Truce not war

Thank you very much for the article about the events that took place on December 24, 1914 [Remembering war, Geoff Olson, November 2008]. It’s a very beautiful and inspirational piece and the question of where to mark events like December 24, 1914, on the calendar is so important. I think many more people are asking this question these days. I’d rather be taking part in celebrating “Christmas Truce” day rather than romanticizing the loss of young lives to wars. Thanks again.

– Alex Rojkov


Food Matters a must-see

There are many things that I am still not sure of, but one thing I know for sure: we all live on the same common ground called Mother Earth and we all rely on the same air, water and food supply. Alarm bells have been ringing for centuries and we have refused the wake-up call to start treasuring this Earth. Now, two individuals have produced and directed an incredible documentary in their attempt to wake us up once again to the dangers that lurk within our food and what we must do about it. Please take this wake up call seriously. I encourage everyone who cares about their own health and the future of this planet to get their hands on a copy of Food Matters. Watch it, pay attention and pass it on to as many people as you can. Go to to get a copy or copies of this powerful film. Please do your part to help yourself and others take charge of their health. Doctors treat illness; wellness is our right and responsibility and the food we eat and the lifestyle we choose do matter. My deepest gratitude to James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch for their dedication and to all those who spoke so truthfully in this documentary. I will be equally dedicated in doing my part to get this information out to the world. [Common Ground published an interview with James and Laurentine in the October 2008 issue.]

– Bonnie Friesen


San Francisco artist looks to replace lost eyeball with webcam

Tanya Vlach, who lost an eye in a 2005 car accident, thinks installing a Web cam into her prosthesis would be quite a sight. A one-eyed San Francisco artist wants to replace her missing eye with a Web cam – and tech experts say it’s possible.

“I’d always given thought to using cameras to restore sight to the blind,” said Dr. William Danz, whose patient, Tanya Vlach, wants the groundbreaking device. “This is a little different, more like James Bond stuff.” Vlach, who lost her eye in a 2005 car accident, wears a realistic acrylic prosthesis, but she’s issued a challenge to engineers on her blog: build an “eye cam” for her prosthesis that can dilate with changes of light and allow her to blink to control its zoom, focus, and on/off switch.

“There have been all sorts of cyborgs in science fiction for a long time, and I’m sort of a sci-fi geek,” said Vlach, 35. “With the advancement of technology, I thought, ‘Why not?’”

The eye cam could allow her to record her entire life or even shoot a reality TV show from her eye’s perspective. Vlach said she will let inspiration strike once she has the device. “There are a lot of ideas floating around…nothing too exploitative,” said Vlach. “I don’t want to be a spy and infringe on people’s rights, and at the same time, there are amazing possibilities.” Vlach’s challenge, first reported by tech blogger Kevin Kelly, has inspired blog posts from around the world and e-mails to Vlach from dozens of eager engineers.

Mobile computing expert Roy Want told the Daily News the technology exists. “It is possible to build a wireless camera with the dimensions of the eyeball,” said Want, a senior principal engineer at Intel. “You can find spy cams or nanny cams designed to fit into inconspicuous places in the home.”

Want said the camera, which would be encased in Vlach’s prosthesis to avoid moisture, could link wirelessly to a smart phone. The smart phone could send power to the camera wirelessly and relay the camera’s video feed by cell phone network to another person, a TV studio or a computer.

In a world where eye cams are common, they might serve as a kind of computerized backup to people’s memories, Want said. “You’d never need to forget anything again,” he said. “You’d never lose anything. You could ask it, ‘Where was the last time I saw my keys?’”

– Joe Gould, Daily News writer


Gates and MacKay statements disingenuous

Neither Defence Minister Peter MacKay nor U. S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates were straightforward or candid in their statements regarding Friday’s daylong meeting of defence ministers from the U.S., Britain, Holland, Australia, Estonia, Denmark and Romania.

MacKay called upon NATO countries he considers slackers because they have placed caveats on their forces that prevent them from being deployed in combat areas to remove them. He knows their decisions are based on public opinion just as was his government’s decision to be out of combat in 2011.  Why would Germany, Italy and France alter their positions because of Obama when he says we won’t?

Gates must consider the media to be naive (another meaning of disingenuous) in saying “that despite the violence, coalition forces remain in control of the country.” and that “the Taliban do not hold any land”.

A year ago the Senlis Council reported “Taliban in Control of 54 Percent of Afghanistan”. Conditions have worsened since then when it was concluded that “The Taliban are the de facto governing authority in significant portions of territory in the south and east, and are starting to control parts of the local economy and key infrastructure such as roads and energy supply.”

An Aug. 6, 2008 (AP) article stated, “ Sometimes villagers go to the Taliban because their courts move faster and appear less corrupt, experts said. But at other times, in Taliban strongholds, people are afraid to turn anywhere else.”

Gates is down playing Taliban strength because in his words “The most important objective for us for 2009 in Afghanistan is a successful election,” Mr. Gates said. “One of the things we talked about his morning was trying to surge as many forces as we can prior to the election, to try and provide a secure environment for the election.”

“Many politicians and party leaders of the country are concerned by the fact that the instability in Afghanistan will negatively affect the election process. The experts say that holding elections in the country is impossible under the situation, when the security is not ensured, and serious measures are not undertaken with regards to the opposition, who speak against the power.”

The election is proceeding. Gates aim is for it to be seen as a being successful. Whether his “spin” that the Taliban is weaker than it is will be an assist is yet to be determined.

– Joe Hueglin, former PC MP, 
Niagara Falls,


Is Pristine Power exec misleading public?

Harvie Campbell, an industry insider with Pristine Power, wrote in a Vancouver Sun guest editorial Nov. 21 that BC buys expensive peaking power at spot market prices, which is not true. We buy coal and nuclear power from Alberta and Washington when it is cheap at night and resell it to California the next day, during peak demand, when we can make an average 500% profit in less than 24 hours.

He uses numerous statements to justify privatizing of BC Hydro. We have been making as much as $500 million a year reselling imported power. The position Harvie takes is based on the same lie that BC Energy Minister Richard Neufeld keeps repeating to convince us we MUST develop private power.

When we check the figures we find these people are wrong. While coal and nuclear are dirty and unsustainable, they are not uneconomical as Harvie Campbell and the BC government are claiming.

It must be repeated of course that the BC Liberals passed legislation to put BC Hydro out of business regarding new power projects, now bein built by private concerns at much higher prices. Accenture, BCTC, Powerex, and the private power projects are all designed to move BC Hydro to privatization.

When the governor of California was here recently it was to buy our power, not for some insignificant but high profile hydrogen highway. PG&E spent $16 million alone, planning how to move more BC power to California.

– A.B. Hansen,
Vancouver, BC

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