Enthusiastic Response

The launching of our magazine's regular publishing on the Internet has met an enthusiastic response. "I was delighted by the content and by the look, the uncluttered white space," said one visitor who had been worried that shunpiking would be unable to sustain itself or expand, like all other magazines which tried and failed in the past. Some have been disappointed because they couldn't find the summer edition. It seems that copies just flew off the shelves. There were others who expressed confidence in the magazine, the journalism and the writing, saying that they knew shunpiking would advance sooner or later. One visitor said that shunpiking online seemed to stress original content and information gathering, rather than all kinds of "alternative" websites which mainly post links to the mainstream press. "Your article on the basketball tournament was awesome," wrote Karen Ross. "I will email it to families and teams all across Canada". An Irish Language activist said that that the posting of the Mac-Talla Gaelic edition was terrific as there were a lot of people she knew in Ireland who would be interested. A journalist colleague from CKDU Radio dropped by to discuss how the independent media could better collaborate to combat the misinformation of the monopoly media. All expressed enthusiastic support.

The response from our visitors encourages us to make ever greater efforts to make both the magazine and shunpiking online a success. We pledge to our readers that shunpiking and shunpiking online will continue to develop in spite of all the difficulties such a small force as ours faces.

 

Article Index

Chicken Little?

Commentary by Tony Seed

August 15-It definitely wasn't "the terrorists", though the Department of Homeland Security wasn't convinced. As if to justify its necessity and expand its sphere of operations, it later said that it had determined within an hour that Thursday's widespread power failure had not resulted from a terrorist attack. Yet the Pentagon's Northern Command, which also controls Canadian air space, added air patrols by NORAD, ostentatiously linking a civil disaster to its war preparations. Within two hours of the blackout, New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Wall Street financier, publicly stated it originated in southern Canada. Two hours later, the Prime Minister's Office thought lightning hit the U.S. side of Niagara Falls in the Niagara Mohawk region. Seventeen hours later, CBC NewsWorld admitted that no one still had a clue. An expert from Toronto's Pollution Probe stated that no-one from the hydro sector even had a theory. But two things it wasn't: the system, and the merging of Canada's hydroelectric systems to those of the United States.

Author of "The Last Energy War", Harvey Wasserman said it was a matter of the technological system and priorities. "We've had 40 years to build a system that is not vulnerable to these disasters", he said today.

"The big East Coast blackout of 1965 should have been the watershed event, after which society should have moved to build an electrical supply system that cannot crash. Such a system must be built on renewable technologies, which are by nature decentralized. Buildings should have their own solar power sources, with increased efficiency, to make themselves as self-sufficient and grid-free as possible. This time, there seems to be no evidence of terrorism. But the real 'terrorism' is that we are still burning fossil and nuclear fuels, which are both dangerous and polluting. And that we still depend on a grid that is profoundly - and unnecessarily - vulnerable."

In other words, the refusal of the media and governments to recognize the objective reality and the claims of people on society is leading to all out destruction of the technological and social fabric and the anarchy, chaos and incoherence which this entails.

The massive blackout comes at a time when the hydro systems are faced with serious maintenance problems in their networks. Despite the highest scientific-technical accomplishments of mankind, various doomsayers are already declaring that the technical system is incapable of anything more than spectacular failure.

Says Lloyd Dumas - the author of "Lethal Arrogance: Human Fallibility and Dangerous Technologies" and a professor of political economy at the University of Texas at Dallas: "The massive failure that knocked out power to the Northeast and Midwest U.S. and Canada looks like the disastrous blackouts of 1965 and 1977. Once again we are reminded of our technological vulnerability and the impossibility of eliminating failure. Electric systems were connected together to make blackouts a thing of the past. In 1965, when part of the grid failed and the rest took over, the strain caused more to fail ... No technological system ever designed, from the wheel to the space shuttle, is immune to catastrophic failure as a result of technical error, human error or sabotage. This is as true for technologies, such as nuclear power and weapons of mass destruction, whose failure can kill tens of thousands, as it is for the electricity grid. The power failure is yet another warning that we humans cannot live with these most dangerous technologies without eventually triggering catastrophe. We must get rid of them."

Technological or economic imperative?

In reality both the "private sector" and the "public sector" are governed by an economic law which operates quite blindly. This law is the law of maximum profits. Investments world-wide seek markets which yield the highest rate of return. The supply of raw materials and infrastructure, usually unprofitable, are financed directly by the government, which uses its taxes over the working population to subsidize them.

Hydro-electricity, for instance, has always been provided to corporate groups at fluctuating rates, to ensure a guaranteed pre-set rate of profit. Hydro power from giant projects at James Bay and Churchill Falls were carved out of the wilderness at the expense of the First Nations to provide cheap power to the aluminum trusts, which requires enormous amounts of electrical power, as well as to New England.

Provincial hydro corporations have incurred billions of dollars worth of debt - Ontario's is over $21 billion - while it is the consumer including the small enterprises and the taxpayer who pay for the regular debt servicing charges. Manufacturing plants of other foreign monopolies such as the auto companies were located in Central Canada by guaranteeing them cheap power along with free loans, tax holidays, the use of the federal unemployment insurance program to allow federal payments to workers during layoffs, etc. Yet even their interests are threatened by electricity deregulation.

Brascan: "We are driven by a singular objective"

Precisely to maximize their profits, such monopolies as the North American based corporation Brascan, which has assets of over $22 billion and 50,000 employees worldwide including 31 hydroelectric generating facilities in New York alone, are lobbying for yet further electricity "deregulation", privatization of the hydro and energy sectors and interconnection of the power grids across the border. Its modus operandi is instructive and helps us understand the underlying trend.

The Ontario government, which quickly declared a "state of emergency" on August 14th, has been pursuing a $5.5 billion privatization of the Ontario electricity utility Hydro One despite almost universal opposition - and even at the expense of huge subsidies provided to certain big business interests in the past. This is part of the whole trend by the G8 and the World Bank to privatize all the assets of the people not only in Canada but around the world. Private financial investors are demanding greater returns. Ontario represents a $10 billion electricity market.

Brascan states on its website: "We are driven by a singular objective -- achieving superior shareholder returns. We believe that the most tangible way of accomplishing this goal is by building our cash flows and increasing our return on invested capital. Specifically, our targets are to generate a minimum sustainable cash return on equity of 20% and grow our cash flow from operations in excess of 15% per annum."

During the first quarter of 2002, Brascan reached an agreement to acquire four hydroelectric power generating plants, storage reservoirs and related infrastructure from Ontario Power Generation Inc. for $340 million. The four power generating stations are located on the Mississagi River in northern Ontario, which permits them to be operated in conjunction with the company's 12 other power stations in the adjacent area. It also recently bought six hydroelectric power-generating plants in northern Maine for US$156.5 million. Together, those two transactions expanded Brascan's total generating capacity to over 1,600 MW across its North American system comprised of 32 power stations, 31 of which are hydroelectric, located in Ontario, Quebec, Maine, British Columbia and Louisiana.

Brascan states: "The acquisition of these high quality assets with low operating costs, long life expectancy and important interconnections between the northeast United States and Canada, strengthens our position as one of North America's lowest cost generators of electricity."

Results for the first quarter of 2002 also include three months' contribution from Powell River Energy in British Columbia, acquired in February 2001, as well as two months' contribution from Great Northern Energy in Maine, acquired in February 2002. It is rebuilding another power generating plant in High Falls, Ontario for $75 million. As part of the deregulation of B.C.'s power supply, Brascan is constructing a 30 MW hydroelectric generating station near Revelstoke, British Columbia.

Using the authority of the newly deregulated power supply in Ontario, Brascan is constructing a Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario/Michigan power transmission interconnection. Permitting and preliminary engineering are under way for a $30 million high voltage transmission line

Integration with the US Deepens

This interconnection will allow Brascan to move power back and forth between Ontario and U.S. energy markets. This type of manipulation of electricity has caused billions of dollars in extra energy payments in California. Enron of Texas made energy trading infamous. The very heart of Canada pumping energy to all the sectors of the economy and to the homes of the people, has been directly seized by international financiers. The assets have gone, but the debts remain.

The operation of the law of maximum profits does not take into account those who may suffer from its consequences. For example, in 1972 during the oil crisis, the big oil cartels triggered a world wide economic recession by raising their prices sharply to protect their profits. In addition to the working population suffering, dozens of capitalist concerns, some very large, were forced into bankruptcy or mergers. The treasury of the governments were depleted, inflation increased while the profits of the oil cartels were secured. The strivings and conflicts of these huge financial interests mot only ruins entire countries and threatens ecological disasters of various kinds, but promises to embroil competing states in devastating world wars to determine which group of bankers can claim the entire word for their market. Even an electrical blackout becomes a reason for extending war preparations in the name of "homeland security' and extending the psychosis of terror. The blackout of August 14, 2003 will prove to be yet another example of how ruinous this policy is.

In what way does the integration of the American and Canadian grids assist the independent development of the Canadian economy? Is it in the interests of the people? Does Canada really need this integration? The media, government and hydro interests are not even compelled to address these questions, so long as the law of maximum profits prevails. It is high time that Canada actually becomes independent in deeds, as well as words, as it proclaims itself throughout the world.

 

Article Index

Power Outage Traced to Dim Bulb in White House

The tale of the Brits who swiped 800 jobs from New York, carted off $90 million, then tonight, turned off our lights

By Greg Palast

August 15 (Special to shunpiking)—I can tell you all about the ne're-do-wells that put out our lights tonight. I came up against these characters – the Niagara Mohawk Power Company – some years back. You see, before I was a journalist, I worked for a living, as an investigator of corporate racketeers. In the 1980s, "NiMo" built a nuclear plant, Nine Mile Point, a brutally costly piece of hot junk for which NiMo and its partner companies charged billions to New York State's electricity ratepayers.

To pull off this grand theft by kilowatt, the NiMo-led consortium fabricated cost and schedule reports, then performed a Harry Potter job on the account books. In 1988, I showed a jury a memo from an executive from one partner, Long Island Lighting, giving a lesson to a NiMo honcho on how to lie to government regulators. The jury ordered LILCO to pay $4.3 billion and, ultimately, put them out of business.

And that's why, if you're in the Northeast, you're reading this by candlelight tonight. Here's what happened. After LILCO was hammered by the law, after government regulators slammed Niagara Mohawk and dozens of other book-cooking, document-doctoring utility companies all over America with fines and penalties totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, the industry leaders got together to swear never to break the regulations again. Their plan was not to follow the rules, but to ELIMINATE the rules. They called it "deregulation."

