International Hearings on 9/11


International Hearings on 9/11

A decade after the events of September 11, 2001, which resulted in the immediate deaths of nearly 3,000 people on American soil, countless victims from toxic dust and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq, international hearings on this pivotal event will begin in Toronto in September.

The events of September 11 provided a pretext for a “War on Terror” that has led to military invasions and occupations and attacks upon civil and human rights throughout the world. The credibility of the official investigation into the events of September 11, 2001, carried out by the US Government between 2003 and 2005, has been questioned by millions of citizens in the US and abroad, including the victims’ family members, expert witnesses and international legal experts.

To date, open and transparent judicial hearings to question the official evidence provided by the US Government have never taken place in the US or abroad. Similarly, no perpetrators of the events of September 11 have ever been brought to justice on American soil.

A group of international citizens has therefore undertaken to privately fund and cause these independent hearings to take place. Because of the global ramifications of the events of 9/11, the initiators of this inquest have opted to select an international location outside of the US for these hearings to proceed. The city of Toronto was chosen as an ideal international location because of its proximity to New York, Washington and Shanksville, the three crime scenes.

Sponsored by the International Center for 9/11 Studies, the first four days of these hearings will take place at Toronto’s Ryerson University between September 8 and 11, 2011. During these proceedings various expert witnesses will present evidence into the case.

All seating to attend the hearings is now sold out, but the hearings will also be broadcasted live via the Internet. Please visit our website at for further information on how to link up and for background on the hearings and presenters.

Private funding to carry out these initial hearings is being provided by citizens from around the world. The Toronto Hearings will be moderated by Dr. Michael Keefer (Canada) and Dr. Matthew Witt (USA) and the final report will be edited by American attorney James Gourley.


Source: International Center for 9/11 Studies


9/11 and the Orwellian redefinition of Conspiracy Theory

 by Paul Craig Roberts

While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition.

A “conspiracy theory” no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy. Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government’s explanation and that of its media pimps.

For example, online news broadcasts of Russian Television (RT) have been equated with conspiracy theories by the New York Times simply because RT reports news and opinions that the New York Times does not report and the US government does not endorse.

In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.

When piles of carefully researched books, released government documents and testimony of eye witnesses made it clear that Oswald was not President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, the voluminous research, government documents and verified testimony was dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”

In other words, the truth of the event was unacceptable to the authorities and to the Ministry of Propaganda that represents the interests of authorities.

The purest example of how Americans are shielded from truth is the media’s (including many Internet sites’) response to the large number of professionals who find the official explanation of September 11, 2001, inconsistent with everything they, as experts, know about physics, chemistry, structural engineering, architecture, fires, structural damage, the piloting of airplanes, the security procedures of the United States, NORAD’s capabilities, air traffic control, airport security and other matters. These experts, numbering in the thousands, have been shouted down by know-nothings in the media who brand the experts as “conspiracy theorists.”

This despite the fact that the official explanation endorsed by the official media is the most extravagant conspiracy theory in human history.

Let’s take a minute to re-acquaint ourselves with the official explanation, which is not regarded as a conspiracy theory despite the fact that it comprises an amazing conspiracy. The official truth is that a handful of young Muslim Arabs who could not fly airplanes, mainly Saudi Arabians who came neither from Iraq nor from Afghanistan, outwitted not only the CIA and the FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies and all intelligence agencies of US allies including Israel’s Mossad, which is believed to have penetrated every terrorist organization and which carries out assassinations of those whom Mossad marks as terrorists.

In addition to outwitting every intelligence agency of the United States and its allies, the handful of young Saudi Arabians outwitted the National Security Council, the State Department, NORAD, airport security four times in the same hour on the same morning, air traffic control, caused the US Air Force to be unable to launch interceptor aircraft, and caused three well-built steel-structured buildings, including one not hit by an airplane, to fail suddenly in a few seconds as a result of limited structural damage and small, short-lived, low-temperature fires that burned on a few floors.

The Saudi terrorists were even able to confound the laws of physics and cause WTC building seven to collapse at free fall speed for several seconds, a physical impossibility in the absence of explosives used in controlled demolition.

The story that the government and the media have told us amounts to a gigantic conspiracy, really a script for a James Bond film. Yet anyone who doubts this improbable conspiracy theory is defined into irrelevance by the obedient media.

Anyone who believes an architect, structural engineer, or demolition expert who says that the videos show that the buildings are blowing up, not falling down, anyone who believes a Ph.D physicist who says that the official explanation is inconsistent with known laws of physics, anyone who believes expert pilots who testify that non-pilots or poorly-qualified pilots cannot fly airplanes in such manoeuvres, anyone who believes the 100 or more first responders who testify that they not only heard explosions in the towers but personally experienced explosions, anyone who believes University of Copenhagen nano-chemist Niels Harrit who reports finding unreacted nano-thermite in dust samples from the WTC towers, anyone who is convinced by experts instead of by propaganda is dismissed as a kook.

