Layoffs at Winnipeg’s federal fisheries office will gut environmental monitoring and kill one of the most unique and successful water research projects in the world.
At least 27 biologists, chemists and other scientists received notice Thursday their jobs are among 400 positions being eliminated across the country at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
In addition to the scientists at the Fisheries’ Freshwater Institute at the University of Manitoba, 13 support staff received layoff notices Thursday.
Among the most heartbreaking cuts for scientists is the Experimental Lakes Area, a 44-year-old program covering 58 small lakes near Kenora, Ont., that scientists use to conduct real-world experiments on entire ecosystems.
“The department will no longer conduct research that requires whole lake or whole ecosystem manipulation. As such the research program at the Experimental Lakes Area will be ceased and the facility will be closed,” a DFO spokeswoman wrote in an email.
Research done there has dramatically altered environmental policy across North America, leading to changes in hydro development, a ban on phosphorus in dish soap and action on acid rain.
Over the decades, scientists from around the world have dumped acid, toxic metals, synthetic hormones and other pollutants into the 58 small, remote lakes. The researchers have used the lakes, as one scientist once put it, “the way medical researchers use white mice.”
For years, it’s been the site of groundbreaking experiments on nutrients and algae blooms, the kind that stifle Lake Winnipeg every summer.
Fisheries scientists who work on the lakes are barred from speaking to the media, but one independent researcher called the decision to kill the ELA “a travesty.”
“This isn’t a Canadian jewel. It truly is an international jewel,” said University of Alberta biologist Vincent St. Louis, who began his career as an undergraduate at the ELA and just returned from a research visit two weeks ago.
“Everyone in Canada should value the research being done at the experimental lakes regardless of political tendency, because everyone values clean drinking water, nice lakes to swim in, fishing.”
Back in 2004, a study* considered by academics to be the baseline work in the field was published by researchers at four universities. These researchers, Alan Ziobrowski of Georgia State among them, found that during the boom years of 1993-‘98, a majority of US senators were trading stocks — and they were beating the market by 12 percentage points a year on average. Corporate insiders, on the other hand, only beat the market by 5 percent, and typical households underperformed by 1.4 percent. Interestingly, there were no differences found between Democrats and Republicans. (See Gail Chaddock’s report on the study in the Christian Science Monitor.)
12 percent is a statistically shocking number, way beyond luck or just being smart. Nobody does that well. Not George Soros. Not Warren Buffett.
The 2004 study sent chills through Congress as members realized they were under scrutiny. And yet legislators have gone right on lining their pockets using insider information. In the executive branch, you’re expected to divest yourself of assets when you take office or put your investments into what are known as “blind trusts.” But legislators consider inside dealmaking their divine right. They typically go right on playing the stock market and often neglect to bow out when they have a financial interest in an issue they are legislating. Disclosure statements they have to release are pretty much a joke – they’re incomplete, and they are difficult and expensive for the public to obtain. A reporter requesting documents has to disclose his or her information in the request, which is then sent straight to the member, a move which can be intimidating to those asking questions.
October 10, 2011 is the ninth annual World Day against the Death Penalty, and this year marks 35 years since the United States reinstated capital punishment in 1976. In that time, 1,271 people have been electrocuted, shot, hanged, gassed, or put to death by lethal injection.
I know what death row looks like, I’ve talked with condemned men, and because of my interaction with the death penalty in this country I’ve been given a good look at the privileged life I lead.
There is nothing to applaud when people die. There is nothing to applaud when people fail to examine their own lives and the good fortune they have had. There is nothing to applaud when our leaders do not understand the difference between justice and vengeance. There is nothing to applaud when people believe that the only thing our government can do properly is inject some citizens full of poison.
[W]e cannot organize an opposition to the culture of death that seems to powerful in this country at the moment by looking for individual cases that inflame our passion. This is reactive; time and time again, the bulk of our organizing happens at the last moment, once a death warrant has been signed, and so all of our effort seems to go into last-ditch efforts like calling the Pardon Board, hoping for the Supreme Court to step in, and holding a rally or vigil late into the night while someone is strapped down and injected with poison.
It’s today that we need to organize; it’s today that we should begin to put one foot in front of the other and do the difficult work that will be required to rid ourselves of the death penalty for good, not simply to stave off one particular execution or another. There are organizations or coalitions of organizations in every state that are dedicated to legislatively eliminating the death penalty.
To sum up: It is both legal and proper in more than half of the states in this country for agents of the government to strap someone down and inject him full of poison in revenge for something terrible he did many years earlier. You can tell your legislators that this is an attack on human dignity; you can change that law.
Cops watching a man drown because they can no longer afford water-rescue training? Actually happening. That’s just what happens when one political party openly declares it wants to shrink the size of government until its small enough to drown in a bath tub. Our November/December cover story is up, and it’s a must-read.
