Monday, April 30, 2007

Tomorrow is Mayday, and to celebrate the event Blogger ate the post that I had been almost 3 hours in preparing. Anyways, here's the piece of poetry that I hoped to open with. Hopefully I'll have enough time to recreate the planned post tomorrow.
The Workers' Maypole
by Walter Crane
World Workers, whatever may bind ye,
This day let your work be undone;
Cast the clouds of the winter behind ye,
And come forth and be glad in the sun.
Now again while the green earth rejoices
In the bud and the blossom of May
Lift your hearts up again, and your voices,
And keep merry the World's Labour Day.
Let the winds lift your banners from far lands
With a message of strife and of hope;
Raise the maypole aloft with it garlands
That gathers your cause in its scope.
It is writ on each ribbon that flies
That flutters from fair Freedom's heart;
If still far be the crown and the prise
In the winning may each take a part.
Your cause is the hope of the world,
In your strife is the life of the race,
The workers' flag freedom unfurled
Is the veil of the bright future's face.
Be ye many or few drawn together,
Let your message be clear on this day;
Be ye birds of the spring, of one feather
In this--that you sing on May-Day.
Of the new life that lieth hidden,
Though its shadow is cast before;
The new birth of hope that unbidden
Surely comes, as the sea to the shore.
Stand fast, then, Oh Workers, your ground,
Together pull strong and united;
Link your hands like a chain the world round,
If you will that your hopes be requited.
When the Worlds' Workers, sisters and brothers,
Shall build, in the new coming years,
A lair house of life--not for others,
For the earth and its fullness is theirs.

No new recalls this morning. The day is still young. An article in Saturday's Toronto Star sheds more light on the potential mechanisms by which melamine and cyanuric acide cause kidney damage. The article quotes John Melichercik of Guelph's Agriculture and Food Laboratory on their findings of a compound formed by the reaction between the above two chemicals. Unfortunately this isn't the whole story as other substances may be involved. Melichercik is quoted as saying, "when we see some of these substances, there is other junk in there that is difficult to identify".
Meanwhile an article from CBS news also came out this morning. The title is 'Pet Food Toxin Said to be Common in China', and the title says it all. The practice of spiking feedstuffs with melamine is a very long standing one in China. Wang Jianhui, manager of the Kaiyuan Protein Feed Company in the city of Shijiazhuang says "We've been running the melamine feed business about 15 years (!!!!!- Molly) and receiving positive responses from our customers". The article above also tells more about the market for melamine in China. Well worth the read.
More later

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Still more pet foods have been recalled since Molly last blogged on this subject. American Nutrition, the makers of the Harmony Farms line of pet foods have announced a recall of all Harmony Farms canned dog and cat foods. American Nutrition manufactures the Blue Buffalo line as well as the Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul foods mentioned previously. They also make the Mulligan Stew line and some of the Kirkland, Canine Caviar, Diamond, and Natural Balance products. The list of their recalled products is online in a press release from American Nutrition. The company explains that they received contaminated rice protein concentrate from the Wilbur-Ellis import company. To her horror Molly found out that these more recent recalls have yet to show up on the comprehensive list made available by the American Veterinary Medical Association. That list was lasted update on April 27th, and it will hopefully contain the new items by tomorrow.
Meanwhile in other news Business week reports that the FDA has (finally !) executed search warrants on the Emporia Kansas plant of Menu Foods and the Los Vegas offices of ChemNutra Inc. as part of an investigation to see if they violated the Food and Drug Act. Seems a bit pokey to this cat. But speaking of pokey it seems according to a report in USA Today that China has finally come around to admitting that food ingredients exported from China contained the suspect chemical melamine even while arguing that there is no direct proof that melamine was the cause of the poisonings. On April 24th the Chinese government sealed the headquarters of Binzhou Futian Biotechnology. Chinese president Hu Jintao has issued a call for increased inspections of food in China where human food poisonings are a common occurrence. The International Herald Tribune has an expose article on the melamine industry in China online today. Turns out that melamine adulteration of animal feedstocks is a common dishonest practice in the PRP to give a falsely high protein content. The Chinese government banned the use of melamine in feedstocks only last Friday.
As to how the seemingly innocuous melamine becomes highly toxic according to an item on the Canadian Press researchers at Guelph Ontario have found that melamine and another contaminant, cyanuric acid, react with each other to form the crystals that are so damaging to the kidneys of cats and dogs. In other news an item from the Associated Press reports that Menu Foods has launched legal action against ChemNutra, the importers of the contaminated wheat gluten that began this whole affair. The lawsuits will probably be flying thick in the future as all the various parties try to shift both blame and financial responsibility.
That's it for now. No doubt more tomorrow.

Hydra is the largest modern constellation but one of the least recognized ones. It is visible this time of year stretching from Cancer in the west to Libra in the east. It takes almost six hours to fully rise. Throughout its course it lays just south of the ecliptic and spans four of the zodiacal constellations. Its only bright star is Alphard which lays just south and a little to the east of the easily visible Regulus in Leo. Alphard (alpha Hydra) is giant orange star of apparent magnitude 2.0, and it is about 85 light years distant. It is from the Arabic and means "the solitary one".
Hydra was one of the 48 constellations recognized by Ptolemy, and its most common mythological reference is to the Hydra of Lerna that Heracles slew as one of his twelve labours. The lair of this water snake was beneath the lake of Lerna in the Argolid where it was reputed to guard an entrance to the underworld. The Hydra was reputedly one of the children of Typhon and Echidna, giants who waged war against the gods of Olympus. Its siblings were the Nemean Lion, the Chimaera and Cerebus. Like Cerebus Hydra was a multi-headed monster who grew two heads back for every one cut off. Heracles was stymied until he asked his nephew Iolaus for help. Iolaus came up with the idea of cauterizing each stump as the head was cut off, thus preventing regrowth. One of the heads, however, was immortal. When Heracles cut that one off he placed the still living head under a great rock where it could do no harm. When Heracles returned to Eurystheus, an agent of Hera who hated Heracles, who had assigned him his labours Eurystheus declared that the help of Iolaus made this labour invalid. Heracles used the poisonous blood from the Hydra applied to an arrow to kill the centaur Nessus as another one of his labours. It was the tainted blood from Nessus' cloak that eventually killed Heracles.
Another version of the origin of Hydra says that Apollo sent his servant the crow (the constellation Corvus) to fetch water in a cup (the constellation Crater), but the crow dallied lazily and brought back the water snake Hydra in the cup as an excuse. Apollo angrily threw the three of them into the sky.

