Week in Review: November 1 – November 7

November 7, 2015

Indonesian Forest Fires Illustrate How Profiteers Use World’s Atmosphere As Their Own Personal Sewer

An aerial view of Indonesia’s fires, constructed as a composite from multiple images taken from the International Space Station. (Flickr / NASA / Stuart Rankin)

The CO2 emissions from the deliberately set Indonesian forest fires have reached 1.62 billion megatons (1620,000,000,000,000 tons), with Indonesia now taking the 4th largest CO2 emitter spot from Russia. The CO2 emissions from the fires will soon equal the total annual emissions of Brazil. On 36 of the past 58 days (the length of time they’ve been burning up to October 26th) have exceeded the emissions of the entire U.S. economy. The Guardian reports that the fires are seen to be “responsible for up to half a million cases of respiratory infections … and are now being described as a “crime against humanity”.”

With the approval of the Indonesian government, forest fires are deliberately set each year by the scores of companies who want to clear lush forest area for plantations to grow trees devoted to production of paper products and palm oil that will be shipped to companies such as the giant Asian Pulp and Paper (APP). This year’s fires have been burning out of control since September, especially in the peat land forests of Kalimantan and Sumatra, destroying unique wetland ecosystems and threatening several species of animal.

Smoke and smog hang over the country. Neighbouring countries of Singapore and Malaysia are also experiencing critical smog like conditions. School closures have been necessary. Neighbouring countries are begging Indonesia to get the fires under control and offering help. The fires have been estimated to cost Indonesia CAD$50 billion to date and some executives have been arrested.

But the sudden release of such huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere is devastating.

One of the great things about trees when they are healthy and standing is that they strain out the one carbon molecule from CO2 and use it to build their mass (wood), leaving the two oxygen molecules to go on their merry way, providing breathable air for living things. Trees are supremely efficient at this—50% of a tree’s biomass is actually carbon. But when a tree burns down, all the carbon molecules stored in its mass are released back into the air and each molecule reunites with two oxygen molecules, and so we have megatons of noxious CO2 released back into the atmosphere.

Click here to find out more about this incredibly under-reported story.

November 4, 2015

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau names 15 Women to his Cabinet Along With a “Badass” Defense Minister

“Because it’s 2015.”

When asked today about why gender parity in Cabinet was important to him, Prime Minister Trudeau did the equivalent of a Jose Bautista bat flip. “Because its 2015!” he exclaimed, shrugging his shoulders at the obviousness of it all. The remark caused an international sensation and moved feminist news site, Jezebel, to headline its article, “The Sexiest Thing about Justin Trudeau is his Cabinet’s Gender Parity.” Click here to read the full story.

And just because it can, Jezebel also described Trudeau as “hot in the way a Disney villain is hot…but he is also sometimes hot the way a Disney prince is hot. His is an impressive versatility, to be sure.”

But Trudeau’s new “badass” Minister of Defense, Harjit Sajjan, also garnered his share of headlines. The National Observer said, “Canada’s new Minister of National Defense is some kind of next-level Spy vs Spy war hero. The commander of Canada’s Coalition Task Force in Afghanistan… considered Sajjan “the best single Canadian intelligence asset in [war] theater.” Click here to read the full article.

Or you can just google “badass minister of defense” to see what pops up.

A new day is dawning over Canada, to be sure.

November 6, 2015

Outbreak of whooping cough in southern Manitoba

Whooping-Cough_11In what health authorities are describing, somewhat benignly, as an ‘uptick’, the number of cases of whooping cough in Southern Manitoba has increased by 800%, from 5 to 40, for this time of year. Twenty of those cases are children under the age of five, 10 are between the ages of 5 and 14 and the rest are 18 and older.

One of the children, a three-month old infant spent a week clinging to life in an insolation unit at a local hospital. Health authorities say the reason for the outbreak is that only four of the patients diagnosed had been immunized. The families of the other patients had chosen not to immunize their children. It is thought the three-month old caught the deadly disease from a child of a family friend who had, by choice of the parents, not been vaccinated.

The medical name for whooping cough is pertussis. The common name comes from the whooping sound a patient, usually a child, makes from trying to catch their breath. If you’d like to know what whooping cough sounds like, click here.

November 4, 2015

People Magazine Buys Exclusive Photo of Latest Duggar Baby

JD22Jessa Duggar announced the birth of her first child with husband, Ben Seewald, today with an exclusive photo appearing in People magazine. Jessa is the sister of Josh Duggar, father of four, who admitted to sexually molesting four of his sisters, and was also revealed in the Ashley Madison data leak as using the adultery website to try to have extramarital affairs. The scandal caused cable network TLC to cancel the Duggar’s family series, 19 Kids and Counting. The show was about Jessa’s and Josh’s parents whose relentlessly cheerful on-air brand of Christian extremism attempts to turn women into sex slaves and child factories. But People magazine is clearly still banking on their popularity. Click here for the People photo.

November 4, 2015

There’s No Song Like a Cover Song

sam-smith-whitney-houston-how-will-i-know-cover-siriusIf it’s good, there truly is no song like a cover song and this week turned up two great covers and reminded me of another excellent one, which I will get to after I’ve shared the more recent offerings. Have you heard of Jordan Smith? Non? Well, he’s a young man from Harlan, Kentucky who, maybe because he’s sensitive and maybe because he’s plus size, felt he never quite fit in. But music was his solace and we thank heaven for that. Click here for a wonderful version of Adele’s, Set Fire to the Rain, sung by Jordan Smith on the premier show of this season’s, The Voice.

And, while we’re on the topic of sensitive guys named Smith feeling like they don’t fit in, let’s talk about Sam Smith’s new cover of Amy Winehouse’s, Love is a Losing Game. The track is one he’s added to the re-release of his Grammy award-wining album, In the Lonely Hour (Drowning Shadows Edition). He debuted the song on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show today. Click here to hear the cover and an interview.

But … for my money … and it was the release of his cover of Love is a Losing Game that reminded me of it, Sam Smith’s most riveting cover is the one he did of Whitney Houston’s How Will I Know, which—and it’s crazy, I know—I like better than the original.

Here it is live from a Sirius XM performance in 2014, before he lost all that weight. If you only have time to listen to one of these songs, this is the one I’d go for. Click here for Sam Smith and How Will I Know.

Cheerio for now and I will see you next week, if not before. Who knows the shape we’ll be in by that time?



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Author Photo 01 Sandy Tam PhotographyGail Picco is a strategist who has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years. She is the author of What the Enemy Thinks, a recent novel set in the nonprofit sector, and is Chair of the Board of the Regent Park Film Festival. She also writes about baseball and F1 racing.

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