Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

UN Court Orders Japan To Stop Antarctic Whaling

Monday, March 31st, 2014

I have said it before and I will say it again: if you want to persuade Japan to stop whaling, then you must do so through diplomacy and legal methods.  It’s not that I am a huge fan of whaling, but the actions of Sea Shepherd are totally ineffective, counter-productive, extremely dangerous and highly illegal.  They qualify as acts of piracy, as they are a direct attack on the safety of unarmed vessels on the high seas.

For those who actually would like to see Japanese whaling come to an end, there has recently been a major step in that direction.  And no, it did not happen because a group of idiot activists were ramming Japanese vessels.

Via The New York Times:

U.N. Court Orders Japan to Halt Antarctic Whaling

PARIS — The United Nations’ highest court on Monday ordered Japan to halt its annual whaling hunt in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, saying that its present program was not being carried out for scientific purposes, as Japan has claimed.

In a 12-to-4 judgment, the International Court of Justice in The Hague found that Japan was in breach of its international obligations by catching and killing minke whales and issuing permits for hunting humpback and fin whales within the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, established by the International Whaling Commission.

Reading a summary of the judgment, presiding Judge Peter Tomka of Slovakia said that the present “research program,” dating to 2005, has involved the killing of 3,600 minke whales and a number of fin whales, but that its “scientific output to date appears limited.” The ruling suggested instead that Japan’s whaling hunt served political and economic reasons.

Lawyers attending the proceedings said there was a gasp in the audience when Judge Tomka ordered Japan to immediately “revoke all whaling permits” and not issue any new ones under the existing program.

“I rarely heard such an unequivocal, strong ruling at this court,” said a lawyer with long experience at the court who asked not to be named because he is working on a case in progress.

The ruling is binding, and Japan cannot appeal. No immediate reaction from Japan was available, although it has said it would abide by any judgment in the case. But a Japanese delegate said in earlier hearings that Japan might consider withdrawing from the whaling commission, which oversees management of the world’s whale populations.

The court left open the possibility for future whale hunting if Japan redesigned its program. Tokyo has said that it needs data to monitor the impact of whales on its fishing industry and to monitor the whale population’s recovery from overfishing.

Unfortunately, the times article went on to quote a Sea Shepherd representative on the issue, which is a shame, because those idiots should not be regarded as a respectable authority on the issue or even legitimate anti-whaling activists. There are plenty of groups out there who oppose Japanese whaling and do so through legal and sane means.

It’s important to note that while this is a big step, it does not mean that Japan won’t conduct any further whaling or that the issue is closed.   First, this only applies to the Antarctic region.  Although that is the most high profile region of Japanese whaling, the Japanese also conduct whaling in the northern Pacific and that is not affected by the ruling.

Another important consideration is that the decision only reflects Japan’s commitment to the International Whaling Commission treaty.  There is no standing international law against whaling in general.  The only reason Japan is restricted from whaling is that the country signed a treaty to abide by IWC rules.  Those rules include a ban on whaling for all but research purposes.  It should be noted that the research clause was, in part, inserted into the general ban on whaling to appease Japan, who wished to continue whaling activities.  Calling it “research” makes it more politically palatable.

Therefore the court has ruled that Japan must cease whaling because their activities do not quality as “research,” and therefore are not in line with the rules of the treaty.  However, because it’s a voluntary treaty, Japan could potentially respond by simply choosing to withdraw from the IWC.  They have the right to do so.   They just might end up doing that, as they have considered withdrawing before.

As a result of these limits, this ruling should not be regarded as an the ultimate victory in the fight against whaling.  What Japan will do next is unclear.  Though they have stated they will abide by the ruling, they may decide to leave the IWC, thus voiding their treaty obligations, or they may simply shift the focus of their whaling program to other ocean regions.   None the less, this is still a major step toward reducing or eliminating Japanese whaling.   If the effort to do so is successful, it will be through diplomacy, appeals to the Japanese public and legal efforts and not through harassing whaling vessels with dangerous and illegal stunts.

