NEWS BYTES
Take action for Kyoto
Newfoundlander John Efford, Minister of National Resources, appeared at his inauguration in a sealskin coat. One of the 96 Liberals who urged Jean Chretien to ratify Kyoto, he figures it is "a clean, environmental thing to do" to support offshore oil and gas exploration in B.C. and nuclear power. Now he advocates the expansion of fossil fuels and seeks greater concessions for the oil and gas industry. Climate change is possibly the greatest danger the world faces today and concerned Kyoto proponents ask you to write to Efford to remind him of how critical Canada's commitment is to Kyoto and to urge him not to forget his legitimate concerns. Write to the Right Honorable John Efford, Minister of Natural Resources, 580 Booth St., 21st Floor, Ottawa, ON K1A 0E4 or e-mail John.Efford@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca or telephone 613-996-2007.
Occupation of Iraq has become untenable
In the February 14 issue of Britain's The Guardian, Tariq Ali notes that the occupation authorities in Iraq are trapped -- and running up a price tag of $3.9 billion daily. A democratic election could produce an unchallengeable government whose top priority would be to kick the foreigners out. A rigged, Florida-style vote might lead to Shia anger, armed resistence and civil war. Nervous breakdowns and suicides amongst the U.S. occcupying forces in Iraq has reached unprecedented levels. The occupation has, in short, become untenable. Ali concludes that regime change in both Washington and London would be small punishment compared to what is being inflicted on Iraq.
US to have access to Cdn tax records
If you don't have a job, whether by necessity or by choice, it will probably keep you from travelling to the USA when the "smart border action plan" goes into action. One of the 32 points in that plan is the merging of U.S. and Canadian databases, giving American officials access to Revenue Canada files, including the work records and financial status of Canadian citizens. Border officials said this will help them identify and intercept fugitives, criminals and illegal aliens.
Socialism versus capitalism
Near the end of a debate on Larry King Live, a guest explained how a single-payer, national health care system would provide all required coverage for everyone, including all necessary medical procedures, as well as vision, dental and mental health care. King said, "In other words, socialism?" The guest shot back, "Wait a minute. You know what? What we have now, Larry, is predatory capitalism which makes of the American people a cash crop for the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies." Amidst thunderous applause, King replied, "Well said."
Colour comes to American dollars
The U.S. plan to issue new paper currency with colour may be a harbinger of devaluation say some analysts. It is also a convenient way of bringing into the light of day the cash hoards of those Americans who want to avoid dealing with the U.S. banking establishment. It is simply not permitted to have two different sets of paper money in circulation at a time. A major overhaul in 1996 saw a redesign of the actual engravings for the U.S. money. Completed in 1999, the bills featured watermarks, security threads, altered portraits and a script of metallic ink at the bottom edge. A hidden code number helps trace the cash.
Food for thought
The need for super soldiers to fight long battles on little energy has researchers working to produce a drug that they hope will allow people to go safely without food for nearly a week at a time, B.C.'s Can West New Service has recently reported. U.S. military researchers say soldiers taking the proposed pill would be able to operate at "superior" levels of physical and mental performance for three to five days, 24 hours a day, without the need for calories. Scientists have been given until the end of March to submit proposals for making food dispensable. The idea is to artificially manipulate the body's metabolism to access its energy-rich stores of fat. The proposed pill would be expected to burn up fat without gobbling muscle as an energy source during periods of self starvation -- without affecting vital fuel supplies to the brain. Among the drugs already developed for military use are "wake-promoting" agents that eliminate the need for sleep for days.
The danger to whales
The whaling industry has slaughtered whales to near extinction. Where are the police when a profitable industry hunts them down with spear and rifle until the seas churn red with blood? Although nine countries passed a moratorium banning the whaling industry in 1990, two countries continue to whale commercially. "The behavior of humans is getting dangerous for the whale," an RCMP officer is quoted as saying. So they threatened a woman with a $100,000 fine for patting a whale in B.C.'s Nootka Sound. Yup. Guess that should help.
Fathoming fish farts
It's been known that herring have excellent hearing, but Canadian and British scientists, after further investigating, say it goes further. They've discovered that herring squeeze bubbles out of their swim bladders through an anal pore, producing a farting sound. Because they "fart" more in company with each other, the question is -- is it a form of communication between them? They may also be trying to ward off predators. Or the "farting" may just be a result of their natural actions to stay afloat. Oh yes, it seems they only make these sounds at night.
Big Brother is watching
Great Britain has the most watched population in the world. There are more than four million surveilllance cameras witnessing their every move -- a number that has quadrupled over the past few years. Britain is reported to be using one-fifth of all the closed circuit television cameras in the world. There is actually one camera for every 14 people in the United Kingdom, according to one newspaper report. The Independent newspaper says that residents of the city of London might expect to be caught on these cameras as often as 300 times daily, with much of the filming not being kept within the existing data guidelines. Only in Britain you say?