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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Michael Jackson swan song film a testament to artistry

Heather and I went to see Jacko's This Is It last night, and I have to say it was A LOT better than I had anticipated. When it seemed Mike was at about 85% in the opening number I was a bit nervous, but the viewer soon gets used to rehearsal-level performances and then is pleasantly surprised as they ramp up to near show quality renditions. Michael is intimately involved with the arrangements and the staging and it's great to see how he works.

Every singer and dancer on earth should see this film, as Michael Jackson was the greatest song and dance man ever, the King of Pop. Who is his competition?

Elvis Presley - The King of Rock'n'Roll

Elvis blazed a trail of intensity and smoldering sensuality that caught fire in the sixties and birthed a counter culture that may have saved the planet with the unfolding Green Revolution.

In popular music there is a line that runs from Elvis to The Beatles to Michael Jackson, but it ends there. Musical tastes are now too diverse at too young of an age for a new Elvis, Beatles or MJ to emerge. Innocence has truly been lost.

Bob Dylan - World Poet

Robert Allan Zimmerman may be the most important USA citizen of the twentieth century. JFK is a big name now, but thirty years and fifty years from now more people will know Dylan.

Bob fancies himself as a song and dance man, but he's really the vagabond troubadour who sings with a voice that comes from you and me.

John Lennon - Imagine Peace

John is my favourite dead atheist (Joe Keighley of DOA is my fave living atheist), as his passion for humanity always shone through and he shared his pain in a way that healed a generation and opened songwriting up to future genres such as punk and emo.

John and Yoko were the first internationally famous interracial couple of the modern era, and as champions of secular humanism they were envoys from the future.

Bob Marley - Voice of the People

Nesta will likely endure the longest of all five, as he is the voice of rebelliousness and common folk all over this rolling ball of blue, green and brown fun in the sky. Bob took people to a magical place, with his records and with his concerts.

The Marley family is royalty in the 21st Century and the purity and truthfulness of the Rasta lifestyle mean that Bob's music and message continue to resonate and permeate youth culture in countries everywhere.

Just to be in the company of Elvis, Dylan, Lennon and Marley is a great honour, and though their music varies wildly, each of these artists inspired hundreds of millions of music lovers and regular people around the world. From a songwriting perspective, Elvis and MJ may be lightweights compared with Dylan, Lennon and Marley, but Michael wrote a few select tunes that have been enjoyed by billions of souls, so that aspect of his life and career should not be underestimated. Still, it is his vocal and dancing abilities that set him apart from the pack, where his innovations resonated with musicians and fans alike.

The dancers in the film are given a chance to express what MJ means to them, and it is a heartwarming sequence when you realize how Jackson's creativity and talent changed dancing all over the planet. Some of the songs performed in This Is It include Human Nature, Man In The Mirror, The Way You Make Me Feel, Thriller, Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, Black or White, Smooth Criminal, Heal The World and You Are Not Alone.

Mixed Bag of Blog Links:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New Street New School New Life; Onward to St. John's

After dad moved to Toronto, we left the Prospect Ave fourplex and moved to an apartment, number 803 in the relatively new building at 2386 New Street, which had a second building across the courtyard at 2400 New. The best thing for me was the outdoor pool, which I had missed since we left Nottingham Road in Kitchener. I remember spending days in that pool, swimming dozens of lengths and playing water games for hours on end. The two-level parking garage made for a great jailtag area, and there was a lot of fun to be had. I hung out with good friend Peter Walker who lived in that building, as did Trevor Smith and another friend, Mike Barnes, who lived across the court in the other building and whom I'd met when we both lived at 640 Guelph Line.

I started riding the daily bus to St. John's School on Brant Street and soon discovered I had classmates living in my new neighborhood, such as Greg Campbell, Brian Bedini and the Tielmans brothers, Derek and Tony. Music was becoming a more important part of my life, and my sister and I would buy as many 45s as we could afford each month. By this time I was selling chocolate bars, mixed nuts and newspaper subscriptions door to door, as we were never really flush. My mom had a steady job at the bank, but pops was not even close to reliable with regard to support payments.

Around this time my dad had left the firm managing Bobby Hull and went to work for the Miss Canada Pageant full-time (he always had inspiring jobs). One day he received about a dozen boxes of brand new pop and rock records as a gift for the girls, from a major record company or distributor, a show sponsor. He designated ten boxes as welcome gifts for the girls, then set aside a couple of boxes for Debbie and me and when he brought them to our apartment we nearly went crazy. After my dad left my sister and I spread every record out across two beds, about 56 albums or more in total, and had a pick, taking turns until every single LP belonged to one of us. Before that, we only had singles. Now we had entered the big time!