Fred Phelps Reported Ill

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

It’s really considered pretty tacky and rude to wish someone dead, even if you strongly disagree with them.  So, call me tacky, call me rude, call me anything you want, but I can’t wait for the old bastard to kick the bucket…

Via Fox News:

Spokesman: Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of anti-gay Kansas church, is ill and in care facility

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Rev. Fred Phelps Sr., who founded a Kansas church that’s widely known for its protests at military funerals and anti-gay sentiments, is in a care facility.

Westboro Baptist Church spokesman Steve Drain said Sunday that Phelps is being cared for in a Shawnee County facility. Drain wouldn’t identify the facility but says Phelps is 84 and “having some health problems.”

Members of the Westboro church, based in Topeka, frequently protest at funerals of soldiers with signs containing messages like “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “Thank God for 9/11,” claiming the deaths are God’s punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

Lets hope it is finally the end for Phelps. He’s 84 years old and tends to avoid the hospital unless absolutely necessary. The fact that this was announced does give some hope that his health is finally failing.

No, I don’t wish him death because I’m vengeful or vindictive. At least, that’s not the primary reason. The Westboro Baptist Church has all the hallmarks of a cult, and cults need a charismatic leader. When the leader of a cult dies, it is very common for the cult to fall apart. I believe that is what will happen with the WBC.

Phelp’s group has done everything possible to make others miserable. They protest funerals and picket tragic events around the country. It’s easy to say “just ignore them,” and most people do. Their antics don’t generally get them any followers or sympathy. But they do cause real suffering to those trying to quietly grieve their losses. That’s the whole point of their actions. They know laughing at the caskets of the dead and making the event less dignified will cut to the bone of the survivors.

If I were religious myself, I would imagine now would be the time that Satan is stoking the fires of hell and waiting to start cooking a juicy one.

The Problem With Not Having a Manned Space Program

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The United States has the worlds most accomplished manned space program.  Not only has the US sent men to the moon, but for decades the United States was the most capable space-faring nation, launching several missions per year and leading the world in manned space capabilities.  Even the Space Shuttle, for all its expense and flaws, was a highly capable spacecraft.

Today, however, the US has no ability to send humans into space.   China has a limited manned spaceflight program and Russia is now the primary space program for crewed spacecraft.  The US, however, does own a large portion of the International Space Station and is under treaty obligation to provide crew and support to the space station.  To fulfill its need to send crew members to the Space Station, the US must pay the Russian government tens of millions of dollars for a seat in a Soyuz space capsule.

Obviously, this is a pretty embarrassing place to be.  Just 20 years ago, it was NASA coming to the rescue of a floundering Russian space program, when, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia found itself unable to support a full roster of missions to its own space station.  Now the tables are turned, and the US is starting to look more like a fallen superpower.

But there is a more practical and problematic issue that arises with the dependence on Russia for space transportation.  When international tensions flare, as they now are, things become highly uncertain for space access.

Via NBC News:

Russia Crisis Raises Space Station Questions, But NASA Has Options

OUSTON — Thanks to its reliance on Russia, NASA is once again confronted with the nightmare of a diplomatic roadblock in a project originally made possible by diplomacy: the U.S.-Russian partnership in space exploration.

And if Russia’s confrontation with Ukraine and the West turns into the worst diplomatic crisis of our generation, as feared, it could have equally profound and disturbing consequences for space exploration.

This month’s comings and goings at the International Space Station highlight the interdependence of the U.S. and Russian space efforts: Next week, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins is due to return from the space station aboard a Russian capsule, alongside two Russian cosmonauts. A couple of weeks after that, NASA’s Steven Swanson is to ride another Russian Soyuz craft up to the station, again in the company of two Russians.

Under the current arrangement, NASA astronauts cannot get to and from the station without Russian help, due to the retirement of the space shuttle fleet. The ticket price for each astronaut is $70 million, payable to the Russians.

