Security guards break in their nightsticks on a banner-waving soccer fan running across the arena, prompting players and fans to storm the field and beat up the guards.
"I'm not for mob justice, but there's something good about seeing these bullies with 'authori-tah! and a nightstick' gettheir comeuppance from angry citizens."
Free the grain: The Canadian Wheat Board is anti-consumer, anti-competitive, anti-poor and deserves to be dismantled
Politicians who favour government monopolies pretend that when they nationalize companies or protect monopolies their actions are pragmatic and non-ideological, but any reversal that lets in competition is ideological.
The latest example comes courtesy of the Bloc Quebecois, New Democrats and Liberals. Last month, the troika of separatists, socialists and interventionists moved a motion in Parliament to require the federal government to hold a plebiscite for farmers on the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly: i.e., whether the Winnipeg-based "marketing" agency should continue to force Western farmers to sell all their wheat and barley only through the board. (The board is given its monopoly powers by the federal government.) On Monday, a report commissioned by the federal Conservative government recommended freeing farmers to sell their wheat and barley by 2008.
This recommendation might not set the boardrooms of corporate Canada afire but given that even CEOs eat breakfast cereals (the ingredients of which originate on the Prairies), even they might find the current system bizarre and unfair.
For example, one Manitoba farmer I talked to recently, Glenn Tizzey, notes the absurdity of the current system. If Tizzey wanted to mill wheat and barley -- which he presently won't, given current Wheat Board controls -- he'd be forced to unload both from his farm bins, put the grain in trucks, haul it 20-plus kilometres to the nearest grain elevator, sell it to the Wheat Board, pay a fee per tonne for the privilege and then buy both his barley and grain back from the board at a higher price -- all so he could process the product originally stored in grain bins about 40 metres from his factory mill.
To put this in Ontario terms, it's as if steel producers were forced to first ship their product through a government-mandated monopoly before they could buy it back at a higher price, and only then sell it to Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda.
But the parliamentary interventionists see no pragmatic case for abolishing the Wheat Board monopoly. "There is no business case for abolishing the Canadian Wheat Board; it is pure ideological madness," argued Winnipeg NDP Member of Parliament Pat Martin in Parliament last month.
The NDP's chief interventionist wasn't the only one to call for the retention of the monopoly. Also in Parliament, Liberal Agriculture critic Wayne Easter rhetorically asked of the Conservative government, "What will it not do to take power away from primary producers and give that power to the international grain trade?"
"Primary producers" -- Western farmers in the case of the Wheat Board -- have long had their power to decide where, how and to whom they will sell their wheat and barley taken away by Ottawa. In the past, dissenters who violated the monopoly have been jailed. So participating directly in international markets would be an improvement in their currently status. But Easter was just playing the local demagogue, complete with the usual anti-foreigner rhetoric.
But the hypocrisy is spread out evenly. The Wheat Board doesn't have jurisdiction in Quebec and the Bloc would never ask Ottawa to allow a federally created monopoly with Ottawa-sanctioned restrictive powers to enter la belle province and determine how Quebec agricultural interests market and sell their products.
The Wheat Board also doesn't operate in Ontario or Atlantic Canada. Easter, from Prince Edward Island, has yet to ask the government to expand the board's mandate to cover potatoes from P.E.I. or grapes, corn, barley and wheat from Ontario.
Such political doubletalk is also where the charge of ideology from Martin et al. is laid bare as transparent nonsense. The domestic and export markets work perfectly well in the West for every other agricultural product (and in the rest of Canada for all) where producers and buyers find each other without government help.
Worse than the rhetoric is the reality: The Wheat Board monopoly on Western grain and barley distribution is, as with dairy marketing boards, an anti-consumer cartel. The CWB boasts on its Web site that, "Instead of competing against one another for sales, Western Canada's 85,000 wheat and barley farmers sell as one through the CWB and can therefore command a higher return for their grain."
Insofar as the board's monopoly is defended on the justification that it brings higher prices to producers, such defenders frankly admit that consumers at home and abroad are being gouged. Liberals, New Democrats and the Bloc like to think of themselves as friends of the poor. Not when they're busy keeping food prices higher than they would be in an open market. It's not only corporate CEOs who eat breakfast cereals made from prairie grains but families with marginal incomes.
