Weekly Reckoning: Carrot Top Edition

weekly-reckoningNo, there’s nothing new to report about Carrot Top. I just wanted to remind you that we live in a world where Carrot Top exists. Not much we can do about it, so let’s just carry on.

1. IT’S TIME TO ADMIT THAT APPLE KNOWS WHAT IT’S DOING WITH ITS iPHONE BUSINESS. Oh, I see you there, laughing at Apple and poo-pooing the 5C. But now you have to admit that Apple was right all along! HAHAHAHHHAAAA oh who cares.

2. ROGER AILES MOVES TO A TINY TOWN IN UPSTATE NEW YORK, TERRIFYING THINGS ENSUE. Here’s a story about the head of Fox News and what happened when he tried to reproduce his peculiar brand of American fantasia in the town of Garrison, New York. Read this story – it lays out the entitlement and paranoia of the ultra-rich in fascinating detail. Ailes comes off like a tin-can William Randolph Hearst in his attempts to control the editorial direction of the local paper, which he transformed from a glue-and-scissors weekly into a conservative rag.*

3. ONCE AGAIN, MAGNETS MAKE US FEEL BETTER. Chief psychiatrist for the Regina-Qu’Appelle health region, Dr. Dhanapal Natarajan, is feeling pretty good about a machine that uses magnets to “induce changes inside the brain that result in improvement of the depression and anxiety symptoms.” It’s being promoted as an “add-on therapy” for sufferers of depression. If magnets can help us overcome the creeping suspicion that we’re leading ghastly imitations of real lives in the 21st century, then I’m all for it. Bring on the brain-altering waves. Or you could just look on the bright side, like Shae Therrien here.

4. DON’T DRINK THE TAP WATER. A state of emergency has been declared in West Virginia, where a chemical spill has left 300,000 people without drinkable water. A foaming agent used in coal processing leaked from a 40,000 gallon tank. Freedom Industries (really?), which owns the coal processing plant, has issued an apology. Residents are currently experiencing freedom from having to drink the local water, bathe in it, or wash their clothes with it. They can still flush their toilets, though.

5. CHEWBACCA WAS GIVEN A CAMERA. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HE DID NEXT. Actually you will believe it: he took tons of behind-the-scenes Star Wars photos. Peter Mayhew, the once and (fingers crossed) future Wookiee, has been posting photos that he took on the set of Star Wars movies. I hope someone can explain Mark Hamill’s weird floral shirt.

*I’ve never written the phrase “conservative rag” before. That was fun.

Weekly Reckoning: The Hot Button Edition

Weekly ReckoningDon’t touch those buttons! They’re hot.

1. THE FUTURE IS DARK AND STORMY.* Increasingly lousy weather is one of the most easily observable and predictable effects of climate change. Oceans heat up, moisture increases, storms a-brew. Even Toronto Hydro had this one figured out. A 2012 study predicted increased incidence of storms, ice storms, rain storms, dark skies, massive charges of electricity leaping between the earth and heavens, that kind of thing. So Torontonians should buckle down, because power interruptions, fallen trees and ice coating everything like a crystal skin are here to stay.

2. RACIST BABE. Remember the early ’90s, when folk music got a jolt of energy from musicians like Ani DiFranco? I first saw her over 20 years ago playing “Both Hands” at one of the workshop stages at the Winnipeg Festival. She blew everyone else off the stage (with the possible exception of Greg Brown, who’d keep his cool in a tornado). Anyway! DiFranco has re-entered the zeitgeist, because she’s holding a retreat for fans at… a plantation. You know, one of those grand old Southern mansions where black people were reduced to the status of cattle (even though Nottoway Plantation would prefer not to tackle that topic). The backlash has been swift but ongoing, with former fans castigating DiFranco and one of the featured musicians respectfully backing out of the retreat. But if you like DiFranco and don’t care about racist things, buy a ticket, because “there’s room in the circle for everyone.” That is, everyone who a) isn’t bothered by the gaudy status symbols of slavery and b) has anywhere from $1100 to $4000 to plunk down on a mind-expanding good time.

UPDATE: Ani DiFranco has cancelled the event. She also released a long, thoughtful, considerate, self-justifying statement on Facebook in which she neglected to actually say that she was sorry.