The United States and Russia are not just “joined at the hip” on the space station. Numerous other rocket projects rely on either Russian or Ukrainian space hardware and services. Even U.S. national security satellites are powered into orbit on an American rocket with a Russian-built rocket engine.

What if the Soyuz spacecraft suddenly became unavailable for use by American astronauts, contract or no contract? Would it be the end of U.S. human spaceflight? Would it kick off a new round of extortionary price-gouging, both fiscal and diplomatic?

Well, maybe not.

Moving away from co-dependence

It’s cold comfort that the Russians rely on NASA almost as much as NASA relies on the Russians. If Russia monopolizes up-down transport, the United States essentially controls the only space destination: Russia’s orbital hardware couldn’t function without U.S. electrical power and communications services.

However reluctant the partners may be in such an awkward “space marriage,” it has until now provided an astonishing degree of robustness and flexibility.

Recent developments have brought the space station closer to the point where it could be operated without Russian involvement if necessary. The current crisis provides good reasons to accelerate that shift and even to push for one crucial near-term capability: crew rescue.

Already, two U.S. commercial cargo delivery projects — SpaceX’s Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule, as well as Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Antares rocket and Cygnus capsule — have replaced the justifiably retired space shuttle. European and Japanese robot freighters can also resupply the space station. Even though some parts of the Antares come from Ukraine and Russia, and even though the European cargo freighter must dock at the Russian end of the station, Russia’s cargo monopoly has been broken.




Just who decided to start “naming” snow storms

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Has anyone noticed something new about winter storms?   At least in the United States?   They now have names.   That’s right.   The Eastern US now is getting ready for Winter Storm Hercules.   That sounds rather impressive, given it’s the name of a Greek half-god known for strength.   This follows last years storms that include Athena and Nemo.   The names now seem ubiquitous, and even officials use them.   So you might ask, what government agency decided to start naming winter storms and when did they start?

The answer is none.  These names are not official and have no standing in any way shape or form other than being made up by the Weather Channel.


Around the 1940′s, forecasters ran into a problem when it came to big tropical storms.  With more communications, spotting aircraft and ships, they started getting reports of multiple storms at the same time.  They were also keeping more records and it was getting confusing.  “The Hurricane of 1938″ just did not cut it when it came to keeping one storm straight from the other.   Military meteorologists came up with a pretty simple system: any storm that was considered tropical storm force (sustained winds over 65 miles per hour) was given a letter.  They thus had “tropical storm A” and “Tropical storm B” etc.   The actual names, however, used the then-current phonetic alphabet, so the storms were actually called “Storm Able,” “Storm Baker,” “Storm Charlie” and so on.   The names were repeated each season.

HurricaneCarolIn 1953, the United States Weather Bureau started to standardize the names.  In 1953, there was a major policy change.  Phonetic alphabet names were replaced by a list of female names, which were assigned to each storm as it occurred.  In part this was because a new phonetic alphabet had been developed.

Initially, the plan seems to have been to reuse the same names each year, but in 1954, Hurricane Hazel and Hurricane Carol received a large amount of press and it was realized that reusing those names in 1955 would cause much confusion.  For that reason, a new policy of coming up with a new annual list of names to use was created.  Names are sometimes reused, but storms the practice is avoided for storms that are significant or strike land.  For storms that are especially significant, the names are officially retired.  Thus, there will never be another Hurricane Hugo or Katrina.   Initially the letters Q U X and Y were omitted from the list.  Today only the letter X is routinely left off the list of hurricane names.


Gas Pipeline Has Activists In New York Going Nuts

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Click here if your browser does not allow embedded videos

Let me first state, for the record, that I am not a huge fan of the natural gas industry.   As far as fossil fuels go, natural gas is a lot cleaner than coal, but that’s not saying much.   Still, it’s nowhere near as clean or as safe as nuclear fission as an energy source.   Still, gas is certainly a vital part of our current energy mix.  Gas is widely deployed for domestic and commercial heating and hot water and replacing it with cleaner sources would require massive upgrades in electrical or district heating capacity and deployment of new systems.