The indigenous community of Grassy Narrows has long been under attack by multinational logging companies, Weyerhaeuser and Abitibi, who wish to denude their traditional lands. The Ontario government has been complicit in this assault on a Canadian First Nation. For some time now the residents of Grassy Narrows have carried on an ongoing campaign to stop the clear cutting of their traditional lands. This spring they gained the support of Amnesty International who sent a fact finding mission to Grassy. The results of their mission can be read at the Amnesty Mission post, and they have initiated a letter campaign directed at the Ontario Minister of Natural Resources demanding proper consultation with the people of Grassy Narrows before any new logging can proceed.
The people of Grassy have been subjected to repeated assaults in the name of "progress". In the 1950s provincial hydroelectric dams flooded large parts of their traditional lands and wiped out many of the wild rice beds that they gathered from. In the 1970s a pulp and paper mill contaminated their water with mercury that still causes health problems to this day. Over 50% of their traditional territory has already been logged, despite an 1873 treaty that guarantees their rights to hunt and fish on their traditional lands. The Ontario government has granted licences to log in these lands until 2034.
To protest the continuing assault on this band go to the letter campaign above. To follow the news from Grassy go to the Friends of Grassy Narrows site.

The I07 International syndicalist forum is ongoing in Paris as we speak. This is a gathering of syndicalists from all the continents of the world to discuss the way forward for a new and militant unionism. The conference is sponsored by the French CNT-Vignoles. , a growing anarchosyndicalist confederation. This conference now has a new open forum so that you can follow the events more closely and even comment on same. You can register at the I07 Open Forum and follow the conference as it unfolds.

Yesterday, April 28th a North American coalition called 'Keep Our Pets Safe' held marches in a number of cities in the USA and Canada to demand changes to the food safety regime in both countries. To see the results go to the Pets Need a Voice Too website. This site is not just about news of the march but also contains other information such as recipes if you wish to cook for your pet yourself and other information on the ongoing recall.

Over at the Carnival of Anarchy blogspot the debate is raging this weekend over the subject of 'Anarchism and Violence', a long standing touchy subject that provokes much heated opinion. Drop on over to the Carnival to see what the fuss is all about. Molly will hopefully post her own opinions later there with all the hissing and spitting that she is capable of.

The IWW Starbucks Union (recently added to our links section under anarcho-syndicalist links) has recently debated a sympathizer of the Starbucks Corporation on the US National Public radio. The corporation itself declined to send a representative to debate the IWW so their side was represented by Joseph Michelli, author or 'The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary'. Michelli is a "business consultant" (one of the more useless occupations in the universe whose only function is to waste business peoples' money), but he also has a real job as a talk radio host in Colorado Springs. The other side was represented by Daniel Gross, an IWW organizer who was fired by Starbucks last year, John Bowman of the Canadian Auto Workers Union who have organized Starbucks in Vancouver in the past and Matt McCarten of the Unite Union in New Zealand who have been organizing Restaurant Brands in that country. Restaurant Brands operates Starbucks, Pizza Hut and KFC in that country.
To tune in to the debate go to the Starbucks Union site where you can access the show in either real audio or MP3 format.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Today, April 28th is international Workers' Memorial Day. This is a day set aside each year to remember workers killed or injured on the job and to demand changes that will prevent such occurrences in the future. This day is one of Canada's lesser known contributions to the world. Workers' Memorial Day was first promoted by CUPE and other Canadian unions in 1984 following the deaths of four miners in Sudbury. The Canadian Labour Congress declared an annual day of remembrance in 1985 on April 28th, which is the anniversary of the first Workers' Compensation Act proclaimed in 1919. The Americans followed in 1989 with credit being given to the fact that April 28th is also the anniversary of the establishment of OSHA. The Canadian Parliament passed an act recognizing this day in 1991. The campaign spread to the UK in 1992 where it was adopted by the TUC in 1999. Meanwhile the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions began to observe the day in 1996, and in 2002 the International Labour Organization(ILO) announced that Workers' Memorial Day was to be an official event in the United Nations system. Today the day is observed worldwide as an "official" day in many countries while in others the union movement is pursuing recognition.
The ILO estimates that two million people die per year of work related accidents and diseases and that, every year, there are 270 million occupational accidents and 160 million incidents of work related illnesses. Work actually kills more people in the modern world than wars do. In the USA 5,734 workers were killed and 4.2 million people were injured at work in 2005. The Canadian statistics are available at . The situation is grimmer in Canada than in the USA in terms of fatalities which were at 1,097 in 2005. On a per capita basis workers are killed almost twice as frequently in Canada as in the US. This number has been steadily increasing in the last decade. The number of workplace injuries, however, has been steadily declining since it peaked in 1989, and in 2005 337,930 Canadian workers had suffered "compensatible injuries".
Hazards magazine maintains a website devoted to WMD with links to events worldwide. Together with the Labour Start online union solidarity site Hazards has initiated the Health and Safety Newswire. See this for more information.
For other resources on workplace health, injuries and deaths see the following:
Life Quilt (a quilt project honouring young workers killed on the job)
And, of course, go to Le Revue Gauche for megablogger Eugene Plawiuk's take on this Worker Memorial Day with lots more info than Molly has presented here.
Finally, there is a petition at the Canadian Injured Workers Society calling on the Canadian federal government to hold a federal public judicial inquiry into wrongdoing by workers compensation boards across the country. Go here to view the petition or to sign it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The news on the pet food recall scandal continues to flood in, almost by the hour now. Molly is rather short on time this morning so she will hopefully fill her readers in more fully either this evening or tomorrow morning. But for now the important news....
As of this morning the pet food recall has expanded once more to include ALL Blue Buffalo canned dog and cat foods as well as all 'Blue Health Bar Treats'. The dry foods manufactured by this company are not on recall. These products are labelled as 'Blue...". The company's supplier, American Nutrition Inc., had, according to a press release from Blue Buffalo, been adding rice protein concentrate to the Blue line without the knowledge of Blue Buffalo. Thus this ingredient was not listed on their labels.
For now all pet owners should be aware of this expansion of the recall, and return any unused items to the place of purchase for a refund. Blue Buffalo can be reached at 1-800-919-2833 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm for further information.
Much more later,

