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David Suzuki Empowers 8,000 Youth To Wake Up Canada

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/amy-macpherson/david-suzuki-wake-up-canada_b_3212833.html

 

David Suzuki Empowers 8,000 Youth to Wake Up Canada!

Posted: 05/05/2013 10:16 pm

The saying goes, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? According to 8,000 Ontario youths it surely does. You just wouldn’t know from media outside this Windsor community despite their resounding hollers and applause.

 

On April 25, 2013, renowned scientist Dr. David Suzuki attended the WFCU Centre to empower the crowd with his Wake Up Canada call. It’s a campaign organized by the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition (CYCC) to support a day of action, encouraging kids to advocate for their environmental future through the very media that overlooked them this time around.

 

The event was broadcast province-wide with the help of TVCogeco, but still there was little response from adults or acknowledgement of this priceless opportunity for students across Ontario. Guest speakers came all the way from British Columbia to help unite Canadians and foster our understanding that we’re all in this together — that the legacy we leave our children really does matter, especially to them.

 

This jam-packed hockey stadium hosted fellow speakers in the Wake Up Canada entourage. They included a First Nations activist with Greenpeace, Melina Laboucan Massimo. She explained the damage of Alberta bitumen harvesting practices and oppression that caused her to leave the reserve she always knew as home.

 

Pictures of tailings ponds shocked the crowd on the overhead screen. Although most of the kids were high school students, some of them were a bit younger. Explaining the threat of chemical leachates contaminating drinking water wasn’t lost on any of them though.

 

Next was Sam Harrison, from Kids for Climate Action. His message was politically focused and it packed a memorable punch. He’s only a young fellow and talking politics to children might have seemed out of place, until he riled his peers with tremendous enthusiasm for what he came this far to say.

 

Six-million children will turn 18 in time to vote in the next federal election. If they all participate, these newly minted adults could be the difference between a minority or majority government of their own doing. He proudly sported a button saying “Future Climate Voter” and the idea of kids having a say in their destiny penetrated deeper than society gives them credit.

 

Some may see our children as playing in parks without a care in the world; but the truth is we uprooted the trees, paved over the grass and polluted the air so badly that they can’t breathe during summer. We replaced their time at parks with a reliance on air conditioning and slathering their bodies in sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. It’s not so much that kids are maturing faster in modern times, as we’re responsible for forcing them to grow up and solve the issues they’ve inherited.

 

Mr. Harrison’s message dovetailed with Dr. Suzuki’s description of the environmental challenges we’ve bestowed upon our children. He candidly offered,

 

“You see, my generation and those that followed, we partied like there was no tomorrow and forgot that there were consequences. We now see the results of living so extravagantly in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s. My generation left a legacy that you will have to deal with.”

 

He also mentioned that he was speaking with students as a concerned grandfather, after political bullying forced him to abdicate his own board of directors at the David Suzuki Foundation. He wasn’t shy to explain his challenges and this example of muzzling Canada’s scientists brought a rare moment of silence to the arena. Suzuki was genuine and heartfelt in his delivery. The effect was disarming and somehow more real than hearing these issues discussed by concerned pundits on television.

 

But the guests of honour wouldn’t let this gathering end on a sore note. The sobering moments were perhaps so powerful because the rest of the time was filled with laughter, hope, a ton of cheering and a positive plan for the future. On May 30, 2013, kids will share their Wake Up Canada messages to let us know how much they care and that we can all do something about it! It’s a national event, there’s enough time for schools to get involved and the only thing they need from us is a moment to truly listen.

 

Following the grand production a smaller group broke away to meet with Dr. Suzuki and the cast of traveling speakers, barely five minutes away in Tecumseh, Ontario. At the local museum they were joined by Cameron Fenton from the CYCC and Kevin Millsip from Next Up, known for youth leadership training.

 

The purpose of this detour was meant to inaugurate a very special project that was co-founded by the CAW’s Ken Lewenza Jr. (Full disclosure: Lewenza Jr. organized the larger event in Windsor and both were planned together. I’m connected to the latter through social justice initiatives.)

 

The Canvas Campus is a “street tank” of sorts, akin to a think tank but for ordinary people. Young, old, experts and beginners are welcomed to sign on. Its purpose is to offer free education and the Dean of Canvas Campus is the respected Len Wallace, a professor from the University of Windsor.

 

With blessings from David Suzuki and a collective pledge of $50,000 from the labour community, things were off to a good start. The Ontario Federation of Labour‘s Antoni Shelton stopped by for the celebration as well.

 

The Canvas Campus is situated in an Aboriginal Tipi adjacent to the museum and it was launched through consultations with First Nations elders. They cautiously lent Indigenous support and friends of the project attended for the inspiring grand opening. Native art adorns the interior of this culturally respected structure and teaching is shared in the spirit of Tecumseh. (See pictures below)

 

The Tipi is cherished by locals in the Windsor-Essex area, but the initiative isn’t limited by its physical location. Equipped with audio, video, Internet and Skype; the Canvas Campus began its first class by reaching out long distance.

 

Fifty-five students were present with Dr. Suzuki and the many guests who came to share their knowledge. A classroom from Peel Region joined them on a screen set in the centre and this is where the real magic happened, as youths were able to interact and ask questions.

 

Here’s one of the more poignant answers regarding the corporate agenda, the politics of environment and the power of children in this equation:

 


In case anyone thought our kids didn’t care about corporate responsibility, here’s another glimpse of the business minds and curiosity that propelled their teach-in forward:

 

(A full list of video clips can be found on the Canvas Campus website here and photos from the inauguration with links to all speakers is located here.)

 

In the end these grand ideas and global challenges circled back to our own communities. As Dr. Suzuki explained in his experience, it’s been too overwhelming for individuals to contemplate climate change on an international scale. Trying to solve the problems of entire industries or continents can become daunting in a hurry, but it doesn’t need to be that way if we focus on issues in our neighbourhoods.

 

The overarching theme that tied everything together is we can each do our small part and combined it makes a difference. Training ourselves to pick up a piece of garbage each day can equate to 33-million plastic water bottles or cardboard sandwich containers being recycled, also in a single day (Canada alone).

 

The Canvas Campus will continue to provide free learning opportunities and it hopes to grow through membership. Upcoming guests include quantum physicist Bill Baylis and while this educational street-tank began with scientific issues, experts from social justice fields will be added to the roster shortly.

 

If you wish to share your expertise or request a class in the physical and/or Skype audience, you’re invited to contact the Canvas Campus. Topic proposals will be accepted and they’ll do their best to provide an appropriate instructor to meet your needs.

 

This project is dedicated to uniting knowledge from all across the country, as well as fostering a sense of unity and strength at the local community level. Eventually there may be satellites and those interested in expansion should direct their inquiries to Ken Lewenza Jr. Finally, here’s a photo album to demonstrate what all the hype is about.

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Part 1/2 – Your CPP Is Funding War Crimes

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/amy-macpherson/cpp-war-crimes_b_2487424.html

Your CPP Is Funding War Crimes

Posted: 01/17/2013 12:09 pm

How would you feel if someone told you that every one of your paycheques was being used to support war crimes and keep the companies accused of these atrocities rolling in lucrative business? And how would you feel if you lived off the avails of torture and bloodshed through the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), upon your long-awaited retirement after paying into it? This appears to be our dirty little secret, that Canadians enjoy prosperity at the unethical demise of others.

 

In a recent interview with Harry Fear we touched on CPP investments and how they contribute to the Israel-Palestine conflict; through complicity in drone warfare, an illegal wall, the death of children and suppression of human rights.

 

While this was enough to make anyone angry, it wasn’t until I received mortified responses from baby boomers that I investigated further. The messages from this demographic were compelling and show that we’re ready to take action to restore our reputation and the shame of these transgressions will not be tolerated.

 

It’s claimed the amounts we contribute to CPP are not enough to cover the population’s living expenses and as a result, the plan turns to the stock market in an effort to generate a sustainable future. We’ve done well enough that organizations are pushing for expansion, to allow Canadian retirees a degree of pride that sustains them above the poverty line. With the amount of privatization, downloading and user fees they will surely need it; but the Harper government says we can’t afford to treat our own a little better.

 

It may indeed be a matter of priorities, but not as we are led to believe from a lack of funding. Instead it’s the difference between humanitarian care for Canadians, versus the pursuit of power in a vicious, military-industrial complex. At the end of the day CPP relief is not available to seniors because the government wants a greater share to invest in pet projects of warfare.