In America today, and increasingly throughout the Western world, actual facts and true explanations have been relegated to the realm of kookiness. Only people who believe lies are socially approved and accepted as patriotic citizens.

Indeed, a writer or newscaster is not even permitted to report the findings of 9/11 skeptics. In other words, simply to report Professor Harrit’s findings now means that you endorse them or agree with them. Everyone in the US print and TV media knows that he/she will be instantly fired if they report Harrit’s findings, even with a laugh. Thus, although Harrit has reported his findings on European television and has lectured widely on his findings in Canadian universities, the fact that he and the international scientific research team that he led found unreacted nano-thermite in the WTC dust and have offered samples to other scientists to examine has to my knowledge never been reported in the American media.

Even Internet sites on which I am among the readers’ favorites will not allow me to report on Harrit’s findings.

As I reported earlier, I myself had experience with a Huffington Post reporter who was keen to interview a Reagan presidential appointee who was in disagreement with the Republican wars in the Middle East. After he published the interview that I provided at his request, he was terrified to learn that I had reported findings of 9/11 investigators. To protect his career, he quickly inserted on the online interview that my views on the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions could be dismissed as I had reported unacceptable findings about 9/11.

The unwillingness or inability to entertain any view of 9/11 different from the official view dooms to impotence many Internet sites that are opposed to the wars and to the rise of the domestic US police state. These sites, for whatever the reasons, accept the government’s explanation of 9/11 yet they try to oppose the “war on terror” and the police state, which are the consequences of accepting the government’s explanation. Trying to oppose the consequences of an event whose explanation you accept is an impossible task.

If you believe that America was attacked by Muslim terrorists and is susceptible to future attacks, then a “war on terror” and a domestic police state to root out terrorists become necessary to make Americans safe. The idea that a domestic police state and open-ended war might be more dangerous threats to Americans than terrorists is an impermissible thought.

A country whose population has been trained to accept the government’s word and to shun those who question it is a country without liberty in its future.

From Global Research, June 20, 2011

Times, Dreams & Death – Spreading ashes and gathering memories

by Geoff Olson

“Did you bring mom and dad?” Luckily, I had. I’m the absent-minded one in the family and to my sister’s relief, I remembered to pack my parents’ ashes in the trunk of my car.

My family had rented a ski cabin in northern British Columbia for a weekend get-together and ceremony. On Saturday afternoon, the relatives gathered around a table and rummaged through the contents of my parents’ safety deposit box. The estate had all been settled and the money apportioned. Now, there were only loose ends: some outdated bank statements, a birth certificate of one of my sisters and some old coins.

These were some of the material traces left of my parents’ time in this world: ashes and silver. At dinner the night before the ceremony, we toasted their memory and struggled with a rickety, sixties-era slide carousel with slides from Olson family camping trips, birthdays and holidays. Over drinks, we laughed and shared anecdotes from our childhood days on an Ontario airbase town. We tried, with only partial success, to recall the names of family friends in slides. We marvelled at how my mother kept her slim figure even after four children.

Given enough time, personal history takes on the quality of a dream. What became of that kid with the crew cut and buck-toothed grin, for example? The childhood self in Ektachrome seemed no more real to me now than a dream I had the previous night. And my parents are almost as spectral. They were here only a short time ago. My dad, two years ago. My mom, nine months ago, though she had long been absent through dementia. Now, they are utterly gone. It still seems strange and so dreamlike.

Time, dreams and death. Those are three of the biggest puzzles for human beings.

What is time? “The cradle rocks above an abyss and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness,” wrote Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov in the opening lines of his memoir, Speak, Memory. Nabokov went on to describe a “chronophobiac” young friend who experienced panic when he watched an old home movie in which his mother was waving from an upstairs window. Below, a brand-new baby carriage sat empty. He realized that the carriage was his own, days before his actual birth, “with the smug, encroaching air of a coffin.” For Nabokov’s chronophobiac, it was a frightening peek into the eternity of darkness preceding existence.

I’m not a chronophobiac; if anything, I’m a ‘chronophiliac.’ The subject of time has long fascinated me, along with its existential sidekick, death. I’ve been on the trail of all things temporal since my teens and have thumbed through plenty of books on the topic, yet all I’ve managed to do is circle a dense thicket of prose, without flushing out the prey. I’m hardly alone in my puzzlement. Seventeen-hundred-years-ago, St. Augustine famously asked, “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.”

If anything, it’s even harder to square our subjective understanding with the contemporary scientific description of time. At the turn of the last century, a Swiss patent office clerk by the name of Albert Einstein denied time and space independent existence, replacing them with a ghostly hybrid called “space-time.” In Einstein’s “General Theory of Relativity,” clocks slow down at velocities near the speed of light and in the presence of gravitational fields. Even something as straightforward as determining whether two events happened simultaneously or not gets all mucked up at relativistic scales and speeds. And it’s all been confirmed by experiments.

