Prestigious “Tar” Sands Papers Not Truly Peer-reviewed

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Was science skewed for anti-tar sands campaign goals?
Mainstream journalists are fawning all over Dr. David Schindler for his ‘snapshot’ review of the “tar” sands/oil sands monitoring in light of Canada’s new federal-provincial monitoring plan. The Kelly/Schindler papers were published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). They set off a firestorm of international anti-oil sands publicity as they suggested a link between oil sands activity and cancer downstream.

Did any journalists ever look closely at the now famous PNAS papers of Kelly/Schindler et al, or wonder how someone who hadn’t worked in the oil sands in 20 years suddenly became so interested?

“Contributed”.

That’s the tiny word at the top of the PNAS papers of Kelly/Schindler. It’s a special category that means that the National Academy of Sciences member, in this case Dr. Schindler, is allowed to ‘contribute’ 4 articles a year as long as he is part of the research design. In this category the stringent PNAS peer-review process is waived.

The ‘Contributed’ category is open to NAS members only. It requires that two scientists of the author’s choice review the paper. The article could be published within weeks along with a pre-press publicity campaign which was part of the package.

PNAS peer reviews are far more stringent – “The standard mode of transmitting manuscripts is for authors to use Direct Submission. Authors must recommend three appropriate Editorial Board members, three NAS members who are expert in the paper’s scientific area, and five qualified reviewers. The Board may choose someone who is or is not on that list or may reject the paper without further review.”

The Royal Society of Canada did not find any correlation between the Schindler/Kelly paper’s supporting documentation and a cancer link. They also said of the Schindler/Kelly research that “‘it is very unusual to draw a scientific conclusion based on one sample.”

The PNAS is supposed to filter out conflicts of interest – yet the Schindler/Kelly research is funded by TIDES – an organization which is running a very public anti-“tar sands” campaign.

There are only a handful of Canadian scientists who are members of the US National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Schindler, a dual American/Canadian citizen, is about the only one with any remote connection to environmental issues relevant to the oil sands.

Schindler’s anti-oil sands, TIDES-funded papers now feature almost alone in the PNAS as oil sands topics. Yet this is an acknowledged repository of qualitative peer-reviewed science world-wide. It was a coup for the anti-oil sands eco-activists, and a failing of investigative journalism.

The many thousands of scientific and peer-reviewed papers that refute anti ‘tar sands’ tirades, done by Canadian oil sands experts, will never see the light of day on the PNAS. None of those scientists who actually work in the oil sands every day are members of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Environmental engineers say that if you did the Kelly/Schindler experiment in an urban environment, there would be similar or greater toxic metals found in spring run-off water. Urban environments are paved. There is less natural filtration.

Ironically, eco-activists are advocating for world-class monitoring of the Athabasca River in the far north of Canada, while their local spring run-off carries far more pollutants from city streets.

Schindler’s team spent a handful of days work in the field compared to the real oil sands experts who are out there everyday, and have been for about the past 50 years. Most of the credibility of the Schindler/Kelly papers relied on the assumption that the studies had been stringently peer reviewed through the PNAS Direct Submission method.

It appears this is not the case.

These are my opinions based on available research materials noted in the links. Formerly published on Yahoo Contributor.

No One Accountable at Calgary City Hall

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By Michelle Stirling-Anosh

I’ve spent the past 2 years of my life pouring over Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) files from the City of Calgary, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and SCAN which reveal that my husband has been the victim of needless bylaw harassment for 7 years; for the past 3 years directed by Ward 8 alderman. I have written dozens of letters, hundreds of pages, to all possible authorities and no one wants to be accountable – least of all Calgary city hall. 

 

Registered mail to the Mayor a year ago goes unanswered. The city auditor has left – why?  What’s rotten at city hall?

 

Last Friday John Mar came to my door, campaigning for votes. I asked if he recognized that this was the house he had tried to have condemned; the house he had directed gentrifying neighbours to use Alberta Health Services and SCAN as the ‘thin-edge-of-the-wedge’ – to find some alleged problem and drive out my husband’s legal rental operation. I asked why in all that time he had never once met with my husband, why had my husband’s right of due process been denied? Why had thousands of taxpayers’ dollars been wasted on harassing a legal, taxpaying, property owner who provides modest, affordable housing in a very convenient Bankview location?  You guessed it. He didn’t have answers.

 

I’m quite steamed about this issue, having spent 7 years watching my husband being harassed by bylaw over seemingly ridiculous infractions. A handrail too short. For this they send an army of people? 2 inches of missing grout in the bathroom. Really?  Install wired-in fire alarms (which don’t work if the power goes off – so I guess the previous battery alarmed system, that is O.K. for every other house, is maybe a good idea!).