 

Our domestic (PDF) and foreign portfolios (PDF) are available on the CPP Investment Board website. Scanning through the foreign list we come across L-3 Communications Holdings, where we invested $10 million in solidarity with a company held responsible for the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

 

Everyone remembers the horrifically iconic photographs that circulated media from the darkest corners of Iraq. What Canadians may not have realized is that our holding, L-3 Communications, was the first private contractor to settle with victims for $5.8 million to account for their role in the torture and inhumanity.

 

Reprieve is a UK charity focused on the human rights of prisoners. They cite L-3 Communications as not just a violator in the Abu Ghraib case, but also as a”key drone component manufacturer” for the American-made predator. This is the weaponized, remote control aircraft responsible for increasing attacks on civilians in Pakistan and Yemen.

 

According to international law it’s illegal to use armed drones in non-war zones, but no one from the company will acknowledge these concerns. In the meantime, as many as 885 innocents were killed, accounting for 176 children in Pakistan alone. That means every working person in Canada paid about $5 in CPP contributions to make it happen and we continue to perpetuate violence in this corner of the world.

 

But our unethical investments don’t end there. We support Elbit Systems Ltd., on the forefront of miniature drone cars that also kill by remote control. They can take action of their own accord, without the need for human intervention to shoot whatever these Guardium models deem a threat in their computerized judgement. Automatic killing machines pose a challenge to human rights and yet the Canada Pension Plan is behind pushing them to market.

 

Canadians hold another $16 million in CAE, as a partner to Elbit for the purpose of developing Integrated Soldier Systems. Most information has been removed from public view by the Department of National Defence since the project was approved for a tendering process by the Canadian government. Earlier research (PDF) indicates the creation of veritable robo-cops like what we’ve seen in the movies, complimented by eyepieces with pop-up TV screens to feed intel to the troops. This is the military meets Xbox and CPP facilitates this development too.

 

With the presence of hacktivist groups like Anonymous watching over the battlefield and increased warnings from CSIS regarding digital espionage as the biggest threat to our security, a new industry of war games is birthed against conventional wisdom that places profit front of mind with little regard for human beings.

 

In fact, Chinese-based servers are responsible for hacking into Canada’s defence research, treasury and finance departments in an unprecedented breach of our most classified information. Ironically, the Integrated Soldier System was housed in a compromised department and it may still come to pass that the government looks to Anonymous for protection at the rate we’re going.

 

By no means are these the only examples of our financial stake in conflict, but they do represent some of the most heinous crimes and self-inflicted danger that our savings are used to promote. With every paycheque we’re breaking human rights around the world. CPP has been manipulated to terrorize Palestinian children by the hundreds of thousands. Hundreds more are killed across the Middle East and a majority of countries where drones are hovering equipped with missiles. The ones that aren’t weaponized perform surveillance to challenge North American civil liberties and we’re so heavily invested in warfare that if peace occurred, our retirement fund would become bankrupt.

 

It’s important to understand that CPP is not a tax and therefore doesn’t qualify as government revenue (PDF) to do with as it pleases. Despite this, the investment board is a crown corporation that is directly responsible to the federal government and immediately after Prime Minister Stephen Harper was elected in 2006, they updated their policies to encourage aggressive tactics.

 

Dramatic changes followed quickly. In 2007, new legislation altered CPP practices through measures contained in Bill C-36. By April 2007, all CCP assets were transferred to control of the investment board (PDF, see pg. 18, New Investment Policy) and in 2012 they changed from passive management to active management techniques. Aggressive trading requires a team of involved experts and staff at the CPP ballooned from 70 to 811 in the same short period. They’ve opened offices in Hong Kong and London, took on riskier markets, decreased Canadian equities in favour of foreign projects, hedged currency and shifted public holdings to private interests. Our hard-working dollars used to find their place in safer government bonds, but the lion’s share was migrated to a war-centric market.

 

The investment board explains they’re unique from other retirement funds and they’re padded to take on the risk. They’re only expected to share 25 per cent of profits to provide for CPP benefits and the working class pays the rest. With $170 billion in assets now and 18 million people to cover, the plan can already sustain itself for another 75 years. (PDF, see pgs. 1-21, CCPIB Annual Report 2012).

 

Since Conservative rule and the CPP makeover, we’ve borne the brunt of losses great as 18.6 per cent. We must divest from the war machine and put our money where it doesn’t kill, if not for humanitarian grounds then because financially it doesn’t make sense. As international diplomats have said, “Canada is not the good guys anymore — we all have a bit of blood on our hands.”

Part 2/2 – Where Your CPP Money Really Goes

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/amy-macpherson/cpp-money_b_2487663.html

 

Part II: Where Your CPP Money Really Goes

Posted: 01/22/2013 12:30 pm

In part one of this two-part series, we examined the Canada Pension Plan’s (CPP) investment in drones, computerized soldiers, land occupation and an infamous prison scandal. Part two is dedicated to the many potential conflicts of interest — yours, mine, the executives’ and the PMO’s. Some might be moral. Some might be something more.

 

If you look at the CPP Investment Board of Directors, you will find that all but one executive was appointed since the determined change in strategy under the Harper government. These board members are skilled leaders from different industries, but no matter their background, most of them share something in common.

 

Robert Astley was the President of Sun Life. CPP purchased $109 million worth of stock in Sun Life. (See CPP domestic portfolio and foreign portfolio, PDF)

 

Ian Bourne is Chief Executive Officer of SNC-Lavalin.  CPP invested $21 million in SNC-Lavalin in spite of the company being plagued by ties to the Gadhafi regime and fraud charges that are still winding through the courts.

 

Bourne is also the Director of Canadian Oil Sands Limited, which has a large stake in the Syncrude project — the project at the heart of a lawsuit involving Greenpeace and the death of wildlife.  Syncrude was convicted and fined more than half a million dollars. Our CPP investments in this company total $80 million.

 

David Suzuki continues to educate about the misnomers of “ethical oil” and points to other companies in business with the Alberta oil sands. Exxon Mobil has a history of major oil spills. CPP gave them $553 million. Exxon funded a lobby against the Kyoto Protocol, and Canada eventually cancelled our commitment to the international community.

 

BP is responsible for the tragic Gulf Coast oil spill that may cost more than $7 billion in legal settlements to cover the damage.  And if we look in our CPP foreign column, we’ll find $347 million invested in BP.

 

Nexen is another curious entry with $62 million in CPP investments.  It’s unclear what will happen to this particular investment, since Harper made waves by allowing the company to be purchased by China.  The deal was embroiled in controversy regarding national security.  CSIS raised concerns about compromising Canadian intelligence, while the United States rebuked the purchaser’s energy partnership with Iran.  Still, it went unreported that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had to freeze assets to investigate cases of Nexen insider trading that resulted from our sell-off.

 

CPP also has $218 million invested in TransCanada Corp. They’re the ones fighting for the Keystone XL pipeline that was met with public backlash across the continent. We have another $201 million socked away in Enbridge, which has challenged Native land rights in preparation for the Northern Gateway pipeline.

 

Moving along in our Board of Directors, we arrive at Pierre Choquette was the CEO of Methanex.  Douglas W. Mahaffy is the current director of Methanex.  This company is the world’s largest producer of methanol for petrochemical use.  It received $38 million from CPP.  Choquette further served as a director at TELUS, which received $116 million from CPP.  TELUS employs two former consultants linked to the E-Health scandal that rocked Ontario.

 

Heather Monroe-Blum sits on the Board of Directors for the Royal Bank of Canada.  RBC received $707 million from CPP and is the Plan’s largest domestic holding. That’s putting a lot of our eggs in one basket, which seems unwise, especially when that one company has been implicated in the LIBOR scandal .

 

Karen Sheriff heads Bell Aliant as the CEO and president. CPP invested $21 million with that company.  Joe Mark Zurel is listed as the Director of Major Drilling Group, which also received $12 million from CPP.  Nancy Hopkins is the Director of Cameco Corporation. CPP invested $43 million there.  Robert Brooks was the Vice Chair of Scotiabank.  CPP invested $537 million in the company.  Brooks also headed Dundee Wealth and CPP invested $20 million with Dundee’s parent company.

 

In addition to these revelations, the CPP is a substantial partner of Onex. The Onex Corporation purchased Raytheon’s air division in 2006. Raytheon is a defence contractor. It’s the world’s largest producer of guided missiles and nuclear warheads. These weapons are involved in conflicts from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Libya to Syria and everywhere the U.S. military sets foot. The acquisition of Raytheon’s flight technology created the Hawker Beechcraft company, putting Onex in the business of peddling combat planes to governments.

