China Snubs Obama Town Hall

16 11 2009

From: The Globe and Mail, 2009

In a very typical and anticipated move, China has decided not to allow millions of Chinese citizens to hear the President of the United States speak when he visited the country today.

The national television station, the Central China Television Network, will not be broadcasting a ‘town hall’ type question and answer period with 500 chinese students in Shanghai. The event will be broadcast on local Shanghai television and on the website of the official Xinhua News station. These two sources will broadcast the event uncensored. But these two news stations aren’t exactly accessible to the country as a whole. The US State Department plans to run feeds of the talk on Twitter, which China says it will allow access to, though as it stands, internet censorship in China does not allow access to Twitter, Facebook, or even Google. 

Why the reluctance to allow citizens to hear President Obama speak? They allowed Clinton to speak uncensored – George W Bush too. Maybe it’s because of quotes that supported those who “faced down facism and communism”. Or his warnings that go something like, “those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent know that you are on the wrong side of history”.

A bit more on this in: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/china-restricts-obamas-qa/article1364342/

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We Could All Use a Second Look

25 08 2009
From: CTV, 2009

From: CTV, 2009

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. “

– From the film Dead Poets Society




Shona Holmes: The Face of Healthcare Propaganda?

30 07 2009

Healthcare reform has quickly become the summer’s most controversial American political topic. Following President Obama’s July 22nd speech, advocates and opposition of public healthcare have shifted efforts into high-gear. The Republican flag-bearer as shown above is a Canadian named Shona Holmes. In recently produced commercials for Patients United Now (funded by the Republican Party) and in various television interviews, Shona tells a harrowing tale of being diagnosed with a brain tumour, but due to Canada’s government run healthcare system was going to have to wait 6 months before seeing a specialist, and instead traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona for treatment. In her words “if I’d relied on my government for healthcare, I’d be dead.”

But like infamous Joe “The Plumber”, there are a few discrepancies in Shona’s story. First of all, the life threatening brain tumour spoken of isn’t entirely accurate; according to the Mayo Clinic’s website, Shona received successful treatment for a Rathke’s cleft cyst (RCC). RCC’s can cause dizziness and potentially blindness, but ultimately is a benign cyst, and not cancer, nor life-threatening. Secondly, Shona suggests that she was able to receive the surgery immediately upon returning to the Mayo Clinic, when in fact the Mayo Clinic itself states that she underwent “weeks of tests and then got ready for the surgery.”

As a Canadian, what’s most disappointing about this story is how she misrepresents the Canadian healthcare system and general public opinion of Canadians. She states that Canadians are “ignorant” to the perils of our government run system and are too proud to admit its faults. Considering the voting of Tommy Douglas, the forefather of our national system, as the “Greatest Canadian”, she is right in saying we as a country are proud of our healthcare.

Certainly Canadians have been known to complain about some associated waiting times for treatment, just as I know some Americans who have experienced the same trials receiving care. Additionally, I do sympathize with Mrs. Holmes, and anyone faced with long wait times to receive diagnosis, tests or treatment, and I can only imagine the fear associated with the prospect of losing one’s eyesight. But Shona Holmes and other critics of the Canadian government run system fail to acknowledge its benefits. Universal healthcare is just that, universal. Government run healthcare doesn’t cater to those with the most money, or the best insurance policy, but instead seeks to treat everyone, with those in greatest need of medical care receiving priority.

I’m not suggesting that the Canadian system is best for the United States, but neither is President Obama. Considering that there are an estimated 46 million Americans without health insurance, and also considering that Shona Holmes allegedly spent 97 thousand dollars for her American treatment, it’s terribly saddening that there still are so many people fighting against reform in the United States when everyday more and more Americans can’t afford healthcare.

For a Canadian with a trumped up, albeit unfortunate story to be hired and paraded out to lie and sell propaganda to the American public isn’t necessarily surprising, that’s the nature of politics, but it is disappointing.

I also can’t help but believe that Mrs. Holmes will be grateful the next time she requires Canadian medical care and the last words she hears are “Take care, and have a good day!”, rather than “You can expect the bill in the mail.”

