NEWS BYTES
Being taxed out of house and home
Some older Nova Scotians, living on modest incomes in modest homes on small lots are being faced with incredible increases in their property tax bills, as high as 300 per cent -- just because they live on a waterfront. Wealthy visitors, eager to offer huge prices for such prime spots, have driven the property values sky high, thereby increasing taxes. Some of those who refuse to give up the property their family may have owned for generations have been forced into financial hardship, at the very least.
Gold-plated gun registry off the mark
The mistakes being made by Canada's expensive gun registry can land innocent gun owners (and non-gun owners) in jail. One east coast resident received a firearms registration card from the Canadian Firearms Centre in Miramichi -- for a firearm that he has never owned. His fear is that, when the government decides to confiscate all guns, he will not be able to produce this gun that does not exist. And the CFC will, of course, be able to produce their documentation that it does exist.
No racism was involved
Two Manitoba Metis women, Corrine McKeown and Doreen Leclair, made five phone calls to the emergency service before being murdered in their home, in an area of Winnipeg where many Aboriginals and poor people live. Sherry Hobson of the Winnipeg Police admitted the calls were incorrectly handled by 911 operators. She said the reference to the stabbing was ignored, a car was not dispatched, and the call was not assigned proper priority. But she denied racism played a part.
FBI at a loss for words
According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, the FBI is said to have 1,792 so-called "special agent linguists" who are supposedly capable of using foreign languages in their work. But 27 per cent can, at best, utter only "minimum courtesy". Only 14 per cent are professionally fluent in foreign languages. This lack is impeding its prosecution of fraud cases in Miami and Los Angeles. Worse, thousands of hours of audiotapes and written material, obtained during the terrorism probe, remain unprocessed because no one can translate them.
Strong-arming support for 'War on Terrorism'
In May the U.S. Senate unanimously passed an amendment to the Andean Trade Act Democratic Substitute (which also contains fast track trade negotiating authority for Pres. Bush) that would deny the Bill's special trade status to those countries in this U.S./South American trade agreement not supporting the U.S. "War on Terrorism".
The height of conceit -- or something
"Stop hating the United States or suffer the consequences," Pres. Bush warned the Arab world in a live broadcast to 17 Arab nations via Al Jazeera some months ago. "You have exactly 10 days to put aside your deep-rooted resentment and rage toward America and learn to like us. If you fail to comply, prepare to have the full might of the U.S. military brought down upon you." He also threatened to carpet-bomb any Arab region whose populace continues to be angry about America's long-time bombing campaign against Iraq and the decade-long U.S. sanctions that have led to the malnutrition deaths of tens of thousands of Irazi children.
Only in the U.S. -- we pray
In a time when alternatives to gas guzzlers should be lauded and promoted, Oregon has doubled the vehicle registration fees for hybrid and electric cars! The rationale is that owners of high-mileage vehicles do not pay their fair share to support highway maintenance through gasoline taxes. The extra registration fee compensates for their failure to buy enough gas!
Weather control used as a weapon
Investigative researcher Bob Fletcher of North Hollywood, California, claims to provide documented evidence of secret electronic alterations being made that permits world-wide control of the weather by Russia and the USA. For $30 he provides a 90-minute video and 75 pages of documents (incl. shipping and handling). Call 1-888-783-6397
Dealing with garbage, politically
Mayor Darian Huskilson of Lockeport, N.S. personally rode his town's garbage truck earlier this winter in his determination to make his constituents more environmentally aware. Nova Scotia boasts one of the best waste management systems in the country, with householders required to sort their waste into four categories before pick-up. Some, unfortunately, still throw recyclables in with their unrecyclable garbage; and Huskilson was having none of it. He went on the pick-up runs and had a hand in, literally, every trash bag in town. A few hundred bags were rejected on the first trip. After a few such trips, the residents got the idea. A recent check found only 13 bags rejected. Where once 3.4 metric tonnes of trash went to the landfill weekly, Lockeport now has only 1.6 tonnes going there.
Unions might solve their own problems

Unions have been seeking pay raises for their members, in addition to jobs for the unemployed and housing for the homeless. One Canadian puts in his two cents worth.
Lewis Cosby of Bridgwater, N.S., suggests that unions in this country take a good look at the $500 billion in pension funds they have that are earning about $75 billion in interest each year.
"If the unions would partner with the federal government and invest up to one quarter of one per cent, or $1.1 billion, in low-cost housing, they would get their money back, provide work for the unemployed, look better in the eyes of the public, and be part of the solution," he says. And that could be the beginning of a whole new trend.

Spielberg to make Mid-east film
Dream Works has announced that director Steven Spielberg's latest project documents the current uprising of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Having previously documented the horrors of the Holocaust in Shindler's List and World War II, Spielberg hopes his new project will break the silence on a subject that has, until recently, been taboo.
"As an American director who also happens to be Jewish, I can no longer stay silent about what the Israelis and the Zionist movement have been doing in the name of Judaism and with our tax money," he said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. "For years, the Hollywood community, known to embrace progressive issues, has been reluctant to tackle the issue of Palestine for fear of reprisal by what is perceived as a blind Jewish support to Israel in Hollywood. This needs to change. The sad history of the holocaust is being repeated again in Palestine at the hands of those who claim to do it in the name of Judaism. We should not remain silent."
The project will undoubtedly give birth to controversy in an industry that has been known to shun any pro-Palestinian activities. Actress Vanessa Redgrave was all but blacklisted from the Hollywood system after speaking out in favour of the rights of Palestinians in the '70s.