 

The managing director of Onex was Nigel Wright. He took leave from the position to become our Prime Minister’s chief of staff, exactly two months after CPP entered a multi-billion dollar partnership with his company. While the Conservatives called this “great news for Canada’s economic policy,” the NDP’s Charlie Angus cautioned Wright to “follow the rules” regarding conflict interest.

 

Wright was recently cleared in an ethics probe about the same issue with Barrick Gold (in which CPP holds a $330 million stake). The founding family of Barrick sat on the Onex board of directors and there were questions about personal lobbying that could have led to the PMO.

 

Despite the investigation’s positive outcome for Wright, MP Angus took issue with the commissioner’s process. When additional conflict issues were raised by OMERS, they were dismissed as mistakes in a hasty response from the Prime Minister on Wright’s behalf.

 

As we’ve seen, Harper’s chief of staff is also connected to Lockheed Martin (incidentally CPP holds $78 million in that company as well).  Nigel Wright’s duties as director of Onex included oversight of Hawker Beechcraft, the partner to Lockheed Martin, which produced the fighter jets at the centre of F-35 debacle. This places the CPP in a bizarre love triangle with Onex and Lockheed, well beyond anything we purchased in stock.

 

Hawker Beechcraft’s Onex deals with Lockheed include supplying the US Air Force and Homeland Security with cannon equipped fighter jets. They produce a handful of warplanes with rocket capability and their accounts include the Canadian, American, Greek, Israeli, Iraqi, Moroccan and Mexican military. One of the shared executives (PDF) managed the Lockheed F-35 file before coming to head government relations at Onex’s Hawker Beechcraft.

 

So that introduces our business partner.

 

In July 2010, CPP and Onex purchased Tomkins PLC together, for $4.5 billion (£2.9 billion) with our retirement dollars. We are equally listed owners and our acquisition provides hydraulics to the oil, gas and mining industries.  Tomkins was also the previous owner of Smith and Wesson guns before we bought them out.

 

In November 2012 CPP deepened its relationship with Onex to acquire Tomkins Air Distribution for an additional $1.1 billion (PDF); meaning when Nigel Wright leaves his position with the Prime Minister’s Office, he’ll presumably return to managing our CPP partnership from the private industry end.

 

With the 2012 expansion, Onex and the CPP came to own all subsidiaries under the parent heading. One of those spinoffs is Titus, a company that provides data security to the military in Canada, the U.S., Australia, Belgium and Denmark. Titus provides services to the whole of government, aerospace, police and financial industries.

 

The moral of the story is we’ve got to come clean about the unethical use of our retirement funds. There isn’t enough money to expand CPP because the surplus was earmarked to boost the military-industrial complex. When our hard-earned money isn’t being used to cause bloodshed, it’s going to companies affiliated with the CPP’s own CEOs and the Alberta oil sands.

Part 1/8 – Mitt Romney & Corporate Mormonism – Religious Royalty

Note from the author: The following is an 8 part series examining Republican Mitt Romney like you’ve never seen him before.  His family founded the Mormon religion on the shores of America and he’s a royal figure in this specifically political church.  While some have been misled it’s just another form of Christianity or that Mitt is merely a volunteer, may this serve as an eye opener and I highly recommend sitting firmly before reading.  Latter Day Saints are a powerful business empire and professional lobby in pursuit of theocratic control.  Written in their tenets is the goal of becoming President and it’s one they’ve long sought after, to rule the people in a literal “government of (their) God”.  It’s a long read yes, but it’s the only way to look at all the issues that range from blatant racism to anti-Semitism and nuclear warheads championed by the Church that have implications in today’s conflict with Iran.  Bank fraud, anti-trust lawsuits, gay rights and control of the food industry are a few more surprises you’ll find along the way.  Please be patient as the facts unfold, but if you’re anxious to see where it’s heading – links to parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 can be found at the bottom.  In the final entry you’ll see disturbing references to the Holocaust and I forewarn my Jewish friends with heartfelt caution… it will not be easy to absorb.  Same with my Indian and African American friends as you’ll observe throughout the entire series.  It’s fraught with white supremacy that I do not support or condone.  If we don’t speak up about this hatred though, no one will ever know to stop it.  Moreover you’ll see how these beliefs translate to Mitt’s policies and that includes the strategy to deny minorities the right to vote.  If you thought Republicans had strong support for Israel then you need to read this more than anyone.  Once these issues are addressed you’ll observe a pattern of socialism for CEOs.  When Mr. Romney was speaking about the 47 percent it was coming straight from a Mormon playbook and his duty to represent their interests is a priority far above the country.  I can only summarize so much in a prologue and I hope you’ll stick with it to learn the truth beyond excessive spin in the headlines.  If you’re hesitant to believe, then wait till you see what really happened to PBS and other things we never could have imagined.  ***Please accept these are rough notes for a greater project and there may be language errors.

We’re about to embark on a journey to discover the makings of Mitt Romney, unlike any opportunity presented to us before.  This is a backstage pass to view the presidential hopeful; unscripted, unedited and intimate as the utterings one might only whisper to the family dog.  To facilitate the explanation of a tremendously complex businessman, this process must be patient and broken into segments.

Some material you may have seen before but most has managed to thrive in obscurity and few have sought to connect the myriad of loose ends with Mitt’s unwavering “no comment”.  You’ll have to trust it’s all relevant until the eureka moments have a chance to percolate and by the end, no one can say this is simply a critique of faith.

The legend of Mitt is steeped in polygamy, misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, corporatocracy, government and war.  It is no easy task to explain these things and I caution against making assumptions until the repercussions can make themselves fully known.

To begin we must accept the arduous task of illuminating Mitt’s religious royalty.  While constitutional rights ensure freedom of religion that is not the issue, nor would I try to make it one.  What’s at stake is a conflict of interest between corporate tables of a global nature, a caveat regarding theo-democracy and the public’s equal right to be separated between church and state.

Republicans will accuse, “Oppression! Discrimination!” but I assure you this is not.  The term religious royalty is just a good publicist’s way of cleansing plenty the campaign couldn’t otherwise dilute.  If the Pope, Muhammad or Jesus was running to be the President of America, it would surely present an ethical conundrum.  Therefore when the equivalent of a Mormon faith attempts the same, we’re tasked with answering a slew of questions they would rather pay millions to suppress.

In a calculated act of deceit, the prodigy downplayed his place in the church as simple and kind-hearted volunteerism.  Upon examining the Romney legacy as Prophets, Apostles and founders of this religion though, it becomes clear Mitt the King-God is ascending exactly as the family instructed.

It may not be common knowledge but both his maternal and paternal makers partnered as architects of the new religion.  It was the first unique doctrine to be patented in America or the western hemisphere for that matter; throughout the 1830’s between New York, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and finally Utah.  It has no ancient roots and although any campaigner will tell you it’s Christian oriented, there is no religion like it and Christians who understand the tenets are some of the most vocal dissenters of Mormonism.

Recognized churches have denounced the practice as blasphemy and others teach it is a cult.  That kind of in-depth knowledge is only shared by worshipers who attend Bible study and may explain why Republicans have been successful in equating Mormonism with Christianity.  (Even if you’re not religious, the importance of this information will become apparent as the series transitions to business deals.)

With that said, Mormon creation begins with a fellow by the name of Joseph Smith Jr receiving a vision in the burnt out boroughs of New York at the age of seventeen.  It was a time of religious excitement where revivals were commonplace and so was the practice of religious folk magic.  In that regard Joseph earned extra income as a treasure hunter, by divining with seer stones he claimed to be sacred and powerful.  The skill in using them comes from placing the stone in a top hat, sticking your face inside and waiting to receive the rock’s prophecy.  Don’t forget this is the early days of pioneers and his whole family was employed by the same craft.

Among the fervor Smith claimed to receive a revelation from an angel named Moroni, to unearth a set of golden plates that had long been hidden near his home in Cumorah, NY.  In September 1827 at the age of twenty-one, he reported to finally locate these relics along with a pair of holy seer stones that were needed to decode the inscriptions.  In official Mormon collections, it is also said he employed a necromancer to aid in pinpointing the treasure’s location. (LDS Journal of Discourses by Brigham Young 1855, The Priesthood and Satan, pgs. 180-181, includes access to the church’s original scanned document).  Necromancers are known today by those who play video games as the undead, those who talk to the dead and that hasn’t changed much since the time of Joseph Smith.