 

Every ‘repair’ came with an incrementally higher bar to jump at the next inspection.  These persistent inspections scared off many tenants – some of whom were marginalized to begin with.

 

Finally we moved into the apartment in 2012 to see what was really happening. I met with an uppity fire inspector whose first ‘safety’ mission was to inspect the new wired in fire alarms.

 

To do this, the ‘safety’ inspector stood on a rickety stool I warned him against, leaning over a stairwell with about a 20 foot death drop below. I was looking at a potential death or injury suit about to happen before my eyes.

 

This is a ‘safety’ inspection? Falls are the number one cause of death and disability and outnumber fires by ten fold.

 

That’s when I suggested my husband ask for his FOIP files. I thought perhaps there were one or two nasty comments in his file there that we could discuss with authorities and resolve these problems.

 

NO! We found mountains of problems – number one being that since 1995 the city KNEW this was a legal rental operation. So why had they played along with gentrifying neighbors for 7 years pretending it was not legal?  That’s what most of the FOIP complaints are based on – ‘illegal suites.’

 

There’s more – we asked for FOIP files from Alberta Health Services (AHS)and found…there are almost none!  Public health records are required to be kept, by law. But perhaps it was because, as the FOIP records revealed, the person in question at AHS was apparently assigned  the task of gathering the FOIP files to send to us.  Can you believe that?

 

Public health inspectors can shut down any operation on the spot.  The city cannot do that. The city needs to go through a judicial process. But the Public Health Act requires that records be kept, precisely because of these sweeping powers.  In my husband’s case, there are virtually no records – none that even match corresponding materials we got from the City of Calgary FOIP files!

 

We found that SCAN – Safer Communities and Neighborhoods – had been sent after my husband’s house twice by the gentrifiers – John Mar had directed authorities and the gentrifiers to engage SCAN.

 

We met with SCAN – they were the only responsive group. Once we showed them the FOIP docs we had demonstrating that it was just some crazy neighbor and the Ward 8 Alderman behind this – they immediately issued a written statement clarifying there was never any evidence against this house or owner and all files were closed.

 

They were angry that their limited budget, intended to fight real criminals engaged in trafficking and prostitution, had been wasted on harassment.

 

The City of Calgary has a policy of non-discrimination and inclusion. But we found that whenever my husband had rented to the rainbow of people out there – attempts to drive him out intensified.  The black man, the Arab student, the single mom, the unmarried couple, the lesbian chef, the aboriginal construction worker… 

 

My husband welcomed any reasonable tenant – it was the city and the gentrifying neighbors who discriminated against them!

 

They had other methods, these neighbors. A deaf tenant offered my husband half the rent in cash once – telling him that he ‘knew’ the suites were illegal.  Guess the ‘friendly neighbors’ told him. 

 

Then there’s the couple that punched a hole in the stainless steel sink (which is pretty hard to do!), told my husband they’d replace it but did not and continued to use the sink…then complained of black mold and in a recorded conversation we have, said that the female tenant was ‘working with the alderman…you can’t believe how many people are working against you…I signed all the documents…your house is going to be condemned…bulldozed.’

 

The subsequent inspection revealed no black mould – but the FOIP documents show emails from an outraged neighbor demanding to know what went wrong – showing my husband’s new Kijiji rental listing.  Oh yeah, in that one the gentrifier claims my husband has criminal links.  This stems from some insider police information about a criminal caught in the vicinity that this gentrifier had smeared on my husband! No one ever requested proof – but this is smeared on my husband’s file and now becomes part of the ‘evidence’ (even though it is rumour – my husband knew nothing of this until the FOIP files of 2010).  It’s like being in Kafka’s “The Trial” – accused and guilty…but by whom, for what….where’s the trial, the opportunity to defend oneself?  There isn’t one.

 

No one at city hall wants to touch this.  City Manager sent our letter to Dr. Hargesheimer. She resigned a year later. We never heard from her at all, despite hand-delivering letters to her at city hall.

 

Accountable?  No one is accountable at Calgary City Hall.  So think before you vote.  It’s all very nice that Mr. Nenshi claims that accountability is very important to him.  That is not our experience.