I remember walking to church on Sundays, all the way from Guelph Line and New St to St. John's Church on Brant Street, as I kept going for a couple of years after my mom and sister stopped, and even after that would stop in for some major masses like Christmas Eve. A couple of streets away Tony Tielmans used some of his paper route money to buy the White Album by The Beatles, and kids in Burlington started knowing each other by the music they liked and the albums they had. I didn't know either of them yet, but two guys who were to become good friends in later years also lived close by, Dave Ricciardi and Keith Herschel.

A mix of Canadian and international rock acts were to permeate my consciousness over the next five years, including The Stampeders (whom I saw perform at Burlington Central Arena in one of my first concerts), Led Zeppelin, April Wine (also saw them at Central Arena), The Rolling Stones, Crowbar, Steppenwolf, The Who, The Guess Who, The Doors, Lighthouse, Jimi Hendrix, Cream. In my mid-to-later teen years Rush was paramount, as was Todd Rundgren, and increasingly, the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. Then came punk!

When I was out west I happened to help the roadies unload at a Dead Boys gig, and got to go backstage and smoke hash with the crew before the show (leaving the backstage area when the actual band arrived). This was my first punk gig, and seeing Stiv Bators railing away with his sack hanging out of his leather pants was hilarious, rebellious and revolutionary. In my experience only DOA gigs approached that level of energy and chaos that The Dead Boys provided, so Vancouver's Kings of Punk, Hockey and Beer became my favourite band in my early twenties, along with the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Back to when I was twelve years old and moving to Maple Avenue, hockey was still big in my life, and girls were coming into focus. When Anne Blanchard arrived in Burlington (from Belleville I think), our bus to school was a brighter trip and she was to become the first serious girlfriend of a close friend of mine.

Somehow I ended up on a couple of crappy hockey teams when I lived in the New Street apartment building, so when we moved to 455 Maple Avenue (#603; my soon-to-be best friend James "Burnsie" Burns lived in 303), I was fortunate to get to play on the same team as close buddy Mike Sobala. I played left wing and he played center, and if could get him the puck we could usually win, so there you go. we won a lot of games in the two years we were teamed up. Mike and I were close friends throughout our teen years, and when I went off travelling (Maritimes, BC, California) before eventually rocking out in Toronto, Mike was progressing to become Ontario snooker champion and a second place finish in the Canadian championships. He even tried playing on the UK tour to learn from the best, and though the competition over there was usually formidable, he had given it a shot and played with and against the best on the planet.

Mike worked a long time for the LCBO and Anne ended up marrying our friend Rick Kachmar and having kids with him. Maple Avenue was a great place to work through puberty, and it was there I went from playing road hockey to playing bass in my first band (with Burnsie on drums and Billy Bishop on guitar). Mike and Victor Morley lived in that building, as did Mike, Bill, Sue and Sharon Furlong, Bob Thibeau, Chris and Debbie Morrissete and others, while Anne Blanchard's best friend Teschla, a Guyanese beauty, lived in the building next door.

Schoolmate and friend Mike Gauvin also lived in the area, as did Jim Renda, Gary Marinacci, the Bishop family, Randy Hoffman, and more I can't remember. Chris Broderick, Danny Broderick, Kathy Bettger, Jennifer DaCosta and Eva Gneth were part of our circle at this time also, but they lived closer to school.

JC Bio Part 3; Mom and Dad go separate ways

The most significant thing that hapened while we were living on Prospect Avenue was my dad moving to Toronto when I was ten, but I had known it was coming for awhile. Our parents never fought, at least not in front of us, so at nine years of age I was quite surprised, maybe even shocked, to read in my sister's diary:

Last night I was sitting on the stairs listening to my parents talk, and it seemed like they were breaking up. Dad wanted to leave but mom said that she couldn't handle Joey all by herself.

It was true that I had been a terror (I remember yelling at my mom that I hated her, accusingly claiming that she favoured my sister Debbie), and in the weeks following this revelation I strove to be even worse, thinking it would keep my folks together. That didn't last, as I was generally a good kid, but I think the advance read of the situation helped soften the blow when, some months later, I was told my dad would be leaving.

The thing was, it rejuvenated our relationship. When he was still at home, he'd leave for Toronto before we got up for school, and would often get home after our bedtime. After he moved to Toronto, we would get to visit him for whole weekends sometime, and in addition to spending happy times together, we were learning about Toronto. He had an office first on Spadina, then just off Yonge by Summerhill, right by the west side barbershop. His apartment was by High Park, and we'd arrive by Go Train and then take the subway. It was all very exciting and I believe my sister would agree that in addition to many other things done well, our parents handled their breakup and separation in a really honest and loving way.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Autobio Part 2; Joe College arrives in Burlington

There was about a month left in the school year when we arrived in Burlington and the advantages of the school system in Kitchener were soon apparent. A fellow classmate named John Anderson was assigned to take care of me and he put up his hand and said to the teacher, "He's writing." In Kitchener we started writing in Grade Two, whereas in Burlington this was to come in grade Three. Still, it was my sister who truly impressed, and they moved her from Grade Three to Grade Five, whereas I went from the second grade into the third with my classmates, as it was felt I didn't provide the extra effort that my sister did. She got an ego boost for sure but it hurt her later with regards to emotional considerations, as she was a lot younger than her fellow students when they hit puberty a few years into the future.

