Online Bailout Outrage Jumps to Streets, and Into Lawmakers’ Inboxes

September 25, 2008

An e-mail that began as a rallying cry from a lone journalist to an influential circle of friends to protest the U.S. government bailout of Wall Street has ignited a national day of street protests. Some demonstrators plan to dump their rubbish in front of the bronze bull sculpture near Wall Street in downtown Manhattan Thursday.

“People are going to bring their own personal junk that they think is worth as much as the junk financial instruments that the government is proposing to buy from the Wall Street banks,” says Andrew Boyd, an activist and freelance online-video artist for nonprofit groups in Manhattan. “We’re hoping that people show up with their 8-track cassette collections, their old Spice Girl CDs, their surf boards that got bit by sharks and old Enron stock certificates.”

Boyd is just one of thousands of Americans from all over the political spectrum who the Bush Administration has angered with its vague proposal to hand $700 billion over to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to restore U.S. financial markets’ health. That anger has manifested itself online through e-mail, web sites and other online chatter, with one site,, going rapidly viral this week. The site, a parody of the dire financial situation, is what is inspiring the self-organizing group of activists to show up in downtown Manhattan Thursday evening with all their junk. They hope to make their simmering fury palpable to Wall Streeters getting off work.

… Read more (Wired Blog Network)

Protest the Bailout Today
There are more than 200 events planned coast to coast for today, September 25, protesting the Bush Administration’s proposed bailout.  Find an event near you and contact your elected reps and implore them to reject a plan that bails out Wall Street but not Main Street.


Listeriosis toll grows, number of food inspectors shrinks

August 27, 2008

One of the key initiatives of neo-liberalism and the so-called “Washington consensus” is massive deregulation. It is often couched as “self-regulation” – the notion that we hand over more and more regulation to the companies that we used to regulate through government agencies. It is notoriously ineffective and in combination with huge cuts to the number of regulators still employed by government, it means that the public is at ever-greater risk from a wide variety of threats. The listeriosis outbreak has led to twelve deaths with more added every few hours. At the same time as our most vulnerable citizens are dying or getting extremely ill, a whistle blower has revealed that things are about to get worse: food safety will be put increasingly in the hands of firms like Maple Leaf which is already cutting corners. In addition, the union representing food safety inspectors has stated that the Harper government has also slashed the number of inspectors still working. This government plans to further deregulate food safety, right at the time when a dozen people – and counting – have died from tainted meat.

So what can we Canadians do?

As a start, write a letter demanding the government: 1) hold a public inquiry into the listeriosis outbreak and its causes, 2) abandon plans for so-called self-regulation of the food industry and 3) increase the budget for inspections to a level that guarantees the safety of Canadians.

I am in the process of doing this.

On the immediate personal level, I’ve gone through my fridge with a fine-tooth comb with the updated (long and growing) list in hand and threw out a couple of more items, just to be on the safe side. I seldom purchase processed meats, but a few occasionally do make it into the grocery basket. My elderly uncle who lives with me likes them. The updated list of tainted items is taped to my fridge door. It is several pages long and contains items most of us would not have associated with Maple Leaf foods. Deli meats and sausages from companies like Schneiders, Shopsy’s, Bittners, Burns and others. Who would have thought that these also came off the assembly lines at the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto?

A Star blogs Political Decoder was wondering the same thing in this post. Here is an excerpt:

Well, I guess JM Schneider has left the smokehouse. At Maple Leaf Foods, CEO MIchael McCain has apologized for the tainted meat related to the outbreak of listeriosis, saying his company will do better in future. Perhaps it’s time for advertisers to do better by giving consumers a break.

You’ve probably seen Schneiders’ folksy TV ads that feature a smokehouse employee who says his wife always complains about the smell in this clothes – but, hey, that’s the price of quality. The ad is shot like an old-time news reel showing employees working together and the old man himself saying nothing but the best gets past him. Okay, nobody thinks it’s a genuine 1920s newsreel, but we do at least expect Schneiders meats come from a Schneiders plant where, in a modern age, employees show the same dedication as in the past. That’s the point of the ad: times change, dedication remains the same.

But no. We find out with this tainted meat scandal at least some of Schneiders meat comes off assembly lines at the Maple Leaf plant in Toronto. It’s the plant linked to meats contaminated with the listeria bacteria, with Schneiders products on the recall list.


Read this Political Decoder (Star blogs) post: Tainted meat at Maple Leaf: Where’s old man Schneider when you need him?

Read Star HealthZone article and related articles here: Tainted meat toll grows

Recalled products list as of August 25

Please sign petition against proposed Lake Huron nuke dump!

June 16, 2008

Progress Michigan has launched an online petition against a proposed nuclear dump 1/2 mile from Lake Huron in Canada and a massive oil refinery in Sarnia. Unfortunately, at first, Canadians couldn’t sign the petition. It wouldn’t take the Canadian zip codes. That is all fixed, now and Canadians can sign on!

The nuclear dump will take waste from 20 Canadian reactors and have to store it and isolate it from the environment for hundreds of years. Lake Huron is a drinking water source for millions of people in Michigan.

Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, (along with many other Great Lakes environmental groups,) has been leading the charge against this proposal. The petition will grow the list of supporters standing with them against these risky projects.

You can sign the petition at: Please pass the link on to friends and neighbours.

Toxic Nation E-News: the June 2008 issue from Environmental Defence

June 16, 2008

This June 2008 issue of the Toxic Nation E-Newsletter is filled with information that concerns all Canadians who are conscious about their health and environment:

Nasty Vinyl: Toxic Shower Curtians

Bisphenol A: Your Last Chance to Submit Comments

Cleaning Up The House: BPA Founds in Canadian House Dust

Help Ban Pesticides: Ontario-wide Ban Needs Your Support

Signing up/Signing off

Nasty Vinyl: Toxic Shower Curtains

New laboratory tests reveal that the “new shower curtain smell” may be toxic to our health. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic shower curtains purchased at five major retailers in the U.S. all contain avoidable toxic chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates, organotins, and metals. Some of these chemicals are volatile, so they are released into the air inside our homes.

Read the full report: Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell

Download our Guide to Vinyl: shower curtains and other products

The new study reveals PVC, also known as vinyl, shower curtains can release as many as 108 VOCs. Some of these chemicals, such as ethylbenzene and cyclohexanone, are considered a human health concern under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and are associated with developmental damage as well as damage to the liver and central nervous, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Some can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

The tests looked at the amount of chemicals released into the air when the vinyl curtains were unwrapped from their packaging. It took the curtains roughly a month to stop off-gassing their toxic chemicals, which can have an effect on your health. Some people experience nausea, headaches or are sick due to the smell of the off-gassing chemicals.

Environmental Defence is calling on the federal government to ban vinyl shower curtains and require manufacturers to switch to safer alternatives, such as cotton curtains. In addition, we demand the use of toxic chemicals released from vinyl (e.g. toluene, ethylbenzene, cyclohexanone, methyl isobutyl ketone, phenol, etc.) be regulated in consumer products.

TAKE ACTION ON TOXIC VINYL TODAY! Send a message directly to the government to ban vinyl shower curtains.

Bisphenol A: Your Last Chance to Submit Comments

Wednesday, June 18 is the last day for you and your friends to make an impact on the federal government’s decision to regulate the toxic chemical, bisphenol A (BPA). On this day the 60-day comment period on BPA closes and the government will begin reviewing the comments submitted by the Canadian public, stakeholders, and industry.

Based on Health Canada’s proposal published on April 18, it seems that the government is only interested in regulating BPA in baby bottles and infant formula. In doing so, they will be disregarding the evidence that the lining inside food cans, such as the can of soup in your kitchen cupboard, leach BPA into the contained food. A recent study by CTV and the Globe and Mail showed that higher levels of BPA were found leaching from foods cans then were detected leaching from baby bottles.

Where there is a question of potential harm to humans and the environment, as is true of BPA, we should be taking a precautionary approach instead of asking what level of risk is acceptable- a can of soup or a reusable sports bottle.

Voice your concern on BPA today! Send a message to the federal government urging them to ban BPA in food and beverage containers!

Cleaning Up The House: BPA Founds in Canadian House Dust

Increasingly, people are realizing that the air in their homes might be more hazardous then the polluted air we breathe outdoors in urban areas.

Indoor air pollutants are not regulated in Canada. This is a huge concern, given the release of toxic chemicals we are seeing from products we all have around our homes (e.g. shower curtains, miscellaneous plastic items).

Health Canada’s Indoor Air Quality website is fairly minimal, but even they list chemical pollutants from household and personal care products as major sources of indoor air pollution.

What you might be interested in is The Canadian House Dust Study. No, Health Canada is not judging our sweeping and vacuuming skills;rather they are measuring the levels of chemicals in house dust in Canadian homes.

Even more interesting, is that preliminary data from the house dust study detected bisphenol A in 99% of Canadian households, with average concentrations at 1,600 ppb (parts per billion). (Levels of BPA leaching out of foods cans and baby bottles have ranged in 5-19 ppb)

Although we are not eating dust, a sure bet is that the BPA particles go somewhere (landfill, groundwater, plants, etc.). This points to yet another indication that Canada needs stronger regulations on chemicals, particularly in consumer products, along with increased funding to support further research into the effects of environmental pollutants.

For more great reading on human health and environmental pollutants check out Environmental Health Perspectives online.

Help Ban Pesticidest: Ontario-wide Ban Needs Your Support

The Ontario-wide pesticide ban has just passed second reading. Doctors and groups across the province are working to make the ban as health-protective as possible before it receives final passage. This is our last chance to make sure this bill does everything we want it to!

Please take a minute today to send an email to the Premier of Ontario with the following message:

“I strongly support a ban on the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides, including on golf courses. We need to see a ban come into effect as soon as possible, for our health and the protection of the environment”

Premier McGuinty’s email:

Phone: (416) 325-1941

Many Thanks!


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