3. THE DREADED D’S. Phil Robertson, the douchetastic dickhead of Duck Dynasty, has been reinstated on his show. He’s the biggest draw on A&E’s biggest show, so if you were looking for further proof that life is a popularity contest and popular people can say any old thing they like, knock yourself out. Son Alan Robertson  says that “[w}e will continue to represent our faith and values in the most positive way through Duck Dynasty.” Because nothing represents faith like standing around in front a couple of cameras while producers shout lines at you. Oh, and shooting ducks. Oh, and being bigots.

4. IT IS NOW THE LAW that all headlines about Russia must contain the phrase “as the Olympics near.” Because that’s clearly the most important thing in a story about a train station bombing that killed at least 16 people.

5. THE SHOCKING TRUE HISTORY OF “THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.” Have you ever wondered about the implicit status marker of Santa’s pipe? Are you curious about the sociocultural matrix in which one of our founding Christmas stories was embedded? More importantly, do you have nothing going on tonight? Because this is a long one.

*Dark & Stormy:

1 can Barritt’s Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer

1 oz (or more) Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (151 overproof, no less)

Combine. Add ice. Garnish with the will to destroy your brain.

Pick Of The Day: Science Rendezvous

Given all the anti-science shenanigans that have been going on lately, with the federal government in particular seemingly determined to squelch any and all studies and scientific findings that clash with its agenda to exploit the country’s natural resources to the max, this is probably a more controversial event to consider attending than it should be.

But for people who are interested in science, it’s a great way to get up to speed on what sort of research is going on at the University of Regina. You can find out more details here, but the basics are as follows: it’s family-focused, it goes today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and most of the activities will occur on the main floor of the Research and Innovation Centre at the university.

Six In The Morning: Guantanamo, Earth Day, The Junos And More Stuff


1 HALF OF GUANTANAMO IS ON HUNGER STRIKE Probably because they’re being held for all eternity in a concentration camp without charge. Story here. And look at this quote: “Nearly 100 of the detainees have reportedly been cleared for release but remain at the facility because of restrictions imposed by Congress and also concerns of possible mistreatment if they are sent back to their home countries.” I remember when U.S. President Barack Obama, then a candidate, said he’d close Gitmo. Apparently a different definition of “close” than the English one.

2 CENTRAL LIBRARY IS REVIEWING WHICH SERVICES IT OFFERS, AGAIN That’s what I got from this piece about the RPL’s downtown branch. Are the pack of conservatives running that institution once again looking for an excuse to shut down the Dunlop Art Gallery (last attempt: 2002) and the RPL Film Theatre (last attempt: 1998)? I wouldn’t bet against it. I don’t trust them and neither should you.

3 IF YOU WANT A COLLAPSED LUNG, YOU SHOULD TOTALLY TAKE THE CINNAMON CHALLENGE Doctors say the cinnamon challenge is very bad for you.

4 IT’S EARTH DAY! HAVE YOU RECYCLED YOUR PLASTIC BOTTLES? The Philippines has! Also, Google has an Earth Day doodle. Also, Earth Day is 43 years old. With global warming passing the tipping point any minute now (if it hasn’t already), with the over-exploitation of fish stocks rushing us towards fishery collapse, with species extinction and habit loss increasing and with  more and more toxins in the ecosystem, we’re on track for one hell of a happy 50th anniversary. Wooo, go sustainable development!

5 WE’VE BEEN JUNOED That was a fun weekend. Regina should invite Canada over to play more often. You can read James Brotheridge’s entertaining Juno Awards coverage here, and JunoFest coverage here,  herehere and here, with more to come. Also, it sounds like Paul McCartney is coming this summer. Wait, wait–yup, that’s confirmed. Are you guys going to go? Should I go? Will Stephen LaRose write about this being yet another cynical cash grab from an artist well past his prime, and then go to the show anyway? So many questions.


VIDEO! In honour of Regina’s next big concert and cats, I give you: this.