Burlington worked for me right off. I became fast friends with Mike Barnes, who also lived in the 640 Guelph Line building (when I lived at 2386 New Street in my middle grades, Mike was right there, with his mom Anne and dad Archie, across the courtyard at 2400 New Street). Mike could drum Wipeout on his desk with the best of them and he and I shared some great childhood laughs, and played a lot of road hockey. He went on to have a career with the Canadian Armed Forces, and was the first of many Michael's I would be blessed to know and befriend in my life.

When we moved to 2068 Prospect Avenue near Brant Street, I was still able to attend St. Joseph's Separate School, and about this time my dad started working for promotional and management firm Les Stanford and Associates, where he handled the Bobby Hull account and the Miss Canada Pageant. One day I got called at school and asked to go home and get ready to be picked up for a CCM Hockey Equipment modeling assignment, for the launch of their new Bobby Hull Line. The pictures from that day and a subsequent shoot were used in posters that appeared in every sports shop and magazine ads that filled the newsstands. It was my first brush with semi-fame or local notoriety (I was known as the kid who knows Bobby Hull), though I had earlier done radio ads and played Linus on a Peanuts radio serial in Kitchener, for CHYM. I don't remember any of my Linus lines, but in a safety commercial we recorded when I was about four or five, my sister Debbie and I would exclaim in unison:

Summer holidays are here, and we can't always watch out for you, so please, watch out for us, and drive safely.

In the summer between my second and third grade school years, some grade four and five kids took me along Guelph Line to Fairview street and an empty lot that backed onto the railway tracks, and there we played spin the bottle. I was fascinated and frightened, the beginning of a long, emotional road for me when it comes to love and sensuality. I may only have been called upon to kiss a couple of times, but these were wild and enchanting days for the new kid in town, and I was on my way.

My first girlfriend, in Grade Three, was Cathy Ingram. She was a cute little dirty blonde and her father was a brilliant illustrator. I had bought her a dimestore ring and she wore it to school and one day the entire class is out in the hall lining up at the water fountain and the teacher asks Cathy, "Where did you get the pretty ring?" to which she blurted out: "Joey gave it to me". The whole class turned to look at me as they burst into laughter, and the razzing went on for days. Guess that was my first lesson in discretion, though I'm not sure I learned all that much.

I started playing softball (also known as fastball) when I was around nine years old also, but hockey was my real passion, and rock'n'roll was not far off in my future. By the time we moved to New Street, my sister and I were avid students of the Top 40 charts, and bought every single we deeply loved, taking turns at lead vocals.

Diana Ross and The Supremes...

It was 1968.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Autobiography of Irish Catholic Rasta Punk Joe College

I was born in Hamilton in 1958, and I will always be one day older than Prince. We moved to Stoney Creek, then to Kitchener when I was four, before settling in Burlington a few years later. Let's start in Kitchener.

It was late spring 1963, a beautiful warm sunny day, and Jah asked I to face North, and then said unto me: This is yours; All of this is yours.

Some of my best memories of Nottingham Road include swimming in the pool in the courtyard of the townhouses (and once seeing the same pool from the air when my dad arranged for us to go up in an airplane and view Kitchener from above). I also remember walking along the green way to the variety store for candy and ice cream, and playing hockey and skating on the outdoor rink in the winter.

Our family (father Ralph, mom Noreen and sister Debbie) had a Studebaker with a sliding roof, and I remember going to the Dairy Queen for a chocolate dipped frozen banana, and then standing in the back with our heads and shoulders above the sunroof, this being before the era of seat belts. We used to go everywhere in the car with our parents, even to drive-in movies.

One day Satisfaction came on the radio, and though I had already grown up with Elvis, the Beatles and the Everly Brothers, it was the riff and the vocal in Satisfaction that led me to Stairway to Heaven, Anarchy in the UK, Smells Like Teen Spirit and Creep. The guiding hands of Dylan, Lennon and Marley were to come later, but i was already feeling the vibe of the Beatles, Everlys, and most especially, the Stones.

In grade one there was a kid in my class (St. Anne's school) who was an expert in astronomy, a flippin genius. In some ways i credit this kid for my later brilliant marks in geography, for after learning about the Universe in grade one, earth seemed so easy. This six year old kid would literally get up in front of his classmates (and the other grade one class also) and for forty-five minutes show us brilliants photos, charts and illustrations to teach us about the Solar System, the Milky Way galaxy, and the wider Universe beyond our corner. I think our teachers and principal were wise to let this student educate us, for it was by far my favorite time of the week.

