Tomgram: Chip Ward, Uranium Frenzy in the West

June 24, 2008

[Note for Tomdispatch readers: Steve Fraser, who wrote “The Great Silence: Our Gilded Age and Theirs” for this site, was recently invited onto Bill Moyers Journal to discuss a range of topics from that post. The show reflected Moyers’s typical insight and intelligence. I thought some of you might want to check out Fraser’s part in it. If so, click here. Tom]

This has been energy crisis week at Tomdispatch (with a brief pit stop at America’s mega-bases in Iraq, built with control of the oil heartlands of the planet in mind). First, Michael Klare asked why the Pentagon’s garrisoning of the global gas station had anything to do with American security. Then John Feffer wondered whether, when it came to that lethal combo of soaring energy prices, soaring food prices, and extreme weather, we were all now North Koreans. Today, Chip Ward takes up the energy crisis in America’s increasingly arid western backyard.

A few years ago, Ward wrote for Tomdispatch about various plans to dump radioactive waste, including 40 years worth of “spent fuel rods” from nuclear reactors, in his Utah backyard. People who lived downwind were alarmed. They had been exposed to radioactive fallout during the era of atomic testing in the 1950s and feared more of the same — cancer for “downwinders” and obfuscation and denial from federal regulators. Since Ward wrote his account, local activists have successfully blocked the projects. Score one for the little guys.

Last year Ward, who was the assistant director of the Salt Lake City Public Library System, retired. (His goodby-to-all-that Tomdispatch essay, “What They Didn’t Teach Us in Library School,” on his experiences with homeless library users is now being made into a Hollywood movie by actor/director Emilio Estevez.) Ward moved to a remote corner of southern Utah, so imagine his surprise, after years of resisting the back end of the nuclear energy cycle, to run smack into the cycle’s front end: uranium mining.

For most of us, this is a stealth story, but those living in the arid lands of the West are experiencing a killer-case of déjà vu. After all, 50 years ago, the uranium boom that provided the raw material for America’s nuclear arsenal, and its first generation of nuclear power plants, left sickness, death, and environmental destruction in its wake. Back then, “the peaceful atom” was being plugged as a miracle answer to any problem. Energy “too cheap to meter”? You bet. Harbors constructed by detonating atomic bombs? Sure thing. That was, of course, before nuclear power, possibly the most subsidized and capital-intensive energy source on Earth, gave us an intractable radioactive waste problem and filled us with fears of meltdowns and cancer.

Today, nuclear power is experiencing a “revival” — as a visionary solution to a global warming crisis caused, in part, by carbon-dioxide spewing coal-fired power plants. But let Ward take up the story of the latest round of “uranium frenzy” in his usual energetic manner. Tom

Big Bad Boom

Radioactive Déjà Vu in the American West

By Chip Ward

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Intel Strike: Bill C-51, Codex and the SPP

June 23, 2008

This excellent commentary by Dana Gabriel was posted on Intel Strike on June 19th, 2008. It accurately explains Bill C-51, its ramifications for users of herbal supplements and vitamins, and its blending with the SPP agenda. Bill C-51 would bring sweeping changes to our Canadian Food and Drugs Act.

Outlawing vitamins while fast-tracking potentially dangerous new pharmaceuticals? This is outrageous!

On April 8, 2008, Canada’s Health Minister introduced Bill C-51 which proposed sweeping changes to the Food and Drugs Act. The Canadian government has since been forced to make amendments because of intense grassroots pressure. There are fears that this Bill could lead to some vitamins, herbs, minerals, and dietary supplements no longer being available in the country. Through the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), Canada, the U.S., and Mexico are already busy harmonizing food and drug regulations into a North American Union structure. Some have suggested that this Bill would also bring Canadian law into compliance with the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Bill C-51 has the potential to take away the rights of people to freely choose natural medicine as an alternative to expensive drug-based products and treatments.

Bill C-51 will further encroach on civil liberties and increase police state measures. There is reason for concern because of the Bills ambiguous language in regards to raids and seizures. It has been referred to as a police state bill masquerading as a health bill. It will make it easier for Canadian officials to seize natural health products and remove them from store shelves. It grants inspectors the power to raid homes and businesses without a warrant and the power to seize bank accounts and property. Some might recall that in the early 90’s, the FDA engaged in paramilitary raids on American health food stores, holistic treatment centers, and other nutritional supplement businesses. This behavior created such a public outcry and backlash, leading Congress to pass the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) to protect the right of American consumers to purchase and use nutritional supplements.