Pick Of The Day: Songwriters Circle

This is being held in conjunction with a special exhibit at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum that’s tied to the Juno Awards called The Power of Music: Sustainability & the JUNOS. “The exhibit explores how musicians have written music around three themes: nature, resilience and wisdom and the idea of those being aspects of living more sustainability,” says Glenn Sutter, a RSM biologist who also practices as a singer-songwriter in Regina.  “There’s been a lot of music written and activism by leading songwriters in Canada and that lent itself to a pretty interesting exhibit that involves four listening stations where you learn about the causes that artists are supporting and also hear songs that they’ve written.”

Musicians represented include Sarah Harmer, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Neil Young. “The exhibit features over 20 Juno Award-winning songwriters and the whole idea with the Songwriters’ Circle is to give local songwriters a chance to explore those same themes,” says Sutter. “The artists won’t be bringing new material to the circle, but they’re all excited to explore their catalogues and explain where the songs come from.”

Sutter is hosting the event, and will also be participating as a songwriter. “We’ve got some great people who have stepped forward to help out,” he adds. “JJ Vos is on the country side, Megan Nash from Moose Jaw is country-pop, Thomas Roussin is well-known from the nancy ray-guns and other projects and has an interesting First Nations perspective on some of these topics, and Mark Ceasar is just a fantastic songwriter.”

The circle, which is a licensed event, goes at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum at 8 p.m. tonight. Tickets are $15 advance and $20 door. For more information call 306-787-8165. And to give you a taste of the talent that will be on display here’s video from 2011 of Megan Nash performing “Coming In From the Cold”:

Saskatoon-Based Scientist Muzzled By Harper Government In HUGE Shocker

I’m surprised, personally. The Harper Government doesn’t like its paid scientists to disclose their research without a crash course in anti-environmentalist spin? This is all news to me:

Waiser wrote two scientific papers for Environment Canada that were published in 2011 that looked at chemical pollutants (such as phosporus and ammonia) and pharmaceuticals (such as trace antibiotics) in Wascana Creek.

Both kinds of pollution were found downstream of the Regina sewage treatment plant west of the city.

Waiser says when CBC contacted her to talk about the research, Environment Canada higher-ups lowered the boom.

“One of the first things they said after reading the two papers on Wascana Creek is that they didn’t want to upset the City of Regina,” she said.

Man, that last bit stings, doesn’t it. Though I guess it stings more if you’re a non-scientist spokesperson or “media guru” or whatever job title at Environment Canada in 2013 means it’s your job to make sure that nobody talks to the press unless they reinforce the Harper Government voter base’s beliefs that absolutely nothing has changed in the environment in the past sixty years and that human culpability in environmental issues is basically nil. Because look how snippy this guy or gal got:

Environment Canada declined a recorded interview, but in an email, a spokesperson said the department won’t comment on “hearsay.”

Zing. Is it “hearsay” when the source on this story about a government scientist being muzzled over her work is the government scientist who did the work? Is it hearsay when it’s part of a larger pattern previously addressed by international scientific journals? I guess it’s difficult to say. At least the Harper Government can take some solace in the fact that there’s no way to gain how much traction this “hearsay” actually has.

harper muzzle

Yep, no way at all. The full interview with Marley Waiser is here. Big ups to CBC Sask for digging up and running this story.

More Flood Fears

Earlier this month Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency issued a warning that if the weather ever warms up here several areas of the province face a strong risk of flooding. In the Regina-Moose Jaw area, the risk was rated “very high”. Yesterday, Saskatchewan Environment minister Ken Cheveldayoff held a press conference to issue his own warning that people needed to prepare for higher than expected spring run-off. You can read more in this CBC report.

Whether the flooding will reach Biblical proportions will likely be determined by the speed of the spring melt. If things remain cool for much longer, then we have a sudden spike in temperatures, things will get ugly pretty quick. To help everyone prepare for that eventuality, here’s a bit by British comic Ricky Gervais where he breaks down the story of Noah’s Ark:

Shanghai Surprise II

So, did you hear about the 12,000 dead pigs that Chinese authorities have fished out of a river that’s a major water source for the cities of Shanghai (population 23 million) and Jiaxing (4.5 million)? Tests done on carcasses show signs of disease and the suspected source is agricultural producers in a nearby province. Aljazeera has the story here.

Science Matters: Scott Vaughan’s Grim Final Report

When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in 2010, killing 11 people and spewing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, it cost more than $40 billion to mop up the mess.