My dad was a VP of the Kitchener Rangers (Uncle Bucko Wes Trainor had played in the New York Rangers system (including one season with the big club), and the Aud (Kitchener Memorial Auditorium) was right beside my path from our Nottingham Road townhouse to St. Anne's. Several players often lived at our house, including Billy Hway, who later played many years for Galt Hornets, and Gary Sabourin, who went on to play for the St. Louis Blues and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In a buzzed homecoming a dozen years later, I got to see my favorite band Rush perform there, and spoke with their sound men about how the tour was going. Most of the Rush gigs in that era featured Max Webster as the opening act, and that may also have been the case that night. Another great Rush gig was opening for Nazareth at the old Hamilton Forum, and the Mohawk College gig after Fly By Night was released.

My parents built something that was a foreunner of today's courier industry, a service called Crown Mail and Delivery. We sold it so my dad could launch Trainor Trophy Company, and as he was going to be working from Spadina Road in Toronto, we moved to 640 Guelph Line in Burlington when I was about seven years old, towards the end of grade two.

It was 1965.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ethiopia 2010; ENPCP calls for "free and fair" elections

Ethiopian Election 2010: Free and Fair Elections Require Substantive Negotiation

A democratically elected government opens political space for the opposition and civil society organizations, and has a better chance of resolving conflicts, building political stability and economic prosperity that helps stem the recurring scourge of hunger.

The Ethiopian National Priorities Consultative Process (ENPCP), a network of rights based civil society organizations, is convinced that free and fair election is an important instrument for the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and the installation of a government that is accountable to the electorate.

It is from this firm belief that ENPCP enunciated the minimum conditions that are necessary for holding free and fair election in Ethiopia, in 2010. These conditions are available at the following link:

ENPCP Declaration of Free and Fair Elections in Ethiopia pdf

ENPCP members also note the recent positive intervention of the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa whose past posture, in the view of the general public, did not put enough pressure to temper the bellicose stand of the ruling regime. Our hope was and still is that the negotiations between the ruling regime and the opposition will be broader in scope so that the process paves the way for a comprehensive settlement of the country’s governance problems. We keep observing that the present negotiations between EPRDF and most opposition parties do not bode well, in some cases even abruptly interrupted, simply because the government is irresponsibly posturing to escape from substantive and an all inclusive negotiation.

ECADforum.com Article on Free and Fair Elections in Ethiopia 2010

ENPCP 2009 Letter to President Barack Obama

Saturday, October 17, 2009

UK Coal Plant protest; 21 arrested at E.ON facility in Nottinghamshire

UK activists have taken global warming concerns into their own hands as protesters tried to enter the obsolete power generation facility at Ratcliffe-On-Soar to forcibly close it themselves. One policeman was injured and 21 protesters arrested during the demonstration against excessive carbon emissions.

Online article about UK coal plant protest at Ratcliffe-On-Soar, Nottinghamshire

Envion Inc demonstrates turning plastic waste into fuel

Investing in Wind Power stocks

Geothermal Company website links

DOA's new CD Kings of Punk, Hockey and Beer

Legenday Canadian punk rocker Joe Shithead and DOA are at it again, releasing a new CD just before heading out on a tour. The cd even includes a cover of The Hockey Song by PEI's Stompin' Tom Connors!

Review of new DOA cd Kings of Punk Hockey and Beer

Buy DOA Kings of Punk, Hockey and Beer online

Online biography of Vancouver punk rock band DOA

DOA Punk webpage on MySpace.com

Arianna Huffington calls for Joe Biden to Resign

It's not what you think ... at least it wasn't what I thought it would be. The HuffingtonPost.com honcho blogged that Biden should resign to protest the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Biden's main point is that it makes more strategic sense to focus on the dangers of al-Quaeda in Pakistan.

Peace and Green News

Suntech Power (STP) Agrees to work with Pakistan's Alternative Energy Development Board

October 2009 Wind Energy Stocks To Watch

Electric Bicycles becoming more popular in USA

Greed is Fucking BAD; The SICKNESS in North America

Ever since the movie Wall Street, where the infamous Gordon Gecko character uttered the words "greed is good" and then rationalized that phrase in the most self-serving way possible, many North Americans have come to accept it as a truism of sorts. That's bullshit! Greed is a disease, a sickness, and you do not have to be religious to understand that the love of money is the root of all evil. Note that it is not money itself (money is a tool that can be used for good or bad or indifference) that is evil, but rather the love of money.

When the tech bubble burst at the turn of the century everyone focused on the "bubble" and the stock price multiples and few noticed the ridiculous compensation levels that sunk many companies before they got started. When I used to work at Altamira with brilliant fund managers like Frank Mersch, Norm Lamarche and Sue Coleman, one of the acid tests regarding potential investments was the "car check". If we went out to visit a company that we were considering investing in, the managers and analysts would try and park in or near to the employee parking to see what kind of vehicles management were driving. If the President and his son were both driving Mazerati's, then we were left wondering if there would be much profits left for shareholders. If key management personnel were driving Chevys and Fords, then it was realistic to expect that there may someday be healthy dividends for shareholders.