It’s even weirder in the microworld where time is theorized to be ‘quantized’ like particles of light. At this level of inquiry, answers are conditioned by the way we ask questions. To measure is to change the reality we attempt to measure. Luckily, for embodied beings that prefer to exist in one place at once, the whims of the microworld are swamped at classical scales, giving us our hard-edged world of bus trips, bank holidays and baseball games.

There is inextricable connection between consciousness and time, some scientists believe. Theoretical physicist Julian Barbour hypothesizes the passage of time is purely an artifact of consciousness, like colour. Just as ‘red’ is a subjective quality the human brain imparts to a particular wavelength of light, the subjective sense of time is something the mind conjures up out of a physical world. How, I’m not sure, since I’ve only skimmed his book. (So many books about time and so little time.)

What are dreams? There is no shortage of theories, from neural house cleaning to an evolutionary gambit for avoiding nocturnal predators. Or how about the freedom to “go quietly insane” every night? Whatever the story we tell ourselves about dreams, they will, at some point, leave the dreamer scratching his or her head. A few weeks after my father’s death, I had one such dream. I was sitting at a desk as hands set before me a drawing of a western-style comic strip. There were cowboys and horses in action scenes, drawn in a manner reminiscent of the long-gone Sunday strip, Price Valiant. “Now I want to show you something I’m really proud of,” said the voice, which I recognized as my father. The hands set another comic strip before me on the desk surface – more western stuff, but drawn in an unconventional, stylistic manner of great beauty. This was graphic art, as opposed to commercial art.

My father had always wanted to be an artist, an impossible pursuit with four kids, yet he felt pride that one of them had taken his road untravelled. I already knew that. And certainly it would make sense I would project that knowledge into a dream. Something I didn’t know, however, was revealed a few weeks after his death when my sisters and I were rummaging through a decaying leather photo album we had found among my parents’ effects. None of us had ever seen it before. I was surprised to see so many black and white photographs of horses in bridles and cowboy gear. My father took them when he was a kid, at his uncle’s farm in Regina. This was the place he was happiest as a kid, my sisters told me. The pages and pages of horse photos were strongly reminiscent of the strip I was shown in the dream.

If my dad had a bit more time on his hands – say, all of eternity – perhaps he’d have taken up a hobby he had little time for on Earth. At least, that’s the theory my sister endorses.

It’s no use conveying this to the New England Journal of Medicine or The Lancet. It’s an anecdotal report of no weight to anyone other than me and a few family members. Yet, for decades, there have been a number of studies, such as those from The Maimonides Medical Center Dream Laboratory in Brooklyn, New York, suggesting the dreaming mind may sometimes extend beyond the normal limits of space and time. But debunkers continue to reject such research as pseudoscience, the result of loose protocols and experimenter bias. I’m not qualified to assess the contending claims, but I’ve met some so-called ‘rationalists’ who become completely unhinged by anything with a whiff of the occult. No experimental evidence for the paranormal will ever score through their ever-moving goalposts, just as the only standard of proof for some fuzzy-minded New Agers is whatever makes them feel good.

Skeptical-minded materialists like their world with sharply defined boundaries and tightly stitched labels, but I don’t believe this tidy mapmaking does full justice to the messy terrain of human experience. All I know is that my dream with the comic strips felt like a “big dream” rather than the nocturnal newsreels I’m familiar with. It was like an IMAX film compared to a small, highly compressed jpeg.

What is death? Actually, my father was himself a hard-core skeptic for most of his life. He lived in an intellectual Missouri (the “show me” state) and didn’t go in for fringe ideas of any kind and that included stories about life after death. Then, about 13-years-ago, after he had fallen sick, he was wide awake in his bedroom when his brother walked in, big as life and real as day. Unmedicated at the time, my father could see the sheets crumpled from where the figure sat at the edge of the bed. His brother, who had died several years earlier, told him “everything is going to be all right” and then vanished. After hearing this story from my sister, I had my dad confirm it for me. He didn’t like to talk about it all that much; it did not conform to his mental picture of the world in any way, shape or form.

Of course, my dad’s experience was a “vision.” Yet we are often too quick to shelve boundary-dissolving experiences that might trouble the dinner table or the faculty room. And when we do try to examine them rationally, one-size-fits-all nouns like “vision,” “hallucination,” or even “hypnagogic imagery” don’t so much explain as explain away. Visions of deceased loved ones are not uncommon and estimates of so-called ADCs (After Death Communication) range from 50 to 100 million Americans – 20 to 40 percent of the population of the US. Given the cultural pressure on us to keep a lid on anything that might make us sound ‘crazy,’ this high figure is not altogether surprising.

A grieving father who had lost his young son once wrote Albert Einstein for some comforting words. A passage from Einstein’s letter was recorded in the New York Times in 1950. “A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.”

My bias is this: I would like to believe, in ways I cannot fathom, that love is not so much a hostage of time as a species of eternity and in rare moments of dreams or vision, the levees of individual separation are breached. That being said, I will sum up these musings with three little words that men find so difficult to say: I don’t know.