In Canada, an oil company would only be liable for only $30 million, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the rest.

That’s just one of a litany of flaws Canada’s environment commissioner identified with the government’s approach to environmental protection. According to environment and sustainable development commissioner Scott Vaughan, who released a final series of audits before stepping down, the federal government’s failure to protect the environment is putting Canadians’ health and economy at risk.

Vaughan says the government has no real plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and isn’t even on track to meet its own modest targets (already watered down from the widely accepted emission-levels baseline of 1990 to 2005). It’s unprepared for tanker accidents and oil spills in coastal waters. It lacks regulations governing toxic chemicals used by the oil industry.

He noted the federal government does not even require the oil and gas industry to disclose chemicals it uses in fracking, which means there is no way to assess the risks. And despite the fact that Canada has committed to protecting 20 per cent of its oceans by 2020, we have less than one per cent protected now and are not likely to meet our goal within this century.

“We know that there is a boom in natural resources in this country and I think what we need now — given the gaps, given the problems we found — is a boom in environmental protection in this country as well,” Mr. Vaughan told the Globe and Mail. He added that not dealing with the risks will cause economic losses as well as damage to human health and the environment because it will cost more to clean up problems than prevent them.

Remember, this is not coming from a tree-hugging environmentalist but from the government’s own independent office of the auditor general. It should concern all Canadians. We have a beautiful country, blessed with a spectacular natural environment and a progressive, caring society. But we can’t take it for granted. Beijing was probably a nicer city when you could breathe the air without risking your life.

Often, the justification for failing to care for the environment is that it’s not economically feasible. It’s not a rational argument — after all, we can’t survive and be healthy ourselves if we degrade or destroy the air, water, soil and biodiversity that make it possible for us to live well. But Vaughan shows the folly of this way of thinking on a more basic level. Beyond the high costs of cleaning up after environmental contamination or disasters, he notes the government doesn’t even have a handle on some of the financial implications of its policies.

“The government does not know the actual cost of its support to the fossil fuel sector,” he reports, adding that it has no idea how much its sector-by-sector approach to greenhouse gas emissions will cost either, even though that was a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which the government bailed on, arguing it was too expensive.

The government has also steadfastly refused to consider putting a price on carbon, through a carbon tax and/or cap-and-trade, even though economists point to the ever-growing mountain of evidence that those are effective ways to reduce carbon emissions.

With an expected doubling of fracking wells, from 200,000 to 400,000, and tripling of tanker traffic off the West Coast, we can’t afford such a lax approach. Our prime minister has responded mostly with slogans and platitudes, but others in government say the issues will be addressed. For the sake of our country’s future, we must demand that they keep that promise and recognize the crucial role the environment commissioner has in analyzing Canada’s environmental practices and recommending improvements for environmental performance.

Given our government’s current record of ignoring scientific evidence and gutting environmental laws and programs, it will have to do a lot more to convince Canadians that it doesn’t see environmentalists and environmental regulation simply as impediments to fossil fuel development.

With contributions from Ian Hanington. Learn more at the David Suzuki Foundation.

City To Pursue P3 To Fund Wastewater Treatment Plant

I substituted for Paul Dechene at a media briefing conducted by Mayor Michael Fougere this morning at City Hall on plans the city has to proceed with a massive upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant. The upgrade is being driven by changes to federal and provincial regulations governing the quality of treated water released by towns and cities in the country, plus also the aging state of our current treatment plant and the growing needs of our city.  

The new regulations are set to take effect on Dec. 31, 2016, so the city is operating on a tight timeline. But the reality is that the current quality of our effluent, which is laden with nitrogen, is imperilling the health of surrounding lakes and rivers, along with communities located on those water bodies downstream of Regina, and we need to address this issue.

When the initial discussion began around a new wastewater treament facility a few years ago the projected cost was in the $150 million range. Today, the mayor revealed that the estimated cost would be $224.3 million. That includes a 15 per cent buffer to account for inflation during the construction period.