As for the troika's motion to require a plebiscite among farmers, it's akin to asking grocery stores to vote on whether new competitors should be allowed; except for the very brave and competitive, a "no" answer would hardly come as a surprise, though that might not be the result in this case. Plenty of Western farmers don't like the Wheat Board.
Regardless, the Conservative government should move ahead and end the monopoly. The Canadian Wheat Board is an anti-consumer, anti-competitive, anti-poor cartel. It's time its' defenders faced up to those facts and for the board to face real-world competition.
Farmers fear that proposed changes in the CWB will mean that farmers lose out and transnationals cash in
by Anna Kirkpatrick
On October 25, Inside US Trade, an American business magazine, published a report that could have serious implications for Canadian grain farmers. The Report of Technical Task Force on Implementing Marketing Choice for Wheat and Barley was first released not to farmers or the Canadian public, but to this US journal. According to Stewart Wells, President of the National Farmers Union (NFU), that reveals something about the report's underlying aims. "That should provide some indication of whose interests are being served with this report," he said. Essentially, the report argues for eliminating the present Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and replacing it with the so-called CWB II, a move that many argue will threaten the viability of small wheat farmers in Canada and further increase the profitability of Big Agribusiness.
The Canadian Wheat Board was established on the initiative of farmers. At the beginning of the last century, farmers felt helpless at the hands of middlemen and market speculators, observing, among other things, an inordinate difference between the price they received and the eventual selling price. In response to this situation, the pre-cursor to the CWB was established in 1917. The Canadian Wheat Board Act was passed in 1935. The CWB has existed more or less in its present state for 70 years.
Today, the CWB is collectively owned by farmers and receives financial backing from the federal government (including low interest rates and guaranteed payments). The taskforce that wrote the report proposes to scrap the current board, which is composed of 15 members elected by farmers and five government representatives, and replace it with a board appointed entirely by the federal government. The move away from a farmer-controlled board is troubling for NFU's Wells. "Buried in the platitudes is the underlying theme of absolute government control of the Canadian Wheat Board," he said The report also suggests that the Board should be re-structured to a share-capital company, with shares available for sale to any interested buyer. The CWB argues that this move will shift control of the Board away from farmers and into the hands of shareholders. According to a statement issued by the CWB on November 6, "In the share-capital model, farmers are inevitably forced into the position of being a supplier instead of an owner."
Currently, the CWB has the exclusive right to market Western Canadian wheat and barley (with the minor exception of barley grown for feed). This function, referred to as a 'single-desk,' means that one organization represents all Western Canadian barley and wheat farmers. According to the NFU, "The CWB's single-desk selling advantage enables it to extract higher prices in world markets and to price-discriminate between buyers," thus getting more money for farmers. The NFU estimates that this advantage results in annual premiums of $265 million for wheat and $72 million for barley. The taskforce's report recommends that this feature be done away with, allowing other (mainly transnational) companies to compete. Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl, who appointed the taskforce but did not sit on it himself, is in agreement with the recommendations and endorses "freedom of choice for marketing of wheat and barley and voluntary participation in the CWB." But various critics have pointed out that the CWB cannot be both strong and voluntary.
Jan Slomp farms near Rimbey in central Alberta; she is one prairie farmer concerned about what will happen if the single-desk is abolished. According to Slomp, in an environment of so-called 'market choice,' "the CWB cannot function. It does not have elevators or terminals, like all the other grain companies do. So in order to do business it would have to use facilities that were owned by other grain companies, making it impossible to capture a price higher than the price offered by these companies." As the CWB notes in its response to the taskforce report: "In the absence of the single-desk, a 'strong and profitable CWB' is a myth. In the absence of a single-desk there is no viable alternative for the Canadian grain industry other than that which exists in the rest of the world."
Globally, the grain industry is dominated by transnational corporations with four companies controlling more than 70 per cent of international grain market. In a report published last year, the NFU notes that while corporate profits are on the increase, farmers are earning less: "…overall, Canadian farmers have not earned a single dollar of profits from the markets since 1984. Over the same period, agribusiness has accumulated profits almost certainly reaching into the trillions."