On a cloudless Sunday, I walked with two of my sisters and my niece along a forest path as the morning sun cut shafts of light through an arbour of branches. Stepping around banana slugs and tree roots, we arrived at a secluded spot by a brook that we had selected the previous day. We took turns scattering our parents’ ashes and I read a poem I had written. We held hands in a circle and honoured the two people who had brought four utterly unlike, occasionally fractious, siblings into the material world.

To keep the moment from fading into shadowy recollection, we agreed to return to the spot every year. Our parents passed away in such a terrible, tragic manner, the least we thought we could do as their children is to honour their final, brave battle against impossible odds.

It’s become a cliché that the Pollyannas compare the world to a dream and the Cassandras compare it to a nightmare. Yet the world-as-dream theme has persisted for centuries across the globe, from the Australian aboriginal ‘dreamtime’ to Taoist philosophy to ancient Vedic myth to physicist John Archibald Wheeler’s “participatory universe.” It’s also a time-honoured theme in literature, art and music, from Shakespeare to Philip K. Dick to the songs of Neil Young to children’s nursery rhymes (“row, row your boat gently down the stream… life is but a dream”). Its millennia-long shelf life demands our attention and our acknowledgement that we may be dealing with something more than a shop-worn metaphor.

Scientists, philosophers and artists will continue to debate and celebrate these questions as long as there is a human species. As Prospero said in The Tempest, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on/ and our little life/ is rounded with a sleep.”

time image © Lincolnrogers


Iron Deficiency Impacts

From anemia to zoonosis, the benefits of medical screening need to outweigh the drawbacks
DRUG BUST by Alan Cassels

(zo•on•o•sis) n. a disease passed from animals to humans.

The best and most useful medical screening takes people with no symptoms and puts them through a safe and simple test that can accurately locate a disease in an early enough stage to stop it from hurting or killing them. After all, that’s why you screen people – to prevent them from being hurt. Any medical screening program intended for entire populations of healthy people needs to be studied well to ensure the benefits outweigh the harms. Unfortunately, few medical screening tests fill this bill.

But some do. How about the screening of blood?

If you are a blood donor in Canada, as I am, you know if you want to donate, you will be put through a rigorous, demanding and sometimes embarrassing medical screening program that drills down into the very core of what it means to be perfectly healthy. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against this. Lax blood-screening protocols in the past led to thousands getting tainted blood – a scandal that still resonates in the medical community.

The good folks at Canadian Blood Service screen you for almost everything: your past, where you’ve lived, which diseases or medical procedures you’ve had, who you’ve had sex with and so on. They also screen your current state of health and the nurse will check your temperature, blood pressure and pulse. Your donated pint of red stuff will be tested for seven different diseases, including hepatitis, HIV, West Nile virus, syphilis and others. They are extremely careful about the purity of the blood supply.

The screening procedures blood donors go through is like the flip-side of standard medical screening: instead of looking for something that might hurt you, blood donor screening is all about the health of your neighbour, the soul who receives your blood.

One aspect of this screening I find particularly fascinating is the test for low iron. Once the blood donor clinic has ascertained who you are, they poke your finger and squeeze a drop of blood into a little vial of blue liquid. If the drop of blood sinks like a stone, you’re OK. If not, you’ve probably got low iron. A machine has now replaced the blue vial, but if you’ve got low iron, you’ll be barred from donating and told to go see your doctor.

I was totally surprised when this happened to me a few years ago. Here I was, feeling all hale and hearty, with none of the symptoms of low iron, such as tiredness, shortness of breath, etc. A quick trip to the lab determined my iron levels were borderline at 125 grams/litre and my doctor reassured me that, in the absence of symptoms of slow blood loss, which can sometimes go unnoticed, I didn’t need to worry.

Anemia is so common that about 15 percent of blood donors are turned away because of it. It can be caused by either not absorbing enough iron into your blood or excreting blood, possibly the result of stomach ulcers, polyps and even colon cancer. Blood loss can be very gradual and you may not notice it until you’ve had your hemoglobin checked.

Is ‘screening’ for iron deficiency a useful medical test? Obviously, if you have any symptoms whatsoever your doctor will send you for more sensitive lab work to see if iron deficiency is suspected. But what about the general population? Should we all get checked out even if we feel well?

There may be some things in favour of population testing for low iron, but, in practice, it doesn’t happen in the context of a big program. Doctors generally manage it on their own, especially in patients with symptoms. Measuring hemoglobin levels is one of a few rare screening tests that can actually leave little doubt as to what is being measured.

In some parts of the world, anemia constitutes a major public health problem. As much as half the population of some countries might be suffering from anemia. Iron deficiency anemia was part of a discussion by a World Health Organization (WHO) study group in 1958 and it was only after that meeting that the WHO adopted criteria for blood hemoglobin levels below which a person is likely to be suffering from anemia.

According to the WHO, women of childbearing age screened for anemia have the highest incidence of the condition. Women are more likely to be anemic than men because of the iron loss that happens through menstruation. In most countries, routine maternity care includes ‘screening’ the blood of pregnant women to make sure iron deficiency, which could harm their developing fetus, is not present.

