In the harbour
1. Military police: officer on HMCS Charlottetown mishandled classified information
According to a search warrant application processed last week, Peter O’Hagan, the Marine Systems Engineering Officer on the HMCS Charlottetown, is suspected of illegally storing a classified file on a computer system he had access to.
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2. Rainbow Farms
“Of the $12.6 million in write-offs for 2015-16 announced by the province Tuesday, almost a third is related to an investment in one company,” reports Michael Gorman for Local Xpress:
In 2010 the provincial government loaned Rainbow Farms $4 million via the Industrial Expansion Fund, which became known as the Jobs Fund. In 2013, the company went into receivership and, according to the Business Department, “there were no proceeds to apply to the balance of the outstanding loan,” which stood at $3.7 million.
The Upper Rawdon farm, which was the second-largest blueberry business in the province after Oxford Frozen Foods Ltd. and operated for more than 40 years, collapsed under a mountain of debt totally about $17 million.
Back in 1999, the Nova Scotia Assembly passed Resolution 2797:
HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:
Whereas the Department of Economic Development and Tourism has bestowed an award for Innovation in Exporting upon Rainbow Farms of Rawdon, Nova Scotia; and
Whereas that award is in recognition of a technique developed by Rainbow Farms to quick-freeze blueberries and in turn extend the window of opportunity for exporting from six weeks to eight months; and
Whereas Mr. Ronald Weatherhead of Rainbow Farms is present here today, or at least was;
Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contribution of Mr. Weatherhead and Rainbow Farms to Nova Scotia’s growing agricultural export industry.
Rainbow Farms was innovating before innovating was cool. And we’ve been paying for it ever since.
Besides the money owed to the Industrial Expansion Fund, when Rainbow Farms went bankrupt in 2013, other creditors included Farm Credit Canada ($9 million), the Bank of Montreal ($6.3 million), and the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board ($1 million).
3. More newspaper consolidation
In January, Transcontinental Media announced that its papers in the south of the province — the Yarmouth Vanguard, the Digby Courier, and the Shelburne Coast Guard — are being merged into one paper to be called the Tri-County Vanguard.
Today, the company is announcing a similar merging of its Annapolis Valley papers. Specifically, the Kings County Advertiser will merge with the Hants Journal to become the Valley Journal-Advertiser, and the Kings County Register and the Annapolis County Spectator will merge to become the Annapolis Valley Register.
The Hants Journal was first published 1867 as the Saturday Mail, and changed its name to the Hants Journal in 1870.
1. Development boom
John Demont writes about the development boom in Halifax with an “on the one hand… but on the other hand…” attitude.
One important point he’s missing, however, is that as much as local politicians want to pat themselves on the back and proclaim that all the construction cranes are evidence of “progress” and their own wise economic stewardship, Halifax is hardly a unique example of the explosion in urban development. Nearly every city in Canada is likewise dotted with construction cranes, as is much of the rest of the globe. China has so much new urban development that there’s an entire geography of empty “ghost cities” capable of holding tens of millions of people.
But, as Demont writes, “everywhere you turn, some landmark of the past is gone and condos and apartments are going up — though no one is quite sure why, economically speaking.”
That is, I suggest, a subject worthy of journalistic pursuit.
Like it or not, our city and other cities across the planet are being torn down and rebuilt at a rate and to a degree never before seen. Massive, unprecedented urban development is the defining characteristic of modern cities and the modern economy. And yet no one much is writing about it, and there’s little in the way of actual research into it. There are huge questions to be asked: Who’s building and why? What’s the financing for the new construction? Where does the investment money come from? What is the quality and long-term prospects for the new construction? What are the social impacts of the construction boom? The impact on local governments? Who’s buying all this new construction? Are the economics of the construction boom sustainable? Is this a good thing or not?
My guess is that the urban development boom is a reflection of the increasing economic inequality in developed economies. Put simply, with low returns on old-fashioned manufacturing or providing services that actually benefit people, there are not many other places for the rich to dump their money, and so they chase various bubbles — high-end art and urban development are about it. I think a thorough investigation of the urban construction boom — there’s been some work done on this in London — will show that much of it is financed by money laundered through tax shelters and shell corporations. Think about it: you just made a few million dollars arranging an oil deal between ISIS and the Syrian government, or you’ve got a bundle of cash from the narco trade or selling arms to a rebel army — what do you do with it? There will be, I think, a connection between the Panama Papers and the urban construction boom.
In this global economy, Halifax is a bit player, almost irrelevant, but there is no doubt evidence of the money laundering right here. Someone should look for it.
2. Cranky letter of the day
The recent case of a small, diversified Annapolis Valley farm versus the regulating organization of the Egg Farmers of Nova Scotia (EFNS) brings an ongoing dilemma to a head.
At present, a regulation of the EFNS allows small farmers a limit of 200 hens before they must begin to buy a “quota” at a cost of $200 per bird. This protects the large producer (at present we have 23 registered, licensed poultry businesses in NS an average of which houses 25,000 birds) at the expense of small producers who cannot afford such fees. The small egg producer, if forced to comply with the regulation and limit his/her number of birds, would soon be out of business.
