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Welcome, I am your host Trish Holmes and you are listening to The Daily GRRR! January 29, 2015 edition on 100.3fm, CKMS in Waterloo, Ontario. Soundfm.ca on the web. Opening song: Bjork with Human Behavior .

The Daily GRRR! HEADLINES for January 29, 2015

1. Oil watch

A rather easy week for the old oil: WTI Crude Oil is at $44.69, down almost 3 dollars from last week Brent Crude is at $48.75, effectively no change

2. Boone Pickens, American oil baron, explains the Oil crisis. (it’s the Americans, they know what they’re doing) So ugh, this is getting tiring isn’t it. Boone Pickens, Energy tycoon and the founder of BP Capital, has said he can't drill for oil that is $45 per barrel or less. He’s talking up the industry by saying oil prices would be back near $70 or $80 a barrel by the fourth quarter of this year and near $100 a barrel in 12 to 18 months. Pickens thoughts follow the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and the comments by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal who said the price of oil may rise, but it won't go near $100 in this lifetime.

Pickens has said, "The reason the oil price has dropped is because of production here in the United States," No question, we were the ones that caused it, and we'll be the ones that will fix it. And the way we fix it is our rig count will go down." Here is an audio clip of Pickens’ interview so you can hear him in all his glory. Audio = 2.44 And if you have been following oil watch, you’ll know that’s just not true. The price of oil has been falling because OPEC refuses to cut production in a bid to stall the rising North American industry in order to ensure an export market and to counter competition. This is American businessmen trying desperadoly to avoid admitting they are being played by bigger players. Incidentally, it’s 49 oil rigs that have been deactivated in the US recently bringing the total of working rigs to 1,317, about 100 less than a year earlier. I couldn’t find the Canadian numbers.

3. Obama proposes opening up Atlantic Seaboard for drilling to deter Oil companies away from the Arctic

This is from the NYT

“The Obama administration moved Tuesday to open up a vast stretch of East Coast waters to oil and gas drilling. In an announcement that outraged environmentalists and brought grudging cheers from the oil and gas industry, the Interior Department unveiled the latest part of its five-year plan for the government to sell leases for oil and gas development in federal waters. The plan would open up one lease sale area off the southeast stretch of the Atlantic Seaboard, an area the oil industry has long set its sights on. It would also open new portions of the Gulf of Mexico, which is already open to drilling. And in a move that appeased environmentalists but angered Alaskan Republicans, it will ban drilling in portions of the Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Environmentalists cite disasters such as the 2010 Gulf Coast BP oil spill. On Obama’s part, this is clearly an appeasement to his opponents in the oil industry and the Republican Party. Interior Department officials said the drilling in the Atlantic would take place a minimum of 50 miles offshore so that it would not get in the way of the Navy’s military exercises, offshore wind turbines, and commercial and recreational fishing.”

Now this of course is bad news for the Atlantic, but if drilling happens, there at least it would be somewhere far more visible than in the North. The Atlantic yes is precious, but it’s not as untouched as the Arctic. Plans to develop the Arctic are moving along at a quick pace, there are motions already happening in order to raise funds to finance development, and a few months ago, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development released the 2014 Fall Report, which noted the areas in which the Canadian north needed improvement to ease and facilitate development.

Now to Canada.

4. The Federal parliament is back in session: New terrorism bill

Parliament is back to it this week. The big news of course is that the government is saying the drop in oil won’t affect the government budget. Mr. Harper outlined priorities for parliament in the months to come. One of Harper’s priorities is the new terrorism bill that will be introduced tomorrow. So as if we didn’t have enough problems, these arseholes who kill cartoonists or cops or guys who guard national war memorials are providing Harper and his socially conservative friends ammunition to put the screw in. The new national-security legislation includes a provision that draws a line between free expression and endorsing terrorism. The concern is of course that this bill will curtail fundamental freedoms in the name of national security. G&M last week reported the new law would seek to lower the legal thresholds used for some preventive police powers, while expanding the criteria that would allow officials to blacklist people on the Canadian government’s “no-fly” list.

Highlighting the new bill in a speech on Sunday, Harper said he will protect Canadians from homegrown extremists by giving authorities new powers – including the ability to prosecute people for “the promotion of terrorism.” After the October attacks, Justice Minister Peter MacKay talking about giving police legal tools that could allow for the removal of Internet posts that are “poisoning young minds.” In Europe, these “glorification of terrorism ” prosecutions have included offences ranging from inciting crimes, to selling extremist propaganda, to publishing documents or drawings that are seen as applauding terrorist attacks.

