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February 28, 2009

The much-noted 'Scraping Bottom' article in the most recent issue of National Geographic highlights the following points about water and the tar sands.

50 SQUARE MILES OF TAILINGS PONDS
"To extract each barrel of oil from a surface mine (in the Athabasca Valley, the industry) must heat several barrels of water to strip the bitumen from the sand and upgrade it, and afterward it discharges contaminated water into tailings ponds like the one near Mildred Lake. They now cover around 50 square miles." (p.44)

ONE OF THE LARGEST DAMS IN THE WORLD
"Mildred Lake...is now dwarfed by its neighbour, the Mildred Lake Settling Basin, a four-square-mile lake of toxic mine tailings. The sand dike that contains it is by volume one of the largest dams in the world." (p.43)

200,00 POUNDS OF WATER EVERY DAY
"And every day in the Athabasca Valley, more than a million tons of sand emerges from (rock) crushers and is mixed with more than 200,000 pounds of water that must be heated, typically to 175 degrees F, to wash out the gluey bitumen." (p.48)

February 28, 2009

The Los Angeles Times reports today that, "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed a statewide drought emergency Friday, urging Californians to cut water use by 20% and easing the way for water sales from Northern California to Southern California cities and San Joaquin Valley farms."

California has a population of 36.8 million people.

WATER SITUATION IS A CRISIS
"Schwarzenegger called the state's water situation 'a crisis, just as severe as an earthquake or raging wildfire.'"

STOPS SHORT OF MANDATORY WATER RATIONING "The drought declaration stops short of mandatory water rationing. But it asks urban water users to step up conservation efforts. And it directs state agencies to cut back on landscape irrigation, including along highways."

STREAMLINES PERMITS FOR DESALINATION OPERATIONS "The directive also orders the state to streamline permitting for water projects, such as recycling or desalination operations, and expedite water transfers to needy irrigation districts and urban areas in Southern California."

February 28, 2009
Sun Peaks Resort

Sun Peaks Resort

In 1992, the Japanese company Nippon Cable purchased the Sun Peaks Resort near Kamloops, BC, as a 400-bed resort. In 1997, the provincial government approved a 24,168 bed expansion to the resort. In October 2000, the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centre was established to oppose this $70 million expansion and boycott campaigns began. In 2004, solidarity pickets took place outside Delta and Fairmont Hotels in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Montreal, as a further 6,000-beds were added to the resort's expansion plans.

February 27, 2009

The International Labour Organization reports that, "The global economic crisis is expected to lead to a dramatic increase in the number of people joining the ranks of the unemployed, working poor and those in vulnerable employment..."

WHAT IS THE ILO?
"The International Labour Organization (ILO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues. Unlike other United Nations specialised agencies, the International Labour Organization has a tripartite governing structure — representing governments, employers and workers."

50 MILLION PEOPLE COULD BECOME UNEMPLOYED "Its annual Global Employment Trends report...says global unemployment in 2009 could increase over 2007 by a range of 18 million to 30 million workers, and more than 50 million if the situation continues to deteriorate."

1.4 BILLION COULD BECOME 'WORKING POOR'
"The number of working poor – people who are unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the US$2 per person, per day, poverty line, may rise up to 1.4 billion, or 45 per cent of all the world’s employed."

February 27, 2009

The Canadian Press reports that, "The Canadian combat mission in Afghanistan could cost taxpayers around $11.3 billion by the time it ends in 2011, according to a new government estimate."

COST BREAKDOWN
"Around $9 billion of the costs are Defence Department-related and include expenses for personnel, equipment, supplies, maintaining bases and medical needs. The report also lays out $2.3 billion of mission expenses in other departments, including $1.7 billion for the Canadian International Development Agency, $400 million for the Foreign Affairs Department and $150 million for Veterans Affairs Canada. Long-term health-care costs are not included because they are more difficult to account for, as health-care issues can be the consequence of cumulative mission experiences, the report says."

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