Beyond menstruation, however, there are other ways to become anemic. Blood diseases as well as other diseases, particularly those caused by parasites, are often the culprits.

The WHO’s 1968 publication Principles and Practices of Screening for Disease created what is likely a seminal document recognizing the many problems with screening. It concluded anemia is “probably one of the more acceptable conditions for screening under present circumstances; it is highly prevalent, can be sufficiently accurately detected and, when due to primary iron deficiency, responds excellently to treatment.”

The level of iron in your blood is a marker for disease and certainly in the developing world there are a whole range of potential causes.

But back to the developed world.

My research into medical screening over the last year has led me to conclude the “test early, test often” axiom is only justified for a few worthwhile, well-studied and valuable screening programs while most of those programs are harmful and prevent few deaths.

Which leads me to the “what if?” question: What if, instead of a world where screening harms people inadvertently while searching for more and more elusive diseases, we had something different? What if we used very simple technology to find the markers of deadly diseases that could be intervened at an early stage, before they went on to hurt people – better yet, if the diseases in question affected a huge swath of humanity suffering untold (but highly preventable) miseries?

This brings us to zoonoses, which are diseases passed from animals to humans. In Canada, you can easily pick up parasites like roundworm or hookworm from a pet, but other sexy and rarer zoonotic diseases such as monkeypox, anthrax and rabies get much more attention. In the western world, we don’t screen for zoonotic diseases, but shouldn’t we be doing it in the developing world?

The WHO’s stance is “iron deficiency affects more people than any other condition, constituting a public health condition of epidemic proportions.” Further, “the numbers are staggering: 2 billion people – over 30% of the world’s population – are anemic, many due to iron deficiency, and in resource-poor areas, this is frequently exacerbated by infectious diseases.”

Other than HIV and tuberculosis, the major diseases afflicting mankind and the ones with the greatest death toll are zoonotic diseases. Malaria (transmitted by mosquitoes), hookworm (a worm that lives in the intestine and causes anemia) and schistosomiasis (a parasite carried by freshwater snails) afflict literally billions of people around the world, causing high levels of anemia in many places on the globe.

Iron deficiency may be the true silent killer, exacting more of a toll in terms of illness, premature death and wasted human energy than anything else we know. Millions of people are home to parasites, literally sucking their blood. They become anemic and struggle to consume enough protein-rich food, functioning at only a fraction of their normal energy level. And guess what? The poorest and the least educated among us are most vulnerable to iron deficiency.

Would more screening help? In the developing world, almost more of anything would help, but, at the very least, systematically educating the population about iron deficiency would be simple. We know the tests for iron deficiency are quick and cheap and solutions revolve around controlling infection and improving nutrition.

Iron deficiency literally sucks the energy and vitality out of development.

Forty years ago, the famous Dr. Julian Tudor Hart coined the term the “Inverse Care Law,” which, in its elegant simplicity, states, “the availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the need for it in the population served.” Which is to say, the more urgent our medical needs are, the less likely they are to be met.

I propose the ‘Inverse Screening Law’ is alive and well too, where huge sums of money are spent on useless and harmful population screening while almost nothing is spent on screening and treating anemia, a condition suffered by billions in our global community.

Alan Cassels is a drug policy researcher at the University of Victoria. Read more of what he’s writing about

Jack Layton’s Legacy of Hope – A Letter to All Canadians

August 20, 2011
Toronto, Ontario

Dear friends:

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit and my determination.

Unfortunately, my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close, I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices, where your vote matters, where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

A Yes to cancel the HST is a Yes for democracy

This has truly been a David versus Goliath battle

British Columbians’ rejection of the Harmonized Sales Tax in today’s [August 26] binding referendum is historic and a victory for the people and for democracy in BC, says Bill Vander Zalm, the former BC premier who led Fight HST, the grassroots group that fought the tax.

“British Columbians have not only rejected an unfair tax but they have also sent a message to not just the BC Liberal government, but to all governments in Canada – do not break your word to voters after you get elected. The BC Liberals thought they could get away with imposing the HST after promising not to before the May 2009 election – we proved them wrong twice. We organized the first successful Citizens Initiative petition in Canadian history to force a referendum, gathering 705,643 voter signatures in less than 90 days from every one of BC’s 85 ridings.

“This has truly been a David versus Goliath battle and today the giant HST has been slain,” Vander Zalm said. “It is an enormous victory for the citizens of BC and for democracy.”

Vander Zalm said it is now urgent that the BC Liberal government quickly bring an end to the HST that shifted a $2 billion tax burden onto consumers and off of big business by adding an extra seven percent tax on services and hundreds of items not previously subject to the Provincial Sales Tax.

Vander Zalm said he expects the BC government to refuse to take responsibility for its own actions when it imposed the HST after the May 2009 election and instead paint a picture of economic doom and gloom. “The reality is the BC Liberals looked for a quick fix to their massively out of control deficit in 2009 and refused to honestly tell voters about our financial problems. Premier Christy Clark should learn from former Premier Gordon Campbell’s mistakes and consult with voters about BC’s finances and seek a consensus, not make rash decisions in anger at the rejection of the HST.”