In any event these plates would become what is known as the Book of Mormon and young Joseph was directed as God’s newest Prophet to translate and deliver this substantially amended update to the more commonly accepted Bible.  Although Latter Day Saints (LDS) still support his assertion the plates were written in Reformed Egyptian, there are no scholars in the world who will confirm the existence of what has become a Mormon concocted language.  It was only known to Smith and is believed only by Mormon followers.  According to the Bible it is also sacrilege to add new pages, but Mormons claim they’re the chosen few with divinity enough to change it.  Right or wrong, here or there; this presents a sticking point in identifying oneself as Christian.

Despite popular resistance, Mr. Smith would continue translating the plates by harnessing magical stones left behind by the angels.  As he would see the words they would immediately disappear, so no one could steal or share in the gift of prophecy.  He kept the project secret and only business colleagues like the necromancer would provide testament to the plates’ existence.  Nevertheless this work would be promoted as a sister to the Bible and depicted brave new examples like setting the real Garden of Eden in the heart of Jackson County, Missouri.

Signing on early was Mitt’s great-great grandfather Parley P. Pratt, as the founder and first editor of the faith’s official newspaper, Millennial Star.   In this position he would devise marketing and communications to establish the new church in both England and America.  Parley was quickly endowed as one of the first twelve Apostles and wrote many of the hymns still sung by congregations today.

Mitt’s great-great uncle Orson Pratt would also take the helm of communications.  His most celebrated contributions came from editing the Book of Mormon and as a settler of the State of Utah.  He created what became the modern day odometer, to measure wagon wheel revolutions upon mapping the Mormon Trail.  His plotting was integral to avoid the army’s Oregon path, since this family of Mormon was attempting to flee the country.

The United States was only partially settled and mostly to the east.  Both men on the Romney maternal side would play leading roles in the Vanguard Company, which was known to most as a Mormon militia intent on claiming new lands, so they could be left alone to rule their own theocracy.  The only problem was they believed in violence to overthrow rules of the federal government and forced their beliefs on inhabitants whether they liked it or not.

First these Saints along with young Joseph Smith, settled in Kirtland, Ohio to colonize new towns for Mormon followers and their special beliefs.  One of the greatest bones of contention with neighbours that drove the founding group from New York, was the doctrine of polygamy dearly held as a condition of reaching God-dom.  Great-great grandpa Parley kept 12 wives and great-great uncle Orson kept 10 wives, as leaders within the church and affirmation of their Apostle duties.  According to the University of Utah, it was Orson who promoted the practice so vigorously that he took to editing polygamy into sermons and the official covenant.

Amid the early hubbub, Mitt’s maternal ancestors visited England and converted great-great grandpa Miles Romney on the paternal side as well.  Orson was the mission president, Parley fulfilled a similar calling and they found value in Romney’s devout skills as a carpenter.  He was quickly absorbed into the hierarchy and brought to America with the other half of the family, where he would go on to build the first Mormon temples and a sacred residence for the church president.

What the founding family taught defies all logical explanation.  Controversial highlights from Latter Day Saints include revelations that hinge on establishing America as a parallel Holy Land to that of Israel.  Independence, Missouri is considered the new Jerusalem and if Bishop Mitt Romney was your teacher, you’d learn that Jesus is the brother of Satan (second entry, official LDS church) and the Archangel Michael is really Adam, the creator of all Christian humans.  Adam and Eve were sent by Elohim from the planet Kolob to purposely eat the forbidden fruit, so they could transform into humans and give birth to men-Gods of which the Romney family occupies the upper echelon.

They believe Jews murdered Jesus rather than the Romans and not only that, but Jews are condemned to Lucifer’s minions if they don’t convert to Mormonism to repent for the greatest sin.  (LDS Journal of Discourses by Brigham Young 1854, Spiritual Gifts & Hell, pgs. 142-143, includes access to church’s original scanned document.)  Furthermore Jews are considered so vile, they’re believed to shed their sinfully marked colour to become “a white and delightsome people” if successfully rescued from Judaism.

Should they not accept Joseph Smith as the Prophet and fully absorb his American scripture, Mormons continue to preach that non converted Jews will receive the harshest punishment come the day of reckoning.  At that time Saints in the Romney clan will build the new temple for Christ’s Second Coming, at the contested Temple Mount in Jerusalem while usurping it from both Jews and Muslims to become the righteous rulers.

Mitt’s founding Apostle/Uncle Orson elaborates more in a famous sermon that became part of the church’s official study guide to support the cornerstones of scripture.  He prophesized Mormons will build that temple as the pure seed of God and inherit their desert Eden back from the evil rulers of Israel.  This will complement the more bountiful Eden already bestowed to them in America, which they also address as their gift of milk and honey meted straight from the hand of Jesus.  Essentially all the world will belong to Mormons as the only ones worthy of wielding God’s power.  (Journal of Discourses by Uncle Orson Pratt 1877, pgs. 18-20, Revelation Gradual, Volume 19.)

I can safely say no other religion believes these things and my confusion was warranted when Netanyahu endorsed his modern day Mormon ruler for President of America.

In the second installment we’ll look at the founding of a truly theo-democratic state and why so many Mormons are compelled to seek this office, as ingrained by certified doctrine and the example set by Joseph Smith.  The tenets of Mormon theocracy will be explored and how far the Romneys would go to protect their place will reveal itself throughout history.

In the meantime great strides were made in linguistics and this award winning documentary that debunks the translation of Mormon, took number one at a great many film festivals.  Behold, the Lost Book of Abraham:

Part 6/8 – Mitt Romney & Corporate Mormonism – Church Business

As an executive of the Mormon Church who was called to the Twelve and still royal heir to the throne, Mitt Romney presents conflict of interest issues that should force America to sit up straight and take notice.  If elected President of the United States, Mormon lobbyists will have an easier time doing business between matters of food and coal power to overtaking the banking world.  On one hand they’re a private charity and on the other they could bring the country to a halt.  The Church has been encouraging apostles to seek the highest public office since its inception, to pave the way according to the financial Book of Mormon sections that have often conflicted with legal issues of anti-trust.

 

Whereas some faiths might hold safer products like mutual funds for the benefit of community work, the Latter Day Saints are in a league of their own.  They’re worth more than Mitt and their extreme wealth has nothing to do with paying tithes.  In 2001, Time magazine attempted to assess their value and came up with the ballpark of $30 billion.  Earlier this year even Bloomberg tried their hand and all experts agree the true answer is impossible to know.  These values don’t begin to scratch the surface and perhaps it’s so hard to decipher because the LDS (Latter Day Saints) executive keeps their business private from everyone including non-prophetic Mormons.  Under the US Constitution they maintain that right as a matter of protected religion and I dare say with a little more digging that a single church company is worth more than the total projected.

 

It all began with Brigham Young and subsequently George W. Romney’s vision of competitive-cooperative capitalism.  Just as their religion is written to reflect a theocratic political movement, it is also founded on the dogma of economics.  The early settlers felt they were entitled to a real kingdom on earth and therefore profiteering was as much about faith as praying to Nephi, Adam or Moroni.  Mormonism is the religion of government and financial markets that predominantly relates to socialism for CEOs.  Moreover and since the early days in Utah, LDS has been training their prophets to become experts in constitutional law to keep it so.

 

We’ll begin with ZCMI (Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution), the inaugural company created in Utah under Brigham Young, Grandpa Parley and Uncle Orson’s direction.  It was also the first American shopping mall that eventually transformed into Macy’s.  The original storefront remained ecclesiastic and although Macy’s is a major brand, their signage still honoured the Mormon roots that gave birth to any profitable tenants thereafter.

 

Upon assuming the prominent location from Saintly businesses that moved on, the department store inherited the grand chandelier, specially made for Mormons from Austrian crystal imported from Venice, Italy.  CEOs for Macy’s paid homage to the Saints once more, by donating 1,500 of the dangling pieces from that prestigious lighting fixture although they didn’t part with all of them.  Each little bauble was so exquisite that it warranted a black tie event for the charities who received them.  No value is offered for the chandelier in full, but it certainly crossed a few million dollars as one of the most expensive lampshades in the country the Church could afford to abandon.