It was like a committee of bank robbers figuring out how to make safecracking legal.

But they dare not launch the scheme in the USA. Rather, in 1990, one devious little bunch of operators out of Texas, Houston Natural Gas, operating under the alias "Enron," talked an over-the-edge free-market fanatic, Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, into licensing the first completely deregulated power plant in the hemisphere.

And so began an economic disease called "regulatory reform" that spread faster than SARS. Notably, Enron rewarded Thatcher's Energy Minister, one Lord Wakeham, with a bushel of dollar bills for 'consulting' services and a seat on Enron's board of directors. The English experiment proved the viability of Enron's new industrial formula: that the enthusiasm of politicians for deregulation was in direct proportion to the payola provided by power companies.

The power elite first moved on England because they knew Americans wouldn't swallow the deregulation snake oil easily. The USA had gotten used to cheap power available at the flick of switch. This was the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt who, in 1933, caged the man he thought to be the last of the power pirates, Samuel Insull. Wall Street wheeler-dealer Insull creator of the Power Trust, and six decades before Ken Lay, faked account books and ripped off consumers. To frustrate Insull and his ilk, FDR gave us the Federal Power Commission and the Public Utilities Holding Company Act which told electricity companies where to stand and salute. Detailed regulations limited charges to real expenditures plus a government-set profit. The laws banned "power markets" and required companies to keep the lights on under threat of arrest – no blackout blackmail to hike rates.

Of particular significance as I write here in the dark, regulators told utilities exactly how much they had to spend to insure the system stayed in repair and the lights stayed on. Bureaucrats crawled along the wire and, like me, crawled through the account books, to make sure the power execs spent customers' money on parts and labor. If they didn't, we'd whack'm over the head with our thick rule books. Did we get in the way of these businessmen's entrepreneurial spirit? Damn right we did.

Most important, FDR banned political contributions from utility companies – no 'soft' money, no 'hard' money, no money PERIOD.

But then came George the First. In 1992, just prior to his departure from the White House, President Bush Senior gave the power industry one long deep-through-the-teeth kiss good-bye: federal deregulation of electricity. It was a legacy he wanted to leave for his son, the gratitude of power companies which ponied up $16 million for the Republican campaign of 2000, seven times the sum they gave Democrats.

But Poppy Bush's gift of deregulating of wholesale prices set by the feds only got the power pirates halfway to the plunder of Joe Ratepayer. For the big payday they needed deregulation at the state level. There were only two states, California and Texas, big enough and Republican enough to put the electricity market con into operation.

California fell first. The power companies spent $39 million to defeat a 1998 referendum pushed by Ralph Nadar which would have blocked the de-reg scam. Another $37 million was spent on lobbying and lubricating the campaign coffers of legislators to write a lie into law: in the deregulation act's preamble, the Legislature promised that deregulation would reduce electricity bills by 20%. In fact, when San Diegans in the first California city to go "lawless" looked at their bills, the 20% savings became a 300% jump in surcharges.

Enron circled California and licked its lips. As the number one life-time contributor to the George W. Bush campaign, it was confident about the future. With just a half dozen other companies it controlled at times 100% of the available power capacity needed to keep the Golden State lit. Their motto, "your money or your lights." Enron and its comrades played the system like a broken ATM machine, yanking out the bills. For example, in the shamelessly fixed "auctions" for electricity held by the state, Enron bid, in one instance, to supply 500 megawatts of electricity over a 15 megawatt line. That's like pouring a gallon of gasoline into a thimble – the lines would burn up if they attempted it. Faced with blackout because of Enron's destructive bid, the state was willing to pay anything to keep the lights on.

And the state did. According to Dr. Anjali Sheffrin, economist with the California state Independent System Operator which directed power movements, between May and November 2000, three power giants physically or "economically" withheld power from the state and concocted enough false bids to cost the California customers over $6.2 billion in excess charges.

It took until December 20, 2000, with the lights going out on the Golden Gate, for President Bill Clinton, once a deregulation booster, to find his lost Democratic soul and impose price caps in California and ban Enron from the market.

But the light-bulb buccaneers didn't have to wait long to put their hooks back into the treasure chest. Within seventy-two hours of moving into the White House, while he was still sweeping out the inaugural champagne bottles, George Bush the Second reversed Clinton's executive order and put the power pirates back in business in California. Enron, Reliant (aka Houston Industries), TXU (aka Texas Utilities) and the others who had economically snipped California's wires knew they could count on Dubya, who as governor of the Lone Star state cut them the richest deregulation deal in America.

Meanwhile, the deregulation bug made it to New York where Republican Governor George Pataki and his industry-picked utility commissioners ripped the lid off electric bills and relieved my old friends at Niagara Mohawk of the expensive obligation to properly fund the maintenance of the grid system.

And the Pataki-Bush Axis of Weasels permitted something that must have former New York governor Roosevelt spinning in his wheelchair in Heaven: They allowed a foreign company, the notoriously incompetent National Grid of England, to buy up NiMo, get rid of 800 workers and pocket most of their wages - producing a bonus for NiMo stockholders approaching $90 million.

Is tonight's black-out a surprise? Heck, no, not to us in the field who've watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe. In Brazil, Houston Industries seized ownership of Rio de Janeiro's electric company. The Texans (aided by their French partners) fired workers, raised prices, cut maintenance expenditures and, CLICK! the juice went out so often the locals now call it, "Rio Dark."

So too the free-market cowboys of Niagara Mohawk raised prices, slashed staff, cut maintenance and CLICK! – New York joins Brazil in the Dark Ages.

Californians have found the solution to the deregulation disaster: re-call the only governor in the nation with the cojones to stand up to the electricity price fixers. And unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gov. Gray Davis stood alone against the bad guys without using a body double. Davis called Reliant Corp of Houston a pack of "pirates" – and now he'll walk the plank for daring to stand up to the Texas marauders.

So where's the President? Just before he landed on the deck of the Abe Lincoln, the White House was so concerned about our brave troops facing the foe that they used the cover of war for a new push in Congress for yet more electricity deregulation. This has a certain logic: there's no sense defeating Iraq if a hostile regime remains in California.

Sitting in the dark, as my laptop battery runs low, I don't know if the truth about deregulation will ever see the light – until we change the dim bulb in the White House.

Palast is author of the New York Times bestseller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" (Penguin USA) and the worstseller, "Democracy and Regulation," a guide to electricity deregulation published by the United Nations (with T. MacGregor and J. Oppenheim). See his award-winning reports for BBC Television and the Guardian papers of Britain at www.GregPalast.com.

For a quite different viewpoint on Greg Palast's article, see the commentary entitled "The Ontario-Northern U.S. Blackout: Re-regulation Will Not Reverse the Anti-Social Offensive", TML Daily, September 4, 2003 (No. 160) at http://www.cpcml.ca/tmld/D33160.htm#3

 

 

Article Index

The Nova Scotian Elections: A Media Above Society

Commentary by Tony Seed

The monopoly media in Nova Scotia played a leading role in trivializing the recent provincial election and marginalizing the real concerns and problems of the people, says Bruce Wark, media critic and professor of journalism at King's College School of Journalism in Halifax.

"Politics, as presented by the media, becomes not just personality, but performance, spectacle and sport." he said, citing journalists' "obsessive focus" on party leaders "as a handy device". Far from being citizens with a social conscience, the media sees Nova Scotians as mere spectators at a prize fight, a duel or a horse race. "There were 'jabs and jibes but no knockout punch' in the Nova Scotia leaders' debate, according to a Daily News editorial. The Herald portrayed the debate as a sword fight where 'the sparks flew' but 'no one spilled any real blood.'" The effect is to depoliticize, marginalize and reduce the electorate to bystanders.

The role of the media in lowering the level of political coverage extended to creating a "fixation" with the individual, even to subjective appraisals of their taste in clothing and their personal lifestyles. The Herald ran a front-page story citing two clothing "experts" who advised the leaders of the PCs and NDP "to stop wearing plaid".

The election coverage of the media "weakens democracy because it fosters the growth of 'image' politics, in which politicians - aided by spin doctors and PR advisers - strive to project an exciting persona", Prof. Wark said.

Writing in The Coast, a Halifax weekly, he said that the media itself has become an integral part of the PR game, citing examples of Herald and Daily News columnists who set themselves up as arbiters "judging how the main political actors are 'playing' the issues." (As in other provinces, some of the main political journalists themselves become PR executives and consultants.)

Prof. Wark also cited the extraordinary role of so-called public opinion polls, many of them financed and structured by the monopoly media itself or by the corporate research agencies. They became another organized pressure on the conscience of the polity.

"Politics is about exercising power, and the real 'winners' and 'losers' are the people affected by the preferences of the ruling political party," he pointed out.

The journalists are also trained in techniques to embroider and buttress the political parties, to modify the information landscape and elevate the assertions of politicians to the level of official truth. This is heavily orchestrated by Corporate Canada whose agenda the media and the main political journalists fully understand.

They are influenced, said Prof. Wark, "by the business and professional classes who have more access to the media than people with less money or education. Journalists habitually interview professional 'experts' who define problems and suggest solutions." Distorted or misleading information is then repeated over and over, until it is accepted as truth. As a result, both the parties and the media together presented income taxes - "which benefit the well-off" - as "a hot media topic, while poverty, homelessness, welfare cuts, inadequate minimum wages and substandard housing are not."

Far from representing the facts and without favouritism, the media reflected a polar opposite of reality. As with its coverage on the Iraq war, its package is fully sanitized to "win hearts and minds" to a preconceived agenda.

* * *

The Media has No Business Judging the Lives of Political Leaders

We should ask ourselves what business does the media have in interfering in and judging the lives of political leaders in the first place? Prof. Bruce Wark, in my opinion, is correct that the lifestyles and personalities of individuals are hardly political matters. We should also ask that if the effect of the media is to degrade political life and political culture, can that effect be separated from their aim? Of course there are always unintended consequences of one's actions, but when they happen over and over, from one election through the next, can we say that the behaviour of the media is unconsciousness and spontaneous or merely a wrong choice of editorial topics by the newsroom?