So, for the time being, gas is a necessity and that gas must come from somewhere and be delivered somehow.  This is what pipelines are for.   Although natural gas is occasionally shipped as a liquid, by tanker, it is most often transported by pipeline, with pipes reaching all the way to the end user.  Yes, there is a natural gas pipe that comes into my home and I’d be pretty cold in the winter without it.

But there is one thing I hate more than the gas industry and that is fear-mongering and outright lying.

I will just make a few points about some of the claims in this video:

  1. Gas pipelines explode.   It happens.  It does not happen very often, but it does happen.   A major leak can send out a massive cloud of gas which then ignites, in effect making it a fuel-air bomb.   However, given the thousands of miles of gas pipeline in North America alone, it’s not a very big danger.   Sure, the safety is not as good as that of a nuclear reactor, but that would be setting the bar unreasonably high.  If you live on a gas pipeline, you should probably be more worried about car accidents or heart disease along with many other things.
  2. Older gas pipelines are at a much greater danger of exploding than newer ones.  Older pipelines may not be built to the same safety standards and are more likely to suffer corrosion or other problems.   New York City already has many old gas pipelines.  If anything, this will improve safety by taking some of the load off of the older infrastructure.  The San Bruno pipeline, which was mentioned, was more than fifty years old when it exploded and had not received any recent maintenance or inspections.
  3. If you don’t like fracking, you had better find another fuel, because that’s where gas comes from these days.  Most gas in North America is the result of fracking to enhance well production.  Although there are environmental issues, they are not nearly as bad as it is often portrayed.  There is still some gas produced by conventional wells.  There’s little solid evidence that this is much better for the environment (all gas production has its issues).   It also does not really matter where it came from, because it’s a commodity that all comes from the same market.  If you buy gas that was not produced from a fracked well, you will just displace gas out of the market and the effect is the same.
  4. The pipeline may well have been approved without most of those in the local community wanting it.  This is known as NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard.  Everyone wants to be able to heat and cook, but they want the infrastructure elsewhere.  New York City really does not have any areas that are not inhabited.  Although, there may be areas that have less vocal hipsters, looking for something to get hot and bothered about.
  5. Natural gas does contain radon when it comes from the well head.  Where it comes from may have some effect on the level of radon, but it’s generally pretty low.  Since radon has a half-life of less than four days, it’s even lower by the time the gas is processed and send to the end user.  Cooking with natural gas does result in some additional exposure to radon and thus radiation dose.  If you are radiophobic, you should probably not cook with gas, although in that case there are many things you should not do (for example, leaving your lead-lined cave.)

    Even if Pennsylvania gas does have higher radon levels as a result of being less distant, the exposure is very small.  It’s much smaller than living in a home with a full basement that was built in an area with uranium-bearing granite.  I should also point out, for the woman who is shocked by the idea of radon in her apartment, that there already is radon in her apartment.  Radon is constantly seeping from the earth and is therefore detectable in the lower atmosphere at all locations.  If she cooks with gas, it is already slightly higher than average.

I do have some sympathies for the idea that natural gas is just not the safest fuel and that a reduction in the use of natural gas would save lives and reduce environmental damage. That is certainly true. Obviously this is impossible unless an other energy source replaces it. Until that happens, and as long as gas remains a major fuel for domestic use, there will be gas pipelines in cities. It’s better to build new ones than just wait for the old ones to blow up.

Anti GMO Activists Take on Golden Rice

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Protestors and environmental groups which oppose the idea of allowing organisms to exist with genes that have been artificially inserted or modified have been known to attack test fields of genetically modified crops and destroy experiments in progress.   Sadly, this is nothing new.   It happened in Australia, when activists from Greenpeace destroyed a field of experimental genetically engineered wheat, which was being studied by CSIRO. It has also happened elsewhere, and not only to experimental crops, but even to farms which are suspected of using genetically engineered seeds.