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The death toll reported to the Pet Connection unofficial data base now stands at 4,515. This site, by the way, continues to live blog the ongoing US Senate hearings into the tainted pet food scandal, and the testimony presented so far has been enlightening. Go to Pet Connection to read what has been presented so far. Just as the hearings were wrapping up for the day today the spokesman for the FDA claimed that he was unaware of any pending new food recalls, even though some foods from Kirkland had tested positive for melamine. After the conference was over the shoe dropped. Costco announced that they were withdrawing their Kirkland Signature Super Premium canned dog food(both the 'Chicken and Rice' and the 'Lamb and Rice' formulations). also Chenango Valley pet food manufacturers added another item, their 'Lick Your Chops Lamb Meal, Rice and Egg Cat Food' in packages. Also the Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul company has announced a recall of their Kitten Formula in 5.5oz cans, their Puppy Formula in 13oz cans and Diamond Lamb and Rice Formula for Dogs in 13oz cans. Finally, Natural Balance Pet Foods has announced has announced a recall of the following canned foods:
Chicken Formula Canned Dog Food 13oz
Lamb Formula Canned Dog Food 13oz
Beef Formula Canned Dog Food 13oz
Ocean Fish Formula Canned Cat Food 3oz & 6oz
If anything the recalls seem to be expanded faster than once a week as the list of possibly toxic ingredients grows. One of the more disturbing facts uncovered by the Itchmo Blog is that some of the newly recalled foods have neither wheat gluten nor rice protein concentrate as a listed ingredient !!!!!!! To say the least this makes it difficult for the pet owner to judge by ingredients what is safe or not.
More tomorrow I'm sure,