Recall that the entire provincial and national print and broadcast media first attempted to cover up and then finally made the venal sexual practices of the former Liberal premier, then federal cabinet member Gerald Regan (alleged to have attacked some 36 women over a period of four decades) standard and sensational fare in the mid 1990s. Do we not see a double standard of the media towards political leaders? Regan was first exposed by Mike Marshall, a private citizen, who courageously distributed a flyer to 6,000 of Regan's constituents in 1984 but interestingly enough, as documented by Stephen Kimber is his book Not Guilty: The Trial of Gerald Regan, no one in the media called him about his claims, no one reported his claims, and not one policeman investigated his claims. Nor did Regan sue Marshall for defamation of character. Of course, this is an example of something that should have been exposed and condemned rather than being blacked out. Ten years of official silence in party politics and the media passed. Imagine the suffering of the young women, the casualties of such cynical indifference.

Fast forward to the 1999 election. Again we had the spectacle of the same Daily News' columnists cited by Prof. Wark self-righteously campaigning against the peccadilloes of then provincial NDP leader Robert Chisholm, for allegedly "lying" on a questionnaire about an impaired driving charge in his youth - a charge the Daily News repackaged against Darrell Dexter, his replacement, earlier in 2003 - with both incidents associated with bad judgment or indiscretions in their youth.

But we should then ask ourselves if the replacement of Regan as leader of the province by the "folksy" John Buchanan of the PCs changed either the agenda of their parties or altered a neo-liberal agenda from being imposed on the society? When that agenda proved disastrous, the "man of the Mira" was then tarred and feathered for the massive debts incurred by the province to finance it; willy nilly, the "right wing" Buchanan was outcast, the man of the pariahs. But neither Regan nor Buchanan were held to account for the consequences of luring the giant U.S. multinationals in oil and gas and their escalating takeovers of the natural resources and what little industry left in the province, about which Nova Scotians have rightly issued hundreds and hundreds of flyers. Not a single questionnaires, not a single "investigative" series of reports, and no substantial discussion was launched by this same media. Corporate anti labour laws, known as the Michelin Bill, guaranteeing the French multinational a union-free workplace, passed by Regan and upheld by Buchanan, were likewise glossed over by the media in the name of celebrating the creation of jobs, in defiance of the rights of the workers. Eyes and ears, even the conscience of the community? Recall the blackouts of the Donald Marshall Jr. case, the Westray mine disaster (whose officials were cleared of charges relating to the deaths of 26 miners) or the current persecution of the hook-and-line fishermen of South West Nova Scotia by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as part of its program to corporatize and privatize the oceans with the system of ITQs (Individual Transferable Quotas). The individual jockeys may have changed, but the horses plunged on.

For their part, the NDP in 1999 blamed anonymous "Tories" for spilling the beans by leaking personal details about Robert Chisholm to the Daily News when it was the Daily News who set up this diversion in the first place through their cute questionnaire probing the private lives of the "leaders," with seemingly idle and innocent questions about whether or not they had gone skinny-dipping in their youth or had ever been convicted of a criminal offence. Yet, simultaneously, the Cape Breton Post also "outed" a well-regarded NDP woman candidate in Sydney. Instead of participating in and collaborating with such unprincipled discussion and investigations, it behooves all democratic political personalities to take a stand against such uncultured behaviour by the media and in political life - however trite or casual it may at first seem.

What can be said about the hullabaloo made by this media about "leaders" and their interference in and judging the personal lives of political leaders - even to the extent of rating their taste in clothes and food - is that their entire preoccupation with the politics of personalities is a calculated diversion from the politics not just of power- however narrowly defined - but of the well-being and rights of Nova Scotians.

The amorality and conscience of the media is sociopathic and its outlook is pragmatic: whatever works is the truth. It merrily sails along, confirmed in its own self righteousness, as it is on the outlook for the "wrong-doers". Since it opposes the "wrong-doers" then "we" (as they say in the media) must be "good" and "doing good". The individual leader who is "good" one day just as easily becomes "evil" the next. This or that individual politician is occasionally outed as a lying bastard: the end justifies the means. In this way, the pragmatic outlook reduces all affairs of concern to the people to a personal level in which the evil nature of whatever or whomever is to be blamed for the failure to achieve success and prosperity. The underlying notion is that the people and their collectives are incapable of playing any independent role in society, of empowering themselves. This outlook becomes embraced even by the "left wing" "opponent". Instead of examining their own neo-liberal political program or the role of gutter journalism for their electoral shortcomings during the past election, the NDP and several trade union officials openly blamed the electorate for their poor showing and started public speculation about their leader's personal future.

What is of concern is not Mr. Dexter's driving record two decades ago or that he can't stand egg plant but the stand and record of his party. The same can be said for Dr. Hamm and eel, and Mr. Graham and blood pudding. Our society ought to be preoccupied with the fulfillment of rights of citizens, of every human being who lives within the boundaries of our province. Any political party's sole responsibility is to lead the government to ensure that the rights of all human beings are fulfilled. This is also the social responsibility of the media. The notion of a government and a media above civil society, as illustrated by Prof. Wark, has profoundly negative and undemocratic implications for Nova Scotia and Canada.

 

Article Index

Fisheries: Clearing the Waters

Reviewed by Gary Zatzman

We learn about the general from the particular. Within a documentary film format, Clearing the Waters, a 48-minute video from Envision Productions of Halifax, which premiered at the Atlantic Film Festival last September and was aired nationally on VISION TV this past January 27th, applies a story-telling technique based on intimately acquainting the viewer with the most essential and meaningful interactions among a small number of individuals at the centre of a much larger canvas.

It is intended to update -- to September 2000 -- what producers Bill McKiggan and Chuck Lapp began with their 1996 work Fishing on the Brink.

Documenting the wave of occupations of federal fisheries offices by incensed fishing communities in the mid 1990s, that work explained the ramifications of struggle of inshore hook-and-line small-boat fishermen from Cape Sable Island against the takeover of their livelihoods - and destruction of the seafloor habitat that sustained inshore stocks - by monopoly fishing interests armed with bottom-trawling technology and all the other "efficiencies" afforded by modern means of production under corporate organization and control.

The inshore fishermen's struggles in southwest Nova Scotia have been reported continuously in shunpiking since it began. This coverage has included fisherman Fred Sears' audacious vigil atop the Bluenose II (documented in full-colour video in Clearing the Waters), court cases brought by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) against fishermen and the case brought by the Southwest Fishermen's Rights Association (SWFRA) against DFO which this video also discusses.

If Fishing on the Brink showed how the times - the chaos unleashed by the 1992 groundfish moratorium in the life and work of east coast fishery workers - brought forward both a local leadership and new forms of struggle comprehensible to and broadly supported by the communities affected, Clearing the Waters focuses more on the activities and efforts of the SWFRA tackling the federal fisheries bureaucracy head-on over fundamental questions such as the system of "individual transferable quotas" (ITQs). The film convincingly argues that the ITQ is a Trojan Horse designed to encourage the spirit of individual enterprise still found among small-boat fishermen to the point of commercial exhaustion at which time corporate interests can swoop in, buy out the individual's quota and attach these uncaught fish thereafter to their own predatory fleets.

The film is dedicated to the memory of Scott Nickerson, one of the original front-line fighters to emerge from the ranks of Cape Sable Island fishermen in the struggle against DFO cutbacks to inshore fishery support services in the mid-1990s who took his own life. His tragedy is not unique. As a matter of fact, many struggles from the base of the society - in Canada and other countries, and in fisheries and other sectors - frittered away during the 1990s, driving various individuals to desperate acts of terminal despair. After taking the appropriate time to grieve and assess, however, it seems (to this reviewer) that - in the words of one of the more successful revolutionaries of the twentieth century - "in order not to err in policy, one must look forward, not back." The present generation of widespread struggle against the same forces that converted the fisheries into private corporate property is giving rise to its own leaders, fired with a renewed determination to solve these problems and clear the air once and for all.

Clearing the Waters was produced by Chuck Lapp in association with VisionTV. The film features narration by actor Richard Donat (Emily of New Moon, Pit Pony) and music by critically acclaimed East Coast singer/songwriter Lennie Gallant.

For information on ordering: Envision Productions Ltd. Halifax, Nova Scotia; Tel: 902-422-4606; Fax: 902-422-4586; E-mail: clapp@istar.ca

 

Article Index

Ecology Group Petitions Against Draggers

The Halifax-based Ecology Action Centre, an environmental group, is petitioning the federal Fisheries Department to question whether it is violating the Fisheries Act by issuing licences to draggers. The EAC sent a 30-page document to the federally appointed commissioner of environment and sustainable development at the end of July. The centre contends that dragging - catching fish by towing large nets, rollers and weights across the ocean floor - needs restrictions to prevent the loss of marine habitat.

 

Article Index

New Brunswick Activist Remains Wrongly Imprisoned in Montreal: No Evidence of Participation in Illegal Activity

In shunpiking online No. 1 we reported on the recent mass demonstrations against the mini-ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in Montreal. We are posting the following news release received from Mobilization against Globalization, dated August 8th. As of press time, Vaughn Barnett remains in jail for his political stand.

* * *

MONTREAL / FREDERICTON - Ten days after last week's WTO protests, a New Brunswick activist remains in a Montreal jail where he challenges the unlawful mass arrest and compromise to our constitutional rights. Vaughn Barnett, of Fredericton, refuses to sign a conditional release that would limit rights of free expression and assembly, arguing that all charges and conditions for his release should be dropped. The disclosure obtained prior to Mr. Barnett's July 30 bail hearing makes no reference to Mr. Barnett himself and makes no suggestion that he participated in any illegal activity, but he is nonetheless being held indefinitely.

What Barnett describes as an "illegitimate process and subversion of democracy" began on the morning of July 28, 2003, an overwhelming force of Montreal riot police surrounded, detained then arrested over 150 people peaceably assembled on private property (with permission) in a "green zone" publicized as a safe space for theatre, art and music. This arbitrary mass arrest unfolded well over an hour after the morning protest had dispersed and in an area located many blocks from where the WTO meetings were being held. People identified as medics, journalists and legal observers - as well as a doctor, a construction worker and several tourists - were among those loaded into police vans. With very few exceptions, police held these people in jail for "unlawful assembly" until they signed release conditions that surrendered a long list of constitutional rights and paid $200 in bail (for those residing outside the city).