For several years the city has been putting money away courtesy of annual nine per cent boosts in water and sewer rates. To cover the cost of plant construction and operation, though, the city is considering a public-private partnership that would include the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the wastewater plant over a 30-year period.  At least, that’s the recommendation contained in a report that will be going to Executive Committee on Feb. 13.

In addition to its own contribution, and private investment, the city also hopes to access $50 million from federal sources for infrastructure support.

“It is important to note that with this proposal the city will always own and control this facility,” Fougere said at the briefing. “We will also protect our employees who will keep their jobs [under the P3 arrangement] and receive advance training to operate this state of the art facility. We’re hopeful that the federal government will accept our application. We’re meeting their environmental standards, and they’re talking about P3s being a model for the future for infrastructure, and it would be irresponsible of us not to look at that model to lower the exposure of taxpayers’ dollars.”

From the answers that were provided at today’s briefing, it seems that city employees at the treatment plant will still be covered by the existing collective agreement through successor rights contained in the Trade Union Act, but they will be employed by the private sector operator whose capital contribution to the construction and operation of the plant will be in the neighbourhood of $118 million. Through a mix of debt financing and revenue generation, like the possible sale of processed wastewater to a new potash mine that might be built near Regina in the next few years, the city will pay back the private investor over a 30 year period. It’s also important to note that the city is still facing the need to invest $1 billion plus to repair and replace aging water and sewer infrastructure thoughout the city.   

Here’s a link to the report that will be going to Executive Committee next Wednesday.

It Could Be Worse, I Suppose

Look to the right outside the window of our second floor office on the F.W. Hill Mall in beautiful downtown Regina, and the photo above is what you’ll see. Look to the left, and the photo after the jump is what you’ll see. But as cold and snowy as it is here, things could be worse.

In Australia, for instance, it’s the height of summer, and they’re baking in a record heat wave that has seen temperatures in coastal cities like Sydney reach 41.8 degrees C, and wildfires sweep through tens of thousands of acres of forests, farmland and national parks in the most populous state of New South Wales and on the island of Tasmania. Here’s a Guardian report with video from a few days ago.

Continue reading “It Could Be Worse, I Suppose”

Six In The Morning

1. THE OSCAR NOMINEES HAVE BEEN UNLEASHED. It’s a warm morning in Regina (but cold and storms are coming), so in consideration of the balmy weather, the Academy of Important Flicks announced the nominees for the Oscar ceremonies. It’s the usual round of pious and portentous films (Life of Pi, Lincoln) with a couple of interesting choices thrown in (Django Unchained, Amour). More interesting by far is a consideration of the snubbed and ignored. Moonrise Kingdom? A writing nomination. The Master? Acting nominations only – not even a nod for the 70mm cinematography. And where the hell is Holy Motors in the foreign language category? What, did they only release twenty films in 2012? Screw those guys.

2. WAIT, YOU HAVE TO PAY A LICENSE TO OWN A TV IN THE UK? According to the TV Licensing Authority, there are still 13,000 black and white television sets in use in the UK. The number surprised me initially, but it turns out that annual television licenses are only a third of the price for black and white sets. Then again, we’re talking about a country where the biggest book distributor is set to be McDonalds.

3. I GUESS THEY DIDN’T POLL THAT FARMER WHO HATED “VOICE OF FIRE.” Canadian Heritage polled the Canadian public (that’s us!) on our engagement with the arts, and it turns out that, dudes, we are so super-engaged that we’re all like, “Go arts! Fund that shizzle! Let’s book it to a live performance now!” Because that’s how we roll, bro. The Harper Government is expected to roll up the results of the poll and cover it in cheese and a mild salsa verde.

4. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THE DEFENCE DEPARTMENT.  Here’s a disheartening read about counterfeit Chinese electronics in Canada’s Hercules C-130J aircraft. Oh my God, you may be thinking, I’m glad that they discovered those fake electronics six months ago. Now they can get on with the business of replacing them with genuine parts. Ah hah hah, no. Apparently the government has no concerns, because the planes have been working just fine so far. Just fine! The fact that 27 per cent of the counterfeit chips failed in lab tests doesn’t bother them, I guess. In related news, we’ll be hiring soldiers from Matchbox for the foreseeable future. Minister MacKay is scheduled to conduct a recruiting drive from one of those vending machines at the grocery store. “I hope I get a few paratroopers,” Mr. MacKay said as he twisted the knob on the machine.