When asked who stands to benefit from proposed changes to the CWB, Slomp is brief and to the point. She names the four biggest players in the global grain trade: Cargill, Bunge, ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) and Louis Dreyfus. In its statement, the CWB warns that removing its single-desk function would have a crippling effect on Canadian farmers, while boosting the power of transnationals. Control would fall to companies whose "focus is quite naturally on the most profitable way to make the sale…[and who] are necessarily indifferent to whether the grain needed for the sale comes from Argentina, America or Ukraine."
Those who support the re-structuring of the CWB argue that the board is obsolete and not financially viable. Various economists and think tanks (such as the George Morris Centre, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and the National Citizens Coalition) have suggested that farmers would have lower costs and higher returns if the CWB were disbanded. The NFU disagrees. After tallying the benefits provided by the CWB (including price premiums, low freight costs and efforts to prevent the introduction of GM wheat) the NFU estimates that the Board saves farmers over $800 million every year.
Despite serious opposition from farmers, Minister Strahl is pushing ahead. According to Strahl, "We have promised to implement a system of marketing choice, and we are moving in that direction." Until recently, Strahl dismissed the notion of farmer plebiscites to determine the future of the CWB, even though such votes are required by law under the Canadian Wheat Board Act. But already, the resistance of farmers has met with some success. According to Stewart Wells, while there is still no commitment to hold a wheat plebiscite, "Farmers have scored a major victory by forcing the federal government to conduct a plebiscite on barley." Much will depend on how the plebiscite is worded, however. Wells, for one, is not optimistic: "We don't have much confidence this government will run a fair vote on this plebiscite."
For Jan Slomp a future without the CWB is a grim prospect. "Many farmers have indicated to quit producing after the single-desk is gone," she said.
"It does not make sense to keep trying if all the farmer market power is gone."
The ice shelves in Canada's High Arctic have lost a colossal area this year, scientists report.
The floating tongues of ice attached to Ellesmere Island, which have lasted for thousands of years, have seen almost a quarter of their cover break away.
One of them, the 50 sq km (20 sq miles) Markham shelf, has completely broken off to become floating sea-ice.
Researchers say warm air temperatures and reduced sea-ice conditions in the region have assisted the break-up.
"These substantial calving events underscore the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic," said Trent University's Dr Derek Mueller.
"These changes are irreversible under the present climate."
This woman leads a double life. Her boyfriend thinks she’s a secretary. In fact she is one of Japan’s new breed of professional seducers, hired by embittered spouses to entrap their straying partners. And she’ll stop at nothing to get the desired results.
Case 1: Mr A and Kyoko
3.30pm. Mr A is outside a bank in a busy part of Ikebukuro, a faintly seedy area of Tokyo, waiting for his date. He beams as she teeters across the road on high heels. Kyoko, 20, is half his age. She has a mane of black hair, sloe eyes, a fetching smile and a cute giggle. Her blouse is open to reveal her cleavage and she has on a short skirt and sheer black tights. Mr A is a bald 40-year-old salesman in a crumpled grey suit and glasses.
Mr A met Kyoko by chance in the street; the first time she asked him for directions, then they bumped into each other again, and since then they have been exchanging flirtatious texts.
They stop off at a cigarette machine, then go to a cheap basement restaurant for spaghetti. He has bought her moisturiser and cleanser. She giggles coyly: “Next time, why don’t you give me a ring?” At 4.30 they’re outside a pawnbroker’s, looking at rings. Their shoulders touch, then they reach for each other’s hands.
They head for north Ikebukuro, an area of love hotels with velvet-covered walls, mirrored ceilings and sexy videos that rent rooms for two-hour periods. At 4.45 they go into one. They take a picture of the two of them on her mobile. At 6.07 they leave. At the station Mr A gives Kyoko a furtive goodbye kiss. Next time, he says, he’ll take her somewhere nice – a hot-spring resort maybe, or Tokyo Disneyland. Then he goes back to the office and, later, home to his wife.
Mr A doesn’t know that a team of private investigators is recording his every move. The boss, the ebullient Mr Tomiya, lurks behind a lamppost on the other side of the road and takes photographs as Kyoko meets Mr A. Tomiya’s equipment includes a packet of cigarettes and a pen, both of which are actually cameras.