"The police certainly did not find us engaging in any criminal activity at the time because we weren't even protesting let alone protesting in any unlawful way," Barnett said. "What they're trying to do is link these lawful activities on the part of citizens with unlawful activities by a very few people who may or may not be on our side," he said, making reference to a handful of people who broke windows during the protest. "They are using that unlawful activity as a pretext to round up hundreds of people to make it so that they will think twice about exercising their basic rights next time around."

Mr. Barnett's trial is set for October 21, 2003. Back in Fredericton, Mr. Barnett works as a legal researcher and advocate for people who cannot afford a lawyer. He is representing himself in court.

Barnett said he will soon be consulting Montreal lawyer, Denis Poitras as he prepares to file a Habeas Corpus application. "A Habeas Corpus application, essentially, is a review of the bail hearing where the lawyer will ask superior court to quash the decision of the bail court and grant my release on the basis that the decision was made without proper jurisdiction," Barnett said. "It is a civil libertarian remedy so that anyone who is imprisoned unlawfully can go before the court and ask to be released."

Ben Shannon of Halifax says "We can't stress enough the importance of what Vaughn is doing. The crown has not yet shown any evidence of his guilt. They mass arrested anyone around the 'green zone' and tried to force unconstitutional conditions down our throats." He added "Vaughn is standing up for us all by not letting this happen and refusing to sign any conditions from this bogus charge."

For more information on the Free Vaughn Campaign: www.uberculture.org/mobglob/freevaughn.html

freevaughn@ziplip.com

New Brunswick: Daron Letts, Tel: 506-460-1012; e-mail: d_letts@yahoo.com

Nova Scotia: Ben Shannon, Tel: 902-454-2095; e-mail:ben.shannon@ziplip.com

Prince Edward Island: Aaron Koleszar, Tel: 902-659-2575; e-mail: aaronk@isn.net

 

 

Article Index

INTERNATIONAL

On Recent Events in Cuba

Submitted by the Nova Scotia Cuba Association

The Nova Scotia Cuba Association (NSCUBA) expresses its resolute solidarity with the Cuban people, the Cuban government and the Cuban Revolution as they defend themselves against the unrelenting and all-sided aggression from the United States.

NSCUBA reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Cuba - and all other peoples - to determine their future and their political, economic and social system without external interference: a right enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-Operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

At this crucial juncture in world affairs and in the face of the massive orchestrated campaign of disinformation, distortions and outright falsehoods, all progressive-minded people - particularly those in the Cuba solidarity movement - must not vacillate in the face of nor conciliate with the concerted efforts to discredit and isolate the Cuban Revolution.

The 75 individuals arrested, tried and sentenced in March/April 2003 have generated hypocritical, hysterical and unfounded vitriolic attacks on Cuba. The 75 persons who were jailed are demonstrably not independent thinkers, writers or human rights activists, but persons directly in the pay of the U.S. government. Contrary to the "conventional wisdom," those who were arrested and tried were "charged not with criticizing the government, but for receiving American government funds and collaborating with U.S. diplomats." [1]

U.S. diplomats instructed the so-called "independent journalists" on which topics to write, provided them with, among other things, tape recorders and digital cameras and paid them "using a Canadian bank debit card called Transcard." [2] Some were even provided with 24-hour access passes to the U.S. diplomatic compound!!

Since 1997 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested more than $20 million U.S. to create and organize an opposition movement. [3] In 2002, the U.S. government handed over $8.99 million U.S. to various groups and individuals. For example, one of the defendants, Espinosa Chepe, had received in the course of one year $7,154 U.S. and had accumulated an additional $13,000 U.S. [4]

These individuals were guilty of receiving directives, money, equipment and other resources from a foreign power to engage in activities against their own country. [5] Their trials were not "mock" affairs. They were represented by lawyers - 54 in total, with 44 of their own choosing and 10 court appointed - and convicted in 29 separate trials by the overwhelming evidence of their collaboration with the United States government and its associated agencies.

Consequently, the courts handed down appropriate prison sentences ranging from six to 28 years. The acts committed by these individuals are not only in violation of Cuban law, but would be illegal and carry substantial punitive penalties if these same activities had occurred in the United States or Canada. These are the "dissidents" who have been granted unquestioned reputations by the world media as persons of good character, despite the overwhelming evidence of their guilt.

Also, in recent weeks the execution of three of the participants in the April 2, 2003 ferry hijacking drew considerable and disproportionate condemnation. The use of the death penalty was an unfortunate and drastic measure involving weighty reflection by the Cuban courts. The decision to apply the death penalty was not taken lightly or arbitrarily. Cuba, unlike the United States, has applied capital punishment sparingly - Cuban criminal law reserves it for the most serious crimes - and since 2000 had implemented a moratorium. The 10 hijackers used knives and pistols physically threatened passengers. They held knives to people's throats and a gun to one person's head, stating they were prepared to kill them to achieve their objectives. In short, they terrorized the 40 women, children and men on the ferry.

The hijackers were convicted at trial, with three of them sentenced to death. The death sentence was automatically appealed to the Cuban Supreme Court, which decided not to commute the sentences. This triggered another automatic appeal of the death sentences to the Cuban government. Following many hours of deliberation, the Cuban government upheld the sentences. Factors in this decision included the seriousness of the crime, the escalation of efforts by Florida based groups to incite further acts of terror and attempts by the U.S. military to instigate an incident which could be used as an excuse for direct acts of aggression against the island.

It is important to note that in recent months there have been seven hijackings using violence and weapons. Four of these hijackings were successful in reaching Florida where U.S. authorities released the hijackers, who now freely walk the streets of the United States - a blatantly hypocritical act, especially in this era of a "war on terror."

In coming to a sound understanding of recent events it is essential to appreciate the present global and historical context. Having witnessed the war waged against Iraq and the complete disregard by U.S. ruling circles for fundamental norms of international law and diplomacy, Cuba is well with in its rights to take the necessary measures by which to defend itself. This is only prudent given the hyper-aggressive military posture of Washington, the history of U.S. aggression - direct and indirect - against the island and the fact that the Bush administration keeps Cuba on its list of rogue states and is even included by some senior Bush officials in the "axis of evil."

Significantly, Hans Hertell, U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, recently stated: "I think what is happening in Iraq is going to send a very positive signal, and it is a very good example for Cuba." [6] He further added that the invasion of Iraq was merely the beginning of a campaign whose goal was to ensure all countries implemented a political system acceptable to the U.S.

Moreover, Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld declared that Washington would consider military action against Cuba if "weapons of mass destruction" were determined to be on the island. Revealingly, Cuba was added to the U.S. list of countries that allegedly have chemical or biological weapons. [7] These charges against Cuba were first fabricated by the Bush administration in 2002 and emphatically refuted by the Cuban government, international experts, former U.S. President Carter and other U.S. officials. However, once again these accusations are being floated as a possible pretext for military aggression.

Therefore, it is clear that Cuba's measures are justifiable acts of self-defence. The island has the right to defend its sovereignty, its independence and its political system.

Indeed, what is being defended is a society with one of the highest indices of social justice in the world and the political base that is the guarantor of these accomplishments. Cuba has and continues to make admirable strides in the social and economic spheres in what are recognized in international law as fundamental and inviolable human rights such as, among others, healthcare, education and social security. It is a country with impressive social indicators that - despite the severe economic crisis of the 1990s - compare very favourably with the developed countries.

Between 1990 and 2000, Cuba reduced its infant mortality rate from 11 per 1,000 births to 6.2 in 2001, placing it in the top tier of countries and first, along with Canada, in the Americas. The Cuban life expectancy of 76 years is one the highest in the South.

Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the new measure Disability Adjusted Life Expectancy (DALE) also referred to as healthy life expectancy - augmenting simple life expectancy - as a further means by which to ascertain the quality of life and health. Healthy life expectancy is the number of years that a person can be expected to live in full health. What is of note is that in Latin America and the Caribbean, Cuba, as the WHO notes, "has the highest healthy life expectancy in the region, at 68.4 years, near U.S. levels."

Also, the 1998 and 2001 United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization's reports on education in Latin America evaluated the Cuban education system as the best in the region. Likewise, the United Nations Development Program's 2002 Human Development Report places Cuba in the in the very upper end of medium human development with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.795, only 0.005 outside the 0.800 value that qualifies a country for high human development status. Indeed, Cuba has been identified as one of the few countries in which less than 10 per cent of its population is subject to human poverty. In stark contrast, more than 60 per cent of Latin America's population lives in poverty.

All of these advances have been and continue to be achieved by this small, poor country in the midst of a de facto war. Since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, which overthrew the U.S.-backed police state of Fulgencio Batista, Washington has waged an unceasing assault, both military and economic, against the Cuban people. Washington has organized an invasion, assassinations, terrorist attacks against civilians, systematic economic sabotage and an economic embargo - in reality an economic blockade - that has persisted for more than 40 years. The underlying goal of U.S. policy is to restore the neo-colonial domination of the island, which was exercised during the first half of the 20th century. In short, the U.S. endeavours to extinguish the right of the Cuban nation to self-determination and to control its own destiny.

1. Associated Press April 10, 2003.

2. Reuters April 10, 2003.

3. Associated Press April 14, 2003. Also, see the website for the United States Agency for International Development at www.usaid.gov/regions/lac/cu

4. Associated Press April 10, 2003.

5. New York Times March 31, 2003

6. Globe and Mail, April 11 2003.

7. The Philippine Star April 24, 2003.

 

Article Index

Irish News Feature: March for the Right to Vote

BY LAURA FRIEL

I was only eleven in 1968, living across the Irish Sea in Britain, but I still remember the television images of the Civil Rights marches in the North of Ireland. Here was a place, I was told at the time, that was a part of Britain where ordinary people, who incidentally looked just like the people of my own neighbourhood, were marching on the streets for the right to vote.

Even as an English child with no Irish connections, it seemed appalling that anyone should need to demand the right to vote. Wasn't it a right? Didn't Britain believe in democracy? The answer came in the images of civil rights marchers batoned by the RUC and later, the rolls of barbed wire and the lines of troops. The message was clear - democracy was for Britain. And for the north of Ireland? Well there was repression, occupation and British rule.

After 35 years of struggle and in the context of the current peace process, it might be tempting to believe that the exercise of basic civil rights in the North of Ireland is no longer a burning issue. Think again. Earlier this year, the British government unilaterally decided to cancel elections to the northern Assembly due to be held at the beginning of May 2003.

To do so, they had to rush legislation through the British House of Commons amidst the claim that their action was nothing more than a temporary delay. To secure a favourable response in the British Parliament, the legislation was passed, with a new election date set for the end of May.