The Anarchism Canada website, a compendium of a vast number of anarchist and near anarchist groups, websites, publications and associations active in Canada, has been newly updated. Non-functioning addresses have been eliminated and new ones added. speaking of updates the Nestor Makhno Archive has also been updated with new items in German, Serbo-Croat, Swedish, Czech and English.
In the field of publications the latest issue of Workers' Solidarity (issue #96, March/april 2007) is now online and can be downloaded in a pdf format at . Make sure to check out the Struggle site in general for a wealth of downloadable pamphlets, magazines and other items. Also new on the internet is 'Position-News #8' from the left communist group Prole Position. Working class news from across the world. The latest issue can be downloaded at .
Interested in what anarchists do with their time, spare or otherwise. The ever active and ever organizing Pittsburgh Organizing Group has published a sort of "month in the life" report on the a-infos news service about what they have been up to in the last month. Speaking of actions the Rising Tide group of ecology activists has called for an international day of direct action against climate change and the G8 0n Friday, June 8th. More details can be found at the Rising Tide UK site or the Rising Tide North America site. Down Mexico way the Zapatistas have selected the Yaqui community of Vicam in the state of Sonora to host an Indigenous Intercontinental Conference on Oct 11th to 14th. The conference hopes to highlight the common struggles of indigenous people in not just Mexico and the USA but worldwide. Look here to read a longer report. To see an even more detailed report go to the Chiapas Indymedia site which has a "translation button" if you cannot read Spanish. The official site of the Conference (in Spanish only so far) which lists the sponsoring indigenous groups is at .
Back here in Canada there are many events as well. out in Vancouver the No One Is Illegal group of people in solidarity with immigrants occupied the local offices of the Canadian Border Services last Monday, April 23rd, to demand an end to detentions and deportations of immigrants to Canada. The story of this occupation can be found at the noii-van blogspot. These activists planned to return yesterday for a further occupation of both the Border Services office and the offices of Citizenship and Immigration, but Molly hasn't heard yet how this turned out. In a similar vein No One is Illegal will be sponsoring demonstrations in Vancouver on May 1st, Toronto on May 5th and Montreal on May 5th as well in solidarity with immigrants and demanding status for all. Go to the Solidarity Across Borders site for information on this and other actions in the Montreal area.
Meanwhile here in Winnipeg, at the throbbing centre of the universe (eat your heart out Toronto), a number of anarcho-events will take place in the next few days. another training session for the Winnipeg version of Copwatch will be held at the Bulman Centre of the University of Winnipeg this Saturday at 1:00 pm. Critical Mass will hold their Friday ride beginning at Central park at 4:30 pm. The same day Ward Churchill will be speaking at 7:00 pm at St. John's College at the University of Manitoba and Saturday at 7:00 pm on the 3rd floor of 91 Albert St. . The meeting commemorating the International Day of Mourning for Workers Injured and Killed at Work will be held Saturday, april 28th in Room 2C at the Union centre, 275 Broadway. entertainment by the Winnipeg Labour Choir. The annual May Day march will begin next Tuesday at 6:00 pm at the City Hall. This year will feature the debut of Winnipeg's 'Anarchist Marching Band'. Also in Winnipeg the Winnipeg Oaxaca Solidarity group is forming in support of the rebel people of Oaxaca. For further information write . Want to keep up with weekly radical events here in Winnipeg ? Go to the Winnipeg Info-Usurpa site for a downloadable pdf on a weekly basis each Tuesday.
So that's it for now. More news from the world of anarchism later.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Today the reported number of suspicious deaths reported to the Pet Connection site stands at 4,474. Since Molly last blogged on this matter there have been some new pet foods added to the recall list. Live Smart has initiated a recall of their LiveSmart Weight Management Chicken and Brown Rice Dog Food. The company was one of the recipients of the contaminated rice protein concentrate from Wilbur-Ellis. Now 4 out of five of Wilbur-Ellis' customers have voluntarily identified themselves, but a final one remains anonymous though known to both Wilbur-Ellis and the FDA. also the Drs Foster & Smith Pet Foods Products have initiated, who also received tainted rice protein from Wilbur-Ellis have initiated a recall of their Adult Lite Dry Dog Food and Adult Lite Dry Cat Food. See this press release from the company for full details. Molly wishes to remind her readers that the present stage of the food recall is far beyond being a "Menu Foods recall". The American Veterinary Medical Association maintains a comprehensive list of all foods affected by the recall, though it may be a day or two behind. For daily news on new products being recalled go to the Pet Connection site above or to the Itchmo Blog.
The law in some Canadian provinces differs from that in most American states as it is possible to sue for "emotional damage" due to the loss of a pet rather than just for financial loss. Two Canadian law firms have launched class action suits against Menu Foods, and American residents can also join in these suits. For more information see the Merchant Law Group and the
The Pet Connection site has begun a post card campaign targeting the FDA, the White House, CNN, Senator Richard Durbin and other US Senators . You can see details of this campaign at the following Pet Connection entry. Also don't forget the upcoming April 28th series of demonstrations. For more details about these go to the Itchmo Blog mentioned above or the Howl911 blog. Also at the Itchmo Blog is an interesting declaration from the blogmaster in response to Senator Durbin's request for input as to new pet food regulations. This item is entitled The Right to Good Pet Food.
Meanwhile an item from Reuters News agency has reported that Senators Durbin of Illinois and Maria Cantwell of Washington have written a letter to the FDA saying that they have heard from "industry sources" that there is a second US importer of Chinese rice protein concentrate other than Wilbur-Ellis whose product is likely contaminated by melamine. On another front the New York Times reports that the Chinese government has finally relented and agreed to visas for US FDA inspectors to enter China to investigate Chinese suppliers. Meanwhile in California the FDA has traced the contaminated hogs fed melamine laced protein concentrate to four facilities who received shipments from the quarantined Ceres farm. Not all of the hogs, however, are accounted for. An item from Reuters News Agency says that the FDA now says that "thousands" of American hogs may have been contaminated by the melamine containing rice protein. These include hogs not just in California but also in the states of North and South Carolina, New York, Utah and "possibly" Ohio. An article in USA Today reports that the FDA will (finally) begin testing on various products imported from China that go into a number of human food products such as baby formulas, bread, pasta, cereals, pizza doughs, protein shakes, energy bars and some vegetarian foods. These include not just the wheat and corn gluten and the rice protein concentrates so far implicated in the pet food recalls but ALSO corn meal, soy protein and rice bran. It seems to Molly that the alarm bells should have been going off way back in March when the pet food scandal first broke. Time will tell just how seriously the human food chain has been affected. It should also be noted that at least one poultry farm in Missouri has been identified as feeding their birds with melamine contaminated feed as reported in the Boston Globe today. The Washington Post also had an interesting article today on the state of food safety (or lack thereof) in China where food poisoning is a very common occurrence. The article examines the problems with China's dysfunctional food quality programs in depth.
As a final Molly note don't forget that the Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia has an ongoing commentary on this recall. They mention some of the American lawsuits against pet food manufacturers but omit the Canadian ones listed above.
Unfortunately more later,