It's one of the burning questions of the moment: how easy would it be for a country with no nuclear expertise to build an A-bomb? Forty years ago in a top-secret project, the US military set about finding out.
Dave Dobson's past is not a secret. Not technically, anyway - not since the relevant US government intelligence documents were declassified and placed in the vaults of the National Security Archive, in Washington DC. But Dobson, now 65, is a modest man, and once he had discovered his vocation - teaching physics at Beloit College, in Wisconsin - he felt no need to drop dark hints about his earlier life. You could have taken any number of classes at Beloit with Professor Dobson, until his recent retirement, without having any reason to know that in his mid-20s, working entirely as an amateur and equipped with little more than a notebook and a library card, he designed a nuclear bomb.
Today his experiences in 1964 - the year he was enlisted into a covert Pentagon operation known as the Nth Country Project - suddenly seem as terrifyingly relevant as ever. The question the project was designed to answer was a simple one: could a couple of non-experts, with brains but no access to classified research, crack the "nuclear secret"?
"If it can be done by certain humans, it can be done by other humans."
Are we ready to buy World War III? Is it a product we can use?
by Timothy K. Perry
Monday, September 1, 2008
The Summer of 2008 has excited End Time eschatologists with Russia and the U.S. talking veiled threats of World War III over the aftermath of the South Ossetian conflict. And then of course, let us not forget the Iranian Drama which apparently excites so much Neo-Con bloodlust that nuclear strikes are seen as not only possible but inevitable, the sooner the better they say. Iran must be atom bombed in the interests of world peace. It must be remembered that however skilled a group is in military strategy and execution, the launching of even small scale nuclear warheads is one of the most dangerous decisions any group will ever make in the history of the human race. If such an option is used, for whatever political reason or reasons, it is a decision with a very high probability factor of igniting into a greater conflict or conflicts where more nuclear warheads are used, in short, the very real somber launching of all-out nuclear war. This would then be a decision that immediately suggests nuclear escalation leading up to The Unthinkable: the complete annihilation of all sentient life forms on the earth, except for possibly a colony of hardy cockroaches.
For the last company picnic, management had decided that, due to liability issues, we could have alcohol, but only one (1) drink per person.
I was fired for ordering the cups.
"Honest is not always the best policy - but it makes for wonderful photoshop!
Ever had a neopolitan milkshake from McDonald’s?
One where they layer the chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla flavors in the same cup, creating a thick, icy, slow-moving light-brown-swirls-with-pink-flecks taste sensation? Yeah, my friend Chad was a regular customer of those. Of course, when he was working at McDonald’s he got sick of the regular menu pretty quickly and started tinkering in the back like a mad scientist with his coworkers, developing exotic, unstable, and unpredictable meal creations with the ingredients on hand. Yes, there were failed attempts, like the Chicken McNugget Flurry, but sometimes they struck gold and created a new off-the-menu line extension. I guess this is fairly common, because there are reports of online McDonald’s employee communities, where insider recipes such as the McBrushetta and McPancakeBatterFunnelCakes are shared.
Now, my world opened up when I first realized that you could order off-the-menu at fast food restaurants. Since that time I’ve learned about a few other secret options around. Like for instance:
One day in front of the Municipal Office I saw a little girl trying to drink her mother’s milk. But the girl did not realise that the mother was dead.
I still remember as a young boy seeing those starving men and women and children in the streets. They lay there and they died. As easy and simple and weird as that. They died.
It’s a catastrophe that in Britain at least is not so much misremembered as completely forgotten. It claimed the lives of millions. The Bengal famine of 1943 occurred when provincial government was largely in the hands of Indians but Britain remained the colonial power. Both the Indians and the British have good reason to forget for it makes uncomfortable listening even today.
And I was quite appalled at the end of Satyajit Ray’s film as we see a backdrop of famine victims slowly moving across the landscape he says that the manmade famine in Bengal in 1943-44, killed five million people. I’d never heard of this. And I went to my history books in my big personal library. It was not there. I immediately went to a local, very large academic library and there the primary documents from Bengali sociologists and academics from American writers and indeed some British writers, it was there in the Achaean academic literature.