But with the legislation already in place, the British government was able to cancel the election again, this time without setting an alternative date for the election. In other words, on the basis of legislation sold as 'temporary', the British government has established an open-ended cancellation of democracy and reintroduced direct rule.

In August 1968 men, women and children marched from Coalisland to Dungannon demanding the right to vote. The march was blocked by the RUC from entering Dungannon Square. That night, and in the days and nights that followed, thousands of people took to the streets in cities and towns across the North and place names like the Bogside, Bombay Street and Burntollet became a part of the lexicon of the civil rights' struggle. And despite vicious opposition, the right to vote was clearly won.

But the right to vote means nothing if you are denied the chance to use it.

Three decades after Northern nationalists secured the right to vote, the British government unilaterally decided to cancel the election to the Assembly. They did so in the face of opposition from the Dublin government and all political parties in the North, bar one, the Ulster Unionist Party.

On Saturday 23 August, people in the North of Ireland will trace the footsteps of the early civil rights marchers of 35 years ago and march from Dungannon to Coalisland in defence of the right to vote.

The demonstration will be assembling in Ann Street, Dungannon at 2.30pm to walk to Coalisland for a rally in the Square. Prominent members of the early Civil Rights Movement, including Bernadette McAliskey, Eamon McCann, Michael Farrell, former Mid Ulster Sinn Fein MP Tom Mitchell, and former TD Austin Curry, have been invited to attend and various prominent speakers will address the rally.

An Phoblacht talked to Sinn Fein's Francie Molloy about the forthcoming protest in County Tyrone. "The British government shouldn't be allowed to cancel democracy as and when it suits them," said Francie. "The early civil rights movement secured the right to vote but at a high human cost. Having secured the right to vote, it's equally important to defend the right to exercise it."

Francie explained that the decision to march from Dungannon to Coalisland, the opposite route of the original civil rights march, is to symbolise the British government's attempt to reverse democracy.

"The right to hold an election and exercise the right to vote should not be the 'gift' of the British government but an inalienable right of the people living here," said Francie. "The right to vote becomes increasingly meaningless if the British government can cancel elections whenever they fear the outcome.

"Democracy is about the exercise of the people's choice, not that of a British government. Cancelling elections is only one of a number of measures currently being pursued by the British government designed to distort the operation of democracy in the north of Ireland," said Francie.

The early Civil Rights Movement campaigned against the practice of 'Gerrymandering', the manipulation of electoral boundaries to secure a particular political outcome. The Boundary Commission has been recalled again to look at council and Westminster constituencies.

"In the late '60s, northern nationalists successfully opposed and ended the practice of securing artificial unionist majorities through gerrymandering," said Francie. "Over 30 years later, the political manipulation of electoral boundaries is a real possibility once again."

Francie also recalled the recent Electoral Register fiasco in which new restrictions on the method of registering to vote resulted in around 200,000 voters being 'missing' and disenfranchised. "The British government is now telling us that everyone will have to re-register to vote in any forthcoming election," said Francie.

Even when registered, the new requirement of photographic identification in order to exercise the right to vote adds another impediment to the operation of democracy in the north of Ireland.

"This is a very serious march about a very serious issue. I am urging everyone not to be complacent," said Francie, who acted as a steward on the '68 March. He recalls it as a family occasion. "And we want it to be a family occasion this time. It should be a great day and there's music, dance and song organised for the rally."

Special to shunpiking online from Irish Republican News and Information http://irlnet.com/rmlist/

 

Article Index

The Roadmap to Nowhere

by Dr. Ismail Zayid

Recorded by Pierre Loiselle, CKDU Spoken Word Coordinator, July 9th, 2003.

The following talk was part of a forum called "The Roadmap to Nowhere: Palestine and the Struggle for World Peace" organized by the Halifax Symposium on Palestine and jointly sponsored by Dal For Peace and Justice, Halifax Peoples Front, shunpiking magazine, the Canada Palestine Association and Fernwood Publishing. The forum, attended by some 25 people, was also addressed by Gary Zatzman of shunpiking and John Pilger's recent film, "Palestine is Still the Issue" was also shown. Dr. Zayid's address was broadcast of CKDU 97.5 on July 23. Dr. Zayid , president of the Canada Palestine Association, is the author of several books on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and one of the main contributing writers to the Dossier on Palestine: A Land, A People recently published by shunpiking.

Please stay tuned to CKDU 97.5 for an upcoming series on the Palestinian struggle with Dr. Zayid.

* * *

Being a Palestinian, one is born in this struggle and you can't get out of it whatever you do. It's a birth mark that I've experienced since I was at least three years old and we don't have the time to tell you the details. Our discussion this evening is about the so-called roadmap; the "roadmap to nowhere" is an accurate description of it. In fact, it's interesting to see the comments that many people have made. I'll quote you words by Alexander Cockburn who is a well-known American journalist. He wrote: "Don't waste your time fretting over the fortunes of the roadmap to peace in the Middle East. It's all a fraud following the contours of other frauds." I can quote to you a variety of plans from before: the Rogers Plan, the Mitchell Plan, the Zinni Plan, the Tenet Plan and the Oslo Plan. A variety of plans like the ones that have preceded this roadmap as described by President Bush and his allies, all manufactured to prolong the agony of this struggle and bring the Palestinians to nowhere.

In fact there was another interesting statement by Alexander Cockburn based on the June 24th speech that Bush made last year and he said: "the speech sounded at the time that it was written by Sharon and it probably was." That's in essence what the American policy is. Senator William Fullbright stated thirty years ago that: "the American policy in the Middle East emanates from Tel Aviv not Washington," and that's an accurate statement. I say this is a fraud because it is evading the fundamental issues of international law and basic humanity that ought to be the fundamental principle of any peaceful solution. It talks about a three year process to end in a kind of stateless for the Palestinians, a form of a Bantustan literally, with no definable qualities of this state in terms of control of it's borders, skies, water resources, none of this. It requires that the Palestinians at the outset forgo any element of resistance to an illegal occupation to which they are subjected. They state categorically that they forgo any form of resistance and they submit to whatever the United States and Sharon decide.

The questions that ought to be dealt with: why would we need three years to achieve whatever is vaguely defined as this statelet of Palestine in 2005? The Palestinian territory we're talking about now is the illegally occupied territories in 1967 of the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza strip. These were occupied 36 years agoˆan illegal occupation through blatant armed aggression committed by Israel against it's neighbours. Besides occupying the Palestinian territories, there's the Golan Heights of Syria and other territories occupied. Why do we have to wait 36 years to discuss this illegal occupation? Why does this require negotiation? As I've often said when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait in 1990, nobody talked about negotiation or withdrawal from 90 per cent, 80 per cent or 60 per cent of the occupied territory. This was not acceptable. There was a Security Council resolution and a million troops were sent from the United States and it's allies including Canada and Arab countries to evict Saddam Hussein from illegally occupied territory in Kuwait. Israeli occupation of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza as well as Golan Heights stands against repeated Security Council resolutions as well as blatantly defying international law and yet we are told we have to negotiate. The two parties have to negotiate? Here are the Palestinians who are literally weak and disarmed and they are to negotiate with Sharon and he determines the final terms of the agreement.

The other aspect of this, notice the incredible behaviour of the Palestinian leaders. Mr. Abbas who was at the Aqaba Summit stated: "The armed Intifada must end." The armed Intifida is a form of resistance to an illegal occupation. The United Nations Charter and repeated United Nations resolutions state categorically that people under foreign occupation are entitled to resist this foreign occupation by all means in their power. Yet we're told that the Palestinians have to forgo any system of resistance against this illegal occupation. Mr. Abbas also went on to talk about the Jewish suffering throughout history. The Jewish suffering throughout history is no fault of the Palestinians, yet there was no mention of Palestinian suffering besides the 55 years of dispossession and ethnic cleansing to which they were subjected and no mention of Palestinian aims in his statement whatsoever.

The fault of this roadmap as with previous plans, is that no mention is stated that these will have to be effected in compliance with international law. International law seems to be evaded, blatantly and clearly. Similarly, the fault of Abbas and his followers is that they signed an agreement without specifying what are the ultimate terms. It is unacceptable to sign an agreement without specifying clearly the fundamental issues of how they must be resolved, the borders of this state, the complete dismantlement of the illegal settlements, the right of return for the Palestinian refugees, the water resources, who controls the border and so on. None of these issues are mentioned, they're left for negotiations! Why should they be negotiable? This is totally unacceptable and will not achieve anything for the Palestinians whatsoever and you look at Mr. Sharon's statement at the Aqaba summit. He said he would "renew direct negotiations according to the steps in the roadmap as adopted by the Israeli government." Now the Israeli government adopted the roadmap with fourteen amend ments which stated clearly that the right of return would not be accepted or tolerated, Jerusalem would remain united under Israeli control, the Jewish settlements would not be dismantled.

Again, the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are illegal settlements they are in defiance of international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention categorically states that an occupying power has no right to transfer it's population to the occupied territories--expropriation of property is totally unacceptable. And yet Bush and Sharon spoke of taking out some of these outposts. Mr. Sharon has ordered his groups to take out some of these so-called outposts, which were uninhabited, and in fact the settlers at the very same time built new outposts nearby to where those outposts were . Mr. Sharon was asked about the settlements. The settlements in the occupied territories now have about 400 thousand people living in these settlements on illegally expropriated land of the Palestinian people and these people we're told they will stay there. Mr. Sharon was asked in an interview, "will the settlers remain under the Palestinian state?" He said: " if you can imagine an Israeli settler living under Palestinian rule, you are dreaming. Under no circumstances will any of these settlements be removed and under no circumstances they will be under Palestinian authority, they will always remain under Israeli authority." These settlements already have expropriated approximately 60 per cent of the land of the West Bank and they've built by-pass roads around these settlements, for Jews only, that make the Palestinian movement from one village to another totally difficult and impossible besides the hundreds of checkpoints where Palestinians are daily subjected to humiliation. They're having to wait for hours at every checkpoint for a variety of things. People who need medical aid or mothers who are about to give birth are kept for hours and so on. The story of the torture and oppression to which the Palestinians have been subjected is phenomenal. The extrajudicial assassination, the detention, thousands of prisoners detained without charge or trial, the demolition of thousands of homes including total villages and towns being wiped out completely, the uprooting of orchards and olive trees and so on. In fact, recently a World Report stated that eighty three thousand olive trees have been uprooted over the last year during the Intifada. All these acts are in violation of virtually every article of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and thus tantamount to war crimes, as defined by international law. This process is ongoing yet Mr. Bush says we have to negotiate about it and we have to wait and see what comes about and so on. This will not achieve any peace for the Palestinians and as I said about Sharon with the outposts and the settlements, he went on and told the settlers go on and building the settlements but without talking about it. Don't talk about it, just go and build settlements and don't talk about it. It just shows you how much peace is achievable in this process.

