie said he nearly resigned over the rule change demanded by European politicians. "I was so frustrated by the whole thing," he said. "All the time when we are trying to build a global accounting system, and we are pretty close to it, and then suddenly out of left field this thing appears. It's just absolutely exasperating."

U.S. standards have been set by the Financial Accounting Standards Board since 1973. "Right now, there is no credibility," said Robert Denham, chairman of the Financial Accounting Foundation, which oversees the FASB. "If we are going to have global accounting standards, my view is that is not going to work if the IASB is going to be jerked around by the European Commission. That is the very real risk that is posed by the EC coercion and the IASB's response."

The episode exposes how small, incremental changes in arcane accounting rules can affect billions of dollars in market value and corporate profitability. In turn, the money at risk raises the political stakes, as desperate companies begin to lobby political leaders to insist on changes that normally would come about only after a careful discussion and evaluation by experts.

For years, there has been a disconnect between U.S. and international accounting rules. With the history of corporate litigation in the United States, U.S. standards tend to be exact and explicit, making it easier for companies to defend themselves in court.

International rules rely on broad principles, giving companies greater leeway to make their own judgments. An extensive review of international accounting standards published last month by Moody's Investors Service found significant differences between two French companies on one key issue -- even though they used the same accounting firm.

Nevertheless, more than 110 countries have already adopted international rules since the IASB was established in 2001, with Japan, South Korea, India and Canada soon to make the switch. Tweedie expects that 150 countries will have adopted IASB rules within the next three years. The Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 14 adopted a plan to have all U.S. companies prepare their statements using international standards for fiscal years ending after Dec. 15, 2016. More than 100 of the largest companies would be permitted to adopt the rules as soon as next year.

But the financial crisis demonstrated how vulnerable the fledgling system is to political pressure.

On Oct. 8, the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Britain and the European Commission met in Paris to discuss the worldwide economic crisis. They issued a statement saying they were working together "within the European Union and with our international partners" to ensure the safety and stability of the worldwide banking system. But buried within the statement was a sentence warning that European banks should not face a competitive disadvantage with U.S. banks "in terms of accounting rules and their interpretation." The leaders added ominously: "This issue must be resolved by the end of the month."

At issue is an accounting standard known as fair value, or mark to market, in which companies disclose how much an asset could fetch on the open market. With the values of assets plummeting, banks were suddenly stuck with paper losses on assets they could no longer sell. With some critics saying the provision was forcing banks to take large write-downs, the SEC and FASB issued guidance in late September that companies could use their own internal models for assigning a value to assets -- in essence, a nod to the principles-based international rules.

But European officials smelled a rat. Under rare circumstances, U.S. companies are permitted to reclassify assets they were actively seeking to trade into long-term "loans," using an accounting rule that was considered weaker than the international equivalent. The international rules did not permit such transfers, and European officials feared that the new guidance was handing the Americans a competitive advantage.

Shortly after the European leaders' statement, Commissioner Charlie McCreevy of the European Commission, who was in charge of the European Union internal market, signaled he would introduce legal changes, overriding the international rules. McCreevy decided to exploit a loophole in the system -- that all accounting rules must be adopted as legislation by the E.U. So McCreevy was going to force the changes on the IASB by threatening to remove -- or carve out -- the existing regulation, leaving nothing in its place.

"We made it clear what the IASB should accept," said Oliver Drewes, a spokesman for McCreevy. "There is always the right, and threat and the pressure, that one could go for a carve-out for European companies."

Tweedie said the rulemaking body had only four days to act before McCreevy pushed through a change in the law, even though accounting changes of this magnitude would normally take months to achieve.

Unlike the U.S. board, the international board has no regulator like the SEC to help shield it from political pressure. So the IASB was at the mercy of the European Commission.

"There had been pressure on him, I suspect, from some of the European leaders," Tweedie said, referring to McCreevy. "It was quite clear it was going to be pushed through and that would have been a disaster. We were faced with this hole being blown in the European accounting, and we just wanted to step in and control it." But the IASB bowed to demands to let the firms backdate the accounting shift to the beginning of July -- something not permitted under U.S. rules.

In a recent report, Moody's wrote that the backdating provision could distort a bank's earnings and capital position, since "it allows managements to 'cherry-pick' selected assets" and "distort their economic reality," making it more -- not less -- difficult to compare global bank performance.

"The measure does not make much sense in the first place," said J.F. Tremblay, a Moody's vice president. "But the fact that a board can be influenced like that is not good news." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/26/AR2008122601715.html?nav=hcmoduletmv

12/17/2008

More Of The Story That Keeps On Giving: Stein Bagger Hits The Front Page Of The Wall Street Journal's Tech Section

Tags: News
It looks like he's showing remorse, probably after he figured out how many years he'll be safely tucked away, out of reach of the tech world and business world. I know IBM is hurting to have to take ITF's sponsorship and $'s away from Lotusphere this year.

From the WSJ - "... Sent back to Denmark Tuesday, Mr. Bagger cried and pleaded guilty before a Danish court to charges of aggravated fraud and forgery, crimes that could land him in jail for eight years, according to his court-appointed lawyer, Jesper Madsen. ...

"Most of his business was fake," says Jens Madsen, head of an economic-crimes unit now investigating the spectacular rise and fall of Mr. Bagger. The entrepreneur also happens to be a former bodybuilder who, before becoming a Danish tech superstar, posed for a Swedish muscle magazine dressed as Superman. He's now suspected of pumping up IT Factory's profits -- which nearly tripled last year -- through phony deals.

The gist of the allegations is that Mr. Bagger used a web of phantom firms to get money from banks and then used these same companies to place big purchase orders for IT Factory software and services. He was buying from himself using other people's money.

Speaking to a Danish tabloid last week, Mr. Bagger said he felt guilty, sorry and "so happy that everything got revealed." Threats from unnamed extortionists, he added, had sent him astray. "I can understand that some people feel I let them down," he was quoted as saying. His lawyer doesn't dispute the interview. ..."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122945517473311217.html 

12/15/2008

Great Egret in Port Hastings

QuickImage Tags: News
A Great Egret has been sighted in Port Hawkesbury-Port Hastings. It must have gotten blown off course in the recent strong winds. Great Egrets are not unheard of here but they are exceedingly uncommon to find this far north. It's worth a drive to see.

On Wikipedia: The Great Egret (Ardea alba), also known as the Great White Egret, or Common Egret, is a wading egret, found in most of the tropical and warmer temperate parts of the world, although it is very local in southern Europe and Asia. It is sometimes confused with the Great White Heron in Florida, which is a white morph of the Great Blue Heron.

The Great Egret is a large bird with all-white plumage that can reach 38 inches/101 cm in height and weigh up to 950 g. It is only slightly smaller than the Great Blue or Grey Herons. Apart from size, the Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet. It also has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

The Great Egret feeds in shallow water or drier habitats, spearing fish, frogs or insects with its long, sharp bill. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim. It is a common species, usually easily seen.

The Great Egret is partially migratory, with northern hemisphere birds moving south from areas with cold winters. It breeds in colonies in trees close to large lakes with reed beds or other extensive wetlands. It builds a bulky stick nest. The call at breeding colonies is a loud croaking "cuk cuk cuk".

Although generally a very successful species with a large and expanding range, the Great Egret is highly endangered in New Zealand, with only one breeding site at Okarito Lagoon. In North America, large numbers of Great Egrets were killed around the end of the 19th century so that their plumes could be used to decorate hats. Numbers have since recovered as a result of conservation measures. Its range has expanded as far north as southern Canada. However, in some parts of the southern United States, its numbers have declined due to habitat loss. Nevertheless, it adapts well to human habitation and can be readily seen near wetlands and bodies of water in urban and suburban areas. In 1953 the Great Egret in flight was chosen as the symbol of the National Audubon Society, which was formed in part to prevent the killing of birds for their feathers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Egret

12/12/2008

It Has Been Brought To Our Attention ...

Tags: News
Today we just found out that some of last year's participants in the polar bear dip were upset that their pictures were posted on the community website. This is the first time we heard about this, we knew nothing of this until today. There is no reason for a picture of someone to be there against their wishes. As soon as I find out who does not want his or her phot on there, I will happily and immediately remove it. Just let me know. Thanks. This is a fun event and not intended to cause anyone any emotional harm.

12/07/2008

Danish fugitive turns himself in to LAPD - The man walked into a Los Angeles police station, wearing an Armani jacket and a Rolex, and admitted he was wanted for an alleged $170-million scam involving his technology firm.

Tags: News
In Denmark, Stein Bagger's spectacular fall from technology golden boy to alleged scam artist and international fugitive has captivated many of the country's 5 million residents. His purported fraud, said to be as high as $170 million, is the biggest scandal in 20 years.

But when Bagger, 41, strode into the Los Angeles police station near skid row on Saturday morning, officers wondered whether he was delusional.

"I am Stein Bagger," the man said, putting his hands on the counter. "I'm a fugitive from Europe and I'm here to turn myself in."

Skeptical officers took the lean, 6-foot man back for questioning.

"We've had several people come in and tell us they were the king of Denmark," explained Officer Jack Richter.

But as Bagger leaned across a desk, the sleeve of his black Armani jacket crept up to reveal a Rolex watch. A computer search turned up an Interpol warrant for his arrest on charges of counterfeiting, forgery and fraud, according to the LAPD.

Bagger was turned over to federal authorities Saturday night and held at the Metropolitan Detention Center.

Read the rest of it here. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-danish7-2008dec07,0,7625078.story

You might think that this is the final chapter about Stein Bagger but, as Kit said, I doubt this is the end of the story.

12/05/2008

The Color Of The Year For 2009

Tags: News
I don't know about this one, this time. And I really don't know why the color-of-the-year" intrigues me so but here it is for next year: Yellow. Brilliant, bright, in-your-face, yield-sign, lines-on-the-highway yellow. Read on ....

Feeling yellow?

What color is next new year? Yellow, according to the color authorities at Pantone, who just named "mimosa" the official hue of 2009. Yellow, they say, is "connected to warmth, sunshine and cheer." Who doesn't need that?

But yellow has other associations, too, like hope. And jealousy.

Hope has long inspired people to wear yellow ribbons (and tie them around trees or put these on their cars) during times of war.

The yellow ribbon originally acted as a sign to young men returning home that their fiancées and girlfriends were still theirs.

Which famous song brings the yellow ribbon to life? (Tie a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree - la la la te da ...)

Why are these particular ribbons yellow?

Jealousy: Once upon a time, roses were either red or pink. In the 19th century, yellow ones were discovered growing in the Middle East. Originally, yellow roses were a symbol of dying love or jealousy. Today, yellow roses stand for these qualities.

And more yellow:

Yellow is the color of which chakra? (Navel) There, yellow relates to this psycho-spiritual quality.

Which 1960s Donovan song is "yellow"? (Mellow Yellow)

What else does yellow stand for? (Sunshine, illumination, wisdom and wealth)

What was 2008's hue? (Hint: It's just about opposite yellow on the color wheel.) (Blue Iris)

All colors have meaning. If you're curious about why you're drawn to specific tones, there's likely a reason: Your favorite colors reveal something about your personality.

12/02/2008

The Ongoing Saga Of IT Factory: Danish Tech Company goes bankrupt, CEO suspected of fraud

Tags: News
It has been reported in Danish news that IT Factory has declared bankruptcy and its chief executive is suspected of fraud.

IT Factory's chief executive, Stein Bagger, is being sought by Interpol in a 500 million kroner ($85 million) fraud investigation.

IT Factory has planned a news conference later Monday.

Some interesting commentary popped up in a Google search. I don't read or speak Danish but some words translate easily, such as pyskopat and svindler. The guy has apparently ditched his wife in Dubai and left his family behind in Denmark. ITF seems to attract morally bankrupt executives, from what I've witnessed over the last 8 or so years. I met Stein Bagger in passing in 2001, just before he and the other honchos of ITF drove the company (including ours) into the ground the first time. I believe this is Round 3 for ITF. We'll see how long it takes for ITF to bounce back, for the fourth time. Maybe the F in ITF really stands for Feline and this company has six more lives to go. This story would be unbelievable except that I've been witness to it all. - Maggie

11/05/2008

"Change has come to America" - Barack Obama Sweeps to Victory In History-Making Election

Tags: News
I watched Barack Obama's acceptance speech with tears in my eyes. No election in my lifetime has been this emotional. John McCain said that he “recognized the special significance” Obama’s victory had for African-Americans but I think he underestimates the significance of the event. It is an encouraging win for all people who have ever felt oppressed, for all immigrants and all people of color, that they really can do what they never dared dream of in what has always been known as the land of opportunity. This is a huge step in returning the United States to its true values.