“The BC government needs to skilfully negotiate an end to the HST that takes place quickly and reduces costs to the province for this ill-fated mistake,” he said. “The $1.6 billion ‘grant’ from Ottawa to impose the HST should be pro-rated for the period of time this tax was in place.

Fight HST lead organizer Chris Delaney said the Referendum result would have been an even greater vote for the YES side had Premier Clark kept her promise to fund both sides equally and had spending limits been kept in place as it was for the Initiative process. As it was, our $250,000 less the $25,000 we had to pay in HST out of that was no match for the estimated $25,000,000 spent by government and big business.

Delaney says a precedent has been set with the HST Referendum: “No government, no matter what their political stripe, can ever again create a new tax, expand the tax base or indeed implement a significant new policy without first obtaining the people’s permission through either an election or a referendum. The people have spoken.

“People can debate whether the HST is a good tax or a bad tax, but there was no debate about whether we should have a Referendum or a more robust democracy. That is perhaps the greatest achievement of this whole exercise,” said Delaney.

Vander Zalm said the victory belongs to the people of BC, but most especially to the tens of thousands of volunteers who gave their time, talent and treasure on the Initiative petition that led to the history-making referendum result.


Ego as judge

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

How often have you or someone you know said, “he thinks that just because…?” These types of expressions seem ubiquitous in our communications. Let’s think about this for a moment. When we do this, we are assuming we know the thoughts and motivations of others. Essentially, we think we can read someone’s mind, but we are actually projecting our own thoughts onto another.


This is the work of our pesky egos. Generally, these types of assumptions are part of a judgment or criticism. There are two problems here: we are being judge and jury with no input from the defendant and we are repeating our guilty verdict to another as though it is truth.

Why does ego do this? It’s because ego likes to be right. In order for ego to be right, it has to make the other wrong. This is the nature of the polarity thinking so characteristic of ego. Ego shares its judgments with others in order to marshall support for itself. This is the essence of gossip. It is like a toxic cloud released into the environment, be it an office, school or neighborhood. It creates division, ill will and negativity. Taken to its extreme, it is the bullying in schools that has led to student suicides. We all agree this is wrong, yet adults do it all the time. Children overhear mom in conversations where someone is being judged so they think it’s okay.

Let’s go back for a moment to the mind reading. If you have ever been in a heated discussion with a significant other and he or she said, “Oh yeah, well you think….” My guess is the person was wrong about your thoughts and you did not like it one bit. How do you defend yourself when someone assumes to know your mind better that you do? You can disagree with their assessment, saying you do not think that, and the reply is “Oh yes you do.” This is completely negating and it is a battle, not a communication.

When ego gets into judgment, it only creates negativity, conflict, distance, resentment, distrust and drama. It is not healthy for our bodies or our relationships. How do we change the patterns so we put only good energy into the world rather than the toxic kind?

It really has nothing to do with other people and what they do. It has to do with an inner commitment about the kind of person we want to be. It is about making conscious choices rather than defaulting to an unevolved ego.

If we check in with our higher wisdom, which we all have, we know which behaviours are negative or unkind. We all learned this as children when we watched Bambi and Thumper said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Our conscious choice as adults is to stop judging and criticizing others and to not talk negatively about people, particularly behind their backs. It requires courage to stop others who are doing this as well. Significantly, when we do this we raise the consciousness of those around us. Some of us – many in fact – must begin to regularly choose the high road if we are ever to evolve beyond the conflict mentality that characterizes so much of our world.

We all belong to the same tribe and every tribe needs some wise ones.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For more of Gwen’s articles and information about her books, Self Care CDs and the new Creating Healthy Relationships series, See display ad this issue.

Phenomenal food garden

ON THE GARDEN PATH by Carolyn Herriot

Seed selection: what to grow? Ask yourself what you most like to eat. There’s not much point planting a row of space-hogging cabbages if no one likes cabbage. It also makes sense to grow food that costs more, especially if space is limited in your garden. To select plants that will thrive in your garden’s microclimate, check the number of days to maturity.

Soil fertility: add “The Four Secrets of Successful Soil Building” – compost, manure, leaves and seaweed – to your soil every year and notice an incredible difference in productivity. Plants remove nutrients from the soil as they grow, which means soil quality degrades over time.

Lots of compost: make what I call “Super Duper Compost.” For layers, use leaves, weeds (no seeds), herbaceous clippings, manure, grass clippings, spoiled hay, sawdust, chicken litter, etc. To make it super-duper, add layers of comfrey leaves, nettles, seaweed and dried horsetail. Tip: Don’t add kitchen waste because it attracts rodents.

Companion planting: plant diversity is key to healthy gardening because communities of plants work together to keep bugs at bay, attract pollinators and improve plant growth. Grow a diversity of food crops together with hedgerows, flowers, grasses, herbs and berries and allow nature to control potential problems.