6. GOOD NEWS FOR THOSE DERANGED FREE WILLY FANS OUT THERE. A pack of killer whales, trapped for the last two days in pack ice off the coast of northern Quebec, is now free to go about its previous business. Of killing. Hey, they’re not called event planning whales.

On RMs and Water

While I was on CBC’s page for that last post I saw this and it pissed me off:

 The Idle No More movement and Saskatchewan’s rural municipalities are on opposite sides of the fence regarding protection for navigable water. Members of Idle No More have been in the headlines recently with flash mobs and road blockades across Canada in protest of a budget bill that they say affects First Nations rights. Among their concerns is the federal Navigable Waters Protection Act, which protesters say takes away their right to consultation on construction projects that could affect water bodies. The chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Perry Bellegarde says indigenous rights over land bordering water were never given up in the treaties. “And so we need to be involved with the whole issue of water, and the monitoring, and the control, and the review, and the regulation and everything else,” he said.

But members of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) are claiming a victory with the change to navigable water legislation. “We’re ecstatic about that,” president David Marit told delegates to SARM’s mid-term convention back in November. “It’s a long fight that we’ve had to deal with and we finally got what we wanted.” Under the omnibus Bill C-45, the law has been renamed the Navigation Protection Act. Small streams are no longer under federal scrutiny. In fact, in Saskatchewan, only three bodies of water remain under Transport Canada’s oversight: the South Saskatchewan River, the North Saskatchewan River and Lake Athabasca.

I’m surprised that rural Saskatchewan politicians are happy about drastically reduced protection for the water systems flowing through them. Removing protections was not about making it easier to approve bridges and culverts, as RM politicians claim — it’s about making it harder to adequately gauge the environmental impacts of mining projects and pipelines. Because Conservatives lurve pipelines and mines regardless of the cost. And they don’t like complicated science and its stinky “facts”.

Obviously, short term economic benefits ought to be balanced against long-term environmental costs. The changes these RMs apparently love will ultimately mean more pollution and more environmental damage in their municipalities. What a bunch of short-sighted ninnies. Suggesting this is about bureaucracy and bridges misses the point.

More Boxing Day Action

Further to my Boxing Day Bash post below, Dec. 26 at noon a round dance/flash mob is going to be held on the F.W. Hill Mall as part of the Idle No More protest movement against the recent passage of the omnibus Bill C-45 by the Haper government in Ottawa that radically reduces environmental protection for federal waterways in Canada while also introducing changes to land management on First Nations reserves through the Indian Act.

Here’s some background courtesy of a First Perspective article that also discusses a hunger strike that Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence has undertaken to demonstrate the extent of First Nations’ concern about Bill C-45 and to push for a meeting between First Nations leaders and the Conservative government.

Saskatchewan Writer Wins Prestigious Prize

Last Monday Saskatchewan writer Candace Savage was awarded the $60,000 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction at a ceremony in Toronto. Her book, which was published by Greystone Books and the David Suzuki Foundation, is called A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory From a Prairie Landscape,  and it explores the turbulent geological and colonial history of the Cypress Hills region.

Some of that same ground was covered in Guy Vanderhaeghe’s award-winning 1996 novel The Englishman’s Boy. It dealt specifically with the 1873 Cypress Hills Massacre, though, while Savage’s book takes a more expansive view of the area and its history. For more info, here’s a link to the Writers’ Trust online announcement of Savage’s win.

On Thursday Nov. 22, by the way, Savage will be delivering a talk at the Education Auditorium, University of Regina at 7 p.m. The talk is titled Grasslands in Peril,  and it concerns the proposed plan by the Saskatchewan government to sell, lease or otherwise dispose of community pastures that the federal government recently divested itself of as part of its broader privatization agenda. The pastures consist of about one million acres of land that are one of the last refuges for native prairie grasses in our region. 

On the same subject, on Friday Nov. 24 there’s a day-long forum at the Orr Centre (4400 4th Ave.) on the future of the pastures, and the possible threat privatization poses to their environmental well-being and the economic viability of smaller-scale ranchers who have long relied on the pastures to help graze their livestock. The forum, which includes a noon-hour panel discussion featuring key stakeholders, is being hosted by the Regina Public Interest Research Group. Here’s a link to their website for more info.