Barack Obama, a 47-year-old first-term senator from Illinois, shattered more than 200 years of history Tuesday night by winning election as the first African-American president of the United States.

A crowd of 125,000 people jammed Grant Park in Chicago, where Obama addressed the nation for the first time as its president-elect at midnight ET. Hundreds of thousands more — Mayor Richard Daley said he would not be surprised if a million Chicagoans jammed the streets — watched on a large television screen outside the park.

“If there is anyone out there who doubts that America is a place where anything is possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” Obama declared.

“Young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans have sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of red states and blue states,” he said. “We have been and always will be the United States of America.

“It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America,” he said to a long roar.

10/30/2008

Toward a more perfect union - Globe And Mail Endorses Barack Obama

Tags: News
"... a victory for Mr. Obama would be a historic step toward what he called, alluding to the preamble of the U.S. Constitution, "the unfinished business of perfecting our union." His election would finally breach the racial divide that has marked the country since its founding." Mr. Obama should be very proud of this editorial. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081030.weobama30/BNStory/specialComment/home?cid=al_gam_nletter_newsUp

10/10/2008

Crafts Fair at the Glendale Hall Friday & Saturday, October 10 & 11, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Tags: News
A Crafts Fair is being held in Glendale today and tomorrow and our very own Anne Landin is one of the people whose work is being presented, among approximately a dozen presenters. Anne and I will be there tomorrow from approximately 12:30 p.m. until closing at 4:00 p.m.

10/09/2008

What the hell did you think would happen? Mike Warkentin looks back at the conditions, the lax regulations - and the greed - that created the U.S.'s current financial crisis - Mike Warkentin

Tags: News
What do you do when your economy is in the crapper?

Apparently, you have at the problem with a $700 billion U.S. plunger bought by taxpayers, made necessary because of the 'wisdom' of overfed bankers who turned out to be full of shit.

As the financial crisis in the United States worsens, a lot of people are having bittersweet, I-told-you-so moments.

See, smart people knew the U.S. financial juggernaut was a sand castle waiting to be washed away by the right kind of wave, and that wave came in early 2007 in the form of the subprime-mortgage crisis. By July of this year, banks and financial institutions were reporting total losses of $435 billion U.S., and the Dow Jones Indices were being battered by huge daily dives. Average Americans were losing their homes, and the institutions that floated them dangerous loans were crumbling - and taking the U.S. economy with them.

And people saw it coming.

It started back in 1970, when a new generation of politicians and business leaders ignored American history and began emasculating the government's regulatory powers. They sacrificed all kinds of laws to free-market capitalism, and after getting through industries such as transport and communications, they started on finance.

By 1999, the Financial Services Modernization Act came in to being, repealing Depression-era legislation aimed at preventing banks from going tits-up due to excessive conglomeration, corruption, mismanagement and the inevitable tankings of the stock market. The act paved the way for mergers between financial giants and created a situation in which a select few incredibly wealthy institutions were allowed to dance drunkenly on the Wall Street tightrope with no safety net below.

"Legislation first adopted to save American capitalism from the consequences of the 1929 Wall Street Crash is being abolished just at the point where the conditions are emerging for an even greater speculative financial collapse," Martin McLaughlin wrote in '99.

Nevertheless, the smoke cleared and huge corporations such as Citigroup were the reality, massive but rickety entities with so many thick tentacles that they could potentially be pulled down by a heavy weight tied to any one of them.

All this, of course, was done in the name of capitalism, free markets and Adam Smith's Invisible Hand, while government regulation was painted as unnatural; a byproduct of communism. No, Americans instead placed their trust in the rich men with marionette strings biting into their chubby fingers.

And then the whole thing came crashing down in the space of about two-and-a-half years when the housing bubble popped and the stock market lost its horns. Financial institutions have failed, stocks have plummeted and many have people watched their life savings disappear as banks and investment houses reveal they've just rolled snake eyes after a fast and loose game of craps.

So how to fix things, to restore stability to markets and to erase the errors of corporations that treated the economy like the glory hole at a rub-and-tug for so many years?

Well, how about George W. Bush's suggestion that $700 billion in taxpayers' money be funnelled into failing enterprises as one of the largest corporate-welfare bailouts in history?

I understand the economy is so shaky as to require some action to be taken, but don't expect me to be taken when the suits belly up for a feeding at the public trough after decades of pushing the government out of the economy.

To me, it looks like the Invisible Hand just gave taxpayers the finger.

Mike Warkentin is counting his pennies.

http://www.uptownmag.com/2008-10-09/page3001.aspx

10/07/2008

Unbelievable What Some Men Will Do

Tags: News
The utter cruelty and inhumanity of this is beyond my compehension. I wonder what else these men do that we never hear of. http://apps.facebook.com/causes/6485?m=7bf7bab2&_fb_fromhash=757c909e0f0c83c1d331bdab1de902f8 This story requires no further comment by me, look for yourself.

Here's what Snopes has to say about this issue: http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/sharkbait.asp I would paste some of the text for you but the site doesn't allow me to copy it.

People who do this to live animals should have hooks jammed through their lips and tossed overboard to troll for sharks. THAT would be a good use of them.

10/05/2008

Alert! DST Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 1:00:00 AM

Tags: News
Nov. 2 - Daylight Savings Time Ends - It comes later this year, so don't get caught in the dark! www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/timezone.html?n=188

Instead of at the end of October, the time will change over the weekend in the beginning November; note that it is always changes early on a Sunday. Thankfully it will occur after Halloween, giving the trick-or-treaters a little more daylight.

09/30/2008

Great News! No More Pesky Marketing Calls - Sign Up On The Canadian Do Not Call List

Tags: News
Here's the Canadian Do Not Call List www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca It is scheduled to become active tomorrow.  I'll be signing up for it asap. When this became available in the U.S, everyone I know signed up for it immediately and we couldn't be happier about it. Imagine, no more meals or life in general being interrupted by annoying, unsolicited calls. Yay!

08/30/2008

Obituary: Hope Johnson

Tags: News
Hope Johnson, 94, mother of Suzy Fenwick Burke, passed away yesterday after an extended illness. There will a memorial service in the catholic church in Ivoryton. We will send flowers to their home.

08/25/2008

I Can Hardly Believe it ...

Tags: News
Today I bought two filets of smoked salmon at The Smokehouse and it cost me $240.50!!! If you want salmon, buy it at Sobey's or Superstore or Costco but not at the Smokehouse. Simply don't go there. No one should be paying prices like that for a filet of salmon. Some people, it seems, get charged more, some people get charged less. You can never get them to tell you how much it costs per unit, only what YOU are being charged. That's slimy and outright dishonest. Friends don't let friends get ripped off. Just don't go there.

08/25/2008

The Smokehouse Will Close September 18

Tags: News
I just spoke with Birgit and Harald and they informed me that they will be closing the Smokehouse next month, on the 18th, and they plan to leave October 8 to work in Germany for the winter. Right now they plan to re-open in the spring but that could change, depending on what the future brings.

08/15/2008

A Free Press? Not This Time. (More On The Georgia-Russia Conflict)

Tags: News
By Olga Ivanova Friday, August 15, 2008; A21

I wish I could fly back to Russia. I have been in the United States for a year, and I am studying and working here to get experience in American journalism, known worldwide for its independence and professionalism. But in recent days it has felt as though I am too late, that the journalism of Watergate is well behind us and that reporting is no longer fair and balanced.

For years I have respected American newspapers for being independent. But no longer. Coverage of the conflict between Russia and Georgia has been unprofessional, to say the least. I was surprised and disappointed that the world's media immediately took the side of Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili last week.

American newspapers have run story after story about how "evil" Russia invaded a sovereign neighboring state. Many accounts made it seem as though the conflict was started by an aggressive Russia invading the Georgian territory of South Ossetia. Some said that South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, was destroyed by the Russian army. Little attention was paid to the chronology of events, the facts underlying the conflict.

Last week, Georgia's president invaded South Ossetia during the night, much as Adolf Hitler invaded Russia in 1941. Within hours, Georgian troops destroyed Tskhinvali, a city of 100,000, and they killed more than 2,000 civilians. Almost all of the people who died that night were Russian citizens. They chose to become citizens of Russia years ago, when Georgia refused to recognize South Ossetia as a non-Georgian territory.

The truth is that, in this case, Russian aggression actually made some sense. Russia defended its citizens.

Yet American newspapers published stories that omitted mention of the Georgian invasion. And American media as a whole have been disturbingly pro-Georgian. The lead photograph on the front page of Sunday's Post showed two men -- one dead, the other crying -- amid ruins in Gori, Georgia. Many other images could have been used. Monday's Wall Street Journal, for example, contained several stories about the conflict and even an op-ed by Saakashvili. Where was the Russian response?

Read the rest of this here. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/14/AR2008081403048.html?hpid=opinionsbox1 This also echoes what Elena forwarded to me. Very interesting. Btw, I agree with the author that the U.S. press is no longer fair & balanced. Farewll to that free press we used to have & value.

08/13/2008

More On The Georgia Conflict - It's About Oil & Gas, I Think, And Power

Tags: News
Russia's Strike Shows The Power Of the Pipeline

By Steven Pearlstein Wednesday, August 13, 2008; D01

It was surely not lost on Russia's bully in chief, Vladimir Putin, that the oil giant BP decided to shut down the pipeline that runs through parts of Georgia controlled by Russian troops. Indeed, that was one of the aims of the cross-border incursion.

Putin understands better than anyone that oil and gas are the source of Russia's resurgence as a military and economic power and his own control over the Russian government and key sectors of its economy. It is oil and gas that provide the money to maintain Russia's powerful military, along with a vast internal security apparatus and network of government-controlled enterprises that allow the president-turned-premier to maintain his iron grip on the levers of political and economic power.

A little pipeline history: It was just as Putin was coming to power in 1999 that an agreement was reached to create the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. The project would allow Azerbaijan and its production partner, BP, to bypass Russia and transport their newly drilled oil instead through Georgia and Turkey to a port in the eastern Mediterranean.

Because of its control of the only pipeline system linking former Soviet republics with the West, Russia had been able to extract most of the profit from any oil and gas that these newly independent countries could produce. But with BTC, which had the active support of the U.S. and European governments, Russia would lose its monopoly chokehold, opening the way for Western oil companies to make multibillion-dollar investments in the energy-rich Caucasus states. No sooner was BTC completed, however, than Western officials began exploring the possibility of other pipelines that could reach beyond Georgia and Azerbaijan to Turkmenistan, which was thought to have some of the world's largest gas reserves. Their interest was not only in "energy security" and the prospect of oil riches for Western energy companies, but also in promoting Western-style democracy and free-market capitalism in the former Soviet republics. In time, much of their efforts focused on a $12 billion project known as Nabucco, named after the Verdi opera, that would take gas across the Caspian sea, through Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, finally reaching a terminal near Vienna. With Europe already dependent on Russia for a quarter of its natural gas, and that number set to rise with construction of a new northern pipeline running under the Baltic Sea to Germany, European leaders were keen to find alternative sources of natural gas. The effort took on greater urgency in winter 2006 after Russia briefly cut off supplies in its gas-pricing dispute with Ukraine.

Nabucco also became a top priority of the Bush State Department -- in particular, of Matt Bryza, a deputy assistant secretary of state, and C. Boyden Gray, a Bush family confidante who was named a special envoy for Eurasian energy, who began actively courting the leaders of Azerbaijan.

Putin, quite correctly, viewed Nabucco as part of a larger campaign by Washington to contain and isolate Russia and limit the expansion of its burgeoning energy empire. With Gazprom, the state gas monopoly, Putin launched his own competing proposal called South Stream to build a new pipeline to the Caucasus. Read more here. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/12/AR2008081203003.html

I am still trying to get a good understanding of this issue and what led up to the attacks.

