Archive for July 2013

Lac Mégantic (4)

Lac Megantic: Quebec demands companies pay for cleanup

By:  News reporter, Published by the Toronto Star on Mon Jul 29 2013

Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet announced ordinances demanding companies involved in Lac-Mégantic rail disaster foot bill for cleanup, decontamination, after rail company shirks $4-million tab.

A police officer takes pictures at the crash scene last week in Lac-Mégantic.

PAUL CHIASSON / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO: A police officer takes pictures at the crash scene last week in Lac-Mégantic

The Quebec government has ordered companies connected to the Lac-Mégantic train disaster to pick up the tab for cleanup and decontamination after the deadly derailment spewed an estimated 5.7-million litres of crude oil into the environment.

The legal notice, announced Monday afternoon by provincial environment minister Yves- François Blanchet, names the Canadian and American offices of railway company Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, and the American firms Western Petroleum Company and its parent, World Fuel Services.

The full story by Jessica McDiarmid is at:

Is this another example of corporate social responsibility?




Nation to Nation Bike Tour, 2013

Look for this story in your local, corporate – controlled media …

Nation to Nation Bike Tour

On July 27, the first-ever KAIROS and OteshaNation to Nation Bike Tour gets underway! Twelve Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth will start in Akwesasne and end in Tyendinaga; these are Kanien’kehaka  (Mohawk) communities that share the waters of the St Lawrence and Lake Ontario. In between, the cyclists will be hosted by non-Indigenous communities and groups.

The participants will be learning and sharing as they go, offering a new version of the Blanket Exercise in the communities they visit. There’s more information available on the KAIROS site. All events are currently posted to the KAIROS calendar and we’ll be adding more information as specifics are confirmed. Nation to Nation Bike Tour events posted to this calendar are open to all.

After four days of programming in Akwesasne,  the tour gets underway on July 31st with smudging, Mohawk prayer and opening address, words from Grand Chief Mike Mitchell, and songs from the A’nowarakowa Arena youth group singers.  Local media will be present. Many thanks to Akwesasne radio CKON-FM 97.3 for an excellent interview on the bike tour!

In the words of the Akwesasne planners, “ This is an important event as it acknowledges a new friendship that was created and teachings shared  between Mohawk members of the community and the KAIROS  youth group. Community support will be present to meet, give thanks and to help support the visitors’ journey.”

In turn, the KAIROS community would like to say nia:wen, thank you, to the Akwesasne community for their gift of starting the group’s time together in this good way. The community and the people are showing enormous generosity to the riders and KAIROS, as ceremonies, teachings and hosting are all shared. We also offer  thanks to Tyendinaga  for hosting the end of the  tour. Without these good words and actions, we could not continue KAIROS’ commitment to a new relationship built on justice and respect.

KAIROS’ gratitude also goes to the church communities who will also host the bikers. There are Lutheran, United and Presbyterian churches along the way who are hosting and caring for the riders. Thank you!  We’ll update information about all the generous hosts as it’s confirmed.

And of course, the people who have offered donations to help cover the riders’ expenses are also very much a part of this work. Any amount helps and you can still donate!

For more information please contact:
Katy Quinn
Indigenous Rights Program Coordinator
613 235-9956 x224

Testing a new Blanket Exercise workshop developed by Suzanne Keeptwo that will be offered at public events during the bike tour.


Lac Mégantic (3)

After Lac Mégantic,

KAIROS Endorses Call to Review Hydrocarbon Transport

July 23, 2013 by 

Workers begin digging at the site of a derailment in Lac Megantic Quebec

KAIROS is one of 50 environmental, labour, social justice and faith organizations in Canada and the northeastern United States calling for a comprehensive review of the transport of oil and natural gas.

In the aftermath of the train derailment and subsequent explosion that killed almost 50 people and destroyed the downtown of Lac Mégantic, QC on July 6, the group is calling on the Canadian government to:

  • Implement an immediate ban on shipping oil in the older, type 111A tanker cars that have been identified as spill-prone by the Canadian Transportation Safety Board;

  • Reinstate mandatory two-person minimum train crews; and

  • Launch a comprehensive, independent safety review of all hydrocarbon transportation: pipelines, rail, tanker and truck. This review should include public hearings and an examination of the role of deregulation and privatization in reducing safety standards.

