Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Change in costume for Bill 50

By Joe Anglin

RIMBEY) On the evening of November 24, 2009 Mr. Prins, MLA of Lacombe Ponoka, rose in the legislative assembly to support amendments to Bill 50 and said, Mr. Chairman, ......
“I would like to highlight how these amendments to Bill 50 would provide benefits to Albertans. Mr. Chairman, the first amendment would change section 17 of the Alberta Utilities Commission Act in order to clarify that the AUC would have to consider the public interest........ The public interest includes the social, economic, and environmental effects that the transmission projects may have on specific areas as well as the rest of Alberta in general............ Albertans would be guaranteed that their concerns and opinions are valued and taken into consideration. This amendment further proves that the interests of Albertans remain an absolute top priority for this government.”

The amendment Prins referred to changed the law. The law had required the commission to consider the public interest. It now reads, “the Commission shall not give consideration to whether a critical transmission line is required to meet the needs of the public.”
On final passage, the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) will now be instructed as follows:
“The Commission shall not refuse an approval of a transmission line or part of a transmission line designated as critical transmission infrastructure as defined in the Electric Utilities Act on the basis that, in its opinion, it does not meet the needs of Alberta or is not in the public interest.”

The Lavesta Area Group does not place much value in this governments guarantee to protect the public interest, but if the AUC is prohibited from considering the public interest, or making a decision based on the public interest – we ask, who the heck is this government working for? Is there a sign on the door of the legislature that says – new owners, better pay? We believe it is time to place a sign on the legislature door that says – under new management!

For more information
Joe Anglin
Leader, Lavesta Area Group
(403) 843-3279
(403) 963-0521

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pen Meets Paper Nov.23'09

Opinion by Helge Nome
This week, beginning on Monday, November 23, the H1N1 Swine flu vaccine is available to the general population of Alberta. In October, when the vaccine was first used, there were long lineups for shots and many unkind words were uttered.
That was not the case on Monday. Few people bothered showing up now that the scare has subsided.
As it turns out, the only thing “pandemic” about this flu are the letters “H1N1” that have appeared in the media across the world.
What lessons can be learned from this exercise? Here goes,

No 1: If you want to make a lot of money quickly, spook people into believing that something you have (H1N1 vaccine) is vital for their very survival. By the time they figure out that it is not necessary, you have made your inventory their inventory and have the cash to show for it. Big Pharma didn’t have to learn this lesson. They have had this knowledge and used it on more than one occasion in the past, the last being the 1976 Flu Pandemic panic.

No 2: Some people react adversely to the vaccine. One of my own neighbors fell unconscious five minutes after having received the vaccine at a local hospital and was rushed to the medical station for treatment. She was kept overnight in the hospital and a family member was told to stay by her side for two days and two nights afterwards. Of the countless thousands of other people immunized, how many others have or will develop serious reactions to the vaccine? There are likely some lawsuits in the pipeline.

No 3, and this is a really serious one: Every time you cry “wolf!” and there is no wolf, you are immunizing people against the next similar message. That’s exactly what the shepherd in Aesop’s famous fable did. And when the wolves came, nobody did anything about it.
Now, that’s really scary!

Remembrance Day procession

RCMP Constables Conrad Siewert and Todd Depagie led the Remembrance Day procession from the Nazarene Church to the Legion Hall in Caroline before the annual Remembrance Day ceremony

Wreath laying on Remembrance Day

Members of Caroline 1st. Scouting helped out with the wreaths at the Legion Hall ceremony on November 11. Here, Amelia Ahlstrom is seen placing one of the many wreaths of remembrance.

Remembrance Day in Caroline

The annual ceremony, held in the Legion Hall in Caroline, last Wednesday, November 11 was very well attended with few empty seats. A broad cross section of community members, including war veterans and members of Caroline 1st. Scouting, came to remember the sacrifices made by members of Canada’s armed forces in wars past.
Included were also members of local families who have passed on and whose names were remembered at the ceremony during the wreath laying.
MC for the day was Legion President Pirrko Van Dijk who introduced Pastor Jason Sedore for the prayer.
Following the 2 minute silence in honor of the dead, Vern Graham read the Honor Roll with the names of soldiers recognized by the Caroline Legion.
Elizabeth Ahlstrom recited the poem “In Flanders Fields” and was followed by Pastor Sedore who spoke about how lucky we are to enjoy the fruits of the struggles of generations past and how we need to appreciate what they have given us.
Dwight Oliver from Clearwater County spoke about how wars begin in our own back yard with the us/them mentality and warned about “tribalism” within the community. “We are all in it together”, he said.
The annual wreath laying followed with wreaths from organizations and individuals being placed by the cenotaph positioned at the front of the hall for the occasion.
As usual, Caroline 1st. Scouting did a splendid job of placing wreaths for people that were not able to attend the ceremonies.