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Moon, now in its first quarter has moved out of the constellation Gemini and is now entering Leo via the very dim constellation of Cancer (hardly visible at all except in the clearest skies) When you look up tonight you can see the Moon separated by only about 2 or 3 degrees from Saturn which now lie just to the west of Regulus, the star that marks the beginning of the "hook" in Leo. Saturn is actually quite good for viewing at this time as its rings have a 15 degree tilt, and are quite visible. Tomorrow (april 25th), however, may be even better as the Moon and Saturn will reach their closest approach. In Northern Canada, Alaska, the west coast of Canada and the upper north west of the USA there will actually be an occultation of Saturn by the Moon. The occultation will occur at about 10:28 UT in Vancouver and at about 10:30 UT in Victoria BC. This translates to a local time of about 2:40 am in Victoria. In Edmonton Alberta it will begin slightly earlier, at 10:17 UT. Go to the Lunar Occulatations site for further information.
As long as the Moon is leaving Gemini it's perhaps time to visit the stars of this constellation. Refer to the above diagram for what follows, and imagine it as being rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise so that Castor is higher in the sky than its brighter companion Pollux. The above diagram, however, better illustrates how this constellation resembles two stick men side by side, the "twins". The apparent orientation of Gemini changes throughout the year. Presently it is gradually returning from a "left" rotation, and it will gradually become more horizontal until it is no longer visible come the month of June. When it returns in the late fall it will considerably rotated "clockwise". At that time one of the stars is within the Milky Way and one is outside of it. This is connected with the legend of "cattle theft" associated with this constellation (see later).
The twins are called the Dioskouroi in Greek mythology, meaning "youths of Zeus (the god), and Pollux is often referred to as 'Polydeuces'. The Greek legends probably derive from more ancient Indo-European myths as the twin horsemen, the Asvins, occur in the Vedas and the Alcis twins figure in Germanic mythology. In Rome they were sometimes confused with Romulus and Remus. In China, on the other hand, these stars are associated with the yin and yang of nature. The twins in such legends are usually depicted as unequal. Another Greek example of such a configuration is the Ampion/Zethus pair from Thebes. Various versions of the Greek legends exist. Sometimes both twins are immortal, sometimes neither and sometimes only one. If only one it is Pollux/Polydeuces who is the immortal one. The most common legend is that Zeus, disguised as a swan, seduced their mother Leda, and that the two brothers were born from eggs. The representations of the Dioscuri in vase painting feature skullcaps that are said to be remanants of the eggs.
In some versions Tyndareus, King of Sparta, is merely their step father. In others he is the father of Castor but not of Polydeucis. Their sisters were Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra. They were reportedly brought up by the centaur Chiron(represented by the constellation Centaurs), and later they joined Jason, who was also reportedly brought up by Chiron, in the quest for the Golden Fleece. They also were said to have rescued their sister Helen when she was carried off by Theseus and Pirithous. Seems like Helen tried more than once to get out of Sparta. The twins had a general connection to Sparta, and their duality was reflected in the two kings of Spartan government. Their grave shrine was at Therapne, across the Eurotas River from Sparta.
The Dioscuri met their match in the twin brothers of Thebes, Idas and Lynceus, when Castor and Polydeuces abducted the daughters of Leucippus, Phoebe and Hilaeira, known as the Leucippides ("white horses"). Seems the Greeks did a lot of kidnapping. Castor was supposedly killed in this encounter, and his brother pleaded with Zeus to grant him half his immortality. From that time forward each twin spent alternating days on Olympus and in Hades. Thus they weren't present at the siege of Troy. When the constellation is rotated clockwise it appears as if one of the twins is "stealing the cattle" from the Milky Way while the other looks on. Castor and Polydeucis are considered the patrons of mariners because of their role in calming a storm during the voyage of the Argo.
The two brightest stars of Gemini are Castor (now higher than Pollux) and Pollux. Pollux is the brightest at a magnitude of 1.1. It is an orange star that lies at a distance of 36 light years (lys). Castor is the second brightest at magnitude 1.6. It is a blue white star at a distance of 46 lys. It is actually a septuplet, and the individual stars have far lesser magnitudes than the combined brightness of the naked eye object. Mebutsa (on the upper arm of Gemini, going west comes from the Arabic for "lion's paw", but the name is only recent. it is a yellow white star of magnitude 3.0 and lies 685 lys away. Going further to the west we come to Tejat, and orange red star of magnitude 2.9 that lies 150 light years away. On the lower arm of Gemini we find Wasat, meaning "the middle" in Arabic, another recent name. It is a whitish double star of magnitude 3.5 (the brighter of the pair) and is 58 light years away. The now demoted "planet" Pluto was found close to this star in 1930. Further to the west is Mekbuda, which also means "lion's paw". It is a yellow white variable star with magnitude 3.7 to 4.2 every 10 days. It is 1,400 lys away. Then at the furthest west we come to Alhena meaning "mark on the neck of a camel". It is a blue white star of magnitude 1.9 and is about 85 lys away. One named star not shown in the above diagram is Propus, the "forward foot" of Castor. It is a little to the west of Tejat. It is an orange red variable star (magnitude 3 to 4 over 233 days), and is about 185 light years away.
The reader should note that the magnitudes listed above are "inverse". The smaller the number the greater the apparent brightness. In a city sky pretty well all that can be seen of Gemini is Castor and Pollux. On an exceptionally clear night some of the other stars named above can be visualized.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Royal Canin company has recalled two additional products from the Canadian market as of this weekend. These are, in addition to the previous recalls listed on this board, Feline Sensitivity RD and Canine Sensitivity RC. Molly challenges the anonymous commentator from St. Louis, presumably from the Royal Canin USA head office, to babble on as he did before about how "these products are only recalled in Canada". The US market awaits the latest news. Hopefully it won't be as bad as the South African situation. Meanwhile the American FDA is getting more serious about this matter and has released a press release on a Sunday concerning the latest recall information. For the latest list of recalled products on the FDA list go to .
Meanwhile an article in the Boston Globe tells more about the hogs who ate contaminated pet food from Wilbur-Ellis in California. The FDA has said that criminal charges could be laid over this matter according to an article in the Washington Post,especially as the final destination of some of the hogs from this finishing outfit/slaughter house has yet to accounted for.
Meanwhile the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association has posted a guideline for veterinarians dealing with suspect cases of possible renal failure from the foods implicated. It should also be noted that Ontario NDP MP Olivia Chow is part of a Canadian campaign in support of her private members bill for mandatory regulations and inspections to ensure the safety and quality of pet food sold in Canada. There is no government regulation of the pet food industry in Canada today. She has initiated a petition campaign for this which can be downloaded in a pdf format at .
Molly would also like to note a couple of articles that say something about China's general laxity in terms of food safety and what it means in a world where we increasingly import many Chinese goods, some of which are agricultural products. The first, by Frank Ching appeared in the Globe and Mail on April 18th in their Comments section. I have been unable to access this on the internet. Its title is 'China's Hazardous Food', and the title says it all. Mr Ching is a Hong Kong based commentator, and he presented a litany of China's problems with food safety in the recent past. You can be assured that what he presented is the mere "tip of the iceberg". He comments on how the inefficient hangovers from Communist rule make China's transition to a new economy particularly difficult in a situation of world trade. China yearly records tens of thousands of cases of food poisoning, and the problem is more acute for the Chinese than it is for their foreign customers. There's also a report on the Associated Press about the same matter, this time accessible on the internet.
Finally one thing that has come up over and over in Molly's discussions with people about this event: What could have prevented this ? The answer is very simple. All food, pet food included, should be produced locally as much as is possible. this is not a magical solution that would eliminate all such problems as have occurred recently but what it would guarantee is that any problems that would develop would be localized rather than spanning continents. One of the guiding principles of anarchism as a political philosophy is that local communities should be as independent as possible. Political independence depends upon economic independence. Anarchists are in total support of initiatives such as those proposed by the 'Local Food Movement' (see also Eat Local for resources in the USA). Molly has previously reported on the "local foods" movement on this blog (see under 'Other Interesting Links': 'The Slow Food Movement' and 'The Institute for Local Self Reliance' as well as doing a search on this blog). She wishes to reemphasize that the desire to "eat locally" has little or nothing to do with the increasingly corporate dominated superstition about "natural" or "organic" foods. Local food feeds into a political program that favours local small scale producers while the "organic superstition" myth feeds into increasing corporate control of our food system. "Organic" is the banner of the transnationals while "local" is the banner of democracy. Anyways, enough rhetoric. Here are a couple more resources for those who want to explore the "eat local" options: 1)Local Harvest , an American resource- Molly will hopefully find an equivalent Canadian one later and 2) New American Dream, another American resource. In Canada there are usually provincial federations of local producers. Molly will report more on these later.
More later,