How is this reported in the world media? In a report from Michael Brown from Washington in The Middle East International, June 27,2003 he states:" Facts, whether in Iraq or Palestine...., no longer seem to matter. They are malleable, easily altered to fit the prevailing view of what we 'know', apriori, about Palestinians and weapons of mass destruction." Let us look at the facts. On the 3rd of June Mr. Bush arrived at the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit where he met the Arab leaders and they talked about this peace. On the 4th of June, he was at the Aqaba Summit with Sharon and Abbas. On the 5th of June, Israel went and assassinated two Palestinians near Tulkarm, and it just shows you the process of deliberate provocations against the Palestinians to make some violent activity. And I quote here to you again Michael Brown: "No sooner had the upbeat Aqaba Summit concluded than the downbeat violence surged. The bloodshed was portrayed in almost all Americans newspapers as having been initiated by the Palestinians. This is not the case, but the papers were none the less relentless in publishing timelines claiming the post-Aqaba violence started on 8 June with a coordinated attack by various Palestinian factions on Israeli soldiers in Erez." On the 10th of June Sharon sent his troops in an attempt to assassinate Aziz Rantisi, and so on . And there was a Palestinian response after that. The process that is also going on at the moment which is an incredible process in Israel is building the so-called separation wall which is in fact an apartheid wall being built in the occupied territories and West Bank annexing thousands of acres and land belonging to the Palestinians. In the town of Kalkelia, of a population of forty thousand, which is an agricultural center in Palestine, eighty per cent of their land is being expropriated by this wall. This wall goes around in an incredible fashion, surrounding settlements and circling individual Palestinian villages and towns making access from one town to another completely impossible and difficult with the size of the checkpoints and as I said then there's the daily humiliation.

Let me just quote to you statements from Gideon Levi. He is a well know Israeli journalist and he wrote in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, about these settlements and the evacuations: "the operation to evacuate the West Bank outposts undertaken by Ariel Sharon and his government is a farce.... Americans who are full partners in this deceit should also pull themselves together and realize that this is an absurdity.... If I was a Palestinian, I would hasten to declare: ŒNo thank you, I do not want the road map'. This is neither evacuation nor a confidence building measure. It is a deception with a heavy price." Gideon Levi goes on to say "This is a farce which all actors understand the rules and are playing the role on the stage only to accumulate more power and more sympathy for Mr. Sharon."

Evacuating all the settlements is crucial and this is what I maintain: that this is an illegal occupation and there should be no conditions about withdrawal. Total and complete withdrawal must be effected. The Palestinian refugees, who were systematically evicted from their homeland in 1948, must be allowed to choose the right of return or accept compensation in accordance with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the UN Resolution #194 signed on the 9th of December, 1948. This is a fundamental principle and cannot be argued about, negotiated away or bargained by Mr. Sharon, Mr. Abbas, Mr. Arafat or anybody else. This is an individual right, the right of return for the Palestinian refugees. Every Palestinian refugee has the right either to return to their home or accept compensation in accordance with international law. The separation wall, or the apartheid wall as I've told you, is an incredible thing built in an extraordinary regular fashion going around all these towns. There's report here by Stephanie Le Bens, from Le Monde Diplomatique from Paris. She says: "From the north to the south in the west Bank, the land is covered with white gashes that rip through fields of olive trees, carve up hectares of greenhouses, separate families and disfigure villages. They are the wounds left by the busy steamrollers and bulldozers pushing ahead with the building of the separation, or apartheid wall as it is properly described". And she goes on: "the way in which the wall twists and turns with some sections penetrating several kilometres into the West Bank, initially planned to be 350 km is now over 600 km."

In essence, the roadmap, in my opinion, is a fraud to cover up what Israel's intentions are: to retain the occupation of the Palestinian territory and not withdraw from it and allow the creation of a statelet in the form of a Bantustan that has no authority over it's territory, or it's skies, or it's water resources, or it's borders and thus this is a farce that will not be accepted and will not achieve peace. In my opinion, the struggle in this land will continue until justice is obtained for the Palestinian people.


 

Article Index


FEATURED BOOK: SO MUCH WEATHER

My intent is to recruit skywatchers, not to train experts. To me the sky is our crystal ball and nature’s grandest spectacle. If we’re in for worse weather, let’s enjoy, not endure

- Gary L. Saunders

Gary L Saunders

So Much Weather: Facts, Phenomena and Weather Lore from Atlantic Canada

Halifax: Nimbus, 2002 Pp. 218

Reviewed by Janeen Keelan

A book about weather, even temperamental Maritime weather, may not hold the promise of excitement or entertainment for many of us. At most, one might expect to learn about atmosphere and the cause of seasons, cloud physiology, and explanations for various sky phenomena. When forester/artist/writer Gary L. Saunders writes such a book, however, this is only the starting point. In So Much Weather: Facts, Phenomena and Weather Lore from Atlantic Canada, Saunders gives us all he knows about Maritime weather – and as it turns out, it’s a lot.

After a brief survey of mankind’s current and historic attempts to understand weather –- from the appeasement of storm gods to the launch of a polar-orbiting weather satellite – Saunders uses a combination of personal backwoods experience, various print and newscast sources, and the wisdom of local oldtimers to present a candid overview of our own weatherful region. He outlines the permeating effect of weather on our daily lives –- our health, our landscape (in so many ways), the character of our arts and languages, even the price of produce; he celebrates our big storms, fall foliage and berries red and blue; and he analyses a wide range of weather-related lore. Along the way are gardening tips, fishing tricks and advice on winter travel, home weatherproofing, and protection against snowblindness and lightning zaps.

With excellent illustrations, interesting margin notes and personal stories both amusing and terrifying, Saunders’ real interest and involvement in his subject is apparent –- and he expects no less from his readers. He provides excerpts from his own weather journals and advice on how to keep one, encourages the folk art of backyard forecasting, and emphasises the importance of social responsibility around such issues as ozone depletion and climate change. He even invites you to lay back and enjoy a cloudbirth.

The Atlantic provinces, on the edge of a huge continent and smack between the north pole and equator, host weather enough for a number of regions. Hot summers, hurricanes, snowstorms and fog so thick you can "lean your back up again’ it" are all known intimately to us, and we seem able to discuss this variability endlessly. So Much Weather: Facts, Phenomena and Weather Lore from Atlantic Canada picks up this discussion at an entertaining, grass-roots level, going beyond the science and into the culture of our climate.

With so much weather at our disposal, it is a pleasure to have a resource that encompasses it so well.

Janeen Keelan was an editorial intern with shunpiking magazine for the past two years, hosting Hikes, Rambles & Outings. She recently returned to her native Alberta and aims to enter the publishing program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC


Article Index


Today's forecast: storm brewing

An editorial in the Telegram, St. John’s, Newfoundland

How about that weather? Or, more to the point, how about that weather office? The government of Canada, in all its infinite and wonderful wisdom, has decided that this province no longer needs a full weather centre, that our peculiar and specialized weather can be forecast by remote control from Halifax.

The plan is to reduce the Gander weather centre to a marine forecast office with 10 positions, while moving weather forecasting operations to Halifax and aviation forecast services to Montreal.

Want a forecast on the plan? It’s going to be an intensely bad idea, with onshore dangers and a risk of freezing hopes. It’s a high wind warning from Ottawa, with up to 25 to 30 centimetres of pure baloney.

Apparently, Environment Minister David Anderson believes modern technology can completely replace both local knowledge and localized experience.

Just have a look at how closely the commercial Weather Network’s forecasts accurately predict our actual weather. Or, more to the point, try an even more limited type of remote sensing; how often have you heard a Morning Show host tell you that the sun was shining, even though, looking through your windshield, you saw fog down to the hubcaps?

This is a province that depends on weather knowledge; people base trips to sea on it, and risk their lives depending on the accuracy of forecasts. Others drive the province’s winter highways based on the forecasts, and once again risk their lives on that accuracy. The weather office’s telephone lines and answering machines take hundreds of thousands of calls every year.

We have changeable and fickle weather; it decides whether we can expect relatives or groceries, whether a mattress will arrive from Montreal or a Honda from Halifax.

Anderson touts this decision as one that represents a $75-million investment in new meteorological services in Canada. It looks far more like centralization on mainland Canada, and less like an improvement here.

For one thing, the jobs that remain in Gander are suspiciously similar to those that will remain in Fredericton, Rimouski, Quebec City and Thunder Bay — to name but a few sites. Those stations are all losing their forecasting responsibilities, but are gaining a whole bunch of unspecified "community outreach" responsibilities.

Very touchy-feely, but not a heck of a lot of actual forecasting going on the ground.

In Gander’s particular case, "Staff will work with national and regional fishermen’s associations, marine transportation agencies and coastal communities on all three coasts to improve the delivery of weather information through the media, the Internet and other specialized methods.

"They will also work with user communities, especially small boats and fishermen, to make best use of current and improved forecast information.

"Among the new suite of services offered across Canada, the citizens of Newfoundland may be particularly interested in improved marine forecasts. They will also benefit from enhanced outreach programs in Gander that will bring the weather service closer to the community."

Doesn’t that just make you want to bring something a little "closer to" the government of Canada?

 

Article Index


Who Scores the Goals in Soccer?

By Charmaine Hooper, Captain of Canada's Woman's Soccer Team

What makes playing on a soccer team so much fun is not just running on the field and scoring goals, but it is the camaraderie and friendships that develop between players. Having respect for both teammates and opponents enhances that feeling of camaraderie on and off the field.

Creating an enjoyable team experience comes from players, coaches and parents embracing the qualities of sportsmanship, respect, fair play and cooperation. Having a team that values sportsmanship isn't something that can come from just one person, it is something that everyone needs to support. Players, coaches and parents' behaviour all intertwine to determine the qualities and values of the team.

