Friday, March 30, 2007

To say the least Molly has been following the continuing news around the Menu Foods recall closely. The latest statement by the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has perhaps muddied the waters rather than clarified them. This statement has implicated the chemical melamine as the causative agent. For another explanation of what melamine is see the Wisegeek site. Molly's trouble from reading the sources above, and their original sources, is that melamine simply doesn't appear to be that toxic of a chemical. The Wikipedia site (I must admit not the be all and end all of accuracy) says that melamine is not known to be toxic to humans but that large amounts may lead to kidney stones and reproductive failure. The FDA report posted today (and also in their televised press release) plainly states that they are not certain that melamine is the causative agent. The situation has begun to resemble an "argument between laboratories" (something that Molly has been familiar with in the past) as the Cornell University Amimal Health Diagnostic Center has issued a press release more or less defending their original findings of aminopterin as the agent implicated. Molly has already reported on these sources in previous blogs her.
MEANWHILE, the Pet Connection site has upgraded their data base of suspicious deaths to 2,600 entries, up from what Molly previously reported two days ago. Also the Hill's Corporation has announced the first recall of a dry product, their Feline DM Formulation. To her great relief Molly sells none of the above product. To her great relief Molly sells none of this product, but she has gone to the extent of phoning clients who purchase the Royal Canin product from her to advise them to withhold feeding their pets same until the situation is clarified. She has also sent an email to the Royal Canin corporation requesting further clarification of their recent press release stating that their foods are NOT affected by the recall. What Molly wishes to see clarified to HER satisfaction is NOT that they "don't use the same supplier" but that they DON'T import ANY wheat gluten from China. At all, at all at all !!!!!! Molly's own cats eat the Royal Canin Urinary SO diet dry with no ill effects, but she cannot in good conscience sell diabetic foods to clients until the matter of the Hills recall is clarified.
As a side note Molly has found that Royal Canin and VMD/Medi-Cal are actually the same thing, being owned by the same corporate entities. THIS was news to me, a paranoiac about corporate control. Without the concentration of ownership and "outsourcing" in our wonderful "global economy" this sort of thing would be far more localized than what this item has become. One more item in the argument against "globalization", and in favour of the sort of local economy that sensible anarchists advocate. But that is politics...
For now Molly will continue to report news as it develops on this matter and hopefully clarify things for readers. She urges you to consult the original sources mentioned above and in previous posts on this blog for up-to-the-date news rather than depend upon the mass media.