Six In The Morning: Like A Hog In Crisps Edition

1. DRIVE. DRIVE NOW. Because gas prices in Regina are falling, falling, falling to … $1.24 per litre? My god, you’d think we had to haul this stuff out of the ground or something.

2. THAT’LL LEARN ‘EM. THAT’LL LEARN ‘EM ALL THE WAY BACK TO NIGERIA. For too long we homeland-born Canadians have suffered the brunt of foreign students coming to the U of R and working for two weeks at Wal-mart. Think of all the hickory sticks we could be stuffing our faces with those wages! Think of all the interest payments we could me making on that HDTV we got from Visions last year! My home entertainment enjoyment is being eroded by those two Nigerian scofflaws. Fortunately, Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has my back on this one. He won’t overturn the deportation decision levied earlier this year against the two women.

3. AND THAT’S HOW YOU CHANGE THE SASK PARTY’S MIND. As part of a Canada-wide protest, Ghosts of the Arts drew 35-40 people to the Legislative Building on Tuesday night. “Some people dressed up in sheets and said nothing at all after dark? Let’s triple arts funding!” Premier Brad Wall definitely did not say.

4. PUSSY RIOT 2: THE PUSSINATION. Polish heavy metal singer Adam Darski could face up to two years in a prison for ripping up a Bible on stage in 2007. The crime? “Offending Catholic sensibilities.”

5. EXXON MOBIL: MAKING LESS, EARNING MORE. Even though Exxon Mobil’s production declined by 7.5 per cent in the most recent quarter, its profits have “topped expectations.” Good for you, you plucky underdog.

6. MEANWHILE IN THE UK. A hedgehog got trapped in an empty bag of chips and a three and a half hour rescue effort ensued.

Pick of the Day: Green Home Show

Presented by the Cathedral Area Community Association, the theme of this annual environmental fair and trade show is Changing the World Starts At Home.

During the course of the event, which goes tonight at the Italian Club from 5-9 p.m., three seminars will be presented. They include: Building Smart Not Big with Eric de Waal of Walnut Construction; Housing Science 101 – Energy Efficient Home Retrofits and Grant Programs with Jason Brecker of Sun Ridge Residential; and Sustainability for Beginners with Rick Morrell of Eat Healthy Foods.

Admission to the trade show is free. For more information call 569-8755.

Regina: Slightly Occupied

Today was the anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street. But hey, Regina was occupied for a while too, remember? And sure enough, the occasion was marked by a small but boisterous group of protesters on the Scarth W. Frederick pedestrian Hill mall. Speakers–including Sask Green Party leader Victor Lau, Ward 9 (northwest Regina) candidate Dawn Thomas and recently rebooted mayoral candidate Chad Novak–spoke on topics including citizen engagement, the new stadium and the general total trashing of the environment that’s popular these days. All in all it was feisty and well-organized, and the speakers were articulate.

Hey look! Photos!

Pick of the Day: The Island President

Winner of the People’s Choice Documentary Award at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, this film by Jon Shenk explores efforts by the president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed to raise awareness about the potential impact of climate change on his small island nation. Over 80 per cent of the country is less than one meter above sea level, and should melting polar ice caps cause ocean levels to rise, as scientific models predict, the result would be catastrophic.

The Island President screens tonight at the RPL Theatre at 9 p.m. Here’s the trailer:

More Penny Wise, Pound Foolish B.S. from the Sask Party Government

In today’s Leader-Post there’s an editorial that takes a poke at the province for its decision a couple of years ago to slash funding provided to dozens of Saskatchewan communities to monitor the spread of Dutch Elm disease. Prior to the cut, the province provided $500,000 to local authorities to inspect and remove infected trees. Now, there’s only $100,000 available for “buffer zone” monitoring around six communities.

Not suprisingly, there’s been an upsurge in the disease, with the Qu’Appelle River Valley being particularly hard hit. Regina has its own Dutch Elm disease program, but without proper controls in outlying communities the city is pretty much fighting a losing battle to preserve its urban forest.

Read more here.