Before Molly leaves the wild and woolly world of anarchism to blog on other matters she just has to (just,just,just,just has to ) comment on how much things have changed from the time in the early 70s when she first became an anarchist. At that time the "left" beyond social democracy and the remains of the Communist Party was heavily dominated by a rather mindless form of Maoism that the New Left had drifted into because of its own incoherence. Trots there were aplenty too for those who had morality slightly above that of a venomous lizard. Anarchists were, to say the least, rather sparse on the ground. This changed as time went on, particularly as the new youth subculture "punk" adopted anarchism as part of its trappings. As the weary hand of time wiped more months and years away the punks "grew up" and became the activists who dominate the "anarchist scene" today. Anarchism experienced a slow and steady growth from the 1960s onward, a gradually upward sloping line that is obscured by the desire of many present day anarchists to see some sudden "burst" that was connected only with their own personal acceptance of anarchism. In truth there was no "burst". those of us who had been around long enough were pleased beyond measure with the growth of anarchism before Seattle 1999, and we saw no sudden "flocking of the masses to the black flag" because of those events. It was merely the time when a long developing plant burst the "soil" of public awareness and represented no new stupendous growth.
That is what I find so amazing and also encouraging about anarchism today. To all intents and purposes anarchism is the left of today , the left beyond social democracy. The old Communist Parties are shells of their former selves, and the best they can do is try and pretend that they are more consistent social democrats than the real ones. with more than a little bad faith as they retain their totalitarian methods of organization even as they advance a "political program" that is little more than statism in retreat. Trotskyism today is a bad joke, only viable in France, Britain and the USA- where its adherents retain the skills gained by the tactic of "entrism" to manipulate larger organizations but have nothing to offer as a "program" to ordinary people. Maoism continues to exist as something more akin to religious cults rather than political parties, and its function today has been subsumed by anarchist spin-offs such as primitivism and "post leftism" who trumpet their ideology of "purity" (sic) from the sidelines of a growing anarchist movement. Yes, anarchism has absorbed many of the bad habits of the of New Left. The ideological purism and detachment from reality of primitivism and post leftism is only one example. There are still those amongst the anarchists who wish to push identity politics to its logical extreme of reducing politics to a cultish collection of guilt mongering meetings.
But all that being said the modern anarchist movement is far healthier than the New Left was in its prime. Cultish behavior and beliefs are very much on the margin for the new and less ideological anarchists, and when they do occur they are often balanced by a much more profound tendency in the opposite direction- to accept very minor reforms as "evidence" of the reformability of present society and to refuse to consider a long term strategy for real reform. Issue hopping in other words.
Nowadays anarchism is pretty well "the only game in town" vis-a-vis more serious left wing opposition to the present economy and state. I see evidence of this in my failed attempt to gather news about upcoming anarchist events. I didn't even get to the west coast of Canada, and my snippets about other countries were sparse to say the least. Back in the early 70s the article that I posted earlier on this blog would have been the same length for all anarchist events for the upcoming year with a complete search. My search was definitely not complete. Anarchism has now grown beyond the capacity of any one individual to even keep track of its events. To me this is very encouraging news.

This is another entry is Molly's regular feature from her endless blog surfing amongst the blogs listed in our Links board. Pride of place this week goes to Eugene Plawiuk who has accidentally posted early on the Carnival of Anarchy roundtable on violence and anarchism. His post which includes references to his previous writings on the subject thoroughly discredit the ideological construction that anarchists who want to justify senseless violence wrap themselves in. Their whole reason for being is more adolescent acting out than political action. Go on over to see this post along with some others that are beginning to trickle in. Also on his other blog Le Revue Gauche, Eugene has a number of interesting new posts. One continues the references he made to Benjamin Tucker in his post at the Carnival of Anarchy, and is titled 'Are Anarchists Thugs'. Another is titled 'Jamestown:The Birth of Capitalism' and is a far ranging survey of the origins of the Jamestown colony, slavery and indentured labour, black history, the campaign against slavery and British imperial interests. Then there's another article entitled 'Why Managers Need Unions' that examines the recent court decision against Peter Nygard of Winnipeg. Not that Molly agrees with Eugene's desire to subsume "managers" under a "working class" heading, but Nygard is a "special case"- to say the least. Molly has been gathering material on him since he closed down one of his factories here in Winnipeg, and the character of the man is truly astounding. To my understanding his employee was awarded only $11,000 in unpaid overtime (I'll try and find court costs) while Nygard's legal expenses in dragging this matter all the way up to the 'servants' entrance' of the Supreme Court were undoubtably several multiples of this amount. Totally amazing ! Hopefully Molly's little article on Nygard will eventually see the light of day. Anyways, drop over to Le Revue Gauche to see megablogger Eugene in action.
Molly also dropped in on a very enlightening post about "schooling" at the Aucklands Burning blog from New Zealand. Part of it is a reprint from the Stanselen blog, but it also contains some interesting material and references about compulsory schooling. Meanwhile over at Kevin Carson's Mutualist Blog the author weighs in heavily (28 pages when I printed it out) on 'The Ethics of Labour Struggle: A Free Market Perspective'. The title is deceptive as most of the essay revolves around working class tactics and their effectiveness (or lack thereof). Carson takes on some of the pro-business apologists in American libertarianism, but a lot of his essay revolves around documenting the effectiveness of "network" means of struggle for workers. The post describes lessons from the IWW that show how workers can win the real value of their labour by various tactics that are totally ignored amongst the official union movement.
But there are a few more items to round off this tour. The Slackbastard blog from Australia has a wide selection of anti-fascist posts recently. Seems to be something SB is concentrating on. Larry Gambone's Porkupine Blog has an interesting entry titled 'Anarchists and the Ultra-Left:the Mine Canaries of the Revolution' arguing that the desirability of a revolutionary change can be gauged by its actions towards those "on the left" of the winning party. He also argues that not all revolutions "devour their children". Over at Social Design Notes there are a couple of interesting resources. One is a link to a collection of maps, essays and statistics on the number, significance and scope of US military bases around the world. The other is an examination of the US budget in 2006 and an expose of how much of American tax money is spent on military ventures. Rounding off this little tour the Solidarity Across Borders blogspot from Montreal has an interesting essay titled 'Why Do Ordinary People Commit Evil Deeds'. it is basically an update on the famous 'Stanford Prison Experiment' and shows how the desire to conform resonates to today with the atrocities in various US run prisons across the world, from Iraq to Guantanamo.
All of the blogs mentioned above, and many more, can be found in the Blogs section of our Links list.