Here's a "full house" of solidarity requests from a number of different people.
First, from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, whose work Molly has often featured on this blog comes a request for donations to help them fly representatives to Mexico to meet with the Frente Popular Francisco Villa, a grassroots organization that dates from 1968 in Mexico and which mobilizes poor people to fight against neo-liberalism in that country. The FPFV has invited OCAP to their quadrennial convention, and OCAP hopes to raise funds to send a couple of delegates. Housing and food will be provided by the FPFV, but air fair is estimated at about $1,000 for two people. OCAP is looking for donations for this travel which will hopefully lead to joint campaigns and other coordinated action. Consult the website or write cheques to OCAP at:
10 Britain Street
Toronto, ON
M5V 1R6
Second, the Labour Start online solidarity site, whose efforts have also been featured previously on this blog has launched a new campaign to further pressure Wal-Mart to urge their suppliers at the Chong Won factory in the Philippines to not just reinstate fired workers (international pressure has already achieved this) but also for the management of that factory to negotiate in good faith with the union representing employees at that plant. This campaign has also been mentioned previously on this blog. To join the latest effort at pressuring Wal-Mart go to
Speaking of Wal-Mart, the WakeUp WalMart site has launched a new campaign to pressure the US Congress to investigate what they call the "Wal-Mart spy scandal". Wal-Mart has hired ex-employees of the CIA, the FBI and the Justice Department to spy on efforts to both unionize Wal-Mart and to make the company more accountable to communities and the general public. Wal-Mart calls their spy team the 'Threat Research and Analysis Group' . This "group" has already intruded on the privacy of numerous people, Wal-mart employees and otherwise, and the threat of this sort of private spy agency is equal to that of the growth of private armies of mercenaries in the employ of both the US government and private US business. To see what this is all about and join the campaign against it go to . Defend your freedom while there is still time.
Finally, from the Union Voice site comes two more appeals. One is from students at the University of Southern California who have discovered that their "licensed apparel" is manufactured in sweatshops. They are asking for emails to demand that the President of the USC adhere to the Designated Suppliers Program that they have constructed to ensure that the University clothes are produced by free labour that can earn a living wage. To join this campaign go to . The Union Voice people also have another campaign demanding that American family Insurance pressure its contractor CleanPower to allow the janitors that it employs to form a union in the state of Wisconsin. To add your voice to this campaign go to .
Molly Note: When I try to type the links above for Union Voice the final "?" is left out of the link. If the links don't transfer you from this blog try typing the link in a search engine with the "?" added.
Further Molly Note: Some may question the "efficacy" of the sort of online campaigns listed above. In actual fact organizations like Labour Start have more than once listed their "successes" on their websites. Such campaigns sometimes win and sometimes lose. In this they are different from "militant" set piece confrontations such as the necromancy often tried to revive the moldering corpse of the "Black Block". This actions ALWAYS lose. They NEVER accomplish any goal beyond the personal psychology of the participants. Even if the success of online campaigns was only "rarely" it would be better than "never". Of course, I know that the definition of "success" used by ideologues who try and revive these failed tactics is quite different from that used by ordinary people and has nothing whatsoever to do with actually helping people to gain a better life. That's their goal. Molly has other goals, and she says that the tactics used by organizations such as those listed above at least sometimes win.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Molly recently had another tongue biting incident with a true believer in homeopathy. For those unaware of what this is it is branch of quack medicine formulated by an otherwise undistinguished German physician, Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (1755- 1843). The Wikipedia encyclopedia has an extensive article on this matter, and the item Homeowatch in our Scientific Links section does a full and thorough job of debunking the whole idea. For the mercifully ignorant "homeopathy" is the bizarre idea that curing (or preventing) disease can be done by application of what is actually nothing more than extremely diluted solutions of some substance that would cause similar symptoms of the disease. The dilutions are so extreme that rarely does ANY molecule of the supposed agent appear in the so-called medicine. The idea is that some mystical "potency" of the substance is enhanced by vigorous shaking with each dilution. Any resemblance to the convulsions of the sect known as "Shakers" are, of course, unknown to the believers. Also, why the thousands of other molecules contained in what is actually less than perfect distilled water are not also "potentated" is a question best not raised as the belief in such things is an emotional one, not a rational one.
All that being said, an idea fell on Molly's head as she went back to base. This often happens, and Molly has quite a few bumps on her head as a result. What is this stuff ? I know it is part and parcel of an "identity package" here in North America. It isn't that a person (outside of a few immigrants from Europe- most of them quite old) will believe in homeopathy and not believe in say herbalism, chiropractic, spiritual healing (as long as it's properly New Age and not Fundamentalist), and any number of other bizarre beliefs that have one thing in common- they are called "alternative" because there is no proof whatsoever that they work. More rational people may withhold judgement on say, acupuncture, but know that most of the other things are complete nonsense- and certainly not accept the traditional explanation for acupuncture as anything worth paying attention to. No, there are exceptions (such as where children inherit the beliefs of their parents), but almost all believers in things such as homeopathy here buy not just one belief but a whole belief package, one that comes with some rather bizarre "options" if looked at across cultures. Sorta like a non-functioning car with a myriad of doodads whose only function is to proclaim status.
Yup, status !!!! The whole idea is to proclaim some sort of "rebel stance" which supposedly says, "look how smart I am" without ever really having to take any risks (social risks at least) and without ever actually having to critically think. The latter can be a rather painful and laborious process, and a ready made identity that can be purchased as "the whole pig" is a much more convenient option for the slothful. In other parts of the world such as Europe and India homeopathy doesn't have this "rebel advertising slogan" attached to it, and believers there are more likely to be socially conservative than otherwise.
Not here, however. Here it is very much of a status symbol that is part of the visible badges of class identity in North America. It is, in fact, Holy Water, but the Holy Water of mainly one class and those who aspire to become part of it. Outside of the immigrants it is the Holy Water of that part of the ruling class whose product is social control rather than a real good or service, that part of the working class whose product is the same (and who hope one day to reach the level of the rulers-management) and that part of the "entertainment industry"(from musicians, through craftspeople to mindworms-"councillors") who produce material for such.
Not that this is the only type of Holy Water afoot in the world. Wikipedia has an interesting, if very much incomplete article on the subject. Some of its lacunae can be filled in from the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the same subject. Some of the gaps,such as the fact that many other religions other than Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, Muslims and Sikhs have a version of holy water, have to be searched down elsewhere.
In North America where religious beliefs quite often follow class lines there is a whole industry of Holy Water for Sale in the Evangelical and Fundamentalist milieu. Any resemblance to the pre-Reformation sale of indulgences is as conveniently ignored as threatening facts are ignored by New Age devotees of homeopathy. In Europe, homeopathy is pretty much a regular upper class belief- as the Royal Family demonstrates, and, as I said, it isn't part of a commodity of a "false rebel identity". Because Catholicism(or Orthodoxy and Islam) has evolved as the common religion of whole cultures the belief in the magical properties of properly manipulated water crosses classes. In such religious cultures one may also discover far more sophisticated justifications for the belief than are available to either American Evangelicals or American believers in the "New Age". Not unexpected given the amount of human effort put in over the centuries in apologetics.
Not that the human tendency to "buy the whole pig instead of select cuts" isn't present in other areas of human life such as say politics. Molly has had decades of watching ridiculous and often wildly contradictory "fads" sweep through leftism, fads that are adopted more from trying to appear acceptable to ones confreres than from anything like the slightest particle of thought. The same thing occurs on the conservative side of the political spectrum. What North American New Ageism has over these and other examples (such as traditional religious belief and its communities) is the wildly "spectacular" (in the situationist sense) and commercial nature of its beliefs. The belief in say "healing crystals" and homeopathy is much more obviously purely commercial hucksterism than say "Cuba is a great country" (the left) or "immigrants are taking over the country" (the right). It also has a much more obvious hidden commodity- STATUS- than most political or religious beliefs.
But anyways, Molly has managed to escape falling completely into one of her obsessed trivia hunts over this matter. So I'll leave it at that except for the following gems I found while looking up trivia on this matter:
1)The first is a "found joke". It's been reported that the Vatican has plans to freeze Holy Water and market it- under the name brand of "Popesicles".
2)Another news item is from a satirical Northern Irish publication called 'The Portadown News'. One of their "news" items has the headline 'Vatican Sends Holy Water Cannon' from "our security correspondent, Roger Base", It reads:
"Security sources have welcomed the arrival of a Holy Water Cannon from the Vatican City. "Spraying holy Water on Orangemen is pretty much like spraying ordinary water on them, admitted RUC officer Bill Mason yesterday. "But it will really annoy them, and that's the main thing.""
3)From a truly bizarre site labelled Domestic-Church .Com comes the following instructions for constructing your own Holy Water Sprinkler for home use. They say,
"Every home should have a fount for Holy Water by the front door, so the family can bless themselves as they enter and leave the house....Holy Water can also be used at evening prayers to bless the children before they head off to bed. The father, in his priestly office as head of the family(as Christ is the Head of the Church), should bless his children every day....Holy water is also useful to bless your new house, your new car, the bedroom of the latest child having nightmares, your Advent wreath, Christmas tree, Easter feast and every other family celebration and devotion (also it removes stains better than Spin N' Span- Molly). Blessed Holy Water should be available at the back of your church....The item goes on to describe how to construct what looks like a S&M tool from any 6" stick. The relevant part of the instructions is as follows:
Any member of your family old enough to handle a pocket knife can make one. The most important thing to remember when using a knife is to cut away from yourself. Never point the blade towards your hand or body"
Molly really !!!! thinks that anyone with the desire to make such a thing needs more than a little more instruction on the handling of sharp pointy instruments. She actually really wonders if such people should be trusted with anything more dangerous than a spoon.
4)In the same vein, from an outfit called Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, comes the offer to purchase genuine Holy Water Founts. They range from $198.00 for the economy model to $720 for the deluxe version. Be the first kid on your block to own one. Sprinkle the Protestant neighbours and watch them burst into flame. This site is also bizarre, but it is useful because it connects to a cult of modern heresy hunters called Our Lady's Warriors. These frustrated Dominicans have gone to the trouble of preparing a "hit list" of who's who amongst the Catholic Left. They hate them, of course, and would gladly do them harm if they could, but its actually a great list for those interested in seeing what's what on the catholic left. If you appear here you obviously have at least something going for you.
5)Finally, another little New Agey quote from a site selling something called Kabbalah Water. Molly has heard rumours that Kabbalah is a new and trendy thing amongst the famous and mindless. Read the following. If you can't see that it is obvious gobbledygook then maybe you also believe in homeopathy;
"The Kabbalistic blessings and meditations that are used to create Kabbalah water, for example, bring about elegant and balanced crystalline structures in water, while negative consciousness has the opposite effect. This is hugely important. In a very literal way, Kabbalah Water is life's original blueprint information brought into the modern world.
Just as it did at the first moment of Creation, the growth of every living organism should follow the blueprint. All the metabolic and regulatory processes of life require information- and because of its unique crystalline structure and fractal design, Kabbalah Water is an excellent information transmitter. Positive, health-giving information is defined by symmetry and high energy while low energy and entropy-like static in TV or radio reception- characterize muddled information. Therefore the condition of the water we take into our bodies determines the quality of the information being transmitted to our immune system, digestive system and even to every atom of our bodies."
Cough, cough, cough says Molly. That water is pretty hard to swallow. molly would suggest a few more misunderstood buzzwords to make this snake oil even more appealing to the poorly educated gullible. The ever-present "holistic" is missing as is "holographic","channeling" "quantum" and "synergistic". In her role as ad consultant Molly advises that these words could be placed anywhere in the above, and the whole thing would say just about as little as it says now. But it would look even better as part of the status-package. The relation of this New Age effort bears about as little resemblance to traditional Jewish mysticism as any of the fashionable trash being marketed bears to any of the religious traditions from across the world being looted for profit. But the above was a particularly amusing effort.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