…a provision in President Barack Obama’s jobs bill, which would ban companies with 15 or more employees from refusing to consider — or offer a job to — someone who is unemployed. The measure also applies to employment agencies and would prohibit want ads that disqualify applicants just because they are unemployed.
Obama’s bill faces a troubled path in Congress, as Republicans strongly oppose its plans for tax increases on the wealthy and other spending provisions.
The effort to protect the unemployed has drawn praise from workers’ rights advocates, but business groups say it will just stir up needless litigation by frustrated job applicants. The provision would give those claiming discrimination a right to sue, and violators would face fines of up to $1,000 per day, plus attorney fees and costs.
This is a ridiculous overreach of government into contractual agreements.
And people wonder why businesses aren’t hiring. They have to worry about 1,000 dollar a day fines for God knows what new regulation they may be violating.
The government has a duty to step in and protect American workers against discrimination in hiring.
Dear Evil Idiot: The law isn’t in place yet, so companies aren’t worrying about $1,000 a day fines. Further, it’s neither government regulations nor fear of such regulations that’s holding the economy back (as has been proven time and time and time and time again), it’s corporations refusing to expand until demand increases. Of course, demand can’t increase until corporations expand, so to break this vicious circle the federal government is going to have to step in and motivate companies to create jobs — or raise taxes and start expanding the size of government in order to create jobs.
Now run along, you twenty-something know-nothing. Grown-ups are talking. — Ryking
I was about 17 when the NHS was founded, and I remember life in Britain before it. I came from a large family. We weren’t well off but we weren’t impoverished either, though being a large family meant we had to stretch our money a long way. Money was always an issue when it came to seeing the doctor. Half a crown was the amount I always remember, and when you’re only earning shillings, that can be a lot of money. Quite a lot of people simply couldn’t afford healthcare.
The second world war crystallised the need for good healthcare. There became a realisation that health shouldn’t come down for money. Before the war hundreds of thousands of people were just too poor to see a doctor, so the National Health Service was born in response. We wanted a world that was better after the war than before.
Politicians talk a lot about being progressive, about modernisation. And that’s what the NHS is. It is the jewel in the crown; an object of admiration and envy around the world. It’s what allows us to call ourselves civilised – because one of the benchmarks of a civilised society is that we care for each other. We’ve already tried a healthcare system based on money, and it failed.
The health and social care bill is based on three big lies. First, the government argues, increased competition and privatisation will improve choice. If you want to know whether that’s true, just look across the water to the US, and the fact that Barack Obama tried to move away from the very system we are hurtling towards. It should ring alarm bells that some GP practices are already beginning to charge patients for some procedures. Second, the government tells us it has a mandate to make these changes, but it doesn’t. The “reforms” weren’t in any manifesto, nobody voted for them and they’re desperately unpopular. David Cameron even promised no “top-down reorganisations” of the NHS in 2006. Finally, the government insists that “doing nothing is not an option”. This lie is particularly pernicious because the idea of doing nothing hasn’t been suggested: those who value the NHS always want the government to look at ways to improve it. But by phrasing the bill in those terms, the government is suggesting that we either have to ignore the imperfections of the NHS or accept these changes. It’s simply not true.
The people of Britain have been seriously let down by political parties and the TUC in recent years. There just aren’t any leaders for working people any more. This has instilled in the public an apathy that the government is relying upon to push these reforms through. They know that people will be unwilling or unable to fathom its complexity. When I tell people what the health and social care bill means, they always say “they can’t do that can they?” because they simply haven’t realised the seriousness of the proposed changes.
I’m joining UK Uncut’s action to Block the Bridge, Block the Bill on Sunday 9 October because it’s absolutely the right thing to do. We know now that we can’t rely on leaders, so we must take matters into our own hands. Across the world, it’s become clear that more and more people are starting to feel the same way. We’ve seen ordinary people protest in Wall Street about decisions being made about their lives but without their consent, and we must do the same here. We will act nonviolently and we will be clear with our message: the government simply cannot be allowed to do this. I’m not nervous about the protest: I’m ready to take a stand. I hope you’ll join me.
Given the choice between Rush and the rack, most people would choose the rack … it causes less long-term damage.
Jon Turley, commenting on a case in which a woman was arrested in Texas and “forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh.” She is suing the county and the sheriff who arrested her on a host of claims. (via letterstomycountry)
NHS cuts protesters occupy Westminster Bridge - in pictures
More than 2,000 protesters blocked Westminster Bridge in London to protest against the government’s planned shakeup of the NHS
You know, if socialized medicine is really as bad as critics claim it is, why would anyone, much less thousands of people, actively protest against cutting it? The horror stories that folks on the Right tell about Britain’s NHS make it seem completely indefensible. Yet here are thousands of people who live under it and are actively campaigning to defend it.