From experience I know that when teams work together with a common respect they tend to perform better. It doesn't matter which club or team you play for or if you have the latest sporting equipment, if a team values sportsmanship, they will have a fun, positive experience and that is its own reward.

Soccer Sportsmanship Tips:

• Game rules, fair play and cooperation are critical to a successful soccer match

• Parent's attitudes often influence how their children behave on the field and feel about their performance. Remember when you are on the sidelines to say positive comments and encourage your child

• Allow for socializing after the game with other players

• Review the game rules and fair play expectations with your players before the game

• Don't put pressure on players to win. Remember that it is a game and the players are there to have fun

• Parents and coaches should model the values that they want the team to embrace. Players look to you and will follow from your example

• Expect individual and team skills to improve slowly over time, through trial and error and repetition

When your child participates in a soccer match, the most important thing is for your child to go out on the field and have fun. Remember that they are there for a positive experience.

Win or lose, the goal is for your child to have FUN!

- News Canada

Warming up and cooling down, musts for all soccer players

By Charmaine Hooper, Captain of Canada's Woman's Soccer Team

Whether you are preparing for a soccer match in the Woman's World Cup tournament or in your local recreational league, it is important to warm-up, stretch and cool down before and after the game.

Preparing the body for physical activity will help maximize performance and lessen the risk of pulling a muscle during the game. Warming up though stretching and aerobic activity will loosen muscles and increase a player's readiness for the field. Warming up will also reduce the risk of pulling muscles during a match.

After the game don't head straight for the car! It is very common for parents and coaches to overlook the importance of a post-game cool-down and stretch. By cooling down, the body will also decrease the chances of any light-headedness or nausea, which can sometimes occur.

Stretching, Warm-up and Cool-down Tips:

• Remember to stretch your leg and back muscles slowly until a comfortable tightening within the muscle is felt

• Hold each muscle stretch for about 30 seconds

• Do not bounce or hold your breath when stretching

• Warming up with light aerobic exercise loosens muscles and readies them for movement. Some of my favourite warm up drills are light jogging and passing the ball. After the game don't go immediately to the car. It is important to lower your heart rate, which can be done by jogging and stretching

• Stretching after the game will promote muscle flexibility

• It is important to keep drinking fluids during and after cooling down

Have your players take the time to warm-up before and cool down after the game. It only takes a few minutes, but it will help your soccer player's game and keep their body in healthy condition.

Once players are stretched and warmed up for the soccer game, remember, they are there for a positive experience.

- News Canada

Drills and skills for future soccer stars

By Charmaine Hooper, Captain of Canada's Woman's Soccer Team

Since I was a young soccer player I have been committed to practicing my soccer skills through regular drill work. Routine drill practice fine-tunes my skills, and is still a critical part of my training today. Encouraging young players to practice simple drills is the secret to improving their soccer skills.

The first skill players should focus on is making each 'first touch' perfect (first body contact with the ball). This simple drill will help in all elements of the game. Also, encourage young players to 'head the ball' (hit the ball with their forehead). This is an important skill to learn and younger players often tend to shy away from it.

Here are some tips that young players should focus on when they are practicing to improve their skills:

• It is important to work on passing techniques and controlling the ball with your head, chest and thighs.

• To improve skill work at a quicker rate, concentrate on trying to make your first touch and/or pass as perfect as you can every time.

• When heading the ball, remember that players need to keep their eyes open, so as to see the ball and you should have proper supervision when practicing this skill.

• Practice striking the ball straight on with the forehead, stepping towards the ball and in the intended direction of the pass.

• Players should practice drills which include very quick changes of direction in order to increase agility. This can include skill work and can be performed with a partner.

The best advice I can give is to continue working at your skills.

Even at the national and professional level there is always room for improvement. Regular skills and drills are part of my daily routine and a crucial element of my training as I prepare to compete in the Woman's World Cup this fall.

 


 

Article Index


SERENDIPITY

Money Point: Lands End

By Janice Acton

People are drawn, like lemmings, to Lands Ends. These furthest points of land are etched into the oceans and bays of every country. Like small fingers, they beckon us to their remote mysteries. One Land's End I visited in Sri Lanka promised a view of three oceans and (on a clear day) the Kingdom of Heaven.

The eastern tip of Cape Breton Island is like that. Five hours of solid driving from Halifax, if you have the prevailing wind behind you, you come to St. Margaret's Village, and a few minutes around the Bay you arrive at Meat Cove. Off the beaten path, for sure, but that's no deterrent to visitors. The cosmopolitan license plates you see on cars at these out-of-the way places make you think you've happened upon a Bob Geldoff concert: Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Washington, Arizona, Northwest Territories, Main, New York, Oregon, Australia, Germany, France.

The Land's End which beckoned to me was the beautiful wind-swept meadow of Money Point which juts into Cape North and lies just beyond St. Margaret's Village. I hiked the trail into Money Point with a local resident and an old friend. The fact that this was the first time I had seen Margrit in the seven years since I'd moved here says something about the two solitudes: mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. My reconnection with her felt easy. Maybe the clear air or the zen of the place, the missing pieces of past years with no contact didn't feel of any particular consequence. The importance of our reunion was the moment, which on this spectacularly blue sky day meant hiking together to Money Point.

Because Margrit had already hiked the Point eight times, we felt comfortable storing away Mike Haynes' Hiking Trails of Cape Breton. In the back of our minds we recalled certain phrases he used to describe the hike: "plunges into a narrow ravine", "recommended to anyone with mountain goat in his or her ancestry", "your knees will protest as the trail drops down the steep slope", "inform your friends of your destination and expected return time".

Rather than hiking a la Mike up the mountain, we opted for the locals' preferred method of driving to the trail head along the plateau of the 250 metre mountain behind Margrit's house. We discussed the viability of taking my low-slung, heavily weighed-down Honda Accord. Sure, of course we'd take the car. We've been nearly 250,000 kilometres on all kinds of terrain!

We turn just beyond someone's mailbox onto a gravel road that quickly ascends. The condition of the road is excellent due to its use by workers maintaining the communication towers at the summit. Not far along, we pass a local who has stopped to coax life into his overheated Massey-Ferguson tractor. He says that the road's in "pretty good" shape. On we go. I enjoy maneuvering around pot holes and rocks that threaten my oil pan. I veer to the left and right, yelling at my passengers to take their arms out of the window as the car stoically absorbs the scrapes from the alder shrubs. It's good to be alive. Even my car is enjoying the challenge.

Halfway to the top, we stop. A clearing in the trees on the left bank offers a death-defying view of the Village far below: tiny Monopoly Game houses and sheds; specks of whitecaps on the windblown ocean. "There's our house," Margrit leans out the window with her finger pointed down. Her daughter Carmen has never seen her house from this perspective before. "Let me see. Let me see," she pushes to the car window with 11-year-old enthusiasm. "Neat. And there's the campground. And there's our car!" You really need to have an 11-year-old's eyesight to see the car!

Onwards we crawl, choreographing a route that looks like it's been taken by a drunken sailor. We reach the second tower and decide this is where we will leave the car. We continue down the road on foot, slurping on some peaches I've discovered in the car. Carmen runs ahead and then runs back, full of energy and the prospect of an adventure. I'm excited, too, but the adult within is cautioning me to preserve my strength. The sun is pounding down with heat-stroke potential.

It's good we've left the car behind us because it's definitely 4-wheel drive terrain, mountainous boulders thrusting out of the road; erosion has left gaping clay baked ravines. In a kilometre or so we come to a Y in the road. We follow the trail another half kilometre which allows us a comfortable pace and good footing.

From there the trail becomes a cart trail which plunges downwards. Emphasis on: "down". For the next hour, we forge down a path that inclines at 30-40 degrees (It feels like 70 .) The muscles around my knees and calves complain from the unnatural stretching. In a couple places, the trail momentarily (sort of) levels and provides a brief respite. But mostly it is down, down, down. We gasp when a view of the sea emerges from between trees, so blue, blending into the sky. St. Paul's Island stands majestically on the horizon ˆ it's amazing to see this distant island appear so close at hand. However, one of the topsy-turvy laws of this hike is that the further we walk, the further away the sea seems to be. Maybe we're just getting tired.

It takes us nearly an hour to arrive at the bottom ˆ the bushes abruptly end and from here we walk onto an immense low-sloping meadow of long grasses. It feels like we've stepped onto an island. Margrit and Carmen immediately take off their shoes and walk barefooted along the stone cobbled and four-leaf clover covered path. We pass by crumbling stone foundations of early fishers and settlers who inhabited this remote world. "I guess I didn't need to bring my sweater and jacket", Margret's comments ˆ surely the understatement of the day. Today disproves the adage that "it's always cooler down by the ocean". Today the mountain offers a windbreak from any potential cool winds. The sun is intensified by its reflection off the sea and the yellow grass, onto the sky's lens and then back onto us a second time.

Next we have to figure out where we can get some relief from the heat. One theory is that we should "go to the beach" to immerse our feet in a shock of cold water. However, we can't find a non life-threatening access to any stony beach. We explore the tangled beams of a dilapidated wharf which served over the years to unload supplies for the lighthouse. After the lighthouse was mechanized, the outbuildings where either burnt or taken down. The wharf appears to have died of more natural causes – wind, waves and benign neglect.

Disappointed, we decide to retreat to the shade of the lighthouse for our picnic. This requires trudging another couple hundred tired yards. We walk in silence ˆ except for Carmen occasionally complaining that she wants lunch. I'm happy to have her express what I'm feeling. We're accompanied by the sound of in-and-out scrunching and crushing of the surf grinding stones like a giant rolling pin.

We're awakened from our hungry and hot meditation by the sound of an approaching motor. We huddle together to analyze the source of the sound. Suddenly an all terrain vehicle pops out of the woods onto our meadow towards us. At the steering wheel, a man sits upright, behind him a woman and a boy about Carmen's age sit on a large hunk of 3 inch foam, hanging tightly onto several bags. It conjures up images of a fleeing refugee family. Margrit yells "Hi Ron" as they drive by. He waves. Locals from Cape North. Seeing them putt onwards, I'm half-resentful how painlessly they have arrived here.

We walk by a recently-constructed helipad, a platform of fifteen foot treated wooden beams atop an existing cement foundation. Margrit tells us about the day she saw the lighthouse fly by her window. When the government made the unpopular shift away from manned lighthouses, the authorities decided to beatify this heroic lighthouse which had warned so many sailors away from this dangerous headland ˆ by airlifting it out on a helicopter platform. Today it is in an Ottawa museum. That was the day Margret looked out her front window to see the lighthouse, like part of a Chagall painting, flying by.