 

John Mar also claims to be accountable – really? How will he account for these thousands of dollars of city employee time wasted on harassing one of his constituents – a legal, taxpaying property owner – just to satisfy the whims of gentrifiers who would prefer to not live near a grandfathered-into-the-zoning rental operation. (LOL – Bankview is full of converted houses)

 

You can see many of the actual documents in my compilation book “When you can’t fight city hall…Go FOIP Yourself.” It is available on Amazon Kindle.  http://www.amazon.ca/fight-hall-Go-F-O-I-P-Yourself-ebook/dp/B00FP3PRMI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1381793415&sr=8-1&keywords=when+you+can%27t+fight+city+hall+…go+foip+yourself

 

Artists are Dangerous Idiots

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(Some) Artists are Dangerous Idiots
By Michelle Stirling-Anosh
[A rebuttal to the op-ed: “Artists are Dangerous” http://artsplan.ca/content/artists-are-dangerous and video of the same name: http://vimeo.com/67595316 ]
Don’t be deceived by the pompous self-confidence exuded as they accept yet another meaningless award from a circle of their government-funded peers.

Real artists don’t go by grants.

These dangerous artists who are idiots feign a sense of privilege and self-importance over questionable talents that, if anything, are granted by the gods, not man.

Make no mistake. Self-important artists pose a threat to life as we know it. Such as using their advanced communications skills to advocate for eco-causes, the science of which they know nothing about, they are killing industry and causing global warming through all their hot air.

That’s why artists sometimes terrify people – they are holier-than-thou, smarter-than-thou and noisier-than-thou – but certainly not more talented-than-thou.

Some artists believe themselves to be above the herd – as in the recent “Artists are Dangerous” blog and video. They state that they are leaders while you lowly sloth are nothing but followers and should be thankful art is out there like a bright light, shining the way.

They claim they work harder than you, that they don’t get casual Fridays, that they ‘punch in once’ and don’t punch out till you put them in a box.

But you’ll never find an artist out in the alley at dawn slinging his or her own filth into the great maw of the garbage crusher – the place where the vast majority of their work belongs.

Here in the dumpster, where the faithful garbage collector works at his job (much disdained by artists of course) should be the home of the ‘performance art’ chicken execution featured as lunchroom ‘art’ at the Alberta College of Art (that hard-working taxpayers support)….

Here in the dumpster should be the home of the meat dress – so clever while people die of hunger in the streets.
Here in the dumpster should be the Peace Bridge – in a city that has an arts plan they paid money to develop – supposedly to support local artists, they import an architect from Portugal and all of his heavy metal bridge-work from Spain thousands of miles, when local architects and regional millwrights had the talent and production line to do it for less and for our weather conditions.

This ‘artistic’ endeavor was intended to help Calgary reduce its ‘carbon-footprint’ – so heavy metal parts were shipped TWICE from far-away Spain. Yes, see, artists ARE dangerous, but not in the way they think they are.

Artists who think so highly of themselves that they are more valuable than doctors, engineers, shop clerks or yes…the lowly garbage collector…are dangerous to society. Our society is based on form …and function.

What good is art that falls down? We see this at Telus Spark where people walk across the APEGA bridge on the second level – a contribution by the engineers and geoscientists of Alberta. They don’t notice the inherently beautiful qualities of this non-descript bridge – that being – safe passage!

Yet in some form of absurd mockery, on display across from APEGA’s professional bridge are the ‘artistic’ efforts of visitors to Telus SPARK. They tried their hand at making bridges – bridges by non-engineers. The pathetic collection of bent straws are twisted, ugly, bent and impossible designs. Clever some of them? Perhaps. Will they hold a freight train or a handful of humans? Never.

And that’s the danger with artists who attempt to put themselves above the rest of us.

You see, all life is supported by an invisible network of ordinary people, like Jeff from accounting. You may not run off to Paris with Jeff, but if you do, you will at least be able to pay for your trip.

Unlike the ‘artist’ who will be found at the Canadian embassy in Paris, their hand out for more money to finance their presence at some international event… because heaven knows how important their artistic work is…and how much it represents Canada…they must have funding for the show, their travel and the press kit too!

Unlike true artists of the past who had day jobs and who appealed to independent philanthropists to underwrite their mad and beautiful visions, today’s artists are dangerous idiots who think it is helpful to homeless people to see a $24 million dollar bridge because it might lift up their spirits, when it is really only valuable to them as a place to sleep in, well-lit and somewhat protected by the elements.

Michelangelo, Tolstoy, Bach, Beethoven, Fred and Ginger, Baryshnikov…the endless list of great artists whose work will last throughout time is long – and few were underwritten by the public.

Those who claim “Artists are dangerous” are dangerous idiots. They don’t believe in a world where things don’t fall down – they think an artistic novelty should be applied to architecture, not science or engineering. Form over function rules – and fails, miserably.

Some dangerous artists say ‘they don’t need you’….really?