Green Light for Caroline Cinema
Rocky Youth Development Society President Greg Imeson has reported that a court case brought against the establishment of the cinema and Boys and Girls Club facility on the west end of Caroline by local businessman Reg Dean has ended.
Mr. Dean had challenged the decision by the Village’s Subdivision Development Appeal Board to allow the project to go ahead based on the argument that insufficient parking space is available for such a venture.
The judge ruled in favor of the Village’s decision to allow the development to go ahead.

Women of Worth Event Planning
There will be a planning session for upcoming events hosted by Caroline’ Women of Worth (WOW) this Saturday, November 21 at Sharleen Thornberry’s residence at Living Faith (first house on right) west of Caroline. Volunteers are needed to help with the Spring Showcase, Grad Tea and Fall Fling. Contact Louise (722-2409) for details

Carol Fest on December 13
The event is set to take place between 5pm and 7pm at the Caroline Complex and is called “Christmas, Country Style”. The Caroline Family Singers will be hosting the event, Lillian Colson will choreograph the music and Donna Stahlwick will conduct the singers.
People who would like to participate may contact Cassidy Crawford (722-3319), Debbie McIvor (722-2956) or Louise Bystrom (722-2409)

Friday, November 20, 2009

PHOOEY, GOOEY, and HOOEY are now in charge!

By Joe Anglin

Every independent professional analysis of Bill 50 from the Fraser Institute’s to the University of Calgary’s analysis, sponsored by the School of Public Policy; to the Discussion Paper published by EDC Associates on behalf of the Office of the Utilities Consumers Advocate, regards Bill 50 as being seriously flawed and unwarranted. There are no other professional publications or reports available for public consumption to refute the unanimous conclusions that Bill 50 is unnecessary.

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO), of all organizations, has failed to publish a technical report, titled a Needs Identification Document as required by law, so that the need for new transmission lines could be evaluated. Yet our obedient elected MLAs say the lines are needed based only on what they are told by the AESO.

Do our MLAs even know that AESO’s first application to build more transmission lines from Edmonton to Calgary was voided by the EUB, and vacated by the Alberta Court of Appeals due to bias? Do they realize that AESO’s senior executives had a financial interest in getting an approval for an application for AltaLink’s benefit? These facts are a matter of record!

Bill 50 is an abomination! PC MLA statements in the press make it clear to me that they do not understand the complexities of the technology any more than they understand the legislative process governing the approval of transmission lines. It is for these very reasons Albertans need to have a qualified competent quasi-judicial board making the decision, and not an unqualified cabinet!

This government cabinet is intending to make a multi-billion dollar commitment based on AESO’s plan, (a wish list per say), and not any detailed technical or economic analysis provided to them for evaluation. The very idea is ludicrous, and it could end up costing the public tens of billions of dollars! The insanity behind the logic that a farmer, a florist, a cement technician, a lawyer, a fibreglass dinosaur builder, or a former county councillor with no other redeeming qualifications could possibly understand or adjudicate the technical aspects of electricity transmission enough to ascertain with any certainty or assurances the differentiation of the marginal loss factors gained, per megawatt increase based on the economics of the laws of diminishing return – is PHOOEY! The whole purpose of appointing a board is to delegate the decision making authority to people who are more qualified.

It time we flush this GOOEY nonsense of circumventing the experts, and respect the Board process. Kill Bill 50 – it is HOOEY!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Two American Economies?

Professor Nouriel Roubini speaks his mind

Are High Voltage Transmission Lines Really Urgent?

The Utilities Consumers Advocate does not think so:

(Rimbey, AB) The Utility Consumers Advocate has released its Transmission Upgrade Discussion Paper today (see attached) prepared by EDC Associates Ltd of Calgary Alberta.

EDC analyzed many different aspects of the Transmission Plan and Bill 50. EDC concluded that much of the data and logic presented by the Alberta Electric Systems Operator (AESO) is unconvincing and overstates the sense of urgency. The report goes on to say that the rhetoric surrounding the reliability debate, can easily be misinterpreted due to vague or revolving references that are only applicable to one specific area of the province.

For example, the access to green wind is solved mostly by increases to the southern grid. It should not be used as part of the justification for the N-S line. In fact, the N-S line may actually encourage more coal fired generation, actually increasing GHG emissions.

EDC summarises in its report, “Bill 50 reduces the strength of the customer’s voice in decisions fully funded by load alone.” [The reference to load, is the rate paying public]

The Lavesta Area Group and the UPTAG groups are now calling upon this government to withdraw Bill 50 and initiate a full public investigation and inquiry into AESO’s past conduct and current failure to comply with its legislative responsibility. The public deserves a full investigation into the AESO’s conduct, not limited to the following reasons:

· In December 2005 it was disclosed that AESO senior executives had a vested financial interest into the submission and approval of 500 KV transmission line that could only benefit AltaLink.