Margrit met the last lighthouse keeper when she moved to the village. Not knowing the terrain or the distance, she set out late in the afternoon on a solitary hike, arriving at the lighthouse as twilight was descending and late summer crickets were buzzing in the grass. Needing water, she headed to the lighthouse which she could see was occupied. "When I knocked at the lighthouse door I nearly frightened the poor man to death". Margrit said, "He wasn't expecting anyone at that time of the night". Recovering from this unexpected apparition, he welcomed Margrit in and they had a lovely chat over tea and peanut brittle. After tea, she trekked back up that mountainous path in the dark, defying Aspy Bay bears and moose.

In the shade of the tower, we eat peanut butter and jam sandwiches, and crackers and cheese. Good for protein, but a lunch which requires a vast quantity of liquid to wash down.

Before leaving, I change into dry socks. If my feet perspired this much on the way down, I wonder what it'll be like going UP. We reluctantly pack up tinfoil and plastic wrappers and return along the clover-congested path. At the treeline where the trail begins, we gaze back at the sea and rocks below. I procrastinate, lingering while others begin up the trail. Am I hallucinating or is that the dorsal fin of a whale? Slick and silently it arches out and back into the sea; here and gone before my brain synapses have put it together. "A whale, there's a whale", I shout to the others. But much as we wish for its reappearance, or even better, for this to be the opening act of a whale acrobatic show, he (or she) does not return. Now we cannot avoid the hike ahead of us.

The combination of the mid-day sun and scruffy shrubs in the lower part of the trail offers us no respite from the burning heat. Margrit and Carmen are several paces ahead of us. How out-of-shape-middle-age I feel, watching Carmen flaunt us by shuffle-walking backwards, next minute running ahead to her mother, next, slowing down to look at the garter snake. However, not long into the homeward/upward trudge I pass Carmen sitting on the path. "I'm hot," she wails, "I can't want walk all the way back." We cajole her by saying maybe the ATV will drive by and she can convince the boy, who seemed interested in her, to give her a ride up the hill. Then, we argue, she could send him back to get us, too. She rebuffs this adult long-shot scenario with a disgusted look.

"OK, Carmen, just take 100 steps at a time. Or just get from one power pole to another," Margrit offers a mother's motivational tactic. Actually, I realize this is advice that I also need, so I mentally buy into the strategy as well. "We'll measure the distance. I'll pick up a stone for every 100 steps you take. And one for every pole. Then you can see how far we've climbed!"

Margrit is leagues ahead of us on several fronts: creativity, energy to climb, and now, also, carrying the extra weight of stones in her pockets. The rest of us grunt and groan our way up the path. Fortunately, the sun angles ever-so-slightly more over the now taller trees, providing a canopy of shade on our left side. Our bodies constantly demand fluids. I'm aware that our drinking water is not only warm, but running low and we need to begin rationing. Also, the oranges are gone. At the beginning of the trail we bribed Carmen with an orange as a morale-booster. Halfway up the trail, she negotiates our second and final orange. Our conversation turns to frequent conjecturing about the location of the stream(s) we passed when we came down. We fantasize sticking our heads in the cold stream, pouring it down our backs and guzzling buckets of ice cold water.

"Carmen, I can't carry all these stones," Margrit protests. "So, I'm going to replace every 10 little stones with a bigger stone, ok?" I take courage from the fact that even Margrit has limits. How Margrit is carrying the weight of extra stones is a mystery to me ˆ I, who am stopping every ten feet, gasping for breath. We have three companionable sit-down recovery stops, each time scrounging our packs for treats. We relish the odd treasures we find: 3 English toffees, 2 peppermint lifesavers, 2 sticks of gum. Seeing this supply run low, Carmen begins to play her own survival game, obsessing about what she'll do when the hike is done: "Peaches. I'm going to have peaches when we get back to the car." I try to picture the condition of the peaches, ripening in the hot trunk as we speak.

The stream that we so long lust after appears near the end of the trail. Margrit and Carmen are the first to scramble into the ravine. By the time I arrive, they are whooping with enjoyment, splashing each other. The stream is really a trickle, but a miracle, nevertheless. I venture into the undergrowth to press my water bottle against the mossy waterfall. By scrambling over the rocks I somehow dislodge a crucial stone in the dam so that I disrupt the flow. This becomes the cause of some agitation and predictions about how other hikers won't be able to get water. We spend ten minutes as a work crew trying to reposition stones. We give up, hoping the next rainstorm will reconfigure the rocks and dead leaves to restore the dam.

It takes more than 2 hours to climb the hill. By the time I make my last agonizing step onto the road, Margrit is finalizing mathematical calculations. "There were 28 stones. That's 2 big ones (that's 20 little ones) and 8 little ones. Your steps, Carmen, are about 2 feet long. So, that's 2800 times 2 or about 5600 feet. That's a mile!!"

By the time Carmen is eating her peaches, it is after 4:00. The car has been absorbing sun since we arrived at 11:30 in the morning. I scour the trunk of the car for any consumable liquids: a bottle of lemon-lime Gatorade, 2 cans of club soda, a bottle of water ˆ and, of course, 4 peaches. It goes without saying that they are all warm. We divide the spoils and consume them in silence as we rethread our way down the mountain, glad to be off our feet. We stop momentarily at the break in the trees for a second gaze down at Margrit and Carmen's house on the bay. A gaggle of new cars beside the house indicates that a new batch of campers has arrived at the Jumping Mouse Campground.

We drop off Margrit and Carmen, and stay long enough for a quick tour of the garden and house. By the looks of the beautiful night and numbers of arriving campers, our parking spot will be needed. We take our leave.

Supper at our campground that night is hotdogs. Nothing ever tasted so good. The cold beer? It goes without saying!! From our picnic table, we are blessed with a view of Aspy Bay and at its tip, Cape North and Money Point plunging at a 45 degree angle into the sea. From here, St. Paul's Island appears very distant.

"Hey, look what I've got," says my hiking partner, holding out two quarters intermixed with pocket lint. I comment, "What about it? It's 50 cents". "Yes. But I found it on the trail from money point. I think we worked for it today."

For more information if you go

• Jumping Mouse Campgrounds, Bay St. Lawrence. Tel: 902-383-2914

• Captain Cox's Whale Watch, located at the Bay St. Lawrence Wharf. Tel: 902-383-2981 or 1-888-346-5556. http://aco.ca/captcox

• Bay St. Lawrence: http://www.baystlawrence.ca/index.html

• http://www.explorenovascotia.com/gallery/index.cfm?rid=2

• http://www.capebretonisland.com/Art_Gallery/cgorey/

• White Point Trail: http://users.syd.eastlink.ca/~smithdl/whitep.htm

 

Hikes, Rambles & Outings


 

Article Index


Visual Arts Series reunites Gaelic arts and craftsmanship with music and language

Pictured: "Fall Storm – Louisbourg" 11.25" x 15" watercolour by Betty Krawchuk.

The Celtic Colours International Festival is adding a new element to the festival this year - a series of visual art exhibits and workshops. The Festival is partnering with the Cape Breton Artists' Association and the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design to present seven exhibits and six workshops in communities throughout Cape Breton Island.

"Historically, the Celtic culture has centred around a tradition of arts and craftsmanship, in addition to the language and music," notes Project Coordinator, Catherine Moir of the Cape Breton Artists’ Association. "The Celts had a definite and dramatic art style that permeated all aspects of their lives, from everyday items like jewellery and pottery to more specific items like weaponry and monuments. Today the Celtic Arts are making a comeback. Reintroducing this element of Celtic culture through the Celtic Colours International Festival will recreate the full historical experience."

The Cape Breton Artists’ Association is partnering with Inverness County Council for the Arts, Port Hawkesbury Department of Recreation, Whitney Pier Festival of Visual Art, the University College of Cape Breton, and the Wagmatcook Culture and Heritage Centre to showcase some of the best visual artwork Cape Breton has to offer. The Cape Breton Artists’ Association and the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design are working with the Celtic Colours International Festival to present these exhibitions and workshops during the Festival.

In Port Hawkesbury, at the Creamery, there will be an exhibition of Cape Breton Quilts. The Inverness County Centre for the Arts will host an open show depicting the richness and diversity of the Cape Breton coastline. At the Wagmatcook Culture and Heritage Centre, ten kilometres west of Baddeck, an exhibit called Kukmijinu, features Cape Breton Aboriginal art and the art of those who have been affected by the Mi'kmaw culture. There will be an eclectic exhibit of original work by artists from Cape Breton and beyond in Whitney Pier, featuring Bernard Siller. And the University College of Cape Breton’s Gallery II (across from the Boardmore Playhouse), will show fresh work by members of the Cape Breton Artists’ Association, based on an Autumn theme.

For those interested in a more hands-on experience, full-day and half-day workshops will be offered covering such arts and crafts as quilting, stone-carving, watercolour painting and photography. There will also be a session on Celtic knotwork that will not only introduce drawing techniques, but will also explore the symbolism behind the designs.

For more information about the Celtic Colours Visual Arts Series, visit the Events section of Celtic Colours International Festival website, www.celtic-colours.com or contact Catherine Moir of the Cape Breton Artists’ Association at (902) 295-2726. To register for the workshops call Sherry at the Cape Breton Artists' Association (902) 563-1437.

Minor Basketball Registration Announcement

St. Margaret's Bay Minor Basketball Association was Basketball Nova Scotia's "Association of the Year 2002-2003" and the 2002-2003 IKON Sports Award recipient for Fair Play

Registration for the upcoming season will be held at the following locations and times:

• Tuesday, September 9th, 2003 at the Atlantic Superstore in Tantallon.

• Sunday, September 14th, 2003 at the First United Baptist Church on Hammonds Plains Rd.

Both Registrations are for New and Returning players and are from 6:00pm to 8:00pm

For more information, please visit http://www.eteamz.com/smbmba

International Walk To School Day: October 8, 2003

Hey parents and caregivers! If you have children in school, get out your favourite walking shoes! On October 8, children across Canada will be asking you to participate in International Walk to School Day. This special day is being held to demonstrate support for the reduction of climate change, cleaner air, increased physical activity, better health and less traffic congestion around our schools. So plan to participate in International Walk to School Day with your children. For more information go to www.ecologyaction.ca.


 

Article Index