As of March 28th the Pet Connection site has now reported 2,300 cases reported to their data base, a climb from 1,459 on March 24th when Molly last reported. There a a few other items to report. The Animal Medical Center of New York has posted a pdf printout for veterinarians as to the diagnosis of 'Food Related Acute Renal Failure'. The American Veterinary Medical Association has also established a page of resources pertaining to this recall, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has issued a press release advising caution as to the presently "presumed cause" of the problem ie aminopterin. The Aspca notes that the connection has not been definitely proven, and that other effects of aminopterin such as intestinal damage and leukopenia have yet to be reported in the case histories.
Also, if you are interested in previous pet food recalls in the USA the FDA site provides a list of them at . A rather interesting selection.
Finally, a little quote from the Pet connection site:
"But there are a couple of other reasons why even before the recall, we at Pet Connection didn't recommend foods, and in hindsight, one of those looks pretty sensible. We have absolutely no way of checking out any company's claim regarding any (!!!! Molly) food."
Molly has always been aware of the presence of "relabelling" in the pet food industry, of how many types of pet food actually come from "the same vat" and differ only by labels, but until this recall she was unaware of the full extent of the practice. Also, as a long term opponent of the "food cultism" rampant in North American society (the delusion that one can make a significant difference in anyone's health-animal or human- by going beyond simple common sense prescriptions that often boil down to "eat less") she has had more than a little scepticism about some pet food claims, particularly when cult words such as "natural" are attached to them. What Molly was unaware of before this event was the way that some so-called "premium" line such as Iams, Eukenuba and Nutro were actually little different from the recycled tires and ground glass foods peddled at Wal-Mart. Live and learn I guess. Once more this emphasizes my long term suspicion that there is no such thing as a "better" dog or cat food, just as no cult diet works with humans. My opinion as to "don't ever switch if nothing is going wrong" is now graven in stone.