 

On an unrelated note, Shona Holmes has an interesting day-job when she’s not traveling the United States berating Canadian healthcare. http://shonarobertson.com/

 

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/07/27/health.care.explainer/index.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/patientstories/story-339.html

http://unrepentantoldhippie.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/shona-holmes-sex-advisor/

http://stratoshpear.com/2009/07/26/33-7-million-canadians-are-not-shona-holmes/





Sarah Palin Doesn’t Understand Cap-and-Trade

27 07 2009
Sarah Palin wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Washington Post on July 14th this year. It is full of BS and truth stretching, as well as a good old fashioned lack of concrete information. Allow me to retort:

There is no shortage of threats to our economy. America’s unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to continue climbing. Worries are widespread that even when the economy finally rebounds, the recovery won’t bring jobs. Our nation’s debt is unsustainable, and the federal government’s reach into the private sector is unprecedented.

Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:

I am deeply concerned about President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.

Ok Sarah, you say this plan will undermine the economic recovery in the short term. Here’s some news for you, the plan is not to take affect until 2012, if the United States is still in recession over two years from now, I think we have some bigger issues to worry about.

American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy.

Yes, this is true, but is it all encompasing and defining? To put the matter close to home, Alaska’s average retail price for electricity in April 2009 was 14.76 cents/kWh. That one of the highest prices in the United States. The cost of electricity is generally between 10 and 15 pence/kWh in England. That translates to between 16.48 and 24.73 cents/kWh in American dollars. Would you say that England is not prosperous?

Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president’s cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

Every aspect? Thats pretty broad. I bet it would lead to less pollution? Is that an adverse affect Sarah?

There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America’s economy.

All energy on earth comes from the sun in some way or another. The scarcity lies in fossil fuels, which takes millions of years to develop. Sun and wind happen naturally every day of the year. Until the sun implodes, I don’t think you can call that a scarce resource.

Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.

Take a trip down to Neon, Kentucky and look at how people are living after the coal industry left the area. The lifetime of fossil fuel industries is finite and will eventually leave people without jobs. The lifetime of a renewable energy sector is infinite, therefore, in the long run, there are far more permanent jobs. Oh ya, its cap-and-trade Sarah, not cap-and-tax, you made  a typo there.

In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.

For the second time, 2012 is not immediate. And for the second time, its cap-and-trade. Poor farming practices are already subsidized by the government because we demand cheap terrible food. If subsidies were granted to the poor rather than the farmers, higher food costs would be so big an issue. Buying vegetables from your local stand sure is cheaper than buying them from the grocery store.

The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.

The Americans hit hardest will be those already struggling to make ends meet. As the president eloquently puts it, their electricity bills will “necessarily skyrocket.” So much for not raising taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Even Warren Buffett, an ardent Obama supporter, admitted that under the cap-and-tax scheme, “poor people are going to pay a lot more for electricity.”

This might be a valid point. Though it has been disputed and stated that the poorest families will actually benefit from cap-and-trade. Additionally, rising costs will force an increase in conservation efforts. And if energy costs too much to purchase, part of the cap-costs that corporations pay could go to financing solar panels for the rooves of those who can’t afford to pay for energy. I don’t think this is in the plan though, so Sarah, maybe you could use your influence for something productive like this?

We must move in a new direction. We are ripe for economic growth and energy independence if we responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil. Just as important, we have more desire and ability to protect the environment than any foreign nation from which we purchase energy today.

Umm…the plan IS to move in a new direction….not the same old direction that you’re proposing.

In Alaska, we are progressing on the largest private-sector energy project in history. Our 3,000-mile natural gas pipeline will transport hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of our clean natural gas to hungry markets across America. We can safely drill for U.S. oil offshore and in a tiny, 2,000-acre corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if ever given the go-ahead by Washington bureaucrats.

Oh those darned Washingotn bureaucrats, trying to protect what little natural environment is left in the world! How dare they take away our black gold! Sarah, there is a reason that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is protected! Once you start drilling in one protected environment, you’ve set the precedent that allows drilling to occur in every wildlife refuge in the country. And who’s to stop you from ploughing through the whole thing? Not to mention the environmental impacts that an oil drilling operation would have on the wider surrounding environment. Take a look at what Texaco did to the Amazon in Ecuador.