Crop rotation: if the same plants are grown in the same place year after year, problems arise. After seven years, club root develops in brassicas; after 10 years, white rot develops in garlic; bean-weevil populations explode where beans are continually grown. Moving plants around inhibits pests and diseases, as the lifecycle can be broken.

Pest control: in my experience, the only way to keep deer out is with eight-foot-high fencing. Raccoons and birds can cause a ripe corn or cherry crop to disappear overnight, so net plants as the crop ripens. Collecting slugs at dusk helps keep their populations down. To control whiteflies in the greenhouse, cover cardboard squares with bright yellow plastic and smear with sticky Tanglefoot.

Starting seeds early: instead of direct seeding, grow seedlings in the greenhouse whenever possible and transplant outdoors when conditions are settled. Improvise a greenhouse with cold frames and cloches, which can be made inexpensively from recycled glass windows and wooden frames.

Weed control: the best time to remove weeds from the garden is when the soil is moist. At the start of each season, go through the garden and do a major weeding to prevent weeds setting seed. At the end of the season, smother any new weed seeds with a thick layer of mulch.

Seed saving: grow open pollinated seeds and save your own seeds – those that have not had their genetic makeup tampered with through hybridization or genetic modification. Plants adapt to the conditions they grow in, which is why using organic seed is best if you are an organic gardener. Local seeds have an edge; seeds grown in different bioregions have adapted to the local climate conditions.

Winter gardening: there’s no need to leave beds empty from October to April when so many food plants can be harvested in winter. In cooler areas, a cold frame will be necessary, but growing some food is still possible.

September 23
Free talk and booksigning
The Zero-Mile Diet – with Carolyn Herriot
at Banyen Books, 3608 West 4th Ave.
604-737-8858. Sponsored by Word on the Street.
More info at

STAR WISE: September 2011 – by Mac McLaughlin

In ancient times, the astrologers would cast the royal horoscope of their King believing that whatever fate had in store for him was also the fate of the country and thusly themselves. Today, everyone and everything has a horoscope, be it a person, company, corporation, marriage or the start of any event. Canada began as a nation on July 1, 1867. The stars tell a wondrous tale of the energy that would prevail from that day onward for our beloved Canada. We have the dog whisperer, horse whisperer and, I guess, star whisperers as well.

Our nation was born just hours before a new moon in the sign of Cancer, the sign most related to family, caring, providing and protecting. We think of Cancer as feminine, nurturing and somewhat connected to antiquity, history and such. While that is all true, Cancer the crab can also produce action and hero figures such as Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo. Stallone is a Cancer and the movie was filmed here in BC. Cancer types are tenacious and fiercely protective of their own. They are also more than willing to lend a hand to those in need wherever and whenever the case may be.

The planet Uranus is tightly conjunct with the Sun and Moon in our collective birth chart bringing a true sense of originality and independence as well as a strong humanitarian flavouring witnessed within our multi-cultured societies from coast to coast. This conjunction may also make us stand out in our own very unique ways. Jupiter casts a wonderful blessing our way in the form of a triangle to the Sun, Moon and Uranus. We are loved and respected for our liberal and fair treatment of humanity and the average Canadian is perceived as friendly and open. But we have our underbelly too. Fiery Mars opposes Jupiter and although we never spoil for a fight and perhaps never misuse our might, we are very competitive – fiercely so. Ask any hockey-crazed fan.

Seemingly, we have been on the ropes as the world economies go through a big shakeout. The stars are hinting the next few years will be some of the best for us. Jupiter brings his blessings in the form of opportunities for growth and success. In the face of all the gloom and doom out there, I don’t see it for Canada. Prime Minister Harper’s Venus is close to Venus in Canada’s chart and Jupiter passes over that area in September of 2012 bringing expansion, cooperation and growth. Then, in late June of 2013, Jupiter enters Cancer bringing more breakthroughs and more of a tendency towards harmony. Relax and enjoy for these will probably be called the good old days.