If the Harper Conservative government thought that they were going to quietly pass Bill C-51, were they ever wrong. When word hit the Internet and blogoshere that up to 60% of natural health products currently sold in Canada could be outlawed, it sparked a swift and strong public reaction. In Bill C-51, the word drug has been replaced with “therapeutic products” and gives the government broad reaching powers to further regulate their sale. Health Minister Tony Clement has vowed to change the parts that lumped natural medicines in with pharmaceutical drugs. This includes a clearer definition of natural health products into the Food and Drugs Act. There has been other amendments made, but there are still many concerns surrounding Bill C-51. It might be safer to do away with it in its entirety and start from scratch.

It is the SPP working groups that are harmonizing regulations and laws, writing out policy initiatives and recommendations. They are the real power, laying the foundation for a North American Union. Part of the SPP calls for the “Identification and appropriate adoption of best practices in maintaining the safety, efficacy and quality of pharmaceutical products.” NDP MP Peter Julian said in the House of Commons that, “Bill C-51 would limit access to many health products and allow the fast-tracking of new drugs that have not been proven safe. Bill C-51 blends in with the SPP agenda, which is about harmonizing regulations across the board with the United States, resulting in lower standards.” There are fears that Bill C-51 will bring about a more U.S. style approach to food, drugs, and consumer product safety. This includes turning more power over to the drug companies with increased reliance on their testing and research. These same drug manufacturers would themselves be more responsible in fast-tracking the drug approval process and further looking after any safety concerns once the drug has hit the market. Under the Trilateral Cooperation Charter, the FDA is also working with Canada and Mexico in further harmonizing regulations between the three countries.

It is not just through the SPP and the Trilateral Cooperation Charter that the harmonizing of food and drugs is being achieved. The Codex Alimentarius Commission which is part of the United Nations is setting international guidelines for food products including dietary supplements. They are using muscle provided by the World Trade Organization to undermine and bypass domestic laws. Section Six of CAFTA talks about using the Codex codes as the regulatory standard for all signing nations. It is through the Codex guidelines that vitamins, minerals, and other natural supplements could become limited and even banned. Some fear that Bill C-51 is an attempt to place Canada under Codex control.

Many argue that Bill C-51 is unnecessary, and that there are already laws in place to protect consumers from natural health products. It’s not about keeping Canadians safe, it’s about further harmonizing our health and safety regulations into a North American Union. How can fast-tracking potentially dangerous new drugs and at the same time outlawing some beneficial natural medicines be good for anyone? One must understand that it is also about ensuring huge profits for Big Pharma. Bill C-51 should be rejected on the grounds that it threatens the ability of Canadians to choose alternative health products and treatments.

STOP Bill C-51 — Sign the PETITION:

The Rising Price of Fuel – Toronto Public Forum

June 22, 2008

Pollution Probe will be hosting a Public Forum on The Rising Price of Fuel: What will it Mean for Consumers, the Auto Industry and the Environment?

When: Monday, June 23rd from 7 – 9 PM (refreshments at 6:30 PM)
Where: Delta Chelsea Hotel at 33 Gerrard St West, Toronto, Rossetti Room (Yonge and Dundas subway station)

Opening remarks will be from Bob Seguin, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the Forum will be moderated by Michael Hlinka, Daily Business Reporter, CBC One’s Metro Morning.

Panel Presentations will be from David Greene, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Ken Kurani, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California; and Richard Cooper, Executive Director, J.D. Power and Associates Canada.

There is no admission fee and registration is not necessary.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Spring at or 416-926-1907 ext. 238.

Please pass this message on to your friends.

Thank you.

Jessica Fracassi, Communications & Membership Director
Ontario Clean Air Alliance
402-625 Church St, Toronto M4Y 2G1
Phone: 416-926-1907 ext. 245
Fax: 416-926-1601

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance is a diverse, multi-stakeholder coalition of approximately 90 organizations including cities, health associations, environmental and public interest groups, corporations, public utilities, unions, faith communities and individuals.  The OCAA’s short term goal is to achieve the complete phase out of Ontario’s four coal-fired power plants by 2010.  Our long term goal is to ensure that all of our electricity needs are met by ecologically sustainable renewable sources. Our partner organizations represent more than six million Ontarians.

Interested in donating to the OCAA? Please click here to find out how.