 

Despite parting with the storefront it was only a short lived transition, in which they demolished the shopping mall to make way for a newer City Creek Centre.  LDS continues to own the property no matter which high end boutique decides to take up residence.  It cost more than $1 billion for Mormons to build and they vow the only money for construction came from corporate profits as opposed to tithes.

 

Managing such a portfolio would prove to be too much for Mormons alone, so they partnered with Taubman Centers to run the day to day operations of the new mall.  This particular corporation was founded by Alfred Taubman, who had just finished ten months in prison for convictions related to price fixing and anti-trust.  It would seem Mr. Taubman was practicing the Mormon’s competitive-cooperative capitalism, which was repeated by George Romney through his NRA initiative of the same nature.  Both examples were held guilty of breaching federal law and yet the Mormons continue to marry themselves to this business philosophy.  Taubman’s company is further headquartered in Bloomfield, Michigan; in Mitt’s Romney’s old stomping grounds.

 

The LDS Church is one of the largest real estate proprietors in America.  Zion Securities changed its name to Utah Property Management, but is owned by Saints just the same.  They formed Suburban Land Reserve Inc. to handle their industrial buildings as well.  However, these are only two of many subsidiaries within the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that holds everything from apartment buildings to banks and business towers.

 

On the list of very important buildings is Eagle Gate Plaza that remained Church owned when it was transformed into the World Trade Center of Utah.  It’s part of the New York family of WTC businesses that are home to government and international trade authorities.  Lew Cramer of Mormon hierarchy was then named CEO of the center to solidify their stronghold, far beyond the capacity of a landlord (see PDFor non PDF).

 

Mr. Cramer enjoys trade missions to China on behalf of church-family members while giving devotional speeches and legal decoding from the Book of Mormon at his alma mater, Brigham Young University (see Oct. 2, 2012).  Adding to his list of accomplishments with the Church, he began an LDS law society to unite Mormon attorneys in helping others see their light (additional interview transcript  PDF or non PDF).  He was in charge of recruiting Mormon volunteers for the Utah Olympics to help reduce costs and appoint Mitt Romney to the prestigious top job.  Lew also headed Republican finances for the current presidential election.

 

The LDS property group further heads a lobbying entity to ensure the interests of Mormons are protected, including many issues such as prohibiting restaurants from serving alcohol within their structures.  The Mormon president from this real estate council finds his office in the Triad Center, also owned by the Church.  Triad arrives with a phenomenal explanation and another curious partnership with the likes of Adnan Khashoggi.  The Saudi prince and arms dealer is better known by his scandalous actions at the heart of the Iran-Contra Affair, which facilitated the illegal sale of arms to Iran and other confirmed terrorists.  He was further implicated in the Lockheed bribery scandals that caused heads to roll from the US to West Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Japan.  That time it involved war planes instead of just the missiles.

 

When not transporting weapons of destruction to jihadists and contras, Khashoggi was kept busy pursuing business with the Mormons.  The Triad Center was a joint effort, where LDS provided the land and became the predominant tenant (see half way down).  It is here they set up another company Bonneville International, to house their radio and television stations.  These aren’t your run of the mill Christian programs and include the Washington Post Radio as well as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.  Pertaining to television it’s hard to ascertain the full scope of LDS holdings, but they do include an NBC affiliate and the Church has been making moves to acquire a stake in Disney.  Also located within the Triad Center is a Brigham Young University campus.

 

(Adnan Khashoggi discussing business plans with Mormon executive-apostle, photo credit: Deseret News clipping)

 

Bonneville International serves as a parent company to numerous subsidiaries.  They include the Bonneville Washington News Bureau, Bonneville Media Communications, the Bonneville Broadcasting System, Bonneville Satellite Corporation, Bonneville Entertainment Company and Bonneville Telecommunications (provided futures and commodity quotes).  Every one is a profit machine owned by the Mormon Church and the FCC has been called upon to regulate their control of media.

 

The way they manage their affairs is demonstrated through the Washington Post partner.  Amid transitioning from newspaper to radio, the Saints put an end to a popular rock music station.  They handed the 35 workers from Z-104 their walking papers and replaced them with 25 Mormon-friendly staff of their own (see both pages).

 

To confuse matters more, Bonneville International is a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation.  Under this banner they’ve managed to scoop up part of ESPN.  In regard to Bonneville Satellite most access to their web domains is prohibited, but they do offer services in the US, UK, Thailand, Pakistan, India, select areas of the Middle East and the home country of Khashoggi, in Turkey.

 

Under the wing of Deseret Management, we find other companies like Deseret NewsDeseret BookDeseret Digital MediaTemple Square Hospitality and Beneficial Life Insurance, which handles $20.3 billion in policies (stakeholders PDF or non PDF).  Mormons also concocted Mstar.net to apply ecclesiastic censoring to the internet for their faithful followers; in addition to their own LDSYellowPages and a doorway to Hollywood through Excel Entertainment.

 

From a finance perspective, Ensign Peak Advisors manages Mormon stocks and bonds including those of the Deseret Trust Company.  Next is Deseret Mutual, as a provider of financial products and employer health benefits.  These services are exclusive to Church owned businesses, but their workforce is considerable and lists many LDS participants.  The Church conglomerate continues to hold an extensive stock portfolio including $2 million in Burger King and $1 million in Dominos Pizza.  These assets were transferred to the Saints tax free by Mitt Romney.  General Authorities of the Church receive income from these investments, so in a roundabout way it benefited him personally and all his business associates (more on this in Part 7: Insider Trading).

 

They continue to hold considerable interest in banks, which goes hand in hand with various footholds they maintain in the economic sector.  We’ll start with Zion Bancorp, the early brainchild of the Twelve Apostles.  Zion began in Utah with the Church retaining full ownership, but in 1960 fellow Mormon Roy W. Simmons, purchased a controlling share.  The financial institution carried on in partnership with LDS and promoted five apostles to its board of directors.  They continue to facilitate all Mormon Church business and at least one congregation member felt he was cheated out of $700,000 through their advice that only benefited the institution.

 

Today Roy’s son Harris Simmons inherited the Chairman, President and CEO positions. (see officers and directors).  He’s a loyal Mormon at the heart of the financial empire who happens to hold more than a million shares since the company went public.  Moreover Harris is Chairman of the underlying Zions Bank (Utah and Idaho) and heads all the parent-acquired subsidiaries such as Amegy Bank of Texas,California Bank and Trust, National Bank of Arizona, Nevada State Bank, The Commerce Bank of Oregon, The Commerce Bank of WashingtonVectra Bank Colorado, Zions Management Services Company, Amegy Insurance Agency, Amegy Investments, Amegy Mortgage Company, Contango Capital Advisors, Net Deposit, Wellman Holdings, Wellman Services, Western National Trust, Zions Credit Corp, Zions Direct and Zions Insurance Agency.  Total assets of Zion Bancorp in 2010 were $51.6 billion.

 

Church president and primary apostle Thomas S. Monson was on hand to dedicate the newest Zion Financial Center in the name of Mormon.  Additionally the building is owned by the Church under real estate holdings and the job of running local matters was given to A. Scott Anderson – another royal descendant of an original apostle like Mitt.

 

The wisdom of prophets didn’t save the banking empire from brushes with the law though; common to most Mormon enterprises.  First they received two $8 million fines for trespasses against the Bank Secrecy Act and USA Patriot Act related to inter-country money laundering.  Then they were hit with two more for $50,000 and $225,000 for operating without a proper licence, misleading representation and making false statements.  During the recent financial market meltdown, Zion Bank received $1.4 billion in relief from government (a Fannie Mae repeat) and they’ve only repaid $700 million since this September.  Earlier in 1999 they also faced tough opposition to the goal of merging Zion with the other Mormon bank, First Security.  Due to anti-trust concerns and major publicity the marriage was called off, as the move would have resulted in a banking monopoly.

 

Switching gears, the Church is at the center of America’s food system.  These holdings begin withAgReserves Inc in the United States, described as running investment farms and ranches.  In the United Kingdom the name changes to AgReserves Ltd where apostles received $15.9 million worth of taxpayer subsidy to benefit their operations in a single year.  They’ve replicated in Mexico under AgroReservas and regrettably AgroReservas do Brazil was removed from the internet when the Landless Workers’ Movement targeted the Mormon sprawl in protest.  Now no information is available beyond the words of those affected and displaced.  AgReserves Australia Ltd is yet another LDS company with hundreds of thousands of acres.