08/12/2008

Bush's War in Georgia: Will it be the Flyswatter or the Blunderbuss? By Mike Whitney http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20478.htm

Tags: News
“I saw bodies lying on the streets, around ruined buildings and in cars. It’s impossible to count them now. There's hardly a single building left undamaged.” Lyudmila Ostayeva, resident of Tskhinvali, South Ossetia

11/08/08 "ICH" -- - Washington's bloody fingerprints are all over the invasion of South Ossetia. Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili would never dream of launching a massive military attack unless he got explicit orders from his bosses at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. After all, Saakashvili owes his entire political career to American power-brokers and US intelligence agencies. If he disobeyed them, he'd be gone in a fortnight. Besides an operation like this takes months of planning and logistical support; especially if it's perfectly timed to coincide with the beginning of the Olympic games. (another petty neocon touch) That means Pentagon planners must have been working hand in hand with Georgian generals for months in advance. Nothing was left to chance.

Another tell-tale sign of US complicity is the way President Bush has avoided ordering Georgian troops to withdraw from a province that has been under the protection of international peacekeepers. Remember how quickly Bush ordered Sharon to withdraw from his rampage in Jenin? Apparently it's different when the aggression serves US interests.

Saakashvili has been working closely with the Bush administration ever since he replaced Eduard Shevardnadze as president in 2003. That's when US-backed NGOs and western intelligence agencies toppled the Shevardnadze regime in the so-called color-coded "Rose Revolution". Since then, Saakashvili has done everything that's been asked of him; he's built up the military and internal security apparatus, he's allowed US advisers to train and arm Georgian troops, he's applied for membership in NATO, and he's been a general nuisance to his Russian neighbors. Now, he has sent his army into battle ostensibly on Washington's orders. At least, that is how the Kremlin sees it. Vladimir Vasilyev, the Chairman of Russia's State Duma Security Committee, summed up the feelings of many Russians like this: "The further the situation unfolds, the more the world will understand that Georgia would never be able to do all this without America. In essence, the Americans have prepared the force, which destroys everything in South Ossetia, attacks civilians and hospitals."

True. That's why Bush is flying Georgian troops back home from Iraq to join the fighting rather than pursuing peaceful alternatives. Bush still believes that political solutions will naturally arise through the use of force. Unfortunately, his record is rather spotty.

But that still doesn't answer the larger question: Why would Saakashvili embark on such a pointless military adventure when he had no chance of winning? After all, Russia has 20 times the firepower and has been conducting military maneuvers anticipating this very scenario for months. Does Uncle Sam really want another war that bad or is the fighting in South Ossetia is just head-fake for a larger war that is brewing in the Straits of Hormuz?

Mikhail Saakashvili is a western educated lawyer and a favorite of the neocons. He rose to power on a platform of anti-corruption and economic reform which emphasized free market solutions and privatization. Instead of raising the standard of living for the Georgian people, Saakashvili has been running up massive deficits to expand the over-bloated military. Saakashvili has made huge purchases of Israeli and US-made (offensive) weapon systems and has devoted more than "4.2% of GDP (more than a quarter of all Georgian public income) to military hardware.

The Chairman of Russia's State Duma Security Committee, Vladimir Vasiliyev, summed it up like this:

"Georgia could have used the years of Saakashvili's presidency in different ways - to build up the economy, to develop the infrastructure, to solve social issues both in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and the whole state. Instead, the Georgian leadership with president Saakashvili undertook consistent steps to increase its military budget from US$30 million to $1 billion - Georgia was preparing for a military action." Naturally, Russia is worried about these developments and has brought the matter up repeatedly at the United Nations but to no avail.

Israeli arms manufacturers have also been supplying Saakashvili with state-of-the-art weaponry. According to Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz:

"In addition to the spy drones, Israel has also been supplying Georgia with infantry weapons and electronics for artillery systems, and has helped upgrade Soviet-designed Su-25 ground attack jets assembled in Georgia, according to Koba Liklikadze, an independent military expert in Tbilisi. Former Israeli generals also serve as advisers to the Georgian military." ("Following Russian pressure, Israel freezes defense sales to Georgia" Associated Press)

Read the rest of it here: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20478.htm

08/08/2008

REACT 2008 (Rural Energy Action Conference & Trade Show) November 7th and 8th, 2008

Tags: News
Empowering Rural Nova Scotia to Respond to a Changing Energy World

In rural Canada, agricultural producers, small businesses, citizens, and municipalities are all feeling the squeeze when it comes to rising energy costs.

In the wake of rapid global change, conservation and renewable energy production are being looked to as the key to sustaining rural businesses and communities. Yet for businesses, community leaders, and interested citizens alike, questions abound regarding the new “green economy”:

Who is leading the charge when it comes to building “greener” communities?

How can conservation and new renewable energy technologies help businesses save money and take advantage of new market opportunities?

What resources are available to help make the transition?

What are the emerging opportunities for individuals and communities?

These are just some of the questions that will be answered and explored at REACT 2008 – the Rural Energy Action Conference and Trade Show, taking place at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre on November 7th and 8th, 2008. Hosted by the Inverness Victoria Federation of Agriculture, the conference is an exciting opportunity for farm producers, business operators, and government and community stakeholders to come together, share their collective knowledge and help build a sustainable future.

Come hear from Nova Scotians and Atlantic Canadians who are in the forefront of advancing green opportunities, and get “empowered” to make change, in your business, at home, and in your community!

Who should attend?

Small business owners and farm producers who want to learn more about conservation, renewable energy, and the resources that are available to them.

Students and educators who want to learn about career opportunities in energy and sustainability.

Interested citizens, not-for-profits, and community service organizations who want to take part in the dialogue surrounding rural sustainability.

Municipal, provincial and federal representatives who want to hear from and share information with community leaders

Community Economic Development Professionals who are seeking or promoting alternative models for development and investment.

Renewable Energy Companies, Energy Consultants, and Retail Businesses who want to profile their products and services.

Detailed information on the conference panelists and key note speakers at REACT 2008 will be posted on this site in coming weeks, so keep checking for details! On-line conference and trade show registrations will be available beginning in early August 2008.

REACT 2008 is supported by the Inverness Victoria Federation of Agriculture, the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, Nova Scotia Economic Development, AgraPoint, Agri-Futures, Service Canada, and the Strait-Highlands RDA. http://www.strait-highlands.ns.ca/

08/01/2008

August 17 Thor Kristinsson to perform at 2:30 in United Church in Marble Mountain

Tags: News
Thor Kristinsson will perform at 2:30 for church's anniversary.

07/22/2008

A Very Serious Problem: Killer manure

Tags: News
"And not in a good way. Contaminated manure in Britain has not only killed the vegetables it was meant to nourish, the owners of the allotment plots where it was used cannot replant in the affected soil for a year.

A U.S. company, Dow, is responsible for putting an herbicide on the market, aminopyralid, whose deadly power is strong enough to persevere after having passed through a cows’s digestive system and sat around on a stable floor and in piles for months. It’s killed, damaged, and deformed vegetable crops across Britain, but scientists are not sure if it would be unsafe to eat the veggies. The cows aren’t affected by it, apparently.

The herbicide is useful because it kills weeds without affecting the grass around them. A ban has been called for, but as far as I could research, has not been instituted, though Dow is issuing warnings about the product." http://www.gardenrant.com/my_weblog/2008/07/killer-manure.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/29/food.agriculture

This is an awful story. How would we know if we bought a bag of it? Now I am thinking back over some of the crops that did not thrive. Ok, no more bags of manure from the store. From here on in I'm digging it locally from nearby farms whenever I can get it.

07/08/2008

CBC Information Morning CB - Message From Bill Legge

Tags: News
As some of you know, I will be doing the above show over the next 5 months and George will do the winter version

If you are interested ,I just got a call at 4pm to do tomorrow's show at 6;15am expect it to last about 6 min

Bill

06/24/2008

In Memoriam: Tina, World Traveler and Jetsetter, Beloved, Gentle Friend To All Who Knew Her, Departed This World On 23 June 2008

Tags: News
Tina, international traveler and canine emissary of goodwill, spent the last weeks of her 15-year life in the idyllic waterfront retreat of her owner's place on scenic Big Harbor Island. She obviously enjoyed her time there and it invigorated her anew whenever she returned to it. After three days of illness, Tina was put to rest. She leaves behind her canine companion, Aragon, and her human companions, Gabi and Martin. Tina has been interred on Big Harbor Island. Her presence will be dearly missed and her memory cherished by all who knew her. Goodbye Sweet Tina!

06/19/2008

News Alert! " Ride The Lobster" - Unicycles Will Go Through Marble Mountain Tomorrow!

Tags: News
http://www.ridethelobster.com/

Ride The Lobster is an 800km unicycle relay race from June 16 - 20th, 2008, in Nova Scotia. Route planners have travelled the roads and backroads of Nova Scotia to determine the best and most challenging, taking into account safety and unicyclist demands as well as spectator, tourist and media exposure opportunities.

Here is what the map states:

http://www.socialtext.net/ridethelobster/index.cgi?route

CAPE BRETON STAGE 5 Friday 20th June 2008 Cape Breton is the rugged Stage of the race. It begins near the Canso Causeway, in Port Hawkesbury, and follows one of the interior roads through the Bras D'Or Lakes region of Cape Breton toward North Sydney, then retraces a parallel route back to end in Baddeck

Click here http://www.socialtext.net/ridethelobster/index.cgi?cape_breton_stage for the Cape Breton Stage details.

6:30am Pre-Race Briefing, location tba

7:00am Breakfast at Morrison Hall, Saint FX U

~8:00am Drive to race start location: Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre (Cape Breton), 606 Reeves Street. The drive from Antigonish to the Start of Stage 5 in Port Hawkesbury will take ~45 minutes.

8:50am All starting riders to the starting line for roll call and final instructions

9:00am Start the final stage of Ride The Lobster!

5:00pm-9:00pm Finish line in Baddeck at the Court House, 495 Chebucto Street. Finished!

7:30pm-9:30pm Supper at Greenwood United Church, 98 Twinning Street, Baddeck, $15 for team members

post 9:30pm entertainment - at the Gaelic College, cash bar

05/28/2008

NOW Will They Be Impeached? Info From The Mouth Of the Administration During the Iraq War's Inception

Tags: News
Ex-Press Aide Writes That Bush Misled U.S. On Iraq

By Michael D. Shear

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, May 28, 2008; Page A01

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" led by President Bush and aimed at "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war."

McClellan includes the charges in a 341-page book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," that delivers a harsh look at the White House and the man he served for close to a decade. He describes Bush as demonstrating a "lack of inquisitiveness," says the White House operated in "permanent campaign" mode, and admits to having been deceived by some in the president's inner circle about the leak of a CIA operative's name.

The book, coming from a man who was a tight-lipped defender of administration aides and policy, is certain to give fuel to critics of the administration, and McClellan has harsh words for many of his past colleagues. He accuses former White House adviser Karl Rove of misleading him about his role in the CIA case. He describes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as being deft at deflecting blame, and he calls Vice President Cheney "the magic man" who steered policy behind the scenes while leaving no fingerprints.

McClellan stops short of saying that Bush purposely lied about his reasons for invading Iraq, writing that he and his subordinates were not "employing out-and-out deception" to make their case for war in 2002.

But in a chapter titled "Selling the War," he alleges that the administration repeatedly shaded the truth and that Bush "managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option."

"Over that summer of 2002," he writes, "top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war. . . . In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage." McClellan, once a staunch defender of the war from the podium, comes to a stark conclusion, writing, "What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary." ...

Read the rest of it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/27/AR2008052703679.html?hpid=topnews

05/24/2008

Sobeys 101st Anniversary Giveaway

Tags: News
Yesterday 101 Sobeys employees walked across Spring Garden road to give away 101 bags of free groceries at 1:01 p.m to kick off their 101st anniversary celebrations in Halifax.

Sobeys 101 Giveaway promotion will run for eight weeks in all Sobeys stores in Atlantic Canada beginning Saturday, May 24, 2008. (CNW Group/Sobeys Inc.) The promotion is scheduled to end July 18, 2008.