· In May 2007 AESO was linked to spying on the public when the EUB was caught listening in on telephone conversations between landowners and their lawyers.

· In November 2007 the Alberta Court of Appeals vacated AESO’s application decision, to build transmission lines, due to the apprehension of bias.

· In November 2009 the Alberta Utilities Commission has agreed to appoint a board panel to hear evidence that AESO has failed to file a Needs Identification Document, as required by legislation. The complaint alleges that AESO’s non-compliance has misled the government and the public into believing that the “NEED” for more transmission lines has been proven, when in fact it has not!

· Today’s report released by the Utilities Consumers Advocate alleges that the AESO has over-stated the urgency for transmission lines.

For more information Contact
Joe Anglin
(403) 843-3279
(403) 963-0521 cell
Leader, Lavesta Area Group
Greg Troitsky
Chairman, UPTAG
(403) 843-6810

Excerpt of Report from EDC Associates to the Utilities Consumers Advocate
"Bill 50
Finally, the UCA should advocate against the Bill 50 provisions that allow “critical” transmission infrastructure to be built without proper stakeholder involvement and return the duty of adjudicating the need for transmission to the AUC. Over decades, the AUC and regulatory practitioners worldwide have built up a body of process that ensures thorough, scientific, fair and balanced evaluation of complex utility systems. Bill 50 essentially shifts the determination of criticality of need to a non- consultative, ad hoc assessment by the AESO. Bill 50 also reduces the strength of the customer’s voice in decisions fully funded by load. "

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pen Meets Paper Nov.16'09

Opinion by Helge Nome
As money and credit gets scarce in a geographical area economic activity tends to slow down and people are let go from jobs. Whoever controls the taps of credit can literally choke off the lifeblood of a community.
Is there any kind of remedial action that can be undertaken to alleviate the severity of this control from above?

Let’s check into it by lifting the curtain on the past: You produce eggs and I cut firewood. We both eat eggs and use firewood. So we exchange eggs for firewood.
That could be awkward though, one cord of firewood is roughly worth 50 dozen eggs and a dozen eggs and one cord of firewood are the commonly used units of trade. I haven’t got room for 50 dozen eggs in my fridge and I don’t really want to carry a few sticks of firewood over to your place every time I have eggs for breakfast.
Necessity is the mother of invention: Numbers and letters come along and allow themselves to be arranged in rows and columns on paper, or as knots on ropes or marks on sticks. External memory is born, keeping track of how much firewood you got from me and how many eggs I got from you.
The only thing that remains is to agree on the relative value of our products after which fair trade can take place.
Along comes George with a hammer and saw. He builds sheds, houses and such in a very efficient way and he eats eggs and uses firewood. Both you and I need a shed built and he can do it better and faster than either one of us, so we incorporate him in our little trading scheme.
Then Sonja the Seamstress pokes her head in the door, suggesting that we are looking rather scruffy in our worn out garments, and the trading scheme grows again,
getting more chaotic at every step.
Somehow a central location is needed to keep track of all this activity and who owes what to whom. Rather than keeping track of the firewood, eggs and garments, we find that it is a lot easier to simply keep track of the values of these items, expressed in some agreed upon unit of value. Once that’s done, all you are left with is a whole bunch of numbers to keep track of, expressing the number of units of value that are owed or owing, as the case may be.
As things get more complicated you want to make sure that all the numbers are tracked correctly so a number tracker is engaged to take on that job, his hourly work is given a value in terms of the unit of value previously agreed upon, and he is put to work and is supplied with eggs, firewood and clothes, etc., by the members of the little community to point where he is quite comfortable and can devote most of his time tracking numbers, which is what he is good at: A bank is born.

Something like that happened in Switzerland in 1934, during the Great Depression, when money and credit were scarce. People found that they could exchange goods and services without using the national currency (which was being withheld from them) by setting up a separate banking system that complemented the regular banks that were no longer making adequate credit available.
This is called WIR Banking and we may need to do that in the near future if access to regular credit is being denied us by those that are supposed to provide it.
This website gives some additional insight into WIR Banking and credit clearing.

Caroline Library "Food For Fines"

Caroline Food Bank representative Jessie Williams took delivery of donated food from Caroline Library representatives Rita Collins and Allison Hewitt

Caroline Library News
by Rita Collins

On October 9, Caroline Library started off Alberta Library Month by serving cookies and refreshments to our patrons in celebration of Parkland Regional Library’s 50th Anniversary. Prizes were handed out to the first twenty patrons, and handouts outlining Parkland Services were distributed. Special thanks to Elaine Farr for volunteering her time by helping out for the afternoon.