 

Those are just the larger holdings.  In California they produce almonds.  In Utah it’s dairy and cattle.  In Oklahoma they raise more cattle and Florida produces cows along with citrus fruit.  Stretches of Wyoming and Washington were bought for the sole purpose of historical value, to own the pieces of America that Mormon pioneers may have traversed.  All the farms double as camps and getaways to profit from tourism as well.  This is not to mention the individual ranches spread across the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Argentina because they’re indeed too many to list.

 

These operations are located under the Farm Management Company, which in turn is overseen by Deseret Land and Livestock.  The latter not only farms but also offers paid hunting expeditions and “high quality fly fishing experiences” for profit.  In a complex web to keep anyone from grasping their true worth, both corporations are controlled by another Mormon investment structure going by the name of Farmland Reserve Inc.

 

According to the church’s own newspaper the faithful are not meant to know LDS business, but they’re aware of millions of acres in the US and reverence as the largest private land owner in Florida along with others.  In an unguarded moment, a Mormon executive praised the Church for being “the largest cow-calf operator in the nation” whilst angling to overtake Ted Turner in the business.

 

These acquisitions have been patient at times and purchased piece by piece until LDS assumes an entire area.  In the Third World the vulnerable are begging for enough land to survive and the story is beginning to repeat in America.  Even contracted farmers in Idaho of the Mormon faith are condemning the Church’s practices.  They’re threatening to revoke the community’s paid participation by operating farms directly through their administration.  In this way they keep labour costs to a minimum by having worshippers volunteer in the fields – as a tenet of doing Mormon business since the beginning.  Furthermore the farmers are angry that LDS produces for the commercial market and this spawns an unfair business advantage that could put an end to their livelihoods altogether.

 

Although there is scant information available about the Mormons’ Property Reserve Inc., it too is a real estate venture of some sort.  It’s involved in a Supreme Court lawsuit that extends to Hawaii, so it can’t be conducting business confined to Utah as their registration suggests.  The public can only guess if these dealings are related to a shooting that took place at a Mormon temple on Christmas Day; sparked by an LDS real estate Ponzi ring that was investigated by the FBI in 2010.

 

Pertaining to Hawaii, the Church owns the most lucrative part of that state.  When Mitt’s ancestors went on mission in 1865 they purchased more than 7,000 acres in the name of Mormon – in an effort totransform Polynesian Indians from Lamanites into the descendants of Israel.  Hawaii Reserves Inc. was established to take control of Laie and one of their most renowned beaches.  They operate water, sewer treatment and roads with the intent of building more neighbourhoods.  It’s a sensitive area with sacred burial grounds, so Mormons employed a representative to lobby for their development interests (PDF).  These services were likely necessary to build the Brigham Young University Hawaii campus, along with the Polynesian Cultural Center to serve as one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations and gainful theme attractions.

 

We must now address the topic of sugar and how the Church positioned itself to become an oligarch of this industry.  Sugar is needed to cook nearly everything we eat and warrants our acute attention.  This enterprise began with Brigham Young and the Apostles, to help found their theocratic and competitive-cooperative capitalist dream for Zion-Utah.  Soon after they were investigated and convicted of anti-trust violations for the Sugar Trust, in keeping with their business theory and its successive outcomes.

 

In an effort to save their monopoly Saints then partnered with the Bankers Trust, who in turn found themselves the target of racketeering charges that led to the present market meltdown and the government’s intervention to regulate derivatives.  In the early days this Trust helped the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company merge and grow to take full market share, under the name of Amalgamated Sugar with Mormon prophet David Eccles as the technical founder and Utah’s first made millionaire.  From the riches of LDS sugar, he became Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the Washington, DC building was named in his honour.

 

During his years in power he is noted to provide the Mormon Church with interest free loans to assist in building their kingdom.  Coincidentally, David’s son George Eccles founded the smaller Mormon bank First Security, that attempted to merge with Zion before regulators took notice and trust circumstances intervened.  A fellowship was established in his name to promote Mormon studies and Lew Cramer from the World Trade Center Utah is one of the prominent LDS steering executives.  In the Saints’ family, every power player is connected for the purpose of furthering the Church’s vision.

 

Still on the issue of sugar, Amalgamated is said to have merged with the Snake River Sugar Company.  No information is publicly available about either company, but the latter currently shares the same business address as the original manufacturer.  The Amalgamated Sugar company website redirects to Snake River as well.  It appears the newer entity may have been established as a lobby for widespread adoption of genetically modified seeds to obtain the sugar (see technology at bottom).

 

Last in this installment is mention of the Mormon’s relationship with coal power and copper.  Ernest L. Wilkinson was president of Brigham Young University as well as a Washington lawyer and defeated Republican candidate for senate.  In his time he was the topic of scandal that related to the university. Wilkinson headed a spy ring within the institution, to ensnare professors who displayed anything less than a Tea Party attitude.  Upon conviction they’d be fired and removed from the Mormon hierarchy.  More importantly, he worked for the Department of the Interior and drafted the Indian Claims Commission legislation (see pgs. 34-35 PDF).

 

His partner in matters of energy was fellow LDS attorney and BishopJohn Sterling Boyden.  He was the legal representation for Peabody Energy Corporation while at the same time representing Hopi, Ute and Navajo Indians.  In addition to his practice, Boyden presided over these indigenous converts as their prophetic leader.  (His son inherited this church standing, see second entry.)

 

Peabody Energy is the largest private producer of coal in the world.  In 1968 it was purchased byKennecott Copper Corporation, although due to anti-trust issues the acquisition was struck down and sold eight years later for $1 billion.  For the record it is now owned by Rio Tinto, but during the time of Kennecott the Mormons were immediately involved.

 

H. David Burton was an executive with Kennecott, in addition to holding apostleship in the highest office of the Church.  During tenure of these three Mormon figures they usurped the Black Mesa area from Natives, to strip mine their land for coal energy development that benefitted their respective companies.

 

Acting as the Indians’ bishop, John Boyden convinced the bands to sign a contract with Peabody.  The Hopi’s didn’t have government of any sort to ratify a deal, so he ordained a tribal council from those he was able to convert to Mormonism.  The tribe continues to assert these individuals had no authority to make legal decisions on behalf of all their people.  In concert with Wilkinson at Church headquarters, they devised a plan to move forward regardless.  Both attorneys fetched millions in legal fees from the government and tribes, to perform their services while playing for both teams.

 

It was deemed the Black Mesa Peabody Coal Controversy and environmental protection organizationsare bitterly studying the effects of this case at present.  There were numerous repercussions from duping Indians into an agreement that would only pay them $0.30 per ton when market value was $1.50, to overusing water at a billion gallons per year to process the coal slurry.  The aquifers Natives depended on for survival have been bled dry and now they’re forced to walk many miles with buckets to find water.  A poignant article with photographs and their testimony about the Mormon relationship can be found here (or via PDF here).

 

More troubling is the Church’s explanation.  They believe that since these Indians didn’t appreciate money in their culture, their reward was receiving the Mormon gospel.  LDS called them “backwards people” and convinced themselves it was their duty to build the indigenous up from Lamanites into their version of civility.  It was their calling to obtain this coal power for the sake of constructing the kingdom in places like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and so forth.

 

In the meantime Sylvan Wittwer was the Mormon bishop and president of Lansing Michigan Stake and he took up lobbying on behalf of coal energy to protect the Church’s interests.  He hails from the neighbouring region to Mitt Romney and wrote many books suggesting carbon dioxide is good for the earth.  As an executive member of the Greening Earth Society with direct relation to Peabody Energy, he argued against the science and perils of global warming.  He replicated those efforts with the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, with further ties to Exxon Mobil.

 

This advice was obviously taken to heart by the Mormon Church, as they completed a land swap with Kennecott in 2011 to assume ownership of an old mining area.  The company faced orders from the EPA to clean up a sensitive tailings pond, but it is now becoming an LDS neighbourhood complete with a scenic lake that no one is allowed to use.

 

Should Mitt Romney become the President of America all these friends will be knocking at his door.  In Part 7: Insider Trading, we’ll see how closely they’re connected and who exactly owes whom.