The "greed is good" mentality fosters a sense of entitlement at the top that totally belittles the rank and file that actually create and produce the goods and services offered for sale. The idea that most of the shareholder value comes from the top is asinine, as most great companies (eg. Dell, Microsoft+++) are sales and service organizations through and through. I am not saying all of this money should go to the workers, but let's consider an alternate formula. If a company was paying 50% of corporate profits out in bonuses and options for the top 1% of employees, it may be more efficient for the firm and the economy if companies distributed that more widely.

Current Greed Mentality (After-tax Profits)

50% Executive pay, bonuses, options and perks
30% re-investment in company
10% employees
10% retained earnings

Proposed Active Shareholder Formula (After-tax Profits)

20% executive pay, bonuses, perks, options
40% re-investment in company
20% employees
20% retained earnings

I'm no accountant but I know the second formula makes for a much healthier company, positioned to grow profitably for the longterm. These things are difficult to legislate, so it is crucial that institutional investors get active and punish companies for overdoing compensation at the top.

Anybody have any comments or ideas about this?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

PM Stephen Harper: FREE BIRTUKAN and Ethiopian Political Prisoners

Even those that have been backers of PM Meles Zenawi have to be concerned about the legitimacy of the upcoming 2010 elections in Ethiopia. With Ethiopian judge and democratically elected opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa in jail on trumped-up political charges (eg. not willing to "apologize"...), the elections seemed doomed before they even begin. I call on Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to demand the release of Ethiopian opposition party (United Front for Democracy and Justice), leader Birtukan Mideksa and other political prisoners currently being held in Ethiopia.

Free Birtukan Organization

GREEN ENERGY NEWS: George Soros to Invest $1 Billion in Green Power

There are few champions of democracy among the world's billionaires, but George Soros (via Open Society Institute and Soros Foundation Network) definitely seems to be one of the few with a shot at slipping through the eye of the needle. He has recently announced 2 major initiatives for green energy and climate change:

Climate Policy Initiative

Soros, 79, also will establish the Climate Policy Initiative, a San Francisco-based organization to which he will donate $10 million a year for 10 years.

“It will be part advisory service, part policy developer and part watchdog,” said Thomas Heller, who is heading the initiative. Heller is a professor at Stanford University Law School whose expertise is in energy law and regulation and environmental law.

Its goal is to look after the public interest as policies and programs are created to address climate change. The group will work in the U.S., Europe, China, India and Brazil, he said.

Soros Fund Investments in Clean Energy Technology

Soros, hoping to confront the “political problem” of climate change, will invest $1 billion in clean energy technology, creating an organization to advise policy makers on environmental issues. Soros, whose own wealth accounts for much of the approximately $24 billion his New York-based money-management firm oversees, didn’t provide any details in his speech on the type or scope of investments he might make.

Clean Energy Investing links:

Guide to Green Mutual Funds

Green Stocks Investing Network

Best Green Stocks Blog

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Protesters Raped and Killed by military government in Guinea

Washington, Oct.7 (ANI): The Obama administration has condemned reports of mass killings and rape in Guinea and, in an unusual step, sent a senior diplomat to that country to register its strong protest over the incidents.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for “appropriate actions” against a military government that she said “cannot remain in power,” reports the New York Post

“It was criminality of the greatest degree, and those who committed such acts should not be given any reason to expect that they will escape justice,” Clinton told reporters in Washington.

She said that Guinea leader, Captain. Moussa Dadis Camara, and his government “must turn back to the people the right to choose their own leaders.”

The military seized power here last December, and pressure has been rising as Captain Camara, 45, backed off a pledge not to run in this country’s presidential elections in January.

At a demonstration against him on September 28, witnesses said soldiers opened fire on the crowds and raped and sexually assaulted female protesters.

Human rights officials estimate that as many as 157 people were killed. The government has put the number at 56.

On Monday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State William Fitzgerald met with Captain Camara for two hours and strongly told him that he was responsible for the violence, despite the military strongman’s repeated denials.

Fitzgerald also warned Captain Camara not to run in the elections, a key opposition demand.

The response from the captain was non-committal, he said.

Read online article about rape and killing of protesters in Guinea

Many women raped and killed; Toronto Star story

Organization helping African rape victims

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Can The Monster bring early Halloween treats for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Leaf fans have endured years of sub-par goaltending, and in about half an hour we will see the first NHL start of our great mighty hope, the Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. Two weeks shy of his 25th birthday, the NHL rookie faces the rival Ottawa Senators.

This could be a good game for Stalberg to shine...