Individuals can show their support for these measures by signing an online petition launched by LeadNow.

In addition, KAIROS member churches and organizations have issued pastoral statements and are providing disaster assistance and pastoral care. Check the links below to see their responses.

The Anglican Church of Canada and The Anglican Diocese of Quebec

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

The Presbyterian Church in Canada

Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

The United Church of Canada

The complete list of groups calling for improved oil transport safety regulations:

  • Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS)

  • Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA).

  • Attention FragÎles

  • Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • BC SEA (BC Sustainable Energy Association)

  • Bow Valley Naturalists

  • Canada’ Citizens Climate Lobby

  • Canadian Association of Physiciations for the Environment (CAPE)

  • Central Athabasca Stewardship Society

  • Centrale des Syndicats nationaux (CSN)

  • Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal

  • Citizens for Responsible Development

  • Coalition québécoise pour une gestion responsable de l’eau, EAU SECOURS!

  • Coalition Saint-Laurent

  • Coalition Vigilance Oléoducs (COVO)

  • Conseil de l’environnement de Laval

  • Conservation Law Foundation

  • Council of Canadians

  • David Suzuki Foundation

  • DesmogCanada

  • Environmental Defence

  • ENvironnement JEUnesse (ENJEU)

  • Équiterre

  • Ernst Environmental Services

  • Fondation Rivières

  • Forest Ethics Advocacy

  • Global Exchange

  • Greenpeace Canada

  • Greenspiration


  • Keepers of the Athabasca

  • La Coalition Vigilance Oléoduc

  • Les AmiEs de la Terre de Québec

  • Les Citoyens au Courant

  • Manitoba Wildlands

  • Mouvement vert Mauricie

  • National Wildlife Federation

  • Polaris Institute

  • Public Interest Alberta

  • Regroupement interrégional gaz de schiste de la Vallée du St-Laurent

  • Sierra Club BC

  • Sierra Club of Maine

  • Sierra Club Prairie

  • Sierra Club Quebec

  • Société pour vaincre la pollution

  • Toronto Climate Campaign

  • Union des consommateurs

  • Vermont chapter, Sierra Club

  • West Coast Environmental Law

  • Wilderness Committee

  • 350 Maine


  • 350NH

  • 350Vermont

Here on Earth

IMG_0717“I am certain of one thing –

if we do not strive to love one another,

and to love our planet as much as we love ourselves,

then no further progress is possible here on earth.”

– Tim Flannery, page 281, Here On Earth: A Natural History of the Planet

Lac Mégantic: a corporate crime

Theology in the Vineyard



Leave it to a “foreign” newspaper to say the obvious and speak truth to power. A truth the CBC news can not begin to utter or even think out loud: Lac-Mégantic is another corporate crime. The CBC is terrified of even more cuts and  dares not upset the Harperites, the true believers in privatization and deregulation.

Ontarians remember the Harper crowd (Flaherty, Baird, Clement) when  under Premier Mike Harris they bulldozed the common good in Ontario. Cut back on regulations was their simplistic mantra and Walkerton was the result. Who can forget the  car dealer Minister of Transport  Al Palladini giving the truckers a free ride until wheels began to fly off unregulated rigs and  kill people. Only then did they pull the death wagons over and found out what everybody knew: Original sin is a reality. Humans and soulless corporations will cut corners whenever they can in the…

View original post 1,058 more words

Posted July 22, 2013 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

Nuclear disarmament ?


Matthew Behrens

Canada aids and abets the spectre of nuclear terrorism


MATTHEW BEHRENS – published by
Photo: Peace activists Rev. Carl Kabot, Greg Obed, and Michael Walli. Credit: Sc

Earlier this year, Michael Walli made a blunt confession in a Tennessee court. “I was employed as a terrorist for the United States Government,” he told the judge hearing his case. And sure enough, Walli is facing down a potential 35 years in prison for what his prosecutors successfully argued was an action that fit the “federal crime of terrorism.”