An especially unsettling and telling move from the Anti-GMO groups has been the targeting of “Golden Rice,” a genetically modified form of rice which has been in development since the 1990′s and which holds great promise for improving the health of many in the poorest areas of the world.

Via Science Insider:

Activists Destroy ‘Golden Rice’ Field Trial

Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on reddit More Sharing Services Share on email

Activists Destroy ‘Golden Rice’ Field Trial
2013-08-09 16:30

Protestors from two anti-GMO groups, KMB and Sikwal-GMO, yesterday vandalized a field of genetically modified (GM) “golden rice” in the Bicol region of the Philippines.

GMA News TV channel in the Philippines showed dozens of young men and women tearing down fences, swarming over a rice field, and uprooting stalks. “I am outraged,” says Ingo Potrykus, a plant biologist, now retired, who was one of the researchers that originally created the rice strain. The rice was just weeks away from being harvested, he says. “Important data were to be collected from that field trial, and this can set us back months.”

Golden rice is engineered to carry two foreign genes—one bacterial and another from maize—that together produce beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A that gives the rice grains their characteristic yellow hue. Scientists hope distribution of the modified rice can make inroads against vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to blindness and makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases. The deficiency affects approximately 1.7 million children aged 6 months to 5 years in the Philippines alone, according to the International Rice Research Institute.

The vandalized field was one of five involved in golden rice trials in the Philippines aiming to show that “the plants are suitable for cultivation and would give farmers a good crop, and to assess any environmental impact they might have,” says Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute. The grain harvested from the plants is also needed for studies assessing whether the beta carotene in the rice is absorbed and converted into vitamin A in vitamin A-deficient people. Golden rice could be deemed safe and approved by the Philippine government as early as the end of this year, Zeigler says—but the efficacy trials could take another 18 months. That’s the timeline if the remaining field sites are unmolested, Zeigler says.

This destruction is a devastating blow to the ongoing effort to deploy golden rice in the Philippines and elsewhere. After many years of research and development, Golden Rice is almost ready for mainstream use and these field trials mark the final step in demonstrating the viability of the crop. For those who wish to keep it from every entering the fields of farmers around the world, this may be their last hope, and therefore, increasingly violence and destructive tactics have been used.

One should make no mistake about who is behind this: While many of the protests seem to be the work of local farmers and concerned citizens, these are simply locals who have been whipped into a frenzy by constant bombardment with anti-gmo propaganda from the wealthy environmental groups of rich industrial nations.   As they may already be untrusting of the government, it is easy to see how claims that the rice is either poisoned or will destroy their ability to grow their own crops could be a powerful ploy in building up opposition to Golden Rice.


Christian Groups Insist Magicians Working With the Devil

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

This is one of the most ridiculous things I have heard in a while.   Apparently some Christian groups in the UK are claiming that the tricks and illusions preformed by magicians are evidence that they are working with evil spirits or the devil.  The magicians, some of whom are actually Christian, have defended their performances, insisting that they are not, in fact, doing anything supernatural, but are using illusions to create the appearance of something that is not really happening. Or that, at the very least, it’s an attempt to convince people of magical powers of the occult.

Via the Christian Post:

Christian Magicians Rise to Defend Themselves as Not Involved With the Occult

Christian magicians are rising to defend themselves against assertions made by a Christian Post columnist that the performance of magic may involve the occult.

They are upset with columnist Dan Delzell’s opinion that the U.K.-based magician Dynamo’s illusion of levitating alongside a red London double decker bus was real. Delzell related the performance to “witchcraft and contact with evil spirits, and the presumption that the art of magic is a gateway to demonic involvement.”

Delzell’s column incited a number of Christian magicians to leave comments criticizing his assumption that magic performances are linked to demonic power. These magicians included Jim Munroe, who works with worldwide ministries; Rob Robinson, a Christian magician and mentalist; and Joe Turner, who is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians and served on the board of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

Munroe, who has worked with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, I Am Second, and Cru (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ), told The Christian Post on Monday that he received Delzell’s column through a secular magician friend and felt compelled to respond to it.