UK Bluehenge discovery links Stonehenge "domain of the dead" with Durrington Walls "domain of the living"

Artists impression from University of Manchester, Oct. 6, 2009, of the Blue Stonehenge in western England. The drawing shows how scientists believe the “Blue Stonehenge” discovered by a team of archaeologists on the west bank of the River Avon in September 2009 may have looked. Researchers say a new find near the famous Stonehenge monument shows the religious significance of the site. The smaller prehistoric site is being called "Bluehenge" because of the color of the stones that were placed there thousands of years ago but have since disappeared. All that is left are the holes made when the stones were put in place. Researchers believe the newly discovered stone circle and the larger Stonehenge circle may mark a "domain of the dead" that was linked to the "domain of the living" by the River Avon. Experts say the stones were incorporated into the circle in about 2,500 B.C. PETER DUNN / AP PHOTO

Stonehenge, Bluehenge part of funerary complex "Domain of the Dead"

Domain of the Living feasting grounds on River Avon near Durrington Wells

Aerial photo of Durrington Walls UK in 2009

Diagram of ancient Durrington Walls "Domain of the Living" henge near Stonehenge and Bluehenge, Domain of the Dead

DiscoverMagazine.com 2007 article on Durrington Walls and Houses of the Holy

Samsung beds Ontario with 600 meg massive green energy push

Samsung and the Government of Ontario sign historic green power development deal

Green energy development in Ontario Canada in the twenty-teenies looks like it will be spearheaded by Samsung and everyone else is now playing catch up.

Independent clean power developers across Ontario were stunned at the magnitude of the deal, and the fact that it gives Samsung preferential treatment in advance of normal processes. The estimated 500 megawatts of wind and 100 megawatts of solar allotted to Samsung were good news overall, but two aspects of the plan raised particular concerns:

A) Ontario's feed-in tariff plan only allows for 500 megawatts of photovoltaic solar energy, and a full 20% is planned for the Samsung deal. A possible solution would be to expand the allotment for PV solar energy production to 550 megawatts.

B) Asking the Ontario Power Authority to set aside 260 megawatts of transmission capacity in Haldimand County and 240 megawatts in Essex County and Chatham / Kent, to essentially guarantee access to market for Samsung's.

Tyler Hamilton Green Energy Reporter article on Samsung deal with Ontario Government

Green Energy Investing links:

Wind Energy Investing Links

Solar Power and Renewable Energy Stocks

Best Green Mutual Funds Blog

Geothermal Energy Investing website

Canadian Hydro to build wind energy farm on Lake Erie

International Power PLC (IPR.L) of UK to acquire AIM PowerGen Corporation of Canada

Many Canadians also have PRIVATE health care

A few days ago I posted about the Canadian medical care system, illustrating how it was a provincial health care system in Canada and NOT a national provider. Another thing many Americans may not be aware of is that many jobs in Canada come with "benefits", and these allow upgrades from the public health care system, covering things like dental care, and semi-private or private rooms in hospitals. Everyone's health care is assured via the provincial single payer system, but it is the private plans that decide the level of comfort.

This combination of public and private insurance allows the poor and the middle class to live with dignity, and the rich to pay extra for the extra services and comfort levels to which they are accustomed. It would seem that many European countries also have a highly workable mix of public and private heath care, and this is something Americans should strive for, even if it means organizing and building from the bottom up, state by state by state.

Peace 2 All

Monday, October 5, 2009

Canadian Politics; It's time for the NDP and the Green Party to Merge

A Proposal for establishing the Green Democratic Party of Canada

Progressive politics in Canada has been fragmented by the rise of the survivalist greens in an era where the center left is waiting for a clear voice, and the burdens and baggage of the NDP leave it doomed to be an also ran and agent provocateur.

NDP strengths:

Canada's social democratic party, the NDP has a strong track record on worker-related issues and social policy initiatives in general, and has been the most progressive of the big three parties with regard to environmental protection.

NDP brings a wealth of social justice experience to the merger and a tremendous amount of organization and elections management skills.

Green Party strengths:

A range of clean energy and social progress initiatives that breathe fresh air into the Canadian political dialogue and strike a chord with youth and other conscious voters.

Green Party brings ecological and business values into the mix, as alternative energy / renewable power is the fastest growing of all green industries, and the sum total of conservation, smart grid, geothermal, solar, wind and biomass companies are likely to be the overall driver of Canada's economic engine in the twenty-teenies.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ontario Native Peoples to be Owners, Partners and Developers of Clean Energy

Ontario has revisited its 20 year energy plan and come up with something that offers bith a large increase in green, renewable power, plus much greater involvement of aboriginal people as owners and developers.

In May, a new Green Energy Act was passed into law paving the way for aboriginal groups to participate directly in renewable-energy and related transmission development projects.