An Election Hangover – The Morning After

CBC News  Politics

Wasaga Beach: An election hangover

May 4, 2011 9:10 AM

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/myelection/yourtake/2011/05/wasaga-beach-an-election-hangover.html

Region: Ontario Topics:

By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ont.)Amy-MacPherson-52.jpg  Simcoe-Grey has handily elected Conservative candidate Kellie Leitch, a pediatric surgeon, with 49 per cent of the vote. Results came in quickly, placing the NDP’s Katy Austin in a distant second and independent Helena Guergis and Liberal Alex Smardenka roughly tied for third. Green Party candidate Jace Metheral was dealt a blow, losing 2,000-plus supporters compared with the election before. The Liberals lost nearly 4,000 votes while the NDP made gains of around 5,000. It was a historic moment for the Orange Crush movement in our riding, as it nearly doubled support and cracked a glass ceiling in Conservative territory.

Although voter turnout was 66 per cent for the riding, it seems Wasaga Beach still has a few bumps to work out itself. Nearly half our polling stations present challenges for people with disabilities, an issue that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Elections Canada volunteers. Central poll supervisor David Trafford says, “Anyone in a wheelchair wouldn’t be able to open the steel doors. And first they have to make it across a gravel parking lot to reach the doors. I intend to include this in my accessibility report.”

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Around noon, there weren’t any lineups and plenty of parking was still available. By dinnertime, the flow had increased, but voters continued to be in and out within five minutes. Accessibility may have been an issue, but so too was voter response to attack ads. Resident Billy Burch confessed, “That’s why I didn’t vote!” But he continued to praise Leitch’s medical qualifications and hopes: “She encourages kids’ fitness with ideas like tax incentives to get involved in sports.”

amy2-election-night.jpg

Perhaps adding to voter frustration were the locations of and lack of signage identifying polling stations. One of our polling centres was situated deep within a private, adult gated community that is normally off limits to the public and requires a security code to enter by vehicle. It was meant to serve surrounding neighbourhoods on election day, but there was no indication the public could attend for this special occasion.

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So the mood seems mixed following the ballot-box tally. Personal support worker Melanie Lopes was a bit more cynical in her assessment, lamenting, “Hopefully, I get my surgery before health care is taken away!” Small-business owner and stonemason Darren Ellis was disappointed after voting NDP because “everyone else seems to have ego in the way but [Jack Layton’s] transparent.” It will be his first official summer as an entrepreneur, and he’s at odds with how a Conservative agenda will impact his pursuits.

Speaking with those who are happy with developments, we see a boatload of hopes pinned on Leitch’s ability to translate social and health care into politics. Private foster care operator Leslie Listro gave her nod to the local Conservative because “the lack of resources and supports for this community is significant,” and she was impressed with the doctor’s verbal response to her concerns. Candice Labuick adds, “I want to see us reduce more debt and regain stability in our government.” Only time will tell which group hedged their social investment well.

Before I go I’d just like to thank everyone at CBC for this wonderful opportunity to get the grassroots more engaged in the electoral process.  If you’d like to stay up to date with all things Simcoe-Grey and social issues in Ontario, please follow me on Twitter via MsAmyMacPherson.  Cheers to my fellow bloggers and the CBC community for a job well done!

Photo credit: Amy MacPherson.

Gap Between Rich & Poor – A Photo Essay

CBC News Politics

Wasaga Beach: Before you vote, a real picture

April 30, 2011 8:50 PM

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/myelection/yourtake/2011/04/wasaga-beach-before-you-vote-a-real-picture.html#igImgId_6063

Region: Ontario Topics:

Amy-MacPherson-52.jpg  By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ont.)

With the aggrandizement of party leaders and political personalities this election, I have to say we may have let them off the hook regarding the issues themselves.

Essentially, all our cares collaborate to represent one thing: How government translates to the family pocketbook at the end of each week. We have our ideals addressing foreign aid; hopes to find a party that can translate policy into real jobs; forethought to protect our army and additional worry for staples like health care, child care and education.  In the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs however, these are all secondary and dependent upon a family’s ability to carry the burden of fulfilling these goals.

On the frontlines and amongst social service advocates, we’re painfully aware of the gap between rich and poor. We’ve been watching this unfold and don’t need to hear from statistics to endorse our beliefs.  The pictures I’d like to share with you are inspired by the families I help through Wasaga Cares (community resource) and demonstrate their story beyond any thousand words I could choose.

The only context I’d like to offer is that Wasaga Beach doesn’t offer much in the way of affordable housing.  Our working poor live in little boxes and many are forced to take up residence in cottages throughout the winter.  The lowest rent for any of the properties I’ve photographed is $650 per month, which is well above the maximum income for a single person on welfare.  To compound their woes, we have a 0.9 per cent rental vacancy rate in our area and 25 per cent of our population is now surviving on the food bank.

And then, there’s the middle class, which should be better insulated better from the recession. Their homes have appeared for sale in pairs as neighbours come to terms with financial hardship.  When we speak about the gap between rich and poor, this is exactly the group we’re talking about – although 7,000 sq. ft. mansions are abandoned just the same. What you won’t see in the photographs are rows and rows of election signs.  There may be one or two noting property forfeiture, but not anyone praising a politician.

The Lewis family is one group who’s spent the past few years living in motel.  Mike counts his blessings saying, “I’m just lucky to have a position that helps me pay the rent.”  He’s the property manager for Bay Breezes and estimates fifteen families live there permanently.  Remaining units are rented out to passersby and tourists.

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Mike Lewis, property manager of the Bay Breezes Motel in Wasaga Beach, Ont. Mike is photographed with his children, his children Mariah, left, and Ethan. (Amy MacPherson)
Despite the absence of a playground, his children Mariah, 9, and Ethan, 7, entertain themselves in the parking lot.  At the sole low-income housing complex across town, you’ll see what those kids get for play equipment.  And let us not forget that current government direction has turned a great deal of families away from bricks and onto thatch.  If this doesn’t tell us tax cuts aren’t working, I don’t know what will.

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What Are The Parties Doing For Homelessness?

CBC News  Politics

Wasaga Beach: What are the parties doing for homelessness?

April 18, 2011 6:18 PM

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/myelection/yourtake/2011/04/wasaga-beach-what-are-the-parties-doing-for-homelessness.html

Region: Ontario Topics:

By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, ON)

amy-macpherson-hs-2.jpg  We’re in the heat of an election campaign and I still haven’t seen a vision put forward by the right, left or centre to deal with our rapidly growing list of disadvantaged. My local queries have gone nervously unanswered and the community resource network is anxiously awaiting recognition. The charity of churches and individual donors can’t possibly put a roof over everyone’s head.

I attended the Simcoe County Alliance to End Homelessness (SCATEH) annual report card unveiling Sunday in Collingwood, Ont. The Chair of the meeting, Trevor Lester, is a passionate and educated advocate on behalf of the epidemic.  This year’s release focused on the plight of women and how they’ve been impacted by different socio economic factors. After the speeches concluded he was kind enough to speak to me:

Liberal Alex Smardenka was the only candidate in attendance, which surprised me.  I was perplexed and disappointed he didn’t speak, though, nor did he stay after the presentation for questions. I understand the campaign trail is busy, but Smardenka vacated the building before closing applause could finish. We weren’t able get information on the Liberal platform at all and he only appeared to visit as a spectator.

Other notable attendees included Harry Chadwick, a former Conservative MP in the Mulroney government (1988-93). Chadwick is also a kindred community member who’s given his time to many causes.  He’s mild mannered, chipper and looks like everyone’s favourite grandpa, but in the context of homelessness and the federal election he offered a sobering comment.

“My party has evolved from the PC party to the Reform, to the Reform Alliance… and now to the Conservative Party of Canada, CPC.  And it would appear my party has lost its heart.”

MPchadwick_AmyMacPherson.jpg

Pastor Seagram of the Wasaga Beach Ministerial Food Bank, former MP Harry Chadwick, Mayor of Wasaga Beach Cal Patterson and Mayor of Collingwood Sandra Cooper. (Submitted by Amy MacPherson)

Locally, and in most of rural Ontario, access to affordable housing is scant and community based services have eroded to skeleton referral systems. As we’ve seen our numbers skyrocket over the recession, the federal government has backed further away from its commitments. On any given night there may be 2,900 women in Simcoe County alone, who are braving the elements or coping with dangerous situations. To give you some perspective, our total county population compares to one-fifth of Toronto and these statistics aren’t accounting for homeless men or children.

The Wellesley Institute discovered affordable housing will be zeroed out by 2014 under the federal government’s current mandate. This would place all responsibility for homelessness on the backs of provinces and individual communities, with $1.22 billion being cut from this year’s budget alone. The full phase out occurs over three years, although the initial wound will virtually defunct the program well before its official retirement.