He is concerned that statements such as Delzell’s can hurt the Christian witness. He wrote a comment under the opinion piece, “The Illusion That Seduces and Bewitches Magicians.”

“I can tell you, with full authority, that the ‘magic trick’ created by Dynamo is in fact a ‘trick,’” Munroe stated. “Its effect is in no way achieved by supernatural means. It was achieved by natural means, and its purpose was to illicit a reaction similar to Steven Spielberg’s when he created the dinosaur in Jurassic Park: that of wonder … Don’t write about things that you don’t know anything about because you widen a gap with individuals that I am trying to shrink. You counteract the very inclusion that Jesus shared.”

This is so stupid it’s amazing anyone, even a fundamentalist would buy into it. The only thing I can think is that they are so prone to magical thinking that when they see something that appears to defy the laws of nature, they assume that it must, in fact, be magic. One wonders if they apply this same thinking to anything which produces an effect by means that are not readily observable. For example, why do mobile phones produce voices from distant people? Is it invisible electromagnetic waves or the power of Satan?

Any honest magician will tell you, at least candidly, that there’s nothing magical about what they do. Their illusions are exactly that. Their skill is to use misdirection, props, optical illusion and special effects to make it seem as if the impossible is happening.

Here is the illusion that some Christians are so up in arms about:


Jenny McCarthy to Join “The View”

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

For those who do not know what “The View” is, which is likely to be most who live outside the US and perhaps a few in the United States – it’s a popular television show on the ABC television network.   The morning talk show was created by Barbara Walters in 1998 and has included a number of Co-Hosts.   It’s reasonably popular and targeted primarily at women.  It is one of the longest running daytime talk shows in history.

Many co-hosts have come and gone, being replaced to maintain a panel of five women.    Now, with the departure of Elisabeth Hasselbeck, it has been announced that Jenny McCarthy will join the show as a co-host. Barbara Walters stated “We are delighted that Jenny will be joining us as a permanent co-host on ‘The View’ starting in September…Jenny brings us intelligence as well as warmth and humor. She can be serious and outrageous. She has connected with our audience and offers a fresh point of view. Jenny will be a great addition to the show as we usher in an exciting new chapter for ‘The View’”

This is not good news for anyone who likes science, good health, children and dislikes idiocy and infectious disease. While it is certainly true that the cast of “The View” is not exactly chosen based on their intellectual caliber, it’s worth noting that Jenny McCarthy has absolutely zero background in journalism, entertainment, commentary or anything else that can help bring “intelligence as well as warmth and humor.”

Jenny McCarthy would be unknown if not for the fact that she was Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 1993. Following her career as a nude model, Ms. McCarthy had a few roles in B-list movies and TV show appearances. Her foray into writing and advocacy began after her so Evan, who was born in 2002, was diagnosed with Autism. Initially, McCarthy was a supporter of the “Indigo Child” movement, which claims that certain children have a special spiritual energy. Later she became a major promoter of alternative treatment for autism and of the belief that autism is caused by vaccination.

It is unfortunate that she will be on a program like “The View,” both because it gives her a platform to continue to spout her nonsense and because the demographic targeted by the view seems to be upper class women who are not working during the day (stay at home mom’s).   This happens to be a group that is especially prone to buying into anti-vaccine hysteria.

More than a Dozen Killed in Train Derailment in Canada

Monday, July 8th, 2013

It is always interesting to me to note that there is a much different response to how the media and public treat different types of disasters and dangers.

Recently, a Boeing 777 crashed on landing.   The reason seems to be human error.   The emergency evacuation protocol worked reasonably well.  Two lives were lost.   As with almost any plane accident, the media has been all over this.

When an incident happens at a nuclear plant, even a minor one, it makes headlines.  Nobody has been killed by an accident at a nuclear power plant Nobody has died as a result of a reactor malfunction or has any member of the public been killed by an accident at a nuclear power plant since Chernobyl, but when there is even a small risk, it seems to dominate the headlines.