From October 17 – October 31, 2009, the library continued their celebration by hosting “Food for Fines” for our patrons. Anyone having fines on their records were invited to bring in food items for the Caroline Nazarene Church Food Bank. The response was fantastic and the library presented the food to Jessie Williams, food bank representative, on Tuesday, November 3, 2009. The food bank was thrilled with the donation as their supplies are very low at this time. The library plans to have a food bank box again in December to help with the Christmas season.

The Caroline Friends of the Library will be hosting the library annual silent auction fundraiser with items to be available for bids in the library on November 12, 2009. Anyone having items they would like to donate may contact the library for more information. The final bidding will take place at the Christmas Light-up Farmer’s Market.

School nutrition program receives donation

The Caroline School Nutrition Program, where volunteers come into the school before classes and at lunchtime to serve healthy snacks, received a boost of $236.06 on November 6. Jessie Williams (right), on behalf of Caroline's Women Of Worth (WOW), presented the money to Caroline School Vice Principal Pam Wright. The money was raised at a recent function hosted by WOW. The nutrition program has been going for several years now and is always looking for volunteers and sponsors.

Top class entertainment at Bearberry

The well known "jazzy blues band" Porkbelly Futures, all the way from Hogtown itself, Toronto, entertained an appreciative audience in the Bearberry Hall on Friday, November 6.
Here, lead singer Rebecca Campbell expresses the emotions of the moment. Just google "Porkbelly Futures band" to find them on the net. They have an excellent website

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Worst is yet to Come: Unemployed Americans Should Hunker Down for More Job Losses

Nouriel Roubini | Nov 15, 2009
From the Daily News:

Think the worst is over? Wrong. Conditions in the U.S. labor markets are awful and worsening. While the official unemployment rate is already 10.2% and another 200,000 jobs were lost in October, when you include discouraged workers and partially employed workers the figure is a whopping 17.5%.

While losing 200,000 jobs per month is better than the 700,000 jobs lost in January, current job losses still average more than the per month rate of 150,000 during the last recession.

Also, remember: The last recession ended in November 2001, but job losses continued for more than a year and half until June of 2003; ditto for the 1990-91 recession.

So we can expect that job losses will continue until the end of 2010 at the earliest. In other words, if you are unemployed and looking for work and just waiting for the economy to turn the corner, you had better hunker down. All the economic numbers suggest this will take a while. The jobs just are not coming back.

There's really just one hope for our leaders to turn things around: a bold prescription that increases the fiscal stimulus with another round of labor-intensive, shovel-ready infrastructure projects, helps fiscally strapped state and local governments and provides a temporary tax credit to the private sector to hire more workers. Helping the unemployed just by extending unemployment benefits is necessary not sufficient; it leads to persistent unemployment rather than job creation.

The long-term picture for workers and families is even worse than current job loss numbers alone would suggest. Now as a way of sharing the pain, many firms are telling their workers to cut hours, take furloughs and accept lower wages. Specifically, that fall in hours worked is equivalent to another 3 million full time jobs lost on top of the 7.5 million jobs formally lost.

This is very bad news but we must face facts. Many of the lost jobs are gone forever, including construction jobs, finance jobs and manufacturing jobs. Recent studies suggest that a quarter of U.S. jobs are fully out-sourceable over time to other countries.

Other measures tell the same ugly story: The average length of unemployment is at an all time high; the ratio of job applicants to vacancies is 6 to 1; initial claims are down but continued claims are very high and now millions of unemployed are resorting to the exceptional extended unemployment benefits programs and are staying in them longer.

Based on my best judgment, it is most likely that the unemployment rate will peak close to 11% and will remain at a very high level for two years or more.

The weakness in labor markets and the sharp fall in labor income ensure a weak recovery of private consumption and an anemic recovery of the economy, and increases the risk of a double dip recession.

As a result of these terribly weak labor markets, we can expect weak recovery of consumption and economic growth; larger budget deficits; greater delinquencies in residential and commercial real estate and greater fall in home and commercial real estate prices; greater losses for banks and financial institutions on residential and commercial real estate mortgages, and in credit cards, auto loans and student loans and thus a greater rate of failures of banks; and greater protectionist pressures.

The damage will be extensive and severe unless bold policy action is undertaken now.

Roubini is professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business at New York University and Chairman of Roubini Global Economics.

Editor's footnote: 80% of Canada's exports go to the US and our dollar is increasing relative to the US Dollar. Who's going to buy our stuff?

AUC agrees to hear the Lavesta's and UPTAG Challenge to AESO's Activities to promote BILL 50

(RIMBEY) Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) has agreed to assign a board panel to adjudicate the Lavesta and UPTAG groups complaint that the Alberta Electric Systems Operator (AESO) is not in compliance with current legislation.