When the exacto blade slips and stabs the infallible artist in the artery, will the doctor not be called? As the rich, red, blood gushes from the artist, slowly melting into a pool of itself shall this beast of bravado cry out “I don’t NEED YOU Doctor Spacemen…I am an ARTIST and THIS is my FINEST HOUR”…sucking one last pretentious breathe.

And who’s going to clean up that mess? An artist?

NO! A cleaning lady no doubt – armed with rubber gloves and disinfectant, now at risk of HIV or Hepatis – she, or perhaps he – will have to scrub away the detritus of art simply because the artist did not NEED anyone.

No – the artist does not need the banker either, nor the accountant. No – disdain this financial curse called money. That’s what artists do because of course they are said to be ‘better with money than you’…or claim that they ‘work for less.’ I thought art was a calling, not just ‘work.’ If they work for less why didn’t the Peace Bridge cost a nickel?

And if they are so good with money, why do they need 1% of all municipal projects in Calgary to finance ‘public art’ – when we are now drowning in river silt and even more people are homeless.

Some artists are simply Mafia dressed up funny.

Let’s face it – these ‘dangerous’ artists have a way to publicly excoriate the herd who may not be gifted with such talents for seeing the world upside down and expressing that in an enticing way, but who do go to work each day, pay their bills and pay taxes…which support these leeches.

These self-acclaimed ‘artists’ wield this mysterious talent of theirs like a baseball bat – crushing the fingers of any bureaucrat who tries to impose cuts and giving out free concussions to common sense administrators whenever pompous performance art chicken heads flop to the floor in art schools.

Would that self-important performance person ever stoop to do a day’s work in a chicken processing plant? Of course not – she or he is above the lowly task of making sure there is a fresh and sanitary food supply chain from farm to fine dining plate.

These “artists are not heroes.” They are self-possessed and self-engrossed dreamers who occasionally have a brilliant idea that others connect with, but, not that often.

That’s what infuriates these ‘dangerous artists’ and makes them publicly rage about how heroic they are. Look at them – they work for nothing, they work at nothing, and almost nothing they produce stands the test of time….very little the test of function.

Much of the work of the artist who thinks he or she is dangerous is produced by someone who is obsessed with their own specialness – never dreaming that a farmer with a tractor might emboss beautiful crop circles on his or her own field… for fun. Or that a farmer could do something a thousand times more complex than the intricate mazes their own rats-for-brains of faulty self-important logic run around and around in their artsy heads.

Artists do manipulate your brain, some can tear your heart out – but most will be found behind you, trying to pick your pocket to finance their whacky notions.

“Let’s cover the world in pink cellophane.”

“Let’s float a giant rubber ducky in the port.”

“Let’s rub excrement on the walls as a statement against the tar sands.”

“Let’s vomit on the shoes of the Mayor in an expression of disgust that we don’t get to put a modern art museum in the old Centennial Planetarium…”

How many people want vomit on their shoes? So of course the artist will get to fake a MOMA at the Centennial Planetarium – and then they will want MORE of your money – more money from the people they DO NOT NEED – and if those dangerous artists don’t get it, watch out.

They’ll be at your kid’s school decapitating chickens until you give in.

That’s how artists take the higher moral ground. That’s how artists are self-identified warriors. That’s how artists believe they are ‘there before the first-responders’…ah yes we saw a large band of artists doing a big water color mural down in Elbow Park just before the Glenmore Reservoir Dam was breached. How inspiring!… Somehow it didn’t hold back the storm or help the victims.

But it was art. And therefore holy. At least in the eyes of those artists who are dangerous idiots. These dangerous idiot artists do lecture you, do criticize you, do place themselves above you, but in the end it turns out people want a safe home more than artwork. They want food on the table more than art. They want real first-responders who can save lives, not pretentious folk with a brush or mallet in hand asking if you’d like a canvas for your ride to the evacuation center.

You want to be a Champion of the Arts? Then pick an artist whose work you like and be prepared to wait an eternity for the result – because real art is about feeling and some mythical thing on the right hand side of the brain that sometimes just won’t come out on time or budget. Your commissioned work will be almost done – but won’t be released to you because the artist will say “there’s something missing.”

Real artists work from the heart and never bother to tell others how important they are.

Real artists are as grateful for the garbage man as they are for the doctor; they like their accountant who keeps Revenue Canada away and are in awe that non-artists like the Nickles and Harveys and thousands of other Calgarian oil men and women have consistently put up lots of money so the arts would have a home and a wall to hang on.

Those people didn’t favor the arts because they thought artists were dangerous. They did it because they liked art and recognized we all have a role in society. TRUE leaders align themselves with the people who make things work in society – teachers, laborers, engineers, business managers. Without a society that works, art is useless and meaningless.