To subscribe to this list please visit

Statement from Kahentinetha Horn

June 22, 2008

Below is the statement issued by Kahentinetha Horn. This 67-year old grandmother and activist, along with the editor of Mohawk Nation News (MNN) were assaulted by Canadian border officials. Ms Horn suffered serious arterial damage and had to be hospitalized.

This brutal action by of Canada Customs officers makes Canada’s apology to our Aboriginal people ring all the more hollow and disingenuous.


STATEMENT–June 18, 2008

Kahnawake–Two Mohawk women were assaulted by Canada Customs officers on Saturday June 14, 2008 at 2 pm. at the Cornwall Island border in Akwesahsne. Mohawk rights-activist and elder Kahentinetha Horn, 67, suffered arterial damage during the assault and was hospitalized under guard. Also hurt in the incident was Mohawk Nation News (MNN) editor Katenies, who was held until Sunday and released. Charges against Ms. Horn were dropped. Ms. Horn was hospitalized in Cornwall until her release June 18. Charges against Katenies were dropped on Monday June 16. “I understand that our people are upset about this,” Ms. Horn said, after her release from hospital and under private care for her injuries. “I am concerned that the incident has upset my daughters and grandchildren. There’s no excuse for what they did to us.” The incident is under investigation. No other details are available at this time.


Toronto: BBQ and Walkathon – Raising Funds for Disabled Children and Orphans in Gaza

June 21, 2008

BBQ and Walkathon – Raising Funds for Disabled Children and Orphans in Gaza

The International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF) present a fun day with friends, family and food! Come out to support this worthwhile cause.

When: June 22, 2008, beginning at 10:00 am

Where: High Park (Area 2), 1973 Bloor Street West in Toronto

All funds raised will be directed to the IDRF supported physiotherapy and rehab centre for wounded and disabled Palestinian children in Gaza. The centre provides educational, health and rehabilitation services to these children, as well as a permanent home and comprehensive care for abandoned orphans and children.

Admission is $30 (includes lunch) and $25 each for teams of 5+. The cost for the BBQ only is $10 for adults and $5 for youth (5 – 12 years). Children under 5 are free. Tax receipts are available for donations and pledges over $10.

To purchase tickets, please contact CAF at or 416-493-8635. To register in the walkathon, please contact 416-497-0818 x 223 or

Robert Lovelace reflecting on the apology

June 18, 2008

Reflecting on the apology : Canada AM: Robert Lovelace, Queen’s University

Action Alert: Lakes across Canada being turned into mine dump sites!

June 18, 2008

Earlier yesterday I posted an Action Alert about a proposed radioactive waste dump in the Great Lakes. Then last night while watching The National on CBC, I saw the news that lakes across Canada face being turned into mine dump sites. “16 Canadian lakes are slated to be officially but quietly “reclassified” as toxic dump sites for mines. The lakes include prime wilderness fishing lakes from B.C. to Newfoundland.”

Can you believe this?? First our Great Lakes are being turned into dump sites for radioactive waste, then our smaller lakes across the country face being dumping sites for mines!

Have we Canadians become such apathetic sheeple that our governments figure we won’t care if they allow our precious water — our life blood, necessary for our survival and our land which grows the food to feed us — to be used as industrial waste dumps? All to profit themselves and their mining corporation lobbyist friends? In the words of Chad Griffiths, a local environmentalist who attended the Long Harbour meeting: “It’s a trend. It’s an open season on Canadian water”.

Canadians must NOT stay silent about the further poisoning of our dwindling fresh water!! People, wake up!!! Let the politicians know that this is unacceptable!!! What will it take to make you shout out your anger? What will it take to wake you up? Will you wait until there’s not a drop of drinkable water left or an acre of un-poisoned, arable land remaining? Will you wait until then???

Under the Fisheries Act, it’s illegal to put harmful substances into fish-bearing waters. But, under a little-known subsection known as Schedule Two of the mining effluent regulations, federal bureaucrats can redefine lakes as “tailings impoundment areas.”

That means mining companies don’t need to build containment ponds for toxic mine tailings.

CBC News visited two examples of Schedule Two lakes. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Vale Inco company wants to use a prime destination for fishermen known as Sandy Pond to hold tailings from a nickel processing plant.

In northern B.C., Imperial Metals plans to enclose a remote watershed valley to hold tailings from a gold and copper mine. The valley lies in what the native Tahltan people call the “Sacred Headwaters” of three major salmon rivers. It also serves as spawning grounds for the rainbow trout of Kluela Lake, which is downstream from the dump site.

Read more about this on

I am angry beyond words…