A blank Game Sheet will be left in the hall. Please put your extra pieces on it. If it wins, the proceeds will go toward the new hall.

05/20/2008

25th Anniversary of L'Arche Cape Breton - June 25th to June 29th, 2008

Tags: News
Because you have shared in the life of our community by your friendship and love we invite you to join us in celebrating the 25th Annviversary of L'Arche Cape Breton - June 25th to June 29th, 2008.

June 25-27th: Quilt Show at Stewart United Church, Main Street, Whycocomagh, featuring handmade quilts by local quilters. 1-4pm

June 26th: Opening of the L'Arche Cape Breton Anniversary Art Show at Inverness County Centre for the Arts, Inverness, Nova Scotia at 7:00 p.m. The Art Show will feature paintings and photography by friends of L'Arche Cape Breton. The art show runs from June 26th-29th.

June 26th: A Fashion Show featuring clothing from The Ark Store and The Hope Chest and modeled by members and friends of the L'Arche Cape Breton community. This event takes place at ICCA, Inverness from 8-9 pm.

June 27th: The Founding Story of L'Arche Cape Breton will be performed in a play at Strathspey Place in Mabou. The play begins at 7:30 p.m. and will also feature musical guests from Cape Breton Island and beyond. Admission $10.00.

June 28th: Pancake Breakfast beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the Cameron Hall, Main Street, Whycocomagh. Admission $6.00, children $3.00

June 28th: Dinner at the Whycocomagh Education Centre 6 p.m. and Dance 8-12 p.m. Please RSVP before May 31st, to Brenda MacPhail at 756-3162. Tickets for the Dinner and Dance are $20.00 per person. (Note: same evening as Annual Potluck Supper at Marble Mountain Community Hall 5.00 P.M.)

June 29th: Thanksgiving Prayer Service at the L'Arche Cape Breton Chapel, Iron Mines, 1:00 p.m.

Open House will be held at all of our homes and work programs from June 25th - June 29th. You are welcome to drop in and visit.

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." - Mohandas Gandhi

http://www.larchecapebreton.org/invite.php

05/15/2008

No Actual Freedom In The Land Of The Free

Tags: News
I hope this doesn't spread across the border to Nova Scotia but I fear it will or already has. After reading this article, if you think this is only in the military, think again. It's in the workplace and the public schools and the neighborhoods, etc. I know a Jewish man living in VA who goes to the local Methodist church for his children's sake, he even sings in the choir in order to fit in. I have an aunt who is a nonbeliever but she goes to church for her family's sake. Why are the religious fanatics the ones who are calling the shots? What ever happened to the voice of reason? Are the rest of us gutless or cowed or apathetic? When are we going to find our own voice and stand up for what WE believe in, rather than caving in to the beliefs of others just to make them happy? They don't appear concerned with making us happy, do they? Once George Bush and his henchmen are out of office this oppressive fanaticism may become easier to combat.

This Atheist Finds He Needs A Foxhole

By Robyn E. Blumner, Times Columnist Published Thursday, May 1, 2008 7:18 PM

Maybe the reason the misperception persists that there are no atheists in foxholes is that nonbelievers must either shut up about their views or be hounded out of the military.

Just ask Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, who is making a splash in the news because of the way his atheism was attacked by superiors and fellow soldiers while he was risking his life in service to his country. Hall, 23, served two combat tours in Iraq, winning the Combat Action Badge. But he's now stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, having been returned stateside early because the Army couldn't ensure his safety.

There is something deeply amiss when we send soldiers on a mission to engender peaceful coexistence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, yet our military doesn't seem able to offer religious tolerance to its own.

Hall recounts the events that led to his marginalization in a federal lawsuit he filed in March in Kansas. Hall is joined by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group devoted to assisting members of the military who object to the pervasive and coercive Christian proselytizing in our armed forces.

Hall's atheism became an issue soon after it became known. On Thanksgiving 2006 while stationed outside Tikrit, Hall politely declined to join in a Christian prayer before the holiday meal. The result was a dressing down by a staff sergeant who told him that as an atheist he needed to sit somewhere else.

In another episode, after his gun turret took a bullet that almost found an opening, the first thing a superior wanted to know was whether Hall believed in Jesus now, not whether he was okay. Then, in July, while still in Iraq, Hall organized a meeting of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. According to Hall, after things began, Maj. Freddy Welborn disrupted the meeting with threats saying he might bring charges against Hall for conduct detrimental to good order and discipline, and that Hall was disgracing the Constitution. (Err, I think the major has that backward.) Welborn has denied the allegations, but the New York Times reports that another soldier at the meeting said that Hall's account was accurate.

Hall claims that he was denied a promotion in part because he wouldn't be able to "pray with his troops." And of course he was returned from overseas due to physical threats from fellow soldiers and superiors. Things became so bad that he was assigned a full-time bodyguard.

This is nothing new to Mikey Weinstein, founder of MRFF and a former Air Force judge advocate general who also served in the Reagan administration. Weinstein says that he has collected nearly 8,000 complaints, mostly from Christian members of the military tired of being force-fed a narrow brand of evangelical fundamentalism.

Weinstein, who co-wrote the book With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military, has documented how the ranks of our military have been infiltrated by members of the Officers' Christian Fellowship and other similar organizations. On its Web site, the OCF makes no secret of its mission which is to "raise up a godly military" by enlisting "ambassadors for Christ in uniform."

Weinstein says recruitment is easy in a strict command-subordinate military where the implied message is, if you don't pray the right way, your career might stall.

Beyond the mincemeat being made of church-state separation and religious liberty, it seems particularly combustible for our armed forces to be combining "end-times" Christian theology with military might. That's no way to placate Muslim populations around the world.

But there's no will for change. The military's virulent religious intolerance could be eradicated tomorrow with swift sanctions against transgressors. Instead, it's winked at and those caught proselytizing suffer no consequence. It appears that brave men like Hall, who simply wish to follow the dictates of their own conscience, will be needing bodyguards for a long time to come.

© 2008 • All Rights Reserved • St. Petersburg Times 490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111 http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/article483665.ece

04/17/2008

Ambushed!

Tags: News
Boy oh boy did Barack Obama ever get himself in trouble with this speech. Here's what he said about people who live in economically depressed little towns: "It's not surprising that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." This got him a lambasting, a thorough tongue lashing and trashing by people, mostly poor & struggling, who call themselves Christian, who resent immigrants who come to this land that was peopled by their forefathers a few generations ago, who aren't interested in learning facts regarding current events and who like to shoot wild animals for fun and sometimes food. (Yes, these are the people who voted Bush & his cronies into office - twice - and got us involved in the hideous, costly mess that is going on in the middle east.)

With Mr. Obama blindsided and under attack, this was then followed by an attempt to bail himself out by saying "Scripture talks about clinging to what's good." As often happens when people tell the uncomfortable truth, he took a good beating over it. I have lived in big cities and small towns and I have to agree with Mr. Obama, though there is also a minor conservative element in the cities. What, exactly, is conservative about this attitude? What is being conserved - generosity of spirit? - open-mindedness? - intellect and learning? - compassion? - personal growth of the id and intellect? - national largesse?

Religious people are unapologetically demanding, never offering to be the ones to compromise, always expecting the normal people to make the concession, which they do probably because they are more psychologically stable. Normal people who do not make that compromise are heavily, heartily and negatively judged. I have nothing against people practicing the religion of their choice but I do resent having them foist it on me, especially when they know I prefer not to be included. We had a big problem with that while living in mid-northern Indiana, to the point that we'd run the other way when we saw the most adamant Kar-riss-chee-yuns coming our way. They felt that they were obligated to turn our minds to their way of thinking. How arrogant and callous! The U.S. is supposedly a free country. Doesn't freedom of religion mean freedom from other people's religion? How can a person follow his or her own choice if someone else is forcing his or her choice on people who have the "audacity" to not be exactly like them?

Our community recently had a clear example of this narrow-minded focus on religion. Some people at the meet & greet brunch this past Sunday were offended by the so-called thanks mid-brunch that turned into a surprise prayer session and I can't say I blame them. I told both those ladies that I have no interest in religion and prefer not to participate. Still, they ambushed the unwilling into a prayer session. They had mentioned that they wanted to do a prayer at the start of the brunch but I thought they had gotten that out of their systems by going to Sunday service, which obviously wasn't the case. If an open expression of brotherhood and sisterhood was the goal, next time maybe we could sing kumbaya instead? I understand that religion brings comfort to emotionally and financially suffering people but there is no need to assume that everyone else is so suffering and salved by heavy religiosity. Even churchgoing Christian people who were not at the brunch and only heard about it and who seldom miss church on Sunday were offended! This surprised me, I thought people here were more devout than they are. If they're offended by impromptu prayers, what are they doing going to church on Sundays? I understand people who abstain totally from religion, like me, finding this offensive, but the others ... I don't get it.

I find being subjected to religion at the drop of a hat unpleasant but I go with the flow in an effort to get along and not make waves. After all, isn't that what getting along in the greater society is about? It isn't all about me all the time, sometimes we have to go along to get along, even if it offends us. You know, shut up & put up. We all grew up surrounded by religion and most of us suffered indoctrination from birth, I know that was the case for me and most people I know and it was accepted behavior in my community. This is how our society evolved, growth takes time and until we've moved on to a greater communal state of mind we'll rely on religion to dictate how to behave. Too many people need rules "imposed by some greater power" in order to live as decent human beings. For some reason there are a lot of people who can't simply do the right thing for the sake of being kind and considerate to others, there has to be a supernatural punishment and reward system for them to follow. Or it's a comfort to them to think that some very powerful element is looking out for them in a way no one else is.

How can ordinary, normal people bring sanity to, and get religion out of, common society, politics and the workplace without being persecuted? I have joined The Brights, which is rapidly gaining numbers and strength. There is hope for normal people, who now have a name to call themselves that is not negative-anything, we're Brights. (Remember when the term "gay" sounded so odd? Now it's in common usage.) Being called a Bright sure sounds better than being Muslim, Karisschun (even the Catholic variety of Christians), Atheist, etc. I sincerely doubt that everyone needs all this religious indoctrination. Let's reserve this for the truly needy.

04/05/2008

Who Would You Like To Become The Next US President?

Tags: News
10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.1

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."2

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.3

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."4

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.5

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.6

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."7

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.8

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."9

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10

(From MoveOn.org)

03/30/2008

No Joke, Yoga Classes To Resume Tuesday Evenings Beginning 01 April 2008 7:00 pm

Tags: News
Kripalu - Hatha

When:         01 April,  8 weeks

Time:          7:00 pm—8:15 pm

Location:       Marble Mountain Hall

Cost:            $48.00 / $2.00 donation per class for hall use

Equipment:  Bring A Sticky Mat

Note: You can make a yoga mat by purchasing a length of non-skid carpet liner. Non-skid carpet liner has a waffle-like texture and it is slightly spongy, which will protect your back from the hard, wooden floor.

03/26/2008

Border Crossing Wait Time Site

Tags: News
When it comes to holidays, traffic along the U.S.-Canada border has no allegiance to either flag. Even though Canada does not celebrate our independence, "holidays are always a busy time on the border," says Andrea Kent, spokeswoman of the Canada Border Services Agency. "It is busy everywhere, so plan accordingly." To minimize delays over the Fourth of July, the border control agency will assign extra officers to man the stations. But you can help on your end as well. Though the agency does not keep statistics on wait times or car congestion along the border, you can get an idea of the lines -- and prepare for your own crossing -- by checking CBSA's Web site ( http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/ ), which posts wait times with hourly updates.

Also, before you meet with the agent, prepare your documents. Have on hand proof of citizenship and a valid photo ID (starting Dec. 31, 2007, you will need a passport to reenter the United States by land). Kent stresses that children of all ages also need proof of citizenship. If you're traveling with pets, make sure you have their rabies vaccination certification. And don't bring firewood, mace, pepper spray or live bait across; they're considered contraband. Finally, "anything you have with you must be declared, even if you are not leaving them in Canada," says Kent, adding that "all weapons, including knives, must be declared." An easier option: Leave the weapons at home.