The Jesus Radicals (see also our links section)describe themselves as aspiring "to be a resource for those who believe that the Christian Gospel is primarily a message of love and peace, and that militarism, capitalism and the state are idols that stand in stark contrast to the rejection of power by Jesus in favour of a personalist way". Since their founding about two years ago they have spread their "good word" and linked many previously isolated Christian radicals through their website and conferences. They plan to hold a summer conference this year at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa on August 10th and 11th. Planned workshops include 'Anarchism and Christianity:A Primer', 'Contemporary Anarchisms', 'Stories of Resistance in a Time of Empire', 'Peace With Neighbours', 'Peace With Enemies', 'Dealing With Division', Practical Ecology: Gardening and Composting 101', 'The Problem With Prisons' and 'Peace With Animals: Implications of factory Farming'. Their will also be an open forum and skill sharing sessions open to the input of participants as well as some uniquely Christian aspects of the event such as a foot washing service and dinner as 'Breaking bread Together'. To find out more about this event go to the Jesus radicals site.
For information on "personalism", the ideological viewpoint that informs much of these Christian radicals go to the Wikipedia article on this subject or to 'Personalism a Brief Account' for a more bibliographically complete overview. The Wikipedia article allows better access to personalities than the second mentioned one. Browse through these sources and you'll end up knowing much more than Molly whose knowledge of personalism is pretty well restricted to the Catholic tradition.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The planet Saturn is presently making one of its retrograde motions and passing from the constellation of Leo westward to the faint constellation of Cancer. It previously passed to Leo from cancer last fall in Sept and Oct.. Looking down the alley from her city location Molly cannot distinguish any of the stars of Cancer, but she can easily make out most of the stars of Leo and at least Castor, Pollux, Tejat and Alhena in Gemini (the constellation immediately to the west of Cancer). Saturn is about 15 degrees to the west of Algiebra(the second star in the "hook" of Leo, and a bit further towards the zenith than the bright star Regulus (the beginning of the "hook"). Viewing is a bit restricted because of the light of the first quarter Moon. Tonight, at about 11:00 pm Central Standard Time, Leo and Saturn are a bit to the east of due south. Orion has begun to advance towards the horizon in the southwest. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is almost due south.
For further information on the planet Saturn go to the Wikipedia article and the Nine Planets site. The two sites complement each other.
A little interesting Saturn factoid. The actual length of a Saturnian day is uncertain. The gaseous nature of the planet leaves no firm "handle" to measure the period of rotation. Astronomers have relied on radio measurements of the planet's magnetic field to make their estimates, but recent findings have shown that geyser activity on the small Saturnian moon Encaledus inhibits the rotation of the planet's magnetic field to a speed less than that of the actual rotation. The most recent measurements place Saturn's "day" as about 10 hours and 47 minutes. Interestingly enough comparative measurements have shown that this is about 6 to 8 minutes longer than the time Saturn took to rotate in the 1980s when the first measurements were taken.
Anyways, more on Saturn, Leo and the other constellations mentioned later.

The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) has launched another appeal on behalf of another poor person in the land of milk and money, Toronto. Khalton Mohammed is a single mother of five children in TO. Her and her children have been forced to live on the sub-poverty payments that the city of Toronto provides. Ontario provincial regulations permit the City to give 'Community Start-Up' payments in situations such as Ms Mohammed finds herself where a family lacks basic household items, in this case beds and bedding. The City has opted to send people such as Ms Mohammed to private charity and give no direct assistance. When she went to the Sleep Country Canada outlet they offered her less than the required number of beds. What was offered was dirty and dusty (her children have asthma !), and she was expected to cover the costs of transport. In this case the company gets a tax deduction for a "charitable donation" of stock which is unsaleable, the city shuffles the buck and everyone is happy except for the mother and her children.
OCAP wishes people to put pressure on the "progressive" faction at City Hall who pass resolutions calling on the provincial government to raise welfare rates and "ask" the city's Social Services staff to provide the special dietary allowances that OCAP has fought so hard for. Please go to the OCAP site for more details as to who to email, fax or phone and what more you can do to help this family. Click on the OCAP link here or above to be transferred. Or go to our Links section.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Molly is in the middle of another "hit blitz" vis-a-vis her posts on the Menu Foods recall issue. What Molly has tried to do in this matter is to be as objective as possible and give the most appropriate references for both the public and her veterinary colleagues. My objectivity doesn't detract from my "anarchist" views because I believe that "the truth" is an anarchist value, and that ANY political view has to be congruent with reality or it is of no value. Molly is critical of the centralization of the pet food industry, just as she is critical of any other centralization. She points out the problems of "globalization" in that the imports of gluten from across the world affects pets (and perhaps humans) here and across the world, and she points out the irrationalities of a market based system for commodities such as wheat that leads to such imports. She further points out the irrationality of some pseudo-oppositions such as health food cultism, which have fed into the present problem- and may be in the news in the near future.
All this is from a "scientific" point of view which is nothing more than amplified common sense. I take the "scientific" point of view because it says that one should test statements in terms of evidence and not because one likes the rhetoric behind it or because "the enemy" says something else. Everything should be viewed in the cold light of sobriety without the usual emotional buzzwords associated with politics. This is, of course, threatening to those who want to construct grand political theories such as the now almost dead Marxists wanted to. It is not , however, threatening to anarchists who recognize the "provisional" nature of knowledge and who, unlike post-modernists and other ideologues, are willing to accept reality as a test of their theories.
Molly accepts these tests. She refers people to government agencies even though she opposes government because they are the best sources of information in the here and now. Molly knows that pretty well all "anarchist" sites that discuss science are unreliable to the point of total lies, mostly because they oppose an abstract concept of "science" that is pretty well an imaginary construction of ageing Maoists in the academy - without any connection to science as it is actually done. Primitivism is nothing more than "consistent Maoism", and their "utopia" is the same utopia as that of the Kymer Rouge. This, of course, is not all of anarchism, and many younger people have come forward to oppose this ideological mindset. Whether it be the people who want to make anarchism congruent with real evolutionary biology or those who see the potential in the technology of communication, the struggle is the same. The struggle is to save the idea of freedom from those who would restrict it to a religious cultism demanding the sacrifice of "technique".
Molly's present "hit flurry" has the value of introducing people who are concerned about their pet foods to the ideas of anarchism, just as her last "hit flurry" about the lunar eclipse had the same function. But perhaps even more importantly this blog can act to introduce anarchists to the ideas- and more importantly the state of mind that lies behind modern science. Anarchists are often just not "scientifically illiterate" but actually predisposed by some people's propaganda to remain in a state of ignorance. This blog hopes to give its little contribution to correcting this problem, if in no other way than to show how "looking up" is a more emotionally satisfying state than seeing your low opinions confirmed in a cult. The sky is more attractive than your belly button.