The groups have complained that the AESO has failed to file an application titled, “a Needs Identification Document (NID)” with the AUC, when the AESO believes a transmission upgrade may be necessary.

AESO has been actively engaged in a public relations campaign to advance the argument that more transmission lines are required. The government has expanded upon AESO’s PR campaign and have advanced the argument by stating, “the NEED for more transmission lines have already been proven by the AESO”.

The complaint asks the board to order AESO to correct the record by informing the public, the Minister of Energy, and the government that AESO has not submitted any application to have a “NEED” approved for more transmission lines. There is no documented evidence in the form of an approved application, required by section 34(1) of the Electric Utilities Act, which proves a “NEED” for more transmission lines exists.

The Lavesta Area Group and the UPTAG groups welcome the board’s decision to hear this complaint. We hope to set the public records straight before the government debates and passes Bill 50.

For more information contact
Joseph V Anglin
Leader of the Lavesta Area Group
(403) 843-3279 or (403) 963-0521
Greg Troitsky, Chairman
UPTAG 403-843-6810
Donald Bur
(416) 481-6960

Crammond Beef Supper

This annual event, hosted at the Crammond Hall on Saturday, November 7, was very popular as always. This is a social event and fundraiser for the non-profit community group that looks after the hall. The hall is used throughout the year to host local events and family reunions.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Allegation of Hypocrisy and Irresponsibility

Alberta's Electric System Operator (AESO) is put on the mat by Alberta residents:

Lavesta Area Group and UPTAG Challenge AESO's Activities

(Rimbey, AB) At a special meeting of the Board of Directors of the Lavesta Area Group, a unanimous resolution was passed instructing chairman and spokesman, Joe Anglin, on behalf of the Lavesta Area Group and UPTAG (United Power Area Transmission Group), to issue a formal complaint to the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC), with respect to recent misleading statements and irresponsible conduct by Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) concerning the need for upgrades to the province's electrical transmission grid.

The AESO does not have the authority to approve or determine a "Need" to upgrade the transmission system on its own volition. According to Section 34(1) of the Electric Utilities Act, AESO must file a Needs Identification Document (NID) with the AUC for approval to upgrade the transmission system. The AESO may only apply to the AUC for an approval to upgrade the transmission system. Since both, the EUB and the Alberta Court of Appeal have disallowed and voided the original 2004 NID document; AESO has not submitted a new or amended NID to the AUC for an approval to upgrade the transmission system.

In view of the above circumstances, the Lavesta Area Group and Uptag consider AESO's recent provincial-wide publicity campaign in support of an urgent need to build more transmission lines, hypocritical and irresponsible. The AESO has not filed a Needs Identification Document (NID) with AUC, and is, in our opinion, negligent in carrying out its primary responsibility, which is to file a NID for approval.
Accordingly, the groups are seeking an appropriate remedy as per the attached formal complaint (posted on

For more information contact
Edwin Erickson, Director
Lavesta Area Group
780-682-2368 Greg
Greg Troitsky, Chairman

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The truth in a nutshell-Statement by US Congressman Dennis Kucinich

"Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks’ hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy—in which most Americans live—the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pen Meets Paper Nov.9'09

Opinion by Helge Nome
This week, beginning on November 8, we once again remember those that lost their lives in wars past. The 11th hour of November 11 is the time when many Canadians observe one minute of silence as a sign of respect for fallen soldiers. It has become a ritual that is observed across the nation.

The question that comes to mind is: What is it exactly that we commemorate? Is it the valor and self sacrifice of those that died? The righteousness of our causes? Defending Freedom and Liberty? Or are we effectively celebrating War itself, with all its pomp and circumstance?
Why did the Great War, the war to end all wars, fought between 1914 and 1918, simply spawn more wars? Why is there seemingly no end to erupting conflicts that end up in gory and brutal slaughter of innocent human beings?
Lifting the veil of history may provide an answer:
Arguably the most famous of all wars is the 9 year siege of the city state of Troy around 1184 BC. immortalized by the Greek poet Homer in his epic “Iliad”. The beautiful Helen had eloped with Prince Paris of Troy, back to his powerful city home. The problem was, Helen, Princess of Sparta, was already married to Menelaus, a Mycean prince who became King of Sparta through his marriage to Helen.
As you can plainly see, Menelaus had no choice but to gather all his allies and lay siege to Troy. “That Woman!” had done him in (or had been kidnapped if you are of a generous mindset). It was a matter of Honor, pure and simple, to bring Helen back home. At least, that is what the poet would have us believe.
Now, I would ask those of you that have computers to google “Hellespont Aegean Sea” at your convenience and the stark geopolitical reality behind the 9 year siege stands out: The city of Troy’s remains have been discovered on the shores of the Hellespont, a narrow strait through which all sea traffic between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea has to pass. And the prosperity of Troy was due to the tolls extracted from ships plowing the trade routes between the two seas. Troy was a pearl in the geopolitical struggle between competing groups of city states.
So what has changed in the last 3000 years? Absolutely nothing: There are two reasons for every war: The popular one, expounded by propagandists of all stripes and colors; and the real one that the combatants discuss among themselves.