Earlier this month, Smitherman announced that $250 million in loan guarantees would be available to assist aboriginal communities looking to take ownership in green power projects. The same day he unveiled another fund that helps communities develop energy plans, as well as pay for technical research and project feasibility studies.

Aboriginal-owned projects can also earn a special premium for the electricity they generate, assuming the power is sold onto the grid. Manning calls all of these initiatives a "genuine endeavour" to respond to aboriginal concerns.

Here is the Toronto Star article by Tyler Hamilton:

Opening up the green energy tent' Lac Seul First Nation now owns a 25 per cent stake in the Lac Seul Generating Station.

Tapping Ontario's potential as a source of cleaner energy has improved the relations between energy giants and aboriginal groups with land rights in key green energy areas. The result is a meeting of minds in brokering deals that aim to benefit all.

October 03, 2009
John Kim Bell didn't mince words as he stood before a three-member panel of the Ontario Energy Board.

It was early 2008, and the energy regulator had just kicked off what was expected to be a lengthy review of the province's 20-year power system plan. Bell, a Mohawk Indian and distinguished representative of the Assembly of First Nations, pointed to what he called "elements of discrimination" in the process.

Ontario's power-planning agency may have fulfilled its legal duty to consult with aboriginal groups, but Bell implied that such consultation amounted to little more than a series of information sessions across the province – or what one observer described as a "box checking" exercise. In the end, Indian communities were still left standing on the sidelines.

"We want to work inside the tent with you," said Bell, a former conductor of the Toronto Symphony who now spends his time as an aboriginal and government-relations consultant. "There is no plausible way for First Nations to break the stranglehold of poverty without the access to and participation in the major pillars of Ontario's economy. One of these pillars is the energy sector."

Bell's message, it seems, was taken to heart. Eight months later, at a gathering of energy executives in Niagara Falls, newly appointed Energy Minister George Smitherman walked up to a podium and announced he was sending the Ontario Power Authority's 20-year plan back to the drawing board so that greater emphasis could be placed on renewable-energy and conservation. At the same time, he directed the power agency to pursue an "enhanced process of consultation" with First Nation and Métis communities. It made sense. Ontario's energy sector is in the early stages of a massive, costly transformation.

Coal plants we've relied on since the 1960s are being closed down. The province's existing nuclear fleet is aging and in need of an overhaul. Renewable power technologies such as wind and solar are being embraced with unprecedented enthusiasm, and this promises to change how electricity is delivered.

All that will require a "smarter" power grid that can manage the thousands of homes, businesses, factories and utilities expected to become generators of clean power. And it won't come cheap: the government has earmarked $60 billion for Ontario's power makeover.

For the province to achieve its ambitious green-energy goals it will have to tap wind and hydroelectric potential in northern regions where Indians hold land rights.

Paul Manning, a lawyer who represented the National Chief's Office for the Assembly of First Nations during the 2008 hearings, says he is encouraged by what has unfolded since Smitherman reset the whole process. In May, a new Green Energy Act was passed into law paving the way for aboriginal groups to participate directly in renewable-energy and related transmission development projects.

Earlier this month, Smitherman announced that $250 million in loan guarantees would be available to assist aboriginal communities looking to take ownership in green power projects. The same day he unveiled another fund that helps communities develop energy plans, as well as pay for technical research and project feasibility studies.

Aboriginal-owned projects can also earn a special premium for the electricity they generate, assuming the power is sold onto the grid. Manning calls all of these initiatives a "genuine endeavour" to respond to aboriginal concerns.

Historically, aboriginal communities were ignored and shunted aside when it came to energy projects.

In the 1950s, during construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project, government-owned Ontario Hydro flooded ten islands on traditional territories used by the Mohawks of Akwesasne.

Ontario ended up with the 1,000-megawatt R.H. Saunders Generating Station, situated just west of Cornwall. But getting that power meant putting villages and burial sites under water, displacing dozens of Indian families, and destroying spawning beds that sustained the diets of the Mohawk population in the area.

"Some of the things done in the past with respect to First Nations, they're just mind boggling the way they occurred," says John Murphy, executive vice-president of hydropower at Ontario Power Generation (OPG), which was spun out of Ontario Hydro a decade ago. "You can't change the past ... what you can do is step up to the plate and take responsibility and accountability for what has been done."

Five years ago OPG was given that mandate, and Murphy helped revive a half-hearted process started in the mid-1990s aimed at righting past wrongs. It involved extensive meetings with aboriginal elders and leaders, a kind of trust-building exercise that also helped the company better understand the impact of its past actions and how to make amends.

"We've resolved a lot of past grievances," Murphy says.

This includes a formal apology to the Mohawks of Akwesasne as part of an agreement last October that included $46 million in compensation and a promise to rehabilitate affected waters and lands. A similar agreement was struck in 2006 with Lac Seul First Nation about 200 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, and this May with the Red Rock First Nation slightly west of Thunder Bay. In both cases, OPG talked optimistically about developing "mutually beneficial" commercial relationships.