Yet trains carry dangerous chemical cargo day in and day out.  Given the number of shipments, the safety record is reasonably good. Its not perfect, however, and people can and do die when trains derail and cause explosions or release massive amounts of toxic material.  Trains carrying dangerous cargo go traverse cities and towns on a daily basis.  Few, if any complain about this, but if you dare consider placing something radioactive on one, you can expect to face furious opposition.

Two days ago a train carrying petroleum products derailed in Quebec, resulting in an explosion and fire.   At least 13 people are confirmed dead.  Many more are missing.

Here, on the east coast of the US, which is not far at all from the event, the disaster was not the lead story on the news or even the second story.  It was not buried on page five of the paper, but it was not on the front page either.   It was on page two or three.   Most people, who do not pay a great deal of attention to the news, are likely unaware of it and, in a year, I would expect it will be largely forgotten.

I do not mean to make light of this.  Certainly it is a terrible event, and, almost certainly, there were safety procedures or protocols that were either not followed or broke down.   It should not have happened.  But it did and it does.  Industrial accidents happen.  When they involve massive amounts of chemical energy, it’s just not something that holds the public’s attention.

By the way, this should not be seen as a reason to oppose petroleum pipelines, but quite the opposite. Pipelines, especially modern ones recently built, are far and away the safest way of transporting petroleum. They rarely fail, and when they do, it is a leak that is not nearly as violent and is usually quickly contained.

Former Canadian Defense Minister on UFO’s

Friday, June 28th, 2013

When it comes to militarily important nations of the world, Canada ranks pretty highly. For one thing, it’s one of the closest (if not THE closest) allies of the US, frequently conducting joint training and exercises with the US military and given privileged access to US military data.  Canada is also a core member of NATO and to a tripartied mutual defense pact with the US and the UK.

Canada and the US both operate the North American Aerospace Defense Command, one of the largest air and space monitoring systems on earth. Canada hosts many of the advanced radar systems used by NORAD. These systems are integrated into a global air and space monitoring system which is responsible for other purposes, including being called upon to track civilian aircraft that go off course and tracking and cataloging orbital debris.

During the Cold War (and to some extent after) it was presumed that any air strike by the Soviet Union or Russia would include attacks on North America, flying over Canada’s airspace. As the second largest nation by area, Canada has enormous airspace and controls a very large portion of the North Atlantic and Pacific as territorial waters.

Although not as large as that of the US, Russia or China, the military of Canada is a very formidable fighting force and has been called upon for combat operations Afghanistan and in support of numerous relief operations and disaster responses around the world.

As a result, the Minister of National Defense of Canada is a pretty damn important job.

Paul Hellyer served briefly in that position.  He was a Canadian Member of Parliament from 1949 to 1974, making him one of the longest serving members of Parliament.  After leaving Parliament, Hellyer served in a number of advisory rolls on affairs related to the Canadian military.  After becoming less active in politics, Hellyer attempted to return to elected office through the formation of the Canadian Action Party in 1997. However, he was defeated in the election.

All things considered, Hellyer has served in some very important positions in a very important country. It might seem odd that he would be intrusted with such posts given that he has had a very strong interest in UFO’s and aliens since at least the late 1960′s. He began making extremely strong statements in the early 2000′s and became a fixture at North American UFO conferences.

Apparently the revival of his interest in UFO’s was the result of reading some conspiracy theorist books on UFO’s. Prior to this, it seems that Hellyer had only a passing interest in the topic and never took a strong stand on the issue. Hellyer has since gone on to claim to claim that UFO’s are absolutely real and demanded that the government’s of the world disclose what they know about alien technology.

In 2005, he stated:

Hellyer warned, “The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, “The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide.”

And here is a video of what he had to say about UFO’s more recently:

Just another reminder: This may was once the highest ranking minister overseeing a military force that was equipped with nuclear weapons, loaned from the United States, was responsible for some of the most important radar installations in the world and was a core founding member of NATO.