The practice also conflicts with consumers who insist on purchasing and consuming free-run, small-scale farm products. I have personally been involved with two Valley organizations dedicated to the preservation of farmland and local food security. The richest resources of the Valley lie in its land and the small, as well as large-scale, farmers who often work against fierce odds – e.g. internal quotas and external trade agreements – to earn a living and produce nutritious foods.
Herein lies the dilemma: Although the large-scale industry of poultry production in NS deserves protection, the present 200 bird limit (i.e., the non-quota number) allowed small farmers flies in the face of preferred practices favoured by citizens concerned with food security. As readers are aware, the public increasingly demands organic fruit and vegetables, and pasture-fed, free-range and free-run animal products. One escape from this impasse – protecting the poultry industry and serving the public – would be to relax the number of birds allowed the small farm.
Specifically, regarding egg production, the EFNS and the provincial government can begin to serve producers and consumers alike by devising and applying higher non-quota production levels. Small farm egg production, from 1,000 to 1,500 hens, housed under free-run conditions, would go a long way to boost income, help cash flow and ensure the economic survival of farms. Many people, looking to Europe for egg marketing standards, refuse to consume battery caged hens and mass-produced eggs. Moreover, as noted by media and evidenced increasingly in local stores, large farms are moving towards production practices more in line with animal (and human) environmentalism. We should not punish farmers who provide what everyone has a right to – produce from healthy farms and humanely treated animals.
Carol E. Harris, Wolfville
For the next few weeks, the Government and On Campus sections will be compiled by the Examiner’s newest intern, Kathleen Munro.
North West Planning and Advisory Committee (7pm , 61 Gary Martin Drive) Booze is on the agenda. The committee plans to review Case 20290:
Application by WM Fares to amend existing DA to allow liquor sales within Sobeys Food Store at the Sackville Town Centre Shopping Mall, 80 First Lake Drive, Lower Sackville.
Public Accounts (9am, Province House) Deputy Minister, Frank Dunn, will discuss the 2015 Report of the Auditor General on Forest Management and Protection. If you are a bit foggy on exactly what the report included, see below:
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar (4pm, Theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — 2015 Patrick Prize Recipient, Dr. Courtney Stairs, will present “Hacking the electron transport chain to live with oxygen.”
CGEB-Sponsored Seminar (10:30am, Theatre B, Tupper Medical Building Link) — Dr. Ashley Shade will present “Tales of rarity and disturbance: the interplay of community structure and dynamics.”
With Love: Get REAL Dal (11am, Dalhousie Student Union, First Floor) — Students writing letters of support to those suffering from mental illness.
Get REAL Dal will be hosting a With Love letter writing party in partnership with Wear Your Label. With Love is an initiative to share stories of hope through handwritten letters. All of the customers of Wear Your Label are connected to mental illness in some way; whether personally, or through a family member or friend. They know, and we know how therapeutic something as simple as crafting a letter can be- and how meaningful it is to receive a handwritten postcard! Throughout the year, the letters will be distributed into the packages of orders sent out around the world! How amazing is that!
El Jones alerts me to this wonderful story published by Tom Jackman in the Washington Post:
Reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak got the tip early Saturday afternoon that there was heavy police activity on Ninth Street. She hustled over with her pen and camera, as any good reporter would, and soon she posted something short online, beating all her competitors. Then, working the neighbors and the cops, she nailed down her scoop with a full-length story and this headline:
“EXCLUSIVE: MURDER ON NINTH STREET!”
The online story not only beat the local daily paper, but she also included a short video from the crime scene, assuring viewers that “I’m working hard on this investigation.”
Then Monday came and Hilde had to go back to third grade. She is 9.
Hilde is publisher of the Orange County News in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.
After Hilde published her murder scoop, continues Jackman:
[Hilde’s] reporting did not impress some of the good people of Selinsgrove, and they let Hilde have it on Facebook Saturday night. “I think this is appalling that u would do a story like this when all the facts are not in yet,” wrote one commenter. Her parents were attacked too: “does no one realize that this is a 9 year old reporting this type of graphic information!” wrote a Facebook poster. “I mean, what parents are encouraging this type of behavior!”
One commenter said that “nine-year-old girls should be playing with dolls, not trying to be reporters”; another said she should be “having tea parties.” So Hilde made a YouTube video, reading her critics’ comments, and responding:
In the harbour
Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro cargo, arrived at Pier 41 at 6am from St. John’s
Yantian Express, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Fairview Cove at 11am, then sails to sea at 11pm
Zim Piraeus, container ship, New York to Pier 41 at 11am, then sails to sea at 2:30am tomorrow
Atlantic Star moves from the west end of Fairview Cove to the east end of Fairview Cove
Tiger sails from Autoport to sea at 8:30pm
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, today at 4pm.