Murphy says industry officials have known for decades about the hydroelectric potential in northern Ontario. Thousands of megawatts could be developed, and the Ontario Power Authority even included 2,000 megawatts as part of its 20-year plan. The wind resource is even more abundant. But past governments considered dealing with aboriginal communities a complex, messy business, so the projects were largely avoided. That changed in April when OPG opened Lac Seul Generating Station, a 12.5-megawatt hydroelectric facility developed in partnership with Lac Seul First Nation. It marked the first time in Ontario where a government-owned utility shared ownership of a power station with an aboriginal community, in this case by selling a 25 per cent stake in the project.

Lac Seul Chief Clifford Bull says his people wanted a 50 per cent stake but OPG didn't feel comfortable going that high. "But this is still a precedent-setting agreement that will pave the way to other agreements that help us attain that 50-50 ownership."

The deal, he says, has energized the community. It will bring much-needed jobs, training, and business experience, along with a source of income that can be used for future energy developments.

"It's been interesting to see the positive influence it has had on work we're doing with other First Nation communities. Success breeds other successes, whether it's with us or with private developers," Murphy said.

Fullarticle on green energy and Native peoples in Ontario

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ethics-driven companies are new vanguard

Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper published a book review yesterday (Sep 30/09) that illustrated how conscious companies can outperform their un-guided competition.

... values, when followed, allow them to outpace competitors by helping the firms be more innovative, grow through mergers and acquisitions, attract talent, deal with diversity in an era where that is crucial, and confront the dark side of globalization.

Special to The Globe and MailLast updated on Thursday, Oct. 01, 2009 03:04AM EDT

SuperCorp By Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Crown, 319 pages, $32

When the tsunami hit Southeast Asia in 2004, IBM employees in the region headed for the affected areas to see how they could put their data-processing skills to work to assist the relief effort. The mandate was to serve, not to make money - then or in the future - from emergency relief.

When executives at Brazil's Banco Real noticed a group of employees from an external cleaning company having lunch amid fumes from car exhausts in the garage at headquarters, they could have ignored it. But the company's core values of treating people properly were violated, and so the bank convened all of its suppliers and asked for their assistance in meeting higher social justice and environmental standards, not just at that garage but in all their activities.

When new media communications purveyor Digitas released miserable second-quarter results in 2006 and its stock collapsed, the chief executive officer received an e-mail takeover bid from a large marketing firm effectively saying: Now that you are at a price which is affordable, we should start speaking.

But Maurice Lévy, CEO of Publicis Groupe SA, who had also been courting Digitas, backed off from his pursuit with an e-mail saying, "I'm sorry. It's so unfair that you are hurt this way because the parameters remain very good." When Digitas started to recover, he initiated a conversation that led to a deal.

IBM, Banco Real and Publicis are three of the companies that Harvard Business School Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter has been tracking for the past three years because she believes they offer a new model for success.

She calls them "vanguard companies," and, at the heart of what makes them special, is that they have strong, humane values and follow them despite the temptations in a fiercely competitive capitalist world to do otherwise.

Full article on ethical companies at Globe and Mail official website

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Ontario Solar Energy Content Rules require phase-in period

The requirement for 40% local content in already-installed systems is onerous and antagonistic to early adopters and other technology pioneers who have been willing to move quickly to generate local clean energy. A simple revision is required that would allow 20% for 2009 and previous installations, 30% for 2010 and the full 40% requirement kicking in during 2011. Existing system operators and those readying for construction will appreciate the greater flexibility, and our overall groth rates in the industry will improve.

Toronto Star article on solar subsidy plan content rules for Ontario homeowners

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Bottom-Up Politics - USA Healthcare Public Option at State Level

One thing many Americans may not be familiar with regarding the Canadian healthcare system is that it is administered at the provincial level and is not a national plan. This way each province is free to respond to local needs while still receiving funding from national coffers.

If the health care bill as now proposed passes, it will be disappointing for a great many US citizens, but it is not the end of the road. We earned our health care through community activism, protests and strikes, though many in the younger generation do not know about the CCF, forerunners of the NDP (New Democratic Party), our third national party. Larger states must be urged to consider launching their own public option and/or single payer systems, and smaller states should consider setting up regional alliances to offer quality medical care for all USA citizens.

It has been proven time and again the world over that the two most effective uses of national tax revenue are education and health care, to create and sustain a skiled, productive workforce. Please remember though that it is not about how small or how large the government is, but rather how much high quality service is returned to the public for each dollar received. In Canada we have a world class public education system, and a health care system that is the equal of any other.

Nobody goes bankrupt or loses their home because of doctor or hospital bills, and in the 21st century, this is the way it should be.

USA Health Care Reform Link:

HealthReform.gov Official US Government Healthcare Reform website

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