The Conservative government has since found more than $1 billion in funding for a variety of programs, including infrastructure repairs, disaster relief and snowmobile clubs in the 2011 budget. As Lester put it, “Why aren’t we jumping up and down with numbers like these in our communities?”

Others on the frontlines have questioned the trade off, especially when the consequences are unmistakable. According to SCATEH:

37 per cent of women living on the streets were physically assaulted in the last year
21 per cent were sexually assaulted once or more in the last year
50 per cent were turned away from shelters that were already full
42 per cent are living on $2,400 or less per year
25 per cent suffered from pneumonia
43 per cent are experiencing problems with their feet
43 per cent are also going hungry

It costs us more than $2,500 to keep them in hospital when there is nowhere left to go, per patient, per visit.

The women in this study were homeless for an average of three years. They suffer quadruple the rate of diabetes and quintuple that of heart disease. Without a home they aren’t able to receive steady treatment though. Without a home they are ten times more likely to die.

A Collingwood woman wanted to share her personal experience. She once enjoyed a middle class life, but was forced on the street through a series of challenges. In the past she was a business manager and her family participated in the community, supporting the food bank and other charitable causes. It was a harsh reversal of fortune, but she points out it could happen to anyone:

If those statistics don’t force us to take a harder look at this recession, then consider what theRegistered Nurses’ Association of Ontario published. There’s been a 51 per cent increase in the homelessness of single parent families. There’s also been a 60 per cent increase in children taken into foster care, as a direct result of food and shelter issues. This is the street level view of have-not Ontario and we need the federal parties to sit up and take notice.

The women in our province are mothers and caretakers. Some call it a matter of welfare and others see it as a disservice to our communities. What is the overall cost of taking 60 per cent of their children into state care, compared with providing affordable housing? Speaking of government priorities, the Fraser Institute calculated $182 billion already spent in corporate welfare hasn’t managed to benefit the average family yet.

The Executive Director of Georgian Triangle Housing Resource Centre, Gail Michalenko reports our area suffers from a 0.9% rental vacancy rate. At Wasaga Cares we also see a long list of clients who are in need of a home. Many of these families are working poor who can’t afford the rent either. They’ve been asking which party has developed a plan to address their wellbeing and on their behalf I submit this question to all party leaders.

The Art of Promising an Un-promise

CBC News Politics

Wasaga Beach: The art of promising an un-promise

April 15, 2011 5:55 PM

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/myelection/yourtake/2011/04/wasaga-beach-the-art-of-promising-an-un-promise.html

Region: Ontario Topics:

Amy-MacPherson-52.jpg  By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ontario)

Like countless others I tuned into the English Leaders’ Debate and managed to be one of the four million who absorbed the performance from beginning to end.  I choose the word “performance” carefully in that lines were for repetition, shoulders squared for the correct camera, and hand movements choreographed as if conducting the words that followed.

All cynicism aside, I think it would have been worth the ticket price had they changed the event to a “Leaders Debate on Ice.” Just imagine the improv we might have seen if they were handed skates and a hockey stick.

Social media, on the other hand, was forthcoming with opinion and – as expected – the airwaves were vibrantly a-Twitter. I soon found I was not alone in my reluctance to embrace the event. Few watchers enjoyed the constant finger wagging or how very few of the questions were actually being answered. A query about immigrants was quickly flipped by Stephen Harper to suggest Quebec was somehow separating. If that didn’t make any sense then neither did Duceppe’s response that Harper signed a coalition in 2004. In any event, six million viewers and the overwhelming majority turned the channel for some reason.

Those who remained were treated to a very special lesson in the art of promising an un-promise. I have never seen a campaign based on programs that might start five and ten years down the road, but that’s the platform the Conservatives were offering. We would have another election before then and even longtime supporters have been wondering who this mandate benefits.

In Simcoe-Grey riding we have numerous small business owners, especially geared to cottage country. I spoke with Tim Wardell of Wasaga Beach, Ont., who has a shop in town. Traditionally he has always identified with right wing ideologies, but after watching the leaders’ debate he’s decided to change his vote. Here’s what he had to say:

The Conservative Party is offering tax breaks for the middle class, but only after the deficit is paid. They’re offering art credits and fitness credits, also after the deficit is paid. The only things they’ve budgeted in the next term are jetssubmarine bombsprisons, Quebec’s HST subsidy, andcorporate tax cuts. Harper has been very clear about where our money is going, except he uses a certain way of describing it: tax cuts!

It’s a very catchy phrase, but if you try to say it too many times you’ll stumble on the words before long. The biggest problem with this picture is these tax cuts are for corporations and not at all for the family or the little guy. The reality is we have a record deficit and it’s only the richest of the rich who stand to benefit. Anyone else will need a good psychic to peer through the next decade to see what happens.

Along with these long range promises for middle class relief, the Conservatives have spent 10 years into the future. They’ve put us on a rent-to-own plan for purchasing the F-35s, with an unlimited price tag upon completion of contract. Unlimited. We just don’t know. The seller can demand any amount it wants.

So how will families ever get their tax cut if we have to carry this burden for another 10 years? By that time Suzy will be in college and her dreams of ballet school will have fallen by the wayside. George will be 70 instead of 60 and never made it on a treadmill to strengthen his heart.

Corporate tax cuts are proven historically ineffective for job creation. We’re already lower than the U.S. and most G8 countries. In the process we’ll remove billions of dollars from our tax base at a time when baby boomers are starting to rely on health care.

Stephen Harper’s pledge to families relies on a number of different variables: If he is elected two more times, in addition to the current vote; If we have a surplus of money after the F-35s are paid in full; If there are no disasters in the meantime; If our health care system can sustain the pressure of an aging population; If the world recovers from a global recession in our time frame; If we don’t commit to any more wars; If wages match food and energy inflation. Only then will the family unit be considered.

As far as I can see it’s campaigning on the hypothetical, the art of promising an un-promise.

Rally For Respect In Toronto

CBC News Politics

Wasaga Beach: Rally for respect in Toronto

April 12, 2011 4:00 PM

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Region: Ontario Topics:

By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ont.)

Amy-MacPherson-52.jpg  Over the weekend I had an opportunity to attend the Rally for Respect at Dundas and Yonge Square in Toronto. It was organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour, but countless individuals, organizations and community groups came out to voice their concerns and support one another.

I’ve been to a handful of peaceful gatherings but a few things really struck me this time.  Although the event began as a statement against public service cuts and privatization, the venue was quickly embraced by every voter longing to be heard. Their issues ranged all levels of government, but united was their plea for basic, human consideration over that of corporations. That particular take-away was shared by everyone.

It reminded me of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternative’s This or That project almost immediately. The people are aware that government has choices and they’re holding them accountable to make the right ones. If you visit the site it will demonstrate a number of key tradeoffs in proposed budget plans and as voters we are tasked with guiding their decisions – not the other way around and perhaps in spite of what advertising tells us.

I’ve included a photo gallery to share some of their sentiments. You’ll see messages regarding employment, subsidized housing, food, women’s rights, isolation of immigrants and military withdrawal to name a few. One could say these echoed the same qualms expressed during the G20, but without police in riot gear there were no violent incidents to mention.  Instead they brought the beautiful horses out to mingle and smiled for the camera in good spirits.  It was a very positive event, from all perspectives.

Ten thousand people harmoniously stood shoulder to shoulder, waving their flags and chanting in unison.  The mantras were equal parts frustration with not being valued and a certain warm strength that bonds them together.  A sign reads, “We Are One” and that’s exactly how I would characterize the crowd.  Yet their ages ranged from toddlers to grandparents and every ethnicity was represented.  These weren’t just certain groups of people, they were all the people united in one voice:  Fight back!

Now don’t get me wrong, their idea of fighting was to fill out a postcard that would bombard government offices for now. They’ll even hand deliver so postal staff won’t be overwhelmed.  That’s the thing about underestimating though. These folks send their dissent in writing, make songs that are lyrically pleasing and because they’re so peaceful the government hasn’t been listening. Is it not ironic, their political fates will come down to what these people scribble on a paper ballot then?

They’ll be writing for healthcare instead of jet planes. Childcare instead of prisons. Pharmacare instead of corporate tax cuts. I think the popular theme is reminding Parliament Hill that Canadians care about we-the-people, contrary to their sacrifice for the pursuit of sheer capitalism. You might also be surprised by the amount of young voters with opinions on Afghanistan, so until next time, I leave you with their video clip.

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