ARIES (March 21 – April 19)
Out with the old and in with the new is the mantra of the times. Changes are in the wind and it is best to ride them, as best you can. The truth sets you free as a new reality dawns upon you.
TAURUS (April 20 – May 21)
It’s your time to shine. Opportunities await thee. The stars are leaning in your favour. Others notice and pick up on your integrity, honesty and loyalty. Forget the stars! Go do your thing. Just don’t go overboard or get too crazy with anything.
GEMINI (May 22 – June 20)
You may be restless and sensing that changes are close at hand. You are right. Career and home topics become intensified. Certainly, move towards what makes you happy. Jupiter enters Gemini next June and is a great birthday present bringing breakthroughs and abundance.
CANCER (June 21 – July 22)
The Cardinal signs – Cancer, Libra, Capricorn and Aries – are strongly activated bringing a very challenging and exciting time in which great changes manifest and you may be at your best. Cohesion, blending and joining are key phrases symbolizing September’s highly charged energy.
LEO (July 23 – August 22)
Kick back and enjoy the late summer days and dream away. A little bit of R&R will do you good. Mars visits Leo beginning September 18, bringing action, attraction, adventure and excitement and possibly some danger in late September and throughout October.
VIRGO (August 23 – September 22)
The new moon on August 28 bodes well and brings promises of abundance and opportunity throughout the month. The full moon on September 12 indicates excitement as a series of revelations illuminate your inner consciousness. A lively time unfolds.
LIBRA (September 23 – October 22)
Saturn reaches the middle of the scales in early September. You can check how you’re doing by what is unfolding in your life. Hard times come in order to correct problems and good times come for those that have been willing to do so.
SCORPIO (October 23 – November 21)
The stars are favouring Scorpio throughout September. Strong effort on your part will pay dividends just like working out at the gym does. Mix and mingle and let others discover your talents and gifts. Life intensifies towards the end of the month.
SAGITTARIUS (November 22 – December 21)
Career objectives come into play. Home and family figure too. A move or travel plans might be the case. The cosmic wheel spins a bit easier for Sagittarius these days, meaning that you can get further with less effort than most this month.
CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 19)
Pluto moving through Capricorn took Premier Gordon Campbell down. He resurrected himself with a very cushy job as Canada’s high commissioner to the UK. A death and a birth took place and this is quite reflective of Pluto’s power of destruction and renewal for all Capricorns.
AQUARIUS (January 20 – February 19)
If you have planets in the latter half of Aquarius, you may feel like you are visiting another planet for the first 10 days of the month. Travel plans may materialize and romantic, intellectual, artistic and spiritual energies become enhanced from mid-month onwards.
PISCES (February 20 – March 20)
Mercury and Neptune continue their dance and the combination is very good for dreamers, inventers, psychics, musicians, artists and actors. But it can make it darn tough to get anything figured out in a concrete way. Take your time and let life unfold its mysteries.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years.
Email or call 604-731-1109.

Acid-alkaline balance

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina

Several decades ago, western nutrition had little interest in acid-base balance, yet it was a central theme in macrobiotic eating and in eastern approaches to health. Things have changed and western scientists now recognize dietary patterns can put an immense burden on the body to restore an optimal acid-base balance. Our kidneys, in partnership with our lungs, must maintain the acidity or pH of our body fluids within a very narrow range (7.35-7.45). A pH of 0 to 7 is acidic (with the lowest numbers being more acidic); numbers above seven indicate increasingly alkaline pHs.

Meats, dairy products and grains are acid-forming, meaning that after these foods are digested and metabolized, they influence body fluids and the urine to be acidic. This effect is related to the amounts of phosphorus, sulphur and protein in these foods. Buckwheat and quinoa are less acid-forming than wheat, rice and other cereal grains.

Vegetables and fruits are alkali-forming, counterbalancing the effects of animal products and grains. Although we may think of fruits as acidic because of their sour taste, this acidity is quickly disposed of during digestion. Some fruits – plums, prunes, cranberries, rhubarb and sour cherries – are acid-forming because they contain organic acids that are not completely broken down to bicarbonate. However, the vast majority of fruits and vegetables have an alkaline effect, related to the presence of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Nuts and legumes tend to be moderately acid-forming. It is interesting to note that humans evolved on a diet much more alkali-forming than today’s eating patterns.

The table below shows the Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) of various food groups. In this system, the positive numbers above “0” indicate foods that acidify our bodies. The negative numbers make our system more alkaline. Diets centred on meats, cheeses, wheat and rice are heavily acid-forming. When you look at family meals, restaurant menus and the contents of supermarket shopping carts, it becomes obvious our diets tip the scales in an acid-forming direction. A diet providing plenty of vegetables and fruits is highly important in maintaining the slightly alkaline pH that sustains health.

Potential Renal Acid Load of Food Groups (Food Group per 100g and PRAL)
Meat, poultry 9.5
Eggs 8.2
Fish 7.9
Milk, dairy products 1.0 to 23.6*
Grains, grain products 3.5 to 7.0
Nuts, seeds 5.0
Legumes 2.6
Oils 0
Vegetables -2.8
Fruits, fruit juices -3.1
*PRAL is particularly high for processed and low fat cheeses.

To maintain our necessary pH range of 7.35-7.45, we need not avoid acidic foods entirely, but instead get a mix that is just slightly alkaline overall. The body manages best when it has plenty of vegetables and fruits to offset moderate amounts of acid-forming foods.

Diets high in acid-forming foods can have damaging consequences due to our cells being kept in an environment that is too acidic (mild metabolic acidosis). Impacts include the wasting of muscles, the formation of kidney stones, kidney damage and the dissolution of bone. With age, our bodies become even less able to manage the imbalance. In next month’s column, we will explore how acid-forming diets affect our muscles, bones and kidneys. Also see Becoming Raw by Davis and Melina.

October 2
Explore ways to tip your diet in a favourable alkaline direction with tasty foods at Earthsave’s Taste of Health event. Presenters include Vesanto Melina. RoundHouse Community Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews, Yaletown, Vancouver.

Visit Vesanto Melina’s website at
or call 604-882-6782.