Artists who think otherwise are very dangerous and should never be funded for their gangster style approach to your pocketbook.

Real artists are enlightening and insightful, not pompous petulants.

Despite statements to the contrary, I am sure many of these alleged artists will now begin to criticize me. Artists who try to smother free speech are dangerous idiots. You heard it here first.

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The Great Eco-Wall

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The Great Ecowall3

The Great Eco-Wall of Canada

By Michelle Stirling-Anosh

The “Idle No More” protests have surprised most Canadians.  The roots of it lie in opportunistic partnerships between environmental activists and First Nations, promoted by the International Funders for Indigenous People’s (IFIP) located on Mohawk territories in Akwesasne.

The May 16, 2010 IFIP session of the 9th annual conference in Tofino details successes in “Fighting Alberta’s Tar Sands: A Cross-ENGO Cross-First Nations Collaboration” and was facilitated by Michael Marx of the Tar Sands Fund and Tides Foundation (1).

“Fighting Alberta’s Tar Sands” reveals how the Cooperative Bank of the UK, together with the WWF and BankTrack are combining international forces to decimate the oil sands’ social license to operate. “According to Marx, the campaign’s ‘big goal’ is to end expansion of the oil sands. Key to that, he said, is blocking approval of a $7 billion pipeline under review by the US Department of State.” (Keystone)

Canada has an uneven mix of land agreements with First Nations. In B.C. there are virtually no treaty arrangements with the more than 200 distinct First Nations who together claim 135% of the territory (pg 60).

This gap in title rights was useful in a joint forestry battle from which the multi-million dollar Coast Opportunity Fund for First Nations arose. Eco-activists used coercive techniques on the logging industry, publicly shaming them in the New York Times. “Next, the First Nations started suing businesses and the government. There was so much conflict that change had to happen or no one could go forward.”(pg 61)

That Coast Opportunity Fund encompasses all the tribes and coastal inlets from Alaska almost down to Vancouver. Overlapping much of this is Great Bear Rain Forest.

Alaska is only separated from the US by a land bridge called B.C. This area is now part of a major environmental-First Nations initiative. It is called “Y2Y” – Yellowstone to Yukon – intended to be a vast nature conservancy passing from Alaska to the US.

Even to the west of the Rockies the Canadian Boreal Initiative forms a similar no-go eco-zone to west-east development.

Thus we are faced with invisible walls of untouchable territory and the threat of volatile conflict and vicious international campaigns to dishonour industry.

An even more ambitious plan – the B2B – Baja to Barengia – could shutter all West Coast ports.  This plan is on its way to acceptance in the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.

First Nations and eco-activist initiatives count on broad support from the NGO/charitable sector – which now outnumbers producers.

As TIDES’ CEO Ross McMillan recently told the Economic Club of Canada:  “The charitable and not-for-profit sector employs more than 2 million people, representing about 11 percent of the country’s workforce. By way of comparison, this sector employs four times as many people in Canada as the oil and gas sector and five times that of the automotive industry.”

Alberta’s resource industries drive at least 30% of the Canadian economy. Yet Alberta’s oil sands products export routes are blocked by protests: anti-Gateway to the west, anti-Keystone to the south and pro-Boreal to the east.

eco wall 3 mapAt least one coastal First Nation is claiming the ocean as theirs.

Old Massett Village is a Haida community in the Coast Opportunity region that recently financed geoengineer Russ George for $2.5 Million through the Haida Salmon Restoration Corp. to dump 120 million metric tons of iron sulphate in the ocean without appropriate federal or international permits. George hoped to stimulate a plankton bloom and intends to make money off carbon offsets if this idea works. The Haida hope it will stimulate salmon growth for their fish industry.

It is surprising that a village of some 2,586 people with 70 percent unemployment could find $2.5 million for a carbon sequestration project (though a recent article on rabble.ca suggests carbon trade, not nature conservation, was the main purpose of establishing the Great Bear Rainforest).

Yet one wonders at the expertise of the Haida for ocean experiments and why federal approvals were not sought.

“This is the Haida Ocean….”claims Russ George in an interview in the Oct. 24, 2012 issue of Scientific American.

The deepwater port of Prince Rupert and proposed Gateway port of Kitimat are here in the ‘Haida Ocean’, a region most Canadians and international investors believe to be  ‘our’ ocean.

First Nations and ENGOs successfully used conflict to get what they want. Major offshore foundations have underwritten them, either keen for carbon trades or locked-in resources at rock-bottom prices.

It’s a green velvet territorial conquest of Canada.

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