Busy,busy,busy little bees those anarchists are. Here's a small selection of the "anarchist news of the week":
Out on the lone prairie where you don't bury Molly (Sorry I couldn't resist it ) the Calgary Anarchist Bookfair will be held at the Old Y Centre on April 27th,28th and 29th. There will be not just publishers present but other vendors (sweatshop free clothing, hula hoops ????, etc.), information tables, workshops and a variety of speakers. There will be a licensed Saturday night "prom" (costume optional). Sounds like fun. For more info go to . Meanwhile down in Montreal an anarchist art exhibit will be held from May 3rd to May 13th as part of the month long Festival of Anarchy in that city. The exhibit will be at the Esplanade Loft Project at 6750 Esplanade. The Festival of Anarchy will also feature a 'Night of Anarchist Poetry' on May 6th, a lecture by anarchist historian Abel Paz on May 16th, meetings of the Institute of Anarchist Studies, an Anarchist Theatre Festival on May 28th and 29th and, of course, the eigth annual Montreal Anarchist Bookfair on the weekend of May 18th to 20th. This is billed as "the largest anarchist bookfair in North America". To learn more about both the Bookfair and the Festival go to the Bookfair site.
Jumping the bus and heading towards the setting sun we motor into Toronto for the May 1st party and book launch of the Upping the Anti new issue(#4) at the Smiling Buddha, 961 College St, from 8:00 pm on. Upping the Anti is the magazine of the Autonomy and Solidarity group. There will also be a preparatory for the May 5th Day of Action for Status for All, organized by the Toronto branch of No One Is Illegal. If they let you across the border you can also attend the Chicago Anarchist Film Festival from April 27th to April 29th, held as part of the anarchist historical convention Finding Our Roots.
If the USA is not your cup of tea (Or your bottle of rotgut whiskey-Molly ) just head west on #1 to Winnipeg. Local anarchists here will be sponsoring several events as part of the month long Mayworks. On May 16th 'The Apostle of Anarchy' will be held at the Mondragon Cafe (91 Albert St.)celebrating the 100th anniversary of Emma Goldman's first visit to Winnipeg. Winnipeg actress/playwright Sharon Bajer will embody Emma. There will also be presentations by Paul Burrows and Patrick McGuire as well as music by the 1919 Insurrectionary Ochestra and The Magnificent Sevens. On May 19th there will be a music night, cosponsored by the Winnipeg IWW, at the Royal Albert Arms(48 Albert St.) entitled 'Rock for Rights', and the same venue will rock again on May 25th with radical hip hop by Break Bread Crew, Peanuts and Corn and The Hummers. This is also cosponsored by the IWW. You might want to visit Edmonton earlier though as the IWW Panel and Pub Night will be held at The Underdog (10425- 82nd Ave.). This will feature a short film on Starbucks Union organizing, along with a speaker from NYC. On May 4th the Edmonton Anarchist Bookfair Collective will hold a panel discussion on 'The Radical History of Mayday' at the Remedy Cafe (8631- 109th St.). For more details go to their website.
If you have the money for plane fare and if you can master the skill of being in two (or 5) places at once don't forget the upcoming I07 International Syndicalist Conference in Paris(A hell of a lot more pleasant place to be than Winnipeg-Molly ) from April 27th to May 1st. This will likely be the event of 2007 in the anarchist calender as the newly revived and growing anarcho-syndicalist movement flexes it muscles and plans for the struggles ahead. This event is sponsored by the French CNT-Vignoles. The schedule in English can be seen at this site.
Once more if you can be in two places at one time you might want to catch the events around Mayday in Poland. These run from April 28th to may 1st and involve a conference around 'Ideas and Actions:Workers' Resistance for the New Millennium', an action against temporary work and an anarchist Mayday march. These will be sponsored by the Union of Syndicalists, the Anarchist Federation-Praga and the 'Freedom,Equality and Solidarity' group. Further information can be found at .
Speaking of Poland, some anarchafeminist comrades from the Union of Syndicalists have launched a campaign against "permatemps" and Hewlett Packard. In Poland the use of "temporary employees" is particularly high, and employers have become very skilled at evading the laws regarding temporary employment (see the reference above). The Union of Syndicalists along with the anarchafeminist group Fundacja Mama has launched a petition campaign against Hewlett Packard over the case of one woman who was unjustly fired after being absent from work due to a miscarriage. As a temp worker she was not covered by Polish labour law, and medical emergencies don't qualify as "just cause" for being absent from work. The Polish comrades are gathering information for further actions against Hewlitt Packard on other cases. To more about this campaign or to help out see the above news item. To follow the actions of the Polish syndicalists in English go to the Workers' Initiative site.
Speaking of solidarity the revived Students for a Democratic Society in the USA have run into a couple of problems recently. The permit for a Mideast convention at the University of William and Mary was revoked on April 20th by University administrators. It's a little to late to send messages of protest as the conference was scheduled to begin on the 20th, but messages of disapproval can still be sent. See the above site for further details. Meanwhile out Ohio way two SDS students were arrested at a Dayton, Ohio military recruitment center protest and The Movement for a Democratic Society (veterans of the old SDS) is attempting to raise bail money for them. Go to the above link for details.
On the publications front the April 2007 edition of the Industrial Worker, the monthly newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World is now available in a downloadable pdf format at the IWW website. There is also a publicity campaign to ask the publishing outfit, Random House, to reprint the works of American anarchist author Paul Goodman as an "Essential Paul Goodman". This being sponsored by the people who are making a documentary film about Goodman. What they are asking is that you write Judy Sternlight expressing your agreement with the following letter by Marcus Raskin of the Institute for Policy Studies, Washington DC:
"Dear Ms Sternlight,
There is a tradition of greatness in American thought and letters which must be kept alive. It revolves around a moral impulse, a personal commitment to creativity and freedom, a vast knowledge of the past and present. And a strong nose for bullshit.
Paul Goodman was part of that tradition and in fact he was crucial in keeping it alive during his immensely productive life. Jason Epstein, his editor and publisher understood that impulse and was, as you know, his champion at your house. No doubt there will come a time when this 'American Master' will receive his due. But that is only part of the story. This present, say the 21st century, is in desperate need of insight and thought from those who struggled and led lives of nobility and brilliance. This, Ms Sternlight, is a dark time and Goodman in his work and life kept a candle lit which helped one generation find itself whether in letters, education,politics and gender freedom.
Goodman was a colleague of mine, dedicated a book to me and made his voice heard among many in the establishment and of course among students. There is no doubt that his voice and his straightforward writing would resonate with a new generation of young. This I know first hand as a professor at George Washington University, the cofounder of the Institute for Policy Studies, author and editor of some 20 books-two from Random House.
Further, there is an entire generation of people from the sixties who are in teaching positions at universities and schools who grew up escaping absurd lives because of his work. The republication of Paul's books makes enormous commercial sense besides being a literary necessity.
Marcus Raskin
Institute for Policy Studies, Washington DC
Then there's another downloadable pdf available from the Anarchist Federation of Britain. It's their latest issue (#93) of their bulletin 'Resistanace', and it has articles on the evictions at Ungdomshutet in Denmark, Copwatch articles, stories on KFC workers organizing in Paris and New Zealand, identity checks, unofficial industrial actions, identity cards, tax money used for arms purchases and much more. Go to the site about to view or download. Finally, there's an interesting new project called 'The Josiah Warren Project' which aims to organize and publish the works of the American individualist anarchist Josiah Warren. Go to Crispin Sartwell's website for more info and to view the wealth of other resources available there.
As a last word for the further future a collection of American anarchist groups are planning a continental gathering of anarchists at the upcoming US Social Forum to be held in Atlanta, Georgia from June 27th to July 1st. The sponsors are not from the "anarcho-crazy" wing of our movement. If your group is interested please contact these people at .
More later,