On November 11 of every year, should we pick up the courage to draw the curtain aside and look at the stark and ugly realities of war and the millions of meaningless and torturous deaths that were inflicted upon innocent people in order to gain control over territory and resources?

On a wet and cold All Hallows Eve, we remember those that passed..."

"No visitors came to see this memorial at Crammond on Halloween Night.

Scary Supper at the Caroline Legion

These well equipped kitchen volunteers gave patrons more than they bargained for at the Friday Night Sup.p.per on October 30.

Entertaining at the Legion Supper

The rich sound from Ed Tetzlaff's saxophone filled the Legion Hall on October 30. Ed was one of many House Band volunteers who entertained patrons at the weekly fundraising Friday Night Supper. The Legion distributes its surplus funds to local charitable causes and organizations.

Monday, November 9, 2009

November Moon, rising.
Near Cochrane, Alberta

Hockey Night in Canada alumnus hits Caroline

By Debbie Northcott
Ron McLean stopped by the Kurt Browning Complex on Wednesday, Oct 28th , looking for background information on Kurt Browning. Ron McLean, a Red Deer Native and Kurt Browning co host a show on CBC called "Battle of the Blades". Ron and his film crew are doing a surprise segment for Kurt and are hoping to air it on the show either Sunday Nov 8, or Monday Nov 9th. Ron McLean interviewed Len McLean who taught Kurt in school here. Ron said Kurt has always told Len McLean stories from school, so Ron wanted to hear some Kurt stories from school. Ron McLean was very personable and took the time to talk with or have pictures taken with people at the complex.
Ron setting up for interview with Len McLean - Ron called it the McLean & McLean show. In the picture Is Kurt's Hockey coat and first pair of skates.
Ron McLean, thumbs up, with players from the Caroline Midget Red Dogs hockey team.

Cabinet Minister calls Joe Anglin a dangerous troublemaker

(Buck Lake, AB) An Alberta cabinet minister has suggested that speaking out against business interests trying to build power transmission lines in the province could cost you your life. At last week's AUMA conference in Calgary, Minister of Transportation Luke Ouellette said he was surprised “someone hadn't dealt with” Joe Anglin, who is travelling the province raising concerns with Bill 50.

Anglin, who heads the Lavesta Area Group and represents the membership of United Power Transmission Action Group (UPTAG), believes the public’s interest is being undermined by proposed legislation that will remove public consultation, and the public’s right to question the “need” for major energy transmission projects. Further, Anglin asserts that interests that stand to profit from the imposition of Bill 50 and the provincial government are spending tens of millions of dollars in the province to sway public opinion.

Minister Ouellette characterized Anglin as “dangerous” and “a troublemaker”. David Karroll, a town councillor attending the annual conference and who witnessed Ouellette's remarks at the AUMA, has written to the speaker of the legislature and the premier demanding the minister's resignation.

“It was clear from the content of his statement that Minister Ouellette was implying why someone hadn’t eliminated (killed) or dealt harm to Mr. Anglin in an attempt to silence him,” Karroll said Sunday.

The councillor explained that Anglin, who contested the Lacombe-Ponoka seat in the last election, was spied on by the government during 2007 transmission line hearings and was most recently attacked by the province's Chief Electoral Officer, alleging wrongdoing in two anonymous and false allegations.

After being informed of the minister’s comments, Anglin said there are two interesting words that require the minister’s clarification. “First, what did he mean by dangerous and second, how exactly does he anticipate that someone should deal with me?” Anglin thinks that Ouellette should be explaining himself publically since he made the comments in public.

Karroll is demanding an independent inquiry into Ouellette's conduct.

For further information, please contact:

Edwin Erickson
Lavesta Area Group Director
(780) 682-2368

Friday, November 6, 2009

Homestead Security Equals Free-range Chickens, a good Dog, and Jerusalem Artichokes

By Jim Hogue

Will New England localities ever need to produce enough food to feed themselves?
Does the fire department need a new ladder?
Do we need library police, armed guards, and surveillance cameras?
Do we need a program to eradicate hemp and to imprison those who grow it?
Should we build wind farms to generate electricity?

We all take steps to protect ourselves – to mitigate the effects of catastrophe. But let us acknowledge that the fear of catastrophe is sold to us, and that sometimes, in the selling of protection, real threats are missed. Indeed the protection racket is still the protection racket, and the advertising campaigns are the same as always.