Walli is an army combat veteran of the U.S. invasion of Vietnam, and is certainly not the first to take some personal responsibility for America’s genocidal occupation and relentless bombing of Southeast Asia (with at least 3 million murdered). Indeed, as the recent book Kill Anything that Moves reminds us, American military units were committing so many atrocities that the Pentagon opened up its own, secretive war crimes investigation unit.

But his participation in such crimes is not what led Walli to that Tennessee court. Rather, it was a peaceful protest against nuclear terrorism and the U.S. construction — in clear violation of the nonproliferation treaty — of a new generation of nuclear weapons. Unlike Iran, the U.S. has used — and threatened to use — nuclear weapons for almost 70 years, in the form of atomic bombs as well as depleted uranium-coated ammunition that has left a cancerous wasteland behind in Iraq, among other countries where it has been used by U.S. and NATO forces.

Walli, joined by Sister Megan Rice (aged 82) and Greg Boertje-Obed, all veteran peacemakers, entered the Y12 nuclear weapons site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on July 28, 2012, cutting through four fences and making their way right to the Enriched Uranium Materials Facility which, as the venerable magazine Nuclear Resister notes, is “the largest storehouse of bomb-grade uranium in the world. They marked the building with blood, painted disarmament messages on the wall and hung banners. Symbolic of beginning to transform swords into plowshares, they also hammered a few chips of concrete from the building’s foundation before being seen by security guards and arrested.”

To read the entire column by Matthew Bherens, go to:

James Hansen: Fossil fuel addiction could trigger runaway global warming

by Nafeez Ahmed

Without full decarbonisation by 2030, our global emissions pathway guarantees new era of catastrophic climate change 

Nasa image of planet Earth

Nasa image of planet Earth. Photograph: Ho/Reuters

The world is currently on course to exploit all its remaining fossil fuel resources, a prospect that would produce a “different, practically uninhabitable planet” by triggering a “low-end runaway greenhouse effect.” This is the conclusion of a new scientific paper by Prof James Hansen, the former head of NASA‘s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the world’s best known climate scientist.

The paper due to be published later this month by Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A (Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A) focuses less on modelling than on empirical data about correlations between temperature, sea level and CO2 going back up to 66 million years.

Given that efforts to exploit available fossil fuels continue to accelerate, the paper’s principal finding – that “conceivable levels of human-made climate forcing could yield the low-end runaway greenhouse effect” based on inducing “out-of-control amplifying feedbacks such as ice sheet disintegration and melting of methane hydrates” – is deeply worrying.

To read more, and find where Hansen offers us HOPE, go to the Guardian’s website at:

Posted July 21, 2013 by allanbaker in Uncategorized

Trayvon Martin could have been me – Obama

By:  Washington Bureau, Published on Fri Jul 19 2013

WASHINGTON—You can be black. You can be candid about the pain of race in America. You can be the president of the United States.

But if you’re Barack Obama, combining each of those conditions at the same time has been the electrified third rail of his historic presidency.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks candidly Friday about race in America in unscripted remarks prompted by the George Zimmerman acquittal in the the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Photo credit: LARRY DOWNING / REUTERS  U.S. President Barack Obama speaks candidly Friday about race in America in unscripted remarks prompted by the George Zimmerman acquittal in the the Trayvon Martin shooting.

America’s first ever African-American leader built two victories on inclusivity: “hope and change” in the star-struck fall of 2008, which gave way to a much messier campaign in 2012 seized with class, not race, when No-Drama Obama claimed Mitt Romney’s 47 per cent — and many others besides — with colour-blind messaging in what proved to be a cakewalk.

Then came Friday afternoon. After a week of mounting pressure to offer more than a written statement on last week’s George Zimmerman acquittal, Obama stepped up with 20 stunning, unscripted minutes on race.

Read more of Mitch Potter’s column at:

Posted July 20, 2013 by allanbaker in Politics

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Lac-Mégantic (2)

Trains, pipelines and disasters

By Elizabeth May, Leader, Green Party of Canada

On Monday, July 15th, 2013

Every time I think of what happened in Lac-Mégantic, I have a hard time getting past the sense of total grief that a beautiful little town should have been victim of such a random, devastating and shocking event. It can really only be compared to a town being suddenly, inexplicably bombed in peacetime.