03/14/2008

Happy Pi Day 3/14!

Tags: News
Yes, today is pi day. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the subject:

" Pi Day and Pi Approximation Day are two holidays held to celebrate the mathematical constant π (pi). Pi Day is observed on March 14 (3/14 in American date format), due to π being equal to roughly 3.14. Sometimes it is celebrated on March 14 at 1:59 p.m. (commonly known as Pi Minute). If π is truncated to seven decimal places, it becomes 3.1415926, making March 14 at 1:59:26 p.m., Pi Second (or sometimes March 14, 1592 at 6:53:58 a.m.). Pi Approximation Day may be observed on any of several dates, most often July 22 (22/7 (European date format) is a popular approximation of π). March 14 also happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday.

The first Pi Day celebration was held at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988, with staff and public marching around one of its circular spaces, and then consuming fruit pies; the museum has since added pizza pies to its Pi Day menu.[1] The founder of Pi Day, the "Prince of Pi", is Larry Shaw,[2] now retired from the Exploratorium, but still helping out with the celebrations. They have also recently added the first Pi Day celebrations in Second Life.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology often mails out its acceptance letters to be delivered to prospective students on Pi Day.[3]

Some also celebrate Pi Approximation Day in addition to Pi Day, which can fall on any of several dates:

July 22: 22/7 in nearly all date formats, an ancient approximation of pi

November 10: The 314th day of the year (November 9 in leap years)

December 21, 1:13 p.m.: The 355th day of the year (December 20 in leap years), celebrated at 1:13 for the Chinese approximation 355/113

On March 14, 2004, Daniel Tammet recited from memory 22514 decimal digits of pi.[4] March 14, 1916 (3/14/16 in American date format) is the closest approximation of pi in the last century."

Here is a limerick to celebrate:

If inside a circle a line

Hits the center and goes spine to spine

And the line's length is "d"

the circumference will be

d times 3.14159

Celebrate with any kind of pie you like. Me, I'm going for fluffy raspberry pie. How will you celebrate? Happy Pi Day!

02/21/2008

Update on Pre-Games Meeting & Lunar Eclipse

Tags: News
Immediately preceding Games Night last night there was a short meeting, chaired by Russell White, to change the name to North Mountain Cultural and Recreation Association (NMCRA). There is a total of $5,400.00 in the account and it is being handled by Linda Campbell and Christine Campbell. Progress is slow but we won't complain as long as there is some progress being made.

For those of you who are interested in astronomy, the sky was clear last night. We watched the eclipse from the patio, first seeing it at between 1/3 and 1/2 occluded, then a little later when all we could see is a shadow of the fully-occluded moon. It was enjoyable to watch, though it was way too cold to stay out for long. Sometimes the weather cooperates just right. I hope you saw it, too.

02/16/2008

Community Meeting Precedes Games Night This Coming Wednesday Evening

Tags: News
From Russell White (I assume this is from him, the flyers simply showed up):

A meeting of the Marble Mountain Community Association will be held in the Community Hall on February 20 at 7:00 pm [before games] to decide on the following:

- Title to the Hall property which (sic) is presently in the name of St. Matthews United Church, Marble Mountain

- The future of the Association

Your attendance is requested in order that everyone will be able to express their (sic) views on the foregoing and vote on the following motions which will be proposed: End of quote.

Sheesh, now there's a bunch of legalese gobbledygook, which I think means the NMCRA (North Mountain Cultural and (sic) Recreation Association) will take ownership of the hall, followed by a pp that seems to infer that a resolution is proposed to dissolve the Marble Mountain Community Association and be replaced by the North Mountain Cultural and (sic) Recreation Association.

Ok, ok, I give up with the verbatim copying. Too many (sic)'s. I do not make a good transcriptionist. Please just show up on time for the meeting. After all, it is in your best interest as a member of the community to be an active participant. Thank you for your interest. - Maggie

02/02/2008

Obituary: Dr. Raymond Tilton Davis, Jr.

Tags: News
Dr. Raymond Tilton Davis, October 17, 1918 - February 2, 2008, passed away peacefully, following a short illness, in the earliest hours of the day today. He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Evelyn, three sons, Kit, Jon and Tim, three grandchildren, Deirdre Leah, Trevor and Heather, and son-in-law, Butch Wells. He is predeceased by a daughter, Suzanne.

The wake and a small service will be held at a funeral home in Easton, MD, details to be added in later. Burial will be in the family plot in Easton.

The family members are doing well, though they have their moments, of course. Mother said Father will be buried in style in his tux so he will be ready to dance when he gets there. As Jon put it, you only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Update: http://www.fhnfuneralhome.com/obitdetails.php?ID=5484&FileFrom=obituary

Funeral services were held on Wednesday, February 6, 2008, at 2:00 P.M. at the Fellows, Helfenbein and Newnam Funeral Home, P. A., Easton. He was interred in the family plot at Spring Hill Cemetery, Easton.

Looking at the nearby family plots I saw the familiar Cape Breton names of Campbell, Leonard and Barrington - in Talbot county. Small world.

The day of the funeral service was unseasonably warm, high in the 60's and possibly reaching 70. An hour before the service was scheduled, the funeral director suggested that we might want to enjoy the lovely day from the porch, so that's what we did. A few of us had a leisurely sashay around the block. We saw blue pansy flowers and coral blossoms on the Japanese quince. Wow! That was a true treat in early February. The following days became progressively colder and the morning temp on Sunday, February 10, was cooler in the DC metro region, at 20 F, than in snowy Moncton, 22 F.

There was a reception in the Hyde Park community hall after the funeral. We had planned on a considerably sized crowd but only a few people showed up. This wouldn't have happened back in R. I. with my family. The Anderson clan would been very upset to know that a family member was barely mourned at the abbreviated wake and there was no singing and community afterward. We're Irish (yes, Anderson is Scottish but let's not haggle the point) and we DO funerals. It's a celtic thing. It was with great surprise that I looked up and saw a familiar Cape Breton figure approaching the funeral home. There was Dave Campbell, arriving to offer his respects, support and community. It's a Marble Mountain thing. It was nice to see Dave. He drove all the way from Annandale, VA, stayed for the reception, then drove home during rush hour. Thanks for coming, Dave. I know how much effort and time that took on your part.

As is usually the case with funerals, we got to see many family members whom we haven't seen in quite a while. Daughter Leah showed up from Snohomish, WA, and finished her knitting project. She made a hat for Neil but she ran out of yarn so I got it instead, It's a nice hat, I've been wearing it for two days. Tim was there from St. Thomas, USVI, and his girlfriend, Tina, drove down from CT, which was amazingly thoughtful of her and very much appreciated, by me, at least. Of course Jon & Suzy were there since they live nearby. Son Trevor drove over from Montgomery County but his girlfriend, Debbie, couldn't get off work so they'll come back in a week or so. Most wonderfully of all, Evelyn's baby brother, Tom, came and stayed several days. His wife passed away 9 months ago so, sadly, they have that in common and will no doubt offer each other support. I hope they come to visit us this summer.

01/26/2008

Obituary: Marian Grace “Bunty” MacDonald

Tags: News
MacDONALD, Marian Grace “Bunty”- 81, Marble Mountain, Inverness, Co., died peacefully Wednesday, January, 23, 2008 in Strait Richmond Hospital, Evanston surrounded by her family. Born in Penrith, England, she was a daughter of the late William and Ethel (Mattison) Siddle.

Bunty was a homemaker, a much loved mother, wife, grandmother, aunt and friend. She was a member of St. Matthew’s United Church, Marble Mountain and a Veteran of the Second World War. Bunty is survived by sons Stuart (Patricia), Elmsdale, Graham, Port Hawkesbury, Ian, Marble Mountain; daughters Fiona MacDonald (Dave Dauphinee), Marble Mountain, Carole (Bill) MacNeil, Mabou, Patricia (Darrell) MacQuarrie, Brighton, Helen (Brian) Windeler, Marble Mountain; 17 grandchildren; 2 nieces; 1 nephew. She was the last surviving member of her immediate family. She was predeceased by her husband Allan C., son David in infancy, daughter in law Colleen, brother William.

Visitation will be from 2-4 and 7-9pm today in Dennis Haverstock Funeral Home, Port Hawkesbury. Funeral service will be Sunday at 3pm in St. Matthew’s United Church with Rev. Janet Blois officiating. Burial in Lime Hill Cemetery. Family flowers only please. Memorial donations may be made to L’Arche Cape Breton, St. Matthew’s United Church or a charity of ones choice. Words of comfort may be forwarded to the family at: www.haverstocks.com

01/12/2008

The Big Read

Tags: News
The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

The Big Read answers a big need. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 report by the National Endowment for the Arts, found that not only is literary reading in America declining rapidly among all groups, but that the rate of decline has accelerated, especially among the young. The concerned citizen in search of good news about American literary culture would study the pages of this report in vain.

The Big Read aims to address this crisis squarely and effectively. It provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. The initiative includes innovative reading programs in selected cities and towns, comprehensive resources for discussing classic literature, an ambitious national publicity campaign, and an extensive Web site providing comprehensive information on authors and their works.

Each community event lasts approximately one month and includes a kick-off event to launch the program locally, ideally attended by the mayor and other local luminaries; major events devoted specifically to the book (panel discussions, author reading, and the like); events using the book as a point of departure (film screenings, theatrical readings, and so forth); and book discussions in diverse locations and aimed at a wide range of audiences.

The NEA inaugurated The Big Read as a pilot project in 2006 with ten communities featuring four books. The Big Read continues to expand to include more communities and additional books. By 2009, approximately 400 communities in the U.S. will have hosted a Big Read since the program's 2007 national launch.

http://www.neabigread.org/

12/27/2007

Know Anybody Who Suffers From This - EDD? I do, and so do you, but don't ask me to name names.

Tags: News
Empathy: Could It Be What You're Missing?

A Washington Psychotherapist Suggests How to Tell . . . and How to Treat the Symptoms

By Douglas LaBier

Special to The Washington Post Tuesday, December 25, 2007; HE05

You may not realize it, but a great number of people suffer from EDD. No, you're not reading a misprint of ADD or ED. The acronym stands for empathy deficit disorder. Nor will you find it listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, even though that tome has been expanding as normal variations of mood and temperament have increasingly been defined as disorders. I'm hesitant to suggest adding another one. But this one is real.

Based on my 35 years of experience as a psychotherapist, business psychologist and researcher, I have come to believe that EDD is a pervasive but overlooked condition with profound consequences for the mental health of individuals and of our society. People who suffer from EDD are unable to step outside themselves and tune in to what other people experience. That makes it a source of personal conflicts, of communication failure in intimate relationships, and of the adversarial attitudes -- even hatred -- among groups of people who differ in their beliefs, traditions or ways of life.

Take the man who reported to me that his wife was complaining that he didn't spend enough time with their children, that she had most of the burden despite having a career of her own. "Yeah, I see her point," he says in a neutral voice, "but I need time for my sports activities on the weekends. I'm not going to give that up. And at night I'm tired, I want to veg out." As we talked further, it became clear to me that he was unable to experience what his wife's world was like for her.

Or the computer executive who prided himself on having a stable family life, then casually told me that, even though he believed in the environmental threat of global warming, he couldn't care less. "I'll be long gone when New York is under water," he said. And when I asked him whether he cared about how it might affect his kids or grandkids, he replied with a grin: "Hey, that's their problem."

Or the woman who works in the financial industry who told me she's indifferent to how American Muslims might feel: "I think they're all terrorists," she said, "and would like to kill us all, anyway."

These may sound like extreme examples, but I hear variations of those themes all the time. By breeding this kind of emotional isolation, EDD is particularly dangerous in today's increasingly interconnected, global world. It plays out in ways both small and large: In troubled intimate relationships, when partners become locked into adversarial positions; and in warfare between groups with different beliefs, such as Palestinians and Israelis locked in a death grip.

Feeling Others' Pain Unlike sympathy -- which reflects understanding of another person's situation, but viewed through your own lens -- empathy is what you feel when you enter the internal world of another person. Without abandoning your own perspective, you experience the other's emotions, conflicts or aspirations. That kind of connection builds healthy relationships -- an essential part of mental health.