Some have been researching and writing about this for a long time. David Harvey at CUNY for example. He’s long talked about the over supply of luxury housing and under supply of housing to meet real demand; about the transition by the capitalist class from investing in productive activities to investing in rents/real estate because of low rate of return in manufacturing etc; and how this relates to the production of urban space and a collective right to the city/to shape city through a democratic process – http://davidharvey.org/2015/04/video-the-crisis-of-planetary-urbanization/
RE. Hilde the Journalist: This brings to mind something I’ve been noticing lately. I don’t want to make too big a deal about this, but it appears to me that there is a trend here that is worth watching and certainly worth encouraging. Girl activists. Now maybe I just haven’t noticed the boys and, if so, I will gladly stand corrected.
Two of the most interesting and inspiring girls I’ve run across lately are 15 year old Rachel Parent – https://twitter.com/RachelsNews?lang=en – who is taking on Monsanto and the whole GMO issue and Bridgewater’s 12 year old Stella Bowles – https://www.facebook.com/LaHaveRiver123/?fref=ts – who is working hard at getting the LaHave River cleaned up. If you look at Stella’s Face Book page you will see pictures of politicians from all three levels of government who were eager to have their picture taken with her at a recent science fair. Now that these politicians have had their photo-op I doubt that any of them plan on spending much time on the issue. But I don’t think Ms. Bowles will let them off the hook that easily. Now this is a trend I can get behind. Does anyone know where the boys are?
Trevor, that’s an extremely complicated issue, but there’s only one acceptable party line on that issue: It is their fault and they should feel bad for failing.
Perhaps the reason “girl activists” have become “a trend worth watching” is because historically, girls have been told to play with dolls and have tea parties?
Or possibly it’s because municipalities offer gender stereotyped summer camps such as diet, self-esteem, and cooking to girls while programming camps with video games and extreme sports for boys? (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/dovercourt-recreation-centre-rebrands-just-girls-just-boys-camps-1.3513544)
Or maybe it’s because gender issues continue to dominate both public and post-secondary education, placing higher value on the education of boys and men than that of girls and women? (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/tat/pdfs/gender.pdf)
It could even be because more than 1/3 of Americans don’t believe a woman is capable of holding executive office and almost a quarter of men think women shouldn’t have both children and a career. (http://www.theguardian.com/money/us-money-blog/2015/jan/15/women-gender-survey-research-success)
But I dunno, bro. Girls and activism. Aren’t they adorable?
Although some think that seeing big cranes are an indication of a turn in economic prosperity; but really, it takes multiple years to get a development to the construction stage… not necessarily tied to economic indicators really. Big building developers are speculators, just like subdivision developers, they do what they do because that is the business they are in… developers want to develop and builders want to build. When they are done, there is a market for what they have created or there is not. What is the office vacancy rate in downtown Halifax… pretty high, but they still keep developing new buildings, because that is what they do. It all looks great; but I am not sure one can use the skyline as a reliable indicator of economic well being.
About the Panama papers:
The organization controlling the leaks (the Centre for Public Integrity) has some interesting backers:
(taken from https://www.publicintegrity.org/about/our-work/supporters)
A few choice ones: The Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Foundation (Yes, that Goldman), the Ford Foundation (Yes, that hyper-capitalistic Nazi collaborator), the Open Society Foundation (funded by a hyper-capitalist anti-borders activist), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Until someone like Wikileaks gets their hands on the documents, this is garbage. You’ll notice that there are almost no westerners named by the leakers, but the response to the tenuous connections between the leaks and the Icelandic PM (who is keeping Iceland out of the failing EU and refused to accept austerity plans and allowed banks to fail) and other people who are unpopular with the neoliberal set has been furious.
Regarding the building boom, Spengler would suggest that the building boom and the rise of figures like Trump are fairly normal for empires in the final stages of decline.
It’s only one company, and only one firm. There are several other countries that operate as tax havens and the states of Nevada and Delaware are tax havens as well.
(And many of those places are much easier for North Americans and English-speakers to access than Panama.)
They’ve said they’ve got a US-centered piece coming out soon. The Star says it’s got a Canadian-focused piece in the works. It’s early days… give it time.
It’s fun to see Soros attacked from the left for a change.
There is a great article in the Colombia Journalism Review on Hilde Lysiak that I read last night. Goes deeper into her coverage of her town than the headline grabbing “she broke a murder” angle that is getting so much attention. She’s been dogged in covering her small town, including vandalism, a burglary and a minor tornado. Love the question that the Colombia Journalism Review articles poses in the title, “Is this 8-year-old’s newspaper better than yours?” If the question is being asked of Halifax, with the Herald on strike, than the answer is a definite yes! http://www.cjr.org/the_profile/orange_street_news.php
The Panama Papers and PUBLISHER Hilde Kate Lysiak and it’s only Wednesday. As Dalhousie Gazette editor Sabina Wex recently told me: “Journalism isn’t dead!”
“Journalism isn’t dead!”
Maybe where you live Evelyn.
Plus that cracking Cranky Letter of the Day! I agree!
I agree with Evelyn C. White, that is.