On March 21st, the International day Against Racism (an anniversary that Molly missed through her own fault) fascists from the NOP (Polish National Rebirth an arm of the "Third Positionists" who attempt to recruit anarchists for fascism gathered for a demonstration for a "white Poland" and against immigration in Wroclaw,Poland. Their demonstration of about 100 people was opposed by about 300 anarchists and anti-fascists. The response of the police was to ignore the fascists and surround the anarchists, eventually leading to the arrest of two people. One of these, who was on crutches (very easy to catch I guess-Molly) were charged with "assaulting an officer". Pretty pitiful "assault" in Molly's opinion. The comrades were tried within 24 hours and sentenced to 2 years probation and ordered to pay a fine of 150 zlotnyies to a fund for the widows of policemen. Human rights groups (not anarchist) on the scene were scandalized by the fact that the police ignored the fascists and concentrated on attacks on the anarchists, even though fascist demonstrations are theoretically outlawed in Poland. For more news on this and other matters Polish please consult our Links section, especially the site recently added to our Links.

Molly forgot a few things in her last post (too much catnip on a Saturday night). One that should be added to the 'Best of the Blogs' section is a repost on Pierre Ducasse's blog Ecodema titled 'Workplace Representation for All is a Human Right'. this is a reprint from a previous article by Roy J. Adams. Molly's flirtation with social democracy is over 30 years in the past when she was perhaps the most consistent writer for The Commonwealth, the Saskatchewan NDP paper. Her present anarchism is little different from what she believed then EXCEPT that she believes that the state cannot create the conditions for democracy, freedom, equality, etc.. What she presently believes is that the role of the state is to "stand aside" and create the "playing field" for truly popular initiatives. Molly sees the need for a "flanking action" within the parliamentary system, but she knows that this action is not anything related to the creation of real socialism. It can merely "clear the field". This is where Molly disagrees with her comrade, Larry Gambone, about events in Venezuela. The creation of real "peoples' power" in that location essentially depends upon either the stupidity or the inefficiency of the new managerial ruling class represented by Chavez vis-a-vis intelligence and efficiency on the part of the popular movements. Also even more importantly proper scepticism as to the new rulers. I simply don't see any of that there in any great manifestation. It will be there in 10 or 20 years but not now.
But back to Canada in 2007. One of our local MPs, Pat Martin, has expressed the opinion that the NDP is in some sort of "crisis" (I don't know if I agree with him because Green Party "votes" in opinion polls are very much of a "blip"), and that it should respond with "imaginative policy" (here I do agree with him, and I can think of no better source than the section of the party represented by Pierre Ducasse.). Howzabout the word "socialism" actually comes to mean something once more rather than a "fuzzword" for conservative commentators ?
Oh yes, one more thing "blogish" (not exactly but I want to be brief), I'd like to draw people's attention to a recent article on the Anarckismo site. It's titled "Fundamentalism, Nationalism and Militarism in Turkey". It's produced by some of our Turkish anarchist comrades, and it gives a corrective viewpoint to the tendency of too many anarchists to equate Third World nationalism with anything libertarian. Have a look.

Molly has seen a few items in the last little while that deserve her old title "Best of the Blogs". All of these can be accessed from her Links section to the left. These include Kevin Carson's latest offering at the Mutualist Blogspot ie 'Economic Calculation in the Cooperative Commonwealth', a rather heavy going study on an alternative form of economics, Larry Gambone's offering on the Porkupine Blog from anarchists who are more "pro-Chavez" than El Libertario (it should be noted that this site, in Spanish, has more than a few items from the struggle of indigenous people against Chavezista "progress" and these anarchists will be as likely to be crushed as the native peoples will be in the "socialist march to progress" of the developing Chavez dictatorship if the present trend continues. Molly has considerably less faith in South American populism than Larry does) and also a report on the anti-election campaign in Quebec from Shagya's Blog. this is a campaign carried out by the Quebec section of NEFAC and the Student Community Anarchist Network(SCAN) against next Monday's (March 26th) Quebec provincial election. Finally, from the Solidarity Across Borders site from Montreal is a news report about how the provincial government in Quebec is requiring Muslim women voters to "show their face" while voting in the election. More insulting than a fingerprint !
Molly has also added The Liberator Reloaded to her list of Blogs in her links section along with 'Agorist Class Theory' , by the same author, under the texts section. Not that I agree with everything he says, but the important point is that there are many alternatives to the "class analysis" taught in "Stalinism 101 for Dummies" by so many ageing New Left professors in so many universities in North America. May they all achieve retirement soon so new ideas can come in.
Finally, a little comment on blog layout. When Molly goes blog-surfing she often comes across blogs that are laid on with white writing on a black background. With rare excepts these are usually totally unreadable unless you highlight the text. Perhaps some people should consider the readability of what they present. It doesn't come up in other places like it does when you type it.