Of course, Alaska is not the sole source of American energy. Many states have abundant coal, whose technology is continuously making it into a cleaner energy source. Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas, and every state can consider the possibility of nuclear energy.

Please see my post on the issues surrounding the myth of ‘clean coal’

We have an important choice to make. Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, Russia and Saudi Arabia? Make no mistake: President Obama’s plan will result in the latter.

This is my only gripe with Obama’s plan and I think Sarah Palin might be semi-correct on this one point. However, pretty much everything we consume comes from outside of the continent already anyways. There are bigger problems that pertain to our North American lifestyle than those relating to where our electricity comes from. We continuously greed for the fastest and cheapest of everything, no matter what the external costs to society and the environment. While I could see this cap-and-trade system resulting in the export of even more jobs to foreign countries, I don’t think it is the fault of the plan so much as it is the fault of the North American people as a whole. Make a choice with your wallet and buy what little goods are still made within the continent and we will see those jobs comes back. Only consumers can change the market. Sarah can agree with that.

For so many reasons, we can’t afford to kill responsible domestic energy production or clobber every American consumer with higher prices.

The renewable energy sector is domestic energy production. Buying oil from the middle east is not.

Can America produce more of its own energy through strategic investments that protect the environment, revive our economy and secure our nation?

Please, oh please explain to me how mining for more coal and drilling for more oil is protecting the environment?

Yes, we can. Just not with Barack Obama’s energy cap-and-tax plan.

Wow. That was difficult. To be clear though, I’m not even much of a supporter of the plan proposed by Obama. So many concessions have already been made, so many loopholes, and so many freebies given to big polluters, that the bill has already failed to do what it was meant to do before even beeing enacted. For the most part, the bill is a greenwash effort so that the United States can say they are doing something about climate change. Sarah Palin though, does not have the answers. She’s not remotely close.

 





Algae to Energy: Update

14 07 2009
From: Huffington Post, 2009

From: Huffington Post, 2009

This is in addition to my post from June 30, 2009: Reuters News service as well as the New York Times, both stated today that Exxon, the largest western oil company, the same Exxon that has touted renewable energy as not economically feasible, the same Exxon that has supported evidence that denies human induced climate change, The same Exxon that called biofuels ‘moonshine’, may be coming over to the renewable side. We could see Exxon invest over $600 million in the production of fuels from algae. This investment would partner Exxon Mobil with biotech company, Synthetic Genomics. We shant get too hasty though, Emil Jacobs, Exxon’s vice president for Research and Development says we won’t see mass production of this fuel for another five or ten years. One question we may be prone to overlook, is why only $600 million? I know this sounds like a big number, but Exxon’s profits for 2008 were in the area of $45.22 billion. You’ve got to imagine that a larger investment might be able to push this techonolgy to mass markets in a shorter time frame. Yet, we still have to give some praise. If anyone should be investing in renewables, it’s the oil giants. They’ve got the money and power to do the research. Also, it follows that the oil giants will wean themselves off of oil ever-so-slowly once they start investing heavily in renewables.

More about this technology though. The Obama administration is looking for biofuels to make up 36 billion gallons of fuels per year by 2022. Corn-based biofuel only gets 250 gallons per acre each year and has been heavily criticized for doing more harm than good. Algae-based biofuel is able to produce 2000 gallons per acre each year. Still, this sure is a lot of land. A litte bit of math puts it at 18 million acres of land. There are options though. Algae can be farmed in areas unsuitable for crops. Also, it very well may be possible to farm it in sea water, though I can only imagine the possible negative effects of this.

So, with that all said, I don’t know if the winds are finally changing or Exxon just wants to control the future market, but this is news indeed for the renewable energy world. Lets just hope they don’t find a way to destroy the entire algae population or any coral reefs while they do it.

Reuters article: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE56D0O120090714?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews

New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/14/business/energy-environment/14fuel.html?pagewanted=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

My original post: https://iaminformed.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/algae-to-energy/