This article is an attempt to sell you protection against food shortages. But unlike other sales pitches, the promoters of this idea have little to gain, and this insurance could repay itself ten fold.
The point is that people routinely insure themselves against the unlikely, but that most have given neither thought nor preparation to the biggest problem facing most of the world: famine.

This article shares the wisdom of Karl Hammer of Montpelier VT, whose successful business is feeding the soil (Vermont Compost) and, as a by-product, getting eggs to market.

A Riddle:

Karl Hammer has 1400 free-range, egg-laying hens. He lives in Montpelier VT where temperatures drop to -40 degrees F. His barn is unheated. His hens lay for 12 months out of the year. The fecal matter from the chickens does not pollute. Coyote, fox, fisher cat, skunk, raccoon and aerial predators make their livings in the same niche. This is not Karl’s primary business. He turns a profit.


Answer: Garbage.

Living in the State Capitol, Karl has access to all the garbage his flock could ever want, especially when the legislature is in session. He charges a tipping fee to local restaurants, which supply him with appropriate food refuse. He feeds this to his chickens (Australorpes, Buff Orpingtons, Wyandottes and Rhode Island Reds) mixed with nutrient-rich and seed-rich late-cut hay. This mixture is 1) fodder, 2) heat source, 3) compost.

The Ecology:

The chickens add to the food mixture a nitrogen-rich substance that chemists refer to as chicken manure. The food/hay buffet provides a bed for the efficient collection of nitrogen, and the ammonia gasses (that in a factory farm would resuscitate the dead) are released so slowly that they are unnoticeable and non-toxic. The product (not to mention the eggs) is a nitrogen-rich addition to Karl’s compost that is further refined into potting soil.

But mention eggs I must, because that is the story.

Wholesale, Karl gets $2.40 a dozen for his eggs, which retail at $2.95. That is what people will pay for extra-large, fresh, free-range eggs. The reason the eggs taste so good is the infinite variety in the food source.

Anyone observing free-range hens can watch them select from nature’s table with individual and decisive discrimination. What I have noticed is that they prefer meals that are moving. Karl’s hens are free to roam, or leave, in search of whatever they like. In winter, when confined by sub-zero F temperatures to the barn, they still get a good supply of live, varied and tasty food. And even in winter they are able to choose from the constant, ever-growing buffet.

The environment in the barn is a metabolizing ecology: a constant succession of species that live off of the decaying matter and off of each other.

The environment of the farm is also particular. It must take advantage of the climate and the geography, considering water sources and drainage. It is, like all farms, situation specific. Karl collaborates with chickens. The more they are able to do what chickens do (express full chickenhood if you will) the more successful he is. It is a study in the sociology of chickens. It is, by necessity, a way of taking advantage of the work done by 7000 lbs of chickens every day.

There is also something to be said for the healthy and humane conditions that Karl affords his flock. 1) They choose their food (which they get to play with), 2) They are free to leave, 3) They live ‘til they die, 4) They are protected by a large German Shepard.

I know folks with tiny flocks who have lost everything to predators. And these flocks were not even free range. So . . . do not try this without a good dog. The skunk’s aroma may linger, but that is a small price to pay.

The other part of Karl’s formula for a ready New England food supply relies on a local wildflower called the Jerusalem Artichoke. Acres of community plantings would protect us against the worst case scenario of food shortages - from transportation slowdowns to natural disasters to financial meltdowns. And the billions spent on homeland security should spare a few thousand to get things started.

Jerusalem Artichokes are a herbaceous perennial, the only “vegetable” native to New England, 6-10ft tall, propagated from tubers, blooms in the fall, stalks and flowers resemble sunflowers. They are easy to cultivate and produce large, edible tubers if separated and planted in rich soil. They provide their own compost and mulch by dropping their leaves, and seem to produce tubers forever. The tubers may by eaten instead of potatoes, and are marketed as “sun chokes.”

Says Karl, “If you suddenly discovered in February that you were short of food, you could follow the stalk and find the tuber. So if you were trying to lay out strategies that were relatively inexpensive to feed the population of Central Vermont, acres of Jerusalem Artichokes would be one of them.”

They are, furthermore, (and here is where we cleverly integrate the chicken story) an effective filter of leachates because they are ravenous utilizers of nutrients. The more nutrients they get, the bigger they get. They work well with high carbon substrates in preventing leachates from getting into the watershed. A good design is a layer of bark filters with Jerusalem Artichokes planted in them.

They are a fantastic chicken habitat for several reasons. 1) It is cooler in a dense Jerusalem Artichoke thicket. 2) Worms collect in this environment, as Jerusalem Artichokes manage their own ecology. 3) They like chicken manure. 4) Chickens eat the foliage.