Two solidarity requests have come in from the Philippines. The first is from the Union Voice organization and concerns workers at the Chong Won Fashion Inc plant where workers are presently in the 6th month of a strike which has been marked by violent attacks on the part of the police. Union Voice is calling upon people to protest the continued intransigence of management, the obliviousness of Wal-Mart who buy the products, and the use of police as goons in the service of the company on the part of the Philippine government. to join this campaign go to
Also from the Philippines, an Info-Shop has opened in Davos City, a community in greater Manila. The "As a Whole Family" Infoshop claims to be the only infoshop now operating in the Philippines, and they are looking for donations, both financial and to their library. to get in contact with them via the following ways:
phone # 09-10-784-3814
Donations can be made to "As a Whole: Alternative Culture, Art Resource Center"
#386 Makiling St. (Lower)
Bangkai, Davao City
Philippines, 8000

The latest news from the American Food and Drug Administration, and scientists at the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center, along with the New York State Food Laboratory, is that the toxic component in the pet foods from Menu Foods that have killed several animals in the USA and Canada is a compound known as aminopterin. So far the deaths of 15 cats and two dogs have been confirmed by the company. Readers interested in following the continuing story should consult the FDA and Diagnostic Center websites rather than depending solely on the mass media. The FDA site contains statements from Nestle Purina, Hill's Pet Nutrition and P&G Pet Care (owners of the Iams and Eukanuba lines). P&G stands for Procter and Gamble. Amazing how integrated a lot of this stuff is. The Diagnostic Center site contains recommendations for both the pet owning public and the veterinary community. In the case of the former it tells you what to look out for as well as a general overview of renal failure. For veterinarians the Cornell site gives advise on diagnostic procedures. Other good places to follow the developing story include the Animal Medical Center of NYC, and the Pet Connection unofficial pet death registry . Both these sites give a story that says that the number of cat and dog deaths is much higher than has been so far admitted by the company. The latter lists 1,459 possible cases at the time Molly visited their website. The numbers climb by the hour.
Aminopterin is a 4-amino analog of folic acid and a synthetic derivative of the natural product pterin. It inhibits the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase by competing with folate for the binding site blocking tetrahydrofolate synthesis. by doing this it interferes with DNA, RNA and protein synthesis. At one time aminopterin was used as an abortifactant and later as a chemotherapy agent in cancer treatment. The first use went out of favour because of an association with birth defects such as neural tube defects. In chemotherapy its use was replaced by that of methotrexate, less potent but also less toxic. The LD 50 of aminopterin in rats is 2.5 mg/kg. Aminopterin is only used as a research drug in North America today where it is being re-investigated for use in leukemia. It is, however, used as a rodenticide (rat poison) in other countries such as China. Most information on treatment of aminopterin ingestion is rather old as the drug hasn't been in common use in Canada or the USA for some time. First aid recommendations include administration of activated charcoal or saline cathartic. Sorbitol has also been suggested to promote excretion. The use of 30 mg of folate daily(in rats- obviously higher doses for other animals) has been suggested as an antidote for recent aminopterin ingestion. All of this is probably futile where renal failure has already occurred.
The probable source of the contamination, according to the latest news, is wheat gluten imported from China. This product is made by washing dough made with wheat flour with water until the starch is rinsed away. The product was originally developed in China where it is known as "seitan" (pronounced SAY-tahn). It is an alternative to soy products such as tofu (ICCCH- Molly) because of its texture which more closely resembles that of meat. Its original use was as a meat substitute for Chinese vegetarians such as some Buddhists. The texture is probably why it was initially considered as an additive in pet foods. For its use in pet foods Molly advises that the reader consult the Royal Canin article on the matter at . Gluten is actually a highly digestible source of protein even for animals such as cats. Where the use of this product has previously been associated with problems in animals it has generally been in association with Irish Setters who have an intolerance (NOT allergy !!) to gliadin found in wheat, barley, oats, etc.. This is somewhat similar to celiac sprue in humans. (Molly note: Molly has occasionally come across animals who seem to have a similar problem, though I must admit that they have never been fully diagnosed, ie a "gluten intolerance". They are very occasional, never Irish setters-Molly sees very few of those- and often require the owners "cooking for the pet". Quite OK if you like the cat or dog enough and have the time. Some people do indeed love their pets enough). Wheat gluten is actually an excellent source, perhaps the best, of the amino acid glutamine.
Gluten is actually very much underproduced in North America - for those who are wondering why a wheat product is being imported from China. There are presently only three major US producers of gluten, MGP Ingredients of Kansas, Manildra, also of Kansas, and Archer Daniels of Illinois. Over 50% of the US supply of gluten is actually imported, some from China but also some quantities from the EU. MGP Ingredients has stated that they have done business with Menu Foods in the past, but that it has been 18 months since they made any shipments as they have curtailed production in the last two years due to inability to compete with cheaper imports. The company has also moved increasingly into the biofuels industry in the recent past.
MOLLY ASIDE: The ethanol industry has been implicated in a number of problems recently of which the rising cost of basic foodstuffs in Mexico and other Central American countries is the most prominent. There is considerable dispute about whether ethanol production is energy efficient without government subsidy, let alone whether it is "carbon efficient". The general principle would be, in Molly's opinion, that government subsidies that distort the market should be withheld if at all possible and that the most desirable form of ethanol production would be localized and small scale. Several initiatives are underway here in Manitoba around the latter matter. The growth of "biofuels" in popularity has raised commodity prices considerably in the past few years, something that can easily be applauded from a farming perspective but may have other, wider implications. The pet food problem may be one of them, though it pales in importance to the cost of corn in Mexico where corn is the food of the poor. While sugar cane is the primary feedstock in Brazil's highly successful biofuels initiative corn is the basic ingredient of the American program. What this means in terms of prices can be seen from what Molly has gleaned from a comparison of commodity prices at one brokerage firm here in Canada. The price of corn has risen from a final average in 2004/2005 of 101.73 (prices in Can $ per tonne) to the present price of 183.13 as of March 16th, 2007. Because of this effect the price of feed wheat has risen in tandem from 103.09 to 181.00 as acreage is diverted to corn production in the USA. The price of human consumption grade wheat such as # 1 of various varieties has risen nowhere near as dramatically, and prices of such have been such that Chinese competition can overtake the American and Canadian supplies for speciality products such as gluten. Most of China's wheat is produced on the North China Plain in three provinces, Henan, Shandong and Hebei where it is often dependent on irrigation for successful crops. Premium prices are paid in China for high gluten wheat, and government policy has been successful in lowering China's dependence on imported wheat, though less so in establishing reliable grading systems. anyways, back to the main thread...
Aminopterin is used as a rodenticide in China. China is a major exporter of gluten to other East Asian countries such as Japan and Vietnam. Before the recent increase in wheat prices gluten was only available in North America in Asian food markets, health foods stores and other outlets that catered to cults diets. It has been popular, despite the prevalence of celiac sprue, in cult diets such as macrobiotics and has been a common ingredient in vegetarian fare served at "fashion food" restaurants in various countries.
Final Molly Note: Molly would not be surprised if human cases were diagnosed in the near future amongst that segment of the population given to food faddism. It's possible that various agencies are looking as we speak. Keep tuned for this.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Today is World Water Day. this was originally established by an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The first "year" was in 1995 when the theme was 'Women and Water' . Since then every year has featured a theme on the intersection between water and society. This years theme revolves around "access to water". To see more about this go to the website of World Water Day where you can download a wealth of information on various themes throughout the years. Molly has an interest in this subject because she once worked in water quality chemistry.