I live in a similar peaceful, pretty, small community. Sidney-by-the Sea is an idyllic spot on southern Vancouver Island (population 10,000), but here, as everywhere else in Canada, we feel as though there has been a death in the family. One of my Rotary friends, who is also on Sidney Council, Kenny Podmore, emailed yesterday to ask for my help as he organizes a fundraiser for Lac-Mégantic for the Monday of the Labour Day weekend. I am so grateful to have a positive, useful way to try to help that wounded community, with its heart ripped out for all the world to see.

Media pundits are busy saying what politicians should and shouldn’t say in times of crisis. I have a hard time faulting Tom Mulcair for saying what seems rather obvious. The legality of leaving that train, unattended, engine on, with 74 railcars full of light crude oil, perched in a spot where should brakes fail, gravity and momentum would send the train barrelling into the community below, was specificallyapproved by Transport Canada. It is far too early to know all the answers, but I think common sense dictates that some observations are obvious. The failure of the federal government under Stephen Harper’s watch is one of them.

But many other relatively disconnected points come to me and I want to share some of the ones that also (at least to me) fall in the category of blazingly obvious.

  • Pipeline proponents were jarringly quick to try to claim advantage for the pipeline debate. Their opportunism was in poor taste, but also was wrong. As far as I know, no one is proposing a pipeline from North Dakota to New Brunswick.  So opposing the Keystone or Enbridge projects has no bearing on that accident along that route.

  • Trains are generally speaking a very safe way to transport goods – as long as they are properly regulated.  On a percentage basis, pipelines have far more accidents (leaks) than trains.  True, no pipeline accident with bitumen and diluents (dilbit) or with crude or processed oil, could have an accident with so much immediate loss of life.  But that is not actually an argument for pipelines.  It is an argument for regulating pipelines and trains so that the risk of accident is reduced.

  • Municipal governments have a right to know what is moving through their towns.  Hazardous cargo should never be left unattended and should be (as far as is possible) diverted from town centres.

  • It strikes me as bizarre that when discussing terrorist threats no scenario is so far-fetched that law enforcement and the public purse should not be engaged to avert miniscule risks.  But in our day to day lives, more probable and larger risks are ignored because they fall under an area of economic-profitability.

  • The mania against regulation – the call for stream-lining and fast-tracking and industry self-regulation (across many fields and not just rail transport)  – needs to be replaced with a commitment to public safety and environmental protection.

  • Leaking pipelines can constitute their own brand of disaster in loss of life and livelihood.  The fact that pipelines cannot convert themselves into rolling bombs, but instead can destroy a river or farm through leaking noxious contaminants doesn’t make the latter an acceptable option.

The inquiry will take some time. The levels of liability, negligence, issues of criminal negligence, are all issues to be determined.  As the investigation is into a crime, there is the possibility of criminal charges and jail time.  An investigation of this magnitude needs to be respected.  No one should jump to conclusions.  However, sometimes the conclusions leap out on their own and to ignore them is to practice a level of politically-correct speech that defies common sense.

Lament from a White Father – by Jim Wallis

Lament from a White Father

By Jim Wallis

It’s time for white people — especially white parents — to listen, to learn, and to speak out on the terribly painful loss of Trayvon Martin.

If my white 14-year-old son Luke had walked out that same night, in that same neighborhood, just to get a snack he would have come back to his dad unharmed — and would still be with me and Joy today. Everyone, being honest with ourselves, knows that is true. But when black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin went out that night, just to get a snack, he ended up dead — and is no longer with his dad and mom. Try to imagine how that feels, as his parents.

It was a political, legal, and moral mistake to not put race at the center of this trial because it was at the center from the beginning of this terrible case. Many are now saying, “There was a trial; the results must be accepted.” How well the case against George Zimmerman was prosecuted, how fair the tactics of the defense were, the size and selection of the jury, how narrowly their instructions were given — all will be the subject of legal discussions for a very long time.

But while the legal verdicts of this trial must be accepted, the larger social meaning of court cases and verdicts must be dealt with, especially as they impact the moral quality of our society.

This is not just about verdicts but also about values.

For the complete commentary by Rev. Wallis, visit :


Posted July 17, 2013 by allanbaker in Christian Faith, Peacemaking

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