5. The Federal parliament is back in session: extending ‘life’ sentences

Other priorities for harper’s government in the months to come include new and harsher punishments for violent, repeat offenders, and a law that would stiffen life sentences. IN the G&M, this week there was a poll that asks Should Canada introduce life sentencing without parole? 49% (4235 votes have voted yes; 46% (3969 votes) have voted No. WHAT THE HELL is that? I blame Harper for the rise of a lack of compassion in an increasingly hostile society.

This coincides with Harper's regime:ignoring Supreme Court judgements regarding sex workers and indigenous people, providing corporations with increasing number of rights, providing more powers to police, absconding journalists work for his own promotion and now increasing and lengthening prison sentences. In a time of increasing economic and political instability, his socially conservative outlook feeds into fear within the population. And this is nothing new, we’ve seen this closed, exclusive and fear-mongering reaction many times in history as a means to tighten control over the populace and over the grip on power. By focusing on the worst offenders, he is also taking the focus off other criminals such as bankers, environmental polluters, government and government –agency corruption and nepotism. He and his government are wielding and manipulating the threat of personal vulnerability. When people feel threatened, they react harshly and that’s what’s happening here, and Harper is feeding on it.

The solution to the high re-offending rate is not to keep prisoners in jail longer. The underlying philosophy of the Canadian penal system is rehabilitation. Prison without parole is a fundamentally different concept. While of course dangerous offenders and recalcitrant inmates need to be treated with the gravitas of which their crimes deserve, if we want to re-examine our penal system, we need to start with the fundamentals – what do we want to achieve with prison structures and why are people ending up there and are there suspect social situations which we can help alleviate. The Canadian prison system does do a fair job of this, these are not new ideas but they must be returned to before we through away the lock and key. Compassion, even in the face of terror, must be the guiding force.

6. Kitchener’s infrastructure crisis

The KW Record reports that the City of Kitchener is considering introducing a big hike in water and sewer rates — 9.9 per cent for 2015. The Record notes this is more than four times the inflation rate and would add $92 to a typical homeowner's annual bill. Waterloo has already increased water rates by 5.5 per cent The problem is that about 24 per cent of the city's water mains are more than 50 years old. Overall, the average pipe is 34 years old. When they were first installed the pipes were expected to last 75 to 100 years, that isn’t happening. The situation seem may be due to neglect and climate change. Very little attention was paid to the city’s infrastructure in the past 50 years and weather extremes means pipes are subjected to more freezes and thaws, forcing them to bend and move in the ground. Older pipes made of cast or ductile iron get corroded and can't handle that stress as well. In 2012, Kitchener recorded 60 water main breaks, in 2014 there were 140. Last Wednesday alone Kitchener utilities staff were dealing with five separate breaks, in pipes 51 to 63 years old. There's about $63 million of work that needs to be done. And at the current rate of work, which is slowed for a number of reasons including costs, complexity of intercrossing networks in the ground and labour, it could take the city 180 years to eliminate its backlog of aging water mains, that’s a completion date of 2194 .

7. Birders Unite

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society is holding a public survey in order to help to help decide what bird they should champion to be designated the official bird of Canada. The US may have the bald eagle, but Canada does not have a national symbol from the avian world. The article notes that there are more than 450 species of birds, in Canada, which seems a little low considering the size of the country but no matter. Once the voting is finished, the society will take the winning bird and lobby the federal government to follow through with an Act of Parliament as part of the sesquicentennial celebrations in 2017. If you go to http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/nationalbird/#Songbirds you can see the list of birds each with associated vital facts, range map and an essay by a scientist or celebrity bird enthusiast. For their part the Globe seems to have sided with Dr David Bird, a convenient name, the gray jay, also called the whiskey jack, or le Mésangeai du Canada in French. I won’t go into it, but he makes a good argument.

And we are now moving into the feature portion of our broadcast. The need for Art Anyway birds aside journalism, politics all of it has an emptying effect on me. I want to know what is happening, I enjoy engaging but eventually, sometimes sooner rather than later, it saturates me and then I become numb, overwhelmed and have to turn away from it for my own health. I don’t think I’m alone and at the risk of sounding paranoid I wonder if the government doesn’t rely on that. In a way it’s information overload. The only solace I have ever been able to achieve in this state is through art. And now, it is to Art I have to turn. The feature this week is writer AL Kennedy’s podcast from the BBC4 radio show A Point of View on this very topic, the importance of art.

Feature:

AL Kennedy: The Importance of Art (From Point of View, BBC4)

Closing song: Artists against Apartheid with Sun City .

This was the The Daily GRRR! for January 29, 2015. We are on weekdays from 9-10am on 100.3fm CKMS in Waterloo region, and soundfm.ca on the web. Check out all our past shows and other Grand River Media Collective work on our webpage grandrivermc.ca

The Daily GRRR! is supported by the Community Radio Fund of Canada and CKMS. Stay tuned in for more Grand River Radical radio . Thanks for Listening. END OF SHOW

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