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tomorrow, April 22nd, is the "official" Earth Day in the USA and Canada. The late US Senator John McConnell first called for an international Earth Day at an UNESCO meeting in 1969, the same year as he designed the 'Earth Flag' pictured to the left. The original idea was that Earth Day was to be held on the Vernal Equinox (either March 21st or 22nd). The first Earth Day was held in San Francisco on March 21st, 1970, and on February 26th, 1971 then Secretary General of the UN, U Thant, signed a proclamation naming the Equinox as the official UN recognized Earth Day. Today this event is celebrated in over 175 countries. The official site for the international Earth Day is at the Earth Day Network.
In the USA there was a move to change the date of Earth Day to April 22nd. The main force behind this was another US Senator Gaylord Nelson. While the world marks Earth Day by ringing the peace bell in March Canada and the USA celebrate this event of concern for the environment in April. This shift is not unlike the way that International Labour Day has shifted from May 1st to September in these countries. Needless to say the change has provoked more than a little criticism. For some more polemical views go to the International Earth Day site.
A lot of the urge to move Earth Day from its more appropriate time came from a desire to have it coincide more closely with the American Arbor Day. See this for a history of this US holiday. April 22nd is the birthday of J. Sterling Morton, the Nebraskan founder of this holiday (in 1872). Today the holiday is usually observed on the last Friday of April in most states, but a number of states have set dates that are more consistent with the best time for tree planting, from January in the south to May in the far north.
The actual motivation of changing the date of Earth Day is pretty obvious ie to "Americanize" the holiday, but insanity springs eternal, especially in the USA. This patriotic move was criticized by some as a "commie plot". The "proof"...April 22nd, 1970 was the hundredth birthday of Lenin. The Daughters of the American Revolution were quoted as saying "Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them". Why those dirty commies ! How sneaky and vile. This legend persists to this day in some of the wackier right wing quarters. The Young Republicans had a rejoiner to this plot. Their official Earth Day 2000 slogan was "Earth First ! We'll log Earth first, other planets later".
To return from the further reaches of the imagination- Earth Day today is still the occasion for demonstrations expressing concern about the environment, but it has become increasingly commercialized over the years, losing a lot of its original radical content. In the USA there is an official government site, that provides an entry to the planned events of tomorrow. Here in Canada further information can be found at the Earth Day Canada site. Tree planting are a common event here in Canada as well, imitating the American Arbor Day.
Locally the annual Walk for Mother Earth will begin at 1:00 pm at the Winnipeg City Hall. After an hour of yap yap by speakers the walk to the forks will begin at 2:00 pm where a water ceremony will be held by Garry Raven in the Odena Circle, followed by a free lunch. Later in the day, beginning at 5:00 pm, an Earth Day celebration and fund raiser for the Just Community Market and the Organic Food Council of Manitoba. It will take place at the Pyramid Cabaret at 176 Fort St. The Just Community Market is a marketing co-operative for locally produced food and other goods. For more information or to purchase tickets go to .