The press, from highbrow to lowbrow to nobrow has been full of stories about the major pet food recall announced by Menu Foods some days ago. Molly has taken to carrying around the list of recalled foods with her at all times so that she can respond to the numerous phone calls from concerned pet owners and can snoop through the cupboards of clients whom she actually visits. people who are interested in accessing the complete list can visit the Menu Foods website listed above (at least until they have to declare bankruptcy). The basic story is that only canned and "packet" foods are affected. No dry pet foods are included, and canned foods that come in "solid slabs" rather than "chunks" are also not affected.
A class action suit has been launched from Ontario, and some Manitoba owners may participate. Molly doesn't have enough information to comment on the legalities of this case given that the cause is still basically unknown (how gluten relates to renal failure escapes me) and how the company responded to initial reports is also still unknown. Molly can remember the last such case which affected the Royal Canin line of prescription diets about a year ago. In that case the company responded with due diligence and discovered the cause rapidly. Molly has little doubt that Royal Canin has better quality control than an outfit such as Menu Foods.The problem was corrected, and all four of Molly's cats presently eat the Royal Canin S/O diet as part of their feeding. The cause was a formulation error (maybe one more reason to not depend on computers as if they were infallible) which added an excess of vitamin D to the foods. As Molly sometimes takes great pleasure in emphasizing to health food nuts natural products are not non-toxic. Some of them are the most toxic substances on Earth. When trying to make this point about vitamins Molly uses the following language (I'll try and transcribe the tone of voice and inflection):
"Vitamin A is the MOST POISONOUS vitamin. Vitamin D is the SECOND most poisonous vitamin"
Molly varies her inflection so as to try and bypass what amounts to a religious belief that "natural" (and hence vitamins) is "good" while "artificial" (usually subsumed under the very strange term of "chemical"- as if everything in the world wasn't a chemical) is "bad". I probably have about as much success in this as I would in arguing against the curative effects of Holy Water (let's not get into homeopathy now). The word "poisonous" is used to try and bypass this religious mindset rather than the word "toxic" that is more common when discussing these sort of problems "in-house".
What struck Molly most forcibly while this stuff was happening was the extent of the list. For years now I've joked about how the pet food industry gets its foods from the same plant, puts different labels on it and charges different prices depending upon nothing greater than the advertising budget. What I didn't realize was the extent of this practice. While looking over the 93 !!!!! items listed on the recall list I noticed that some foods that I had always recommended as "high quality", such as Eukanuba and Iams, were coming from the same plant as the "ground-up rubber tires" foods sold at Wal-Mart. Looks like I was fooled. I was really shocked to see a Science Diet item (Science Diet Feline Savoury Chunks) on the list, as I always assumed that Hills was big enough to be vertically integrated throughout its entire process. Welcome to the age of "outsourcing" Molly.
But some things are far from "new". Over 35 years ago when Molly was a chemist she had a friend who was another chemist- but from Jordan. When this guy first got his degree he originally tried to find a job in Algeria shortly after they had forced the French to withdraw from the country. Like all good "liberation ideologues" they had to "prove themselves" and produce whatever the colonial power had produced. He applied for a job in a "toothpaste factory" and was given a tour of the facilities. There was a main vat from which the whole production emanated. it came down the line and was divided by sluice gates into various streams. In each stream a dye was added to give colour or a flavour was added to give taste. As he told it, the guy looked at it, took the free lunch and taxi fare and thought..."Oh fuck, this is exactly what Algeria needs...25 "different" types of toothpaste that are really the same toothpaste. " I can see the new ruling class growing in Venezuela doing exactly the same thing in the near future, and my main disappointment is how far the process has advanced here in an industry that I thought I knew much more about than I obviously do know.
Anyways, for those who are interested in knowing a little bit more about pet foods I recommend the CVMA site and its Pet Food Certification program and for a broader overview of the whole matter- without cultism , an important point- an individual site called the Dog Food Project. This latter site is a wealth of information, including a layman's guide to reading and judging pet food labels. The author is a veterinary technician with a previous degree in nutrition, and her site is one of the best that I have seen on this matter.

While looking over the latest edition of Scientific American to arrive at her door Molly came across an article entitled 'Conservative Climate' (Scientific American, April 2007, pp16-19). The article is all about how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting in Paris on February 2, 2007 perhaps understated the effects of future climate change. The IPCC has continued to issue reports about their deliberations, the latest being 'Confronting Climate Change' on Feb. 27th. This report goes further than the initial report in that it addresses policy recommendations while the original report addressed only the scientific issues.