In a pinch, they will become currency. Furthermore, they are a starch source for fuel (ethanol), they aid in nutrient/sludge management, and they form a hedge that produces a pretty flower. (If the wrong people read this, Jerusalem Artichokes will become illegal.)

Good advice is, of course, plentiful. Bad planning is the rule. Economic collapse is always predicted by the few and ignored by the many. Here we are at a turning point in history: Peak Oil, Global Warming, and ruthless Empires grabbing the last resources from the weak.
It is ironic that those who can function as did their grandparents, with less, with Yankee ingenuity, with barter, and with knowledge of the natural world are much more likely to make it in the coming years.
It is possible that, soon, many people in New England will find it hard to get food. That doesn’t matter or register on the radar screen of the Agriculture Department or our elected officials. But it will when people get uppity.

Karl warns, “A populace that has no control over its food supply is hard put to describe itself as free. Eating is one of those things people do pretty often, and need to. It’s hard for Americans to imagine how that could affect their freedom, not having had a situation where money couldn’t buy food. Central Vermont has a food supply of 72 hours, and within 24 hours there’s a shortage of fresh produce. I don’t know if you’ve seen the co-op when the truck doesn’t come for a day. It gets pretty lonely and empty in there. Three days without food and peoples’ values shift. They give you the keys to their BMWs for a glass of water and a bagel. We need a shift in resources: from surveillance equipment for the constabulary to food planning. Many understand that the stalwarts with their fingers on the trigger still need to eat. The Swiss articulate food planning as part of their national defense strategy. And they articulate it carefully. But, for myself, constantly belaboring the obvious is getting kind of old.”

If there is a universal in the ongoing “Story of Karl Hammer,” it is that knowledge and the ability to objectively observe, measure, analyze, and apply data are crucial. Each part of the puzzle is important.

Another lesson, which goes against what so many have been taught for so long, is that economy of scale does not mean racing to enormous size. The Amish have shown us this. But many in the business of agriculture and in the governance of agriculture refuse to learn the lesson.

In an age of “peak oil” and potentially devastating climate changes, governments cannot let the serendipity of Karl’s success be a substitute for careful planning and for supporting rural entrepreneurs who, by going back in time, are preparing for the future.


Jim Hogue (aka Ethan Allen) is a former high school teacher, now an actor and farmer living in Calais, Vermont, and a frequent contributor to Vermont Commons. He has a weekly radio program on WGDR Plainfield 91.1fm.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pen Meets Paper Nov.2'09

Opinion by Helge Nome
Last Sunday I went for a drive south on Highway 22 that runs along the Rocky Mountain foothills to the west of the Energy Capital of Canada: Calgary. The highway has been branded as the “Cowboy Trail” by promotional organizations along its winding path and the “Western Theme” is promoted in the towns along the road.
It was a beautiful late fall Sunday drive with earth and sky showing themselves off in their best apparel.
What struck me as I got closer to Calgary was the sheer opulence of the properties along the road. They were trying to outdo each other with large fancy houses, miles of white painted railing fences to contain the owners’ many horses and impressive entrance gates announcing ownership. I thought to myself: This road should be renamed “Weekend Cowboy Trail” because the owners of these properties were likely spending all of their weekday time in high paying oil and gas field jobs in order to pay for their pastoral hobbies.
And reflecting further on the nature of our society and its ability to produce an incredible array and quantity of goods and services for a lot of people, one thing became crystal clear: The only reason why this kind of society can possibly function as it does, is because of cheap and abundant energy.
It seems that we all want the good life, the kind of life the aristocrats of yesteryear enjoyed, based on the menial repetitive labor of the rest of the population. And it is theoretically possible because of cheap and abundant energy. But now we are finding out that our energy use has a hidden cost: The air, earth and water that make up our world are changing in an unpredictable way.
The knee jerk reaction to this has been to “go green” in order to “save the planet”. Windmills, solar power and all that. By covering the landscape with solar panels and wind generators we will somehow be able to continue to indulge in our energy intensive habits while keeping Mother Earth happy. As long as we don’t do the math, it all sounds very good. And it was OK in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries when the great windjammers plowed the waves. But in our day, with billions of people all wanting a better life? We would drastically alter our air, earth and water if we exclusively tried to go that route.
Ultimately, if we continue in the direction we have chosen there is only one viable solution: The power locked up inside the atom. The power that the ancient Egyptians worshipped: The power of Aten, the sun disk.
The nuclear Genie came out of his bottle some 70 years ago and destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We in Alberta are now about to decide whether we want to be his host. Have him serve the common good, rather than turning him into an agent for evil. Are we up to that challenge? Can we have our cake and eat it too?