EDD develops when people focus too much on acquiring power, status and money for themselves at the expense of developing those healthy relationships. Nearly every day we hear or read about people who have been derailed by the pursuit of money and recognition and end up in rehab or behind bars. But many of the people I see, whether therapy patients or career and business clients, struggle with their own versions of the same thing. They have become alienated from their own hearts and equate what they have with who they are. The net result is that we don't recognize that we're all one, bound together. We only see ourselves. I sometimes invite people to think of it this way: When you cut your finger, you don't say, "That's my finger's problem, not mine"; nor do you do a cost-benefit analysis before deciding whether to take action. You respond immediately because you feel the pain.

What's So Funny? Recent research shows that the capacity to feel what another person feels is hard-wired through what are called mirror neurons. Functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) showed that brain regions involving both emotions and physical sensations light up in someone who observes or becomes aware of another person's pain or distress. Similarly, research shows that altruistic behavior lights up the pleasure centers of the brain usually associated with food or sex.

Just as you can develop EDD by too much self-absorption, you can also overcome EDD by retraining your brain to take advantage of what is known as neuroplasticity. Similar research shows that as you refocus your thoughts, feelings and behavior in the direction you desire, the brain regions associated with them are reinforced. What's more, changing your brain activity reinforces the changes you're making in your thinking. The result is a self-reinforcing loop between your conscious attitudes, your behavior and your brain activity. By focusing on developing empathy, you can deepen your understanding and acceptance of how and why people do what they do and you can build respect for others. This doesn't mean that you are whitewashing the differences you have with other people or letting them walk over you. Rather, empathy gives you a stronger, wiser base for resolving conflicts and trumps self-centered, knee-jerk reactions to surface differences.

It puts you in a frame of mind where the words of the Elvis Costello song resonate: "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love and Understanding?"

Douglas LaBier directs the Center for Adult Development in the District. Comments:health@washpost.com.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/21/AR2007122102266.html?tid=informbox

12/11/2007

Isabelle Eleanor MacPHAIL

Tags: News
MacPHAIL, Isabelle Eleanor- 80, of Marble Mountain died Friday November, 30,2007 in Strait Richmond Hospital, Evanston. Born in Orangedale, she was a daughter of the late Duncan and Ellen (MacPhail) Cameron. Isabelle was a hair dresser and a homemaker. She was a member of St. Matthew’s United Church, Marble Mountain and was very active in the community. She is survived by daughters Heather, Burnaby, B.C., Helen (Mike) Sims, Parksville, B.C., Rachel (Jim) Barnes, Marble Mountain; son Donald (Kim), Lawrencetown, N.S.; sisters Marjorie Martin, Anna Cameron, both of Whycocomagh; brother Laurence (Anne), Halifax; grandchildren Everett (Sue), Julianna, Alastair (Anneli), all of Vancouver, B.C., Alastair, Calgary,Ab., Sara, Halifax, Alan, Qualicum Beach,B.C., Sean, Ryan, both of Toronto; nephews Peter (Anita) Cameron, Mac Martin; nieces Janet (Bob) Sneed, Susan (Terry) Wentworth. She was predeceased by husband Alastair, sister Joyce, son in law Nelson Raeburn.

Visitation will be held Sunday, December, 9 from 4-8pm in the Dennis Haverstock Funeral Home, Whycocomagh. Funeral service will be held Monday, December, 10 at 11:00am at St. Matthew’s United Church, with Rev. Janet Blois officiating. Burial in Lime Hill Cemetery. Family flowers only please. Memorial donations in memory of Isabelle may be made to River and Lakeside Pastoral Charge, Lime Hill Cemetery or a charity of your choice. Words of comfort may be forwarded to the family at: www.haverstocks.com

Yesterday a memorial service was held for Isabel in the Marble Mountain United Church.. A luncheon was provided afterward in the Marble Mountain Hall.

10/27/2007

Obituary: Dr. Uta BRETSCHNEIDER Med.

Tags: News
BRETSCHNEIDER, Uta, Dr. Med. - 55, Malagawatch, died Friday, October 19, 2007, in QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax. After more than 25 years of inseparable living and working together in greatest comradeship and love within our family, our beloved Uta left us suddenly and unexpectedly. We always had formed a very strong unit from the very beginning, first during our lives as medical practitioners, then over many years of sailing together, and finally operating the Cape Breton Smokehouse together as a team. Uta certainly contributed most significantly to the success of the Cape Breton Smokehouse, not only due to the fact that she was a great people person. She always exhibited an honest friendliness towards everybody and her great sense of tolerance made her a very highly valued person. Her aura of contentment and positive attitude towards life could be felt very clearly by her saying "Aren't we the luckiest people in the world? We all love one another and have found Cape Breton to be a wonderful home with so many friendly people. Here we all can live comfortably and in peace and most of all we are healthy. This is how I hope to spend the next 20 years of my life." Unfortunately this wish was not granted to her. Uta will never be forgotten and her memory will always fill our hearts. In deepest love, Harald, Birgit and Anka.

Cremation has taken place. For anybody who wishes to say goodbye to Uta, visitation will be held in our family residence, the Cape Breton Smokehouse, on Sunday, October 28, from 12-2 p.m. Family flowers only please. Memorial donations may be made to Canadian Cancer Society. Funeral arrangements are under the care and direction of Dennis Haverstock Funeral Home, Port Hawkesbury. Words of comfort may be forwarded to the family at: www.haverstocks.com

http://www.haverstocks.com/Obituaries/

Note from Maggie: Uta was only 55? Really? I'm 55 and I thought she was at least a decade or two older than me. Fooled me.

10/21/2007

Stunning News - Ute, of the Smokehouse, died suddenly on Friday

Tags: News
Everyone here is in utter shock. Ute of the Smokehouse dropped dead in Port Hawkesbury on Friday, 10/20, while shopping for produce at the supermarket. She was initially taken to Strait Richmond, then airlifted to Halifax, to no avail. I've been told it was an aneurysm that took her life. Brigit and Harold are holed up in the house and say they want to be left alone and I can't say I blame them for wanting privacy, this is a difficult situation for anyone to deal with. An open house is being held at the Smokehouse Sunday afternoon, 10/28, and guests will be received by a friend. Brigit and Harold will not be seeing guests at that time. They have requested that donations be made to the cancer society in lieu of flowers.

Ute will be missed. I thought she was so lively and energetic that even death couldn't take her. She was unquestionably one-of-a-kind. I hope Brigit and Harold can keep the Smokehouse open, even if only to sell the salmon and sausage they so excellently produce there. Will they run it without her guidance? We are all in shock, it's hard to believe.

10/19/2007

Orangedale Church of UCW November 24, 2:00 - 4:00

Tags: News
The annual Orangedale UCW Tea and Sale is scheduled to be held on Saturday, November 24, 2:00 – 4:00 in the church.

The ladies of Orangedale, Marble Mountain and other neighboring communities have been getting together weekly to create crafts to sell at the sale. There will be knitted goods, wreaths, tree ornaments, fudge and much, much more. As always, tea will be provided along with many trays of sandwiches, tea breads and cookies. It's a lot of fun and a good place to pick up trinkets, stocking stuffers and gifts for the hard-to-buy-for. Please join us. Come early for a good selection.

Proceeds Benefit the Orangedale Church of UCW.

09/08/2007

North Mountain Nature and Garden Club

Tags: News
Meets Tuesday, September 11 , 7:00 at the Chant's.

Agenda: Fall Garden Chores

We're going to try to get a guest speaker.

Bring any gardening/nature-related things you want to share. Refreshments will be served afterward. Please donate $2.00 for the use of the hall.

09/05/2007

Progress Update On The Plans For A New Hall

Tags: News
Yesterday Kit, Bill and George met with a representative from Recreation Nova Scotia to discuss plans and funding for the new hall. She looked very posititvely on the the plans for how we intend to use the building and provided feedback on the design for the building and its use. More details yet to come after future meetings. My apologies for not saying more but there isn't any thing more I can say. Keep checking here for further news. There is no date set for the next meeting and I suspect that we could very well wait for warm weather late next spring or early summer 2008 before any further action is taken.

09/04/2007

Here's how easy it is for people to believe propaganda as long as it's the first info received, then repeated

Tags: News
Wow, this certainly explains a lot. Now I understand why so many people were sure that they would be able to see "TWO MOONS ON AUGUST 27TH", and here's the first part of the email I received about it from two otherwise intelligent people last week. "TWO MOONS ON AUGUST 27TH 27th Aug the Whole World is waiting for.............Planet Mars will be the brightest in the night sky starting in August.It will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye. This will cultivate on Aug.. 27 when Mars comes within 34.65M miles of earth. Be sure to watch the sky on Aug. 27 12:30 am. It will look like the earth has 2 moons. ..." First off, 12:30 is just after midnight so looking at it on the evening of the date given would be a day late. Monday night was a very bright full moon and you'd be able to see little else. Also, the year was not given and a little research showed that this was true for 2003, four years ago. Then there's the issue of Bin Laden, the World Trade Center attack, and more. Read on. Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach By Shankar Vedantam Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, September 4, 2007; Page A03

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a flier to combat myths about the flu vaccine. It recited various commonly held views and labeled them either "true" or "false." Among those identified as false were statements such as "The side effects are worse than the flu" and "Only older people need flu vaccine." When University of Michigan social psychologist Norbert Schwarz had volunteers read the CDC flier, however, he found that within 30 minutes, older people misremembered 28 percent of the false statements as true. Three days later, they remembered 40 percent of the myths as factual. Younger people did better at first, but three days later they made as many errors as older people did after 30 minutes. Most troubling was that people of all ages now felt that the source of their false beliefs was the respected CDC. The psychological insights yielded by the research, which has been confirmed in a number of peer-reviewed laboratory experiments, have broad implications for public policy. The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.

This phenomenon may help explain why large numbers of Americans incorrectly think that Saddam Hussein was directly involved in planning the Sept 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and that most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Iraqi. While these beliefs likely arose because Bush administration officials have repeatedly tried to connect Iraq with Sept. 11, the experiments suggest that intelligence reports and other efforts to debunk this account may in fact help keep it alive.

Similarly, many in the Arab world are convinced that the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 was not the work of Arab terrorists but was a controlled demolition; that 4,000 Jews working there had been warned to stay home that day; and that the Pentagon was struck by a missile rather than a plane.

Those notions remain widespread even though the federal government now runs Web sites in seven languages to challenge them. Karen Hughes, who runs the Bush administration's campaign to win hearts and minds in the fight against terrorism, recently painted a glowing report of the "digital outreach" teams working to counter misinformation and myths by challenging those ideas on Arabic blogs. A report last year by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, however, found that the number of Muslims worldwide who do not believe that Arabs carried out the Sept. 11 attacks is soaring -- to 59 percent of Turks and Egyptians, 65 percent of Indonesians, 53 percent of Jordanians, 41 percent of Pakistanis and even 56 percent of British Muslims.

Research on the difficulty of debunking myths has not been specifically tested on beliefs about Sept. 11 conspiracies or the Iraq war. But because the experiments illuminate basic properties of the human mind, psychologists such as Schwarz say the same phenomenon is probably implicated in the spread and persistence of a variety of political and social myths.

The research does not absolve those who are responsible for promoting myths in the first place. What the psychological studies highlight, however, is the potential paradox in trying to fight bad information with good information.

Schwarz's study was published this year in the journal Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, but the roots of the research go back decades. As early as 1945, psychologists Floyd Allport and Milton Lepkin found that the more often people heard false wartime rumors, the more likely they were to believe them.

The research is painting a broad new understanding of how the mind works. Contrary to the conventional notion that people absorb information in a deliberate manner, the studies show that the brain uses subconscious "rules of thumb" that can bias it into thinking that false information is true. Clever manipulators can take advantage of this tendency.

The experiments also highlight the difference between asking people whether they still believe a falsehood immediately after giving them the correct information, and asking them a few days later. Long-term memories matter most in public health campaigns or political ones, and they are the most susceptible to the bias of thinking that well-recalled false information is true.

The experiments do not show that denials are completely useless; if that were true, everyone would believe the myths. But the mind's bias does affect many people, especially those who want to believe the myth for their own reasons, or those who are only peripherally interested and are less likely to invest the time and effort needed to firmly grasp the facts. The research also highlights the disturbing reality that once an idea has been implanted in people's minds, it can be difficult to dislodge. Denials inherently require repeating the bad information, which may be one reason they can paradoxically reinforce it.

Indeed, repetition seems to be a key culprit. Things that are repeated often become more accessible in memory, and one of the brain's subconscious rules of thumb is that easily recalled things are true.

Many easily remembered things, in fact, such as one's birthday or a pet's name, are indeed true. But someone trying to manipulate public opinion can take advantage of this aspect of brain functioning. In politics and elsewhere, this means that whoever makes the first assertion about something has a large advantage over everyone who denies it later.

Furthermore, a new experiment by Kimberlee Weaver at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and others shows that hearing the same thing over and over again from one source can have the same effect as hearing that thing from many different people -- the brain gets tricked into thinking it has heard a piece of information from multiple, independent sources, even when it has not. Weaver's study was published this year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The experiments by Weaver, Schwarz and others illustrate another basic property of the mind -- it is not good at remembering when and where a person first learned something. People are not good at keeping track of which information came from credible sources and which came from less trustworthy ones, or even remembering that some information came from the same untrustworthy source over and over again. Even if a person recognizes which sources are credible and which are not, repeated assertions and denials can have the effect of making the information more accessible in memory and thereby making it feel true, said Schwarz.

Experiments by Ruth Mayo, a cognitive social psychologist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, also found that for a substantial chunk of people, the "negation tag" of a denial falls off with time. Mayo's findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2004.

"If someone says, 'I did not harass her,' I associate the idea of harassment with this person," said Mayo, explaining why people who are accused of something but are later proved innocent find their reputations remain tarnished. "Even if he is innocent, this is what is activated when I hear this person's name again.

"If you think 9/11 and Iraq, this is your association, this is what comes in your mind," she added. "Even if you say it is not true, you will eventually have this connection with Saddam Hussein and 9/11." Mayo found that rather than deny a false claim, it is better to make a completely new assertion that makes no reference to the original myth. Rather than say, as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) recently did during a marathon congressional debate, that "Saddam Hussein did not attack the United States; Osama bin Laden did," Mayo said it would be better to say something like, "Osama bin Laden was the only person responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks" -- and not mention Hussein at all.

The psychologist acknowledged that such a statement might not be entirely accurate -- issuing a denial or keeping silent are sometimes the only real options. So is silence the best way to deal with myths? Unfortunately, the answer to that question also seems to be no.

Another recent study found that when accusations or assertions are met with silence, they are more likely to feel true, said Peter Kim, an organizational psychologist at the University of Southern California. He published his study in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Myth-busters, in other words, have the odds against them.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/03/AR2007090300933.html?hpid=topnews

02/23/2007

A Strange State

QuickImage Tags: News
One of the strongest impressions we got of Florida as we drove around the state is the juxtaposition of various so-called Christian churches amid seedy porn shops/strip clubs. I can’t help but wonder: Do the residents bounce between the two? Another contradictory reality is that of a landscape of poverty and deterioration dotted with enclaves of rich, gated communities nestled here & there either along the precious waterfront or touting big-name-designed golf courses. It seems that Floridians need either therapy or a heart, sometimes literally, judging by all the specialty medical centers there. This is Jeb Bush territory - says a lot, doesn't it? I don't fully understand what attracts so many people to the state, it's dreary and monotonous.

While we were in FL we decided to tour the state, go to a few resorts in various regions to get a feel for areas and perhaps locate a place to go on vacation for a week in the dead of winter in future years. En route to Captiva Island, we drove through Fort Myers and came upon the Edison-Ford estates, which are in the same place, side by side. Of course, the historical Ford estate features cars. The historical Edison estate features gardens, the centrepiece of which is a magnificent Banyan tree. What a tree! It takes up an enormous amount of space and it's is only one tree. The banyan tree drops tendrils from its branches that grow into the ground, thereby extending the tree outward as well as downward.

On the road to Captiva, we stopped for lunch at Rosie's, a convenience store that sells sandwiches. The gentleman running the place was very pleasant and welcoming and provided great customer service, though the sandwich was only mediocre yet serviceable. Driving to Captiva is like driving out Cape Cod to P-town in the summer - there is one road that runs in & out and it is clogged with miserable bumper-to-bumper traffic. Once there, you have to take a metered parking spot that allows you to park for an hour for a couple of quarters. When the weather is truly hot & sunny finding a parking spot must be impossible. Then the waterline at the beach is covered with decaying seaweed - yuck. Once you're in the water, it's ok but cloudy with sand. There were many people collecting shells on the beach and there are plenty of shells to be collected. We watched a couple of dolphins cavort parallel to the beach. We walked the beach in jeans and shirts with a sweatshirt over top, past some hearty individuals who were sunbathing in swimsuits. They must be from Minnesota or North Dakota.

02/21/2007

Update Of Our Florida Trip

Tags: News
Here's the update of our trip, not the concise version. We drove to Portland on Monday a week ago, spent the night in a hotel and took a morning flight to Orlando, with a stopover at Dulles airport in Herndon, VA. Trevor's girlfriend, Debbie, is working in the airport this week to set up a new Caribou Coffee Shop in the main terminal so we got to see her for a few minutes on our stopover. That was nice.

Florida was not very warm. We woke up to frost on the grass and a layer of ice on the windshield Saturday morning. One neighbor had the landscape plants covered with sheets & blankets held down with stones and cinder blocks overnight. I was glad I brought my winter jacket and gloves. Kit's parents are in North Port, FL, for the winter and his dad is cold all the time. This is the second winter in a row they've been chilly in Florida. Obviously the weather is changing there.

A couple of days before we arrived, Kit's mom slipped in the shower on spilled shower gel and bruised her right side. She claims she'll go to a doctor if she's not feeling better this week. Our arrival was actually good timing, we did the shopping, cooking and dishes that she would have done were she not hurt.

For the past 30 years they have driven down in their own camper and spent the season going from campground to campground, getting to know other folks doing the same annual trip to their mecca. Kit's dad is 88 and he put his foot down this year, refusing to live in a camper. He is no longer physically strong enough to do all the work that camping requires. They weren't up to doing the research required to locate a suitable place and ended up in a house in a blue-collar neighborhood of people who go to work every day, are much younger than them and have no interest in getting to know them. They are not happy there this year. (The house was owned by heavy smokers and the sofa smells like cat spray but they don't notice it.) The end result is that they are isolated and not enjoying their vacation like they have in years past. They look to me like potential victims, easy targets. We can't let them do this alone next year. I don't know how we're going to handle this, it's frustrating. If we take away their winters in Florida they will give up, curl into little balls and wither away. This would be much easier if Kit's mom were not so stubborn about everything. I guess we'll be going to Florida again next year, probably twice - once to get them there and once to bring them back. Welcome to the sandwich generation. Let us know if you have any good ideas for where the parents can stay next year, we need all the help we can get. Dave - - got any ideas or contacts in Florida?

We did find time to have some fun. As always, we had a good time on our stopovers in Portland, shopping at LL Bean in Freeport and dining in the excellent 555 restaurant in their new bar area. The evening we arrived in Florida we had dinner in a nice restaurant, the Flying Fish, then went to a lively Irish bar, the Raglan Road, where we met a couple of women from a company called SurgeRX who were there for a professional conference. They were a blast and when they paid their bar bill for their martinis it came to $63.00. They were unequivocally lit! It rained Tuesday while were in the park, Wednesday the weather was good for our second day in the parks, Thursday we spent in the car driving to North Port and Friday to Sunday we spent with the parents. Sunday afternoon we drove back to Orlando for our return flight.

Valentine's Day we had dinner in Italy and we won't make that mistake again. How can they make Italian food so mediocre? Afterward we went to the Flying Fish on the Boardwalk for dessert, which was much better and they gave all the customers a rose. Next time we want a romantic dinner in Epcot, we're going to the San Angelo in Mexico, which I've been told is very nice and romantic, or the Bistro de Paris upstairs in France, which is quite good. Le Cellier in Canada is also supposed to be very good but they serve the very stuff we make at home.

Except for the double touch down when the plane was about to land then suddenly went back up again to re-land a couple of minutes later, all went as planned. We timed the trip badly, it was also when the NASCAR races were being held in Orlando. We won't be making that mistake again.

We left Florida Monday morning, spent the night in Portland, ME, and drove home yesterday. We arrived home at 10:30 last night and we feel it - we're both moving slowly this morning. It looks like Flyn had a good time while we were gone. Chasing little squirrels and birds of all sizes is one of his favorite diversions. I looked out the window this morning and saw Flyn crossing the ice to the other side, Lily won't go on the ice. I hope he has sense to stay off it when it starts to thaw.

02/01/2007

I can hardly believe I did it, I'm pinching myself to see if I'm awake

Tags: News
I booked a trip to Florida for us and I'm not spending any $ on it, it's all being paid with points that we have accumulated on our credit card over the years. Face it, we're in our mid-fifties so by now we're accumulated a mountain of points that we have never cashed in. The parents have been asking us to come visit them and we certainly are overdue for a visit and we have no excuse not to (except for the cost).

The plan is to leave here early on Sunday the 11th, drive to Portland, ME, do a park/sleep/fly arrangement and fly to Orlando at 9:30 Monday morning. After a stopover in Dulles airport IAD for 1 hr 13 min, we'll continue on our way.

Arrival time at MCO s/b 2:41, at which time we'll get the Disney Magical Express shuttle bus to the hotel (it's part of the package). We should arrive at the Beach Club Hotel in Epcot Resorts in time for a little downtime before dinner at the Flying Fish. Tuesday we'll spend at the parks and have dinner in the French restaurant upstairs so we can see the parade, depending on its route, and fireworks over dessert. Wednesday is Valentine's Day and we may be too tired to do much besides sit in the hot spa and rest our weary feet but we hope to go to Raglan Road Irish Pub in Pleasure Island if we're up to it. (I called the Beach Club resort and asked the woman who answered, she identified herself as Maureen, if there is anything special for Valentine's Day that we should know of. She said no, curtly - end of conversation. Maureen is a little rough around the edges, charm school would be a good option for her. Sometimes that Disney cheer goes awol.) I may check in with the on-site concierge when we arrive, just to make sure there aren't any V-Day special events that we would regret missing. It would be a shame to find out about special Valentine's events after the 14th.

When we check out on Thursday, a rental car will be waiting for us at the Dolphin Hotel. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday we'll see the parents and tour nearby parts of Florida. Back to the airport Monday morning, layover in NY for 1 hr 31 min, spend the night in Portland again, then get up and drive home. Flying from Portland saved us several hundred dollars in airfare. It certainly pays to shop airports. A longer drive to a farther airport is truly worth it.

Cross fingers and toes that all parts of our flights go as scheduled, we're not there yet.

01/28/2007

Community Meeting with John Cotton

Tags: News
Please spread the word. There was a community meeting regarding the hall and the museum that ran from 2:30 - 3:15 this afternoon. The point of the meeting was to determine what is available for us as a community to help us rebuild or build our museum and hall.

First order of business was to decide that we would work under the Marble Mountain Wharf Preservation Society, with the understanding that there will be a name change to the Marble Mountain Preservation Society that will reflect the utlimate goal of the community to have the four elements (Wharf, Museum, Hall and Seniors groups) of the community fall under one committee. In other words, it is too disjointed and fragmented and, mostly, ineffective for the well-being of the community as a whole to have all these separate committees. A vote was taken and it was nearly unanimously decided tp have the various committees come under the aegis of the one umbrella organization. All it will take is a legal name change to delete the word "wharf" from the title.

Second, the existing, decrepit hall and museum are in need of being replaced, repairing them would only be just that, repairs, and we'd end up with only a couple of repaired, old buildings that would need more of the same in a few years. We brainstormed a few ways to get money.

Third, just so you know, these meetings are open to the public and we welcome input from people in the surrounding communities. Officially, the communites served by MM are MM, Malagawatch and Big Harbor Island. West Bay includes Lie Hill, that's not included in our region officially but we're happy to have them visit anytime.

I need to make supper, I'll come back to this post and add to it later.

01/27/2007

Easter Sunday Sunrise Service - 6:30 a.m. April 8

Tags: News
The title says it all. Last year the service was followed by a lovely breakfast in the hall and you can reasonably expect that again this year. I'll contribute a traditional Italian Easter dish, Rice Pie. If I have the time I'll also put together a traditional Portuguese Sweet Bread that uses whole eggs for the moisture and is full of butter. Once a year it's worth having this bread.

12/02/2006

Rankins Christmas Concert

Tags: News
Last night we drove to Antigonish in the miserable, cold rain to see the Rankins perform Christmas songs in their first holiday performance since they got back together. It was worth the drive if only for their good cheer and beautiful harmonies. Raylene did a solo of Ave Maria that brought a standing ovation. Heather has a voice so powerful that it can peel the paper off the wall. Cookie helped create the wonderful harmonies that are reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters. On a lighter note, they told stories of their Christmases past, bantered in a comfortable camaraderie and, of course, step danced. No Rankin musical performance, or Cape Breton for that matter, is complete without some step dancing. Though this really shouldn't matter, the three ladies looked lovely in their jewel-colored silk gowns. All in all, it was a lovely start to the Christmas month.

Before the concert, we had dinner at Gabrieau's. It was the first time we had dinner there and you could tell we weren't on Cape Breton anymore - the food is different there - more worldly and inventive. It was nice enough that we'd go again, maybe make it a regular destination. Next time I'm planning to get the scallop appetizer. Try it next time you're in or near Antigonish, I recommend it. That said, keep in mind that I've eaten there only once before, for lunch, and my food was so salty as to be inedible. When I didn't eat my lunch the waitress asked if it was ok and when I told her it was so salty she was very gracious about it, took it off the bill and gave us house-made truffles as a peace offering. Gabrieau's Bistro 350 Main Street Antigonish, NS B2G 2L5 902.863.1925

11/28/2006

European-Style Art Knitting By Yvonne Eggenberger

QuickImage Tags: News
Just in time for Christmas! Yvonne's European-Style Art Knitting and its intricate patterns are knitted in European designs that result in unique and beautiful pieces like the one you see here. A style not found anyplace else in Cape Breton, this style of knitting is done by manipulating the yarn in a unique way that utilizes very delicate stitches to produce an intricate, delicate pattern that’s reminiscent of very fine, crocheted lace.

Art knitting is a specialized needlework that requires following very strict patterns and any mistake will show. It is a time-consuming and demanding style of art to produce and she does it with astonishing ease. The knitting is done on very fine needles in patterns that can require more than 8 needles at a time, resulting in the delicate stitches that are the trademark of each of her products.

The socks are knitted with 5 needles and come in small, medium and large. They can be custom made in colors and yarn of your choice. She also knits tablecoths, doilies, snowflakes and much, much more. She will be happy to make any of these items by request, just ask her.

If you are interested in purchasing any of her knitting or if you are simply interested in seeing her unique and exquisite work, please contact her at Deer_Lady@hotmail.com or call her at 756.2286. If you have trouble reaching her just get in touch with me and I'll mosey on down the road and talk to her for you.

08/05/2006

Marble Mountain Village goes virtual

Tags: News
Technology has reached the community of Marble Mountain. See our new website at http://www.marblemountainvillage.com/ Don't get excited yet, it's only a web site, the content is being compiled at the present. Expect soon to find pretty good info and photos on the site. Yahoo, we've entered the 21st century!

06/19/2006

The World's Agricultural Legacy Gets A Safe Home, Vault on Arctic Isle Would Protect Seeds

Tags: News
By Rick Weiss Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, June 19, 2006; A01

The high-security vault, almost half the length of a football field, will be carved into a mountain on a remote island above the Arctic Circle. If the looming fences, motion detectors and steel airlock doors are not disincentive enough for anyone hoping to breach the facility's concrete interior, the polar bears roaming outside should help.

The more than 100 nations that have collectively endorsed the vault's construction say it will be the most secure facility of its kind in the world. Given the stakes, they agree, nothing less would do.

Its precious contents? Seeds -- millions and millions of them -- from virtually every variety of food on the planet. Crop seeds are the source of human sustenance, the product of 10,000 years of selective breeding dating to the dawn of agriculture. The "doomsday vault," as some have come to call it, is to be the ultimate backup in the event of a global catastrophe -- the go-to place after an asteroid hit or nuclear or biowarfare holocaust so that, difficult as those times would be, humankind would not have to start again from scratch.

Once just a dream -- albeit a dark one, attractive only in comparison to the nightmare that would precede its use -- this planetary larder is about to become a reality. Today, on the barren Norwegian outpost of Svalbard, the prime ministers of five nations and a small throng of other officials will lay the cornerstone for what will be, in effect, the Fort Knox of seeds. "We will have the biological foundation for all of agriculture, which is really saying something," said Cary Fowler, executive secretary of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, the international organization coordinating the vault's creation with the Norwegian government. "It is a stunning achievement, if you think about it, and it would be about as safe as human beings can make it." If progress continues during the short building season this summer and next, the high-tech cavern will start accepting deposits from smaller seed banks and agricultural and scientific organizations by fall 2007 under the terms of an international treaty that took effect two years ago. Then, with a loud clank and the sound of sucking air, the door will close. And the Svalbard International Seed Vault will slip into a subzero slumber -- an insurance policy for human civilization.

Scientists estimate there are 2 million varieties of plants used for food and forage today. That includes an astonishing 100,000 varieties of rice, the major staple of the human diet, and more than 1,000 varieties of banana, a nutritious fruit of global importance. Seeds from these crops, which can be smaller than poppy seeds and as large as coconuts, are invaluable repositories of plant DNA. They are the raw material that farmers and researchers rely on to develop more productive and nutritious plants that can cope with climate change, new diseases or pests.

About 1,400 seed banks already exist, including large national collections in the United States and China; international ones maintained by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), funded by the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations; and small ones at universities and research labs. Seeds are typically stored at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit, and are periodically removed and germinated to grow plants, whose fresh seeds are redeposited. But only a few dozen of these banks meet international standards, and even fewer have funding commitments that ensure their long-term maintenance. Indeed, recent surveys have revealed a slow-motion seed bank disaster in the making, with many collections seeing germination rates well below the internationally agreed upon minimum of 85 percent. Worse, some seed banks have recently been destroyed, the victims of war and unrest in Afghanistan, Iraq and Rwanda and a reminder of the fragility of these resources. A backup bank could resupply regional banks like those. Perhaps most important, most of today's seed banks are designed to be working banks -- their contents available to breeders and researchers. That means they are inherently accessible and less than totally secure. "Svalbard is meant to be the bank of last resort," said Pat Mooney, executive director of ETC Group, a Canadian civil society organization focused on food security. "It's where you go if you can't go anywhere else. It's the backup for the whole world." The design, described in a recently released feasibility study, bespeaks that Armageddon mentality. First, there is the location: The starkly beautiful and always frozen terrain of Svalbard is, to say the least, off the beaten track. Home mostly to a small community of scientists, coal miners and support staff, it is the northernmost place in the world with scheduled commercial air service. Arctic foxes, reindeer and polar bears stroll the streets. Yet it also has the basic infrastructure that's needed, including a modest network of roads and an electrical generating plant fed by local coal.

Plans call for a cavern about 50 yards long, 15 feet wide and 15 feet high. Although it will be built in solid rock, its floor, ceiling and walls will be lined with three-foot-thick layers of high-quality insulating concrete. The door will be opened only once or twice a year, to check contents and add new varieties. Air handling equipment will bring in outdoor air during the winter months, when temperatures hover around minus 30 degrees. Refrigeration units will be available to keep interior temperatures cold during Svalbard's summer, though scientists expect the equipment will rarely be needed and no one will panic if it occasionally breaks down. "Even if you waited a couple of years for the serviceman to show up, it won't really matter," quipped Geoffrey Hawtin, a genetic resource specialist based in England who is serving as a senior adviser to the Global Crop Diversity Trust. "One hears so much about mammoth skeletons and that sort of thing being preserved in the permafrost," Hawtin said. "But this is the first deliberate attempt to use the permafrost to conserve what must be humanity's most important but least-known resource."

The Norwegian government is paying for the facility's construction -- an estimated $3 million, with about half of that for the concrete alone, which must be shipped. After that, annual operating expenses are expected to be $200,000 at first, dropping to $100,000 by year three. The trust has established an endowment that so far has $50 million of the $260 million that will be needed to sustain operations without depleting its principal. Contributions have come from about a dozen countries as well as foundations, seed companies and others. The vault is one of many strategies being implemented in sync with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which came into force in 2004 and has been ratified by more than 100 nations. The United States has signed the treaty, but the Senate has not ratified it. At the first meeting of the treaty's governing board last week in Madrid, representatives agreed on crucial legal language that will allow nations to maintain essential patent protections while freely sharing their seeds -- an achievement that participants said will greatly facilitate nations' willingness to donate to the Svalbard vault. Already, Fowler said, CGIAR has promised to contribute samples from its huge network of banks, which hold about 600,000 varieties. And the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the nation's largest seed collection in Fort Collins, Colo., will add holdings that are not in the CGIAR collection, he said.

Seeds will be sealed in aluminum foil and stored in batches averaging 500 per package, depending on seed size. The facility is designed to hold 3 million varieties, assuming an average seed size equal to that of a wheat seed. Planners had to consider what would happen if global warming continues unabated. Computer models suggest that no matter what, Svalbard will be one of the coldest places on Earth, Fowler said. And if, as some models predict, global warming shuts down the Gulf Stream and turns the Greenland Sea into a place even more frozen than it is now? It will still be easy enough to keep the door clear of snow, according to the analysis.

Hope Shand, research director at ETC Group, which champions farmers' rights, emphasized that banks such as Svalbard's are just one part of the global effort to conserve plant genetic resources. "Ultimately," Shand said, "it's the farmers who grow these crops who are the true custodians of crop diversity." © 2006 The Washington Post Company

05/08/2006

Your own choice to not be subjected to the religion(s) of others

Tags: News
The Brights Vision Persons who have a naturalistic worldview should not be culturally stifled or civically marginalized due to society’s extensive supernaturalism. Rather, they ought to be accepted as fellow citizens and full participants in the cultural and political landscape.

This egalitarian vision is not the reality today. Moving toward it requires that individuals who do hold a naturalistic worldview make manifest their existence within society. The idea of materializing as Brights at the Internet hub of The Brights’ Net is to acquire visibility, fortify one another in what is a worthwhile outlook on the world, and grow a constituency that can join forces broadly to work on broad aims of social and civic action. Those who register into this Internet constituency have worldviews free of the supernatural deities, forces, and entities in which so many others believe. They stand for “a level playing field” that provides the same foothold in society as citizens who believe in the supernatural. The time is here to garner visibility and work for full social acceptance and civic participation.

The Brights' Principles The Brights’ Net has a set of guiding principles for association and action. While spreading the word about the constituency, the organization stands for these principles—as values, not dogma.

Word Talk The generic noun form of bright is a tool to lay emphasis on the shared naturalistic worldview of a potentially large aggregate of persons. The term offers many individuals a means to step forward free of socially burdensome labels to speak more candidly and positively about their outlook.

Symbolism Light!—clear and vivid! The imagery of brightness speaks to humanity’s impetus toward learning, audacity for open inquiry, and spirit of skepticism that once characterized an optimistic time on earth when science and reason seemed to offer the key to the future.

02/22/2006

How much do you trust the news media?

Tags: News
Do you think you're getting open, full and accurate news in the U.S.? One of the women Kit plays darts with on Tuesday night was talking about warm & sunny places to vacation in the winter. As a Canadian, one of her favorite places to vacation is Cuba, she said. Cuba, we thought, the place that's all run down and destitute, where the people don't have all they need to live properly, run by the tyrant Castro? Oh no, she said, it's not like that at all. It's a lovely place, with beautiful resorts. She went on to describe Cuba as an attractive place to spend vacation time. This isn't the picture we're given of the place back in the good ol' USA. How did Canada and the US get such divergent perceptions of the very same place? What else have we been misled about?