What Molly found most interesting about the article was how the SciAm report contrasted with numerous articles in what I call the "trash-con" press soon after the original report was issued in February. The trash-con press is basically those propaganda organs that "pretend" to a conservative view while, in actuality, trying desperately to make as much money as possible by catering to the lowest intelligence level and most violent emotions amongst the "conservative audience". You know-hang me high!, the "lib-conspiracy", the Papal infallibility of America, the etc.,etc.,etc.. These people give conservativism a very bad name. Just like every family every political position has its "trash relatives" in the family skeleton closet. Anarchism has its primmies, post-leftists and insurrectionists. Leftism has its unrepentant Stalinists. The difference is that you can add up the audiences of the anarcho-nuts and the Jurassic commies, and their combined audience multiplied by 10,000 wouldn't equal the audience of the trash-con publications. As the old saying goes, like Coca-Cola, Christ on the cross and syphilis these buggers are everywhere.

What Molly remembers in particular is that publications like the National Post and the Winnipeg Sun devoted "insults"(no better term is available) to the idea that there was "disagreement" amongst the scientists represented in Paris. The SciAm article points out where this disagreement came from ie from the delegations from China (more coal !) and from Saudi Arabia (more guess what !). Neither country is exactly famous for freedom of scientific inquiry. addition to the two reports mentioned above which can be accesssed from their websites so that you can see the original rather than some distorted version in the press Molly has decided to present the following resources for her readers. In our Links section the websites of the sponsoring organizations have been included in some cases rather than the original text given here. In all cases the text or page is readily accessible from the website in our 'Scientific Links' section:

  1. Global Warming Facts and Our Future from the Marian Koshland Science Museum
  2. Woods Hole Research Center, a site devoted to research on global sustainability.
  3. Global Climate Change Resources from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  4. Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a report produced for the Treasury of Great Britain.

5. Global Warming by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US government.

As the astute reader can see none of the above are frothing, drooling ideologues fantasizing about the end of civilization and how they will direct other people's lives in that Gotterdamerung. These are resources that point towards the best of the worldwide scientific consensus on this matter, and they may be helpful in judging just how far from reality trash-con publications on this matter are.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

While Blog hopping today Molly came upon an incident of what can best be described as "Pure Fucking Luck" on the Wolfe's Blog in our Blogs list of our Links section. The writer describes the case of a friend of his whom he found "down" with a rapid weak pulse and cold clammy skin after a day of coffee, a pasta meal and four hours of vigorous ski-ing. By pure ignorant luck the writer treated the "downer" with a pediatric fluid replacer(the downer HAD diarrhea), and he was led to swear by the efficacy of the remedy which he believed was due to a correction of "dehydration". In actual fact he supplied at best !!!! 1/10th of the necessary fluid to correct clinical dehydration. What the downer was obviously suffering from was hypokalemia, a potassium deficiency of which Molly is very much aware, not just in animals, but also as something she has to guard herself against while working in the heat of summer outside. The problem revolves around the fact that "skiers", unless they have a medical background, are generally totally ignorant about this problem. It goes against the grain of their views to actually learn about it. Pretty well anybody over 40 who works construction during the summer knows it very well, hence the great sales of drinks such as Gator-Aid. These people don't end up down on the floor, or if they do they talk to others and learn very rapidly what has happened. The remedy proposed by the writer will work, but it leads to all sorts of illusion about how to avoid becoming a "downer". "Salt" is not important. Potassium content is.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 21st the Kelvin Community Club (see many previous posts on this blog) will be holding its Annual General Meeting from 7- 8:30 pm at the club. This meeting will elect board members, ask for volunteers for various functions and canvass opinions as to the options for the future of Kelvin. interested residents who cannot attend the meeting can phone 669-7470 for information on the meeting and volunteering.
Speaking of clubs Molly and wife had a great time at the St. Patrick's Day bash at the Irish Club, and Molly even got to lobby Premier Gary Doer about declaring St. Patrick's Day as Manitoba's winter holiday, just like Newfoundland already does. Yeah, Molly DOES occasionally speak to politicians without throwing a convulsion. Look to this blog for an extended article on St. Patrick's Day- long in the writing.
Finally, this Saturday, March 24th the Winnipeg branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (see also our 'Other Interesting Links' section) will be holding a public event at the Bird's Hill park NE of Winnipeg from 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm. The viewing from this location is great as Molly can testify from other events held there, and a laser sky tour and other demonstrations will be presented. A number of telescopes will be set up for the viewing public. In particular Saturn with its rings will put on a great show.

The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair has extended its deadline for applications for tables, art exhibits, films and proposals for the May long "Festival of Anarchy' to April 1st. No foolin'!!!! The MAB is the largest anarchist event in North America, and this year it will be held on the weekend of Saturday, May 19th at the CEDA, 2515 rue Delisie, Montreal, Quebec (near the Lionel-Groulx Metro). This is the 8th year of the Bookfair, and hopefully it will be bigger and better than ever before. The comrades have finally (PRAISE JESUS!!) updated their website at to reflect this year's bookfair. To ask for further information email to , leave a message at 514-859-9090 or write to Montreal Anarchist Bookfair, c/o QPIRG Concordia, 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montreal, Quebec R3G 1M8, Canada.

The Clean Clothes Campaign (see also our Other Interesting Links section), an international solidarity site for workers in the garment industry, has released an appeal from the workers in the BJ&B garment factory in the Dominican Republic. This factory is owned by the Korean Yupong group and was producing caps for Nike. previously it had produced caps for Reebok, now Adidas. The workers in this factory managed to form a union, and in retaliation management began to divert orders to other non-unionized plants. The work for Adidas has already been moved to other plants, and now the parent corporation hopes to close the plant and move work for Nike to other facilities where they don't have to respect workers' rights. The CCC is asking for international support to prevent this closure by putting pressure on both Nike and Yupong. To join this campaign go to: